August 11th, 2009
10:10 AM ET
9 years ago

Obama goes to health-care battlefront with N.H. town hall

(CNN) - President Barack Obama holds a town hall meeting in New Hampshire Tuesday, placing himself at the battlefront of the push to overhaul the nation's ailing health-care system.

Related video: Obama to give facts, aide says

Similar meetings by congressional members in recent weeks have generated heated and sometimes disruptive debate, demonstrating the high emotions and
political stakes involved in an issue that will affect every American.

Democrats have accused opponents of health-care changes of organizing protests intended to drown out the debate, while Republicans respond the public anger is a genuine response to what they call excessive and misguided legislation.

Videos of some protests circulating on the Internet show raucous crowds heckling their representatives in Congress and carrying posters with devil horns drawn on lawmakers' heads, swastikas or Obama with Adolf Hitler's mustache.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, who had a town hall meeting disrupted by angry protesters earlier this month, said he had never experienced such emotion in his 15 years of holding such forums.

Democratic Rep. Brad Miller of North Carolina even had a death threat phoned into his office. A caller said that if Miller supported Obama's plan, it could cost him his life, Miller told CNN.

Obama, just back from a North American summit with the leaders of Mexico and Canada, seeks to focus the discussion on specifics of Democratic proposals that have cleared committees in both the House and Senate.

He and other Democratic leaders complain that Republican opponents and right-wing political commentators are spreading misinformation about the proposed legislation.

In his weekend radio address, Obama sought to dispel what he called "the outlandish rumors that reform will promote euthanasia, cut Medicaid or bring about a government takeover of health care. That's simply not true."

Republicans respond that the outrage is real, not manufactured.

"These are average Americans that are concerned about this long litany of borrowing and spending and bailouts and government takeover of one industry after another. And this government takeover of health care is just the last straw for many Americans," Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana, told "Fox News" Monday.

The White House has launched what it calls a Health Insurance Reform Reality Check Web site designed to combat what the administration considers misinformation about the issue. The Web page features Obama aides discussing various aspects of health care reform.

Obama calls a health-care overhaul essential for ensuring long-term economic stability. However, congressional action on a health-care overhaul has slowed due to strong Republican opposition. Neither chamber met Obama's desired goal of passing a bill before their August recess.

In particular, the Republicans and some Democrats reject a government-funded public health insurance option, which they believe will lead to a government takeover of the health-care system. Most Democrats want a public option to ensure coverage is available to virtually all Americans and provide competition to private insurers.

Filed under: Health care • New Hampshire • President Obama
soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. katiec

    It is a shame that Health Care Reform, so desperately needed for our country has been turned into such undesirable measures.
    The lies, distortions, fear mongering, hate, anger being fed to the
    American people by big corporations, extremists and politicians
    is not the United States of America I grew up in.
    Of course we have the right to disagree, voice our opinions, but respect, honor and integrity have been overrun by those who have
    no interest in democracy.
    What is even more disturbing are the people that refuse to recognize this is being orchestrated by medical enterprises whose only
    desires are to remain in power and have complete control over our well being, continue to have record breaking profits by sacrificing us and our health care.
    I wish those protesters would take the time to check out what they
    are shouting but guess that will never happen.

    August 11, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  2. Bedtime for Obonzo

    It will be interesting to see if he refers to the opponents to his plan as "nazis" (Pelosi), suspiciously "well dressed" (Boxer), or employed by an unknown "Texas lobbyist" (Durbin).

    Democrats are completely clueless on this. Do they think Michael Steele called up the Republican Rent-A-Mob Agency and ordered a few thousand protesters? People are genuinely concerned, and the Democrats vast right wing conspiracy claims are telling those concerned that Democrats think that they're stooges. Not inspiring, or productive, and possibly fatal to their goal.

    August 11, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  3. Ralph

    President Obama, you swore: "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

    The First Amendment of the Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."


    It is not right wing political operatives or special interest groups; It is not “unpatriotic” and “simply un-American” people that are attending these town hall meetings. It is “We the people…” and we do not want your socialist health care legislation.

    August 11, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  4. truthsayer

    Why doesnt the corporate media come out and denounce these town hall mobs for what they really are. We know that their claims are lies and distortions and the media knows it too. Why give these loonies credibility?

    August 11, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  5. Laverne

    I believe in the democratic process and both sides should be able to debate, but acting "ghetto-fabulous" is not a way to get anything done. There is so much yelling and screaming you can't hear questions or concerns and then some people have a nerve to bring their children along to watch them behave like a 2 year old, what an example! Just because you disagree with someone does not mean you have to act in such a way that you nearly on the verge of having a stroke. Get real people, since we know something is going to happen, let's be civil in order to come up with something everything or most can live and for pete's sake get yourself educated about the facts before you go yelling, crying and screaming. AND STOP LISTENING TO PEOPLE LIKE SARAH PALIN WHO DOES NOT READ ANYTHING!

    August 11, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  6. cnn=right wing media and works for sarah "death pannel" palin

    It's time to have a civil debate about health care. This isn't about Obama. He is rich and his family will quality health coverage for the rest of their life: like it or not; it's the thruth

    August 11, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  7. Billy J Texas

    With no public option, then the Insurance companies will have won once again. We might as well just give up on the idea of a country that is not going to be sucked dry by wall street execs and insurance companies. It is a shame that we have the ability to change it, but we will allow our laziness and willful ignorance destroy this great nation. Welcome to the third world, my fellow Americans. We are making our bed, we WILL be sleeping in it, now.

    August 11, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  8. Tracy

    It amazes me that when Bush was outsourcing America to over seas countries we did not have all these town hall meetings. All of the things that Bush did to bring this country to where it is now, no one spoke up against this. But now that we have an African American president trying to change things to benefit everyone, we are having all these town hall meetings and the republicans are putting fear into the older generations mind. Someone needs to let the republicans no that who do they think controls medicare. Republicans are consistently putting fear into Americans mind, they are the ones constantly stirring up hate and fear. Stop all the bickering and fix the problems.

    President Obama , will succeed because with God all things are possible.

    August 11, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  9. Obama's math does not add up

    Two fundamental questions underscore the fallacy of Obama's health care legislation

    1. Today, every doctor, surgeon, specialist, nurse, nurse practioner, candy striper, hospital admin – all o fhtem, are working hard and working a full schedule, and then some. Obama plans to add 30 – 50 million people into the health care system. QUESTION: WHO IS GOING TO TREAT THEM, AND WHAT DO THE REST OF US HAVE TO GIVE UP IN CARE?

    2. Most of the 30 – 50 million people that Obama wants to add to the health care system cannot afford to pay anything towards their insurance or their care, and even if they could, Obama has promised they won't be taxed or made to pay. QUESTION: Who is going to pay for the care of these 50 million people?

    August 11, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  10. What of the illegals

    There are 20 million or more undocumented – illegal immigrants in this country today. They will be receiving health care benefits under this plan. As they pay no taxes of any kind, who is going to pay for them?

    August 11, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  11. A. Goodwin

    I welcome Obama to our state and PRAY that right-wing groups back off!! People need to be heard – not shouted down. I have a friend who is going, and I can't wait to hear what she has to say!

    August 11, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  12. Pepou

    At least he will be able to shut up the stupid mob which takes its cues from private insurance companies and R. Limbaugh

    August 11, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  13. Nixon Grant

    I do not understand why people keep repeating information that is not true. I also do not understand why people want to pay higher insurance rate in the future just because that do not want to change. I also do not understand that our current system is bankrupting families, our government, and also leaving counts Americans out in the cold. Have we become a Godless country were we do not care about each other. Jesus would be ashamed.

    May God forgive us.

    August 11, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  14. JS007

    I can see why health insurance CEO's would be against this, but why any regular American would oppose legislation aimed at reigning in insurance company exploitation of the American people is beyond me. People need to stop listening to liars and instigators like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin and actually do some of their own research. You'd think that before someone shows up at a town hall to yell and scream they'd at least try to find out what they are talking about.

    August 11, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  15. HJA

    Once again the GOP spreads lies and tries to intimidate people who want to hear the facts. The people who should wear the swastika are those disrupting the meetings and denying others their right to free speech. Same tactics as in the 1930's in Germany.

    August 11, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  16. joe

    It is surprising with so much anger over this plan after Mr. Obama's TV special that he now feels he has to go door to door – is this not a sign that he should re-craft the health care reform bill instead of being so stubborn to force his way. Most American's are happy with their health care plan according to various polls, why is he trying to bully America into accepting his policy, unless he feels that the super majority will weaken in the next election and this is the only time to pass such a socialist idea.

    August 11, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  17. devil horns drawn on lawmakers' heads, swastikas or Obama with Adolf Hitler's mustache.

    classy GOPers, very classy

    a matter of time until the group organizing this surfaces and the manufactured outrage has some light put on it

    There is legitimate outrage to the healthcare bill, but these yahoos are being organized (by some Texas Healthcare lobbyist whose office is in D.C.)

    of course over the top, because if you don't hit some one over the head with your message, you are not a GOPer (really a hitler mustache on Obama – I'm sure W got his due as well however)

    down with the GOP, up come the libertarians and independants in their places

    August 11, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  18. T'SAH from Virginia


    Literally speaking - because without it, more people would die!!

    With it – they would be able to LIVE and tell their grandchildren how the Party of NO sense, NO suggestions and NO solutions fort this program and the number of RIOTS they INCITED!!!

    August 11, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  19. justj joey

    ........I am glad that CNN had plenty of fill-in stuff in talking about the President's foray into New Hampshire. I can't wait to see and hear his teacherish views on healthcare reform. If this whole mess was presented to me in a college classroom, I would flunk them all.

    Why would I do that?....well, for openers how about this: if an Administration cannot deliver Trust to the people, it ain't gonna do much else.

    August 11, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  20. Mike Sk

    Unlike Bush this President can debate any loud crybaby Republican.

    August 11, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  21. felicia

    They just better protect my President from those crazy repigs who are out to destroy him anyway.

    August 11, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  22. fed up in illinois

    I am really tired of all the complaining and stores that are being told. The gop did send out emails to people telling them how to act and all I just think that its terrible that people without insurance might not get the reforms and options that they need. I always thought this country cared about the less forunate but guess that's a thing of the past now

    August 11, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  23. E. Elliot

    Let us think, Obama did not start a war of aggression in another country, kill over 150,000 people there or make 2+ million people homeless in ethnic cleasning, but the wing nuts that supported Bush show Obama with a Hitler mushtace? Sounds like the racists are trying a new lie. They want anything they can do the prevent this country from dealing with the problems left to us by President Chaney and his puppet all to keep history from calling Obama a sucess. Sad.

    August 11, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  24. LIP

    There is no question that we need healtth care reform and it is amendable that Obama took on this challenge.
    We do need honest debate though from both parties and not a Democratic bill shoved down our throats. It must b e bipartisan so everyone can accept its terms and that can only be achieved through honest bipartisan cooperation.
    Insurance premiums have nearly double from year to year over the last several years and it is time to fix the system, but the solution is obviously not government healthcare. They have failed at both Social Security and Medicare and now they want us to believe that more bureaucracy is better than the alternative.

    August 11, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  25. single mom

    What is it going to take for politicians to realize that Americans have had enough? We have seen and heard how poorly the government has run Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, Social Security, the Post Office, Amtrak, etc. Why on earth would politicians think Americans would be stupid enough to let them run ALL of our health care? Now, maybe if we had CONGRESS's healthcare? Yeah, right. I'm not going to hold my breath!!

    August 11, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
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