North Carolina congressmen avoid facing angry town hall crowds in person


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — When some people found out that Congressman George Holding wasn’t planning on having a town hall during the current break in the legislative scheduled, they decided to go ahead and hold one for him.

“If you’re in public office, you should expect to have your constituents tell you what they think about your job performance,” said Sarah Moncelle of Apex.

Holding was invited, but a spokesman said he wouldn’t be attending. The spokesman declined to say what Holding is doing during the congressional recess.

Retta Riordan wanted to ask the representative about the Affordable Care Act.

Until the law went into effect, she wasn’t able to get insurance to cover a surgery she needed, she said.

“Now, the Republicans feel that this is a political game,” she said. “And, to me, it’s not political. It’s personal.”

As scenes like this — albeit often with the legislators present — President Donald Trump tweeted: “The so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists. Sad!”

Republican Congressman Robert Pittenger took a different approach, holding a town hall via telephone Thursday.

“I don’t think it helps public discourse and I don’t think it helps our democracy to be able to go into a city or a town hall and be able to disrupt a town hall,” Pittenger said.

The Affordable Care Act, Trump’s tax returns and talk of Russian interference in the election all came up during the call.

But some of the roughly 6,000 people on the call wanted to be having the conversation face-to-face.

“Tomorrow, I just don’t want to see a tweet from the president saying that people were paid protesters on this phone call,” a woman identified only as Kelly said.

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis is touring the U.S.-Mexico border this week. A spokesman said he hosts regular telephone town halls.

A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Richard Burr did not respond to requests for comment.

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