As voters around the country continue to voice theiranger at town halls over the Republican plan to end Medicare, Republican congressmen are using a range of tactics to try to avoid constituent wrath. In a heated Orlando town hall yesterday, Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) largely ignored contentious questions, leading many in the crowd to demand the congressman “answer the question!” Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the architect of the GOP budget, even ducked out a back entrance during his town hall last night and left in a police car rather than his own vehicle.
Last night, ThinkProgress was in attendance for a Fort Lauderdale town hall where Rep. Allen West (R-FL) took a different approach: pre-screening all questions. Not only were all questions pre-approved by the congressman’s staff, but the attendees were not even permitted to ask the screened questions themselves; staff members read the questions instead, lest a constituent ask an unscripted question. The Sun Sentinel noted that West’s move to pre-screen questions was a far cry from “his usual practice at previous town hall meetings, where West took questions from people who lined up at microphones.”
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Still, a few upset voters attempted to circumvent West’s screening process and make their voices heard. These town hall attendees were thrown out by security and at least one woman, a former Air America radio host, was arrested.
It’s understandable why West would want to screen all the questions he would be asked. Voter anger over the Republican budget – West gave the plan a full-throated endorsement – has popped up in town halls across the country. Constituents have been giving an earful to many GOPers who support the Republican budget, including Reps. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Daniel Webster (R-FL), Charlie Bass (R-NH), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Sean Duffy (R-WI), Patrick Meehan (R-WI), and Robert Dold (R-IL). West’s move to pre-screen all questions was an unfortunate attempt to head off the voter backlash that’s plaguing other supporters of the Republican budget.