Member No.: 1
Joined: 1-May 07
|By Lisa Mascaro (contact)|
Friday, Aug. 21, 2009 | 2 a.m.
Washington — Angry that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is not holding a live town-hall meeting on health care but, rather, one over the telephone, Nevada Republicans are planning to express their displeasure by filling the senator’s phone lines.
Republican leaders statewide are encouraging party activists to sign up with Reid’s office for the tele-town hall scheduled for next Friday afternoon.
Clark County Republican Party Chairman Richard Scotti said Republicans won’t try to sabotage the event as others have elsewhere.
“We’re not planning any devious disruption of the event,” said Scotti, downplaying any organized effort. “I’m sure we’re interested in listening to what he has to say.”
On Thursday, the state party sent out a release from all of its 17 county chairmen in Nevada with a picture of Reid’s face on a milk carton stamped “Missing” beneath the headline “Where is Harry Reid?”
The release says Nevadans are asking for “real-life town-hall meetings so they can have their voices heard on the significant policy changes occurring in Washington.”
“If Senator Reid is so passionate about these policy changes, why doesn’t he have the courage to defend them in person?” state party official Robert Uithoven said in a statement. “Perhaps we can ask that question if we can get through his taxpayer-funded call screeners during Friday night reruns of Supernanny and Ghost Whisperer.”
Reid’s office expects to dial in 50,000 Nevadans during the Aug. 28 call.
“Sen. Reid serves all constituents — Republicans, Democrats and independents, and he looks forward to taking questions from a broad section of Nevadans,” his spokesman Jon Summers said.
“For some people this is more about going after Sen. Reid than having a discussion on the issues,” he said. “Hopefully anyone who’s encouraging them to get on the call is doing so in good faith so we can have a serious dialogue.”
Republican-affiliated groups have orchestrated a campaign against the Obama administration’s agenda by targeting elected officials’ town-hall meetings during the summer congressional recess.
The conservative group FreedomWorks and others have posted how-to guides for those attending the meetings, complete with questions to ask.
The town-hall protests have since taken on a life of their own with attendees showing up at some events carrying Nazi swastika signs and guns.
Reid has called the protesters “evil mongers” — igniting even more anger from them.
Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley was surrounded by an animated crowd at a North Las Vegas library Wednesday night, after protesters showed up at a meeting of the Clark County Democratic Party’s Black Caucus.
The crowd demanded its own town-hall meeting with the congresswoman.
Video of the confrontation, posted on YouTube, shows someone shouting “Chicken!” and Berkley wheeling around to face the camera and say, “I don’t think I’m a chicken. I’m standing here in front of you.”
She thanked the protesters for coming and invited them to her own upcoming tele-town hall.
Reid had not planned on holding a town-hall meeting during the August congressional recess, but added next week’s tele-town hall to his schedule in response to requests.
Tele-town halls are a common way for lawmakers to connect with voters in their states while remaining in Washington. Democratic Rep. Dina Titus had one on health care this summer and Berkley’s is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. next Thursday. Republican Sen. John Ensign is scheduled to hold several in August.
Reid addressed 30,000 Nevadans during a tele-town hall in July and has hosted several other conference calls with seniors and other groups to discuss health care reform.
Reid’s office said it decided against hosting a live forum in Nevada after seeing the shouting matches that erupted across the country.
“Had it not been for those people, maybe there could have been an opportunity to have a town hall,” Summers said. “When you have a vocal minority preventing the conversation from taking place, you undermine the purpose of a town hall.”
Reid’s tele-town hall next week will work like this: Nevadans can go to Reid’s Web site at reid.senate.gov and register to be on the call.
Those who register will be the first to be called by the senator. The senator’s office will also dial phone numbers of residents across Nevada.
After the senator makes opening remarks, the floor will be opened to questions. Those wishing to ask a question will press a key on their telephones, tell an operator their queries and be placed in line.
The questions will be answered first-come, first-served. But the calls will be screened to ensure a mix of topics are addressed — so there are not, say, 10 questions about the debunked “death panels,” leaving no time to discuss the public option, Medicare or health care co-ops.
“We want it to be truly reflective of who’s on the line,” Summers said.
The senator’s office could not say how many questions would be answered. But typically about 10 to 15 questions can be fielded during a one-hour call.
Heidi Smith, the state Republican Party’s national committee woman, said Thursday that she recently signed up for Reid’s call.
Through e-mail and Facebook, the party has encouraged others to do the same.
She doubts the Republicans on the line will be disruptive. “Most people don’t want to get nasty and start screaming, unless they get really mad,” she said.
Her submitted question: Why is Reid refusing to have a town hall?
Because Harry Reid is a COWARD and a SELLOUT and should be fired. People of Nevada, you need to find someone to represent you. Until every State of the Union does just that, these cowards will keep selling us out and only listening to their ELITE MASTERS who are destroying America.