WASHINGTON (AP) -- As they head home to their congressional districts for the August recess, lawmakers who support health care reform are bracing for protests and demonstrations that threaten to turn violent. In North Carolina, a congressman who backs overhauling health care had his life threatened by a caller upset that he was not holding a public forum on the proposal.
Democratic Rep. Brad Miller received the call Monday, one of hundreds the congressman's office has fielded demanding town-hall meetings on the health care proposal, said his spokeswoman, LuAnn Canipe. She said the callers were "trying to instigate town halls so they can show up and disrupt."
"We had one of those kind of calls that escalated to what we considered a threat" on the congressman's life, Canipe said Friday. "These are some strong-arm tactics, and we are trying to deal with and trying to talk to people in good faith about health care reform."
In the week since the House began its break, several town-hall meetings have already been disrupted by noisy demonstrators. The latest occurrence was at back-to-back town hall meetings held by Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., which got so raucous police had to escort people out. Dingell vowed Friday to push ahead with Democratic-led efforts to extend coverage to all, saying he won't be intimidated by protesters.
"I am eager to talk about the bill with anyone who wants to discuss it. That doesn't open the door to everyone who wants to demagogue the discussion," Dingell said in a statement. The boos, jeers and shouts of "Shame on you!" at the events in a gym in Romulus, Mich., mirror what other Democrats are encountering around the country.
In Saratoga Springs, N.Y., about 20 protesters showed up at an event held by Democratic Rep. Scott Murphy to let him know they oppose the health care plans in Washington. They carried signs saying: "Obamacare Seniors beware! Rationing is here," and "If socialized medicine is best ... why didn't Ted Kennedy go to Canada?"
The episodes have drawn widespread media attention, and Republicans have seized on them as well as polls showing a decline in support for President Barack Obama and his agenda as evidence that public support is lacking for his signature legislation.
The threatening caller, when told by a staffer that Miller was not planning a meeting, claimed the congressman didn't want to meet with people face to face because he knew it would cost him his life, according to Canipe. The staffer then asked if the caller was making a threat. The caller, said Canipe, replied that there are a lot of angry people out there. The U.S. Capitol Police confirmed Friday they were looking into a threat against a congressman, but wouldn't provide further details.
Websites such as "Atlas Shrugs" written by Pamela Geller fuel the "mob mentality" by posting articles filled with misinformation such as " Pelosi's Leftist Lies and the Propagandists Who Spread Them, Libel blogging A Different Kind of Fauxtograph" and Pamela Geller is inciting more violence at the Town Hall Meetings by calling the Democratic party, "Obama thugs and Fascists".
"Behave yourselves like your mom would probably tell you to do," Gibbs said when asked what piece of advice he would give to the demonstrators.
>> "Look who is preaching us about civility - the thug administration. The good news is that the seniors are too smart to fall for such cheap tricks. The good news is that now average, ordinary Americans can see how evil and deceitful the Democrats are. It is no longer a media story they never heard or saw. It is them. They, the average American, that is being smeared. Now it is in the daily fabric of their lives. I hope the Dems keep the mask off, so that everyone can see the fifth column at work. The nerve of these thugs. They are fascists. Ridicule is a rule for radicals, a tactic -- don't forget it. Do not back down. Do not cower. Do not go quietly into the night". by Pamela Geller.