Republican lawmakers around the country are facing angry backlash from their constituents over Obamacare and other issues at packed town halls. But an event for Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton on Wednesday night got especially heated.
One voter, her voice raw with emotion, told Cotton that her husband is dying and has Alzheimer’s and other conditions.
“And you want to stand there with him at home, expect us to be calm, cool, and collected? Well, what kind of insurance do you have?” she said, as the crowd erupted.
The woman told Cotton that they currently pay only $29 a month for her husband’s insurance and $39 a month for hers. They can’t afford higher premiums, she said. “If you can get us better coverage than this, go for it,” she said. “Can you beat that? Can you?”
At one point, another attendee asked members of the audience to stand up if they were affected by Obamacare. Nearly everyone did.
A woman at a town hall for Sen. Tom Cotton asked the audience to stand if affected by the ACA. Here's their reaction: pic.twitter.com/BfQdUZwJdQ— The Democrats (@TheDemocrats) February 23, 2017
As Matt Fuller, a reporter for the Huffington Post, pointed out, a lot of people have gained health insurance under Obamacare in Arkansas — so it’s not surprising that Cotton’s constituents might be angry about the possibility of losing it:
Cotton agreed to hold the town hall at the insistence of Ozark Indivisible, which picketed Cotton’s office earlier this month after he canceled a previously scheduled meeting. Cotton’s office said he wasn’t letting constituents into his office at the time due to “recent threats.” Indivisible is a national network of progressive activists that has been helping local groups organize to attend town halls like these.
Other striking moments from the town hall, which drew more than 1,000 people, included a 7-year-old boy asking why it was more important to Donald Trump to pay for a border wall with Mexico than to fund PBS Kids:
At town hall, 7-year-old asks Arkansas Sen. Cotton about defunding PBS and building the wall. "You can still have one and have the other." pic.twitter.com/LNFK1ybuUE— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) February 23, 2017
At one point, Cotton was shouted down by chants demanding that Trump release his tax returns:
Tom Cotton shouted down with chants of "TAX RETURNS!" pic.twitter.com/iEcQDqHnCx— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) February 23, 2017
One woman also made a point of telling Cotton that she was “not a paid protester” — a phrase that President Trump and other Republican lawmakers have used often to dismiss the concerns of the constituents who attend the town halls.
Angry constituent tells Tom Cotton she's not a paid protester. Crowd goes wild. pic.twitter.com/z1lN3Le7sT— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) February 23, 2017