This past week, Representative Greg Walden faced a series of contentious Town Hall meetings with constituents infuriated by his advocacy of the stalled GOP health care bill and his embrace of President Donald Trump. On Friday, the only Republican in Oregon’s congressional delegation met with another largely-hostile crowd, this time in Medford.
If there was any question about whether people would show up for a Town Hall meeting at 7:30 on a weekday morning, they were answered by the crowd that crammed the gymnasium bleachers at North Medford High school.
And when Greg Walden opened the mikes, he got an earful. Peggy Vernier of Medford set the tone when she identified herself as a member of the national anti-Trump movement known as Indivisible.
“Would everyone who identifies with Indivisible please stand up?” she asked.
With a huge cheer, at least three-quarters of the audience rose …
And that was pretty much how it went. Across a range of hot-button issues from health care to immigration to budget cuts to alleged Russian meddling in the last election, speakers hammered Walden for backing the president, and often greeted his answers with jeers and boos.
Asked if he’d vote for a bill to require presidents to reveal their tax returns, Walden had this unpopular answer …
"I think the president would have been better served to do it. But in America, you have privacy over your tax data. It’s his choice, and I support that."
Although Walden appeared to have few friends in the audience, he gamely stood his ground and fielded questions for over an hour, before heading off to his next Town Hall in Grants Pass.
Unlike dozens of his Republican colleagues who are ducking in-person Town Halls this recess – much as many Democrats did after the Tea Party-fueled summer of 2009 – Walden has been willing to show up and face the music.