Specter: Town Hall Meetings Are ‘Not Really Representative Of America’

By Nitya

Aug 16, 2009 11:20am

Democratic Senator Arlen Specter said in an interview on “This Week” that he supports Americans right to organize, but warned that recent town hall ruckus from critics of the Democrats' health care proposals are not representative of the public's view on the issue.

“I think we have to bear in mind, that although those people need to be heard and have a right to be heard, that they are not really representative of America in my opinion,” Specter said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“We have to be careful here not to let those town meetings make the scene that influences what we do on health policy.”

Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch was quick to disagree with Specter saying the heat surrounding town halls recently represent people who are “up in arms” with anger.

During a head-to-head debate between the two senators on “This Week,” Hatch complimented Specter on his handling of the town halls but said recent uprising was genuine.

“Having listened to Arlen, I have to say that I thought Arlen handled his town meetings very, very well,” said Hatch.  “I disagree with Arlen that they're not representative of the American people.  I think they are. I've found people just up in arms everywhere I've gone on health care.”

Specter has been in the cross fires this week during town hall debates in his own district. During our interview this morning, Specter referred to comments made by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-SC, that Republicans defeating Democratic health care reform efforts could be President Obama's political "Waterloo."

In effort to bring the possibility of bipartisanship back to the table, Specter invited Hatch to join him to work together on drafting health care reform legislation. Hatch had earlier walked away from bipartisan negotiations.

Specter said "we also can’t allow these kinds of town hall meetings to dominate the political process, that would be destructive of what we need to do to figure out what is the best approach.”

Watch full debate here.

- jpt

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