The White House disagreed this afternoon with the contention by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, that the disruptions at town hall meetings are "un-American," as the Democratic congressional leaders contended in a USA Today op-ed this morning.
"I think there's actually a pretty long tradition of people shouting at politicians in America," White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton told reporters on Air Force One when asked about the comments.
"The President thinks that if people want to come and have a spirited debate about health care, a real vigorous conversation about it, that's a part of the American tradition and he encourages that, because people do have questions and concerns …And so if people want to come and have their concerns and their questions answered, the President thinks that's important. Now, if you just want to come to a town hall so that you can disrupt and so that you can scream over another person, he doesn’t think that that's productive. And as a country, we've been able to make progress when people actually talk out what our problems are, not try to shout each other down."
At his town hall meeting in Portsmouth, NH, tomorrow, Burton said, President Obama "thinks that we're going to be able to have a constructive conversation tomorrow and he'll continue to do that at the town hall later in the week and throughout this effort."