Four Grassley “town hall” meetings

As you may know, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-New Hartford, Iowa) held four "town hall" meetings in central Iowa today.  The first was in WintersetThe last was in Adel.  All four had to be moved to larger venues due to overflow crowds.  Three were held outdoors.  It means the shouting from some in the audience (particularly from unhappy folks at the event in Adel late this afternoon) went up into the atmosphere and was not trapped inside a room where it could reverberate and serve to drive emotions even higher.

I'm at present trying to edit out a couple of f-bombs in the audio from the Adel event.  The cursing was directed at a woman who described herself as a "Christian liberal."  

Grassley chose a man out of the crowd in Adel and told him to choose which people would get handed a microphone to either make a statement or ask a question. 

Vicki Crawford of Granger was given a turn at the microphone.  Her three-and-a-half minute lecture of Grassley drew loud bursts of applause from the crowd.

"Senator Grassley, please forgive my luddite teleprompter here," she began, getting laughter from some in the audience.  "I have heard your recent rhetoric about how we all want the same thing as Obama — health care reform.  I disagree on every level. There is nothing a liberal wants that I would agree to and we have to stop giving ground."

Crawford continued, and a few members of the crowd yelled "Where's the question?" Crawford said she had waited for a long time to get her turn at the mic and she'd get to a question.  Crawford told Grassley she liked him, but she accused him of being an appeaser. "This is no less than liberty versus tyranny, good versus evil and there is no middle ground. With whom will you choose to stand?"  She got sustained applause.

Grassley let the applause die down, then he replied by (again) defending his work in the "Gang of Six" senators from the Senate Finance Committee. "We may never have a bill, or after Labor Day, you could have the Democrats deciding to go ahead on their own," Grassley told the crowd, saying his participation in the bipartisan negotiations had stopped that Democrats-only approach  "…If (Democrats) do go ahead (on their own), this is what I fear.  They get done what they want, they're going to change our health care system forever. You understand I feel a little bit like the boy sticking his finger in the dike, trying to stop the ocean from coming in…If I had not been at the table, there would have been a bill through the (Senate Finance) Committee the week of June 22 and it would have been through the senate by now because there's 60 Democrats so I think that I have, by sticking my finger in the dike, I've  had an opportunity to give the grassroots of America an opportunity to speak up as you're seeing every day on television and I think that's a good thing."

A few minutes later, Sharla Yeats of Urbandale was given the microphone and a chance to speak.  "I'm a God-fearing Christian. I'm also a liberal, so we are out here. I want to ask you why you won't use your strong Republican voice to clarify the outright lies that are out there about the programs that are being proposed."

A few people applauded, but Yeats was mostly heckled from this point on.  "I see signs," she said. "I see signs that say 'Kennedy Lies, Grandma Dies.' 

At this point, someone nearby yells "Woo!"

Yeats continued.  "I see signs with Obama in white face as 'The Joker.'"

People around her started booing, some loudly chanting: "Read the bill!" 

"I see signs comparing (Obama) to a Marxist," Yeats said.  " I see this rudeness in Iowa."

The "Read the bill!" chant continued for a few more bars (that's a musical reference, not a reference to the "Corner Tap" which was kitty-corner from the park).  She quit talking and handed back the microphone.

"I at least got part of her question," Grassley replied.  "..There's two things that we ought to be civil with each other on and have civil discussions…Let me ask you a quesiton: What are two things that people always brag about never talking about?…And if there's any two things we ought to be talking to each other about, it's religion and politics and we ought to be able to do it in a civil manner and respect each other's views."  That statement got a tepid response from the crowd. 

At about 50 minutes into the event, Grassley got boos when he said President Bush's treasury secretary had "lied to" congress about the TARP money. (The crowd seemed mostly to oppose the so-called "bailout.") 

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. Kay – Were most of the people in the crowd wearing tin foil hats and checking the sky for black helicopters? Nut jobs unite!

  2. Thank you for providing the only comprehensive report (that I have found) on the 8/12 Grassley events. The only reports I’ve seen focus on the “kill grandma” remark to the detriment (IMO) of the bigger story (Grassley’s boast of stalling negotiation in the Finance Committee).
    Can you provide a link to complete video of the Adel meeting? Or upload whatever you have to youtube (f-bombs are no big deal there)?
    thanks from a neighbor in Wisconsin

  3. Gilbert Lawrence, MD says

    I saw on C-span, Grassley’s small town-hall meeting in Iowa. I hope the senator appreciated the polite, but tough tongue-lashing he received from several, who participated in this rural conservative crowd. The senator took hand-written notes.
    The first question was: Why average Americans cannot have the same insurance as Congress? The senator fudged his response. Similarly he fudged on “elimination of preexisting condition.” The lady pinned him down on: what will this do to other peoples’ insurance cost? The meeting ended with a comment that the forum was held in a Methodist church; and the moral stand of the Methodist hierarchy in the healthcare debate is totally against what Republicans stand for.
    Our erstwhile senator should have responded, that the current cost of healthcare (17% of GDP) factors in the care for uninsured; and is paid for by an effective-surcharge of more than a thousand dollars per year on an average family’s insurance cost. This hopefully should be eliminated if the bill is passed.
    Unfortunately the senator agreed with a questionnaire to only address the “uninsured” issue; and do “incremental” reforms with time. Thus letting our bloated healthcare system to continue to be a drain on the US economy, bankrupt families (with insurance), and Medicare by 2017.
    The senator is one of three Republicans on the Senate Finance committee on healthcare. Lord have mercy!

  4. My wife and I don’t have insurance and haven’t been able to purchase one due to a pre-existing condition my wife has for more than 3 years now. We pay for doctor’s visits out of pocket and it takes about 30% (!!!!) of our income.
    Last spring my wife went to Russia of all places to have a comprehensive set of diagnostic tests done. The tests and care she received were excellent. I am not saying the Russian health care is the best in the world but it gets the job done quite well.
    US is a Third World country now for all I am concerned: no universal health care, utter corruption of representatives by corporate lobbyists, complete inability of Congress to act in the best interests of the people and not banking and insurance industries.
    My hopes for a comprehensive health care reform are fading quickly and I am getting more and more disillusioned. Gosh, what should happen to our country that will bring a real change? Not in my lifetime, I guess.