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Protesters Sound Off on 'Un-American' Town Hall Rage

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 11, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: And we have protests across the country covered, and we start with our own Griff Jenkins at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, where Senator Arlen Specter held a town hall today. Griff, take it away.

GRIFF JENKINS, FOX NEWS: Hey, Greta, that's right. Here at Bucknell, there were about 350 people packed into an auditorium, another 500 in an overflow room and the senator took 30 questions.

But if I could just address the comments of [White House Press Secretary] Mr. Gibbs -- he might want to take note. What I saw here today, Greta, was a referendum on Washington as much as it was a discussion of health care. At one point, a woman stood up and said, I'm generally concerned, Senator Specter, that we're going down the road to socialism, to which the senator tried for a moment of levity and said, Well, it's a good thing that only a third of the room stood up when you said that, young woman. And the entire room erupted in jeering and booing and cheering to make their point.

They're mad about the deficit spending. They're mad about the speed with which things are being done. And that might be a message, Greta, that Mr. Gibbs wants to pay attention to.

Now, I will say that it was orderly here. There were no protesters. There was no shouting, no violence -- or no violence. But there was plenty of shouting, lots of passion. And I spoke to some of the folks after the event. Here's what they had to say. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you get below the surface, I think there are a lot of things that are disturbing, again, the bureaucrats making decisions, or you know, having access to our bank accounts -- our bank accounts and things like that. This is stuff that's not American. And you know, with friends in Canada and different stuff, we don't want that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It kind of bugs me about the Congress is that they pass laws, and generally, there are some of those laws that don't apply to them. And I think that all -- any law that's passed in Congress ought to apply to all members of Congress. And that -- it would be nice to see that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I want them to understand is, from my perspective -- I work at Guysinger (ph), and that has been cited as one of the health care delivery systems, almost as a model to use for this health care reform. One thing I overlooked in there was, one of the reasons that I think we're cost-effective is our CEO, Dr. Glen Steele (ph) -- he only makes about $1.5 million a year. He's underpaid, as far as I'm concerned, whereas insurance companies, the top 10 -- these guys make over $10 million or $12 million on average, from what I understand. And my point to the country and to Senator Specter is, How much is enough? How much do they need?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Things need changed or they need adjusted, but you don't redo the whole system because that just makes it bad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JENKINS: After the event, I asked Senator Specter about the mob title, the label that they've been given, and he said, quote, "I'm not going to categorize any guests that turn out to my town halls as mobs" -- Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Griff, and any of the people you spoke to afterwards -- did any one say after the event, I know more, I learned more, I changed my opinion? Did you get any of that?

JENKINS: What I got mostly, Greta, was that people said, I felt like the senator was listening to me and I hope will take that message back to Washington. That's what I heard the most.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Griff. Thank you.

Well, for many protesters, the message is simple -- read the bill, just read it In Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Robert Mitchell takes on Senator Arlen Specter and Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT MITCHELL, TOWN HALL PROTESTER: When congressmen scoff at the notion of reading legislation because they aren't qualified or they aren't competent to understand it, how can we be confident that those congressmen are competent to reengineer the entire health care system?

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Robert Mitchell asked that question and joins us live from Philadelphia. Rob, that town hall meeting was last week sometime. Did you get any answers that satisfied you, so that when you walked out the door, you felt better about this bill?

MITCHELL: No. We didn't get any answers. It was pretty clear to us when -- from the time they entered the room they were there in order to deliver their talking points and to try to persuade the audience that they were right. They weren't really there to listen to what the audience had to say, and we reacted to that appropriately.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have a sense that this is sort of democracy, is which Senator Specter -- I'm sure you didn't hear that, but Senator Specter made some remark that this is democracy. On the other hand, some have described this as angry mob. Some have described this as "un-American." How do you describe yourself?

MITCHELL: Un-American -- I can't believe that the Speaker of the House would call people who are attending town halls un-American. I think it's a reflection about how elected representatives -- how insulated they've become and how out of touch they are with people.

What has people upset is Congress forcing bills down our throats, spending bills after spending bills that are very unpopular with Democrats and Republicans alike. And with health care, let's not lose sight that this whole health care bill was something that President Obama had originally planned to have completely wrapped up and signed into law before the August break! I mean, that was even before the legislators themselves would have had an opportunity to read it! And we're tired of being ramrodded in this way by people who are supposed to be working for us!

VAN SUSTEREN: Is this a one-time deal, or are you just getting energized?

MITCHELL: Oh, the more that they insult us, the more energized we become. I mean, the people who are conducting these meetings, the people in Washington, D.C., were put in Washington, D.C., by the voters to represent the people. And we don't feel like we're being represented. We feel like they've turned things completely on their heads, and they're doing the things that they want to do. Hopefully, they can control public opinion to limit the political consequences that might come around the next time that they face election. But nonetheless, they're already talking about using parliamentary tricks in order to force health care reform through, regardless of what the people have had to say during this particular break.

VAN SUSTEREN: Rob, thank you. Good luck.

Little Rock, Arkansas, Congressmen Mike Ross and Vic Snyder hold a town hall. Rob Richard's question causes an uproar.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROB RICHARD, TOWN HALL PROTESTER: The bill becomes a coercion measure. Will you support taking the same coercion as you are -- as you are legislating upon the American people?

REP. VIC SNYDER, D - ARK.: I don't understand what you're getting at. Mike and I do not support a single-payer system. We're not interested in a single-payer system. We're not interested in expanding Medicare (INAUDIBLE) we don't support a single-payer system.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But that's what Obama wants!

SNYDER: No, it's not what President Obama wants.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it is!

(SHOUTING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Rob Richard joins us live from Little Rock. Rob, the members of Congress say that they do not support single-payer, that the president does not support single-payer. Do you believe them?

RICHARD: Well, Greta, thanks for having me on, and it's good to be with you. As Obama said when he was running for president, that ideally, we would have a single-payer system. Now, we already have a real terrible sense of bureaucracy with HMOs, PPOs and a Medicare system in which if you were watching Larry King earlier, Penn Teller was -- Penn was saying that - - that we spend twice as much money on health care here in America as any other system in the world, but it's terribly inefficient. And we're now proposing expanding public health care coverage to more Americans, and I don't see that as an act of responsibility by our Congress.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, what would you do? What would you do if you had a magic wand and you were in Congress?

RICHARD: Well, I'd like to see more tax credits for taxpayers, less government intervention in the doctor-patient relationship, certainly, not forcing employers to provide health care for all their employees. All that's going to do is result in layoffs, more unemployment. And more unemployment is going to stem (ph) less health care for people, less production. You're going to see the GDP dropping even more. And we may come to a point where we're in such trouble that a lot of Americans will be asking for handouts. And I see that as terrible.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, the members of Congress go back to work in about three weeks, and they're going to be debating this and voting on this. Is this a one-time deal, or do you intend to keep attempting to have your voice be heard?

RICHARD: Well, it's certainly not the first time that I've made my voice heard, and I can promise that along with the Campaign for Liberty, we are here and we're loud and we won't stop speaking up until we see America return to the principles as the founders laid out in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

VAN SUSTEREN: Rob, thank you very much.


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