OTR Interviews

Shame! Anger Boils Over at Wis. Town Hall

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 8, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: And right now, you go to Wisconsin, where it is hot! And we don't mean the temperature. An angry mob of protesters shuts down a town hall meeting. You go behind the scenes and see what happens as the crowd gets heated discussing collective bargaining rights. Many of them are clearly union workers yelling "Shame, shame, shame" as two Republican leaders walked out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This meeting will be adjourned!

(BOOS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shame! Shame! Shame!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shame! Shame! Shame!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shame! Shame! Shame!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Republican State Senator Leah Vukmir was co-hosting the town hall event. She joins us live from Madison. And tell me in your own words what happened.

STATE SEN. LEAH VUKMIR, R-WIS.: Well, good evening, Greta. It was, as you described, a mob. And it was a very organized mob that was designed and planned ahead to do two things, to disrupt and to intimidate. And while they did manage to disrupt, they haven't managed to intimidate. And it's really a shame. People -- we wanted to hear what people had to say. I wanted people to hear what I had to say in expressing my views why I'm supporting Governor Walker and his plan. And clearly, the folks that were there, who had been organized to be there, wanted nothing to do with hearing, [nor with] what I had to say. Time and time again, as I tried to speak, they talked over me. They shouted. And it was rather discouraging and at times very disrespectful.

VAN SUSTEREN: Where was it? I mean, I take it this was not in Madison. Was this in your home district?

VUKMIR: This was in my home district, which is Wauwatosa, which also is home to our governor, Scott Walker, which is another reason why I believe the attempt was to really make a showing in Governor Walker's home town. So it was a town hall meeting that Congressman Sensenbrenner has done time and time again in all parts of his district. He does over 100 of them every year. And in the 30 years that he has been in office, he has never had to shut one down. That's how disruptive it was.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why was Congressman Sensenbrenner involved in this, if he's a federal official? Was the issue more than the state collective bargaining walk-out by the 14 Democrats and Governor Walker? Was it -- was it for broader purposes?

VUKMIR: He holds the town hall meetings as a congressman, but he always invites the state senator and state rep in case there are state issues that are pressing. And in this case, there were clearly state issues, and the vast majority of the questions were directed at me.

And you know, it was -- it was very unfortunate because, you know, here you have a situation where we're trying to talk to folks, we're trying to hear what people's concerns were. There were many people who were there who did not get a chance to speak because the meeting was called to a close after 30 minutes. And it was a situation that I have never seen before.

And as I said before, it was very organized. We do know that they had planned in advance. We had received e-mails that they had planned on just being there and making a loud noise and presence and completely disrupting the process of the people. And unlike the 14 senators who have left the state, I believe in doing the work of the people, being there, listening to what they have to say, trying to answer their questions. And clearly, we were not able to do that.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, we only have 30 seconds left, so I need to have a quick answer. But do you have any information that the 14 senators are thinking about returning to the state?

VUKMIR: No. We have not heard anything as of late. And we're certainly hopeful that they will come back. But again, the whole issue of collective bargaining rights was really highlighted by what happened here, by this intimidation that was done by the mob in this room. And clearly, it is emblematic of what the people in our local communities and our school boards are recognizing and realizing as they go through the collective bargaining process. And it makes the case why we need to have collective bargaining reform.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you very much. We'll be watching this story because it's not going away.