Town Halls Revisited: 'Sleeping Giants' Awakened

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This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 14, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: "A peaceful revolution" -- now, that's how Senator John McCain describes the town halls happening coast to coast. Senator McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham faced voters today at a joint town hall in South Carolina.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R - ARIZ.: We want to fix health care. It's the cost, not the quality. And we want to sit down at any time, anywhere with the president and/or the Democrats and get this situation fixed!


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R - S.C.: I'm looking for balance. I'm looking for a way to help people who really need help in a way not to make sure that your generation can't pay the bills.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where does the federal government get the power to take over health care? It's not in the Constitution. Even considering the welfare clause in the Constitution, it's not there!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe there is a conflict of interest when the number one objective for a for-profit health care business is profit, as opposed to the care of the individual.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you support the tea party movement?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to ask you what you can do to make sure that the Constitution is actually being upheld and defended.

GRAHAM: Every six years, I run for reelection. Every six years, he runs for reelection. And if you don't like what we're doing, you can vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's kind of the same rhetoric. There's nothing - - I mean, it was kind of a waste of time, in some sense, because they're saying what they say over and over again. They've got just kind of a rehearsed spiel, and that's what they come out with.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why don't they reduce waste and fraud and see if they really need to revamp everything? If your battery dies on the car, you don't go get a new car, you fix the battery.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They work for us, and I think they've long ago forgotten it!


VAN SUSTEREN: It is not over. The town halls do continue. Voters are taking on members of Congress from coast to coast. Next, you meet three of those angry, maybe passionate voters. But first, small business owner Catherine Bragg -- Catherine gave Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey an earful at a town hall.


CATHERINE BRAGG, SMALL BUSINESS OWNER: As a small business owner, I could use competition! There are 1,300 insurance companies in the United States and six of them -- I can only use six in California! If you open it up to competition, like I experience in my business -- competition makes me better!


VAN SUSTEREN: Catherine Bragg joins us live. Catherine, boy, you were all heated up. What got you all revved up that day?

BRAGG: Well, as I've said before, Greta -- thank you for having me on -- it's been a long time coming, and it was very cathartic for me to finally have a microphone in my hand and say to my elected representative that I've had enough. And when I started to speak, the crowd was really excited and they liked the direction that my little talk was going and they helped to fuel that. They basically gave me the impetus to keep going.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did you get anything from your congresswoman that day or even since that made you feel like, OK, I think we connected?

BRAGG: No, no. Quite the opposite, Greta. I really felt as if it was a lot of rhetoric. As everybody has said, that we have elected representatives in place that seem to think that they can just come out and give us lip service and we will all go back to work and we will all quiet down, but I don't think that's the case anymore. The sleeping giant has been awoken.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, you are a business person. Is -- what -- what is the most important thing to you in this whole -- what issue really strikes you the most?

BRAGG: I think what strikes me the most is that I already feel the hand of tyranny as a little business owner. I have so many requirements that I have to me to stay in business, and they come from all angles, from all levels of government.

And what I see this administration doing is they are continuing to lay that onto us, and they are continuing to build it into the future both near and long for not only myself but for other generations.

And so, unfortunately, it doesn't give me incentives to get up and keep going every day, whereas I have had that all my life. And I feel like I'm not alone. I have that so many people from around the United States contact me and say, thank you for what you did. Thank you for speaking my mind at the same time as you spoke yours

And that's people who are in the medical profession. They were either firefighters, policeman. They are everyday people who are either entrepreneurs or businesspeople that feel like they're whole dream, their whole belief in this system is crumbling before their eyes and they have no control over it anymore.

VAN SUSTEREN: Catherine, a lot of people descended upon the city over the weekend, as you might know. We have got to go, but Catherine, thank you.

BRAGG: You're very welcome, thanks, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Katy Abram went head-to-head with Senator Arlen Specter on August 11th.


KATY ABRAM, TOWN HALL PARTICIPANT: I don't believe this is just about health care. It is not about TARP. It is not about left and right. This is about the systematic dismantling of this country.

I'm only 35 years and I have never been interested in politics. You have awakened a sleeping giant. We are tired of this.


VAN SUSTEREN: Katy Abram joins us live. And Katy, since your opinion at that town hall meeting, I have seen that video a number of times. What has been the reaction in the community to you? Is it favorable or unfavorable?

ABRAM: Completely favorable. I would say there is probably 1 percent of the 2 percent of the emails and phone calls that I have received that are opposite.

VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of the e-mail or mail you have received, the unfavorable, how pointed is it? Is it "We don't like what you did," or is it much more aggressive in terms of critical view."

ABRAM: I would say it's very much along the lines of Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals," where they try and disarm you and call you names. I have been called an idiot, dumb, a poster child for the uneducated.

And you know what, I have read about the Constitution. The power does not lie with federal government. It lies with the states and local governments.

It's ridiculous what people are saying about how those of us who are standing up finally -- I mean, the giant is awake, and now he is really ticked off because of all of the baseball's that have been thrown at us left and right. I'm tired of it.

And you can see all those people who showed up in D.C. this weekend -- I didn't go, but I was there in spirit. I'm so proud of everybody that came out and voiced their concerns.

VAN SUSTEREN: How about Senator Specter? He has served your state for a long time. He has worked hard for all of you. Are you satisfied with him?

ABRAM: Yes, I am very dissatisfied with him. In just that town hall meeting, he was so disingenuous, it was ridiculous.

When I asked my question about him going back to Washington and upholding the constitution, his answer was "I have been doing that."

Please. If you were upholding in the constitution you would only be defending our country and doing that on an international scale. You wouldn't be dipping into the pockets of the American people and ramming these different programs down our throats. You would not be changing parties left and right.

This is the second time this man has changed parties. Do you know how many people are ticked off about that?

VAN SUSTEREN: I guess we will find out next election. Katy, thank you.

ABRAM: You're welcome.

VAN SUSTEREN: One of the most infamous town hall incidents happened in Texas. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee was caught on tape using her cell phone while she was being asked a question.




VAN SUSTEREN: Tracy Miller asked Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee that question. Tracy joins us live.

Tracy, that was on August 11. You went to another town hall meeting on August 22. Did you get your questions answered? Not whether you agree with it, but did you get your questions answered?

TRACY MILLER, ATTENDED HOUSTON TOWN HALL: No, I really did not get my questions answered. Instead when I brought up that there were concerns mentioned about the bill, we were told that that was not the intent of the bill.

And instead of giving an answer, I was accused of doing a hatchet job on good intentions.

VAN SUSTEREN: Who accused you of doing a hatchet job on intentions?

MILLER: Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did she actually say that specifically? You are just trying to do a hatchet job on intentions?

MILLER: Those were her remarks after I made my statement. I was allowed two comments, and when I returned to my seat, that is what she said, that I was doing a hatchet job on good intentions, basically.

And she also said in response to me bringing up the vebas (ph) mentioned in the bill, page 64 through 67, I believe, which are basically a gift to the United Auto Workers, $10 billion of money from the Treasury will be not subject to budget constraints.

When I mentioned this, she disagreed with what I said, and basically said that I was misinterpreting the bill. The interesting thing is that on FOX, Neil Cavuto just a couple days later came out and said the same thing about the bill. So I think I was correct in what I was saying about that section of the bill.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so you went to one, two town halls. Did you try to go to a third one?

MILLER: Yes, I did go to another one which was changed at the last minute. She canceled her plans to go to a town hall with her constituents in Anchors Home out here Houston, which is a poorer, minority area.

I was told she was holding a meeting at St. Joseph's hospital for doctors and staff there, and patients. I later found out it was private.

So I stayed around and talked to some constituents there about my concerns about the bill and an analysis with the bill with them, and we had a good talk. I guess you could say we had a mini-town hall of our own.

VAN SUSTEREN: Tracy, thank you.

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