Town Halls Still Heating Up As Dr. Dean Backpeddles

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 25, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Minutes ago, Democratic congressman Jim Moran finished a rowdy town hall in Virginia. FOX's Griff Jenkins is live at the town hall -- Griff.

GRIFF JENKINS, FOX NEWS: Greta, "rowdy" is the right word. We're at the Wendell G. Bird (ph) basketball gymnasium at South Lakes High School in Reston, Virginia. It holds about 3,000 people although I'm not sure the court's seen this much action since these town halls began, certainly not that much passion.

Now, look, there was about 60 percent of the crowd supportive of the president's health care initiative and about 40 percent against. We saw people organizing on both sides. And what was interesting, Greta, this sign, resembling of one on the campaign trail, printed out by Organizing for America. There were thousands of these in the stands, so a lot of support.

Interestingly enough, once the packed auditorium got going and you could feel the energy and the fire coming, they handed out George Washington's rules of civility. Number 58 states that in all causes of passion, that reason should govern. And I'm not so sure that was the case inside here or outside. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Health care now! Health care now! Health care now!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Health care now! Health care now! Health care now!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Health care now! Health care now! Health care now!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We heard about this. We came out here. We're obviously opposed to the government takeover of health care, and we wanted to let our message known to the folks out here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the fact of the matter is, you want to reform the entire health care system.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, just insurance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, but that's -- that's -- again, it's a farce.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it's outrageous that not every American has health insurance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Prove to us that it works, and then we'll take a look at doing it nationally.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not an option when you have to be paying your tax money to pay for other things.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The cost, the out-of-pocket cost, the cash we spend, is going up exponentially.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The cost of doing nothing is much greater than the cost of doing something.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a huge amount of money, and we need to be able to look at it rationally.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need health reform but not a government option.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... solution instead of just complaining about what we don't have and work toward being part of the solution, instead of just saying no to everything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ma'am, you have no -- how do you -- you don't know -- of course that's what I'm working for! That's why I'm here. I'm a physician. I spend a third of my life taking care of people for nothing. Do you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have Howard Dean, Chairman Dean, on your poster. If you had a chance to talk to him tonight, what are you going to say to him?



JENKINS: Howard Dean, chairman of the DNC, bringing most of the fire out in people. And you know, he took to the talk show circuit on Sunday, Greta, and last night, he appeared on another network, suggesting that Republicans opposing the president's health care initiative were in some way undermining the country. Take a look at what he said.


HOWARD DEAN, M.D., FORMER GOVERNOR, D - VT: This Republican Party, this shrinking Republican Party, is just determined to undermine President Obama. And unfortunately, you have to undermine the country in order to undermine the president. I think that's too bad.


JENKINS: Now, I had an opportunity to attempt to talk to him entering this event tonight, and here's how it happened. He's changing his tune a little bit. Look at this.


JENKINS: You said last night on a program that Republicans opposing the president's initiative, health care initiatives, were undermining the country. Could you clarify that for me?

DEAN: I didn't say that. I did not say that.

JENKINS: I have your quote right here, sir.


JENKINS: He was not made available and left very quickly, so I couldn't get him to clarify that. But certainly, upping the ante in this debate, which has in no way lost steam. As you've seen, we've covered these for the last several weeks, and we'll continue to do so. This one was so rowdy that a couple of gentlemen were escorted -- one in particular, an anti-abortion activist, Randall Terry, disrupting the events here tonight. It lasted just over two hours. Greta, back to you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Griff, you've had a chance now to go to a number of town hall meetings. In fact, I think you probably may hold the record in the country as the most town hall meetings. How do you compare and contrast them? Are they getting smaller, bigger? Are they different states? Tell me the difference and the similarities.

JENKINS: Well, you know, a couple of observations. The first -- the earliest ones seemed to be a real referendum on Washington -- the deficit spending, "cash for clunkers," all array of issues. And the last few have been focused on the health care fight, and it's been more organized. As we saw tonight, these signs from Organizing for America in support, and you've seen a larger turn-out of folks that are opposed to it and it's focusing on health care.

But it's is not getting any lower, and of course, the recent polls suggest that support is waning a little bit for the president's health care initiative. And tomorrow, the Democrats are going to continue to have these organizing parties -- they're not tea parties, but they're going to be organizing rallies -- in support of health care. And a tea party express, which we will cover here, begins Friday in California, making its way all the way to Washington. So this fight, simply with regards to health care, is heating up here at the end of August, as kids get ready to go back to school -- Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Griff, thank you.

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