Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona is the latest Democrat overrun by protesters at a local town hall event.
Sources say the protesters showed up after a robocall -- it's unclear from whom -- went out to Arizona voters encouraging them to show up at the event. The event was supposed to involve one on one chats with Kirkpatrick, a freshman member of Congress.
Kirkpatrick was unable to get the event started and canceled it.
"I am disappointed that the event was disrupted by a small but vocal group," Kirkpatrick said. "I grew up in Greater Arizona, and I remember the days when folks who disagreed would do so respectfully and were still able to work together on the important issues to find solutions."
Kirkpatrick is the latest Democrat to run into what Republicans have called "recess roastings," as congressional town halls from Utica, N.Y. to Austin, Texas, to Green Bay, Wis., have been disrupted this week by protesters. Debate continues over how genuine a grass roots movement this is, but POLITICO has reported that national conservative interest groups have helped organize some of the opposition.
"These 'chats' are meant to give people a chance to let me know what they need and what's important to them, and today's disruptions meant that a lot of folks did not get that chance," Kirkpatrick said. "I look forward to more public events, but more importantly I look forward to a return of civility and respectful dialogue where the focus is on the people and not scoring political points."
UPDATE: Turns out the anti-health reform group Conservatives for Patients Rights posted the Kirkpatrick event on its listing of town halls.
Not a big surprise, as Ann Kirkpatrick isn't exactly a courageous fighter for her constituents. When I talked with her at a July 4th picnic, she didn't even have an articulate position on health care, except that she "supported reform." So I'm not a big fan of Kirkpatrick.
But I was ready and willing to stand up against these thugs, and help Ann talk with her constituents. It's all about real democracy, and also that I'm big enough (and ugly enough) to intimidate bullies. Dialogue is good; shouting and disruptions aren't. When an angry mob wants to shut down conversation, decent people need to stand up to them. Sure, you're free to protest. But you're not free to prevent others right to free speech. I realize that there's no guarantee of 'civil discourse' in the constitution, but if enough people stand up to the screamers perhaps we can actually talk about how best to reform health care.
Please, Ann, don't run away from these mobs. People like me are ready to get your back. Standing firm is the only way to make bullies back down.