Mesa County Republican Party urges civil town hall attendance
By EMILY ANDERSON
President Barack Obama’s Saturday visit to Grand Junction won’t be a lovefest if Mesa County Republicans have their way, but it won’t be a shouting match, either.
Tuesday night, Mesa County Republican Party Chairman Chuck Pabst sent an e-mail asking Republicans to attend Saturday’s town hall with Obama at Central High School. The e-mail went to about 1,000 people who are signed up for updates from the party.
Pabst wrote: “While we respect the office of the president, it is our duty to respectfully question those policies proposed which go against our Republican values. We encourage as many of you as possible to sign up for tickets to this event, so we can make a large showing to exercise our constitutional right to question our leaders.”
The message continued: “We also encourage you to show Mr. Obama that even though we disagree with him, we do so with civility and respect. The national spotlight will be on our community, so let’s show the country what it truly means to be a conservative in Colorado.”
Pabst said in a phone interview Wednesday the vast majority of conservatives are fired up about health care legislation. But he’d rather discuss Grand Junction’s ability to provide private health insurance than shout down the president.
“I put in my letter: Let’s welcome Obama with the warmth of western Colorado and send him home with the message we disagree with nationalized health care,” Pabst said. “My experience has been you can get farther with civility and respect instead of loud words and disruption.”
Not everyone hopes for civil behavior at Saturday’s town hall. The event listing appeared in a message board thread on the Colorado AR-15 Shooters Web site, a site for fans of that particular style of rifle.
One person listed on the site as a Brighton/Thornton-area resident wrote, “hopefully people ream his (expletive).” Another asked if anyone was interested in a carpool to the event. One person who listed his or her location as Grand Junction wanted to know “What about concealed carry ... I’d assume absolute no go there, just checking.”
“Thomas” of Colorado Springs wrote on the site that media accounts have shown people disrespecting Congress members but not the president.
“It would be great to have such a different result in GJ that even the lib media would have to report a new outcome,” Thomas wrote.
Congress members have until Sept. 8 to spend time in their home states during the August recess. Some U.S. representatives and senators have faced heckling and angry shouting at town hall meetings they’ve hosted.
Rep. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., was escorted to his car by police after an hour of people shouting at him at one of his town hall meetings, according to Politico. Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., was yelled at during a town hall aired Tuesday on C-SPAN.