Supporters, Foes Come Out For Health Care Town Hall

fromNHPR

The health care debate moved to Portsmouth, N.H., on Tuesday, where President Obama held a town hall meeting.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

While about 1,800 people made it inside to President Obama's health care town hall, others made their presence felt outside.

New Hampshire Public Radio's Josh Rogers spent time with the crowd of protesters.

JOSH ROGERS: There was no shortage of critics lining the driveway to Portsmouth High School.

(Soundbite of protest)

Unidentified People: No to government health care.

Mr. DAVE KOW(ph): If I want socialism, I'll go back to pre-World War II Germany. Hitler wanted socialism. I don't like Hitler.

ROGERS: Dave Kow came to the event from Standish, Maine. He and his friends have been yelling across the driveway at Obama supporters for two hours, and they showed no sign of fatigue.

(Soundbite of protest)

Unidentified Man #1: I fought in Vietnam for America.

Unidentified Man #2: God bless you.

Unidentified Man #1: And I'm fighting right here for America because I'm not stupid.

Unidentified Man #2: Good for you. God bless you.

ROGERS: Several yards away, Tony Trappary(ph) was shaking his fist. Heavily muscled with a shaved head, Trappary sported a sleeveless T-shirt that said Obama sucks.

Mr. TONY TRAPPARY: Where do you start? You know, the whole bailout, the auto bailout, he just wants to spend, spend, spend, spend. Take from the rich, give to the poor, you know, and all these uneducated people across from us just have no proof, none whatsoever.

ROGERS: Margaret Downing(ph) says she's lived here for years and says the president's supporters must have been hired to show up because she didn't recognize them.

Ms. MARGARET DOWNING: It took him - took Obama long enough to decide what kind of dog he was going to get, rather than the bill. And it troubles me that you're going to have to go to counseling to basically try and understand how you're going to kill yourself.

ROGERS: It is hard to find a protester who believed the president could somehow redeem the debate over health care.

Mr. BRUCE LIKEN(ph): I'm scared to death of having the government run anything.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ROGERS: Bruce Liken drove in from Maine and says the president's proposal was more about taxation and less about health care. But as someone who gets his insurance under Medicaid, he acknowledged his protest wasn't without irony.

For NPR News, I'm Josh Rogers in Concord, New Hampshire.

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