Town Hall Participants Back Sen. DeMint

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Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) has called health care President Obama's Waterloo. DeMint is holding health care town halls across the state. The crowd at his meeting Wednesday mostly opposed the Democrats plans for changes to the health care system.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Senators and congressmen continue to hear from constituents with strong feelings about the proposed overhaul of health care. In just a minute, we'll check in with Democratic Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. of Illinois. First, to South Carolina and Senator Jim DeMint, the Republican who called health care President Obama's Waterloo. Catherine Welch of member station WHQR reports that Senator DeMint held a town hall meeting yesterday in Myrtle Beach.

CATHERINE WELCH: Joyce Goodchild canceled her bridge game so she could stand out in the heat waving her sign, trimmed with real five and $1 bills.

Ms. JOYCE GOODCHILD: It says don't play into the hands of special interest groups. And that's about 18, $19.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. GOODCHILD: That's what they have to lose - money, but a lot more than this.

WELCH: Goodchild and the dozen protestors were the minority. Hundreds of DeMint supporters crammed into a restaurant, while others were turned away. Sitting at a corner table, Norman Taylor has hypertension, asthma, two steel knees and arthritis, all covered by his veteran's insurance.

Mr. NORMAN TAYLOR: I'm not sure President Obama has all the right things, but the idea that it has to change is crucial.

WELCH: DeMint told the crowd he'd make changes, provide vouchers and set up a government-funded high-risk pool. That angered one man.

Unidentified Man: You made a comment that you were for high-risk pools. That's socialized medicine, Senator. If it's good enough for me, how come it's not good enough for the rest of the country?

Senator JIM DEMINT (Republican, South Carolina): Well, the whole point is to make sure that folks like you can get affordable insurance. I mean, that's what it's about.

WELCH: For many in this conservative South Carolina crowd, how to make it affordable certainly isn't the government's business.

For NPR News, I'm Catherine Welch.

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