Angry that he had not been among the roughly thirty people who had been given the opportunity to ask the senator a question, one man began yelling – at which point he was pushed by another attendee and it appeared a fight might break out.
Specter intervened in an effort to calm everyone down. The man, waving a piece of paper, then turned to Specter and complained that he could not influence the senator because he is "not a lobbyist with all kind of money to stuff in your pocket." He also referred to Specter as "crooked."
"One day, God's gonna stand before you," the worked-up man said as the senator looked at him without expressing emotion. "And he's gonna judge you and the rest of your damn cronies up on the Hill -- and then you will get your just desserts."
Specter, who called the outburst "a demonstration of democracy," faced some other hostile questions at the town hall, with many speakers complaining about Democratic health care reform efforts. Most of the questioners were polite, however – even one woman who wore a "member of the mob" t-shirt, a reference to complaints from Democrats that Republican operatives had dispatched "angry mobs" to disrupt town hall events.
"This is about the systematic dismantling of this country…you have awakened a sleeping giant," a woman named Katy Abram said to Specter, reading from a prepared statement. She later appeared on Fox News, which covered the Specter event along with the other cable networks.
The senator, who switched from the Republican to Democratic Party this year, remained calm throughout the meeting, telling attendees that he would not support the health care bill if it would add to the deficit. Crowds of people who did not get into the meeting gathered outside, some clutching signs warning of socialism.
Members of Congress typically hold town hall meetings during their August recess. This year many of those meetings have turned into spectacles as angry constituents have chanted and yelled during the proceedings. President Obama will hold a town hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire this afternoon.
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