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Town hall protesters scoff at Trump admin's claim they're paid agitators

Town hall protests
Are outside agitators stirring up town halls as Trump administration claims? 02:18

METAIRIE, La. -- Republican members of Congress -- holding town meetings with constituents -- are facing loud protests from opponents of President Trump.

The administration claims professional outside agitators are partly to blame.

If professional agitators were lurking in the line outside the Jefferson Parish Library Wednesday, we didn’t meet them.

Protesters outside Jefferson Parish Library in Metairie, Louisiana. CBS News

“Look at us, do we look like loud individuals? Do we look like paid protesters?” said one of the women protesting outside. 

This group of mostly retired women brought homemade signs, umbrellas for the sun, and a newfound sense of activism.

“I am in this until I die if that is necessary,” said one woman named Carole, who held a flag.  “I feel that strongly. I am in this until I die.” 

They came to confront Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy about the Trump agenda and about Obamacare

“Where is he?! Where is he?!” protesters chanted. 

And when he was late, they started without him. 

“This child standing in front of you is completely uninsured,” one woman told the room, to boos.  

Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana faces angry constituents at a town hall meeting.  CBS News

Cassidy is a doctor himself -- and one of the few Republicans to introduce his own Obamacare replacement.

“Under our plan, you might end up with more people insured than under the ACA,” he told the crowd, to boos and angry questions. 

But the tax credits he’s proposing to help buy insurance have turned off colleagues on the right, while the left worries about the power he’d give states to scale back Medicaid.

“The instability that would create in the state, in our health insurance market -- that’s not good for anyone,” said Susan Todd, who runs a local association of non-profit health care providers. She helped spread the word about Wednesday’s town hall

Todd says the crowd is “pretty good” compared to her expectations. 

“We did have more than 1,000 people RSVP on Facebook,” she said.

Todd says she wouldn’t pay protesters, even if she had the ability to. 

The White House says these protesters are a vocal minority, and here in Louisiana, that may very well be true. President Trump won here by 20 points. But the Tea Party was a vocal minority too and still managed to push a lot of lawmakers to the right.

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