During an appearance on CNN’s OutFront with Erin Burnett on Thursday night, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders warned Republican members of Congress trying to avoid town hall meetings with their constituents due to fear of “hostile crowds,” saying “they haven’t seen anything yet.”
Sanders warned that public backlash against Republican members of Congress would continue because it has not yet reached its highest point. He told Burnett that more than 100 protests were expected to take place across the country on Saturday. Protesters, according to Sanders, would be demanding that politicians meet with their constituents to resolves issues, such as the ongoing move by Republicans in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare.
“I think the Republicans have not seen anything yet. If they’re worried about the protests they’re seeing, they’re going to see more.”
Burnett asked Sanders whether he agreed with Republican members of Congress, such as Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tx.), who said they would not attend town hall meetings due to safety concerns.
Gohmert had cited the case of Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) who was shot in the head in 2011 during a public meeting with constituents near Tucson in Arizona.
Sanders dismissed safety concerns expressed by Gohmert and other Republican representatives, saying he did not accept that they could use it as an excuse to avoid meeting with their constituents.
“No, I don’t. No, I honestly don’t,” Sanders answered. “And I don’t accept it for a minute.”
“If you don’t have the guts to face your constituents, then you shouldn’t be in the United States Congress.”
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The Vermont senator said representatives who feared for their safety during town halls should ask for increased police security at the meetings but they could not use safety concerns as an excuse “to run way from your constituents after you supported repealing the Affordable Care Act, throwing 20 million people off of health insurance, doing away with pre-existing conditions.”
Burnett also asked Sanders about White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s claim that protesters were being paid to show up at the town halls.
“Can you say, senator, with absolute certainty that what he said is not true?” Burnett asked Sanders.
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“Look, I hope I do not shock your viewers by telling you that the White House occasionally lies,” Sanders answered, “and that’s just another lie.”
He insisted that the current “uprising” was a grassroots phenomenon. According to Sanders, the agitation at town halls was a spontaneous reaction by people who were losing their heath insurance.
“I think you are seeing people organizing effectively, but unlike the Tea Party, this is not being funded by billionaire class,” he said.
“We need a mass movement of people, and I think we need members of Congress actively involved in that movement.”
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Sanders argued that it was not only Democratic voters that were concerned about the threat of the repeal of the ACA. Republican voters were also concerned and fearful about having to lose their health insurance. Voters were also worried that the Trump administration was abandoning its promise not to cut Social security, Medicare, and Medicaid, according to Sanders.
“There are people all over this country now — and by the way it’s not just Democrats, there are Republicans who are looking at Trump and the White House and they’re saying, ‘Hey, you told us, Mr. President, that you were not going to cut Social security, Medicare and Medicaid,'” Sanders continued.
He went on to explain that voters were concerned that after promising he would not cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, Trump was bringing into his administration “people whose whole career is based on cutting Social security, Medicare and Medicaid.”
“You told us, Mr. President when you were campaigning, you were going to stand up to Wall Street,” Sanders said.
“[But you have]… brought half of Wall Street into your administration. What’s going on?”
“I think the Republicans have not seen anything yet,” he concluded.
“If they’re worried about the protests they’re seeing, they’re going to see more. This coming Saturday we believe there will be well over 100 protests. Most of them in Republican offices around the country, district offices, demanding that Republican members of Congress meet with their constituents and answer the questions that their constituents have.”
[Featured Image by Keith Srakocic/AP Images]