USA Politics First Look

Tom McClintock's rowdy town hall meeting: Are anti-Trump protesters adopting tea party tactics?

Rep. Tom McClintock (R) of California, had to be escorted by police from a town hall meeting in Northern California as anti-Trump protesters followed him shouting, 'Shame on you!'

Rep. Tom McClintock (R) of California fields questions from an audience at the Tower Theatre in Roseville, Calif., Saturday.
Randall Benton/The Sacramento Bee/AP
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A Republican congressman was escorted by police out of a town hall meeting Saturday after an unruly crowd packed the venue and denounced him for supporting President Trump’s policies.

Rep. Tom McClintock (R) represents a solidly red district in northern California. But after backing the president’s controversial policies regarding climate change and immigration, he clashed with hundreds of protesters while holding a town hall meeting a theater in downtown Roseville Saturday. Around 200 people crowded the theater while others gathered outside yelling, “Climate change is real!” and “resist!” in protest of Trump’s agenda.

As Mr. McClintock listened to constituents’ concerns in the venue, many booed his responses, which included a call to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a denial of the effects of manmade climate change, and support for Trump’s executive immigration order.

"I understand you do not like Donald Trump," McClintock said to the crowd. "I sympathize with you. There have been elections where our side has lost.... Just a word of friendly advice: Remember that there were many people in America who disagreed with and feared Barack Obama just as vigorously as you disagree with and fear Donald Trump."

Without either branch of Congress or the presidency under their control, Democrats have found themselves lacking the legislative means to immediately block Mr. Trump’s actions. Instead, those opposing the new president’s agenda have joined together across the country to march, protest at airports and city halls, and organize campaigns to contact their representatives and senators via emails, letters, and phone calls.

Using grass-roots organizing tactics, Democrats have made it clear that they won’t let the president’s slew of executive orders or controversial cabinet appointees pass unopposed. For many, the next venue for dissent seems to be the one that brings them closest to their representatives: town halls. 

Some have compared the movement on behalf of new political activists to the tea party movement, which rose out of discontent on the political far right for former President Obama’s policies. Many of those taking part in the demonstrations around California and the nation are first-time protesters seeking to compel their legislators to stand up to Trump’s executive orders and bold personality.

"This is really all about resisting the Trump agenda," Wendy Wood, chairwoman of the local Sierra Nevada chapter of Indivisible, a political organization that formed following the election, told The Sacramento Bee at the town hall. "Most of us have never participated in political activism of any sort. Something is happening here, and people here are not happy with [Trump] and McClintock. We’re here to vote them out."

While protesters at the Saturday town hall were not violent, McClintock said there was an "anarchist element" among the organizers, and was escorted through the crowds to a waiting car by police officers.

He also denied the parallels that have been drawn between the surge of Democratic protesters and the conservative tea party’s actions in 2009.

"The tea party engaged people by holding meetings and talking to people and writing letters," McClintock told the Los Angeles Times. "The way to change the course of the country is not to shout people down, not to riot in the streets."

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

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