Dozens of Republican members of Congress are holding tumultuous town hall meetings across the nation this week as lawmakers return home for a legislative recess many surely dreaded. But in Georgia, only one GOP legislator hosted an event: Rep. Buddy Carter.
An overflow crowd of more than 300 people awaited the Savannah Republican Tuesday at Armstrong Atlantic State University, where a crowd of pink-clad anti-Trump demonstrators sat with a cluster of pro-Trump Republicans.
It was rocky from the start, with many in the crowd shouting down Carter and other audience members. Cries of “Quiet!” peeled out from some participants, and those who weren’t quick to ask a question were urged, not so subtly, to get to the point.
At times appearing flustered by the rough reception, the two-term Savannah pharmacist was met with a sustained burst of boos and applause when he outlined his opposition to the Affordable Care Act.
“We are trying to fix this. You have got to give us a chance. They’re proposing more competition in the marketplace,” said Carter, as scattered shouts overwhelmed some of his words. One audience member then stood up and declared: “I want what you have!”
When another Trump critic pressed him on his support for the president, Carter turned to the audience with a hint of desperation.
“I am not here to tell you Donald Trump is perfect. I am not here to tell you I agree with everything he has done,” Carter said amid scattered shouts. “Those of you who have studied the Bible know that God has used imperfect people to do great things before.”
A cascade of boos later met Carter when he said of embattled Education Secretary Betsy DeVos: “We’ve got to get this lady a chance.”
Carter was the only of Georgia’s 10 Republican House members and two U.S. senators to hold a town hall meeting this week amid a wave of national protests that have rocked GOP events since Trump’s inauguration.
Critics of the president’s policies have turned to other forums to vent at the legislators, flooding their phone lines with a barrage of calls, channeling an avalanche of emails their way and holding protests and vigils outside their office.
Earlier this month, hundreds showed up in the east Georgia town of Greensboro to transform an event held by aides to three GOP lawmakers into a chance to make a statement about the president’s policies.
And on Tuesday, about 100 demonstrators gathered outside of Sen. David Perdue’s downtown Atlanta office to hold a mock town hall event, directing questions to empty folding chairs representing Perdue and U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson.
“Will you make a commitment to all of us to take on the pharmaceutical industry?” Demi Doyle of Atlanta asked, motioning to the silence chair.
Minutes later, Brooke Hopkins took her place:
“What is wrong with our current refugee vetting process?” she said to quiet. “Because as far as I can tell, it’s working.”