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Tempers flare at Grassley meeting

August 25, 2009
By IAN SCHMIT Messenger staff writer

POCAHONTAS - President Barack Obama is a fascist.

This and other assertions flew through an emotionally-charged town hall meeting conducted by Sen. Chuck Grassley Monday in Pocahontas.

"The president of the United States, that's who you should be concerned about. Because he's acting like a little Hitler," said Tom Eisenhower, a World War II veteran. "I'd take a gun to Washington if enough of you would go with me."

Grassley met with constituents as part of a junket that also brought him to Humboldt, Ruthven and Rockwell City Monday.

By his count, Grassley's Pocahontas town hall was his 2,848th such gathering since being elected to the Senate in 1980.

Grassley said the attendance at the town hall meetings has been six times what it was last year.

Fact Box

Video footage from Grassley's town hall meeting in Pocahontas can be seen at

"It's great that so many people are getting involved and want to participate in these meetings," he said. "I want to hear what people have to say, and encourage every Iowan to participate in the democratic process by having dialogue with their elected representatives."

Although health care was the primary topic of discussion, the audience also had concerns with earmarks, the bailout, and the recent stimulus package.

Harry Aden, of Jolley, said he came to the meeting to express his anger over the government's irresponsible spending.

"I wanted to explain to Chuck why we're so angry about this irresponsible spending since they've started the bailouts and stuff," he said. "I don't want this health care bill either, but that's just the straw that broke the camel's back. The real problem is irresponsible spending on all fronts."

Grassley seemed to elicit approval from the crowd on a number of key issues.

"I'm not going to vote for any bill I'm not going to read," said the senator, as the audience rang out with applause.

One of the major things Grassley said needs fixed is medical malpractice reform, as lawsuits are one issue that drives up the cost of health care. He said he would like to see a $250,000 cap on malpractice suits.

He also stated repeatedly he was not for a public option, as he said it does not allow a choice for the consumer.

"I think most of us believe we have the best health care system in the world, but I think we all know there's some things we need to change," said Grassley. "We need to fix what's broken and leave alone what's working well."

Despite his reassurance though, he did not persuade all of the audience that health care reform was in their best interest.

Dwayne Hornor, of Varina, said he still was not satisfied that his concerns had been addressed, but that he was, however, satisfied with Sen. Grassley.

"Grassley is pretty much, how would you say, one of us," he said. "If it had been Harkin this might have been a bit more vocal."

Contact Ian Schmit at (515) 573-2141 or



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