By Sam Youngman - 08/14/09 10:21 AM EDT
There has been no increase in the number of security threats to President Barack Obama despite the contentious town hall meetings taking place around the country, according to the White House.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs also said Friday there has been no change in the security precautions.
Earlier this week, at a town hall in Maryland, a man was detained by the Secret Service for carrying a sign that read "Death to Obama." At the president's town hall meeting in New Hampshire on Tuesday, another man was spotted carrying a gun outside the venue.
Obama will leave Friday for a four-state Western swing that includes town halls in Montana Friday afternoon and Saturday in Colorado.
Gibbs, noting he's "not necessarily in the audience prediction business," declined to say whether the White House is anticipating a tougher reception at the Montana town hall given the state's heavy Republican registration.
"I don't doubt that there will be people that will disagree with him," Gibbs said. He added: "I hope by answering concerns, he changes minds."
With the healthcare debate heating up, Gibbs cautioned Democrats to be patient, noting that "teeth gnashing is what the Democratic Party has done well ... for the last several decades."
Gibbs said that throughout the campaign and the early part of the administration there have been "countless number of occasions" where Democrats and others labeled the Obama team as "idiots, and people thought all hope was lost."
Gibbs said healthcare is still "near the beginning of the legislative process, and we still have a long way to go."
Republicans have kept a steady barrage of criticism on the Democrats' healthcare plans.
Ahead of the president's trip, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said Americans "aren’t buying" the president's "efforts to repackage his government-run experiment."
"The American people are learning more everyday about what the president’s healthcare experiment would do to them, their families and their businesses," Steele said. "Despite what is seen at the president’s manufactured town halls, fewer and fewer Americans are supporting government control of healthcare. Like Old Faithful, the president’s performances simply make for a good show.”
The president's town halls will be bracketed by a fair amount of outdoor activity and sight-seeing as he takes his family to Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Canyon before addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars national conference in Phoenix on Monday.
While in Montana Friday, Obama is planning to do some fly-fishing for the first time with a reel that was a recent birthday gift from some friends in the White House.