Raucous Specter town hall turns into TV event

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) walked into a political storm Tuesday morning as his town hall on healthcare turned fiery on national television.

The five-term senator heard criticism after criticism of Democratic healthcare reform proposals from a group of passionate and at times angry constituents in Lebanon, Pa.

At one point, one attendee tried to physically remove another attendee who was delivering a fiery denouncement of Specter after he wasn't one of the 30 people selected to ask a question. The self-appointed security guard soon gave up, and Specter let the man finish his speech. (Watch video here.)

"One day God's going to stand before you, and he's going to judge you [and] the rest of your damn cronies up on the Hill," the constituent said, standing just feet from Specter. "And then you will get your just dessert."

"We've just had a demonstration of democracy," Specter replied.

But unlike recent town hall flare-ups — accounts of which have been pieced together from local news accounts and YouTube videos — Specter's town hall was carried live on at least two cable news channels, both of which were undoubtedly hoping to capture some of the political theater that has transpired at recent constituent meetings.

Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), for example, was angrily confronted by the father of a man with cerebral palsy at a town hall this week.

Though the debate at Specter's event centered on healthcare, questioners criticized Specter on all fronts, including his party switch.

"I'd like to thank you for having the courage to come to this meeting, with the people who have sent you to Washington: the Republicans," one constituent quipped, followed by boisterous applause.

Another woman, calling herself a conservative first and a Republican second, decried the federal government’s spending habits, and drew a standing ovation when she warned of the “systematic dismantling of this country.”

Specter, who for the most part remained nonplussed during the event, seemed to lose his cool at least once, imploring the attendee who wanted to ask a question and the other attendee who tried to throw him out to calm down.