Rep. Frank vs. critics at town hall

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) pointedly answered critics of healthcare reform efforts at a Tuesday town hall in his district, questioning what planet an audience member who called the bill a “Nazi policy” had come from.

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“When you ask me that question I am going to revert to my ethnic heritage and ask you a question: On what planet do you spend most of your time?,” said Frank, who is Jewish.

Frank raised his voice at the end of his answer, saying “having a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table. I have no interest in doing it.”

According to reports, 500 people attended the town meeting in Dartmouth, Mass., which was moved to a larger venue to accommodate the anticipated crowd. A group of about two dozen protesters rallied outside the meeting hall as well.

Responding to what he called the “unusual nature of the healthcare debate,” Frank announced late last week that he would host a town hall meeting on the national effort to overhaul the healthcare system.

Frank appeared to relish the chance to debate with critics of reform efforts, telling his audience at one point, “Which one of you wants to yell next?”

At one point, the Dartmouth Democratic Party chairman attempted to eject an audience member from the meeting but Frank told the chairman to hold back. The party chief approached the podium and asked Frank "Don't worry about it?”

“No,” Frank replied.

Frank on several occasions took exception to questions from the audience, saying at one point, “What's the matter with you all?”

“I don't understand your mentality. What do you think you accomplish by yelling?” he said at another point.

The 15-term Democrat also focused on a picture of President Obama altered to look like Hitler that was held up by an audience member.

“It is a tribute to the First Amendment that this kind of vile, contemptible nonsense is so freely propagated,” he said.

The meeting took place after a Tuesday Dartmouth Town Committee meeting at which Frank spoke on a variety of congressional issues, including regulation of financial institutions.