Debate crowd laughs after GOP lawmaker says he’s been ‘accessible'
© Greg Nash

The audience at a debate in Minnesota erupted in laughter earlier this week after Rep. Erik PaulsenErik Philip PaulsenTwo swing-district Democrats raise impeachment calls after whistleblower reports Hopes dim for passage of Trump trade deal Fight over Trump's new NAFTA hits key stretch MORE (R-Minn.) said he tried to be accessible to his constituents. 

“Truth is, I get a lot of ideas from listening to people like you,” Paulsen said. “Being accessible, being a good listener, those are where the ideas come from.”

The statements immediately sparked laughter from the crowd. The moderator abruptly chimed in to ask the audience to "be respectful."

Paulsen has held three town halls with constituents of Minnesota's 3rd Congressional District this year. The three occurred on May 30 and covered a range of issues, including campaign finance reform, tax policy and social welfare programs.

Fox 9, a local news station, noted at the time that they were Paulsen's first town halls in roughly six years.

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"People turn them into a gotcha moment or a shouting moment,” Paulsen told another local news organization in March.

Paulsen, who has been in the House of Representatives since 2009, has instead opted for holding telephone town hall meetings, where people can listen in to the discussions he's having with constituents over the phone. 

The Cook Political Report rates Paulsen’s race against Democratic businessman Dean Phillips as a “toss-up.”

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won Paulsen's district in 2016 with 51 percent of the vote, compared to President Trump’s 41 percent.

--An earlier version of this report included a tweet that inaccurately stated the amount of town halls Rep. Paulsen has held. This report was corrected at 7:51 p.m.