GOP rep: No ‘artificial crowd’ at my town hall

Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) says he encountered authentic frustration from his constituents during his last town hall, despite the White House's claim that some protests against GOP lawmakers were "manufactured."

“This wasn’t an artificial crowd,” Sanford told host Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s “The Situation Room" when asked about his last town hall. "It wasn’t manufactured.”

“Nobody that I was aware of [was] from outside the state,” Sanford added of his latest event, which was held Saturday in Mount Pleasant, S.C. "Certainly some people from outside the district.

“The bulk of people were local, they were from the district, they were passionate about what they believed. It was real people with real concerns in terms of what came next on healthcare.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Sanford's remarks contrasted White House press secretary Sean Spicer's comments earlier Wednesday that lawmakers are facing partially “manufactured” outrage at such events nationwide.

Spicer acknowledged that "some people are clearly upset."

Much of the tension recently between lawmakers and their constituents stems from the “big debate” over repealing and replacing ObamaCare, Sanford said.

“The plan that we have in place in South Carolina with the Affordable Care Act right now is not sustainable,” Sanford argued on CNN.

"Last year, premiums went up by 29 percent. We’ve gone from three providers down to just one in the last 2 1/2 years.”

Sanford and Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottHow expanded credit data can help tackle inequities Dems erupt over GOP 'McCarthyism' as senators vet Biden bank watchdog pick Why Democrats' prescription drug pricing provision would have hurt seniors MORE (R-S.C.) were repeatedly booed during a joint town hall in Mount Pleasant, S.C., last Saturday.

“Ever since the election, I have felt like a passenger in a car that’s being driven by a drunk driver,” said Summerville, S.C., resident Gray Somerville, 51.

Republican lawmakers are facing tough crowds during this week’s congressional recess, with attendees challenging them on issues ranging from healthcare reform to President Trump's agenda.

Trump tweeted Tuesday that “the so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists.”

“There’s a hybrid there: I think some people are clearly upset, but there is a bit of professional protester, manufactured base in there,” Spicer said at Wednesday’s White House briefing.