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Report from Arlen Specter town hall in Kittaning, PA (or at least the parking lot)

August 13, 2009

By SGP member Tom T.

The Belmont Complex in Kittanning, PA, was the site of a town hall meeting this afternoon with Arlen Specter. There were already a couple of thousand people waiting in the parking lot to get in when I arrived an hour-and-a-half early. The crowd against Obamacare vastly outnumbered (I’d estimate about 10-to-1 based on those standing near me) those for it, though there were a few pockets of pro-Obamacare folks there in SEIU and other union shirts. Most of those present seemed to be retirees. The young man passing out literature from the AARP was literally laughed at, especially when he claimed that the AARP was “non-partisan.” The older folks near me almost blew a gasket when he said that.

Despite the fact that the venue was capable of holding many more than that, they only let 200 people in before closing the doors. That left lots and lots of people out in the parking lot baking in the sun. The protesters on both sides loudly expressed their points of view, though the pro-Obamacare crowd had a bullhorn and began chanting “What do we want – health care?” over and over, amplified by the bullhorn. Nonetheless, the anti-Obamacare crowd responded by chanting “freedom!” in answer.

I left about half an hour later. It was a loud but calm crowd as long as I was there, but there was a very strong police presence. There was also a lot of media there, with news helicopters circling overhead.

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