Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Republican, is praising Democratic Senator Tom Harkin’s handling of a Saturday afternoon town hall meeting. The event drew over 150 people, about half of whom oppose the health care reform plan Harkin supports.
Gingrich, during an appearance on "This Week with George Stephanopolous ," mentioned Harkin. "I spent 20 years doing town hall meetings. I once had 800 Machinists members on an Eastern strike for three hours and they got to shout all they wanted," Gingrich said. "I thought Senator Tom Harkin was the model this week. His staff got nervous, they wanted to close down the meeting and Harkin said, ‘No, these are Americans. They have every right to talk,’ and he just listened and he engaged and he conversed."
But Gingrich isn’t supporting the health care reform Harkin’s pushing. According to Gingrich, there’s plenty of angst in the country about the plan.
"There are a substantial number of people who are genuinely upset," Gingrich said. "The American way is let it hang out, talk to them. Members ougth to go back home, hold as many town hall meetings as you have to, let people get it out of their system."
If the public is allowed to vent, Gingrich argues that by September, the country can have a "genuine dialogue" about health care reform.