U.S. Rep. Adam Smith spoke to Tacoma Rotary 8 this noontime and deflected praise for how he handled two recent town hall meetings.
Unlike some of his congressional colleagues, Smith kept to his August recess town hall schedule even after some meetings elsewhere were disrupted by citizens angry about the health care reform issue.
Tuesday he spoke to and listened to 2,500 at Harry Lang Stadium in Lakewood.
Smith said it is a member of Congress’s job to listen to constituents. And he said it was wrong for some members of Congress to ridicule and condemn those who were passionate – and sometimes rude – at these meetings.
“It doesn’t do my profession any good to make fun of people,” Smith said, specifically referencing a YouTube video in which U.S. Rep. Barney Frank asks a constituent “On what planet do you spend most of your time?”
“You have to take all comers,” Smith said. “If you don’t … find something else to do for a living.”
But the Tacoma Democrat acknowledges the level of feelings on the health care debate.
“When I was first elected, I did a town hall meeting in Lacey and one person showed up,” he said. “We’ve gone from one to 2,500. Times have changed.”