Sean Spicer: Angry Republican town halls were a ‘bit of professional, manufactured protest’

The White House Press Secretary said there was just a small number of people who 'wanted media attention'

Rachael Revesz
New York
Wednesday 22 February 2017 19:34 GMT
Mr Spicer questioned why anyone would protest about healthcare
Mr Spicer questioned why anyone would protest about healthcare (Mark Wilson/Getty)

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White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that some of the anger and frustration at recent Republican town halls contained a "bit of professional, manufactured protest."

He told reporters that although some people were "clearly upset" about the administration, another part of the protest came from a small number of people who disrupted the events to get "media attention".

When pressed on the difference between genuine anger and paid protesters, he replied: "I think there’s a hybrid there. I think some people are clearly upset. But there is a bit of professional protester, manufactured base in there."

He added: "Just because they’re loud doesn’t mean they are many, and in a lot of cases, I think that's what you're seeing", arguing that the town halls were not a true representation of the voter base in each district.

He previously told Fox News that protesting had become a "profession", implying it was a paid activity.

It echoes frequent attacks from his boss towards protesters, accusing them of being paid by billionaire George Soros.

The President tweeted that the "so-called angry crowds" were "planned out by liberal activists".

Mr Trump's and Mr Spicer's remarks come amid a wave of anger and protests at Republican town halls around the US.

The movement gained traction this month with Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the committee on oversight and government reform, attending an event in Utah.

He was shouted down, booed and jeered, with the audience chanting: "Do your job!"

Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn was also given a hostile reception in Tennessee when answering questions about healthcare reform to Mr Trump’s cabinet appointees.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also faced hundreds of protesters at a luncheon event in Kentucky event this week. He was filmed reacting to a woman voter who railed against jobs and healthcare, and attacked him for using an arcane Senate rule to silence Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren.

More than 200 Republicans reportedly chose to skip their events, perhaps fearing a similar backlash.

Mr Spicer questioned why voters would be angry about healthcare, and insisted Mr Trump’s plan - due to be released in a few weeks - would mean “help was on the way” for anyone was worried.

"If you look at healthcare, in so many counties around our nation, that's gone down to one provider. That’s not choice. That’s not access," he said.

"People should be applauding the President’s action to be putting a system in place they were promised a while back," he added.

He added that there was a "blurring of the facts", with some older people claiming they would lose Obamacare coverage when in fact, he said, they were on Medicaid, or an employer-based system, or receiving benefits via Medicare.

"And so nothing-- they have no problems," he said.

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