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Confrontation, laughter in exchanges at town hall meetings

FILE - In this April 12, 2017 file photo, people react as House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore. speaks at a town hall meeting in The Dalles, Ore. In the auditorium of his old middle school just blocks from where he still lives, the congressman who is a lead author of the stalled House Republican health care bill was treated like the villain in a class play in a town hall meeting. Walden ran into the same anger that has unnerved his Republican colleagues at similar sessions and prompted others to not even bother holding them. (Stephanie Yao Long/The Oregonian via AP, File)

A sampling of moments during town halls meetings that U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., held last week in Hood River and Prineville, Oregon:

One young student asked how the U.S. can handle nuclear-armed North Korea:

“I think North Korea is probably the most dangerous place on the planet right now, because you have a leader that’s very unpredictable,” Walden said. That prompted sustained, derisive laughter from an audience that clearly associated those adjectives with President Donald Trump.


One woman said silent bystanders enable bullying behavior and asked Walden to explain “why you remain silent as Trump makes dehumanizing and threatening remarks about immigrants and women.”

“Stand up to Trump,” a man yelled.

“Stand up for Trump,” another woman responded.

“I have spoken out in the past,” Walden said, saying he criticized Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the country and Trump’s decade-old recorded comments about forcing himself on women. “I’m not going to do it every time he does something. I don’t have time to do that, quite frankly.”


Several people demanded Walden’s view on the Paris Accords, the international treaty aimed at curbing climate change.

“I frankly haven’t gotten into the weeds on the Paris Accords,’ he said.

“Get into the weeds,” one woman shouted.


Russ Paddock, 80, of Hood River, said he was Walden’s scout master when the lawmaker was growing up in town. He chastised the crowd for peppering the lawmaker with demands and not taking action themselves.

“How many of you complaining about global warming have put solar panels on your roof?” he said. “Don’t ask Greg to do everything.”

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