Hecklers confront Ted Cruz at town hall meeting

August 20, 2013

A Dallas town hall meeting designed to rally support for defunding President Obama's health-care law grew testy Tuesday night when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) was interrupted three separate times by hecklers.

The conservative senator handled each interruption calmly, asking that he be allowed to finish his remarks.

"You have health care, we should too!" chanted a pair of protesters near the end of Cruz's remarks.

Cruz responded, "Thank you for sharing your views. You know, part of the First Amendment is about respecting others."

Pro-Cruz attendees then drowned the protesters out with chants of "USA! USA!"

"I'll make an observation about those two young men," Cruz said, after the noise subsided. "Number one, I agree with them. They should have health care and Obamacare is causing more and more people struggling to climb the economic ladder to lose their health care."

Then, Cruz lauded his supporters for outnumbering the opposition.

"Every time they've come to protest in Texas, they've sent a small group of people, and ya'll have outnumbered them two, and three, and four to one."

The town hall meeting was sponsored by Heritage Action for America, the advocacy arm of the Heritage Foundation. Former South Carolina senator Jim DeMint, the president of the conservative think tank, has embarked on a nine-city tour to push a controversial plan to defund the president's signature health care law, even if it triggers a government shutdown.

"It's probably the most destructive law that's ever been imposed on the American people," DeMint said of Obamacare.

The plan favored by DeMint, Cruz and others has gained little steam on Capitol Hill, where leading Republicans have warned about the perils of a government shutdown. The current spending measure to fund the government will expire on Sept. 30.

"If you have an impasse, one side or the other has to blink. How do we win this fight? Don't blink," declared Cruz.

Cruz was interrupted twice earlier in his remarks. On each occasion, he kept his cool.

"Sir, thank you for sharing your views," Cruz told a man who interrupted him midway through his remarks. "This is a town hall, there will be question and answer, but please allow me to finish making my remarks, and then we can visit," Cruz said.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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