U.S. Rep. Phil Hare, the Democratic congressman from the 17th District, generated controversy with a comment about the Constitution in a meeting in Quincy. This screenshot was taken from a video posted on the Web.
Congressman Phil Hare left a campaign stop in Quincy amidst a contentious exchange with attendees over the health care reform bill.
THE HEADLINE on the above video is part of the original posted to YouTube.
REP. PHIL HARE responds with his own post to YouTube, above.
A visual recording of the exchange can be viewed on YouTube. Rep. Hare is seated, arguing with several people who cannot be seen in the recording about the bill.
He is using an example of someone having to take their child to the hospital while not having insurance and being stuck with a hefty medical bill when someone began to ask "Where in the Constitution..."
Rep. Hare cuts the man off and says "I don't worry about the Constitution on this to be honest..."
The man begins to laugh, cutting the congressman off, and says "Jackpot, brother."
"I care more about the people that are dying every day that don't have health insurance," Rep. Hare goes on to say.
"You care more about that than the Constitution you swore to uphold," the man replies.
"I believe it says we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," Rep. Hare tells him.
The argument continues with the first man telling Rep. Hare that it is "unbelievably clear that the Constitution doesn't matter to you." The two men also argued whether the bill will actually provide insurance to people who don't have it.
Another person argues with Rep. Hare over how many times Rep. Hare read the bill. He was critical of whether the congressman actually read the bill -- which he said was 8,100 pages long -- three times.
"Are you calling me a liar?" Rep. Hare asks him.
"I am," that man replies.
"Oh that's pleasant," the congressman tells him and begins to leave the room.
The man mocks him: "Oh, heaven forbid you have to answer your constituents."
Rep. Hare turns and tells the man: "I answered it and you told me I was a liar."
"Because you are," the man says.
Rep. Hare turns back towards the door and leaves, not answering the man as he asks repeatedly how long it took Mr. Hare to read the bill three times.
As Rep. Hare gets into his vehicle, another person asks, "Hey where in the Constitution does it say I have to purchase health insurance or gives you the authority to make me?"
The vehicle begins to pull away and that person says "Better start looking for a job."
Hare spokesman Tim Schlittner said in an emailed statement that the event was meant to be be a meeting between the representative and seniors to talk about "important provisions in the health care bill."
Mr. Schlittner said Hare's comments concerning the Constitution were taken out of context.
"His full statement said 'I’m not worried about the Constitution on this,'" the release states. “'On this'” meant that he is not worried about this health care law being ruled unconstitutional."
The release states that Rep. Hare thinks the bill is constitutional and he would not have voted for it if he did not.
He is more worried about "providing affordable insurance for families, small businesses, and seniors," the release states.
But Rep. Hare's office alleges that Bobby Schilling--the congressman's Republican opponent--sent his supporters to derail the event.
"(Rep. Hare) said several times during the meeting yesterday that he supports the Constitution, but that conveniently didn’t make the tape," the release from the congressman's office states.
In the statement, the congressman's office also contends there were other things not shown on the tape.
"Congressman Hare was called a Nazi," the release states. "He was called a liar. He was handed a piece of paper that said 'The White House is No Longer White.' So much for a civil debate."
The release touted Rep. Hare's six years in the Army Reserves.
"He needs no lectures on fighting for the Constitution," it states. "He will continue to work to make health care more affordable and accessible, while also upholding his Constitutional oath.”
Terry Schilling, Mr. Schilling's son and campaign manager, said the accusation that his father sent supporters to disrupt the meeting was "a ridiculous and absurd insinuation."
"We are focused on building our own campaign, not tearing anyone else's down," Terry Schilling said.
He said that the men asking questions of Mr. Hare during the argument were not part of the Schilling campaign.
Mr. Schilling in a morning press release said the statement was "despicable and foolish."
"This statement is outrageous and ridiculous," Mr. Schilling is quoted as saying in the release. "What is really sad is that this mindset is typical of many representatives in Congress. This explains why Congress is out of control. The Constitution is a protection set up for the people against a tyrant government. It has kept the United States stable for almost 250 years. When we go to Congress we will reign in this tyrant government and get it back to following and believing in the Constitution."
The video is being posted and re-posted via Facebook. Here's what a few of reporter Brandy Donaldson's Facebook "friends" of Republican leanings had to say in response. Ms. Donaldson's friends of Democrat leanings had not commented early in the day.
Austin Q.: "This goes down as one of the funniest April Fools jokes I've seen in some time."
Betsey M.: "I don't care who you are or what your personal ideologies are, to view a seated U.S. Congressman stating that he doesn't care what the Constitution says is appalling. This guy has to go...period."
Mark A.: "Nothing more needs to be said, just watch the video. ... An informed citizenry, Phil Hare's nemesis"
Mike M.: "We need your help making this video viral. Please digg and pass along to your friends. ... Phil Hare speaks his mind, says he doesn't worry about the Constitution."
Paula D.: "My congressman doesn't care about the Constitution...disturbing. He has read the bill three times but can't explain it other than to give sob stories. Then don't know the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. November can not come soon enough for the 17th District and the country."
Rich M.: "Is looking forward to Bobby’s swearing in. November is so close, yet so far away."
Anthony H.: "What a joke! I watched that a couple times to try to let my brain pick up on all of the dumb things that were said."
Korry T.: "Not a surprise!"
Others came to Rep. Hare's defense on his Facebook fan page.
Margaret B.: Watched the video Phil. Its hard to win on such a heated debate. In the end there will always be someone who isn't happy. There will always be someone that will take things out of context and run with it whether the politician being targeted is a Republican or Democrat....
"As a stage 4 breast cancer survivor and patient, you continue to fight for me and for thousands of others. I meet people weekly at my chemotherapy who were forced to make some hard decisions because they didn't have the money, hard working people. We may not agree on everything, but we all know we need to come up with a plan that works. Millions of people's lives are depending on it."
James S.: "After watching the video I assumed it was taken out of context. Phil, I know you're a good man. We just happen to disagree. Enjoy the weekend with your family."
Alida G.: "You are right on Phil. There is no doubt in my mind that you are representing the people! Try to ignore the haters. They are out of control right now!"
Alexis A.: "How is what he said a 'crime?' There is a difference between being put on the hot spot and being harassed and threatened. Interesting how the same people who are SO appalled by this statement seem to have NO ISSUE with him being called a Nazi and being handed racist statements. So you don't support health care, that is our right. But to support hate is disturbing."
Jaika K.: "I'm truly sorry Congressman Hare had to endure heckling from the Party-of-NO. They pushed him and twisted his words until they got a statement they could run with. He doesn't spend time worrying about the Constitution because he knows it protects the rights of Congress, one of which is to pass and uphold laws for the benefit of Americans. Democrats will fight hard to re-elect their courageous leaders! We are full of Hope not Hate."
The Quincy City Desk Blog was one of the Websites posting the video. It headlined the posting, "Dear Phil: Welcome to hell."