With the auditorium inside already packed, a crowd of more than 1,000 people snaked around the front yard of the Red Bank Middle School awaiting its turn inside. Three consecutive seatings were required to accommodate the turnout, with the final session beginning at around 10:30p.
Some came to yell ‘Get a job’ at their congressman. One came to ask him if he was a communist. Another spent $14 on a cab ride from Middletown to declare her own candidacy for his seat, on the platform of “if everybody gave up meat and chicken, people wouldn’t get sick.”
In the aggregate, most of the 1,300 people who swamped Tuesday night’s forum on a proposed federal health insurance plan came to vent their anger over the plan’s expense and expected impact on their continued access to quality medical services.
Through it all, sixth-district Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., a Democrat, stood his ground on the auditorium stage at the Red Bank Middle School, unwavering in his defense of the plan.
“I don’t believe that the majority are opposed to this,” he said, speaking of his own constituents, prompting one of many cascades of boos heard over the course of three seatings.
Attendees pro and con on health insurance reform tried to out-sing each other on ‘God Bless America’ prior to the start of the second session.