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Town Halls Remain Combative Despite Kennedy’s Death

Town halls scheduled before the death of Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) late Tuesday night kept up their combative tone on Wednesday.

In Rhode Island, Democratic Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse told reporters prior to a town hall in Johnston that they never considered postponing their town halls following Kennedy’s death, according to the Providence Journal’s news blog.

“If he had an opinion on it, he would have told us to go on,— Whitehouse said. “I think it honors him to carry on.—

In Farrell, Pa., Blue Dog Rep. Jason Altmire (D) told more than 600 constituents he voted against the Democrats’ health care reform proposal in the Education and Labor Committee but would consider supporting a bill that wouldn’t lead to higher taxes and would do more for small businesses, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. A second-term Congressman in a swing district, Altmire defeated then-Rep. Melissa Hart in 2006 and in a 2008 rematch. He told his audience the public insurance option was unlikely to be included in the final version of the bill.

Another member of the class of 2006, Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), got a standing ovation when he was introduced at California State University, Bakersfield, on Wednesday night, according to the Bakersfield Californian, and someone later asked him to sign a copy of H.R. 3200, the Democrats’ primary health care reform bill in the House. The venue for his meeting was changed twice to accommodate the growing crowd, and he ultimately spoke to more than 3,000 people in a town hall where signs, backpacks and weapons were prohibited. He made clear his intention to oppose the health care reform proposal.

See a list of today’s Congressional town halls at

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