New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie doesn't feel sorry for GOP lawmakers across the country who are afraid to host town halls because of angry protesters.
A number of Republicans, like some Democratic lawmakers in 2009 during the rise of the Tea Party, have refused to attend or host town halls amid backlash against President Donald Trump. Even in deep-red Utah, Rep. Jason Chaffetz confronted rambunctious dissenters, one after another, for more than an hour. And in Kentucky, nearly 1,000 people protested outside an event hosted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, according to the Louisville Courier Journal.
But several other lawmakers have simply refused to attend their scheduled town halls — or just haven't bothered to schedule them to begin with.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) invoked the 2011 shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) as one reason why he hasn't taken questions from voters face to face. Gohmert, along with many of his congressional colleagues, has opted to field constituent questions online.
Giffords miraculously survived after being shot in the head during a constituent meet-and-greet in the parking lot of a Safeway grocery store near Tucson. Six people died in the incident, including a federal judge, 9-year-old girl and the Pima County sheriff.
"The House Sergeant at Arms advised us after former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot at a public appearance, that civilian attendees at congressional public events stand the most chance of being harmed or killed, just as happened there," Gohmert said, according to CNN.
Gohmert is not the only GOP lawmaker refusing to confront voters, though. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) has also skipped town halls, claiming that angry protests "diminish democracy."
"There are people who are just angry, they’re angry that Trump won, that Hillary [Clinton] lost. There’s others who are being, I guess, egged on, if you will. So I’m assuming that they’re all legitimate, but to me it just does not serve a purpose. It really diminishes democracy if you’re gonna show up to a meeting to just scream and yell," King told WNYM-AM, according to Mediaite.
During an appearance Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper, Christie was asked what he would tell lawmakers who refuse to face voters:
Welcome to the real world of responsibility. The fact is that, right now, the heat is on the Republicans. It’s on us. ... We asked for authority to change the country. We now have two-thirds of the statehouses in America. We have the House. We have the Senate. We have the White House. It’s now on us to produce results. And one of the things that we need to do is engage with the public.
As for claims that the protesters are not actually angry voters but instead are paid leftist demonstrators, Christie said that's still no excuse.
"You've got to work through that," the governor and former Trump campaign adviser added.
Christie said that throughout his seven years as governor, he's been to more than 160 town halls across his state. Christie has his own way of dealing with protesters, though, once telling an angry constituent to "sit down and shut up."
Responding to a question from Tapper about whether he believed any of the protesters who have confronted him in New Jersey are "professionals," Christie replied:
Sure. The unions — teacher's unions in particular — sent lots of people with T-shirts and signs that were pre-made and that were taking me on in a big way, and in an inaccurate way. I understand why members of Congress don't like it, but you know what? You asked for the job. Go do it.
(H/T: Daily Caller)