Geraldo Rivera, Fox News’ roaming correspondent-at-large, said on Saturday members of Congress should consider making a dramatic change to the way they have been campaigning, by temporarily ending popular town hall meetings with their constituents.
In an appearance on Saturday with “Fox and Friends,” Rivera discussed the heated, dangerous political climate many members of Congress are now operating in, especially in wake of the shooting of five people, including Republican House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (La.), on Wednesday at a practice for a charity congressional baseball game.
“I think Congress has to rethink these town hall meetings right now,” Rivera told the “Fox and Friends” hosts. “Unless they get the kind of security you get at an airport, with Gabby Giffords and now what happened with Steve Scalise, I think you’ve really got to understand that there is a kind of an urgent, aberrant, emotional involvement now, and for right now, we’ve got to cool it. We’ve got to be hyper-aware that our elected officials are vulnerable.”
“Fox and Friends” co-host Pete Hegseth then asked Rivera if he thought since town hall meetings have long been a tradition of the American political process whether it should be up to leaders of the Democratic Party and the progressive movement to tone down their “resistance” and “confrontation” rhetoric to help cool down the current political climate.
“I think those are lovely thoughts, Steve,” Rivera said. “But I think it’s gone too far. Now, you have a special counsel. Now, you almost have a shadow government. Now, you have [special counsel Robert] Mueller, with enormous power, enormous responsibility. He’s going to be looking, you know, in some ways — and I in no means mean to denigrate his moral character — but he’s going to be looking to justify his role. He’s going to go six ways to Sunday; it’s going to be like the old Whitewater investigation … I think that it’s really very, very serious and unsettling times, and there’s going to be great frustration on both sides — the extremists on both sides, with easy access to these killing weapons, assault rifles and so forth.”
Town hall meetings, which involve members of Congress meeting with and usually answering questions from the public in their home district, have become increasingly heated in recent months, especially for Republicans, who have been forced to defend policies that are unpopular with many on the left.
Rivera isn’t the only one who has called for an end to town hall meetings as a result of the recent shooting. Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Penn.) said on Thursday he believes town hall meetings should be reduced until tensions settle.
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“I’ve been at the end of some of those town halls where the police had to carry people out and I get concerned not only for your own safety, but for the safety of the people who are there, who actually come to be heard and even if you have an opposing opinion, that’s great,” Barletta said to WILK 103.1 news radio.
“These town halls I believe have just become targets for people to incite other people, and it’s not good,” Barletta added.