Email #260: “messed up”?

Speaker Ryan criticized President Trump during a town hall meeting this week: “I do believe that he messed up in his comments on Tuesday when it sounded like a moral equivocation or at the very least moral ambiguity when we need extreme moral clarity. You’re not a good person if you’re there, it’s so very clear.”

Ryan repeated the criticism, but also indicated that he thought the President had already corrected his statements about Charlottesville: “It was not only morally ambiguous, it was equivocating. And that was wrong. That’s why I think it was very, very important that he has since then cleared that up. I think it was important that he did that tonight.” He repeated the claim when asked if he would ask the President to apologize: “I think just he needs to do better and I think he just did.”

I assume Speaker Ryan was referring to the address the President made about Afghanistan just prior to the town hall, but looking at the transcript I see nothing about Charlottesville or Neo-Nazis or the so-called alt-left. The only statement the President made that could be interpreted as addressing Charlottesville was at best indirect and generic: “Let us make a simple promise to the men and women we ask to fight in our name, that when they return home from battle, they will find a country that has renewed the sacred bonds of love and loyalty that unite us together as one.”

Ryan said before the President’s speech: “we all need to make clear there is no moral relativism when it comes to neo-Nazis. We cannot allow the slightest ambiguity on such a fundamental question.” In what sense did the President’s ambiguous remark provide any new clarity?

Still, I applaud Speaker Ryan’s ability to at least acknowledge that President Trump“messed up”—though his phrase would suit something significantly less important than how Ryan himself described the magnitude of the issue. I also applaud him for holding a town hall. It is his first since October 2015. Of course it was a highly constrained one. It was hosted by CNN and held in a small venue with CNN selecting participants from Ryan’s district and screening questions. But that is a significant improvement over the even more controlled interactions that he has used for the past two years, which are usually private and allow Ryan’s staff to screen questions directly.

One of Ryan’s fellow Wisconsin Representatives, Democrat Mark Pocan, said afterwards: “Hopefully the media event that occurred tonight will convince Paul Ryan that talking to his constituents is a good idea. In the remaining weeks when Paul is home, he might want to schedule a real town hall or two and explain his health care bill that drops tens of millions of people’s coverage, as well as discuss his tax preferences that would give the top 1 percent more tax breaks while working Americans continue to struggle.”

You have not held a real town hall since August 2013, twice as long as Ryan. While a traditional format is preferable, would you be willing to meet with your constituents in a town hall of the kind hosted by CNN for the Speaker? It would be a small venue and include only 6th district residents with a third party selecting pre-submitted questions and hosting the interactions on stage with you. There would be no shouting, no signs, no protests of any kind, just you answering reasonable questions posed directly by people you represent. It worked for Speaker Ryan, and his was televised live nationally while yours would not be. The format is conducive to conversation and so answers your objection to traditional town halls that allow large, angry crowds.

If you reject even this format, could you please explain on what grounds you find it unacceptable? And is there any format of any kind that you would find acceptable? What will it take to get you in a room with more than a dozen polite constituents?

Email #221: Zero of 173

So far this year, Republican members of Congress have held a total of 173 town halls. 99 of them were held by House Republicans. Of Virginia’s 11 Representatives, only two have not held town halls in 2017: Barbara Comstock and you. Virginia Republican Reps. Dave Brat, Rob Whitman, Morgan Griffith, Scott Taylor, and Tom Garrett have all faced their constituents. Why haven’t you?

You said you would hold a town hall if it was “conducive to conversation,” and that is exactly what I proposed to your DC chief of staff. Ours would be held in Lexington and open only to residents—not anyone from district 6 but only those who live within Rockbridge county. I also proposed keeping the event small, giving out only 100 tickets in advance. I even proposed that the tickets would be equally distributed between Republicans and Democrats through local organizations. And anyone who received a ticket would agree to listen respectfully to you with no booing or other disruptions.

This format is tailored to you, and yet you still have not responded to the request. Was your “conducive to conversation” requirement sincere, or was it yet another way of putting off an obligation you have no intention of ever fulfilling? If so, would you please stop misleading your constituents and admit that you will under no circumstances hold a town hall? If you have to be a coward, you could at least be an honest one.

Email #195: “disagree without being disagreeable”

I used to listen to Ted Nugent as a high schooler. I can still name and more-or-less sing a half dozen of his songs (“Wango Tango,” “Cat Scratch Fever,” “Great White Buffalo,” etc.). But I out grew him long before 2007, when he said on stage holding two machine guns: “Obama, he’s a piece of shit. I told him to suck on my machine gun. Hey Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch.”

Nugent of course is not the only political advocate to use violent rhetoric. I assume you recall Sharron Angle’s comment in 2010: “I’m hoping that we’re not getting to Second Amendment remedies. I hope the vote will be the cure for the Harry Reid problems.”

Or Jesse Kelly’s 2011 fundraiser pitch: “help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office, shoot a fully automatic M-16 with Jesse Kelly.”

Although I would hope that the near-fatal shooting of Rep. Giffords would have ended the use of such violent rhetoric, in 2012 Nugent said to an NRA convention: “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.” A Secret Service spokesperson responded: “We are aware of the incident with Ted Nugent, and we are conducting appropriate follow-up. We recognize an individual’s right to freedom of speech but we also have a responsibility to determine and investigate intent.”

While the Secret Service and law enforcement agencies recognize that rhetoric can lead to actual violence, some politicians still employ it. Donald Trump said last August about Secretary Clinton: “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”

While I might have hoped that his earlier meeting with the Secret Service would have been a turning point for Mr. Nugent, I am pleased that he has now finally expressed regret for his dangerous rhetoric. The day after Rep. Scalise was shot, Nugent said in a radio interview: “I’m not going to engage in that kind of hateful rhetoric anymore.” He promised to “avoid anything that can be interpreted as condoning or referencing violence” and to encourage “friends [and] enemies on the left in the Democrat and liberal world that we have got to be civil to each other, that the whole world is watching America, where you have the God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and we have got to be more respectful to the other side.”

I mention this because of the statements you made the same day:

“In a time when politics can pit neighbors against neighbors and social media has changed the way Americans communicate, we have seen a decline in civil discourse. That is why it is more important now than ever that we as a nation work even harder to maintain a civil discourse. We can have strongly held beliefs and passionately debate the issues. But, we can disagree without being disagreeable. I know from many years of working closely with Members of Congress on the other side of the aisle that this is the best approach to resolving our differences.”

I agree with you and the reformed Mr. Nugent and have been following that approach since I began writing to you last December. If you review the content of my roughly 200 letters, I believe you will find nothing “disagreeable,” and certainly nothing condoning or referencing violence. 50 Ways Rockbridge, the grassroots activist organization I helped co-found, made our policy explicit two months ago:

“Protests organized by or affiliated with 50 Ways-Rockbridge
“Will aim at the edification of the community or remediation of present wrongs
“Will be non-violent
“Will avoid the destruction of property”

We said this before the shooting, and we’ll keep saying it after the shooting. We unequivocally renounce violence and any statement promoting violence.

I hope then that you and other Republican members of Congress will not use the shooting of Rep. Scalise to reduce contact with your Democratic constituents. You did not stop holding town halls until 2013, two years after Rep. Giffords was shot, so based on your own precedent, the recent shooting should have no effect on your public appearances. As you said above, our country needs more civil discourse–which is precisely why 50 Ways Rockbridge and the Rockbridge Republicans proposed a joint and carefully limited town hall here in Lexington, one designed for real conversation. The shooting is further evidence of the necessity for exactly this kind of civil exchange.

You said “it is more important now than ever” that we “work even harder.” We in Lexington are doing exactly that. I hope you will now turn your agreeable rhetoric into agreeable action and show the rest of the nation what civil discourse between a Representative and his constituents should look like.

Email #181: “firmly but politely”?

Your colleague Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer deserves some credit. He went home to North Dakota during the May Congressional break and held a town hall meeting. By his own account the exchanges were sometimes “heated,” but he remained true to his conviction that town halls are a necessary responsibility. One of his angriest constituents lost his temper during the event, but then apologized to Cramer afterwards, even calling him “courageous” and “open.”

Rep. Cramer also criticized members of Congress who do not show the same courage and openness:

“unlike some politicians who rarely hold town halls and hide from their constituents, what I do promise you is that I won’t shy away from you just because the topics are tough. When I hold town halls, you’re not going to get a panel of experts or a moderator with a filtered list of questions from politically friendly constituents, you’re going to get me truthfully answering your questions…. That’s what you deserve from your elected representatives.”

Like you, Cramer is a Republican incumbent who won his seat by a wide margin last November, and his district, like yours, is not considered vulnerable in the 2018 mid-term election. You also both have essentially identical voting records since President Trump took office. Many of the people at his most recent town hall were especially upset that he voted for the American Health Care Act, but he met with them all anyway.

Elise Stefanik, Rod Blum, Raul Labrador, Mark Meadows, Tom MacArthur, and a dozen other Republican Representatives held town halls last month too. You held telephone and Facebook events, formats that Cramer rejects presumably because they can be so “filtered” and “politically friendly” and allow Representatives to “hide” from “tough” questions.

But you do deserve credit for meeting with four members of Indivisible Lynchburg last week. Neal Sumerlin described the meeting in The New & Advance on Sunday: “we agreed on very little, expressed our disagreements firmly but politely on both sides … listened to each other and … no blows were exchanged.” This is the second time that I know of that you recently met with leaders of opposition groups, and I thank you for that. I hope it is the beginning of a continuing trend.

Although I appreciate your new willingness to meet with local activists, as your DC chief of staff said to me, a meeting with only four people is a very limited form of outreach. A town hall would be better. Sumerlin said that you “didn’t unconditionally rule out an open town hall,” but that you “expressed concerns about incivility and seemed solicitous of those of us opposed to [your] actions, fearing that we would be treated badly by constituents who opposed our viewpoints.”

That usefully clarifies statements you made in April to Staunton city council member Andrea Oakes when you asked her to vote against the council’s decision to request a town hall. According to Oakes, you wanted “to hold off until the attitudes are more relaxed” and that you are “just giving it a little time to settle” and for constituents to become less “emotional.”

I think we can agree that things are not settling and are not likely to in the foreseeable future. Sociologist Dana Fisher, director of the Program for Society and the Environment at the University of Maryland, has been studying marches in DC for the past five years. She told the Denver Post in May:

“Many Americans no longer feel like their concerns are being heard just by voting… there are people who are getting involved and staying involved and coming out even if it’s every weekend. There’s only so many weekends in a row you want to march, but we have not hit that exhaustion yet… The data we have collected so far suggest they are not going back to watching TV.”

I appreciate your concerns about incivility. When I met with leaders of the Rockbridge Republicans on Saturday, they expressed similar concerns that some of their members might behave inappropriately at an open town hall.

That’s why we proposed a new town hall format, one that is limited to 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats, all of whom would agree to engage in civil discourse in advance of receiving their tickets. Sumerlin and the others you have met with followed through on their pledges of confidentiality prior to your meetings, so I hope you will accept that as a building block for further cooperation and trust.

You DC chief of staff emailed me yesterday to say that he would follow up with the chair of the Rockbridge Republicans about the joint proposal. I take that as another promising sign, and I look forward to hearing from your office again soon.

To Charlie Keller, Bob Goodlatte’s DC Chief of Staff

Dear Charlie,

Again, thank you for meeting with me on Tuesday. I think both the tone and substance of our conversation are exactly what constituents need from their elected officials right now. I hope very much that we can expand our exchange to include other residents of Lexington and Rockbridge county and of course Mr. Goodlatte himself.

We agreed that a traditional town hall would be unproductive from the Congressman’s perspective. I personally wouldn’t want to stand in front of a thousand angry protestors waving signs and hurling insults at me either. Instead I propose Mr. Goodlatte meet with a smaller, civil, and balanced group of one hundred local residents.

Instead of a venue like the Rockbridge Country High School auditorium, which can seat an enormous crowd, we could meet in the community center where our Delegate Ben Cline holds his annual town hall. It comfortably fits about one hundred people.

I am a member of a local activist organization called 50 Ways Rockbridge. I suggest 50 Ways co-host the event with the Rockbridge Republicans. Each organization could then give out fifty tickets in advance, guaranteeing a balanced audience.

As far as keeping the tone civil, the other 50 Ways organizers and I can deliver that. Please ask Debbie Garett and Pete Larkin how they have been treated at the monthly Open Door meetings. I believe they will tell you that attendees are passionate but respectful and never disruptive. I have only heard Debbie address the room as a whole once, demanding that others not interrupt questioners with shouted comments. That was at the most recent meeting when members of the Rockbridge Republicans attended for the first time this year. But the new attendees quickly adopted the norms of the room, and the meeting continued respectfully.

I met Roger Jarell, the chair of the Rockbridge Area Republican Committee, afterwards. We and a few other folks stayed after Debbie had to leave, and the conversation was both civil and productive. I’ve since reached out to Roger about co-organizing events. I haven’t heard back from him yet, but I have to imagine he would be excited to host Mr. Goodlatte too.

I may be over optimistic, but I think we can model a town hall format that would be attractive to other members of Congress too—something much closer to real conversations. That means no signs and shouts from constituents and no evasive half-truths from Representatives. As I said, our conversation on Tuesday was personally so useful and satisfying to me because you responded with real substance.  We were able to speak back and forth and hear in a meaningful way what the other was saying. That is exactly what our country needs right now, and I would like to see it start in Lexington. I hope you do too.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks,

Chris Gavaler

Email #155: “the Republican Party will be rewarded”?

President Trump’s budget director Mick Mulvaney thinks you should hold a town meeting this week. He was asked on Sunday about the passage of the American Health Care Act:

“Should House members who passed it go home, and have town halls, and campaign on it?”

Mulvaney answered:

“Absolutely. Without reservation. In fact, I would be surprised if that’s not exactly what they’re doing. That’s what I would do…. I’d be ecstatic about going back and saying, ‘Look, here is what we did.’”

According to your December press release about his White House appointment, you “applaud” and “look forward to working with Mulvaney.” So then why are you now “surprising” him by not holding a town hall as he is urging? Why are you not “ecstatic” to meet with your constituents and hear their applause?

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus agrees with Mulvaney about the positive reception House Republicans will receive for their AHCA vote:

“I think that the Republican Party will be rewarded.”

Speaker Ryan does too. He says the vote will save House Republicans in the 2018 mid-term elections:

“People expect their elected leaders, if they run and campaign on doing something, they expect them to do that. And that’s what we’re doing. We’re keeping our word… I would argue that we would spell disaster for ourselves, politically, if we go back on our word.”

So why aren’t you holding a town hall to be rewarded for keeping your word? You don’t have the worries of your fellow Virginia Representative Dave Brat who is one of 24 Republicans being target by the health advocacy group Save My Care in a six-figure ad campaign criticizing them for their support of the AHCA. Our district is so overwhelmingly Republican, no national organizations are going to waste their money challenging you. And yet Brat said in a town hall last night:

“It’s very clear there’s a disproportionate number of Democrats in the room. And that’s good. You’re all my constituents, and I want to represent all of you.”

Do you feel differently? Do you only represent Republicans voters? Is that why you refuse to hold town halls?

If you’re worried about outside agitators, you could follow Iowa Republican Rod Blum’s model and require participants to prove they live in the district before being allowed to enter the town hall auditorium. He also made sure they weren’t carrying signs or noise-makers. Blum wasn’t “ecstatic”—he stormed out of a televised interview earlier in the day—but he still faced his constituents on Monday night.

So why won’t you? Blum was already facing difficult re-election prospects before he voted for the AHCA, but your seat is still considered extremely safe. The Cook Political Report gives our district a +13 Republican score, while Blum’s Iowa district is +1 Democrat. If one of you should be too afraid to stand in front of a crowd of voters, it’s Blum. And yet he did and you won’t. Why?

Even Tom MacArthur, the Representative responsible for the highly criticized amendment that allows states to strip down benefits and penalize people with pre-existing conditions, plans to hold a town hall this week. MacArthur, Blum, Brat, Ryan, Priebus, Mulvaney–they all think you should too.

You announced the day before the AHCA vote:

“I told my constituents that I would stand for them to repeal Obamacare, and I intend to keep that promise.”

So now stand before us and keep your promise to hold a town hall meeting.

Email #145: “listening to the people”?

Your colleague Florida Rep. Ted Yoho deserves some credit. Though his membership in the House Freedom Caucus places him further to the right than you, he still showed up for a town hall meeting with 500 constituents in Gainsville during the Congress’ two-week recess this month. It was Yoho’s second town hall this year. And while he said it was “the rowdiest crowd,” even one of his sharpest critics praised him afterwards:

“I appreciate him actually holding the town hall. I think that’s important. We don’t agree on a lot of things, but I’m glad he’s here listening to the people.”

I wish I could say the same of you. On Thursday, the Staunton City Council voted to “pass along a request by our citizens” for a public town hall meeting. Not only are you rejecting the invitation, you worked behind the scenes to try to prevent the council from even making it. When your staff noticed the item listed on the city council agenda, you personally contacted one of the council members to lobby her to block the decision.

According to Councilwoman Andrea Oakes, you are “trying, at this point, to hold off until the attitudes are more relaxed.” You are giving “the emotional state of the country … a little time to settle.” Oakes was the only member of the Staunton City Council to vote against the invitation.

Rep. Yoho didn’t try to influence the city council of Gainseville to prevent his town hall. He just showed up and did his job. I’m also impressed by Yoho’s willingness to change his position on an issue of shared principle. A local Florida newspaper reported:

“Yoho told audience members that at first, he didn’t care if Trump released the returns because it wasn’t something required by the constitution. However, when the anti-Trump activist visited his office to explain how suspicious Trump’s international business dealings were in relation to his presidency, Yoho had a change of heart…. this is the first time Yoho has publicly called for Trump to release his tax returns.”

I also have written to you about Trump’s tax records and repeatedly asked to meet with you to discuss his failure to release them, but all I have ever received is an automated email.

I never thought I would prefer a member of the rightwing Freedom Caucus as my Representative, but at least Congressman Yoho is willing to listen—and even once in a great change his mind.

You told Oakes the country is enduring “tense political times.” Your behavior is fueling that tension. Avoiding town halls doesn’t “relax” and “settle” “emotional” constituents. It infuriates them further. The Trump administration’s 100th day has passed. How much more “little time” do you need?

 

Email #130: public events, telephones & Facebook

I would like to thank you for three very tiny steps forward you have made concerning your availability to constituents.

When I first met your district supervisor Debbie Garrett at an Open Door meeting in January, she said that your public appearances could not be publicized due to security concerns. I don’t know if Debbie was improvising. She seemed startled to see a dozen people at the meeting–though, to her credit, she has adapted admirably since that number has more than quadrupled at subsequent meetings. But her claim was unconvincing. And now it is clear that it was untrue. Your appearances at Staunton’s Gypsy Hill Park and at Buena Vista’s Southern Virginia University were both announced in advance–though the first was cancelled when the House vote on the ACHA was delayed and then itself cancelled, and the second appearance was for a Veterans event, and so very unlikely to draw protesters.

Still, you seem somewhat more willing to be seen in public, sometimes even with some advance notice. Thank you.

Secondly, when I met your communication director Beth Breeding in February, she announced that you would soon be holding “telephone town halls.” These of course are not town halls but conference calls that, according to your office, involve about a thousand listeners each. At the time Beth guessed you might conduct “two or three” in the next year, a peculiarly low number I thought, but you have instead been holding them on close to a weekly basis. At least that is what you have stated. Since media outlets aren’t invited and transcripts aren’t provided, these are closed events. They are also scheduled during dinner hours and not announced in advance. Perhaps, given your new willingness to announce your physical appearances, you might correct this for your conference calls too. I would also hope you would invite local radio stations to record and then report on them afterwards.

Still, unannounced, inconveniently scheduled conference calls in which you select questions yourself and allow no media attendance is better than nothing at all. Thank you.

Finally, you conducted a live, 30-minute event on Facebook in which you selected and read aloud questions from the Comments sections. While a worthy experiment, this created even less of a dialogue than your conference calls. On the phone you can simply press a button and silence your questioner, but on Facebook the questioner is limited to just a few initial words and cannot even attempt a follow-up. You also said that you were avoiding “traditional” town halls because they can become “shouting matches.” Sadly, that occurred to comic effect during the Facebook event. Many constituents added to the Comments as you were speaking, most with insightful questions, but some typed insults at you, calling you a “clown,” etc.  While there seemed to be very few of your supporters participating, several who did typed similar insults at other commenters. The scroll was extremely distracting and created a virtual “shouting match” worse than any “traditional” one.

Still, you are at least trying to create the appearance of availability. Thank you.

Despite these three small steps, however, you continue to not schedule any town halls, even though Congress is currently on a two-week recess to provide exactly that opportunity. You also continue to ignore my requests for a private meeting. Someday I hope to shake your hand, sit down, and have a conversation. As far dreams-come-true, isn’t that ridiculously modest?

Email #119, Subject: “meaningful consultation”?

I was recently called by the Washington Post and asked about my months-long efforts to schedule a meeting with you. I of course could report no progress of any kind.

Everyone morning I submit a request in the “Request a Meeting” form on your website, and the only response I’ve ever received is the automatic email that appears in my inbox a minute later. I have asked to meet with you one-on-one, in a small group conference room setting, or simply as an audience member of a town hall. I have made my requests by email, by phone, including to your district scheduler in Roanoke, and in person to your district supervisor, to your communication director, and to your chief-of-staff. You have never gotten back to me, nor has a staff member ever responded to me in any way.

You said in a recent letter to me that the government agency that wrote the Stream Protection Rule “did not comply with the requirement to engage in meaningful consultation with the impacted state governments during the yearlong development of this rule.” Although I agree that “meaningful consultation” is an essential expectation, I am surprised that you acknowledged its importance given your continuing failure to engage in meaningful consultation with your constituents.

I do not understand your political positions. Many of your public statements are internally contradictory. Many of them reduce complex issues to slogans that mislead and obfuscate core questions. The vast majority of the questions I’ve posed in my letters, on the phone to your staff members, in the comments of your Facebook event, and in the recordings I’ve left after your “telephone town halls” have gone unanswered.  You are refusing to meaningfully consult.

I read that your former Democratic opponent Andy Schmookler has challenged you to a debate. This is not what I’m proposing. A debate is not a consultation. It might not involve shouting, but debaters only listen to their opponents in order to find weaknesses to strengthen their own attacks. Debaters never acknowledge complexities or admit regrets or adjust their positions to new insights. That only happens in sincere conversations.

I am once again asking to have a meaningful conversation with you. I would prefer to hold it publicly so that others can also hear your explanations for positions that appear contradictory, but I would happily meet with you in private too. At minimum I hope the next time the Washington Post calls me, I can report some positive news about you.

 

 

Email #114, Subject: “conducive to conversation”

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham deserves some credit. He scheduled a town hall meeting the day after the AHCA was defeated and faced a packed auditorium of mostly Democratic constituents in Columbia, South Carolina. An article described him having to shout to be heard over the angry boos.

You have said you will not hold your own town halls for exactly this reason. You claim “traditional” town halls are not “shouting matches.” This of course is not true. As I’ve written to you previously, YouTube videos of your 2009 town halls document shouts and boos directed at questioners who spoke in support of the ACA. Still, I understand your excuse. I would not want stand in front of hundreds of angry voters either.

That’s why I would like to invite you to Lexington. I am a co-organizer of a local activist group here that started up in December before any of us heard about the Indivisible movement. You have complained that Indivisible is controlling anti-Republican protests nationally, instructing members to boo and shout at their Representatives. That is not the case in Lexington. We are fully grassroots and independent. Though we attract predominantly Democrats, our County Unity subcommittee exists solely to find ways to bridge political divides. We want bipartisan solutions—something you have said you seek too.

Your chief-of-staff Pete Larkin attended Debbie Garrett’s last Open Door Meeting in Lexington. Like Debbie, Pete seems like an upstanding person. I was sitting quietly grading papers before the meeting started and he came up and introduced himself with a friendly handshake. Like Debbie, he listened respectfully to me when it was my turn to speak before the room. I asked him to encourage you to hold a town hall here in Lexington, and he said he would. I think he can vouch for all the community members who spoke that Thursday. There were no boos, no shouting. A request was made that no one hang signs on the walls, and it was obeyed without a word of complaint.

We are reasonable people who would like to have a reasonable conversation with our Representative. You said that recent town halls in other states were not “conducive to conversation.” I agree. I invite you to Lexington to have a literal conversation with me and other constituents, a polite back-and-forth in which we can ask you fair questions and follow-ups, giving you as much time and silent attention as you need to answer them thoughtfully and thoroughly. If any attendee should boo or shout or wave a sign, I will stand on the stage beside you and address them myself.

Please come to Lexington and have a conversation with us.