President Obama waves as he arrives at Portsmouth High School in Portsmouth, N.H., for Tuesday's town hall meeting on health care.
President Obama isn't shrinking from those town hall health care forums, where angry citizens have sent lower ranking politicians running for cover with sharp questions about real and imagined problems with reform plans.
Back from a two-day jaunt to Mexico, Obama held a town hall meeting in Portsmouth, N.H., fielding nine questions in what sounded at times like a campaign event. He pointedly told the crowd of 1,800 that he welcomed disagreement, although aside from some polite questions about how the nation will pay for the program, the tone stayed friendly.
"I never said change would be easy," Obama said at one point. "If it were easy it would have already been done."
In recent days, members of Congress all over the nation have had their forums disrupted by rowdy opponents, prompting accusations that the questioners are Republican plants and that the Obama Administration has sought to counter them by sending in union activists. Earlier on Tuesday, Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter waded into a fight between angry participants at a town hall meeting.
White House aides said no questions or questioners were screened before Tuesday's forum. Several protesters massed outside the event, including one who was found to be legally carrying a gun. On Friday, Obama, who says he wants to counter "scare tactics," will host a town hall meeting in Bozeman, Mont., followed by a Saturday session in Grand Junction, Colo.