GOP Rep. Dodges Obamacare Repeal Questions At Assisted Living Facility

Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME) dodged questions about Republicans’ health care bill on Tuesday, according to video of a tumultuous press conference published by a progressive group.

Poliquin had visited Nason Park Manor, an assisted living facility in Bangor, Maine, to promote his proposal to sell off federally owned buildings in order to fund a one-year cost of living increase for Social Security recipients.

A photo on Poliquin’s website shows him chatting with Nason Park Manor residents.

But video clips from the event posted by the Maine People’s Alliance, a progressive group, show Poliquin dodging questions about his support for the American Health Care Act, House Republicans’ Obamacare repeal bill that would carry with it deep cuts to Medicaid.

“If you’re not a resident, I think that this is just for residents, isn’t that correct?” Poliquin said after being confronted by Valerie Walker, who attended the event to ask the congressman about his support of the AHCA.

“I’ve called your office, and I’d like an answer to my question,” Walker asks the congressman, to no avail.

Poliquin’s office did not respond to TPM’s request for comment about the press conference.

“Representative, my son is not going to have a wonderful summer with a cut in Medicaid,” Walker is heard saying at the end of the event, as Poliquin scurries toward the door.

“Congressman, you promised to take a question from this constituent, would you keep your promise for once?” another voice is heard saying, as the congressman disappears to his car.

Walker told TPM by phone that Poliquin has a habit of ducking tough questions from Mainers.

“He does nothing open to the public,” she said. “We did have a town hall, and he didn’t show up.”

Slate’s Jim Newell described a similar response in May, after asking Poliquin for his thoughts on an earlier version of the AHCA: “He said nothing and made a beeline to the restroom,” Newell wrote. “Unfortunately it was the door to the women’s restroom that he had first run to, so he corrected himself and went into the men’s room. When he emerged several minutes later, he was wearing his earbuds and scurried away.”

The Maine Beacon, the Maine People’s Alliance’s newsletter, noted in its report on Tuesday’s press conference that the room in which it was held, which is managed by the Bangor Housing Authority, is “considered a public space.”

At least one resident of Nason Park, Kathy Record, told the Beacon that she was disappointed in Poliquin’s non-answers to questions.

“He was just being condescending and acting like he was supportive and was trying to say what people wanted to hear even though it was not true, and that’s the message most of the residents in there got,” she added. “We were talking about it before he showed up and we knew that when Poliquin said that he was coming to make an announcement that it was going to be bullshit.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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