Rep. Martha Blackburn (R-TN) doubled down on her claim that only one-third of people in attendance at a town hall on Tuesday were from her district.
“We had talked to people that were estimating crowds, and that is what they thought with those that came out for the event,” Blackburn told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Thursday afternoon.
Blackburn came under criticism for that assertion, first made Wednesday night to CNN’s Anderson Cooper. The New York Times’ Trip Gabriel reported Thursday morning that everyone he spoke to at the town hall identified themselves as a resident of Blackburn’s district, and linked to a letter to the editor published by a local publication which claimed as much.
Everyone I spoke to in this town hall identified themselves as TN-7 voter. Town restricted RSVP’s to locals and checked ID’s. https://t.co/4xLVn2qeOH
— Trip Gabriel (@tripgabriel) February 23, 2017
“The Fairview mayor requested a show of hands for those from Blackburn’s 7th district. All but a very few hands went up,” wrote Franklin, Tennessee resident Blair Warman Nickle to Franklin Home Page on Thursday.
Blackburn maintained that most attendees at the event were from outside of her district. That is a charged assertion, given the White House has accused some protesters of being “paid.” Former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), now president of the Heritage Foundation, said Tuesday that protestors were being “bused around” to disrupt town halls.
“There were some people who stood up to speak and ask a question and they identified themselves as living outside of the district. So, I don’t know who the reporter talked to,” Blackburn said Thursday, referring to the Times’ Gabriel. “I do know that the first people that RSVP’d – about the first hundred people that RSVP’d, they had not put up the information on the city’s little website announcement that you needed to be a Fairview resident.”
“We do know that people were overheard in the line saying, ‘Oh, you know, say that you live in Williamson County,'” Blackburn said later, when Blitzer showed her video of Fairview’s mayor polling the crowd to see who was a resident of the city. She added: “There were a lot of out-of-state tags” in the parking lot at the event.