DURHAM, N.C. – Sen. Thom Tillis doesn’t want to take part in the type of town halls where his fellow Republicans have been the target of shouts.
But at a private event Monday in Durham, some in the crowd let Tillis know where they stood.
Tillis said the shouting contest both sides of the political spectrum are directing at each other must come to an end.
He took questions Monday and some voiced their frustrations.
As soon as Tillis started talking about the Affordable Care Act, Steve Pogoloff got up to speak.
“I’d like to know when you’re going to stop hiding like this,” Pogoloff said.
Pogoloff, a Durham software company owner, told the senator he wants Tillis to hold a public town hall.
“Tennessee, Virginia – the senators come out. They face large crowds. They face anger. They stand there and they listen instead of hiding like you are. Should we start calling you ‘Timid Tillis?’ I mean this is ridiculous. When are you going to meet with us?” Pogoloff said.
Tillis responded with “when people will not raise their voice or call people names. You can’t learn. You can’t change your heart if all you’re being is shouted down.”
Tillis spoke for about an hour at the Durham Chamber of Commerce, taking questions at a private event.
Those in attendance paid a $25 fee to the chamber.
Tillis talked about education, infrastructure, and about immigration reform.
“To me, this is an area where words matter. People are worried and I think appropriately so,” Tillis said.
Tillis also made this comment.
I may be one of the free-ist members of the U.S. Senate because I honestly don’t care, and probably you’d be happy to hear this, I don’t really care if I get re-elected. I don’t even know if I’m going to run for office again,” Tillis said.
After, CBS North Carolina’s Beau Minnick asked him why he said that and he said it’s about making sure Republicans get stuff done in Washington.
“They kept us in power because they’re giving us a chance to produce results,” Tillis said.
Some of those who attended say they hope this is the start of an ongoing dialogue.
But there also were some who did not get inside Monday who were frustrated and demonstrated outside.
Those outside called on Tillis and Sen. Richard Burr to hold a town hall.
“If they showed up and talked to people on a regular basis, there would be an opportunity to have a constructive dialogue. Not with a lot of yelling and screaming but just a constructive, two-way dialogue,” said Raleigh resident Tony Quartararo.
Tillis said he would have town halls, but he is not willing to have a choreographed protest.
His staff members say he is holding town halls by telephone.