Etheridge holds tele-town meeting

LILLINGTON The North Carolina democrat sat in his Raleigh office and took questions over the phone for about an hour.

Registered voters -regardless of party affiliation- living in Etheridge's district got an automated call at home to participate in the conversation. A total of 20,000 people were eligible to listen in to the live tele-town hall.

The congressman's office said thousands of people actually listened in.

During the call, Etheridge re-iterated part of what president Obama has been saying about the proposed health care plan.

"Under the president's proposal, if you have insurance and you like what you have you'll keep it and there will be no change," he said. "I certainly want folks that I represent to have the information so they'll understand what the issues are."

Etheridge held two face-to-face health care town halls in May and June, before debate got super-heated.

He said he was not dodging anyone, despite what some said.

"Is Congressman Etheridge holding a tele-town hall to avoid this confrontation we see on CNN? No. We had planned this a long time ago," Etheridge said.

"The reason they don't like the town halls is they can't screen out the people who are very upset with the plan," said Dallas Woodhouse with Americans for Prosperity.

Woodhouse and Americans For Prosperity organized a 30 stop "Hands Off My Health Care" bus tour.

Opponents of the Democrats' reform ideas picketed Congressman Brad Miller's office when he refused to meet critics collectively in a town hall format.

"Politicians need to stand up there and answer questions from their constituents in person," Woodhouse said. "Are you Mr. Congressman going to get on the public plan? Can you guarantee this won't raise the deficit?"

Ethridge said the meetings have made lots of noise, but have not shined much light.

"There's a lot of bad information out there," Etheridge said. "There's a lot of misinformation and there's some out and out lies, people distorting facts."

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