Charlie Clark

Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017

McSally faces tense crowd at town hall near Tucson

SAHUARITA – More than 250 people gathered at a town hall on Thursday to pepper U.S. Rep. Martha McSally with questions about immigration, health care and President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall.

Like many of her colleagues across the nation, McSally faced a tense crowd as congressional members return to their districts during a recess. The event, which ran about 90 minutes, was held at the Good Shepherd United Church of Christ in Sahuarita, south of Tucson.

Hundreds of people couldn’t get into the event, including protesters who pressed up against the church’s glass doors and shouted, “We’re still here.”

Those who did get into the building expressed their agitation on a variety of subjects. Residents submitted more than 700 questions online prior the town hall, but audience members had priority.

When asked about the Trump administration’s performance thus far, she called it a “bumpy rollout.”

“Many things technically could have run better,” she said.

McSally, a Republican, also stood by efforts for a full repeal and replacement of Obamacare.

When asked whether she agreed with Trump’s recent Tweet describing the news media as “the enemy of the American people,” she replied: “I do not, absolutely not.”

McSally also answered questions about Planned Parenthood, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and transgender rights.

Josephine Wilson, 39, said she attended the event to express concerns over climate change, the direction of the Environmental Protection Agency and Trump’s treatment of the press.

The crowd leaned heavily Democrat, but she had supporters in the crowd.

Fran King, a Trump supporter from Green Valley and member of the town council, praised McSally for being “in tune” with attitudes of voters in the Southwest.

“I’m just here to show my support,” King said, adding that she believes everyone has a right to ask questions.

“We are all Americans, and we need to unite and support our president,” she said. “I mean Obama was not my president, but we all supported him and behaved in a civilized manner. And I hope everybody does that throughout the United States because this is everybody’s country, it’s not just one person’s country.”

Cronkite News reporters Natalie Tarangioli and Kendra Penningroth contributed to this article.