David Wu at Newberg/Randy Stapilus
At Representative David Wu's second town hall meeting of the season, in Newberg, a considerable local political story was in the background: Wu has been described (by the Oregonian and others) of exhibiting strange behavior and driving off key staff, and the negative narrative was strong enough that last week a prominent Democrat, Brad Avakian, entered a primary contest against him.
In fielding (by my count) 14 questions from area residents, via tickets chose from a plastic container, in the course of questions mainly supportive but sometimes critical on various issues, Wu was never asked about any of those headlines or the upcoming contest, and he didn't offer any thoughts about them. He appeared a little uneasy at times, but the questions and answers from the crowd of about 70 people were in the normal range for a congressional town hall.
Subjects? The federal budget, options for taxing and spending, and the deficit. (One questioner made clear that he likes the progressive budget plan, for which Wu has voted, and another argued that cuts have to be far more massive.) The Patriot Act and other security-related measures. Military spending and the wars. (Wu suggested that President Obama will have to come to Congress for support for ongoing activities at Libya, if still active after 60 days of engagement.) Outsourcing. Health insurance and health care (a number of individual horror stories emerging). Unemployment and the need for more job creation. Planned Parenthood spending and abortion (the second hottest topic).
Immigration (the hottest topic, sharply dividing the audience): Some people in the audience insisted that immigration laws should be enforced fully, meaning that all 13 million (or so) people in the United States illegally should be departed, immediately. Wu remained polite but his language was in sharp opposition - even were such a mass deportation possible ("Let's be realistic about this"), he said, it would amount to "the ethnic cleansing of America." He did turn a bit political on this (as on a few other topics), asking the anti-immigrant parts of the audience to watch and see whether the Tea Party-backed members of Congress endorse any legislation to do such a thing. He said he thought they would not.
Wu said that he plans to hold another round of town halls in the summer or fall.