A health care town hall featuring U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint drew more people from both parties than anyone expected, but the atmosphere inside and outside the restaurant stayed civil.
The Horry County Republican Party hosted the event at Rioz Steakhouse in Myrtle Beach, where a line of people stretched out the door and through the parking lot. Many people either struggled to hear DeMint from the porch or left.
``The big issue right now is the debate about health care. Should the government control it or make what's working, work better? Well, I say we make it better, not start from scratch,'' DeMint said opening the meeting.
Protesters organized by the Georgetown County Democratic Party to hand out information were relegated to the sidewalk across the street and away from almost everyone entering the town hall. They left before the event was over.
``Are they protesting over there? What are they doing? I can't read their signs?'' a woman said while trying to get into the event.
Republican leaders estimated almost 1,000 people turned up and hundreds left, opting to not sit down for a second service that started after DeMint finished speaking. Many of those who did get seated for the event stood up and clamored toward the podium to be heard, and most wanted to voice support for the senator's alternative plans to the Obama health care reform bill. Only one person who was called on to speak challenged DeMint's ideas.
DeMint spoke about the need to open interstate competition to insurance companies, address malpractice suits and avoid a government-run system. He did not address the White House's comments earlier this week asserting that the presence of a government-run option would not be a deal-breaker for Obama.
For more about the discussion, check back with TheSunNews.com.