Sanders, Giffords Call Out Cowardly Republicans for Ditching Town Halls

To the Republican lawmakers dodging their constituents, refusing to confront engaged voters at local town hall meetings, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) on Thursday issued similar messages: toughen up and do your job.

“If you don’t have the guts to face your constituents, then you shouldn’t be in the United States Congress,” Sanders said in an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett. “That’s what you’re elected to do,” he said.

One such lawmaker is Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), who used the shooting of Giffords during a 2011 town hall meeting to provide cover for his absence.

“Unfortunately, at this time there are groups from the more violent strains of the leftist ideology, some even being paid, who are preying on public town halls to wreak havoc and threaten public safety,” Gohmert said in a statement Tuesday. “Threats are nothing new to me and I have gotten my share as a felony judge. However, the House Sergeant at Arms advised us after former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot at a public appearance, that civilian attendees at Congressional public events stand the most chance of being harmed or killed—just as happened there.”

But Giffords responded by saying that lawmakers should, in fact, hold town halls to engage with voters lest they forgo “their civic obligations.”

“Town halls and countless constituent meetings were a hallmark of my tenure in Congress. It’s how I was able to serve the people of southern Arizona. I believed that listening to my constituents was the most basic and core tenet of the job I was hired to do,” she said.