South Carolina Republican’s town hall starts rowdy, ends peaceably | Reuters

By Harriet McLeod

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. U.S. Senator Tim Scott faced a quandary on Saturday in hosting his town hall: he promised to meet with his South Carolina constituents, but he wanted to avoid the kind of adversarial free-for-all so many Republicans encountered this week.

Scott decided to ban placards from his North Charlestown meeting in hopes of averting the raucousness that erupted at dozens of town halls during the first congressional recess of Donald Trump’s month-old presidency.

The senator also required the crowd submit questions in writing ahead of time after other Republican lawmakers faced a wave of anger on issues ranging from Trump’s immigration and healthcare policies to the president’s ties to Russia.

Despite Scott’s precautions, arguments broke out and constituents told one another to shut up, though many in the audience – mostly white and over the age of 50 – said the senator remained respectful and sincere. And it never degenerated into an all-out shouting match.

Scott, the only African-American Republican in the U.S. Senate, began his town hall by pulling slips of paper from a box and reading the questions aloud. But the overflow audience of 300, evenly divided between Trump opponents and supporters, reacted with loud boos and cheers, even before he could begin to answer.

To a question about a rise in hate crimes, Scott said the trend predates the president’s campaign.

“We can blame Trump for a lot of things but I don’t think we can blame him for this one,” he said, following a pattern of distancing himself from Trump without directly criticizing him.

“Some people have come to the conclusion that this president has already failed,” Scott said. “I hope that most of us, whether you voted for him or not, hope that he succeeds.”

When asked about Trump’s repeated denunciations of the media, Scott said he believed the press was more biased than in the past. Even so, he said, “I do not believe the…

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