Maybe it was the configuration of the room, which was shallow and wide and not narrow and deep, making no allowance for angry shouters to use their distance from the speaker to intimidate the rest of the auditorium like they did at Frank Pallone’s Red Bank Town Hall last week. Maybe it was the different Congressional District, NJ-12 not NJ-6. Almost certainly it was that this congressman didn’t bear direct responsibility for the health care reform bill containing the much-debated public option, HR 3200, the way Pallone certainly does with the bill coming out of his Health Subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee.
But the experience of sitting in on Rush Holt’s public event on the same topic last week, while contentious, lacked the surging intimdation tactics and the deep lines of people waiting to get in to what had to be multiple sessions each night. Questions submitted by the audience were collected and read aloud by the congressman, who then addressed them. And in some cases, that led to briefer, substantive questions and commentary from the audience, rather than the situation Pallone had in Red Bank, grappling with questions from microphones turned up higher than his own.