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Sen. Cory Gardner faces another tough town hall crowd

Event held Monday at Pueblo Convention Center

Sen Gardner faces tough town hall...

PUEBLO, Colo. - Colorado U.S. Senator Cory Gardner continues to draw criticism from constituents who say the Republican doesn't directly answer questions or properly represent them. 

The criticism has been a hallmark of many of his public appearances, and it was apparent again Monday during a 90-minute town hall attended by 220 people at the Pueblo Convention Center.

Roz Lizarriturri was one of several dozen protesters holding signs outside the convention center before the town hall began at 11:30 a.m.

"If Sen. Gardner wants my vote, he'd better start doing things," she said.  "Not the way I want them but in the way that serves the people of this state.  He hasn't represented us."

Boos and insults were expressed toward Gardner when he explained why he supports a proposed tax reform bill in Congress.

"Wages for each person will grow over $3,000 because of it," he said.  "That will lead to job growth and less of a tax burden on the middle-class.  That's a very specific impact."

Critics also worry about how Gardner will vote on health care reform, clean energy and environmental issues.

But the main complaint from his constituents is that he doesn't listen to them or vote as they think he should.

"Your approval rating runs between 27 and 40 percent," Katie Frank said to Gardner during the town hall.  "Just last month, you were ranked among the 10 most unpopular senators.  Why is that, and what are you going to do to improve that?"

Gardner said he'll keep doing what he always has -- make the best decisions for Colorado and his constituents.

Leslie Cates was upset because she wasn't allowed to hold a microphone while asking Gardner a question; someone held it for her.

"It's disgraceful to talk about free speech, then turn around and deny it," she said.  "I was disappointed in many of the answers he gave."

Several Pueblo police officers stood by to ensure the town hall didn't get out of control.

Salvadore Torres, a Republican who is running for a Pueblo County commissioner seat next fall, said he and others in the part disagree with some of Gardner's stances but support most of them.

"It was sad that I didn't see more Republicans here," Torres said.  "I think 60 to 70 percent of the people at this town hall were Democrats or unaffiliated voters."

Gardner did, however, receive heartfelt thanks from several veterans who say he appreciates their service and is trying hard to get better care for them.

Several in the audience said they're tired of the disrespectful tone expressed against Gardner in public meetings.

"I've seen Kindergarten classes behave better than this town hall," one man said, receiving some applause after the remark.

Even Gardner scolded someone in the crowd.

"I just heard a very negative comment," he said.  "Say what you want about me, I don't care.  But please be respectful to others here."

The mood of the town hall settled down after that.

Some protesters said they've decided against supporting Gardner if he seeks re-election.


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