Protesters carrying homemade signs asking for universal health care lined a sidewalk adjacent to a town hall meeting with U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, but the crowd that squeezed inside and wound through the parking lot was mostly filled by those who supported the GOP senator and opposed President Obama's health care plan.
The atmosphere inside and outside the Rioz Steakhouse in Myrtle Beach stayed civil despite predictions that a protest outside would make its way inside. Nationwide, health care town halls held by Democrats and Republicans have broken down into yelling matches.
Pundits expected the town halls held by DeMint, one of the most vocal opponents to Obama's health care plan, to involve similar outbursts. So far both stops on DeMint's 12-stop tour have left the him relatively unscathed.
"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 to a roar of applause.
The Horry County Republican Party hosted the event, at which the line stretched out the door and through the parking lot. Many of those in attendance were older residents. Once the room reached capacity, they either struggled to hear DeMint from the porch or meandered away.
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