U.S. Senator Steve Daines answered questions and listened to his critics last night during his most recent telephone town hall meeting Wednesday night, March 8, 2017.
Daines has been criticized by some Montanans for not holding in-person town hall meetings. The Republican has said the telephone town halls are a better way to reach more Montanans in this far-flung state.
Daines said this was his 14th tele-town hall.
Full Length Tele-Town Hall Available Below
"We have Joan from Helena. You’re on the line," said Daines. The Republican welcomed questioners only by their first name and town.
Joan had several questions for Daines. She asked about the Congressional investigation into Russia’s involvement in last fall’s presidential campaign and the Republican’s plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.
Then Joan brought up, “You have said you represent all Montanans. But as I recall, you did not win an absolute landslide and I did not vote for you.”
“I am a Democrat,” Joan said. “No matter how many times I write you or email you it seems to me I get a pat answer, to absolutely a Republican pat line.”
“You vote with Republicans even though it may not be the best thing for Montana,” she said. “So I’d like you to comment on your feelings between representing Republicans and being a ‘party man’ because now, of course, Republicans and Democrats are so remarkably polarized and I don’t have any sense that you represent me ever in any decisions about anything.”
“Joan I appreciate. Thank you. Thank you for laying out these questions and concerns,” said Daines.
Daines said the Congressional investigation should be allowed to move forward into any Russian involvement in the Presidential Election and he repeated why he supports repeal and replacement of the ACA.
Daines said he does work with Democrats. He pointed to working with Senator Elizabeth Warren to protect a worker’s retirement plan and that he has supported issues that were opposed by other Republicans.
“And lastly you mentioned I did not win in a landslide. Fair enough,” he said.
Daines pointed out he did win election to the U.S. Senate and that Republican Donald Trump’s Presidential win did win Montana by 20 points, 56% to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 36%.
Daines said when he ran for the open U.S. Senate seat in 2014 he campaigned to repeal and replace of ObamaCare, for job creation, and pledged not to grow government.
“And so if I came back here and said, ‘Wait a minute. I’m going to be for Obamacare and I believe in growing government.’ That goes against what I campaigned on,” he said.
“And arguably Donald Trump won a landslide in Montana in 2016,” Daines said. “So it doesn’t mean you agree with everything that Donald Trump does. Don’t agree with everything I do, but you have to campaign on certain principals, positions and issues.”
Daines said the people elected him and he’d better follow though, “So it shouldn’t be a surprise to Montanans that I am for repealing Obamacare, that I am for the Keystone pipeline, that I am for coal development, that I believe we need forest management reform, that I believe we need more high paying jobs. I campaigned on that and I got elected for that.”
A staffer for the Senator emailed YPR after the tele-town hall and said about 30,000 Montanans were on the line for the March 8, 2017 event.