Friendly crowd at Walz town hall; lots of questions about Trump

Minnesota congressman Tim Walz at a town hall meeting in Worthington.
Minnesota congressman Tim Walz answers questions about President Trump's policies at a town hall meeting in Worthington on March 4, 2017.
Mark Steil | MPR News

News about President Donald Trump's allegation that former President Obama had his "wires tapped" was still making headlines as a crowd of about 60 people gathered for a town hall meeting in Worthington.

The crowd was mostly friendly as Walz welcomed them.

"Let's do democracy, go," he said.

And early on, the crowd focused on the news and on President Trump. One of those who stood up was Steve Taylor of Worthington. He wondered about the phone tap charge, expressing frustration that it would deepen the divide between the political parties.

"You know this is going to get bandied around for another five to ten years now," said Taylor. "The far right is always going to say that this was buried."

Trump did not provide any evidence about the phone taps when he tweeted the allegation Saturday morning. A spokesman for President Obama later dismissed the allegation.

Walz took issue with the president's apparent lack of evidence. He said the president needs to clearly make his case with facts when he makes such statements. Walz said to do any less, only contributes to the political gridlock in Washington.

"So it may not seem like much to put that out, but I think it breeds that distrust," said Walz.

Distrust was a theme for many in the audience as they questioned the policies of the new president. Walz, who is considering a run for governor in next year's election, asked the crowd how Trump's immigration policies affect the community.

He was especially concerned how young people are affected by the president's words.

"Children being fearful they come home from school and don't have their parents there is probably not the best way to approach it," said Walz.

Worthington has the largest percentage minority population in the state. Nearly 60 percent of its residents are people of color. Jobs at a big meatpacking plant have drawn many to town.

Father Jim Callahan of St. Mary's Catholic Church told Walz the immigrant population is worried and fearful about what will happen if federal officials start looking for undocumented people in Worthington. He said doctors who treat immigrants in town say they're seeing a lot of stress.

"The physicians told me today that we need to start support groups for many of these people," said Callahan. "Because there is such a fear that's affecting the parents, physically."

Walz told the crowd a way must be found to bring fearful immigrants like those in Worthington 'out of the shadows' and into the regular pathways of life. But he said right now in Washington, Congress lacks the political will to tackle the contentious issue.

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