LITTLE ROCK — A boisterous crowd of around 800 people greeted U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, at a town hall meeting in Little Rock on Monday.
Originally scheduled for an hour, the pair of legislators took questions for nearly 90 minutes at the Embassy Suites hotel in in west Little Rock.
The crowd was a mixture of progressives, who asked aggressive questions on Republican policy and legislative issues, along with a solid contingent of supporters who wore President Donald Trump T-shirts and “Make America Great Again” hats.
Some of the toughest questions came late, as both were quizzed on the death penalty in Arkansas, which drew both loud cheers and boos from the crowd.
“I met with Gov. (Asa) Hutchinson this morning,” Cotton said. “And I told him I 100 percent support his decision to execute … .” The rest of Cotton’s answer was drowned out by boos from the crowd.
When they got quiet, Cotton added, “My sympathy lies with the victims who don’t have a voice.”
That was followed by more boos from the crowd.
“I think it is very unfortunate that liberal judges, lawyers and washed-up celebrities have,” Cotton said before trailing off from the boos from the crowd. “And even politically correct pharmaceutical companies are trying to interfere with the justice system in Arkansas. In some cases, after 30 years, it is time to give those families the peace of mind and justice they deserve.”
Hill’s comments were similar to Cotton’s but didn’t quite get the derision from the crowd.
“There are a lot of strong emotions and a lot of strong feelings on both sides of this issue,” he said. “I have always believed that everyone who has gone through a trial for one of these heinous crimes and have had due process of law under our system. And I have in my personal view, there are some crimes, some outcomes, that are so heinous that juries of their peers and judges need to have the ultimate penalty available to them under law that has been protected by the U.S. Supreme Court.”
But that wasn’t all as Cotton and Hill were quizzed on the Affordable Care Act along with foreign policy to how they would “control our crazy president.”
In response to a question on North Korea, Cotton said, “we’re out of road to kick the can down” and developing a response was essential to the country.
This is the first town hall meeting that Hill has participated in, while this is Cotton’s third. At an earlier town hall meeting in Springdale, he took tough questions on Trump’s agenda.
Another town hall in Heber Springs, that time with U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, drew less scrutiny.