Protesters disrupt Roe campaign event; he vows to ‘bury’ Democrats

Over a dozen people protesting President Trump’s immigration policies “crashed” U.S. Rep. Phil Roe’s official announcement of his re-election campaign Monday, reports the Johnson City Press. One of them was a Democrat seeking her party’s nomination for the 1st Congressional seat. Roe subsequently told supporters he wants to “bury” Democrats in November.

The newspaper has two stories on Roe, one focused on the protest at his kickoff rally and the other on a speech Roe delivered later to a Republican group.

From the speech story:

 “I’ve got a confession to make,” Roe told the more than 100 who attended the first meeting of the East Tennessee Republican Club at the Carnegie Hotel in Johnson City. “I’ve got a little redneck in me. They (Democrats) have made me want to work even harder. I want to bury them.”

Roe told Republicans their hospitality was much different from the reception he received from protesters who showed up at his re-election campaign’s official kickoff at the Municipal and Safety Building just an hour before. Members of that group, who were there to protest President Trump’s immigration policies, included Dr. Marty Olsen, a Democrat running for the 1st Congressional District seat in November.

“The left is fired up,” Roe told the GOP club. “The police chief had to walk me out. That’s the nonsense we’re having to put up with.”

Roe — who will face several challengers in the GOP primary on Aug. 2 — said he is now feeling more “optimistic” about his party’s success in the midterm congressional races than he did four months ago.

“I’m feeling a whole lot better about this election, and the reason is our policies are winning and the American people are seeing that,” he said.

Even so, Roe said U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican who is expected to face former Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, in the Nov. 6 election for U.S. Senate, has a “very difficult race” in front of her. He said that is why it’s important that Republicans in Tennessee go to the polls in November.

From the protest story:

There was a “tense exchange” between a protester who asked Roe about separation of parents from their children at the U.S. border with Mexico. Roe replied that he and other congressmen would meet with Trump to discuss immigration matters Tuesday.

As aides began hurriedly pushing the congressman towards the door, the protester asked, “What is your stance?” 

“I think what we have to do … it’s a long, detailed discussion. We’re going to meet with the president and you should see something from my office really soon,” Roe said. 

“Well, I want to know what your thoughts are right now, with children being put in cages. Children being separated by their families,” the woman demonstrator responded as Roe quietly made his exit and one of his supporters began singing “God Bless America.” 

In the Johnson City police chief’s office, Roe provided a more detailed response to local media, saying the “optics of it are not good,” but he ultimately invoked Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ stance that the separation of child from parent at the border is part of “enforcing the law.” 

“(The previous two administrations) did not enforce the law. The way it is now, if you get arrested here in this country, we have to find someplace to put your child,” Roe said. 

“I mean we’re not treating a person who comes into the country illegally any different than if you are someone that the Johnson City police or the Washington County Sheriff’s Office arrests and takes down to the jail and interns them. They’re separated from their families then. 

“So, I think that’s the message that we’re getting is ‘We want to get a solution.’ Basically, a bipartisan solution. It needs to be, but we’re going to pass immigration reform (in the House). I feel fairly confident. I think this week.”

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