Hundreds gather at Republican Rep. Lance town hall in Branchburg

Hundreds of protesters and constituents crowded Republican New Jersey Rep. Leonard Lance's town hall meeting Wednesday evening in Branchburg.

Lawmakers across the country have been holding these meetings to speak with their constituents while congress is in recess. However many Republican congressmen have been avoiding holding town hall events as Americans put pressure on them in an effort to protest President Donald Trump's policies.

Lance is one of five Republicans representing New Jersey in Congress and is the only one to hold an in-person town hall. 

Rep. Tom MacArthur recently held a telephone town hall and this week met with Democrats in his district.

Constituents in Rep. Chris Smith's district held their own town hall meeting at the Monmouth County Library Wednesday. Smith did not attend. Monmouth County residents have been calling on Smith for the last few weeks to hold a meeting.

It was standing room only at Lance's meeting with an overflow of about 1,000 people. Hundreds more were gathered outside.

"[Republican lawmakers] are basically hiding from their constituents, so I give him a lot of credit to at least listen," says Bridgewater resident Andrew Bucko.

Questioners pressed Lance on funding for women's health, Congress' investigation into Russia's involvement into the U.S. election and the possible border wall with Mexico.

Some of the loudest booing came when Lance said he supported prohibiting federal funding for abortions. One questioner who called for Lance to put country over party got a loud standing ovation.

Several in the audience shouted "let him speak," when Lance was interrupted by boos and jeers.

Demonstrators outside the meeting say they are more politically engaged ever since Trump became president.

"There are so many people who are new at this, who have sort of awoken after the election of Trump," says Elizabeth Meyer, founder of Women's March on New Jersey.

The president has been critical of these types of protests. He tweeted earlier this week, "The so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists. Sad!"

So many people wanted to attend Lance's town hall that another one has been scheduled for Saturday.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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