Big crowd at health care reform debate

August 31, 2009 (CHICAGO) So many people showed up hundreds were turned away at the door.

The debate started long before the town hall meeting got underway.

Supporters of health care reform were loud and visible outside Niles West High School on Monday night.

"I hope to God something passes. I'll march on Washington if they don't," said Marion Adelman.

Opponents had fewer signs but were making their anger heard nonetheless.

"I did not vote for Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. She claims she represents us. She doesn't. She works for us. She doesn't work for those union members who are bused in and don't belong here," said Kevin Spiegel.

Hundreds of people couldn't get in because the auditorium was filled to capacity of 1,300.

Schakowsky called health care reform the great issue of her life.

"I believe by the end of 2009 we will have affordable, quality health care for all Americans," said Schakowsky.

There were more cheers than jeers for Schakowsky's support of a so-called public option being pushed by President Obama, but many at the debate were critical of anything that smells like a new big government program.

"I'm opposed to socialism and I believe our president is a socialist," said one person who attended the debate.

Such statements that Obama is a socialist or that illegal aliens will be covered are only scare tactics from the right wing, Schakowsky said afterwards, predicting the public option will pass.

"At the end of the day, we can just as we did with the stimulus bill in the House, we can do it without the Republican votes as much as we may want them," said Schakowsky.

Many people who were not able to get inside stood outside late into the evening debating each other and changing few minds in.

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