After more than 11 years on Capitol Hill, Illinois Congressman Peter Roskam knows how to navigate political firestorms.
In an interview with NBC 5, Roskam weighed in on a number of issues, including his stance on town hall meetings, his vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and his thoughts on the response of the president to protests in Charlottesville, VA.
Discussing the fallout from the remarks of President Donald Trump in the wake of the Charlottesville protests, Roskam says that the president’s words caused some groups to “take comfort” in their actions.
“There were groups, like the white supremacists and Klansmen, who were taking comfort in what he was saying,” Roskam said. “I don’t think he meant for them to take comfort, but they were. He needs to make sure that there is no comfort in his words.”
Another area that Roskam has faced criticism is in his lack of in-person town hall meetings since the 2016 election. Voters in his district have protested appearances that he has made to try to persuade him to hold a town hall meeting, but he has instead opted for events set up online through his campaign website.
“The reason they go through the campaign is that I’ve got more flexibility in what I can say. I’ve done some of them on the official side,” he said.
Senator Dick Durbin hosted a town hall meeting in Roskam’s district on Thursday, but the congressman is quick to point out that Durbin opposed such meetings back in 2009 after the election of former President Barack Obama.
“People tend to come angry and leave angrier,” he said.
Roskam also elaborated on his vote on the ACHA, the health care bill that Republican lawmakers hoped would be used to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Roskam voted in favor of the bill, but after passing the House it ultimately failed in the Senate.
“I’ve got a Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan. It’s the Obamacare plan that every member of Congress is in if they choose it,” he said. “My premiums (have) jumped up considerably.”
Looking ahead to next year’s election, which is sure to be full of fireworks as Democrats try to win his seat, Roskam says that he will consider debating his opponent before the 2018 election, but did not commit to a face-to-face square-off.