House Speaker Thom Tillis has tried hard on his town hall tour of North Carolina to appear reasonable and open minded, seemingly trying both in style and tone to distance himself from the hard right ideological agenda of this summer’s legislative session.
Tillis has admitted that lawmakers may have made some mistakes in their budget cutting frenzy, like abolishing the N.C. Teaching Fellows program and maybe the Governor’s School.
He’s declined to join in the immigrant bashing so common on the Right and never seems that enthusiastic about the anti-marriage amendment, even though he voted for it and helped engineer its passage in the House last month.
That’s the public town hall Tillis, the moderate business conservative trying to appeal to mainstream voters.
But it’s not the Thom Tillis who led the House this year as lawmakers approved the most extreme anti-choice law in the country, gutted environmental protections, and slashed the budgets of education and human service programs, firing thousands of teachers, teacher assistants and state workers in the process. Not to mention the divisive and discriminatory anti-gay marriage amendment.
That Thom Tillis doesn’t show up much at the publicly attended town halls generally covered by the papers in the small towns where he appears. But that uncensored Tillis showed up recently to talk to a group of Madison County Republicans at Mars Hill College.
The group posted a video of Tillis’ remarks and it didn’t sound much like a public town hall meeting at all.
Tillis told the crowd that he supported drug testing for people on public assistance and hoped to bring it up in the 2013 session.
A member of the audience proposed that every state employee be drug tested and Tillis replied “I agree with that,” before explaining that it might be more feasible to test a statistical sample of state workers.
The uncensored Tillis also railed against people on public assistance who had children, saying that there are people with disabilities who are about to lose their benefits while the state is sending checks to “women who have chosen to have three or four kids out of wedlock.”
“At some point you need to say first kid, we’ll give you a pass, second, third, fourth kid, you are on your own,” Tillis told the group. He continued with this:
“What we have to do is find a way to divide and conquer the people who are on assistance. We have to show respect for that woman who has cerebral palsy and had no choice in her condition that needs help and we should help. And we need to get those folks to look down at these people who choose to get into a condition that makes them dependent on the government.”
You can watch Tillis saying it here.
Tillis didn’t provide any details about how to make people with a disability shun the poor. Maybe he is saving that for another Republican speech.
But he did blast Democratic House member Ray Rapp, who represents the area, calling him “no friend of business” and imploring the audience to find a way to defeat him.
One member of the audience suggested that Republicans broaden their appeal by being more pro-environment and mentioned that state environmental officials weren’t doing enough to protect the local drinking water supply.
Tillis all but ignored the question and instead railed against the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. He treated the crowd to a story about how Rep. Mitch Gillespie’s office window faces the building that houses the environmental agency. Tillis said Gillespie has drawn on a target on the window that lines up with the building.
Not exactly what the man asking about the drinking water had in mind.
But that’s Thom Tillis uncensored—more assaults on people who protect the environment, drug tests for state employees, ending benefits for single mothers, and turning people with disabilities against the poor.
No wondering he’s pretending to be somebody else.