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CLINTON – Tom Malinowski is not a socialist. He said that at least twice at today’s town hall.
In fact, he said he was a capitalist.
That may seem like an odd comment but with 2020 on the horizon, Republicans already are doing all they can to label just about all Dems precisely that – socialists.
So as he gets ready to seek re-election for the first time in what had been a very Republican 7th District, it certainly be hooves Malinowski to stay in the middle as much as possible.
His town hall attracted more than 300 people. Interest was so high the venue was moved from the library to a local school.
Many of Malinowski’s public events – and he has had more than a half dozen during the August and now early September recess – attract a supportive audience. This one was no exception, but if Malinowski had the urge to move three steps to the left, he kept it well concealed.
The first questioner asked his thoughts on defunding ICE. No, the congressman said, that would be a bad idea.
“We do need to control our borders,” he said. But Malinowski added that he disagrees with the methods of ICE. If people are here illegally and are working and doing no one any harm, leave them alone.
A follow-up question was about the recent ICE raid at a food plant in Mississippi that rounded up 600 people. Noting that the workers are here because they’re being paid to do a job, the congressman said,
“Crackdown on the damn employers.” That drew some cheers.
One man in the audience who was clearly not a Malinowski supporter was Richard Kamin, a one-time chair of the Morris County Republican Committee.
Kamin wanted to ask the congressman about eliminating private health insurance. Kamin waved his hand many times, but was never picked to ask a question.
It really didn’t matter, as someone else brought up the issue.
No, Malinowski said, eliminating private insurance is a bad idea.
He said he wanted “Medicare for all those who want it.” In other words, Malinowski said he supports a plan in which people can buy into Medicare at any age.
That had to be a disappointment to a handful of people in the crowd carrying Medicare for All signs
Of course, it would be misleading to suggest Malinowski completely ignored his liberal inclinations.
He began the day by mentioning the 80th anniversary of World War II. This is personal for the congressman, who was born in Poland.
He said that after the Nazis, he never thought he’d have to be concerned with growing anti-Semitism again, but here we see it in the United States. And he talked about how the president’s comments about the nation being “invaded” by immigrants encourages white supremacy and domestic terrorism.
And as he has done previously at these recess events, Malinowski joked about his district expanding when the U.S. buys Greenland.
The joke fell flat. After all, the Greenland story is a few weeks old now, a lifetime in Trump-world.
But when Malinowski got around to the president’s insistence that the latest hurricane posed a threat to Alabama when it really didn’t, the crowd warmed up.
Referring to the Trump Administration in general, the congressman said, “It’s absolutely bonkers.”
Most, but not all, in the crowd seemed to agree.