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Story highlights

A Republican senator faced fierce pushback at a town hall

The crowd was vocally angry throughout the event

CNN —  

Sen. Tom Cotton faced an angry crowd Wednesday at a town hall in his home state of Arkansas, as constituents demanded answers on everything from Republicans’ plans to repeal Obamacare and build a border wall to funding for PBS.

The event took place at Springdale High School in northwest Arkansas, a pocket of relatively liberal voters in the red state. The venue was at capacity – police said it held 2,000 people – and the audience routinely screamed at the senator throughout the event.

Cotton dealt with the kind of face-to-face opposition Republican politicians across the country have seen since President Donald Trump was inaugurated.

Chants of “do your job” and “tax return” permeated throughout the crowd, as did applause for Cotton at times.

Although the event was chaotic throughout, one of the most heated moments came when a woman named Kati McFarland asked Cotton about his support for repealing Obamacare. As Cotton attempted to move on from her question, the crowd erupted in support of McFarland.

The following questioner asked Cotton: “What kind of insurance do you have?”

Another woman began her question by saying, “I’m from Fayetteville, and I’m not a paid protester.”

Cotton paused the event at that comment to make clear he was not trying to accuse vocal critics at the event of being illegitimate or paid, as Trump and Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz have done.

“I don’t care if anybody here is paid or not. You’re all Arkansans,” Cotton said. “Thank you for everyone coming out.”

As the event continued, dozens of people lined up at microphones to ask questions. Cotton ultimately extended the event by about 30 minutes while questions ranged from accountability for Trump, Obamacare, the refugee program, Trump’s proposed border wall and many other policy areas.

“If we’re so concerned about deficits, why are we paying for this wall?” asked one man to raucous applause. A Fayetteville pastor asked about refugee resettlement. Quite a few people asked about Trump’s tax returns and investigations into his connections with Russia. And a 7-year-old named Toby asked about proposed cuts to public television and alienating Mexicans by building a border wall.

Cotton kept his cool throughout, though he did not answer every question fully or to the approval of the crowd, which was largely – and vocally – opposed to major Republican initiatives. Cotton did, however, challenge one woman slightly who asked about gun control and background checks.