DENVER (AP) – A Democratic congressman from Colorado known for meeting with voters in grocery stores is taking another look at his “Government in the Grocery” meetings after the shooting rampage at a similar event in Arizona last weekend.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter typically holds meet-and-greets twice a month at grocery stores in his suburban Denver district. The three-term Democrat has had 70 such meetings and likes them so much he aired campaign ads last fall that showed him with folks in a store’s vegetable aisle.
But Perlmutter’s spokeswoman, Leslie Oliver, said it was unclear whether Perlmutter will hold his next two meetings at stores, a Jan. 30 gathering at a King Soopers in Wheat Ridge and another planned for Feb. 12.
“In light of what happened Saturday, we’re trying to work with the grocery stores to see if it’s possible to keep doing this,” said Oliver, who added that Perlmutter doesn’t travel with security.
Six people were killed in Saturday’s shootings at a Safeway grocery store in Tucson, where U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was meeting constituents. A federal judge, a congressional aide and a young girl were among the six killed, while Giffords and 13 others were wounded.
Colorado’s congressional delegation joined their colleagues in expressing shock about the attacks and offering condolences to the victims and their families.
Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette, of Denver, told reporters she doesn’t hold meetings in grocery stores but was re-evaluating her security plans.
“The incidents of bodily threats against members of Congress, including myself, have increased dramatically over the last months and years,” said DeGette, who has been a member of Congress for 14 years.
DeGette is an outspoken supporter of abortion rights, and for that reason has made security plans a priority at public events, she said. DeGette said protesters have shown up at her office, her home and her church.
Perlmutter’s spokeswoman said the congressman would like to resume the grocery store events, but wasn’t ready to make a decision. Oliver said the Arizona gunman’s decision to show up at such a meeting showed that he was attacking government transparency.
“People don’t necessarily want to come meet a congressman in his office. In a grocery store, people don’t feel intimidated. It’s a way of opening up access to our democracy,” Oliver said. “Right now, everybody’s really struggling to wonder, how do we remain open and available?”
– By Kristen Wyatt, AP Writer
(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)