From the "Make America Great Again" hats to thumbs-down signs, the crowd at Republican Congressman Tom McClintock's town hall in the Yosemite gateway town of Mariposa was opinionated yet peaceful, though manners and tempers sometimes ran short.
Through it all — for well over two hours Tuesday night — McClintock took unscreened questions from backers and critics alike.
There was no police escort necessary at this town hall, unlike McClintock's last meeting in Roseville earlier this month. But the battle lines in the crowd of nearly 1,000 were clear from the start.
"Without the (Affordable Care Act), I am on permanent disability, and all of these taxpayers are paying me to sit on the couch for the rest of my life. I don't want to do that. I want to be a working taxpayer and make my own living," says Mary Wood of El Portal, who asked how President Trump and congressional Republicans will keep health care affordable for the millions of Americans like her who rely on the Affordable Care Act.
"There's no question that some people had a very good experience with the ACA, with Obamacare," McClintock responds. "But most people had a very bad experience with it." A mix of cheers and jeers immediately filled the room.
The congressman says the repeal of the Affordable Care Act must be accompanied by a viable replacement that addresses the problems that led to it in the first place. He says the plan being worked on by Congressional Republicans supports health savings accounts, opening up insurance plans across state lines, and giving Americans refundable tax credits to purchase the plan that best meets their needs.
"We all are very much aware that we're going to be judged on our ability to deliver a vastly better health care system to the vast majority of Americans," McClintock says.
Another exchange that riled up the crowd began with this question from 11-year-old Conor Kelly of North Fork, who asked "how the current administration is caring for the environment and combating global warming so that my generation will have a planet to call home."
McClintock says climate change has been going on for 4 billion years.
"And whether or not we wreck our economy with regulations," he added to cheers and boos, "the earth is going to continue to warm and cool as it has for these past 4 billion years."
Many in the crowd stood to praise McClintock — and President Trump.
"I thank you so much for having the back of our military and for our president, in back of our military," says Jannai Pero from Ahwahnee, who said her son is serving in the armed forces. "I stand 100 percent behind you and our president!"
Others spoke emotionally, sometimes angrily, as they raised concerns about the congressman — or, more often, President Trump.
"What I am truly afraid of, as the mother of two sons, is that we are facing a circumstance now, with our current administration, that we are not the country that we all think we are," says Suzanne Eckes-Wahl, who drove up from Roseville, which is also part of McClintock's district.
The issue of immigration also drew strong reactions. The congressman said he would support cutting off federal funds for sanctuary cities, or even California, as a sanctuary state.
"A state cannot defy federal law by refusing to obey it," McClintock told reporters after the meeting. "It can challenge it in court, and I certainly encourage states to do that. That's an important part of our federal structure. But to defy federal law is lawless."
But for all the passion, it did not appear that any minds were changed in a congressional district McClintock won last fall with 63 percent of the vote. So he likely felt secure when he looked his critics in the eye and said "I think you will find that the votes that I have cast have the support of the vast majority of people in this district."
"And by the way, the moment they don't, there'll be someone else standing here instead of me!" McClintock added.
That remark drew the most bipartisan standing ovation of all.