copyright the Chronicle March 29, 2017
by Joseph Gresser
HARDWICK — The parking lot at Hazen Union High School here was filled an hour before the event even started. Inside the school’s gymnasium more than 500 people were already in their seats waiting.
“Is it always like this when this kind of thing happens?” one woman wondered.
There was no answer to the question. Nothing similar had ever happened in this quiet Northeast Kingdom town.
By the time the announcement came, there were between 600 and 700 people in the hall, all of whom rose to their feet and let out a roar when the arrival of the state’s Congressional delegation was announced.
U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, and Representative Peter Welch walked through the crowd waving and smiling on their way to the small platform at the end of the gym.
There, Vermont Senator Jane Kitchell of West Danville, the master of ceremonies, awaited their arrival. Mr. Welch paused to hug his former state Senate colleague and exchange a few words with her before joining his colleagues in waving to the crowd.
Though billed as a town hall meeting, the event had the unmistakable feel of a political rally and a joyous one at that. The three men were arriving on the heels of the best news their supporters have had since November — the decision by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump to pull the bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), often called Obamacare, rather than see it fail for lack of Republican support.
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