'Traitor!' v. 'Coup!' Impeachment divides electorate


(SOUNDBITE)(English) DEMOCRAT CONGRESSMAN FOR NEW YORK'S 11TH DISTRICT, MAX ROSE, SAYING:

"It is clear as day that this country is divided.”

That may be the understatement of the year, especially when it comes to the issue of impeachment and U.S. President Donald Trump as Reuters found at a recent town hall.

[UPSOUND OF PROTESTER BEING ESCORTED OUT, SAYING, “STOP THE COUP." THEN ANOTHER WOMAN CHANTING, "LOCK HIM UP"]

At an event with voters Monday night, Freshman Democratic Congressman Max Rose, who flipped his Staten Island, New York district from red to blue, said there was bitter acrimony within his community.

(SOUNDBITE)(English) DEMOCRAT CONGRESSMAN FOR NEW YORK'S 11TH DISTRICT, MAX ROSE, SAYING:

“I'm well aware that as a consequence of what is happening, half of this community hates what's going on, half of this community loves what's going on. And we're constantly at each other's throats."

Indeed, the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll found that while public support for impeachment has steadily tracked higher over the last few weeks as impeachment hearings aired, opinion continues to be split sharply along party lines - with about 8 in 10 Democrats supportive of impeaching Trump and 8 in 10 Republicans opposed.

But despite overwhelming support among Democrats, there’s a raging debate about whether impeachment is a winning strategy for the party at the ballot box.

Congressman Rose was one of the last Democrats to announce support for the impeachment probe.

Resident Judy Clark worried his support will hurt Rose’s chances of re-election.

(SOUNDBITE)(English) STATEN ISLAND TOWN HALL ATTENDEE, JUDY CLARK, SAYING:

"It leaves him under the bus because the American people are sick of this impeachment. I talk to Democrats every day. They're in a walk-away movement. They want this to stop. And if he keeps supporting the impeachment, which he was just dragged into, right, a month ago... he's going to be left in the dust of history.”

Tempers also flared at a recent town hall with U.S. Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill in Whippany, New Jersey.

Sherrill joined seven freshman Democrats in writing an op-ed in The Washington Post in September that is considered a tipping point in the Democratic efforts to impeach.

The first question at her town hall came from a woman who criticized the impeachment proceedings as hollow and asked Sherrill if she still supports the push.

The question drew sharp boos and shouts of "sit down" from some members of the audience. But attendee Chloe Jacobowski was among those who found the impeachment hearings compelling.

(SOUNDBITE)(English) WHIPPANY NEW JERSEY, RESIDENT AND TOWN HALL ATTENDEE, CHLOE JACOBOWSKI, SAYING:

“And bringing it into the public, with all the witnesses who testified, I think brings a lot of valid evidence in. And now I want to see what everybody in theHouse, I want to see what they stand, I want to see where my congressman stands, based off the evidence that we have heard from people who have testified."

Other Democrats, however, like New Jersey resident Elaine Gemma, don’t see impeachment as a way to reach their ultimate goal: beating Trump in 2020.

(SOUNDBITE)(English) POMPTON LAKES, NEW JERSEY, RESIDENT AND TOWN HALL ATTENDEE,ELAINE GEMMA, SAYING:

"I think it's hurting, actually, the Democrats. They took out their lead candidate. And if it goes to the Senate, I think it's going to do a lot of damage to Joe Biden. And I mean, I personally don't want to see that. So, I don't think it's going to help their cause. And I think it's going to hurt everybody."