"Labeling an entire group of people who have legitimate questions and concerns as extremists is one of the most insulting things we've heard in a very long time," responded Antonia Ferrier, a spokeswoman for Boehner.
Several recent polls suggest that many Americans are uneasy about Democrats' health-care plan, and Boehner predicted last week, before leaving Washington, that Democrats are "likely to have a very, very hot summer" as they discuss health-care reform with their constituents. And indeed, some have.
Over the weekend in Philadelphia, Sen. Arlen Specter (D) and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius faced critical questions and boos. On Maryland's Eastern Shore, an effigy of freshman Rep. Frank M. Kratovil Jr. (D) was hanged from a noose outside his district office.
In Connecticut, activists showed up at an event featuring Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D), who said last week that he has prostate cancer. One man shouted from the side of the road: "How come we don't just give Chris Dodd painkillers? Like a handful of them at a time. We can flush it down with Ted Kennedy's whiskey."