White House advises Democrats on handling protests

WASHINGTON (AP) - Democrats are pushing back against vocal critics of health care reform. Officials say top White House aides have counseled Democratic senators about coping with disruptions at public events.

Those aides, say the officials, promised that the party and its allies, such as labor unions, would respond with twice the force if any individual lawmaker is targeted in TV advertising.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss details of the closed-door session.

Several recent town hall-style meetings have been disrupted by noisy demonstrators. Republicans have seized on them as evidence of a lack of public support for President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

For their part, Democrats accuse Republicans of sanctioning mob tactics, and say protesters are trying to sabotage the democratic process.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)