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To an audience of at least 750 people packed into an Elks Lodge in Jackson, Mr. Thompson said he doesn’t begrudge the “plantation owner” who takes government crop subsidies, but said it’s time that person repay by supporting more government spending for health care.

“I’m not going to let that plantation owner tell me I’m not going to help 47 million people get health care,” Mr. Thompson said.

The room was filled with supporters holding pre-printed signs, but some constituents bucked the trend and demanded the congressman promise to oppose any taxpayer funding for abortion or for illegal immigrants gaining access to government-sponsored health coverage.

“It’s not in the bill,” Mr. Thompson kept repeating, at one point dropping the 1,000-plus-page document with a thud on the stage behind him to emphasize its complexity.

He told his constituents he’ll go back to Washington and support Democrats’ efforts, calling it his Christian duty.

Across the state, however, another Democrat, Rep. Gene Taylor, takes the opposite stance, and is not shy about it.

Earlier in the summer, Mr. Taylor, one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, released a statement calling taxpayer advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform “lying sacks of scum” for suggesting he approved of the Democratic leaders’ bill.

Mr. Taylor reiterated his opposition in several town halls during August, with local news reports saying he drew a standing ovation when he told one crowd he won’t be casting a vote for the bill.