Obama Defends Clinton Protester, Tells Crowd to “Respect” His Right to Free Speech

“We live in a country that respects free speech.”


Speaking at a campaign rally in North Carolina on Friday, President Barack Obama came to the defense of a man protesting Hillary Clinton.

At first, attendees ignored the president’s calls to stop heckling the demonstrator. “Hey everybody, listen up!” Obama said, trying to regain control of the crowd. “I told you to be focused and you’re not focused right now. Hold up. Everybody be quiet for a second!”

“You’ve got an older gentleman who is supporting his candidate,” he explained. “He’s not doing nothing, you don’t have to worry about him. You don’t have to worry about him. This is what I mean about not being focused. First of all, we live in a country that respects free speech. Second of all, it looks maybe like he maybe served in our military and we gotta respect that. Third of all, he was elderly and we gotta respect our elders.”

And then the famous Obama rejoinder: “Fourth of all, don’t boo. Vote!

The moment stood in stark contrast to the sometimes vitriolic scenes at Trump rallies, where attendees have been dragged out and roughed up after protesting. “Get him out of here,” Trump said at one rally last November. “Throw him out!”

At another campaign event in February, Trump said: “So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of ’em, would you? Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell—I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise. I promise.”

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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