Michelle Obama and Jill Biden were booed by NASCAR fans at a Miami racetrack on Saturday.
The first and second ladies appeared at the Sprint Cup, the final race of NASCAR’s season, to promote their Joining Forces program, which supports U.S. military troops and their familes.
Obama and Biden were co-grand marshals of the race along with Sgt. Andrew Berry, an Iraq veteran, and his family.
The crowd cheered Berry, but those cheers were overtaken by boos when Obama’s name was announced.
Biden and Obama seemed unfazed, and joined Berry’s family in kicking off the race, shouting, “Gentlemen, start your engines.”
The first and second ladies received a standing ovation from the NASCAR drivers at a pre-race meeting, the Huffington Post reported.
Obama and Biden did not appear to hear the booing. But by Monday — after the video went viral-- the first lady’s communications director Kristina Schake was pushing back against the emerging narrative that Obama and Biden were made to feel unwelcome. Both women enjoyed their visit to the speedway, Schake said.
“Mrs. Obama was proud to join NASCAR in recognizing our nation’s veterans and military families to raise awareness of this important issue for all Americans. As she has always said, she will proudly stand with anyone making a major commitment to serve and honor our military community and yesterday, NASCAR did just that,” Schake said in a statement, referring to the 5,000 race tickets NASCAR donated to military families.
NASCAR officials also attempted to down play the controversy. “The NASCAR community and the vast majority of those attending our race Sunday welcomed the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden and the military families in attendance,” said Marcus Jadotte, NASCAR Vice President of Public Affairs.
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