Missouri rodeo clown: It had nothing to do with race

August 26, 2013

The Missouri rodeo clown who made national headlines for donning a President Obama mask says he never intended to disrespect the president and that his act had nothing to do with race.

"I didn't do this to do any hating on anyone," Tuffy Gessling told Kansas City's KCTV. "I did this to be funny. I did it to be a joke."

He said it never occurred to him that wearing an Obama mask would be any different than wearing the mask of a white president.

"I didn't think anything more of it than what we've done 15 years ago, 10 years ago, five years ago, when we've done it with Bush, Clinton and Ronald Reagan," Gessling said. "I never did anything because of anybody's race. I don't care what color somebody is. If they're blue, white, green, polka-dotted, striped ... it doesn't bother me one bit."

Asked about his party affiliation, Gessling said, "I'm a rodeo clown."

Gessling has been banned from the Missouri State Fair, where the mask incident took place, but he's set to appear at a rodeo in Jefferson City.

He said he would be happy to bury the hatchet if Obama showed up at the event. "If President Obama turns out, I would be honored to shake his hand," Gessling said.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Aaron Blake · August 26, 2013