President Obama on Friday defended the rights of a Donald Trump supporter after a crowd at a rally for Hillary Clinton in North Carolina erupted when the supporter stood up and started shouting.
As the president was saying Trump is “uniquely unqualified” to succeed him, a white-haired man wearing a beret and what appeared to be military patches held up a Trump sign and was shouted down with chants of “Hillary! Hillary!” according to the Reuters news agency.
“Hold up, hold up, hold up,” Obama shouted several times, urging the crowd of 4,500 at a gym at Fayetteville State University to listen. “I told you to be focused and you’re not focused right now. Listen to what I’m saying.”
“Everybody sit down and be quiet for a second. Everybody sit down and be quiet for a second. Now listen up. I’m serious. Listen up,” Obama said. “You’ve got an older gentleman who is supporting his candidate. He’s not doing nothing. You don’t have to worry about him.”
The crowd continued to heckle, and Obama continued to urge those shouting to “hold up,” defending the man’s right to free speech.
“First of all, we live in a country that respects free speech,” Obama said. “Second of all, it looks like maybe he might have served in our military and we ought to respect that. Third of all, he was elderly and we got to respect our elders. And fourth of all, don’t boo. Vote!”
Obama continued to urge voters to focus, saying that’s part of the problem this election season.
“We just get stirred up for all kinds of reasons that are unnecessary. Just relax,” Obama said.
In the past, Trump and Obama have had different approaches to hecklers. When protesters heckle Donald Trump at his campaign rallies, the GOP candidate kicks them out and has encouraged violence against them. Obama, however, tends to confront hecklers.
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