FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (ABC News/WRIC) — President Obama turned the tables on the crowd at a Hillary Clinton rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina Friday — sticking up for the free speech rights of a Donald Trump supporter who interrupted him.
Within 10 minutes into the president’s remarks, Obama was tearing into Trump’s character when a protester holding a Trump placard interjected.
“Hold up, hold up, hold up, hey listen! Listen!” Obama said as the crowd drowned out the man’s protests with boos and chants of ‘Hillary.’ “Hey hey. Listen up. Hey everybody. Everybody hey. Hey. I told you to be focused and you’re not focused right now. Listen to what I’m saying.”
The president struggled to regain the attention of the crowd — which lasted for several minutes.
“Hold up. Hold up. Hold up. 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 demanded. “You’ve got an older gentleman who is supporting his candidate. He’s not doing nothing. You don’t have to worry about him. This is what I mean about folks not being focused.”
Obama defended the man’s constitutional right to free speech as he was being removed from the crowd.
“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!”
The president’s plea for boo-birds to turn their frustration into action at the polls has been a common occurrence during his campaigning for Clinton across battle ground states. Whenever the president references Donald Trump, the crowd often boos.
“Don’t boo, vote! Come on,” he continued. “Now, I want you to pay attention, because if we don’t, if we lose focus, we could have problems. This is part of what’s happened here during this election season. We just get stirred up for all kinds of reasons that are unnecessary.”
“Just relax,” Obama said coolly, drawing laughter, before continuing on with his remarks.