The president of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association told the Associated Press that he didn’t know that the clown planned an act that critics on both sides of the political aisle have called disrespectful to the president.
A tempest over the incident erupted after the Show Me Progress website reported a Facebook account of it.
“The announcer wanted to know if anyone would like to see Obama run down by a bull,” the posting said. “The crowd went wild. He asked it again and again, louder each time, whipping the audience into a lather.”
Another clown then apparently joined the performance.
“One of the clowns ran up and started bobbling the lips on the mask and the people went crazy,” the posting said. “Finally a bull came close enough to him that he had to move so he jumped up and ran away to the delight of the onlookers hooting and hollering from the stands.”
Mark Ficken is the rodeo association president and was the rodeo announcer. His attorney, Albert S. Watkins, said Monday that the clown was acting unscripted. He said it was the clown, wearing a microphone, who made comments riling up the crowd, according to the Associated Press.
Watkins says Ficken’s only comment during the routine was, “Watch out for that bull, Obama!”
The account quickly migrated to the liberal Daily Kos website.
After hearing from reporters Sunday afternoon, fair organizers released a statement, which did not contest the details reported on social media.
“The performance by one of the rodeo clowns at Saturday’s event was inappropriate and disrespectful, and does not reflect the opinions or standards of the Missouri State Fair,” the statement read. “We strive to be a family friendly event and regret that Saturday’s rodeo badly missed that mark.”
Condemnation came from both sides of the aisle.
In a statement, Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill called it shameful and unacceptable. She noted that the fair receives taxpayer dollars and is supposed to be a place to celebrate the state.
“But the young Missourians who witnessed this stunt learned exactly the wrong lesson about political discourse — that somehow it’s ever acceptable to, in a public event, disrespect, taunt and joke about harming the president of our great nation,” McCaskill said in the statement.
Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s press secretary, Scott Holste, said in a statement, “The governor agrees that the performance was disrespectful and offensive, and does not reflect the values of Missourians or the State Fair.”
Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder weighed in in a series of Twitter posts. Kinder said he loved the fair and planned to attend but said the clown’s performance reflected poorly on the state.
“I condemn the actions disrespectful to (the president of the United States) the other night. We are better than this.”
The event organizer, the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association, apologized on its website, calling the act “inappropriate.”
“We are taking measures by training and educating our contract acts to prevent anything like this from ever happening again
the statement said. "