Romney: 'America has a long history of heckling'
June 19th, 2012
01:57 PM ET
3 years ago

Romney: 'America has a long history of heckling'

(CNN) – Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney said Tuesday he would not call off the dogs in what's become a war of heckling on the campaign trail between his team and that of President Barack Obama.

Asked in a radio interview if he would condemn the practice, the former Massachusetts governor said "it would be a nice thing" for it to end but argued Obama's supporters would also have to stand down.

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"I could assure you that we do not believe in unilateral disarmament," Romney said on Fox News Radio.

During the last few days of Romney's six-state bus tour, the Democratic National Committee and other groups supportive of the president have followed the bus path and held protests at many of the Romney stops.

Their tactics came after Romney's team showed up at an Obama speech in Ohio last week and caused a stir by circling the venue and honking. Two weeks earlier, Romney took credit for supporters and members of his staff showing up at an Obama event to make noise and drown out speakers critical of Romney's record as former governor.

On Sunday, Obama adviser David Axelrod took to Twitter to condemn heckling by Obama supporters during Romney's bus tour.

"Shouting folks down is their tactic, not ours," Axelrod wrote. "Let voters hear BOTH candidates & decide."

The re-election campaign echoed those sentiments in a statement Tuesday and blasted Romney for declining to take a strong stance against heckling.

"We have sent a strong message to our supporters that this campaign should be an open exchange of ideas, not one where we drown out the other side by heckling and crashing events," Obama press secretary Ben LaBolt said.

Romney, however, said he was less sure both sides could actually come to that agreement.

"I know America has a long history of heckling and free speech," Romney said jokingly in Tuesday's interview. "It would be very nice if we could reach that kind of conclusion. I'm not sure it's possible for us."

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Filed under: 2012 • DNC • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (369 Responses)
  1. M.K.

    Romney supports the war as long as his five kids do not have to serve. It would be a good thing if nobody's kids have to serve, but Bush jumped on Iraq for no reason and got us into this mess, so someone has to fight and some have to die. We should have made glass out of Pakistan sand to begin with and all those men and women would not have died. We almost bankrupted this country building bombs and missiles and except for the sidewinders and cruise missiles we have never had to use them. If we had not wasted all that time, manpower, and money in Iraq we could be watching all of our brave warriors marching down their hometown street to stars and stripes forever. To hell with Afghanistan and Iraq and Pakistan.

    June 19, 2012 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  2. WachetAuf

    Isn't the correct answer from every side, Mr. Obama included, that a reasoned public discourse is required without the bullying of hecklers and that it must be stopped. Mr. Romney, it is no answer to state that you "do not believe in unilateral disarmament." What is wrong is wrong and no one should resort to these tools of thuggery. Period. Whether or not you believe that malefactors supporting the other side may engage in such things. Are yopu afraid to be the first to blink? is that the source of your bullying wehen you were in that expensiver private school? Is fear of failure, coupled with some degree of paranoia, and a fragile ego, the source of your bullying? Is your present reaction evidence that character trait still lives within you? I do not believe tha President Reagan would have been the author of such a response. Is it really necessary to arm yourself with tools of thuggery when you have other available tools, including all the armament which money can buy? Is there no limit on what tools you intend to use to defeat Mr. Obama? Have you now remembered your early years as a "bully"? Mr. Stalin, Mr. Hitler, Mr. Mussolini must be resting easy tonight. Their spirits live on. Let's see there were the Brownshirts, the Black Shirts. There were political assisins and siberia. What shall we call your hecklers/thugs, Mr. Romney, the Yellow Shirts?

    June 19, 2012 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  3. John in Cal

    So what will his responce be if he was constantly heckeled? Might be interesting if he was. Course I'll bet all his appearances are staged with only his people and no independants or Dems allowed. This man is in no way any kind of a leader. He is the typical rich arrogant, self serving ______(fill in word). I will never vote for him and none of my family will also(thank God). What has happened to the quality folks that once populated the GOP?

    June 19, 2012 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  4. Snoop

    Er.. Wait.. Isn't that what the Occupy people do? They go to Republican functions and shout slogans. They call it a "mic check".

    Apparently, it's okay when they do it, but not when others do. Hypocrisy much?

    June 19, 2012 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  5. WachetAuf

    One more thing. Mr. Romney's response is in character. He seems so very afraid to take a firm stand on anything. His enitre campaign has been to be lead, not by principles which he fimrly believes, but by what others have led him to articulate. He is not authentic. He does not own himself. he is owned by some other unprincipled force.

    June 19, 2012 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  6. caeser

    Mitt needs 50.1% of the vote so that he can stick it to the 99% on behalf of the 1%.

    June 19, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  7. moose

    Is this how Mitt would handle policy overseas lets see after I am done talking you honk horn and drive around so we can't hear russian prime minister that will show him. What a joke a bunch of hillbillies running a campaign for a rich guy that only sees them as waiters and servants he wouldn't take the time to spit on you people the average american is just someone for
    him to rip off and layoff for personal gain listen now or learn later

    June 20, 2012 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  8. leon

    Heard a report that mitt actually flies to locations and then gets on the bus a little way out of town. sounds like his elitist mo. also, around 40% of evangelicals will not vote for mitt so that number will be way down. just the facts. I don't understand why dems have to always be such wimps. they need to tie ryan's budget around the repubs necks like a soup bone and hammer it home. I'm no obama supporter either(I plan on writing my own name in I couldn't do any worse) but mitt and the ryan budget are definitely not the answer. Austerity doesn't work. you're laying off the very people that actually pay the taxes. Reagan hired 600,000 new govt. employees to bring an end to the 80's great recession.

    June 20, 2012 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  9. John 3:16

    IF you shout loud enough.....and you shout long enough.....eventually it will sound like the truth......Just like in Nazi Germany....Shouting, condemning, dividing, and eventually breaking down all opposition.......until there was no one left to object......

    June 20, 2012 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  10. Travis

    Freedom of speech in this country used to mean something. It was a way for the average American to get their message across to a visible candidate who might not otherwise hear them. But we now live in a world with YouTube, reality television, and the 24-hour news cycle, so any idiot can have their 15 minutes of fame, even if they have nothing intelligent to say. I find it very disturbing that neither the man presently leading this country, nor the man who may be taking his job in November, will step up and denounce this so-called expression of free speech as the shamelessly opportunistic and ultimately destructive practice that it really is.

    June 20, 2012 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  11. VVVVVV

    He didn't defend heckling. He said he doesn't expect the Obama side to relent so why should he answer to it any more than Obama.

    June 20, 2012 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  12. Ken

    I can and will vote for the President. And I do believe in what he is trying to do for this country. Republicans love to say, "what has he accomplished?" He has accomplished less than he should have because the Republicans in Congress have refused to vote for policies that would help this country. They did not refuse to vote in favor of these policies because they were wrong, but because they came from a Democratic President. Mitt Romney has no interest in helping the majority of Americans. He has even said as much. His latest comments about not calling for a stop to ridiculous behavior designed to distract the American people from his utter lack of any ideas on how to get the Tea Party to take its head out of its butt shows he only wants the job to say he is the President not try to push this country forward.

    June 20, 2012 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  13. Lurker

    It's always the same thing on these comments, "you liberals", "you republicans", no civility. Everyone's acting so much like shouting children in a playground its pathetic. It doesn't matter who wins imo, nothing will ever get done with both sides acting like this.

    June 20, 2012 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  14. Joseph Smith

    Romney's tactics of drowning out any opposition are the same used by his LDS "church". Mormons have a long history of this kind of behavior regarding anything they don't agree with. Well documented...look it up.

    June 20, 2012 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  15. Dave A

    I have not heard ONE idea from Your Romney guy on how to solve our problems. Oh yeah, one... Start a new war

    June 20, 2012 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  16. Phil Thomas

    Look I'm trying to give this guy a chance but he lost me on this issue, he let people hear what they wanted to during the primaries and now he has amnesia. Give me a break, he does nothing but critique the incumbent no ideas just criticism despite all that I was open to listening. There's a desperation you can see through the flat screen in his eyes and I just get the sense his goal is to say what he needs to do get the job Caveat Emptor. This voter is not buying what he is selling

    June 20, 2012 03:15 am at 3:15 am |
  17. REALLY?

    This man is so frightening. How can anyone take him seriously. I also wondered as did another poster can he ever speak without mentioning President Obama in a negative light. He is a bully. Bullying is an act of repeated aggressive behavior in order to intentionally hurt another person, physically or mentally. I am not sure how any serious GOP member can support him. Every time he speaks I only hear lies. Then if he's asked direct questions he will not give an answer. Bob Shieffer who is more right leaning then most did is darndest to get him to answer a question and he simply was incapable. I cannot imagine what will happen in this country if this person (I can't call him a man because he has no courage, character or morals) is actually elected.

    June 20, 2012 03:20 am at 3:20 am |
  18. John

    The Dems at least TRY to discourage their louder buffoons. Mitt says "I'm not sure it's possible for us." No, it probably is not. Not with leadership that won't even try. What a limp twit Romney is. SOooo Presidential.

    June 20, 2012 03:37 am at 3:37 am |
  19. T

    Why are you Romney lovers voting for this guy. He has not worked in over 5 years!!! If you didn't work in over 5 years would you hire yourself? What have you been doing Mr. Romney? Romney: I've been running for the POTUS job.....come on now

    June 20, 2012 05:19 am at 5:19 am |
  20. beanne

    Obama Lies...he condemns heckling as he sends out his dogs to the Romney speeches. I would rather have a President that tells the truth than one who constantly lies. Also I have a question to the Obama groupies. Why is it that every time Obama is speaking to the American people he wags and points his finger at the audience but when speaking to a foreign country he is able to control that finger? Those who point their fingers feel they are superior than those who he is waggling at, It is also a sign of aggression, pride,anger,hate and a large ego. Actions do speak louder than words and so far the ONLY action I have seen out of this President is finger pointing!

    June 20, 2012 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  21. Dave

    Of COURSE Mitt Romney defended this. He's shamelessly pandering votes from equally rude people. If Republicans were moral enough to be respectful they wouldn't be Republicans. Obviously Romney is going to side with the rude behavior of Neil Munro interrupting the President's speech. That's part of his ideology. The insulting bullying and pandering are very typical GOP.

    June 20, 2012 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  22. beanne

    Hey ChuckB...If a Zebra NEVER changes his stripes then that does make Obama a Marxist Muslim Kenyan. Thanx...you just proved my point!

    June 20, 2012 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  23. beanne

    Hey Thomas,
    But you'll vote for a man who can't say Marin Corps and called our soldiers baby killers and murderers and said that they were reeking havoc?....wow, way to be patriotic!

    June 20, 2012 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  24. pray

    I love it, finally Obama is being asked questions that should have been asked before the first election, Sorry, this is real politics, not the press's coup to get you in office by denying everyone else coverage. I love watching him twisting in the wind, knowing he will lose his dictatorship before he could catch up with Chavez.

    June 20, 2012 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  25. johnmenacherjr

    ...And here we go again! I will stop if they would only stop. Geez is there anyone in the friggin country that does something just because it is the nice and right thing to do? God save us everyone this jerk is just one more of the spoiled brats!

    June 20, 2012 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
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