Romney: 'America has a long history of heckling'
June 19th, 2012
01:57 PM ET
6 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. Vincent Carter

    Great Comment Romney especially coming from a guy who uses Governor Christie and the Police to silence Heckler. But obviously its okay for the President. Remember your either with US or against US – George Bush. Right now our Country is at War! Traitor!!!!!

    June 20, 2012 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  2. Robert

    In short, Obama has some class while Romney, well has money.

    June 20, 2012 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  3. Slamdunk

    Unlike Obama, Rubio can do the right thing and admit that he is not an Art. 2, Sect. 1 natural born citizen and decline to become a candidate for the Vice Presidency. A natural born citizen is one born of parents who are/were both U.S. citizens at the time their child was born (Minor v. Happersett 88 US 162, 1875). Rubio's parents did not become U.S. citizens until four years after Rubio was born. As much as I would like to see him be Romney's VP, the constitution must be followed. "We are a government of laws, not of men." (Pres. John Adams)

    June 20, 2012 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  4. WatchDawg

    @Wade...lets hope when we go back to the failed policies of Bush Jr, Cheney et manage to hang onto your job when the economy starts to bleed 700,000 jobs..

    June 20, 2012 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  5. Belinda R Higgins

    Heckling is one thing, but showing total disrespect for the office of President of the United States shows a complete lack of respect. Regardless of who holds the office of president, it is the most basic of manners to be polite and civil in his (her) presence. Similar disrespect is displayed by those who refer to him as "Mr." Obama. Like it or not, the man is the POTUS and, at the very least, diserves to be honored.

    June 20, 2012 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  6. Belinda R Higgins

    Romney should be ashamed for not repudiating the journalist.

    June 20, 2012 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  7. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    I guess the teapublicans forgot to carry their holster to these heckling events! Unpatriotic un-American thugs!

    June 20, 2012 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  8. ilad

    I'll bet the hecklers are paid by some multimillionaire.

    June 20, 2012 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  9. Vietnam1971

    Wade said: what this Prez has done to this country.
    Do a little research and watch/listen to other news outlets besides the right wing proproganda machine. The legistrative branch has been obstructionist since the very first day of his presidency... Wake up

    June 20, 2012 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  10. Joseph

    There is a major difference between heckling ,and sending groups to town meetings to shout down any opinion that doesn't go along with the goose-stepping Republican party.

    June 20, 2012 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  11. Lola

    When America should have been supportive and proud of our First Black President, the right choose to be low rent. Shame on all the disrespectful and juvenile behavior we have witnessed from the first day of President Obama's term. And while I am being forthwright here, all the obstructionist filibusters the right has pulled, just so they could regain power. Why anyone votes for these destructive republican is beyond logic. They are taking down this fine country just so they can feed their power hungry handlers.

    June 20, 2012 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  12. zanny

    I cannot believe what has happened to this country. What a shameful campaign and how ugly it has gotten. It started with all the nasty, negative campaigns in the primaries provided by all that money the wealthy have piled into the Romney campaign and i fear it will only get worse. I do not remember ever hearing this heckling at campaign siops by the opponents supporters being bused in to heckle before. Again the first big incident happened at an Obama rally by a busw load of Romney supporters sent to do that very thing. Now we have big business and the wealthy buying the election thanks to the Supreme Court. Democracy as we have known it or as it is suppose to be is rapidly disappearing and being replaced with greed and anger. How sad I shutter to think what will happen to this country when Mr. Romney and his billionaires get in the White House.Armageden!!!!!!!!

    June 20, 2012 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  13. GI Joe

    Just like the prank note he left his reporters on the bus? Loook at him!!!!!!!!! Isn't he funny – NOT.

    June 20, 2012 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  14. Guitar

    This reminds me of quote from another time in our history where one other man descended himself into the realm of the vile, stated by Joseph Welch to Senator Joseph McCarthy in 1954: "...Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?". This most certainly applies Mr. Romney in his obsessive his lust for power.

    June 20, 2012 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  15. Rapid Republican Right

    "We didn't heckle ol' John or Sarah, that I recall. " Oh YEAH? How about when Katie Couric asked poor Sarah all those GOTCHA QUESTIONS that no one could possibly answer, like "what newspapers do you read?" THAT WAS HECKLING! And then when she had the names of newspapers written on her palm, everybody was all like hur hur hur and drowned out her sermon and she was all hey what are u doing and they laughed and that was heckling.

    June 20, 2012 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  16. Jh1289

    Will Romney still condone heckling when Occupy shouts him down?

    June 20, 2012 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  17. Gene Cole

    Presidents and leaders need to learn to handle heckling in a free country. Presidents Kennedy and Reagan were masters at handling these types of comments. President Clinton wasn't too bad at it, either, and Governor Romney has shown some promise here. President Obama has no clue; his reaction is to lash out like a spoiled child, and his minions react by calling for limits on speech.

    June 20, 2012 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  18. Jh1289

    Wade, he's definitely far more conservative than what I voted for, but between him and any Republican? Of course I'll take him.

    What exactly IS he doing for our country that you don't like?

    June 20, 2012 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  19. JakeF

    The overwhelming majority of independent voters are not amused by the shenanigans of either party.

    Both of you sound like crying little children. Enough!!! Now go stand in the corner until you learn how to be civil.

    June 20, 2012 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  20. ED FL

    Romneys consistant BLABBERING is no different than his highest subjective speeches. This guy wiill not answer a question no matter who[except his wifes]that has to cover up his inane speeches. Sooner or later he may have to explain some of his Blabbering and he won't remember what he said , or give his usual comment [If I said It it must be true.]

    June 20, 2012 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  21. Criiiiiipes

    Romney is a joke. Bottom line, I don't care what political part you are. Obama is a bit of a joke too but not nearly as much as Romney.

    June 20, 2012 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  22. Fearless Freep


    You liberals are just losing it. How can any of you support what the prez is doing to this country? Is this really what you thought you were getting when you voted for this guy? Come on, be honest.

    Dear Wade,
    We are not losing it. You already did.
    President Obama has been digging us out of 8 years of disaster.
    There is no going back.


    June 20, 2012 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  23. EddyL

    Unless they heckle him.... then the hecklers get hauled away

    June 20, 2012 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  24. Billy

    I read all these people complaining your not supposed to do this to the President of the United States. Makes me wonder why they did this during President George W Bush's time in office. Remember what you start Today or Yesterday Will Come Back at You Tommorrow!

    June 20, 2012 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  25. Brian

    The only problem with Mitt's comments is that he's not the POTUS. Have some respect for the position. But people like him continue to disrespect Obama, because deep down, they don't accept him as POTUS.

    June 20, 2012 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
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