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. G

    He reminds me of an boss I used to have. I'd vote for W before I'd vote for this narcissist and that is saying a lot.

    June 20, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  2. cedarrapids

    "Wade – What will you liberals do when Romney wins? Please say you'll leave the country. A lot of you said that you would when Bush was running, but nobody left, maybe this time some of you could really go."

    Thats funny, I heard a lot of repubs saying the same thing about if Obama got in in 2008, and I hear plenty saying it now about if he gets re-elected.

    June 20, 2012 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  3. NFL1

    The first historic heckling moment was the YOU LIE during a State of the Union, and that was not taken seriously, but applauded by the GOP. This was another historic occasion that even interrupted the PRESIDENT's speech, and it was applauded... how can he defend this?? The Dems have never heckeled or applauded heckling of a sitting President, despite their feelings and their supporters' of any former President... there is NO EXCUSE for defending this.

    Heckling on the campaign trail, yes...but once you have earned that seat, you deserve that respect to be the ONE person in America who holds that title. Romney – you have NOT earned this yet...

    June 20, 2012 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  4. GeminiGirl

    The reason that Willard is condoning the heckling is because his campaign started it! If they weren't involved at all, then he would be criticizing the Obama people. He is as shallow as they come, agree with a previous poster that he has a smarmy smile, and his phony laugh is worse!

    June 20, 2012 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  5. Evan

    No class bully. Do we want a President that sets this example? Romney is loosing a lot of points lately. Obama has not come through in many promises but I can see they guy tried, wrongly or not. In Romney I really don't see a viable alternative. As an independent I feel we have really little choices. I may not vote this election but if I go to the both I cant see my self voting for someone like Romney, just can't

    June 20, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  6. Suman

    Now get ready for more and more heckling and disturbances at public meetings, as we had seen during 2010 by Tea Party members. A candidate who wants us to lead the world with our military power can only think of putting down his opposition by brute force, rather than sane arguments. His perception of the President as a weak one, will only encourage him more to do so. He will keep his dogs in leash if Democrats show them once what they could do by prior warning.

    June 20, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  7. deb0155

    Romney is right – heckling has gone on from both the Democrats and Republicans. I am not condoning heckling – it's just plain childish. But, it's here to stay and go on from both Democrats and Republicans.

    What has never happened before was intimidation of the Black Panthers at a polling place. I don't hear too much about that! The intimidation of Black Panthers at a polling place should have been called out and the left dismissed it – along with the mainstream media. And, where was Eric Holder with all of this? Great transparency!

    June 20, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  8. Pat in IL

    I guess Romney doesn't believe in the Golden Rule. That aside, common curtesy and civilized adult behavior have lead to adults bullying each other. DISGUSTING! For Romney to say that this is okay is beyond horrible.

    June 20, 2012 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  9. Mike

    If this were student government they would all get detention.

    June 20, 2012 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  10. Blue Dog

    Romney's solution to economy. Hire ppl to heckle.

    So, here goes the myth about executive management experience helping in creating jobs.

    June 20, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  11. LIB

    It was Romney's bus that started the circling around the event where President Obama was speaking. HOw anyone can decide to vote for this clown at time when it was the republican party that buried this country is beyond me. Romney is dealing with rich people who feel they can BUY this country. We need to vote again that this country is NOT for sale. I admire President Obama for the decent person he is. With his cool head, I feel he is better prepared to deal with the ordeals of Europe and this country. NOT MITT

    June 20, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  12. Larry L

    His bus took laps around President Obama's rally – honking the horn the entire time. Is that the demeanor we want from a President? Once a spoled preppy always a spoiled preppy.

    June 20, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  13. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    These low life republicans have to refrain from the issues to resort to personal attacks, name calling and heckling because they have no clue as to what's happening in America and around the world and no solutions to improving our economy! But unfortunately they will continue to get the support of the rightwing base because these people are so un-American that they'd do anything to see our black President and America fail! Seems as though much hasn't change since those dark Jim Crow days in America!

    June 20, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  14. BeverlyNC

    Of course Romney comes out for heckling – because he gets heckled constantly for his idiot remarks and constant lies about President Obama's record. We are not as stupid as Romney thought us beneath-his-elitist class as he thought we were. We know more about the issues than he does. Romney won't answer any questions because he can't. He just wants to WIN the Presidency but he doesn't want to BE or DO the actual job of the President – serve the PEOPLE. I stand with President Obama who has done an outstanding job trying to restore America for the PEOPLE vs corporations, has tried to give us ALL healthcare, saving our homes from the greedy, corrupt banks, help students, improve education, pass several job-related bills, make us respected among the nations of the world again, been an outstanding foreign policy leader and above all – a decent human being who cares about ALL Americans.

    June 20, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  15. Larry L


    "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?"
    You assume the Occupy folks support President Obama because they tend to care about the situation of the 99% rather than the 1%. In reality, President Obama is not connected with the Occupy movement and continues to have no control over their actions. Does Governor Romney control the Tea Party?

    June 20, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  16. Puddin

    Evan, don't stay home and not vote. It could cause the one you don't want to win. As far as heckling is concerned, if it gets too loud by either side, and people can't hear what the speaker has to say, soon, people just won't show up. Actually, not a bad idea. Perhaps that will stop such rude behavior. I'm beginning to think that, although Mr. Romney is thought of as "high class," his words and actions say "low class."

    June 20, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  17. Bob

    Wow, yet MORE proof of what a complete jerk Romney is.

    June 20, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  18. gypsyalso

    ooh, heckling! i had an experience with heckling yesterday. a group of us went to the rally in frankenmuth, mi, as protesters. we did not wear or carry obama signs – but had signs questioning mitts policies and promises. at least what we know of them - we were downtown from the event. we were polite. but let me tell you what happened when the rally let out and the crowd started to leave. anyone using the sidewalk where we were – was treated with courtesy and we moved aside to let them pass. even the women who shouted racial slurs. and the people in cars that called us names and used sign language were pretty much ignored. do they know how stupid they looked? we were on our best behavior – but they sure were not. heckling – in this instance came from the romney folks. but that cadillac escalade with the stuffed dog on top and all the company logos on the side called the romney mobile just took the cake!

    June 20, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  19. Mary

    Next he will defend racism, bullying and polygamy. After all, America has a long history of racism; Romney has a history of bullying and Mormons have a long history of polygamy.

    June 20, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  20. davec.0121

    Once again Romney is demonstrating that he has no real regard for the truth. Although he's trying to walk back on it, he did say we don't need more teachers, firemen, and policemen, and that gov't employees should go home so that Americans can get back to work. But then, I guess we all know that teachers, firemen, and policemen are just government drones taking our money without doing anything productive. And besides, when you're rich enough to afford private schools and private security, you don't need them. His comments show Mitt has definitely embraced the concept of "truthiness", like when he said Obama didn't mention the deficit in the State of the Union adddress. The man will say anything to anyone to get elected. He'd probably endorse human sacrifice if he thought it would help him get a few votes.

    June 20, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  21. American

    Romney condoning immature heckling is not presidential material...
    at all. Sad

    June 20, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  22. kenneypco

    Romney's team in directly orchestrating the heckling of the Office of the President of the United States whereas Obama is not directly involved with the heckling of Romney's campaign. Republicans like Romney seem to no respect the highest office of our country but wants occupy that office. If he gets elected he better not talk about people heckling him every chance they get since he is doing it to our current President.

    June 20, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  23. Governor 47th in Job Growth


    Next he will defend racism, bullying and polygamy. After all, America has a long history of racism; Romney has a history of bullying and Mormons have a long history of polygamy.

    Outstanding!! Couldn't agree more.

    June 20, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  24. winky

    This is the way rich people think! They believe they're above u in every sense.

    June 20, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  25. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Reublicans never cease to amaze me! For three and a half years they argue that President Obama has destroyed America or that the President is dividing America, yet like Mitt Romney they won't be specific and explain how and where the President has destroyed or divided America! Now they say, O' wait, democrats have been heckling republicans too! Well, again I ask, can you please point out when and where for the past three and a half years democrats have crossed the line andlowered their character or behaved immaturely and unprofessionally and disrespected republicans?

    First of all, passing a stimulus bill to stabilize our economy and put Americans back to work is not considered dividing or destroying America! And that is not considered heckling either! Asking for an extension of unemployment benefits to help unemployed and struggling Americans put food on the table for their love ones and keep a roof over their families heads while they look for work is not considered dividing or destroying America! And that is not considered heckling either!Asking for a jobs bill to put Americans back to work is not considered dividing or destroying America! And that is not considered heckling either! Reducing healthcare costs and making prescription drugs more affordable for our most important asset, the American people is not considered dividing or destroying America! And that is not considered heckling either! Looking out for the elderly, students, women, our children iand our men and women in uniform s not considered dividing and destroying America! And that is not considered heckling either! Asking the wealthy to pay their fair share when the middle class has already done their part, taking the brunt of the recession by having to accept layoffs, furloughs, cut salaries, cut promotions and pensions or deprived of social programs and healthcare that they need, is not considered dividing or destroying America. And I may add that it is REVERSED CLASS WARFARE when millionaires and billionaires get tax breaks and the middle class and the poor have to shoulder the load! Now REVERSED CLASS WARFARE is what I call dividing and destroying America! And attacking the President for standing up for the American people is considered heckling in the first degree!

    June 20, 2012 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
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