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. Lenny Pincus

    Heckling by the press? How crazed are you wingers?

    June 19, 2012 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  2. John

    There is a difference between heckling the President of the United States of America and heckling a failed Governor. Just one more thing that Romney is clueless about being the president on. Respect the office.

    June 19, 2012 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  3. sassysticks53

    Remember republican congressman JOE WILSON who heckled the POTUS on live TV for the whole world to see and hear? 'YOU LIE!' Wilson is the most disgusting heckler I've ever heard.

    June 19, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  4. Oliver

    Romney is such a spineless coward.

    June 19, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  5. Keith in NJ

    it is all so very sad that this is what the dialogue has come to. And each side says it is the most important election in our history. Then they go act like two rival high schools at a pep rally. I guess we can vote based on who has the funniest heckler. I would. It is as good as anything else we are going to hear. SAD.

    June 19, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  6. Philojazz

    Don't be afraid, Mr. Romney. Take a stand. Maybe it would be fun for a change.

    June 19, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  7. Senior Citizen

    I'm sure the "reporter" who interupted President Obama's speech last week at the White House was a plant put there to disrupt. Am I the only one who noticed that all the legit reporters had notebooks, pens etc. and we taking notes while this guy stood there with his hands in his pockets and had the nerve to say that he thought the President was thru speaking. The Republicans know nothing about respect and will stoop to any dirty trick to get their man elected.

    June 19, 2012 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  8. BobInIrvine

    @The Real Tom Paine: Obama is suing states to make sure that illegal aliens can vote.

    RIGHHT... Can I have some of whatever you're smoking?

    June 19, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  9. Obama - Protecting the rights of ILLEGAL ALIENS to invade our country while SUING states to make sure they can vote as well

    sassysticks53 - republican by the name of JOE WILSON. "YOU LIE!" The whole world heard it.
    ===========================================================================
    And now knows how right he was. A flippin' oracle!! And thanks for reminding me to send him another contribution!!

    June 19, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  10. Joi Gibson

    Willard is something else. He takes credit for his folks stalking (my words) the President and now when supporters of the President use the same tactics somehow it's not right. This guy makes my head spin with the nonsense he spews. For once, I'd like his to answer a question without mentioning President Obama.

    OBAMA/BIDEN/FIRST LADY MICHELLE 2012!!!

    June 19, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  11. CM

    At this point, CNN is describing anyone who asks tough questions of Obama as a heckler, so in this context, I don't blame Romney for not playing the game by Obama's rules. At least they are not acting like the protestors who threw rocks at Alexander Hamilton when he tried to voice support for Jay's Treaty. Party politics, if anything, have become kinder and gentler during modern campaigns. The only difference right now: Obama isn't supposed to be subject to any rough treatment. He's adored by actors, feted at feasts, and given hot stone massages by John Stewart. How dare anyone interrupt him with something that isn't on the teleprompter?

    June 19, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  12. Peter

    I don't like heckling from EITHER side, but heckling omeone running for office at a campaign event is different than the heckling the President Of The United States. Especially a member of the press who should know better.

    June 19, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  13. Obama - Protecting the rights of ILLEGAL ALIENS to invade our country while SUING states to make sure they can vote as well

    John - There is a difference between heckling the President of the United States of America
    =========================================================================
    That used to be the case but Obama has cheapened and destroyed the Presidency with his own highly partisan attacks while his union goons go out to intimidate and occupy like they did in Wisconsin. Enough is enough. No more playing doormat. Expect to get the same lefties.

    June 19, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  14. Hap

    If you're waiting for Romney to take a stand on anything you've got a long wait. Even then his "stance" is only temporary. I believe he is a test to see just how many stupid middle class republicans will vote for him thinking they are actually helping the country. Vote them out to move ahead, vote them in and move backwards. Save the country vote for anybody but republicans.

    June 19, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  15. CM

    At this point, CNN is describing anyone who asks tough questions of Obama as a heckler, so in this context, I don't blame Romney for not playing the game by Obama's rules. At least they are not acting like the protestors who threw rocks at Alexander Hamilton when he tried to voice support for Jay's Treaty. Party politics, if anything, have become kinder and gentler during modern campaigns. The only difference right now: Obama isn't supposed to be subject to any rough treatment. He's adored by actors, feted at feasts, and given spa treatments by John Stewart. How dare anyone interrupt him with something that isn't on the teleprompter?

    June 19, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  16. Dan

    Keep it classy Shi....er....Mitt...

    That's not offensive. That's just another heckling incident in our nation's long history of such comments.

    June 19, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  17. CM

    At this point, CNN is describing anyone who asks tough questions of Obama as a heckler, so in this context, I don't blame Romney for not playing the game by Obama's rules. At least they are not acting like the protestors who threw things at Alexander Hamilton when he tried to voice support for Jay's Treaty. Party politics, if anything, have become kinder and gentler during modern campaigns. The only difference right now: Obama isn't supposed to be subject to any rough treatment. He's adored by actors, feted at feasts, and given spa treatments by John Stewart. How dare anyone interrupt him with something that isn't on the teleprompter?

    June 19, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  18. Expat American

    Joe Wilson was driving Romney's bus. The bus itself was actually borrowed from Rick Perry because the horn automatically plays ‘Dixie’.

    Nice touch to get the inbreds fired up!

    June 19, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  19. kayla

    romney afraid, i don't think so, he's the biggest coward, and a big bully
    he done bark up the wrong tree this time.
    OBAMA 2012

    June 19, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  20. CM

    At this point, CNN is describing anyone who asks tough questions of Obama as a heckler, so in this context, I don't blame Romney for not playing the game by Obama's rules.

    June 19, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  21. Akeso

    How immature can our political process become? Drowning out the opponents speech? Circling rallies and honking? This is more a high school prank than the selection of the most important leadership position for the next four years. No wonder that the rest of the world has a diminished view of America's ability to lead the world. A candidate for the future leadership of the world consents to this behavior? I'd rather not vote for such a candidate.

    June 19, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  22. Alaskatrailrunner

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

    That says a lot...

    June 19, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  23. Terry

    I am glad that Mitt Romney feels this way. I look forward to attending one of his rallies real soon. In fact, every person associated with the American Occupy Movement should attend all of Mitt's speeches, and just heckle this bigot back to his multi-car garage with the car-lifts and the millions he made putting average Americans out of work. Massachusetts: 47th in Job Creation thanks to Mitt!

    June 19, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  24. Myviewis

    Remember when CNN Bill Schneider reported on the Democrats yelling No and howling, hissing, booing at President Bush when we addressed Social Security Reform, didn't he say he had never heard Democrats at that level???

    June 19, 2012 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  25. nilla

    Romney left supporters waiting at a convenience store in PA last week while he went to another convenience store instead, because there were also Democrats there, led by a former Democratic governor.

    June 19, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
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