Congressman was asked: 'Who is going to shoot Obama?'
February 25th, 2011
08:54 AM ET
9 years ago

Congressman was asked: 'Who is going to shoot Obama?'

UPDATE: Broun has released a statement on the town hall question. (below)

UPDATE 2: A Secret Service spokesman says of the matter, “We’ve taken appropriate investigative steps. At this point we consider the matter closed.”

(CNN) – Rep. Paul Broun, the Georgia Republican who is among President Obama's biggest critics in the House, faced a startling question from a constituent at a town hall Thursday evening: "Who is going to shoot Obama?"

According to the Athens Banner-Herald, the question was the first the congressman faced at the gathering and the comment drew laughter from the crowd. Broun did not exactly denounce the comments, according to the paper.

"The thing is, I know there's a lot of frustration with this president," he said in response. "We're going to have an election next year. Hopefully, we'll elect somebody that's going to be a conservative, limited-government president … who will sign a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare."

Threats made against the president can constitute a federal crime, punishable by five years in prison or a $250,000 fine.

Jessica Morris, a spokeswoman for Broun, told the newspaper that the question was "inappropriate" and said the congressman "moved on." Morris was not immediately available for further comment Friday morning.

Broun drew national attention last month when, live tweeting during President Obama's State of the Union Address, wrote among other criticisms, "Mr. President, you don't believe in the Constitution. You believe in socialism."

Broun also apologized in 2008 when he likened then-President elect Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler.

"You have to remember that Adolf Hitler was elected in a democratic Germany. I'm not comparing him to Adolf Hitler. What I'm saying is there is the potential," he said told an interviewer at the time.'

Broun later apologized "to anyone who has taken offense at that."

Broun released a statement on the town-hall question Frday:

“Tuesday night at a town hall meeting in Oglethorpe County, Georgia an elderly man asked the abhorrent question, “Who’s going to shoot Obama?” I was stunned by the question and chose not to dignify it with a response; therefore, at that moment I moved on to the next person with a question. After the event, my office took action with the appropriate authorities. I deeply regret that this incident happened at all. Furthermore, I condemn all statements—made in sincerity or jest—that threaten or suggest the use of violence against the President of the United States or any other public official. Such rhetoric cannot and will not be tolerated.”

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (167 Responses)
  1. terry, va

    What about the treats to the Gov of Wisconsin? They were direct treats not a general comment about I wonder who is going to do something. Obummie is no better than the Gov. So treat all treats the same.

    February 25, 2011 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  2. Steve Lopez

    The GOP and Tea Party morons are all for the money. Find out who is backing them up on these bills and you will Corporate America. Print all the backers for these GOP Governors and then you will know the truth. Time to shut down these clowns and racists. We are hard working Americans and we MUST remove these racists and liars from office. Period! They have opened up Pandora's box and we will take back our Government. We all need to stand by each other and "CLEAN HOUSE!".

    February 25, 2011 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  3. fidndit

    The Secret Service need to sit down with the person who asked the question and let him know that any intentional statements of threat against the president WILL land you in jail. Agree or disagree with his political opinion and even vehemently disagree in public, but don't threaten him. That is, and should always be, illegal.

    The Secret Service should also sit down with this Representative and tell him that that the only acceptable response is to denounce such a question. The Representative *must* explicitly answer that any comment about killing the President is inappropriate at best and clearly illegal at worst. The Representative is supposed to know the law. He should act like it.

    February 25, 2011 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  4. geecee

    I would respond to this entire incident with one word "Unbelievable". But it's NOT unbelievable! There are millions of insane, hateful people in this Country who would ask the same question, spurred on and incited by the likes of not just Paul Broun, but Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman, Sean Hannity, Rush Limpbag, Glenn Beck, Bill O' Reilly, and so many other hatemongers spewing lies about our President. This is absolutely disgusting. They only hate him because he is African-American. They don't want him to succeed. And as for calling him a "socialist", well these so-called Christians need to realize that Jesus Christ was a Socialist! He believed in treating everyone equally and fairly, and YES, spreading the wealth around, helping the poor and disabled. How these hypocrites get off calling themselves Christian is beyond me. They are despicable creatures, and I hope this jerk who asked that question is prosecuted!!

    February 25, 2011 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  5. Laverne

    There should be an investigatiion when such vile crap like that is said about the POTUS in front of a crowd who obviously hates him. There are some sick people in the world who will look at this as a commission to act upon. The rep. should be ashame of himself for not going further to denouce such rhectoric. I tell you what, it something happens to President Obama, this country will suffer many lives that will be lost because it will in deed start a civil war!

    February 25, 2011 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  6. Marty

    It's just unbelieveable that people are so rabidly hateful, including this idiot representative we have here in Georgia. I don't care if the question was asked about George W. Bush. He should have told this man to get out of the town hall meeting immediately and no other inflammatory questions would be tolerated.

    February 25, 2011 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  7. Tim in Cal

    Tell me, what exactly constitutes civil discourse in Georgia? Did the shootings in Arizona have any effect? Georgia is the home of a fine and humanitarian former president who would never have allowed remarks of this type to have voice in any forum he participated in. How do you live with your soul Mr. Broun? For Republicans out there seeking a "conservative, limited government" let's get real here – what you seek is absolute freedom with firearms, oil production, intolerance intolerance to gays and people of color, greater military might, and policy that is based in Christian scripture (only). Because Republicans get re-elected based on their adherence to those principles, they seem to abandon compassion, compromise, conservation, and tolerance from their thoughts and deeds. The closer you pattern your behavior to Glenn Beck, the further you drift from your humanity.

    February 25, 2011 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  8. Larry L

    The right-wing is so fond of the methods used to arrest and hold terrorists at Guantanamo this should give them an idea. Since the suggestion that the President of the United States should be shot clearly represents a threat to our Nation, this guy should be stripped, water-boarded, and held without charges for a few years. We could also give Broun a little ride on the old water-board just for good measure. Hey, based on the ludicrous nature of that comment I might be eligible for membership in the Tea Party. I'll get a couple of my front teeth removed and start going to church...

    February 25, 2011 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  9. Inga in Texas

    The fact that he didn't smack that comment down with outrage shows the true colors of this man. The people who put him in office are pathetic, shameless, and un-American!

    February 25, 2011 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  10. Dave

    To CNN The Master of Spin: This isn't a Liberal or Conservative thing: THIS IS A NATIONAL SECURITY ISSUE! You just don't get it. You see everything as liberal or conservative and Obama is the liberal devil that ruined your life. A direct threat against the President's life is unacceptable whether the president is republican or democrat. That a congressman, whether he or she is democrat or republican, was party to that threat and did absolutely nothing about it (i.e. did not call the police or the secret service) is a crime of national sigificance. At the least Braun should be investigated by both the secret service and the FBI as to his involvement in this matter (along with the rest of the people that were in the room at the time).

    February 25, 2011 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  11. jason

    Obama called his opponents enemies and during the campaign said he brings a gun to a fight. The media praises obama and bashes the gop over what some nutjob asking a question said. How do we know what the motive of the questionaire was. It could have been someone out to embarrass Broun and was against him politically. You can't be responsible for the questions you get asked in a town hall that are open to everyone.

    Capuano and Obama should watch their rhetoric.

    February 25, 2011 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  12. ABM

    He should be held accountable by the citizons of this country not just GA. I think it is time that there be some form of oversight for these people. Just because our President is trying to help the American people he is being likened to Hitler? Where is the accountability? If this happened during the Bush years that person would be on a one-way flight to Gitmo.

    The lies and special interest fed rhetoric must stop.

    February 25, 2011 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  13. Mikey

    "the question was the first the congressman faced at the gathering and the comment drew laughter from the crowd."

    Gee, a whole room full of unpatriotic fools. The "more patriotic than thou" ultra right wing crowd are nothing of the sort, just a bunch of hypocrites.

    I hope the traitor who asked the question gets a visit from the Secret Service.

    February 25, 2011 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  14. usualone

    I'm not surprised by this outrageous comment. Too many people are apparently "nuts" these days...and with the outlandish comments by too many on the real real right, they think they can say anything. The problem is that some will actually act horribly with such a ripe atmosphere for such behavior. This congressman certainly is an illustration of that fact. Those who even think of harming this President should also remember that if they would even attempt this action, the policies of the current President would get passed quicker than they will with the current congress. One only has to remember not too long ago that when President Kennedy was murdered, his policies were easily passed by congress with LBJ in power. We have too many sickies out there and unfortunately some of the representatives in congress fall into that category.

    February 25, 2011 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  15. Pat Williams

    God help the US, what kind of hate is this? Sorry Republicans President Obama was selected to serve at this particular time. God's grace and mercy covers him... Hopefully this person and the congressman are facing prison time this morning.

    February 25, 2011 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  16. Brian in Amsterdam

    This just makes John McCain's response during the election campaign in 2008 look that much better.

    February 25, 2011 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  17. Baby Boomer


    February 25, 2011 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  18. Deb Lee

    I am infuriated that this man did not condemn the question of assassinating a President!!! In the past Congressmen acted with dignity and class. However, that has changed with these right-wing nuts. To Tweet while someone is speaking is downright rude. Plus, to compare anyone to Hitler is the biggest insult you could throw at someone. I find it amazing that this person is an elected official. He is not trying to bring this country together – he's one of those idiots trying to tear it apart with his racism. OK, give it to Georgia. What else would I expect?

    February 25, 2011 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  19. Steve

    I find it interesting that people would claim that Obama is both a Socialist and a National Socialist (Nazi)... Anybody who is familiar with historical political ideologies would clearly see that National Socialism centers around "patriotism" and absolute loyalty to one's nation and its leaders. National Socialism also doesn't have the Socialist goal of minimizing economic disparity and allows for very stratified economic distributions. It may also be helpful to point out that while Hitler himself was not democratically elected but was appointed by Hindenburg initially. The National Socialists did not hold a majority following elections initially but used the Geheimestaatspolizei (Gestapo) to ensure that the elected members from the Communist party in Germany didn't take their seats, giving the National Socialists more than 50% in the German Parliament. They then appointed Hitler to be the sole Reichsfuehrer and centralized power under him, and not with the parliament. So it would seem that Hitler was not democratically elected, he used the Gestapo to get himself appointed to his position.

    February 25, 2011 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  20. Bill

    Some guy gets 25 years for making threats against the creators of South Park but a person who threatens the president doesn't even get arrested? Then you have Sarah Palin putting gun sights over political opponents. Republican politics has gotten more than out of hand, it's become illegal.

    February 25, 2011 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  21. Boo-Yah

    Besides the obvious evil wrongness of the question and its pathetic response... how juvenile for anyone to think the answer to your displeasure/disagreement with someone is to murder him. You vote them out if don't like a politician's policies; and if you're outnumbered in the voting booth... you should be AMERICAN enough to respect and accept the democratic process and the will of your fellow Americans. Good God, we need to recheck our humanity of one another. WE create the society we live in. Let's all do our part to make it a pleasant one. Thank you.

    February 25, 2011 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  22. Dee G.

    Amazing – Even John McCain stood up for Obama when on the campaign trail that woman stated that she was in far becaus Obama was a muslim. He said "No, Barack Obama is NOT a muslim". The fact that this litlle nothing of a GOPer didn't have the chutzpah to call this guy on the carpet for a question like that, speaks volumes about this man's character, or lack thereof!

    February 25, 2011 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  23. Seraphim0

    @CNN Masters of Spin- I'm not sure what article you're reading, but this is not someone bashing or disagreeing with the President. This is someone who asked when someone was going to assassinate the POTUS. That's is an entirely different bag then saying: "Oh, this president sucks," or "His policies are terrible." Get some perspective, buddy. If someone had threatened Bush in this manner, they should have gotten the exact same attention and possible charges as this guy (hopefully) will get.

    I'm actually getting tired of this lame, spread thin explanation that, somehow, people who issue physical threats against Obama are to get more heat than people who issued them against Bush. This is ridiculous. The president is the president, and for some reason, most Right wingers who reply in such ways have trouble distinguishing the office from party.

    As for the first poster- he should be social demoncrat because the United States is a social democracy. For people who jump up and down and yell about socialist policies- well, I hope you don't have any vets in your family benefitting from VA care (such as it is), anyone you know on social security, medicare, go to public schools, benefit from police protection/crime prevention, etc, etc, etc. All of these are socialist policies and departments. I'm sure if the democrats (for whatever reason), decided to cut medicare, you'd have carribou barbie on a rant about how we'd be killing grandmothers again.

    Anyway... /endrant

    February 25, 2011 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  24. Mikey

    @Master of Spin – You are out of touch with reality. Look at the polls. President Obama has a positive approval rating (more approve than disapprove). Americans are not "fed up" with the President... and don't try to excuse your disrespectful behavior by pointing to similar behavior of others in the past. Would you accpt your son or daugher snorting cocaine becaus "other people do it". Your disrespectful behavior is WRONG.

    Oh, and by the way, it's PRESIDENT OBAMA or MR. PRESIDENT to you... or at least it is to patriotic Americans.

    February 25, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  25. Canuck

    The hatred for Obama from the right is to the point of being pathological. Most of the world likes Obama and appreciates what he is trying to do in the world, they look upon the American right with disgust.

    February 25, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
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