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. Mike

    @ CNN the Master of Spin,

    Criticism is NOT THE SAME as asking who is going the shoot the President of the United States!!!!!! It is our right to criticize a President we disagree with. It is our right to criticize those who criticize a president we agree with. If you cannot understand the difference between these things, perhaps you should revisit your notes from elementary school.

    February 25, 2011 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  2. Cliff

    Broun either shares the questioner's views or he's a coward.

    February 25, 2011 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  3. James

    This is a great example of the deep rooted racial hatred against our duly elected president of the United States, These creeps aren't statesmen but angry thugs who reside inside the deep pockets of wealthy corporations. In Wisconsin we now have a governor who actually said, in response to someone suggesting that thugs might be brought in the stir up the pro-union rallies, "we thought of that". This should be treason. This man is not rooted in sanity and is obviously dangerous. Broun's sad reaction is in the same ballpark. God help us all. Bring on the union busters, ruin our schools, keep people poor, dumb and without health care and let the right wing corporations and fascist neo-cons dance the night away! The most frustrating thing is that most people are unable to understand the complexity of the right wing hoax...the very people that will be hurt the worst are voting for these creeps because of "red herring" single issues, i.e. anti abortion, anti civil unions, anti gun control, etc.

    February 25, 2011 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  4. cecilia

    just made a call to the Congressman office in GA – I was hung up one twice once the meaning of my call was understood. I then called the office in another location. I explained that I was hung up on twice and would like to ask, if the young man would remain on the phone, why the Congressman did not denounce loudly and firmly that the leading question was completely inappropriate instead of confirming that the Congressman too has frustration with the President of the United States. you can do better than this Congressman and you need to hire professionals in your offices – what a shame

    February 25, 2011 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  5. Tired of the Hate

    CNN Masters of Spin wrote: "when Bush was president, all the slanderous words, accusations, threats, in the form of "news" or commentary & even movies......were not just condoned by the Left media, but was initiated by & encouraged!"
    Facts please, when and where did these "slanderous words, accusations, threats" occur? Remember, words are not slanderous when proven accurate! When we were told lies such as Iraq had WMD's or Iraq backed the 911 attacks, and when two wars are not even listed as debt, angry words are appropriate. Just because something is said that conservatives do not like doesn't make those words slander or threatening, but talk about killing our president IS threatening and should be condemned by all people.

    February 25, 2011 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I really shudder to think what would happen in this great land of ours if harm should befall President Obama.
    A very, very sobering thought for some of you.

    February 25, 2011 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  7. MTthinker

    Yep, these are the same people who shout that Muslims who do not publicly and loudly denounce violence on the part of extremists must be terrorists. If we are to turn our political process away from the bullying threatening disaster it has become then the adults in the room need to stand up to those who are making threats and let them know it will not be tolerated. It is a shame that there where no adults in that room, possibly the whole party.

    February 25, 2011 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  8. acura2010

    This hateful language coming out of the mouths of these fake and false conservatives christians, "you're playing with fire". Fire does burn.

    February 25, 2011 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  9. SD, Philadelphia

    Whether one agrees with The President's policies or not, as a sworn US citizen, one's ALWAYS expected and required to respect The Presidency. Shame on Rep. Broun for not denouncing such statements by constituents immediately and in the strongest possible terms.

    February 25, 2011 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  10. eddale

    What rock did the people of Georgia pull this idiot from under? It scares me to think someone like this would have been a Democrat prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    February 25, 2011 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  11. Dustin

    Does this idiot not learn anything from the events and aftermath that happened in Tuscon. Did he not listen to Mr. Obama when he said we should come together as a nation? This guy is unfit to be a congressman but because he is a politician im sure he will not be in trouble for any remarks. However, if me or you would have said something like that we would have the police and secret service knocking on our door.

    February 25, 2011 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  12. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    The same question, asked of a Democrat about former President GWB would have resulted in???

    I find it incomprehensible that Broun gave ANY kind of answer to such a question, and Republican or Democrat, that he did not denounce the question and the questioner and ask that he/she be detained for questioning.

    February 25, 2011 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  13. The unsub

    Keep it up Repubs. this only makes support for President Obama stronger!

    February 25, 2011 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  14. Bob from Syracuse

    Drew laughter from the crowd? Are you kidding me? What the hell is swrong with people?

    February 25, 2011 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  15. My Own 2 Cents

    They (the Repubs and Tea Parties) won't be satisfied until President Obama is dead. This has been their mission since 2008 and they are getting frustrated that no one has done it yet – and the frustration is seeping out in an alarming rate.

    I am appalled that the rest of us live with and work with these hateful people. These politicians know exactly what they are doing when they brush off these kinds of comments and don't condemn them for the insane,crazy hate rantings they are. These politicians need to be charged with aiding and abetting, if our President is assassinated by one of their crazy followerers.

    February 25, 2011 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  16. Marty, FL

    Of course, Broun did not immediately address how "inappropriate" the question was as he freely answered it. Grossly reprehensible behaviors from this politician.

    February 25, 2011 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  17. jack

    I'm amazed at how many public officials have said degrading things about this president and even spoken words to incite violence while suffering no consequence at all. I guess another Gabrielle Giffords incident will have to occur before the secret service or someone on the hill puts a stop to all this madness! Just consider what Steve Anderson has said about our president and you'll wonder where the line of free speech begins and ends. Broun's comments are inflammatory at the very least and he and the likes of Steve Anderson should be held accountable for their reckless disrespect for our president. Never before have so many, so often spouted off at a president with such deep hatred and not even been so much as confronted by the FBI or secret service. Oh, that's right, Obama is a black president so I guess it does not matter what is said about him or his family. WAKE UP America, the spirit of Jim Crow lives on and is perpetuated without out consequence. I pray for you and your family Mr. President because the people that could do something will not so all that can be done by some of us is to pray.

    February 25, 2011 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  18. anagram_kid

    "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 POTENTIIAL!," he said told an interviewer at the time.'" Broun in 2008.
    As were all presidents with the exceptions of those that filled a vacated spot due to death or resignation, and of course Bush Jr’s first election. Also Borun himself also obtained his position in a democratic election. Based on his logic everyone that has ever been elected can be compared to Hitler. Godwin’s law continues…

    February 25, 2011 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  19. Great American

    Calling for the assassination of a sitting US President is a treasonous act and should not only be condemned, but should be investigated immediately as a threat to our national security.

    I don't care if a martian is president, the highest office in this land should be respected and protected. If there is a bona fide need to impeach a sitting president then clearly state that intention by organizing others to protest and lobby congress to begin impeachment proceedings.

    I am a patriotic, tax paying, anti-communist, anti-socialist, anti-globalist American who disagrees with most if not all the goings on in our foreign policies over the last 20 years, but I wouldn't think twice about risking my own wealth and safety to protect our citizens, the POTUS, and defend our constitutional republic against all enemies both foreign and domestic.

    It's ok in my book for private citizens to ratchet up the heated rhetoric (it should be protected speech) and argue their political positions, but lets stop denigrating ourselves and those who gave their lives for our country by allowing elected officials who are supposedly the voice of "we the people" to openly call for the assassination of any citizen.

    I did not vote for President Obama, I am a dyed in the wool republican and was not swayed by President Obama's brand of hope (which was well marketed early in his campaign) or his concept of change (which so far has failed to get people back to work). Our President is a staunch liberal democrat so it doesn't surprise me that the President and our liberal politicians are governing this country in a way that I disagree with, but what does surprise me is how shocked everyone is about this(he couldn't have been more clear on his agenda).

    February 25, 2011 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  20. Annie, Atlanta

    I find it telling that Broun lacks the moral fiber to have put this constituent in his/her place. I'm glad he's not my congressman, though honestly I don't know if mine would have handled the situation any differently, sadly. And, that my folks, is the sad state of America today. I'm a Democrat. I didn't like the Bush policies that nearly destroyed our country. Especially the greed that was allowed to grow way outside normal boundaries, unchecked. But to wish him harm isn't something I would have every considered. Is this toxic discourse our new reality, or can we cure ourselves?

    February 25, 2011 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  21. sue

    Shame on this congressman for not putting this idiot in him place....this man should be investagated and put on the terrorist list for his comment and the people that laughed at the comment just shows they are as stupid and hateful as this man....and they call themselves the rate the GOP and Tea Party are going, putting hate and fear in all their statements, putting teachers out of work, putting a stop to the Government.....they will lose as bad and they won the mid elections.

    February 25, 2011 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  22. StephanieG

    And THIS is exactly why \nutjobs think it's ok to shoot at any candidate they don't like, or especially at ones they hate. Broun should have taken a stand and put the guy in his place for answering the question. We have the right to free speech here, but no one has the right to threaten another person (however veiled) or to fuel the fire for someone else to threaten or act against a political rival. Shame, shame, shame on the guy who asked the question, the audience members who laughed at him, and especially Broun for not taking the chance to use his public forum to denounce violence. By doing nothing, he tacitly gives his approval.

    February 25, 2011 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  23. The Other Dale

    Nice spin by the conservatives here to blame liberals for someone wanting the President dead and those attending thinking the concept to be funny or not important. Evidently saying you didn't agree with Bush is the same as "let's shoot the Obama" in their eyes. Why is it that Conservatives are such crybabies these days? Saying anything in disagreement with them and they get all teary-eyed and throw tantrums. I miss the days when Republicans acted like adults.

    February 25, 2011 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  24. SDN

    Not only do we have freedom of speech, we also have freedom of stupid, both of which are regularly exercised. Unfortunately, this man doesn't know the difference.

    February 25, 2011 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  25. bobby

    that is totally vile and he is an American?. he is a disgrace not only to America but the human race. dispicable!

    February 25, 2011 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
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