During a rally in Michigan supporting Democratic candidates in the state, former President Barack Obama faced a heckler in the crowd. The angry onlooker was quickly escorted from the premises, but not before Obama himself also addressed the situation.
The man, whose comments weren’t audible in footage from Saturday, began calling out after Obama brought up a recent attack on Paul Pelosi, the House Speaker’s husband. Paul, who is in his 80s, was struck with a hammer by a far-right assailant who broke into a California home of the Pelosis and was apparently looking for Nancy. Outrage over the role of key voices on the Right in stoking the kind of violent inclinations underlying the attack has swiftly spread. The attacker was arrested on suspicion of attempted homicide.
“We’ve got politicians who work to stir up division,” Obama told listeners. “To try to make us angry and afraid of one another for their own advantage. And all of it gets amped up, hyped up 24/7 by social media because a lot of times they’re for-profit platforms and they find it more profitable to feed you controversy and conflict instead of facts and truth… I want to take a moment to say a prayer for a friend of mine, Mr. Paul Pelosi, who was attacked… If our rhetoric about each other gets that mean — when we don’t just disagree with people, but we start demonizing them, making wild, crazy allegations about them, that creates a dangerous climate. And if elected officials don’t do more to explicitly reject that kind of rhetoric… more people can get hurt.”
Once the protester began shouting, the former president was direct. “Sir, this is what I’m saying. Look, there’s a process that we set up in our democracy. Right now, I’m talking, you’ll have a chance to talk sometime soon,” Obama said. “We don’t have to shout each other down — that’s not a good way to do business. You wouldn’t do that in a workplace. You wouldn’t just interrupt people in the middle of a conversation. It’s not how we do things.” Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic governor of Michigan running for re-election against Trump-backed Republican challenger Tudor Dixon, was with Obama at the rally. Polling suggests Whitmer, who has faced right-wing antagonism over issues including the outcome of the 2020 election and her response to COVID-19, is leading — although only time will tell. Check out Obama’s comments below: