Thursday, December 5, 2013
By David A. Lieb / The Associated Press
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A rodeo announcer at the Missouri State Fair had no advance knowledge of a widely criticized act in which a "rogue rodeo clown" wearing a President Barack Obama mask asked the crowd if they would like to see him knocked down, an attorney said Monday.
Media accounts of the weekend bull riding event reported that an announcer asked spectators if they wanted to see "Obama run down by a bull." Many in the audience responded with enthusiastic cheers.
Those words came not from the announcer but from a rodeo clown who was wearing a microphone, according to St. Louis attorney Albert Watkins, representing the announcer, Mark Ficken.
"He was as surprised as anyone with the appearance of an Obama-masked rodeo clown," Watkins said of his client.
Ficken is president of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association and also is superintendent of the Boonville School District.
The Saturday rodeo act at the fair in Sedalia has been criticized by both Democratic and Republican officials in Missouri as disrespectful of Obama.
State Fair officials said in a statement Sunday that the act was "inappropriate" and "does not reflect the opinions or standards" of the fair. The Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association, which sponsored the event, also apologized in an online statement and said its board of directors "is dealing with the situation firmly and quickly as this type of behavior will not be tolerated."
Watkins described his client as a "beleaguered school superintendent" who has been inundated with retaliatory actions because of the conduct of a "rogue rodeo clown." He said Ficken's only comment during the event was to say, "Watch out for that bull Obama!" Watkins said that was meant as a warning for the rodeo clown's safety as a bull was nearing him.