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Rodeo clown behind the Obama stunt: 'I did it to be a joke'

WASHINGTON -- A clown banned from the Missouri State Fair for his involvement in a skit that mocked President Obama said that he has received death threats and complained that "a lot of people have lost their ability to laugh."

"I’ve had one lady spit in my face," Tuffy Gessling told Kansas City’s KCTV.

"Look at the country as a whole. There’s a lot more to be mad at than a rodeo clown at a rodeo trying to make somebody laugh," he said. 

Although it was another clown who wore the Obama mask during a bull-riding contest as the crowd was asked whether they wanted to see Obama "run down by a bull," Gessling has told media outlets that the skit was his idea. KCTV said Gessling made comments such as, "We're gonna stomp Obama."

The act drew national attention and bipartisan outrage. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said young people should not be taught that "it’s ever acceptable to, in a public event, disrespect, taunt and joke about harming the president of our great nation."

The Aug. 10 incident prompted the Missouri State Fair to order sensitivity training for anyone performing at future fairs. A Facebook page supporting Gessling has more than 82,000 likes. 

"I didn’t do this to do any hating on anyone," Gessling said.  "I did it to be funny. I did it to be a joke.  This clown bit has been around for generations.... We’ve done it with Bush and Clinton and Ronald Reagan.

"I don't care what color somebody is. If they're blue, white, green, polka-dotted, striped ... it doesn't bother me one bit," he said.

Asked his party affiliation, he said, "I am a rodeo clown."

Gessling said he is looking forward to a gig at another fair.

"If President Obama turns out, I’d be honored to shake his hand," he said.

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richard.simon@latimes.com

Twitter: @richardsimon11

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