Mo. rodeo clown says comments not meant to offend

A rodeo clown who provided commentary while another clown wore a President Barack Obama mask during a show at the Missouri State Fair says he’s received death threats and never intended to offend anyone.

“I didn’t do this to do any hating on anyone. I did this to be funny. I did it to be a joke,” Tuffy Gessling told KCTV.

Another clown wore the Obama mask during the rodeo Aug. 10 in Sedalia, while Gessling made comments — including “We’re gonna stomp Obama” — to the crowd.

The rodeo act was sharply criticized by both Democratic and Republican officials in Missouri as disrespectful of Obama. Gessling said some have brought their complaints directly to him.

“I’ve had somebody threaten to run me over. One of them wanted to burn the house down,” Gessling said.

He said the clown act has been around for generations and was not intended to be any different than acts that parodied other presidents.

“I didn’t think anything more of it than what we’ve done 15 years ago, 10 years ago, five years ago, when we’ve done it with Bush, Clinton and Ronald Reagan. ... I never did anything because of anybody’s race,” Gessling said. “I don’t care what color somebody is. If they’re blue, white, green, polka dotted, striped ... it doesn’t bother me one bit.”

When asked if he was a Democrat or a Republican, Gessling said: “I am a rodeo clown.”

He said he has a rodeo coming up in Jefferson City.

“If President Obama turns out, I would be honored to shake his hand,” Gessling said.

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