GOP congressman invites controversial Obama-mask rodeo clown to perform in Texas

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Andrew Rafferty, Staff Writer, NBC News

The controversial rodeo clown who on Saturday fired up a crowd at the Missouri State Fair by wearing a mask of President Barack Obama — and encouraging a bull to run him down — now has a standing invitation to perform in Texas, a Republican congressman said Wednesday.


Though the clown has been banned from future state fairs in Missouri and the other performers have been ordered to undergo sensitivity training, Rep. Steve Stockman invited the rodeo group to perform in his congressional district near Houston.


"Liberals want to bronco bust dissent. But Texans value speech, even if it’s speech they don't agree with… They want to crush dissent by isolating and polarizing anyone who questions Obama, even if it's a rodeo clown with a harmless gag," Stockman said in a statement.


Missouri state officials on both sides of the aisle were quick to denounce the performance, saying it was inappropriate and did not represent the values of the state’s residents.


“We are better than this,” Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican, tweeted Sunday.


Missouri-born White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said the incident was “certainly not one of the finer moments for our state and not the way that I like to see our state mentioned in the news.”


Earnest said he did not know if the president, who is vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, had any reaction to the incident.


Perry Beam, who was in the stands during the performance in Sedalia, Mo., told the Associated Press that everyone “went wild” as fans cheered on the bull as it charged after the masked Obama impersonator.


"It was at that point I began to feel a sense of fear. It was that level of enthusiasm," he said.


Beam estimated that the rodeo emcee used Obama’s name close to 100 times during the show. Fair officials have not revealed the clown's identity.


"It was feeling like some kind of Klan rally you'd see on TV," he told the new agency.


But Stockman said that the outrage and calls for a federal investigation into the incident violate the clown's First Amendment right to free speech.


“If you're demanding a rodeo jester be thrown in the dungeons for mocking the king, don't pretend you support a free country,” the congressman tweeted.

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