Michelle Obama threatens to leave DNC fundraiser unless heckler shuts up
Michelle Obama's response to an LGBT heckler at a fundraising speech for the DNC had the virtue of never having been tried before to my knowledge.
After telling the audience "one of the things I don't do well is this," she threatened to leave if the heckler didn't cease and desist.
The pool reported that Obama left the lectern toward the protestor saying that they could "listen to me or you can take the mic, but I'm leaving. You all decide. You have one choice."
The Democratic audience begged the first lady to stay, with one woman telling the protester," You need to go."
The protester was escorted from the proceedings, shouting about federal equality for lesbians.
The official White House transcript of the first lady's remarks did not include the portion of the event during which Obama threatened to leave, it did include the protester's remarks.
The official transcript reads:
So here's the thing -- we cannot wait for the next presidential election to get fired up and ready to go. We cannot wait. Right now, today, we have an obligation to stand up for those kids. And I don't care what you believe in, we don't -
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
MRS. OBAMA: Wait, wait, wait. One of the things -
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
MRS. OBAMA: One of the things that I don't do well is this. (Applause.) Do you understand? (Applause.) One of the things -- now -
(Inaudible audience interruption.)
MRS. OBAMA: So let me make the point that I was making before: We are here for our kids. (Applause.) So we must recapture that passion, that same urgency and energy that we felt back in 2008 and 2012. Understand this. This is what I want you all to understand, this is not about us -- no one back here. It's not about you or you, or your issue or your thing. This is about our children. (Applause.)
Apparently, the heckler, identified as Helen Sturtz, could be heard quite clearly and was hardly "inaudible." You may note that the official transcript forgot to add the part about the First Lady threatening to leave.
The Washington Post has Sturtz's reaction:
"She came right down in my face," Sturtz said. "I was taken aback."
Sturtz said she told Obama she was happy to take the microphone to plead her case, which, Sturtz said, appeared to fluster the first lady.
"I said I want your husband to sign the executive order," Sturtz said. "Her husband could sign this order tonight and protect 22 percent of the work force in this country."
Sturtz said she paid $500 to attend the fundraiser, part of a protest cooked up by the gay rights group GetEqual, which gained notice in Obama's first term for hectoring him during speeches and demanding more action on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. Sturtz, who gave $5,000 to the Democratic Party and Obama's campaign in 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, said she was devoting herself to full-time activism now pressing the White House on the employment discrimination issue.
The proposed executive order that prompted Sturtz's outburst would prohibit federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Politicians deal with hecklers in a variety of ways. Most take the stance, "Don't feed the trolls" and let them spout until security arrives to escort the heckler away. Mrs. Obama, unused to not being showered with love and affection, apparently didn't know what to do.
As time goes on, she better get used to it.