Rodeo clown banned over Obama bit receiving death threats

A rodeo clown banned for life from the Missouri State Fair for asking spectators if they wanted to see another performer in a President Obama mask get "run down by a bull" says he's received five death threats since the incident.

"I've had somebody threaten to run me over; one of them wanted to burn the house down," Tuffy Gessling said in an interview with Kansas City CBS affiliate KCTV. "I've had one lady spit in my face - called me a dirty name, spit in my face and walked off."

Having drawn reproach from lawmakers of both parties, Gessling said the confrontations inspired him to publicly respond. He insisted he didn't mean the comments to be offensive.

"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," he said. "I didn't do this to do any hating on anyone. I did this to be funny. I did it to be a joke."

Gessling said the gag - which he wouldn't rule out performing again - wasn't about politics, either. Asked whether he considers himself a Republican or a Democrat, he only replied, "I'm a rodeo clown."

The problem, Gessling lamented, is that "a lot of people have lost their ability to laugh."

Hoping for a chance to offer up a defense, Gessling has invited politicians to come to an upcoming rodeo gig in Jefferson City, Mo. If Mr. Obama himself showed up, he said, "I would be honored to shake his hand."

  • Lindsey Boerma On Twitter»

    Lindsey Boerma is senior video producer for CBSNews.com.

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