A persistent band of hecklers knocked President Barack Obama off message Monday night as he spoke at a fundraiser for the Democratic party and California Senator Barbara Boxer in Los Angeles. Obama was interrupted just after he launched into remarks praising Boxer as a senator who cares about the environment and is passionate about fighting for Californians.
Some folks in the audience apparently wanted to talk about something else as a group of protesters demanding the immediate repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” kept heckling him. ” What about don’t ask, don’t tell?” one protester shouted. “We are going to do that,” Obama said at one point in response to the heckling, an apparent reference to his intention to repeal the policy restricting gays from serving in the military.
Obama tried to talk over the protesters. Then he invited them on stage. Supporters chanting “yes we can” tried to drown them out. Heckled again, a visibly irritated Obama said: “Can I just say, once again, Barbara and I are supportive of repealing don’t ask don’t tell so I don’t know why you’re hollering.”
But the heckling continued, bringing Obama’s remarks to a halt. Supporters responded, shouting “yes we can!” over the protesters and Obama was soon back on message talking about Boxer and U.S. economic challenges.
About 1,400 people paid between $100 and $2,500 to attend the event at the California Science Center. The protesters were from GetEQUAL, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group that also orchestrated protests outside the fundraiser. The group was also behind a protest last month at the White House.