Despite Missouri rodeo kerfuffle, Mesquite will also have clown in Obama mask

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by DAVID SCHECHTER

WFAA

Posted on August 23, 2013 at 6:09 PM

MESQUITE -- A rodeo clown wearing a mask of President Obama didn't go over well at the Missouri State Fair.

Now, the general manager of the Mesquite Rodeo plans to outfit a clown with an Obama mask over the weekend.

The Missouri incident prompted an apology from the fair officials, a rodeo clown banned for life, and any future clowns will have to get sensitivity training -- or they'll be banned too.

But Mesquite Rodeo General Manager Steve Gander said the Missouri incident was completely overblown. He thinks his customers will feel the same when they see the clown's presidential mask.

“I do think we do try too hard sometimes to be politically correct, and I think that’s a shame," Gander said. “I don’t think it was that big a deal."

But it turned out to be a big deal for the president of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association, who was forced to resign.

Still, Gander said there’s a long tradition of rodeo clowns wearing presidential masks. Friday and Saturday, four clowns will wear different presidential masks, including one of Obama.

Gander said his show will be different.

"Number one, we’re not going to be putting the presidential clown in harm's way with a bull or anything like that," Gander said.

Outfitting a clown with an Obama mask is clearly a publicity stunt, but not only a stunt. Gander said it's also about freedom of speech.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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