President Barack Obama was interrupted by two people while delivering a speech on the economy on Thursday at the Paramount Theater in Austin, Texas.
The two Hispanic hecklers interrupted the president’s speech with shouts about illegal immigration.
“I’m sorry, what are you yelling about now?” Barack Obama said amid the sudden yelling.
“Sit down, guys. I’m almost done.
Barack Obama was interrupted by two people while delivering a speech on the economy at the Paramount Theater in Austin (photo Daily Texas)
“Come on, sit down. I’ll talk to you afterwards, I promise. I’ll bring you back. I’m wrapping things up here.”
The White House’s transcript of Barack Obama’s remarks in Austin omits what the protesters said, but the president replied: “I understand. See, everybody is going to start – I’m on your side, man. Sit down, guys, we’ll talk about it later, I promise.”
They were invited after the event to meet with Barack Obama about their concerns on immigration reform.
According to a White House press pool report, its staff escorted the protesters behind the stage immediately after Barack Obama’s speech was over and he “began glad-handing with folks in front”.
The video of the moment when activist Ellen Sturtz heckled First Lady Michelle Obama was caught on tape and has now been released to show the tense exchange.
After she was interrupted, Michelle Obama threatened to leave the Democratic National Committee fundraiser unless Ellen Sturtz was removed.
“It felt like she was within a few inches – in my face,” Ellen Sturtz told ABC News, in an account that several witnesses have corroborated.
The video, obtained by CNN, shows how Michelle Obama got down from her platform and went directly over to the heckler and told her to stop or else she was going to leave and allow her to finish.
The crowd cheered for Michelle Obama and told the heckler to stop talking.
The First Lady then walked aside, going over to talk to other supporters briefly- as if to shake off the incident- before returning to the lectern.
Moments before the confrontation, Ellen Sturtz had interrupted Michelle Obama to demand that her husband sign an executive order barring discrimination by federal contractors based on s**ual orientation.
“One of the things I don’t do well is this,” Michelle Obama replied to loud applause, according to a pool report.
“Listen to me or you can take the mic, but I’m leaving. You all decide. You have one choice.”
The crowd urged the first lady to stay, and she returned to the podium to continue speaking. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney later said that Michelle Obama handled the interruption “brilliantly”.
Ellen Sturtz described herself to ABC News as an “old, grey-haired lesbian” and said she felt compelled to interrupt Michelle Obama because she doesn’t feel she has the time to wait around for action on gay rights.
“I’m too old to wait for it,” she said.
“I don’t want to see us continue to be second-class citizens.”
Ellen Sturtz is an activist for the pro-LGBT rights group GetEQUAL and she was one of four protestors at the event.
The moment when activist Ellen Sturtz heckled First Lady Michelle Obama
But when the White House’s transcript arrived, The Daily Caller reported Tuesday night, it didn’t include any indication of an acrimonious exchange – and was missing Michelle Obama’s threat to leave the event.
The only indication in that transcript that anything was amiss is a note about an “(Inaudible audience interruption.)”
“I lived and worked in the closet, hiding who I was in order to earn a living,” Ellen Sturtz said in a statement late Tuesday night.
“I had planned to speak tonight with DNC officials but, as the First Lady was talking about our children’s future and ensuring that they have everything they need to live happy and productive lives, I simply couldn’t stay silent any longer.”
“I’m looking ahead at a generation of young people who could live full, honest, and open lives with the stroke of the President’s pen,” Ellen Sturtz insisted.
The home where the heckling happened belongs to power couple Karen Dixon and Nan Schaffer, formerly of Chicago, who have hosted fundraisers for the Obamas in the past, including one that raised $1.4 million for the president’s reelection campaign in February 2012.
Karen Dixon is an attorney who serves on the national board of Lambda Legal, an organization working for LGBT rights.
Her spouse, Nan Schaffer, is a veterinarian who works to preserve the rhino population through artificial insemination.
She is also a minority shareholder in Windy City Media Group and founded Outlines, a Chicago newspaper, in 1987.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But White House Press Secretary Jay Carney took an oddly coincidental question earlier in the day during his regularly scheduled briefing about the same discrimination issue that had Ellen Sturtz shouting at the top of her lungs.