Obama speaks up for protester but is derided by Trump

November 4, 2016 4:20 PM EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama boards Air Force One for travel to campaign events in North Carolina from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. November 4, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst


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By Roberta Rampton and Emily Stephenson

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.,/HERSHEY, Pa. (Reuters) - President Barack Obama chastised supporters at a rally for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in North Carolina on Friday, as tensions spiked when a supporter of Republican opponent Donald Trump began protesting.

But that didn't stop Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, campaigning a few states away at the time, from telling a completely opposite version of what happened, condemning Obama for screaming at the protester.

The incident happened in clear view of reporters covering the rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where a predominantly African American crowd was jammed into a gym at a state university to hear Obama stump for Clinton.

Obama had just said Trump was unfit to lead the country when he was interrupted by a white-haired white man in a beret and suit jacket with what appeared to be military patches, who stood up in the stairwell of the bleachers, waving a Trump campaign sign.

The crowd turned its attention to the protester, screaming and booing at the man. Obama repeatedly told the irate crowd to "focus" and to "settle down."

"Everybody sit down and be quiet for a second!" Obama said. "You've got an older gentleman who is supporting his candidate," he said as the protester was led away.

"We live in a country that respects free speech," he said. "It looks like he might have served in our military – we’ve got to respect that."

In Trump's version, Obama scolded the protester, not the crowd.

"He was talking to the protester, screaming at him, really screaming at him," Trump said.

"By the way, if I spoke the way Obama spoke to that protester they would say, ‘He became unhinged,’” Trump said.

(Writing by Roberta Rampton Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Leslie Adler and Jacqueline Wong)



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