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Rodeo Clown Talks About Obama Mask Incident

SEDALIA, Mo. -- A rodeo clown's controversial Missouri State Fair antics went viral after wearing a President Barack Obama mask and mocking the nation's leader.
SEDALIA, Mo. (KCTV for CBS Newspath) - A rodeo clown's controversial Missouri State Fair antics went viral after wearing a President Barack Obama mask and mocking the nation's leader.

The ramifications were swift after a rodeo clown wore a President Barack Obama mask and mocked the nation's leader.

On Monday, the Missouri State Fair announced that the board had permanently banned the rodeo clown. This came the same day that the clown apologized.

Tuffy Gessling wrote on Facebook, "I am sorry. I never meant to offend anyone. I meant no disrespect to anyone for the joke or jokes I may have said at the rodeo. Once again, I never meant to offend or hurt anyone's feelings."

It divided people across the country on whether Tuffy Gessling's stunt was disrespectful to President Obama.

He took a lot of heat for the stunt, and now he is looking for a chance to clear the record.

The incident occurred Aug. 10 at the fairgrounds in Sedalia during the The Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association finals.

Gessling started a firestorm - angry rebukes from politicians, a lifetime ban from the Missouri State Fair and more personal hits than he ever faced in the ring.

"I've had one lady spit in my face, called me a dirty name, spit in my face and walked off," Gessling said.

And he says there have been five death threats.

"I've had somebody threaten to run me over. One of them wanted to burn the house down," he said.

Gessling says that hate is actually what finally brought him out to speak.

"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.

Gessling said the clown act has been around for generations.

"I didn't think anything more of it than what we've done 15 years ago, ten years ago, five years ago, when we've done it with Bush, Clinton and Ronald Reagan," Gessling said.

But this time, race entered the equation. A white man dressed in a mask of a black president was just offensive to a lot of people.

"I never did anything because of anybody's race. I don't care what color somebody is. If they're blue, white, green, polka dotted, striped ... it doesn't bother me one bit," Gessling said.

He adds it was not about politics either.

When asked if he was a Democrat or a Republican, Gessling simply replied, "I am a rodeo clown."

To Gessling it is a matter of perspective.

"I actually think that a lot of people have lost their ability to laugh," Gessling said. "Look at the country as a whole, there is a lot more to be mad at than a rodeo clown at a rodeo trying to make somebody laugh."

He hasn't worked since the Missouri State Fair, but plenty of support has been building too, and now he has a rodeo coming up in Jefferson City.

Gessling is inviting politicians to come out, watch and grill him with any questions they have.

"If President Obama turns out, I would be honored to shake his hand," Gessling said.

Gessling says the support has been overwhelming as well.

He said he has heard from people from all walks of life, including country music stars and movie stars.

When asked whether he would ever do this bit again, he said only time will tell.

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