Tuffy Gessling, the rodeo clown who put on an Obama mask at the Missouri State Fair and delivered a performance that has sparked a national outcry, has developed a large following of online defenders from all over the country. As of last night, Gessling has added about 500 new Facebook friends on his personal page, a number that is steadily growing as his story continues to go viral.
"Keep your head up. God's got this!" says one new fan. "Hey man I stand behind you 100% brother keep doin what you do. If I was putting on a rodeo or bullriding I'd hire you in a bit for my gigs," says another.
"God bless you Tuffy Gessling you never disappoint. I support you 100%," says a third. "Awesome at what u do. I'll stand up for ya. Screw the government," says a fourth.
More testimonials below...including from a large "Support Tuffy" Facebook page.
See also: - Mark Ficken, State Fair Announcer in Obama Rodeo Scandal, Says Reports Are Wrong - Missouri State Fair Rodeo Clown Identified, Permanently Banned From Performing - State Fair Controversy: Mark Ficken Resigns As Rodeo Cowboy Association President
The surge of online supporters follows reports that he put on an Obama mask and participated in a skit in which he was repeatedly chased by a bull.
There have been some disputes about who actually made comments about the bull running down the president, but video shows the crowd enjoyed the spectacle. Here's two short clips provided by attendee Perry Beam whose account sparked the whole controversy:
Gessling has admitted he is the clown on his Facebook page with at least two apologies, the second of which includes a thanks to his new supporters:
Notable elected officials -- including Lieutenant Governor Pete Kinder, a Republican, and U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat -- have slammed the rodeo stunt as an offensive and disrespectful act targeting the president. Others, including the House Minority Caucus and Congressman Lacy Clay, have labeled the event as overtly racist.
Representatives of the State Fair, a taxpayer-funded event, have officially banned Gessling from ever performing at the event again though some lawmakers say that more people need to be held accountable, including the Missouri Rodeo Cowboys Associations, which puts on the show.
Gessling's online defenders say the stunt was neither racist nor distasteful and argue that he should not have to apologize. Here's one Facebook page that briefly popped up in his support yesterday, though appears to be down now:
Later, however, a "Support Tuffy Gessling, Professional Rodeo Entertainer" page emerged, garnering more than 6,500 likes in around six hours. An administrator on the page says it was not created by Gessling, but was formed "with his permission." Some samples:
We've reached out to Gessling for comment and will update if we get a chance to speak with him directly.
Here are some more commenters from his own personal page:
Continue for more from the clown's online supporters and additional statements.
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.