Those Who Threaten the President’s Life Are Not Welcome at the State of the Union

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Layne Amerikaner or Miranda Blue
202-467-4999 / media@pfaw.org

Those Who Threaten the President’s Life Are Not Welcome at the State of the Union

An Open Letter to Speaker John Boehner

WASHINGTON - Dear Speaker Boehner:

In the wake of a year teeming with incidents of heartbreaking gun violence, it came as quite a shock to see Congressman Steve Stockman (R-TX) announce yesterday that he is “excited to have a patriot like Ted Nugent joining me in the House Chamber” for President Obama’s State of the Union address. 

This so-called “patriot” has repeatedly threatened the life of the president. 

With a gun in each hand, Ted Nugent once publicly called Obama a “piece of shit,” saying he “told him [Obama] to suck on my machine gun” and suggested that Hillary Clinton “might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch.”  In the same incident, he also threatened Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein with gun violence. 

At an NRA event last year, Nugent infamously warned that he would “either be dead or in jail by this time next year” if President Obama were re-elected.  After People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch publicized the video of his comments, the Secret Service began an investigation of Nugent. 

The First Amendment protects Ted Nugent’s rights to say offensive things, but that right does not extend to making threats of violence against public officials. And it certainly does not give Nugent a “right” to be granted a privileged position of honor as a guest of the House of Representatives at the President’s State of the Union address.

So today we are calling on you, as Speaker of the House, to disinvite Nugent from attending the State of the Union address. This is not a question of civility; it is a question of whether or not to tolerate violent threats.  We cannot invite those who openly threaten the life of the president to be part of this celebrated tradition.  Allowing Nugent into the House chamber for the address will send a clear message of condoning such threats.

In a country still reeling from recent shooting sprees and striving to find ways to reduce gun violence, it is unconscionable to invite to the State of the Union address a man who has repeatedly threatened to kill our nation’s president. 

Michael Keegan
President, People For the American Way

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People For the American Way is dedicated to making the promise of America real for every American: Equality. Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. The right to seek justice in a court of law. The right to cast a vote that counts. The American Way. Our vision is a vibrantly diverse democratic society in which everyone is treated equally under the law, given the freedom and opportunity to pursue their dreams, and encouraged to participate in our nation’s civic and political life. Our America respects diversity, nurtures creativity and combats hatred and bigotry.

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