By Maya Rhodan
November 4, 2016

When a protestor interrupted President Obama’s afternoon rally for Hillary Clinton in North Carolina on Friday, the crowd was not having it. The Fayetteville crowd attempted to drown the heckler out with chants of U-S-A and boos.

Obama, however, said, “hold up.”

“Everybody sit down and be quiet for a second,” the President said. “You’ve got an older gentleman who is supporting his candidate. He’s not doing nothing. You don’t have to worry about him.”

The crowd, for a while, wouldn’t listen and only chanted louder. Yet Obama continued to come to his defense and eventually got the crowd quiet enough to lay out reasons why the man deserved the respect of the crowd.

The scene wasn’t unfamiliar given the tumultuous nature of the 2016 campaign. At rallies across the U.S., protesters have interrupted candidates and surrogates on both sides of the aisle.

But on Friday, instead of calling for the man’s removal or heckling him back as he’s done in the past, the Obama told the crowd he deserved their respect and urged them to vote instead of boo.

“First of all—hold up—we live in a country that respects free speech. Second of all, it looks like maybe he might have served in our military and we gotta respect that. Third of all, he was elderly and we gotta respect our elders,” Obama said. “And fourth of all, don’t boo. Vote.”

The Fayetteville stop was the first of two Obama was scheduled to make in North Carolina on Friday. The commander-in-chief has morphed into the campaigner-in-chief with days to go before the election, recently making appearances for Clinton every day. All of the stops have been in states where the race is looking close, and his pitches have been aimed at his coalition of voters, including millennials and black voters.

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