Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR.
Gentlemen, start your booing!
First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden served as grand marshals of a NASCAR race Sunday as part of a campaign to support U.S military families—and got booed.
ABC news has video of the crowd’s unwelcoming reaction, unleashed when the public address announcer introduced Obama and Biden at Homestead-Miami speedway. The boos, which outweighed a smattering of cheers and whistles, came just before the women told the drivers, “Gentlemen, start your engines.”
They appeared at the race to promote the White House’s Joining Forces program, which encourages Americans to pledge community service hours in honor of the troops serving abroad and send messages of support to military families. They appeared on the podium alongside an army sergeant who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and was wounded in action.
The pair had gotten a warmer response earlier in the day at a private reception with drivers and military families, NBC Miami reports.
The episode was reminiscent of the boos that rained on a gay soldier who asked a question about the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy at a Republican presidential debate in September. In that case, as Slate’s Dave Weigel pointed out, the boos were few compared to the size of the crowd. It’s hard to tell from the video of the NASCAR race how many booed Obama and Biden, though it seemed like a larger number.
Still, ABC News notes, “A source traveling with the first lady downplayed the incident, telling ABC News there was no discernible booing during the ‘loud chaotic program with jets flying over and tons of noise.’”