As pretty much all of the U.S. is trapped in the muck and mire of the final hours of this battering presidential election, something happened that hasn't happened in quite a long time: Two sides came together to defend one authentically American ideal.
President Barack Obama, speaking at a North Carolina campaign rally for Hillary Clinton Friday afternoon, defended the rights of a Donald Trump supporter, who was clad in what appeared to be military garb, as the Fayetteville audience began intensely shouting down the conservative protester.
As the commander in chief was saying the Republican presidential nominee is "uniquely unqualified" to occupy the Oval Office, a white-haired man stood up and started yelling. Within seconds, chants of "Hillary! Hillary!" filled the air in an attempt to drown the Trump backer out.
But Obama was not satisfied to let the cacophony of voices silence the demonstrator. Instead, the president did something unexpected — he defended the man who holds ideals that are diametrically opposed to his own.
"Hold up, hold up, hold up," Obama shouted several times, clearly frustrated as he was struggling to regain control of the crowd gathered in the gym at Fayetteville State University. "I told you to be focused and you’re not focused right now. Listen to what I’m saying."
At that point, Obama laid out an impassioned defense of the protester:
Everybody sit down and be quiet for a second. Everybody sit down and be quiet for a second. Now listen up. I’m serious. Listen up. You’ve got an older gentleman who is supporting his candidate. He’s not doing nothing. You don’t have to worry about him.
First of all, 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 ought to respect that. Third of all, he was elderly and we got to respect our elders. And fourth of all: Don’t boo. Vote!
The president again chided the audience for getting agitated by the protesting Trump supporter, telling listeners that he believes similar distractions have been a big problem this election season. "Just relax," he said.
See Obama's remarks below: