Michelle Obama Stops Speech to Confront Heckler Face to Face

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 5 2013 5:08 PM

The First Lady Has a Different Strategy for Handling Hecklers Than Her Husband Does (UPDATE: Now With Video)

169415358
Michelle Obama speaks during an event at Savoy Elementary School on May 24, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Original Post at 9:39 a.m.: Last month, President Obama calmly and coolly handled a heckler who had interrupted his counterterrorism policy speech. Michelle Obama found herself in a similar position Tuesday night at a fundraiser in northwest Washington, where she was interrupted by an LGBT activist about halfway through her 20-minute speech. The first lady took a slightly different tack than her husband, via the official pool report:

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Most notable part of the event was an interruption from a protester about 12 minutes into the 20-minute speech. A pro-LGBT rights individual standing at the front began shouting for an executive order on gay rights. (Pool did not hear exactly what.)
“One of the things I don’t do well is this,” replied FLOTUS to loud applause. She left the lectern and moved over to the protester, saying they could “listen to me or you can take the mic, but I’m leaving. You all decide. You have one choice.”
Crowd started shouting that they wanted FLOTUS to stay. “You need to go!” said one woman near the protester.
The protester was then escorted out, shouting “…lesbian looking for federal equality before I die.” (First part of the quote was inaudible.) Pool could not get their name before they were taken out.
“So let me make the point that I was making before,” continued FLOTUS. “We are here for our kids. So we must recapture that passion. That same urgency and energy that we felt back in 2008, 2012. Understand this — this is what I want you all to understand. This is not about us. No one back here. It’s not about you or you or your issue or your thing. This is about our children.”
Loud applause in response to this comment.
Advertisement

The heckler turned out to be Ellen Sturtz, who spoke with several reporters after the event to relive the moment of her face-to-face confrontation with the first lady. "She came right down in my face," Sturtz told the Washington Post. "I was taken aback."

The event was a private fundraiser, so we don't have any video of the incident (yet, at least). But already we do have some garbled audio, which you can listen to below.

UPDATE at 5:09 p.m.: CNN manages to track down some cellphone footage of the confrontation. It's not the best, but it paints a better picture than the garbled audio:

***Follow @JoshVoorhees and the rest of the @slatest team on Twitter.***

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.

Why all cracker names sound alike.

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Afghan Town With a Legitimately Good Tourism Pitch

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Photography
Sept. 21 2014 11:34 PM People’s Climate March in Photos Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of NYC in the largest climate rally in history.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Television
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 21 2014 11:38 PM “Welcome to the War of Tomorrow” How Futurama’s writers depicted asymmetrical warfare.
  Health & Science
The Good Word
Sept. 21 2014 11:44 PM Does This Name Make Me Sound High-Fat? Why it just seems so right to call a cracker “Cheez-It.”
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.