Rocker Ted Nugent will perform at fair despite comments attacking Obama
Carnival rides and cotton candy can't ward off a national controversy over the comments of rocker Ted Nugent.Photo: Video by kgun9.com
Reporter: Claire Doan
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) : Carnival rides, cotton candy and ... controversy? The Pima County Fair kicked off Thursday and is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people. But this year outspoken musician Ted Nugent, a headlining performer, is making national headlines of his own for taking aim at the President.
Fair organizers confirmed that Nugent will still perform on Saturday April 28, even as he faces a firestorm of controversy over his comments -- comments that some believe pose a threat to President Obama -- and a visit from the Secret Service.
Although Nugent is known for being a rocker but now also for something else: his comments at a National Rifle Association convention. He called the Obama Administration "vile and evil" and said: "If Barack Obama becomes the President, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year."
Is that free speech or veiled threat? Ken Rineer, President of the Gun Owners Association of Arizona, told KGUN9 News that people may be interpreting Nugent's comments the wrong way.
"I don't know that he necessarily meant that in a violent way -- other than saying, 'There's a lot going on and we if we don't fix it with this election bad things may happen.'"
Nugent did not mince words in a statement he sent to 9 On Your Side: "By no stretch of the imagination did I threaten anyone's life, or hint at violence or mayhem. Metaphors needn't be explained to educated people."
However, KGUN9 News spoke with many people at the fair who did not welcome Nugent's comments.
"I think they're out of line. We need civil discourse and not name calling," said Karl Moehrke.
"I think he's entitled to he has a right to opinion but making threats and stuff -- that's just stupid," said Susan Harrington, a Nugent fan. "Sometimes the stars and singers -- famous people -- need to tether themselves a little bit better and know when to keep their mouths shut."
Fair organizers declined an interview today, saying they won't give one until next week because that's when Nugent will perform. Meanwhile, the campaign of Mitt Romney, whom Nugent endorsed, is distancing itself, saying, "Divisive language is offensive no matter what side of the political aisle it comes from."
Nugent also told KGUN9 News that he met with the Secret Service Thursday in a "good, solid, professional meeting concluding that I have never made any threats of violence towards anyone. The meeting could not have gone better."