(KMOV) -- The Missouri Rodeo clown at the center of the President Obama mask controversy has spoken publicly for the first time.
Tuffy Gessling said he decided to speak out because of the hateful response and death threats he’s received.
The controversy erupted when Gessling wore a mask of Obama and asked the spectators if they wanted to see “Obama run down by a bull” during the fair on August 10. Many in the audience responded enthusiastically, but the act at the fair in Sedalia was criticized by both Democratic and Republican officials in Missouri as disrespectful of Obama.
A couple days later Gessling was permanently barred from ever performing at the fair again.
On Sunday, Gessling said he never meant to offend Obama or African-Americans.
“I didn’t think anything more of it than what we’ve done 15 years ago, 10 years ago, five years ago, when we’ve done it with Bush, Clinton and Ronald Reagan,” said Gessling.
Gessling says along with the threats he has received a lot of support. He says if he were ever to meet President Obama, he’d be honored to shake his hand.
You can see all of Gessling's comments on the controversy by clicking on the video above.