Some NASCAR fans took the introduction of first lady Michelle Obama and second lady Jill Biden to start the final race of the season Sunday as their own signal to start their booing.
Obama and Biden appeared as grand marshals at the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida in their roles as co-chairs of the Joining Forces initiative to support military veterans and their families. Although most of the crowd cheered at their introduction with the other honorary grand marshals, retired Army Sgt. Andrew Barry and his family, an ESPN video documents a smattering of boos.
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Barry, who was wounded in action in Iraq and Afghanistan, retired from the military in 2009 and now volunteers at an Orlando, Fla., veterans center. He received resounding applause, before the booers voiced their political statement after Obama and Biden were introduced to deliver the “most famous words in motorsports . . . start your engines.”
An individual traveling with the first lady downplayed the episode, telling ABC News
that any booing was not discernible during the “loud chaotic program with jets flying over and tons of noise.”
In addition, The Associated Press reported that the drivers gave Obama and Biden a standing ovation during the pre-race meeting, at which Obama said NASCAR was “amazing in terms of its support, not just today but every day, for military families.”
Also before the race, the first lady addressed a barbeque for military families attending at the invitation of NASCAR.
“Everyone around the country is focused on you,” she told the military personnel and their families. “And this isn’t just an effort today. Jill and I through Joining Forces, we want to make this a part of the dialogue in this country forever. Whether Jill or I are here or not, whether this administration is here or not, this is about the way we want this country to talk about our troops, veterans and military families forever. We want you to feel that appreciation and that gratitude so that you know your sacrifice is not in vain.”
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