St. Louis (KSDK) -- The rodeo clown who gained national notoriety this summer for impersonating president Obama at the Missouri State Fair wants his job back.
Fair goers say the crowd cheered as other clowns played with the lips on an Obama mask. And the announcer asked repeatedly if they wanted to see the president run down by a bull.
Thomas "Tuffy the Clown" Gessling took responsibility for the stunt. He was banned from the Missouri State Fair for life, and received death threats and other backlash from the public at large.
Now, Gessling has started an online petition to get his job back.
In a lengthy post accompanying the petition, Gessling says he has been forced into hiding, and is unable to make a living. He also now claims that he was not even the clown wearing the Obama mask:
"To begin with, Tuffy the Clown was not even the person wearing the mask. Tuffy carried out another person dressed up to look like a dummy wearing an Obama mask into the middle of the arena. The person wearing the mask had never done the skit before and was nervous about being in the arena with the bull. Tuffy was on the microphone joking with the audience and was trying to calm the nerves of the mask-wearer (whose identity Tuffy will not reveal). At one point, the person behind the mask whispered to Tuffy that he couldn't see. So Tuffy continued to joke with the crowd while trying to adjust the mask. This action was misconstrued as Tuffy playing with the lips of the Obama mask which was interpreted as being racially insensitive and disrespectful towards the President."
The petition asks President Obama, Missouri Governor Nixon, and others, to reinstate "Tuffy the Clown" to professional rodeo. The petition has already collected more than 1,500 signatures.