Reporter William March has covered state and national politics since 1994. Email
Reporter Mike Salinero has covered Hillsborough County government since 2007. Email
Reporter James L. Rosica covers state government from the Tribune's Tallahassee bureau. Email
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Secret Service Discounts Any Threat In “Kill Him” Shout
Posted Oct 11, 2008 by William March
Updated Oct 11, 2008 at 04:18 PM
A caller to the Tribune has confirmed hearing a shout of “Kill him” from a crowd member at a Sarah Palin rally in Clearwater on Monday, but the U.S. Secret Service says it has not found any indication that a threat toward Barack Obama was intended.
After a Tampa Tribune story on the incident in Friday’s paper, several attendees from the rally called the Tribune to describe what they knew about it.
One woman who was standing near the traveling press gallery, the location of the reporter who wrote about the incident, said she heard the shout of “Kill him” from a man close to her, but that it appeared to refer to William Ayers, not Obama.
At the time of the incident, Palin was criticizing Obama for his relationship with Ayers, a former anti-Vietnam War radical who’s now a neighbor and political supporter of Obama.
The caller who confirmed the shout left a name but no phone number in two voice-mail messages to the Tribune, and couldn’t be located for further comment.
Two other callers, who said they were standing in a part of the crowd away from the apparent location of the incident, said they heard a man near them shout, “Tell ‘em,” which could have been mistaken for “Kill him,” at the time of the incident.
The shout isn’t audible on television recordings of the event, which use a sound system connected to the speaker’s microphone and pick up little of the crowd sound. The local press gallery was located some distance away from the traveling press and the apparent site of the incident.
Reporter Dana Milbank of The Washington Post, who was in the traveling press gallery, reported the incident in a story Oct. 7. In interviews following his story, he said the shout could have been a reference to Ayers, not Obama.
In his story, Milbank also said crowd members near his location taunted reporters as they arrived, “hurled obscenities at a camera crew,” and that one person shouted a racial epithet, “Sit down, boy,” at a black broadcast crew member.
The rally attendee near Milbank’s location said in her voice-mail messages that there were back-and-forth comments between the crowd and the reporters, but denied that obscenities or the word “boy” were used.