Reggie Brown, the Obama impersonator whose set was cut short at the Republican Leadership Conference this past weekend, is pushing back against the idea that he was yanked off stage for making racial remarks about President Obama -- but he does acknowledge that his barbs at GOP presidential candidates may have struck a nerve with the conservative audience.
“I was told it was a time constraint,” Brown told CNN's Kyra Phillips on Monday. He says conference organizers told him that he had 15-20 minutes for his set and that he had run a few minutes over when his microphone was cut off mid-way through a joke about Michele Bachmann.
Was it a coincidence that he was escorted off the stage just as he was poking fun at a Republican presidential candidate, Phillips asked? “I was at the Republican Leadership Conference, and I was just entering my set where I was starting to have some fun with the Republican candidates,” Brown replied. “I do believe that I was over my time by a few minutes, and I also believe that the material was starting to get to a point to where maybe they started to feel uncomfortable with where it was going.”
RLC President and CEO Charlie Davis told CNN that the performance had gone too far and was getting inappropriate. "Had I been in the room I would have pulled him sooner. We have zero tolerance for racially insensitive jokes. As soon as I realized what was going on I rushed backstage and had him pulled," Davis said.
Brown said that organizers should have been aware of the material he planned to use, since much of it had been done before at other events. “Whenever we work with a client we always forward them our website, so a lot of the material that I did do at the Leadership Conference had been done time and time again in front of all different types of audiences -- Democrat, Republican, Tea Party, all ends of the political spectrum. We may have added two or three jokes, but all was pretty standard from my set.”
Brown disputed that the racial jokes played in part in his set being cut short.
“I didn't hear any boos on any of the racial jokes,” Brown said. “The president, like myself, shares a mixed background. My mother's white, my father's black, and I feel very safe delivering content like that. And the president himself has poked fun at his heritage.”
“I wouldn't touch anything that I don't think the president would feel comfortable with or hasn't done himself," Brown said. "He's someone that I respect, and I want to make him happy, and I want him to appreciate what I'm doing.”