Video footage of Clinton’s Aug. 8 speech provided by local NBC affiliate WPTV showed Omar Mateen’s father, Seddique Mateen, among the spectators at the rally in Kissimmee, which is located roughly 20 miles from Pulse. Wearing a bright red baseball cap, the elder Mateen didn’t appear fazed when Clinton referenced the June 12 shooting in her speech, a clip of which can be viewed above.
“I know how many people ― family members, loved ones and friends ― are still grieving, and I want them to know that we will be with you,” the Democratic presidential nominee told the crowd. “We can’t ever let that kind of hatred and violence break the spirit, break the soul of any place in America.”
In an interview with WPTV, Mateen shrugged off the suggestion that many people would be surprised by his presence at the event.
“It’s a Democratic party, so everyone can join. I love the United States, and I’ve been living here a long time,” he told the news station, and made no secret of his support of the Democratic nominee. “Hillary Clinton is good for United States versus Donald Trump, who has no solutions.”
It’s unclear as to what impact, if any, Mateen’s appearance at the event will have. A day after the Orlando shooting, he made headlines after claiming that his son shouldn’t have targeted the LGBT community at Pulse because “God himself will punish” them, The Washington Post reported.
Not surprisingly, the Clinton campaign quickly downplayed Mateen’s presence, and told The New York Times in an email statement that the rally was “a 3,000-person, open-door event” that anyone could attend.
“This individual wasn’t invited as a guest and the campaign was unaware of his attendance until after the event,” the statement read.