Brazil’s Bolsonaro grabs at heckler, tries to take phone

Aug 18, 2022, 12:45 AM | Updated: 5:45 pm

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro attends a Holy Supper Service held by the Evangelical Parliament...

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro attends a Holy Supper Service held by the Evangelical Parliamentary Front at the headquarters of the Chamber of Deputies in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

(AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro briefly grappled with a heckler and tried to snatch his phone on Thursday, underscoring possible challenges for the sometimes quick-tempered leader to stay disciplined on the campaign trail.

As Bolsonaro spoke to supporters outside his residence in the capital city of Brasilia, social media influencer Wilker Leão used his phone to film himself repeatedly shouting at the president, calling him “coward,” “bum” and the “darling” of a pork-barrel faction in Congress.

Bolsonaro first entered his car, but then reemerged and grabbed the man’s shirt and forearm while reaching for his phone. Security guards pulled Leão away.

The presidential campaign that kicked off Tuesday is expected to be an uphill battle for Bolsonaro, who trails former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in all polls ahead of the Oct. 2 first round vote.

A journalist from news website G1 published a video of Leão’s comments and the subsequent altercation.

“Don’t film this, don’t film this,” Bolsonaro told his supporters as Leão was held by presidential security. “It is his right (to protest), but he was being impolite.”

Four minutes later, security allowed Leão to return to the scene and chat with Bolsonaro about politics. The two have spoken several times before, without incident.

“You can talk to me as much as you want,” Bolsonaro told Leão. The two spoke for five minutes until the president decided to go back to his car and leave.

Bolsonaro has had earlier confrontations, often with the press. In 2020, he told a journalist, “I want to punch you in the mouth” and once suggested he’d like to shoot supporters of the rival Workers’ Party.

Mario Sergio Lima, a senior Brazil analyst at Medley Advisors, said the incident will weigh against Bolsonaro at a moment he could start his campaign in a more positive tone to pick up support.

“It was a very bad sequence for the president in electoral terms. It shows a lack of restraint and it is likely to be used against him by his opponents’ campaigns,” Lima told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

Later Thursday during a visit to the city of Sao Jose dos Campos, Bolsonaro got upset with journalists during a news conference and with his security team trying to calm him down during the questioning.

The president did not address either of the incidents during his weekly live broadcast.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Image:The headquarters of Live Nation is shown June 29, 2020, in Beverly Hills, California. The Jus...

Associated Press

DOJ sues Ticketmaster owner, asks court to break up company’s event monopoly

The DOJ has accused Ticketmaster and parent company Live Nation Entertainment of running an illegal monopoly over live events in America.

6 hours ago

Image: Ambulances are seen at the airport where a London-Singapore flight that encountered severe t...

Associated Press

World news roundup: Man dies after turbulence; Iran funerals; Israel media law

A Singapore Airlines flight hit severe turbulence over the Indian Ocean and descended 6,000 feet in a span of about three minutes.

2 days ago

Image: Bruce Nordstrom, left, and Jeannie Nordstrom attend the Nordstrom NYC Flagship Opening Party...

Associated Press

Bruce Nordstrom, who helped grow family-led department store chain, dies at 90

Bruce Nordstrom, a retail executive who helped expand his family's Pacific Northwest chain into an upscale national brand, has died.

3 days ago

Image:Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the prime min...

Associated Press

World news roundup: Netanyahu arrest warrant; Assange can appeal; UK blood scandal

The International Criminal Court said it is seeking arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders, including Benjamin Netanyahu.

3 days ago

Image: In this photo released by the Iranian Presidency Office, President Ebrahim Raisi attends a m...

Associated Press

Iran president and others found dead at helicopter crash site, state media says

Iran President Ebrahim Raisi, the country’s foreign minister and others have been found dead at the site of a helicopter crash Monday.

4 days ago

Photo: Shawna Williams, owner of Free Range Cycles, poses outside her shop on May 6, 2024, in Seatt...

Mae Anderson, The Associated Press

Bike shops boomed early in the pandemic. It’s been a bumpy ride for most ever since

For the nation's bicycle shops, the past few years have probably felt like the business version of the Tour de France, with numerous twists and turns testing their endurance.

4 days ago

Brazil’s Bolsonaro grabs at heckler, tries to take phone