Presidential politics can be all fun and games; that is, until someone starts throwing punches.
As Republicans gathered for a GOP leadership conference on Mackinac Island, Mich., this weekend, a fight broke out at a local bar between a campaign official for Rand Paul and a staffer for rival presidential candidate Marco Rubio.
At one point in the evening, reports Chad Livengood of the Detroit News, John Patrick Yob, Rand Paul’s chief Michigan strategist and national political director, took a punch from Rich Beeson, Rubio’s deputy political director.
Rubio will not be at the conference, but staff and supporters will, including TV star Rick Harrison of the History Channel reality show “Pawn Stars.”
Beeson is a longtime political operative who served as a former national director for Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign.
Among the witnesses to the attack was Grand Haven-based blogger Brandon Hall; he posted about the fight at Horn’s Gaslight Bar, a popular Mackinac Island pub.
“As I was sitting at the bar talking to someone at Horn’s in Mackinac Island Thursday night, I witnessed (the man) suddenly, out of nowhere, approach one of Rand Paul’s advisers, John Yob — unprovoked — and try to hit him,” Hall noted on his blog, West Michigan Politics. “(He) missed a full on shot but still struck Yob’s in the face with a powerful blow near the jaw.”
Campaign officials were there to promote the Florida senator in the presidential straw poll at the conference.
Hall said that Beeson appeared drunk while he “wrangled” Republicans to vote for Rubio.
“It’s probably not a good idea to be a loud-mouth drunk about it, and go sucker punch John Yob,” Hall later told the News. “That’s probably not the best straw poll strategy.”
According to the event schedule, Jeb Bush will be keynote speaker Friday evening. Five more presidential candidates will speak on Saturday.
Police have not commented on the scuffle.
Here is a video of the incident from Zeke Miller of TIME Magazine:
Via Yob, here’s the video of the alleged punch pic.twitter.com/jsZIVqhstO
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) September 18, 2015
Yob also took to Facebook on the incident: