Sheriff receives death threats after Obama joke

Posted: 03/20/13 at 10:15 pm EDT      Last Updated: 03/21/13 at 2:15 pm EDT

PLYMOUTH, Mass. (WHDH) -- A local sheriff is getting death threats after making controversial comments about President Barack Obama at a St. Patrick’s Day breakfast.

Plymouth County Sheriff Joe McDonald said his comments were supposed to be a joke, but some people are saying he went too far.

McDonald told a joke about President Obama meeting former President Abraham Lincoln during the Republican St. Patrick's Day breakfast in Scituate. The joke was made to a group of less than 100 people at a breakfast known for roasting political figures, jokes, one-liners and political satire.

"Obama is looking at Abraham Lincoln adoringly and he says, ‘Please share your wisdom with me. What can I do to make this country a better place? And Lincoln looks him in the eye and he says, ‘Go to the theatre,’” McDonald said, referring to when President Lincoln was assassinated in Ford’s Theatre.

McDonald said it’s an old joke told many times about many different presidents through the years.

“This was one of those unfortunate situations that some people took offense and as I said, for that I'm sorry -- I meant no harm, no offense, no harm to anybody physically or emotionally,” McDonald said.

McDonald said he won’t step down despite criticism and death threats from around the world.

“[I will not resign] absolutely not. This is America and I don't see any criminal intent here nor do I see any criminal conduct,” McDonald said.

As his comments went viral, McDonald received hate mail and death threats from as far away as Europe.

“Those death threats you know my family is very concerned about those and I don't blame them,” McDonald said.

He says he understands why people might be concerned, but he intended no harm.

“To the extent that those people who are unable for whatever reason to differentiate reality from political satire, if I've offended them I'm sorry about that but the joke was that -- it was joke,” said McDonald.

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