Brazilian President Bolsonaro catches heckler and tries to pick up the phone

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro briefly took on a heckler and tried to snatch his phone on Thursday, highlighting possible challenges for the sometimes short-tempered leader to stay disciplined during the election campaign.

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

Bolsonaro first got into his car, but then reappeared and grabbed the man’s shirt and forearm as he reached for his phone. The security guards took Leão away.

The presidential campaign that began on 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 reporter from the G1 news site posted a video of Leão’s comments and the ensuing altercation. “Don’t film this, don’t film this,” Bolsonaro told supporters as Leão was detained by presidential security. “It’s his right (to protest), but he was rude.”

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

“You can talk to me as much as you want,” Bolsonaro told Leão. The two talked for five minutes until the president decided to return to his car and leave. Bolsonaro has had previous confrontations, often with the press. In 2020, he told a reporter, “I want to punch you in the mouth” and once suggested he would like to shoot rival Workers’ Party supporters.

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