Kari Lake Kicked Out of Town Hall Audience Ahead of Katie Hobbs Appearance

by J Pelkey
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Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate, Kari Lake, was kicked out of the audience at her own race’s town hall event, during which her Democratic opponent, Katie Hobbs, refused to take the stage with Lake present. After a brief confrontation between Lake, who requested to take the stage alongside her rival, and the event’s moderator, the gubernatorial hopeful was forced to leave the auditorium before the forum began.  

Hobbs, who has repeatedly refused to debate Trump-endorsed Lake, was set to take the stage at the pre-recorded town hall on Monday at Phoenix’s Herberger Theater Center when event organizers told the Republican to leave the room, reported NBC.

Under the agreed upon rules for the taped event, which aired at 7 pm Saturday Arizona time, audience members were prohibited from taking video, and the candidates were reportedly not supposed to be onstage at the same time. However, just before Hobbs was supposed to walk out onto the stage to address potential voters, trouble arose when Lake was spotted sitting in the front row of the audience instead of in her allocated green room.

According to eyewitness accounts, event moderator León Krauze, a Univision News anchor, invited Hobbs to the stage, but she did not come out.

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Krauze was then seen putting his finger to his earpiece that was connected to the control room, then told Lake to leave the room.

As a crowd of over 200 people watched, event organizers confronted Lake, telling her to go to her separate room as she protested and said that Hobbs should come out and debate her. 

As seen in a video recorded against the rules that was obtained by NBC, Lake pleaded her case with Krauze, as well as event producer Mary Rabago, to no avail.

​​”I would love to be on the same stage actually. Is that possible?” Lake asked.

Krauze replied: “I know it would [be something you would want to do]. And I’m going to ask [Hobbs] about that. Trust me.”

Lake then told Krauze that she wanted “a real debate,” to which he repeated that he would ask Hobbs about it.

Eventually, Lake left the premises after being asked to do so by the event’s organizers.

More from NBC:

“Kari Lake brought along a Mexican telenovela star and she brought the drama. It was like a telenovela,” said Joe Garcia, an independent voter and the executive director of voter outreach for the group Chicanos Por La Causa Action Fund, which was a co-sponsor of the event along with the state and national Hispanic Chambers of Commerce.

Garcia’s description of the scene matched the account of five eyewitnesses — including representatives from both campaigns — as well as video provided by Lake’s campaign that showed the Republican pleading her case with moderator León Krauze, a Univision News anchor, and event producer Mary Rabago.

Garcia believes Lake’s actions were a stunt designed to rattle Hobbs, which he said appeared to work, because the Democrat gave an uneven performance in his view.

Of Lake, Garcia said: “She rattled her opponent. She was big, brash, and very larger than life, Trump-esque. Anyone who thinks she was there to follow all the rules doesn’t know Kari Lake.”

The scene was emblematic of the contrasting styles of Lake and Hobbs: Lake is a former local TV anchor, while Hobbs is the elected secretary of state in Arizona, one of the nation’s most competitive swing states. One observer of the town hall described the race as a clash between “an NPR Democrat and a Trump Republican.”

Hobbs’ campaign said in September that debates were a no-go, pointing to Lake’s penchant for causing “chaos” and her embrace of false conspiracy theories of a stolen election. Lake has repeatedly called Hobbs a “coward” for her refusal to share the debate stage and points out that Hobbs also refused to debate Democratic primary rivals.

Reached for comment about the incident, both campaigns issued statements to NBC News about the forum that echoed their candidates’ talking points about one another, with Lake questioning Hobbs’ courage and Hobbs denouncing Lake for causing chaos.

TV viewers won’t be able to see the spectacle that unfolded at Monday’s forum. It was pre-recorded to give Univision time to translate the event into Spanish before it airs Saturday night.

The English-language version is scheduled to be webcast online by Univision, which forbade audience members from recording the event on video.

But Verástegui uploaded video to social media of the pre-event back-and-forth between Lake, Krauze and Rabago, according to two sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter on the record.

The video was subsequently deleted from social media.

Perhaps Hobbs should have stayed in her green room, though, because once she took the stage, things quickly went downhill.


Watch Hobbs bomb:

Hobbs has steadfastly refused to debate Lake, going so far as to ensure they are never in the same room. Unfortunately, many of the organizations hosting these events have given in to her demands, something they would never do if it a Republican were making them. Regardless, if you were wondering why Hobbs won’t get near Lake, that clip provides the answer in stunning color. She’s a terrible politician, a textbook Karen, and so obviously not ready for primetime.

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