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

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (Silvia Izquierdo/AP)
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (Silvia Izquierdo/AP)

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro briefly grappled with a heckler and tried to snatch his phone.

The incident underscores the possible challenges for the sometimes quick-tempered leader to stay disciplined on the campaign trail.

As Mr Bolsonaro spoke to supporters outside his residence in the capital city of Brasilia, social media influencer Wilker Leao 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.

Mr Bolsonaro first entered his car, but then re-emerged and grabbed the man’s shirt and forearm while reaching for his phone.

Security guards pulled Mr Leao away.

Brazil Elections
Brazil’s former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (Andre Penner/AP)

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

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

“Don’t film this, don’t film this,” Mr Bolsonaro told his supporters as Mr Leao was held by presidential security.

“It is his right (to protest), but he was being impolite.”

Four minutes later, security allowed Mr Leao to return to the scene and chat with Mr Bolsonaro about politics.

The two have spoken several times before, without incident.

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

Mr 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 would like to shoot supporters of the rival Workers’ Party.