When discussing the lingering “birther” controversy, Obama remarked: “We’re not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers.”

Many in the carnival community were not amused by the mention of their industry.

“I am extremely upset by the reference,” said Frank Zaitshik, who runs Wade Shows, a carnival business with over 100 amusement rides and attractions that entertains over 15 million people each year.

Zaitshik, a second generation carnival worker — a term he prefers to the word “carny,” which is used as a pejorative — has spent much of his life battling negative stereotypes about his industry.

“I think what Obama said is the same type of stereotype that has been placed on African Americans.” Zaitshik said. “You wouldn’t expect those comments from someone who is a minority and has faced prejudice.”