Tea Party activist Randy Dye pulled out a plastic representation of President Obama's head and poured water over it. He then kicked it.
"That's a mask I bought at a Halloween shop," he explained to ABC11. "Basically, I was just telling the public that I think he's all wet."
The rally happened on April 16 - Tax Day - and Dye said he was demonstrating against the recent federal budget compromise to fund the rest of this fiscal year.
"Barack Obama used the military family's paychecks as blackmail during the so-called budget compromise," said Dye. "Some things in life are just too stupid to tolerate and Obama is one of them."
"When he claimed that if the budget was shut down, that our military wouldn't be paid, I have two sons in the military - that was so unpresidential I couldn't believe that he did that," Dye continued.
But many can't believe Dye did what he did.
"This is just not the kind of thing that has a place if you want to be taken seriously," Chris Fitzsimon with NC Policy Watch offered.
And for some, it cuts even deeper.
"It's racism, it's unadulterated racism," said Cornell Adams.
Adams - who as a Raleigh civil rights leader in the 1960s - says regardless of the context of Dye's speech, the image still hurts.
"There's nothing in there that's positive. It's all negative," he offered.
But Dye says it was all about policy and had nothing to do with race.
"I don't care if the president was white or purple. If he was any president, I would have did that. I would have done the exact same thing," he said.
Former FBI agent Frank Perry says it's well within Dye's First Amendment rights to do what he did - even kicking the head - and saying President Obama shouldn't be "tolerated."
But Perry says it could mean a visit from the Secret Service.
"The Secret Service could see it as at least justifying a contact and an interview," he said.
Dye says he hasn't been contacted by the Secret Service but does stand by his actions. And while some at the rally applauded what he did, others did not. The rally's organizer later said it was inappropriate.