March 21, 2009 in Nation/World

Obama creates stir with Special Olympics remark

Rob Hotakainen McClatchy
 

WASHINGTON – It seemed like a harmless remark.

In an appearance Thursday night on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” President Barack Obama made a joke about his lackluster bowling skills by saying: “It was like Special Olympics or something.”

But the comment caused an immediate stir.

California Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he knew Obama meant nothing by it. “He loves Special Olympics, and he will do everything he can to help Special Olympics,” said Schwarzenegger, who considers the Special Olympics his favorite charity. “And every one of us sometimes makes a mistake. Something comes out of your mouth and you say, ‘Oops, I wish I wouldn’t have said that.’ I’ve had many of those.”

Earlier in the day, California first lady Maria Shriver – whose mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founded the Special Olympics movement in 1968 – said that while she was confident Obama didn’t intend to offend anyone, the remark “demonstrates the need to continue to educate the non-disabled community on the issues that confront those with a developmental disability.”

The White House called the comment “an offhand remark.”

“The president made an offhand remark making fun of his own bowling that was in no way intended to disparage the Special Olympics,” said White House spokesman Bill Burton.


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