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Obama Apologizes for Special Olympics Remark on Leno

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President Barack Obama called Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver last night to apologize for a tasteless remark he made on yesterday’s Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show” concerning the Special Olympics even before the program aired, reported Jonathan Martin of Politico today.

“He expressed his disappointment and he apologized, in a way that was very moving,” Shriver said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “It’s important to see that words hurt, and words do matter. And these words that in some respect can be seen as humiliating or a put-down of people with special needs do cause pain, and they do result in stereotypes.”

Obama told Shriver he wants to have some Special Olympics competitors over to the White House for basketball or bowling.

Shriver is the son of Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver, President Kennedy’s sister.

The president had been making an attempt at self-deprecating humor in his appearance on Jay Leno’s show by saying that a recent 129 he scored in the White House bowling alley had been “like Special Olympics, or something.”

He and his staff quickly recognized the mistake and moved to limit the damage.

While Obama called Shriver, White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton told reporters flying back to Washington with Obama on Air Force One that the president had “made an offhand remark making fun of his own bowling that was in no way intended to disparage the Special Olympics.”

“He thinks that the Special Olympics are a wonderful program that gives an opportunity to shine to people with disabilities from around the world,” Burton said.

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Written by newscycle

March 20, 2009 at 4:33 pm

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