March 20th, 2009
02:08 PM ET
5 years ago

Special Olympics asks Obama to consider hiring athlete

Timothy Shriver is chairman of the Special Olympics.
Timothy Shriver is chairman of the Special Olympics.

(CNN) - The Special Olympics organization is calling on President Obama to "consider" hiring one of their athletes to work in the White House, following the president's reference to the organization during his Thursday night appearance on The Tonight Show.

“In so doing, he could help end misperceptions about the talents and abilities of people with intellectual disabilities, and demonstrate their dignity and value to the world," Timothy Shriver, the chairman of the Special Olympics, said in a statement released Friday morning.

iReport: What do you think about the president's comments?

Shriver also said the president was heartfelt in his apology, but added "words hurt and words matter."

"Words can cause pain and result in stereotypes that are unfair and damaging to people with intellectual disabilities,” Shriver said in the statement. “And using "Special Olympics" in a negative or derogatory context can be a humiliating put-down to people with special needs.”

Earlier: Obama apologizes for Special Olympics comment

Full Statement [PDF]


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (274 Responses)
  1. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    And who i perfect?

    March 20, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  2. Mel

    Oh man, chill out. Calm down. Stop it.

    March 20, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  3. Chad

    How many "honest" mistakes does this guy make? He can't even hire his own staff without making a mistake. I would really like to see our president work. The campaign is over!!

    March 20, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  4. Do The Limp, Obsequious, Crack-licking Rushpublicans Have A Boehner Over Limbaugh Yet?

    I thought we had one of their athletes in the White House already: His name was George W. Bush!

    March 20, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  5. Millie Bea

    People are too sensitive. This was not a dig against the handicapped or Special Olympics. CNN by fostering this is again proving that they are rapidly drifting away from real news and becoming tabloidists- which makes this kind of thing take on a life of it's own and it gives voice to people who only want to be controversial to see how much attention it gets them. Shame on CNN and any "responsible" news organization for having aything to do with this.

    March 20, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  6. beevee

    Mr. Shriver should move on. The president has already apologized for his slip of the tongue remarks about the Special olympics. Knowng him (not personally) I think he did not make that statement in a derogatory way. The best thing to do is not to let the media keep stretching this again and again.

    March 20, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  7. Han

    Typical of the "gotcha" mentality of the press that this is the main focus. The President said a lot of very important things about the economy in a forum that reaches out to people who often don't follow the news shows. But as usual that is all overlooked in favor of controversy and sensationalism. Too bad.

    March 20, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  8. Me

    Drip, drip , drip, drip, drip..........

    March 20, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  9. Commonsense

    Move on.....nothing to see hear!!!!!!

    March 20, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  10. Biff

    Trent Lott had to step down as speaker of the house after trying to make an old guy feel good at a private party. I don't think Trent Lott really meant we need more segregationist in the world but he had to step down anyway. Why the double standard?

    March 20, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  11. Deb from Oklahoma

    Should stay in Washington and WORK instead of running around the country and yucking it up on late night talk shows. Didn't McCain try to get BO to attend town hall meetings during the campaign?

    Why doesn't the Administration and Congress cut their pay to set the tone at the top for excess in this country.

    GET THE MESSAGE: A LOT OF AMERICANS ARE HURTING!!!!!!!!

    March 20, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  12. krcourt

    Hmmm...what a surprise that this blog determines this topic to be "newsworthy". Isn't this the same blog that determined the Obama's NCAA picks constituted news as well? I definitely feel more comfortable about this "new media".

    And why am I not surprised that THIS is the one thing that was determined to be "critical" to the interview from the president.

    Major newspapers are failing everyday, and it's good to know you folks are picking up the slack.

    As always, well done CNN.

    March 20, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  13. Freed_From_W

    “In so doing, he could help end misperceptions about the talents and abilities of people with intellectual disabilities, and demonstrate their dignity and value to the world,"

    Hi. Remember Bush? Yeah... see, we tried that already....

    Btw, "Misperceptions" – not a word.

    March 20, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  14. susanj

    How about Bush or Cheney – or better yet Palin!

    March 20, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  15. The Last Patriot

    Wow, and the shakedown begins. Yes I am sure we need a special olympics czar to join the white house staff. In fact, I think we need a new federal department to cater specifically towards the needs of special olympics participants. Lets pay the czar $200k per year plus lavish bonuses, and of course pay for a staff of 20.

    I get a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling about my tax dollars going to such a program.

    March 20, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  16. Bush League

    I am very, very disappointed in the President.

    March 20, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  17. Carol

    Oh for crissakes, so what. He didn't say he hates special ed kids. It was a joke. It didn't mean anything.

    March 20, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  18. Mickie

    Oh please – now he has to hire someone every time he has a slip of the tongue. I don't remember getting a job when offered to me to make up for all the snide comments made to me when I grew up, nor did most of the impoverished in this Country. The physically challenged are not the only disabled in this Country and many others don't have an organization to stick up for them. Expecting him to offer a job at the White House in exchange is like extortion. I wish people would have done this for all of the other politicians. Not to mention you haven't even indicated what qualifications they have to fill the position your pandering for.

    March 20, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  19. Sam

    This is why a President should not do late night comedy. It demeans the office of the Presidency, and it creates the perfect opporunity for the President to say something stupid. Obama should stop with the campaign mentality and realize that he has a very difficult job facing him for the next 4 years. And let's pray that it's only 4 years and then we can elect a real President.

    March 20, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  20. Paul

    Let's put this into perspective, people:

    Obama said one stupid thing.

    Let's look at how many stupid things Bush said over the last 8 years.

    It just doesn't compare. Get off Obama's back. He said he was sorry. Get over it!

    March 20, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  21. Y

    This is what happens when Obama is off his usually present teleprompter, a disaster in which Obama shows his true colors. Obama is not a nice man. Wake up America!

    March 20, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  22. barking dogs

    We just had eight years of special needs people running the White House,enough is enough.

    March 20, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  23. lil

    Words do hurt if used in the wrong way, I dont think that the president
    met what he said to hurt because I am sure most of your Special Olympic kids have a much better bowling game than he does. Even my 6 year old granddaughter does.

    March 20, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  24. Other Jean

    I support President Obama, and I don't like seeing people jump all over other people's mistakes. We all make them, and we know that some of this quick criticism is for entertainment and some is for political manipulation. But I'm getting worried about the number of distractions. Please, just govern.

    March 20, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  25. Nelson Colorado Springs Co.

    This got to a BIG JOKE!!!!!!! What for, there isn't a misperceptions about the talents and abilities of people with intellectual disabilities, and demonstrate their dignity and value to the world. Get over it

    March 20, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
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