Busted: Two statues amount to one Churchill bust of a controversy
July 27th, 2012
04:36 PM ET
2 years ago

Busted: Two statues amount to one Churchill bust of a controversy

(CNN) – A bronze bust of Winston Churchill is becoming hotly contested in Washington. Well, actually, make that two of them.

A bust of the former British Prime Minister was lent by the British government to the White House in 2001 and displayed in the Oval Office. Conservatives, pointing to reports from British and American news outlets, blasted President Barack Obama for allegedly returning the statue after becoming president in 2009.

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White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer blasted back Friday, saying the statue remains in the White House, but has moved positions to a hallway outside the Treaty Room, in the president's residence.

In a blog post on the White House's website, Pfeiffer included an official White House photo of Obama viewing the bust with British Prime Minister David Cameron during a visit in 2010.

"Hopefully this clears things up a bit and prevents folks from making this ridiculous claim again," Pfeiffer wrote.

But late Friday, British Embassy Spokesman James Barbour said there were actually two busts of Churchill, both by artist Sir Jacob Epstein.

The one that was loaned to the George W. Bush administration in 2001 was returned after Bush left office and now resides at the British ambassador's residence in Washington.

A second bust, which is part of the White House's own art collection, is displayed in the White House. It is that bust which Obama is pictured looking at with Cameron in 2010.

On Thursday, the bust was referred to on the campaign trail during remarks Mitt Romney made in London.

"I'm looking forward to the bust of Winston Churchill being in the Oval Office again," Romney told a crowd of supporters at the Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge. Romney did not say or suggest the bust had ever left the White House.

It wasn't the first time the candidate made that vow.

"One of my heroes was a man who had an extraordinary turn of phrase," Romney said at a CNN sponsored presidential debate in September. "He once said about us, he said, you know, you can count on the Americans to get things right after they've exhausted all the alternatives. And now and then we've made a couple of mistakes. We're quite a nation. And this man, Winston Churchill, used to have his bust in the Oval Office. And if I'm president of the United States, it'll be there again."

UPDATE: Late Friday afternoon, Pfeiffer updated his blog post to explain the two busts and said the idea "that President Obama returned the Churchill bust or refused to display the bust because of antipathy towards the British is completely false and an urban legend that continues to circulate to this day."

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Filed under: White House
soundoff (96 Responses)
  1. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Mittens is running on "Representation with out paying his Taxation."

    July 27, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    "Did you miss the entire November 2010 thing?"

    Says the guy who supports the people who "missed the entire November 2008 thing" and then 2 months later declared that their top priority was to make the elected POTUS, who spanked them in November 2008, a one-termer by obstructing everything and manufacturing problems at every turn.

    Methinks youhave no right to play the electoral mandate card...EVER.

    July 27, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  3. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    The way Mittens' campaign is going, you would think Rove would try to talk Gov. Perry into getting back in the race.

    July 27, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  4. Thomas

    @Jack Bissette
    Actually the bust that Romney was talking about... was removed and given back to the British embassy. It was considered quite the slap in the face and relation's were cold for awhile.

    Please !

    July 27, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  5. n

    The flip flop campagne of Mitt the twit Romney . . . Look, now he's trying to throw Obama out in front of his London England skew up using that old out dated story about Church Hill bust and the White House. Mitt is a Twitt and who wants a weak twit of a weasel in the white house representing America? I know I don't

    July 27, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  6. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The Romneys have already told "YOU PEOPLE" they aren't giving "YOU PEOPLE" anymore of their tax returns. I may not be a Mormon and I may not be rich like they are but I am an American and don't take too kindly as being referred to as "YOU PEOPLE".

    July 27, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  7. Save the Rich, Vote GOP

    Am I missing something. Is this important? Should we give a damn where the busts are? Please help me figure this out.

    July 27, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  8. rrd

    drake mallard

    From Draft Dodging to War Mongering Mitt Romney is George W. Bush

    Mitt Romney was in favour of the war in Vietnam, but was too chicken to fight in it
    -----------------------------

    Talk about chicken, Obama didn't even enlist during peacetime.

    July 27, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  9. Woman In California

    @ Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Now, now Claudia, Raggedy Ann was just having a bad day there. After all, she had to dress down and come out and speak to "us" and this was just such "hard work."

    July 27, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  10. Gordon Clarke

    Winston Churchill was one of the greatest men of the 20th century. Soldier,author,journalist,parliamentarian and of course the greatest war time leader of the English speaking peoples.

    Barrack Obama is not fit to rinse out Churchill's underwear or wash his socks in the sink.

    July 27, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  11. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Let's compare the history of the two grandfathers of Obama and Mittens. Obama's grandfather served with Patton in world war two, and Mittens grandfather gave up his citizenship to move to Mexico where he redefined marriage as a sacred institution between one man and 5 women.

    July 27, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "Am I missing something. Is this important? Should we give a damn where the busts are? Please help me figure this out.'

    Busts are shiny. You are supposed to be distracted. Quick...look over there! Squirrel!!!!

    July 27, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    So, essentially, Mittens thinks it's fantastic that Churchill once said that Americans are so predictably stupid that we always try every single wrong option available before landing on the right one? Who's making "apologies" to other countries now?

    July 27, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  14. Larry L

    @Gordon Clarke

    Winston Churchill was one of the greatest men of the 20th century. Soldier,author,journalist,parliamentarian and of course the greatest war time leader of the English speaking peoples.

    Barrack Obama is not fit to rinse out Churchill's underwear or wash his socks in the sink.
    ---------------------------------------------------–
    It's another Fox News conspiracy and your response another mindless comment from a person gullible enough to believe their ridiculous lies.

    July 27, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  15. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Whenever Mittens talks about busts, it deflects the attention from his failure to release his tax records.

    July 27, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  16. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    According to Mittens, busts are people too, just the right height, and many of them have been fired.

    July 27, 2012 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  17. Ohio Registered Independant

    The more I see of this embarrassing clown, the happier I am with my decision to vote for Obama – and I voted for McCain in 2008. If Romney is elected, we will have a president with the morals of Nixon and the brains of George W. Bush.

    July 27, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  18. Bud hanson

    Musn't insult Romney,you'll get the Wolf demanding an apology

    July 27, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  19. Larry L

    Conservatives do know we're not talking about Churchill's "breasts" right? It's "busts" – not "breasts"... We would never have a bust of his breasts in the White House. That would be disrespectful and very unattractive. You can't be too careful when dealing with that group.

    July 27, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  20. mj

    Read Obama's book. He has a real problem with Churchill. May be why he kept talking during the dinner with the Queen while they played "Hail to the Queen".

    July 27, 2012 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  21. 9hydra

    Why do we need to have both of them? Cant they have one statue and us have one statue? The stuff that they make into news is ridiculous.

    July 27, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  22. 9hydra

    Why do we have to have both of them? Can't we keep one statue and let them keep one? Romney is so weird.

    July 27, 2012 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  23. 1twinsfan

    Let's hope Mitt doesn't learn that Obama also switched from Northern to Ultra Charmin.

    July 27, 2012 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  24. lmch

    The posts here are amazing really. Obama did give back the bust of Winston Chruchill which caused quite a stir at the time. Now they are lying by saying this never occurred. Libs on this site just can't handle reality. Obama is a disgrace and a liar but keep shilling for him, it only makes him look worse!

    July 27, 2012 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  25. g

    one has a hard head,one has a empty head –guess which one

    July 27, 2012 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
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