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

Special Olympics asks Obama to consider hiring athlete

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Dalton Fury

    He had the questions before he went on air, and he had his answers and 4 jokes prepared and memorized. He certainly meant something by it, or he is too stupid to realize that the joke might not be funny to all. When you have the answers ahead of time, such a mistake is hard to defend.

    March 20, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  2. Nick

    Why is the president on Jay Leno in the first place? Time for campaigning is over. You have a job to do now. And you arent doing it very well.

    I agree lets stop spending so much time talking about the special olympics joke. Lets talk about important things, like the trade war Obama and his Congress just started with Mexico.

    March 20, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  3. The Truth

    Just another example of a DOUBLE STANDARD in my opinion. If the President can get away with it, then I guess anyone can now? So unfortunate.

    March 20, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  4. Hank Guess

    Police Officers all over the world help to raise funds and awarness for Special Olympics. President OBama made an off the cuff comment and I really don't think he had any intent to harm or insult Special Olympics Athletes with intellectual disabilities. As soon as he recongnized his mistake he aplogized and took responsibility for his comment. The President has raised awarness for Special Olympics and I would invite him to come join us during our annual Torch Run to raise funds for Special Olympics North Carolina! Lt. Hank Guess Retired Hickory Police Department.

    March 20, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  5. Brad

    I was not offended by President Obama's comments, however, I do think that he should not have said it. He shouldn't be so careless with his remarks.

    March 20, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  6. Steve

    I love watching liberals bicker amongst themselves. They want to support their messiah, but want to squash free speech at the same time.

    March 20, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  7. podiboq

    He needs to make amends. I'd like to see him interact with special needs kids on a regular basis. It will actually help him to see people strive, and will put a lot of other complaints in perspective.

    March 20, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  8. Cary

    Looks like a ton of desperate Republicans searching for any little hair or accidental word out of place to harp on. If their party's existence is so shaky and has nothing to offer, wouldn't it be a better idea to do something constructive about it?

    March 20, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  9. yvonne

    CNN and Obama flaggers .... where the hell were you when Bush sat in a helicopter over Louisiana and watched people died, floated in water and became maimed and disabled during the hurricane? I'm sure you weren't this outrage or was ready to cut off his head and demonize him .... imagine that! I think I have a pretty good idea who you folks are bashing Mr. Obama!

    March 20, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  10. pat

    Get over it – it was a self depreciating joke. He has more than apologived, and used the opportunity to promote the disabled.

    The media needs to give a rest. For that matter, give a lot of things a rest. Stop trying to whip the country into a frenzy at every turn. Lets focus our energy on rebuilding our economy and creating opportunity for all.

    March 20, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  11. Outsider

    Timothy Shriver, the chairman of the Special Olympics,

    You are not qualified for a job in Obama's White House. You cannot face truth. You might be a good fit with Bush and Cheney

    March 20, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  12. Steve from TN

    All ABC league bowlers are familiar with how each "handicap" is determined. Take your 3 game average in league play, subtract it from 200, and take 70% of that number and you have your handicap. I doubt Pres. Obama knew that , but now he may. Sometimes we are just a little bit too thin skinned for our own good.

    March 20, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  13. rob m

    When a person bowls under 70 on the campaign trail, and has now improved to an olympic level of play....

    Possibly It is we who perceive special olympics as less than an improvment.

    60 points in sixty days...lets see if our economy improves as well as his bowling.

    March 20, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  14. Dr. Mclure

    If this was George Bush, he would of been impeached....this was a huge gaffe on Obama's part.
    Maybe he should stop trying to be some kind of celebrity and worry about the enemies (Russia, Iran, Cuba, China, terrorist groups) that are arming and plotting against us.

    March 20, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  15. Eric T

    The media and pundits focusing on this and beating it to death greatly distracts from the global economic and financial crisis and diverts needed attention and scrutiny of the sharks of the banking and Wall Street and organizations like AIG that help to create this mess. I hope the silly games of the past election are not repeated. It is like Nero fiddling as Rome burned. Wake up and focus on the crisis and what needs to be done and hold those accountable and stop the BS!!!

    Is John Stewart the only one that understands the fear and outrage people are feeling as they have, or are fearful, of losing everything?

    March 20, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  16. Proud Army Vet

    Matthew in Detroit are you related too Perez Hilton?

    Because you whine, complain and stir up more gossip

    than a prepubescent school girl! Do you think you can

    do a better job than President Obama? It's easy for you

    too sit behind your moms computer and play mentally

    challenged coward. President Obama probably looses

    more brain cells drinking a beer than you will have in a life time!

    Tuck your tail and show some respect for our Commander and Chief.

    March 20, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  17. david Armendale, SF, CA

    A miscalculated slip of the tongue.

    Something that no doubt never happens in the GOP.

    March 20, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  18. CNN Watchdog

    If George Bush had said this CNN would have pre-empted it's line-up for a series of one our specials on his lack of sensitivity

    March 20, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  19. Max Batten

    The president should be a PRESIDENT not an entertainer. Bad move...poor counsel.

    March 20, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  20. J.P.

    "This is a simple gaffe, people get over yourselves.", imagine Bush said it.

    March 20, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  21. Bill Case

    Lighten up. I have known disabled people throughout my life. They are quite capable of either defending themselves and taking Obama's remarks as he meant them. I think there is a light hearted opportunity here for the Special Olympics Committee. A bowling score of 129 is nothing to brag about. (It was meant as a self-deprecating remark anyways.) If I were head of the Special Olympics Committee I would find the best disabled bowler I could and then challenge the President to a match.

    Milk the gaff for all its worth - and have a little fun with it.

    March 20, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  22. Editor -

    I think the larger issue, is why is The President Of The United States making a talk show appearance in the first place. He has already scheduled a one hour address in prime time on all the network channels on the 24th. Considering the small audience watching late night television, he had much more to loose than he had to gain and the public reaction to his attempt to be funny on The Tonight Show is proof of that. The President needs to rethink his use of the media and contain his TV appearances to times and events that are more Presidential.

    March 20, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  23. muhamed

    i think his remark was disgusting and along with is inability to be a president, we should consider impeachment.

    March 20, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  24. Antonio

    I like the job that President Obama is doing. But what I don't like is all of that money that the federal government is given to the bank industry, the notion that is to big to fail is just outrages, very soon the United States is going to be on the position that is to big to fail and I'm going to see who is going to bail us out, we are heading toward disaster and nobody is paying attention just because they are to occupy with giving up or I should say rewarding the CEO and the bank industry.

    March 20, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
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