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. Viv

    what? so everyone that has been "offended" by president Obama should be able to work in the white house. PLEASE! He has apologized and that should be it.

    March 20, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  2. Teri

    I think it is all the media and how they make something out of nothing. Please to all the media do your job and leave the gossip to the tabloids.

    March 20, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  3. Donna | California

    "I would suggest that you put these special needs applicants through the same rigorous vetting process everybody else had to go through."

    Absolutely. And while we are at it, did anyone look at Gates and the others before keeping them on?

    March 20, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  4. anita

    Lighten up. He meant that he had a handicap. George W. Bush couldn't put a sentence together. I'm really tired of people be hyper-sensative. It was apparent that the President didn't mean any harm.

    March 20, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  5. LEO

    I would bet that every negative comment made was made by a person who voted for John McCain.

    March 20, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  6. Wally

    Good thing Don Imus didn't make the comment...

    March 20, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  7. true daughter of the american revolution

    as the grandmother of a child with autism, i interpreted it was as a SELF-DEPRECIATING remark, and kind of funny.
    he is a pretty funny bowler after all.
    yeah, he might have chosen different words. I use "physically challenged" referring to myself sometimes, when I make a silly movement or can't get the hammer on the nail quite right.
    So what!
    I highly doubt Obama was maligning the special needs people.
    you guys are just aching to pin something on this guy.
    mellow out!
    there are much more important things to spend our time on.

    March 20, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  8. Judy

    his gaffe is human...what is not right is that he should be working and not campaigning now....we like levity in this time of stress, but we all need a president who will work hard – in the oval office and not zooming around the country on Airforce One trying to enforce these spending sprees for no good end except to enslave us to government-and hyper-inflation in three years and on and on and on.

    March 20, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  9. Marcus

    Everytime Obama say are do anything the RNC, Fox news,and some white people have something to say. We have bigger problems than that.I have one more thing to say 8 years of Bush.

    March 20, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  10. lindylou123

    I thought Pres. Obama was just magnificent last night on Jay Leno. He gave me confidence and took away a lot of my fear about my beloved America! He was just what the doctor ordered. But, I knew when he made the joke about his bowling, that idiots would jump it today as if it was the most improtant thing he talked about. Give me a break...yes, maybe the joke was not the best, but everything else he said was priceless. It is the fear, and yes Cheney the criminal is still out there along with Condoliar Rice trying to fear monger, that has made the ecomomics worse, and Pres. Obama swept away a lot of that fear last night. God Bless him and the whole wide world. The Special Olympics are marvelous and everyone can agree on that.

    March 20, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  11. Flip

    Focus people; we know where Obama stands. He's a stand up guy, what next!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 20, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  12. Michael


    Jesus...even the retards don't care about the comment, so move on.

    March 20, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  13. Mike

    I have a kid who is autistic. However I don't think Obama's comment was with malice. We need to stop examining each and every small thing and concentrate on making the world a better place for everyone

    March 20, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  14. Brad

    This is a little ado about very little. President Obama's appearance on the Tonight show was success. His only critics are the same people who will never give him any credit for doing anything right anyway.

    As far as the Special Olympics "gaffe" is concerned, President Obama was only poking fun at himself...not anyone else. This isn't the equivalent to the kind of mean-spirited things that Don Imus, Rush Limbaugh and others have said that belittle others. While he could have used a better analogy, Obama was belittling himself.

    March 20, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  15. Bob

    Hey Susan Silver, why don't you remember your comments the next time something similar is uttered by a Republican.

    March 20, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  16. Billie

    You would bet wrong.

    Obama Has not kept his promises,has not done anything but grow government. He and the Democrats have now decided they are gods and can make laws/rules up as they go.

    Just think if they got mad at us and tried this "taxation" thing on us. This is bull and it is time that the Whitehouse learns its people are our employees!

    March 20, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  17. jdc

    There is far too much about Obama and his pack of idiots to be concerned about. That he has a sense of humor is the least of them. However if it had been a Republican we'd already be hearing about impeachment proceedings.

    March 20, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  18. Ghost

    The fact that there our over 800 comments on these two related threads, yet only 11 on the education article means either one of two things:

    1) CNN keeps these up longer either because they like to keep nonsense going or these seem to be the most popular articles or

    2) People care more about this than education. Therefore highlighting the need for more education.

    March 20, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  19. Heidi

    Can you imagine what Mrs. Obama said when he got back to the hotel???
    If I were her I would say something along the lines of..."Ya know, I think I'll disappear into the Whitehouse for a few days and not be seen..umm because I am not saying a talked yourself into this sh** you can talk yourself out 'Genius'."

    Grinzzzz...would so love to have been a fly on the wall for that home he had it coming..but I don't think he meant anything by you??? Really..he's a good heard him last night..he was funny, affable..took a bit of a ribbing before he came on with grace..and even jousted back at Jay with the "that's auto-talk" remark while explaining the economy and describing a "diagnostic test". I thought it was hilarious, smart and engaging. I thought he took the joust about "people letting him win at basketball" verrry well. A competitor through and through..he also showed he truly is a good sport. He said some important things and Jay was very polite and let him say his peace. It was was almost like his Mic was off and he was just sitting there talking to Jay..very natural..even if it probably was a little rehearsed. I say congrats on a successful show Mr. President and Jay!

    March 20, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  20. Gina in Racine Wi

    I think this gaffe is a non wasn't done maliciously......and he has acknowledged his mistake and apologized.

    I also think that Mr. Shriver has a very good idea.....and I am sure that Obama will be more then willing to take on one or more of these atheletes.....into his administration, if they are qualified.

    March 20, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  21. AEK

    Oh the feigned indignation by the neocons! Like we are to believe that these sensitive humanitarians are so upset with the President's off-the-cuff remark for which he has subsequently apologized. This from the same group of hypocrites who yuck it up when Rush Lamebrain plays his "Banking Queen" parody over and over. Still yet to hear ANY apologies from the Bush administration for, well let's see, one good example, hummm... Iraq, 5000 American killed and countless innocents, $630 billion spent to accomplish what? Hurricane Katrina? 9/11, yes they were in office for nine months before that catastrophe?

    March 20, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  22. Clare

    I think the president's comment was taken out of context!! I think he was speaking about his own "handicap". The news media and people need to hanging on his every word!

    March 20, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  23. Wes

    When he is not scripted and without teleprompt, we learn a lot about him. The sad story is that there is no outrage to what he said. Could you imagine the outrage if it was a racist comment. As the father of a disabled child, I am disapointed by the media's portray of this incident as a "gaff".

    March 20, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  24. stopyourcrying

    I am pretty sure Obama intended for his reference to the SO to be a compliment. Bowling in the 120s would be an incredible feat for most developmentally challenged people.

    March 20, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  25. Bob

    And I supposed that if Bush had said something similar, the liberals would be all over it, either saying it was a rude remark or that Bush is just an idiot. Once again the democrats play "heads I win, tails you lose".

    March 20, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
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