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President Obama’s Very Special Gaffe on Leno

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Barack Obama made history last night as the first sitting President to appear on a late night talk show. Jay Leno and he covered a lot of ground including the AIG bonuses, the defense of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the coolness of Air Force One, and the his dismal bowling skills.

Obama made an uncharacteristic gaffe, likening his bowling score to something from the Special Olympics.

Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton has already responded: “The president made an off-hand remark making fun of his own bowling that was in no way intended to disparage the Special Olympics. He thinks the Special Olympics is a wonderful program that gives an opportunity for people with disabilities from around the world.”

There are a few options for the Special Olympics to get a publicity kick out of this one. The first and most likely is to respond with some outrage, and use the platform to discuss the organization, solicit support, and ask the government to reaffirm its commitment to disability issues. The second–and more endearing and powerful–can be combined with the first: respond with humor.

In my email to Ryan Eades, Global Branding and Marketing Coordinator for the Special Olympics, I asked him to see if one of their athletes has topped Obama’s score of 129 in competition.

Eades didn’t respond to that question, though he said SE Chairman Tim Shriver responded this morning on Good Morning America
at the top of the show. A statement and transcript of the appearance will be on SpecialOlympics.org within the hour.

Related: Special Olympics and 130 Organizations Band Together to Promote Tropic Thunder

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