White House spokesman smells a rat in the Rose Garden

May 21, 2010

OBAMA/A furry little creature has been showing up at White House Rose Garden events recently about as often as a particularly persistent reporter. But this week it went too far, by running across the base of Barack Obama’s podium while the U.S. president was speaking about  financial regulatory reform on Thursday.

The moment was captured on video, but no one seems to know what the creature was, although there were plenty of theories.

Reggie Love, Obama’s special assistant and personal aide, opined that the animal was a field mouse, said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. But he insisted that Love had it wrong.

“Judging the size of the animal, based on the diameter of the seal (on the front of Obama’s podium), I got to tell you, that’s a rat. Where I’m from that’s a rat and it should be treated as such,” he told reporters at the end of an hour-long daily briefing.

Gibbs said Obama had not noticed the animal during its appearance on Thursday, but that he had told the president about it on Friday. As is typical with White House strategy, he would not discuss what was being done about it, if anything at all.

“That I cannot get into,” he said. “My guess is that it lives out there somewhere in the Rose Garden, quite comfortably, being a pretty good Rose Garden to live in. I still think it’s definitely not a mouse. I’ve seen a mouse and they’re not nearly that big.”

Reporters suggested the animal might be a vole,  a small rodent that resembles a rat or mouse, but with a heavier body and shorter tail and limbs.

Gibbs said he would look it up and let the press know.  “I’m going to go Google vole and see if John Holdren is around,” he said in a joking reference to Obama’s adviser for science and technology.  Shortly afterward, he sent a message on Twitter, reading “Latest possible explanation for the animal in the Rose Garden. Discuss amongst yourselves,” with a link to the wikipedia.org entry on voles.

Of course, the animal could be a mole — a real one, not the metaphorical term for an undercover agent.

Perhaps it is time for a White House cat to join Bo, the Obama family’s Portugese water dog, who, though adorable,  apparently is not much of a mouse/rat/vole hunter?

For more Reuters political coverage, click here

Photo credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (Obama in the Rose Garden May 20, the date of the creature’s visit)

One comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Rats have much longer tails and are generally larger. That was a vole of some sort.

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive

[...] week, when Obama stepped up to the podium, in the Rose Garden, a rodent showed up. Obama didn’t [...]