It’s May 4th, but the White House decided to celebrate Cinco de Mayo (the fifth of May) a day early.
That’s not exactly a breach of protocol, but introducing the Mexican ambassador and then not letting him speak kind of is.
That’s what President Barack Obama did on Monday at a White House ceremony to highlight the Mexican holiday.
“Welcome to Cinco de Cuatro — Cinco de Mayo at the White House,” Obama told a group of mostly Hispanic guests at the executive mansion. “We are a day early, but we always like to get a head start here at the Obama White House.”
After making brief remarks Obama introduced the Mexican ambassador, Arturo Sarukhan, and his wife, Valencia.
But as Sarukhan made his way to the podium, the president and first lady Michelle Obama made their way into the crowd and started shaking hands.
As crowds go, shaking hands with Barack Obama has a way of trumping speeches from Mexican ambassadors, so the noise level in the White House’s Grand Foyer rose and the ambassador looked like he wasn’t going to get to that speech.
Whoops. The president realized his mistake, stopped shaking hands, and came back to the podium to urge quiet.
“In an incredible breach of protocol, I introduced my good friend, the Ambassador, but he has greetings from the people of Mexico,” Obama said. “So I take complete responsibility for that. I apologize. Will everybody please settle down, and let’s hear from our Ambassador from Mexico.”
Applause, applause, and all was well. Sarukhan delivered his remarks and the crowd went back to partying.
The gaffe was not the only one to come out of the White House on Monday. Earlier in the day Vice President Biden’s office sent out a statement that it had to correct minutes later. The mistake? The boss’s name was misspelled.
“Vice President Buden Kicks Off $32 million Renovation and Restoration of Wilimington Train Station” the announcement read.
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Photo credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas (Obama with Sarukhan)