Tales from the Trail

White House spokesman smells a rat in the Rose Garden

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.

The White House Rose Garden strategy

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs succumbed to spring fever and held his daily news briefing out in the sun-splashed Rose Garden today.

OBAMA/A few dozen reporters and maybe a squirrel or two squinted their way through about an hour of Q and A with Gibbs, who advised that he had put on three layers of sunblock before exposing his pale skin to the sun.

“This will not be a regular thing. I just thought it’s been a long winter and why not get outside and have a little fun for once in a while,” he said.

Obama holds first Rose Garden event

President Barack Obama held his first ceremonial event in the Rose Garden Tuesday, using the scenic lawn outside the Oval Office to honor some of the country’s finest teachers.
 
“This is our first official Rose Garden ceremony — a place where so many,” the president started before being interrupted by a smattering of applause. “Yes, that’s worth applause, sure, why not,” he added to laughter.
 
USA-OBAMA/“This is a place where so many presidents have honored so many citizens who’ve made extraordinary contributions to the life of our nation,” Obama said.
 
The Rose Garden was one of President George W. Bush’s favorite ceremonial venues. The day after November’s election, he spoke in the Rose Garden when he congratulated Obama and said his victory represented a “triumph of the American story” that made every American proud.
 
The people being honored Tuesday were educators who had been named national and state teachers of the year.
 
“Our teachers are the key to our nation’s success, to whether America will lead the world in the discoveries and innovations and economic prosperity of this new century,” Obama told the audience.
 
The president presented the national teacher of the year award to Tony Mullen, a former New York City police officer who worked his way up to the rank of captain while studying to become a teacher.
 
Mullen, who now teaches at the ARCH School in Greenwich, Connecticut, works with youths who have behavioral and emotional problems.
 
“I teach and mentor at-risk teenagers, because too many of the pages of their stories are filled with anxiety, depression, substance abuse, academic failure and despair,” Mullen told the crowd. 
 
“I teach these young adults because they are among the most complex population to educate, and therefore challenge my ability as an educator,” he said. “And I teach them because they provide me plenty of opportunity to help rewrite their stories, to help them compose a happy ending.”

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Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (Obama presents award to Mullen)