Bowling just isn’t President Barack Obama’s game.
Appearing on “The Tonight Show,” the president told host Jay Leno he’d been practising at the White House’s bowling alley but wasn’t happy with his score of 129. Then he rolled a gutter ball by quipping, “It was like the Special Olympics or something.”
The audience laughed, but the White House quickly recognised the blunder.
On his way back to Washington on Air Force One, Obama called the chairman of the Special Olympics, Tim Shriver, to say he was sorry - even before the taped program aired in the US late on Thursday night.
“He expressed his disappointed and he apologised in a way that was very moving. He expressed that he did not intend to humiliate this population,” Shriver said on Fridya on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Obama, Shriver said, wants to have some Special Olympic athletes visit the White House to bowl or play basketball.
Still, Shriver said, “I think it’s important to see that words hurt and words do matter. And these words that in some respect can be seem as humiliating or put down to people with special needs do cause pain and result in stereotypes.”
Deputy press secretary Bill Burton told reporters travelling with Obama that the president’s offhand remark was not meant to disparage the Special Olympics, only to poke some fun at the commander-in-chief’s bowling skills.