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Sarah Palin "shocked" at Obama's Special Olympics joke

By Jimmy Orr / March 20, 2009

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin holds her son Trig while husband Todd stands at left after her speech at the Republican National Convention.

MARY KNOX MERRILL/ CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR/ FILE

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She's probably the one person people have been waiting for to weigh in.

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Alaska Governor Sarah Palin released a statement this afternoon condemning President Obama's "Special Olympics" crack he dropped last night on the Tonight Show. (Click here if you're new to the story).

Palin, the mother of an 11-month old diagnosed with Down Syndrome, said she was "shocked to learn of the comment."

“This was a degrading remark about our world’s most precious and unique people, coming from the most powerful position in the world," she said.

“These athletes overcome more challenges, discrimination and adversity than most of us ever will. By the way, these athletes can outperform many of us and we should be proud of them. I hope President Obama’s comments do not reflect how he truly feels about the special needs community.”

Palin appeared in a video message to the 2009 Special Olympics earlier this month. Click here to see the video.

Shriver

Earlier in the day, Tim Shriver, the chairman of the Special Olympics, asked the president to consider hiring one their athletes to work in the White House.

“In so doing, he could help end misperceptions about the talents and abilities of people with intellectual disabilities, and demonstrate their dignity and value to the world," Shriver said.

Will they do it?

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said he didn't know.

"I have not seen [the request]," Gibbs said. "I know that the President believes that the Special Olympics are a triumph of the human spirit, and I think he understands that they deserve a lot better than – than the thoughtless joke that he made last night, and he apologizes for that."

Reader comments

Meanwhile, some of our readers are wondering if a Republican president were to have said the same thing, would the treatment by the media by different. As in harsher.

Jdarts85 writes:

Pete agrees:

George, on the other hand, says we're giving it too much attention:

But Maria says it's easy to dismiss it unless you've lived it:

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