White House rule: When faced with a public relations debacle, blame the advance staff. Apparently, they have no bosses.
White House reaction to the soldiers’ silence at Ft. Bragg speech:
Capt. Tom Earnhardt, a public affairs officer at Fort Bragg who participated in the planning for the president’s trip, said that from the first meetings with White House officials there was agreement that a hall full of wildly cheering troops would not create the right atmosphere for a speech devoted to policy and strategy.
“The guy from White House advance, during the initial meetings, said, ‘Be careful not to let this become a pep rally,'” Captain Earnhardt recalled in a telephone interview. Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, confirmed that account.
Bush’s reaction to Mission Accomplished uproar:
Attention turned Tuesday to a giant “Mission Accomplished” sign that stood behind Bush aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln when he gave the speech May 1. The president told reporters the sign was put up by the Navy, not the White House. “I know it was attributed somehow to some ingenious advance man from my staff — they weren’t that ingenious, by the way,” the president said Tuesday.
After it was discovered that 42 people were put on a black list and not allowed to attend a Bush event:
The White House later said that the list was a mistake and may have been generated by its advance team — a mix of White House staffers and state and local volunteers.