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White House Mouse (Or Rat?) Roars Through News Cycle

While delivering remarks in the Rose Garden about financial regulatory reform, President Obama was briefly upstaged by a scurrying rodent. The critter’s cameo sparked heated debate over its zoological identity (was it a rat? a mouse? a vole? WTF is a vole?), some Zapruder-esque photos, and a raft of rodential quips. The little guy even got a Drudge link and a Twitter shout-out from Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

The symbolism of a rat scurrying away from remarks on financial reform is almost irresistible, but I’m afraid I have to burst that particularly amusing bubble. I’m 98% certain this was a mouse. While I’ve seen mice on the White House grounds many times (once in the East Room), I’ve never seen a rat. Having said that, I wasn’t around for the Bush administration.

Matt Drudge probably scored the funniest zinger, running the mouse story with the headline “Obama Doesn’t Take Questions From the Rat, Either…”, a reference to recent pressure on the President to take more questions directly from the press. In Obama’s defense, the mouse didn’t even have his hand up.

Gawker also pegged the pest as a rat, joking that it already has a book deal. The LA Times’ Andrew Malcolm drew a comparison between the furry interloper and another unwelcome White House incursion:

First, there were the gate-crashing Salahis who got by the crack White House protocol and security forces.

Now, there’s the rat. Or vole. Or some kind of rodent, who crashed a Thursday White House event in the Rose Garden.

Through a publicist, the mouse has demanded an immediate apology from Malcolm.

While I find the outsize attention a perfect encapsulation of the current mountain/molehill news cycle, I think there’s an even better symbolic takeaway here. The rodent’s dash was only captured by still cameras, but ABC News actually has several seconds of video from just before the President’s remarks, and there’s the real story:


The Obama White House is so prepared and on-message, they even had the mouse take a dry run.

Update: Gibbs tips@mediaite.com

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