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Palin Fires Back at Obama for Special Olympics Joke

The Alaska governor tells The Daily Beast that she was none too pleased with the president’s gag line on The Tonight Show.

03.20.09 4:06 PM ET

You knew this was coming.

In the wake of President Obama's gaffe on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno yesterday about Special Olympics athletes, Gov. Sarah Palin, whose son has Down syndrome, is blasting him for disparaging the special-needs community.

“I was shocked to learn of the comment made by President Obama about Special Olympics,” Palin said in a statement. “This was a degrading remark about our world’s most precious and unique people, coming from the most powerful position in the world."

She added:

“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.”

Obama's office has tried to clarify his remark since the initial blunder and the president apologized to Special Olympics Chairman Timothy Shriver. Meanwhile, Palin has come under fire this week for refusing stimulus money slated to help special-needs education programs. Her stance on funding for such programs as governor led to attacks during the campaign as well.

Benjamin Sarlin is a reporter for The Daily Beast. He previously covered New York City politics for the New York Sun and has worked for talkingpointsmemo.com.