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Posted by on Jul 27, 2012 in Media, Politics | 17 comments

Republican Rumor of the Winston Churchill Bust Officially Busted (Updates)

President Barack Obama shows Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom a bust of Sir Winston Churchill in the private residence of the White House, July 20, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Recently — especially in view of Mr. Romney’s highly successful inaugural “presidential” visit to England — there have been many rumors swirling around in the conservative media (and by its echo chamber) about that dastardly removal of the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office by President Obama who in turn shipped it off to the British Embassy.

Now, whenever allegations are made about Mr. Romney, his supporters immediately demand (and do) some serious “fact-checking.”

Well, here is some fact-checking on this outrageous rumor by none other than the White House itself:

Now, normally we wouldn’t address a rumor that’s so patently false, but just this morning the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer repeated this ridiculous claim in his column. He said President Obama “started his Presidency by returning to the British Embassy the bust of Winston Churchill that had graced the Oval Office.”

This is 100% false. The bust still in the White House. In the Residence. Outside the Treaty Room.

News outlets have debunked this claim time and again. First, back in 2010 the National Journal reported that “the Churchill bust was relocated to a prominent spot in the residence to make room for Abraham Lincoln, a figure from whom the first African-American occupant of the Oval Office might well draw inspiration in difficult times.” And just in case anyone forgot, just last year the AP reported that President Obama “replaced the Oval Office fixture with a bust of one of his American heroes, President Abraham Lincoln, and moved the Churchill bust to the White House residence.”

In case these news reports are not enough for Mr. Krauthammer and others, here’s a picture of the President showing off the Churchill bust to Prime Minister Cameron when he visited the White House residence in 2010. [Above]

Now, I am sure our Republican friends will not trust the White House doing its own fact-checking.

They are invited to do their own fact-checking and report back to us.

Update 1:

Mitt Romney, speaking to a group of more than 200 supporters in hotel in the heart of London this evening, said he is “looking forward” to returning the bust of Winston Churchill to the White House after it was sent back to Great Britain by President Obama.

Note: In all fairness, Romney said : “And I’m looking forward to the bust of Winston Churchill being in the Oval Office again.”

I am happy to give some “wiggle room” to those who want to parse Romney’s words and intentions.

Update 2:

Conflicting and confusing reports are appearing on the internet on this issue. We’ll let the dust settle and update/confirm/clarify/correct as necessary.

Update 3:
Fact Check: The Bust of Winston Churchill, by Dan Pfeiffer

(With thanks to SteveK)

Hopefully this clears things up a bit and prevents folks from making this ridiculous claim again.

Since my post on the fact that the bust of Winston Churchill has remained on display in the White House, despite assertions to the contrary, I have received a bunch of questions — so let me provide some additional info. The White House has had a bust of Winston Churchill since the 1960’s. At the start of the Bush administration Prime Minister Blair lent President Bush a bust that matched the one in the White House, which was being worked on at the time and was later returned to the residence. The version lent by Prime Minister Blair was displayed by President Bush until the end of his Presidency. On January 20, 2009 — Inauguration Day — all of the art lent specifically for President Bush’s Oval Office was removed by the curator’s office, as is common practice at the end of every presidency. The original Churchill bust remained on display in the residence. The idea put forward by Charles Krauthammer and others that President Obama returned the Churchill bust or refused to display the bust because of antipathy towards the British is completely false and an urban legend that continues to circulate to this day.