This story has been updated.
Would you rather unveil an iPhone app that misspells “America,” or outrage an entire nation?
Those are the two scenarios the Romney and Obama campaigns were looking at on Wednesday.
Romney’s camp committed an embarrassing, yet minor gaffe that went viral
on Tuesday night—its brand-new iPhone app carries the slogan, “A Better Amercia”—while the president on Tuesday referred to “Polish death camps”
while honoring a Polish hero of World War II.
President Obama made the comment while presenting the posthumous Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, who died in 2000. He said:
“[Karski] served as a courier for the Polish resistance during the darkest days of World War II. Before one trip across enemy lines, resistance fighters told him that Jews were being murdered on a massive scale and smuggled him into the Warsaw Ghetto and a Polish death camp to see for himself. Jan took that information to President Franklin Roosevelt, giving one of the first accounts of the Holocaust and imploring to the world to take action.”
Poles in attendance and those watching on television were reportedly shocked by the reference. The appropriate term, according to the Associated Press
, is “death camps in Nazi-occupied Poland” to clarify that the camps were run by Nazis, not Poles.
After the ceremony, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor clarified that the president “misspoke,” but Poland Prime Minister Donald Tusk said in a press release that he expects America to do more than issue a correction and express regret through a spokesperson.
“It is an issue to which we cannot be indifferent, for the sake of Poland, our country and our fellow countrymen,” Tusk explained in the press release
. “We cannot accept such words, even if they are uttered by the head of an ally superpower.”
Tusk referred to it “as a matter of the U.S.’s reputation,” reports Fox News
Later in the week, President Obama wrote a letter to the Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski
, saying he "regrets the error." Obama wrote:
“In referring to ‘a Polish death camp’ rather than ‘a Nazi death camp in German-occupied Poland,’ I inadvertently used a phrase that has caused many Poles anguish over the years and that Poland has rightly campaigned to eliminate from public discourse around the world. I regret the error and agree that this moment is an opportunity to ensure that this and future generations know the truth.”
In response, Komorowski said that thanks to the letter
, "Poland has gained an important ally in its battle against the misleading, wrongful and painful term ‘Polish death camps.’"