the president of the United States can’t pronounce Caracas?

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Apparently, a marked-up draft of the president’s speech popped up on the U.N.’s website as President Bush delivered his remarks this morning before the General Assembly, USA TODAY’s David Jackson reports. The draft included phonetic spellings of some names and countries, and the cellphone numbers for Bush speechwriters.

Press secretary Dana Perino downplayed the incident, and said phonetic spellings are used to help interpreters. Asked if the president has trouble pronouncing some country’s names, Perino deemed it “an offensive question.”

“There was an error made,” Perino said, noting it was not a final draft.

“It was taken down and there’s nothing more to say about it.”

Update at 12:43 p.m. ET: Here’s the version they replaced it with on the U.N. website.

Update at 12:46 p.m. ET: Blake Hounshell at Foreign Policy says he has a copy of the speech that got the White House so worked up this morning. Here are some of the phonetic guides it included, according to the magazine’s blog:

•  Kyrgyzstan [KEYR-geez-stan]
•  Mauritania [moor-EH-tain-ee-a]
•  Harare [hah-RAR-ray]
•  Mugabe [moo-GAH-bee]
•  Sarkozy [sar-KO-zee]
•  Caracas [kah-RAH-kus]

Update at 2:33 p.m. ET: Here’s an excerpt from the press secretary’s exchange with reporters about the speech snafu. It was released by the White House.

PERINO:  On the speech — your question about the speech, the drafts are circulated, and there was an error made in trying to make sure that interpreters had what they needed.  I don’t know how the draft of the speech — it was not final — was posted, but it was, and it was taken down.  There’s really nothing more to say about it.

REPORTER: And they were phonetic spellings of various countries  — as well, we understand.

PERINO:  That’s not unusual.  We do that for many speeches.

REPORTER: Does the president have a hard time pronouncing some of these countries’s [sic] name?

PERINO:  I think that’s a offensive question. I’m going to just decline to comment on it.

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Filed under George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?

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