Rodent scurries by Obama during press conference - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Rodent scurries by Obama during press conference

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A small rodent runs in front of President Barack Obama as he delivers remarks on Wall Street and Financial reform, Thursday, May 20, 2010, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) A small rodent runs in front of President Barack Obama as he delivers remarks on Wall Street and Financial reform, Thursday, May 20, 2010, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON (AP) — In his battle with the titans of Wall Street, President Barack Obama almost got upstaged by a rat.

But he didn't even seem to notice. Assuming that's what it was, scurrying in front of his podium Thursday in a sun-drenched Rose Garden.

Obama had just begun an afternoon statement to reporters lauding the end of a Senate filibuster on his financial overhaul plan when some kind of rodent — opinions differ on which — dashed out of the bushes to his right, just outside the Oval Office.

As photographers snapped away, the critter trundled straight past the gray podium with the presidential seal and made a bee-line for another set of bushes to Obama's left.

It's not clear if the president could even see the streaker, but he didn't show any reaction. And he concluded his statement minutes later, returning to his office without answering a few shouted questions on other topics.

Once he was safely inside the Oval Office, a fierce debate erupted among the photographers and reporters who'd witnessed the dash. Was it a rat or a mouse? Or maybe a mole, or a vole, or some other kind of related creature.

In fact, this wasn't the first time a rodent's been spied in the White House, or even the Rose Garden.

Just last week, as camera crews set up for an Obama statement on the Gulf oil spill, what's believed to have been the same rodent made a dash across the famous garden.

The press work areas behind the White House briefing room have had at least one rat sighting, though that was before a multimillion-dollar rehab project finished by the Bush administration.

Moreover, rodents of all kinds are pretty common in Washington. From time to time, city officials issue alarms about surges in the rat population when residents put out extra-big summer piles of garbage.

Washington is, after all built, along a river, on what used to be a malarial swamp.

 

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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