Obama criticized for flubbing name of medal of honor recipient

US President Barack Obama speaks to US Army soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York, June 23, 2011. Obama announced in an evening speech from the White House yesterday that 10,000 troops serving in Afghanistan will return home by the end of 2011, with the remainder of the 'Surge' troops home by September 2012. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Reince Priebus
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

The head of the Republican National Committee on Friday took a shot at President Obama for flubbing comments a day earlier regarding two soldiers awarded the military's highest decoration for valor for their service in Afghanistan.

Mr. Obama on Thursday praised the troops from the 10th Mountain Division and said it was an honor to award a Medal of Honor to one of their own who was still alive.

"I had the great honor of seeing some of you because a comrade of yours, Jared Monti, was the first person who I was able to award the Medal of Honor to who actually came back and wasn't receiving it posthumously," Mr. Obama told the troops in Fort Drum, New York, home of the 10th Mountain Division.

Monti was, in fact, killed in 2006 and Mr. Obama posthumously awarded him the Medal of Honor in 2009 in a White House ceremony with his parents. Salvatore Giunta is the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam war. Mr. Obama awarded Giunta the Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony last year.

Asked about the embarrassing slip, RNC chair Reince Priebus said "people make mistakes but ... when he is not scripted, mistakes seem to happen."

"I think the president is a scripted, plasticized candidate and I think America is prepared to relieve him of his job in 2012," Priebus said in an interview with CBS News.

Asked what Mr. Obama meant to say at Fort Drum on Thursday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest acknowledged the mistake.

"At Fort Drum, the president misspoke when discussing the first Medal of Honor he presented posthumously to Jared Monti, who was a member of the 10th Mountain Division. The president paid tribute to Monti in his remarks to troops in Afghanistan in March 2010. Last year, the president presented the Medal of Honor to Salvatore Giunta, who was the first living recipient of the Medal who served in Afghanistan," Earnest said in a prepared statement.

Giunta, who served in the 173rd Airborne Brigade, was scheduled to leave the military this month, according to a February article in USA TODAY.

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    CBSNews.com Deputy Politics Editor Corbett B. Daly is based in Washington. He has worked at Reuters, Thomson Financial News and CBS MarketWatch.