When the rain began to pour on President Barack Obama during a joint conference with the Turkish premier earlier this week, the U.S. official made a pretty mundane request.
Asking for Marines to shield him and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan from the rain with a couple of umbrellas, Obama didn’t realize he would be cooking up a media storm.
“Apparently, Marines are prohibited from holding umbrellas while in dress uniform as it obstructs saluting,” Israel-based Ynet News reported on Friday.
The sudden downpour had prompted Obama during the conference, which was held in the White House’s Rose Garden, to ask for a little assistance.
“I am going to go ahead and ask folks, why don’t we get a couple of marines – they’re going to look good next to us,” Obama said. “I’ve got a change of suits, but I don’t know about our prime minister,” he added, referring to Erdogan.
The president, who is also the U.S. Armed Forces’ commander-in-chief, “was apparently unaware that his request was a breach of protocol,” Ynet reported as two Marines in full dress uniform hurried to his side holding umbrellas.
CNN contacted Marine Corps spokesman Captain Greg Wolf, who explained that it’s “extremely rare” to see marines in uniform holding umbrellas, as they’re usually not permitted to do so.
“Of course, Obama is the commander-in-chief. If he orders Marines to hold umbrellas, they hold them, even if they can’t properly salute,” the CNN’s Political Unit posted in a web blog on Friday.
But it was described as an “awkward moment” by some.
“Obama stood next to Erdogan in the Rose Garden, shielded from falling rain by a pair of umbrella-wielding Marines. It was an awkward moment for an awkward task: Announcing a united front on Syria despite underlying differences over policy,” wrote U.S. columnist Keith Wagstaff.