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Tuesday, October 28

Banner day for clarifying backdrop at Bush's appearance

By The Military Times

President George W. Bush's staff played more of a role in the ``Mission Accomplished'' sign that hung on the USS Abraham Lincoln than the president suggested Tuesday in a Rose Garden news conference.

Bush declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq from the Lincoln's deck on May 1. Since then, about 215 U.S. troops have been killed in action and hundreds more wounded.

The president sought to distance himself from the upbeat message in the banner, explaining at Tuesday's news conference that the idea for the sign came from the ship's crew.

``I know it was attributed somehow to some ingenious advance man from my staff - they weren't that ingenious, by the way,'' he said.

Turns out they may have been that ingenious.

Navy officials and the White House Tuesday said that while the crew of the Lincoln came up with the banner's message, the White House printed it.

"The Navy asked for help in the production of the banner for the president's visit. So we helped," said White House spokesman Allen Abney.

The crew felt the banner reflected their recent operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq, according to Navy officials and the White House.

The Navy's spokesman, Rear Adm. T McCreary, said, ``The White House communications office did print it at the ship's request.''

The White House communications office, well known for the care it takes with the backdrops at Bush speeches, created the ``Mission Accomplished'' banner in the same style as banners the president uses in other appearances, including one just a week before the carrier appearance in Canton, Ohio. That banner, with the same soft, brush-stroked American flag in the background and the identical typeface, read: ``Jobs and Growth.''

(Jason Sherman reported for Defense News; Chris Cavas reported for Navy Times)