The spokesperson for George H.W. Bush is apologizing for releasing a statement Sunday from the former president and his wife expressing condolences over the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela.
While Mandela has been ill in recent months, he is still alive, and Bush family spokesperson Jim McGrath tells The Washington Post he misread an alert from the newspaper that said Mandela had been discharged from a hospital.
“I just made a very stupid mistake, I’m very sorry about that," McGrath said to the paper. "My apologies to everyone at The Washington Post."
McGrath also took to Twitter to concerning the matter, first mentioning seeing the alert, then apologizing for the mistake.
"It is clearly incorrect. We see it as an error on his side, and not make a big deal about it," South African presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj told BNO News, which was one of the news organizations that reported Mandela's death citing Bush's statement.
The statement reads as follows:
"Barbara and I mourn the passing of one of the greatest believers in freedom we have had the privilege to know. As President, I watched in wonder as Nelson Mandela had the remarkable capacity to forgive his jailers following 26 years of wrongful imprisonment -- setting a powerful example of redemption and grace for us all. He was a man of tremendous moral courage, who changed the course of history in his country. Barbara and I had great respect for President Mandela, and send our condolences to his family and countrymen."
Statements mourning the deaths of high-profile individuals are often prepared in advance.
Tweets from McGrath:
President Bush 41 statement on Nelson Mandela sent after seeing Wash Post news flash. We have no independent verification.— Jim McGrath (@jgm41) September 1, 2013
The 41 stmnt sent this morning was the result of my mis-reading the header on the WaPo news flash. Stupid mistake by me. Apologies to all.— Jim McGrath (@jgm41) September 1, 2013