US & Canada

Obama daughters: Malia and Sasha Thanksgiving row apology

US President Barack Obama smiles at his daughters Sasha and Malia after he pardoned a turkey during a ceremony at the White House on 26 November 2014 in Washington Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sasha and Malia Obama were criticised for their outfits at the annual turkey pardoning event at the White House

US President Barack Obama's daughters Sasha and Malia have been accused of showing disrespect and lacking "class" by a Republican official after their appearance at a Thanksgiving ceremony.

Elizabeth Lauten, communications director for congressman Stephen Fincher, made her comments in a Facebook post, since deleted.

After sharp criticism, Ms Lauten apologised for her "hurtful words".

She had drawn attention to the short skirts worn by the Obama girls.

She had also accused the two teenagers of looking bored when they stood with their father at the traditional turkey pardoning event at the White House, when the president spared two birds from the national dinner table.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The president and his wife have striven to protect Sasha (centre) and Malia (right) from media intrusion

While most commentators reported humorously on what they saw as the uninterested expressions of Malia, 16, and Sasha, 13, throughout the ceremony, Ms Lauten was notably more outspoken.

Her deleted post reads: "Dear Sasha and Malia: I get you're both in those awful teen years, but you're a part of the First Family, try showing a little class. At least respect the part you play.

"Then again, your mother and father don't respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter. So I'm guessing you're coming up a little short in the 'good role model' department."

The post goes on to advise the girls to "rise to the occasion and act like being in the White House matters to you".

"Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar," she added.

'Hours of prayer'

In her apology, Ms Lauten wrote: "After many hours of prayer, talking to my parents, and re-reading my words online I can see more clearly just how hurtful my words were.

"I'd like to apologise to all of those who I have hurt and offended with my words, and I pledge to learn and grow (and I assure you I have) from this experience."

She pointed out that she "had judged the two young ladies in a way that I would never have wanted to be judged myself as a teenager".

Sasha and Malia are among the youngest presidential children at the White House for years.

Their parents have strived to protect them from media attention as they go to school, play sports and socialise.

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