White House defends 'latte salute'
© White House via Instagram

Buzz surrounding a video showing President Obama stepping off Marine One on Tuesday and saluting two U.S. Marines while holding a travel cup has not been a point of conversation between the president and his top spokesman.

The video uploaded to the White House Instagram on Tuesday showed Obama saluting the Marines while holding a white cup in his right hand as he apparently fiddled with his suit coat button with his left.


It was quickly dubbed the "latte salute" and drew the ire of many conservatives, who criticized the president for being disrespectful of the military by not taking the time to provide a proper greeting.

"Are we surprised?" Republican strategist Karl Rove said on Fox News on Tuesday. "After all we've got a chai-swilling, golf-playing, basketball trash-talking, leading-from-behind 'I got no strategy, Osama bin Laden is dead, GM is alive' community-organizing commander in chief," he said.

"How disrespectful was that?" Rove said about the salute. "How insensitive."

Asked on MSNBC on Wednesday if Obama was aware of talk about the video, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said, "I don't know if he is. I haven't talked to him about it."

"The president has the highest amount of respect for our men and women in uniform and he has the highest amount of respect for the men and women who are responsible for operating the presidential helicopter," Earnest said. 

Pushing back against critics of the president's salute, some have pointed to images of then-President George W. Bush saluting service members while holding his dog Barney. Earnest said he had seen those images.

Obama has been seen in "countless different images" saluting members of the military, Earnest pointed out.

"The president greatly appreciates and honors their service to him, but more importantly their service to the country," he said.