Obama Met a Giant, Talking Robot Giraffe at the White House Today

The robotic animal that speaks with a British accent and can carry 30 people is just one oddity in a giraffe-centric news cycle this week.

President Obama and Lindsay Lawlor view Lawlor's robotic giraffe while viewing Maker Faire projects on the South Lawn of the White House on June 18.
National Journal
Marina Koren
June 18, 2014, 8:28 a.m.

What’s 17 feet tall, weighs 2,200 pounds and has a Brit­ish ac­cent?

This ro­bot­ic gir­affe that Pres­id­ent Obama met at the White House on Wed­nes­day.

The gir­affe, cre­ated by Lind­say Lawlor of San Diego, was on the South Lawn as part of the first-ever Maker Faire, an in­nov­a­tions gath­er­ing of more than 100 “makers” from 25 states. Obama also viewed elec­tric gui­tars, a skate­board, a pros­thet­ic foot, slip­pers, a toy ro­bot, and vari­ous 3D print­ers, ac­cord­ing to pool re­ports.

The wheeled ro­bot­ic an­im­al, whose name is Rus­sell, is powered by a 12-horsepower hy­brid fuel-en­gine mo­tor.

It was op­er­ated by Rus­sell Pin­ning­ton, Lawlor’s pro­gram­mer, from in­side the White House. Lawlor named the gir­affe after Pin­ning­ton, who is Brit­ish, in­stead of pay­ing him for his work. The gir­affe can play mu­sic, carry up to 30 people, and speak.

Here’s video proof of their ex­change, cour­tesy of BuzzFeed’s An­drew Kaczyn­ski:

{{third­PartyEmbed type:vine id:MTuQllnVm­DP}}

Todd Gill­man of the Dal­las Morn­ing News de­scribed the con­trap­tion in a pool re­port:

The neck and head un­du­lated slowly. The mouth opened and closed. The neck swayed gently side to side. Ears flapped. Horns were made from lava-lamp type things with sparkles in­side.

Lawlor offered the pres­id­ent a ride aboard his gir­affe, but Obama de­clined.

Obama did com­pli­ment Rus­sell’s ears.

This is the second news ap­pear­ance for gir­affes, real or ro­bot­ic, this week. On Monday, Delta Air Lines tweeted a photo meant to be cel­eb­rat­ory after Team USA’s win in the World Cup, fea­tur­ing a gir­affe to rep­res­ent Ghana, the los­ing coun­try. The photo was in­stead a huge mis­take, as there are no wild gir­affes in Ghana and, more im­port­antly, there’s a lot more to Ghana than its sup­posed wild­life. 

The gir­affe news cycle could be worse, though. Re­mem­ber Mari­us?

What We're Following See More »
TAKING A LONG VIEW TO SOUTHERN STATES
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Source:
‘PITTING PEOPLE AGAINST EACH OTHER’
Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Source:
THE TIME IS NOW, TED
Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Source:
CHRISTIE, BUSH TRYING TO TAKE HIM DOWN
Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Source:
ARE YOU THE GATEKEEPER?
Sanders: Obama Is a Progressive
1 days ago
THE LATEST

“Do I think President Obama is a progressive? Yeah, I do,” said Bernie Sanders, in response to a direct question in tonight’s debate. “I think they’ve done a great job.” But Hillary Clinton wasn’t content to sit out the latest chapter in the great debate over the definition of progressivism. “In your definition, with you being the gatekeeper of progressivism, I don’t think anyone else fits that definition,” she told Sanders.

×