White House Reverses Decision on Use of Presidential Seals at Campaign Events

The White House has reversed its previous stance of not using the official presidential seal at campaign events.

The practice, which is not illegal, is a reversal from statements made by former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs that they would not be using the official seal at campaign stops.

Gibbs said, according to CBS News in an interview in 2010, "that at strictly political events we would not use" the presidential seal.

But President Obama used it last Friday at a campaign rally in Pittsburgh, and Vice President Biden used the vice presidential seal Thursday in Houston when addressing the NAACP convention.

When asked at Thursday's White House briefing about it, current Press Secretary Jay Carney said he was not aware of that specific Gibbs comment and was quick to point out that Obama's predecessors had used it.

"[Y]ou will find that many presidents running for re-election have -- when they stand in front of that particular podium, use the presidential seal. It's government -- that podium is government property. We don't hang campaign signs on it. We use the presidential seal," Carney said.

The campaign also made that point last Friday, with an official saying, "For example President Bush and President Clinton both used (the seal) in 2004 and 1996."

Most of the time, the president stands at a lectern or podium that has a campaign sign and slogan on it like "FORWARD" or "Betting on America." During his bus tour during a two-day trip through Ohio and Pennsylvania that included five official campaign stops, the first four events featured a campaign slogan until the largest and last event of the trip at Carnegie Mellon, where the official presidential seal was used.

Carney said it was "appropriate to have the presidential seal on the podium behind which he is standing, because he is actually the president of the United States."