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'Foot in mouth' prize for Rumsfeld

Rumsfeld is renowned for his tough talking.

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start quoteWe think we know what he means. But we don't know if we really know.end quote
-- John Lister
Donald H. Rumsfeld
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Great Britain

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- A comment last year by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on the hunt for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was awarded the "Foot in Mouth" prize Monday by Britain's Plain English Campaign.

Rumsfeld, renowned for his uncompromising tough talking, received the prize for the most baffling comment by a public figure.

"Reports that say something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know," Rumsfeld told a news briefing.

"We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know."

John Lister, spokesman for the campaign, which strives to have public information delivered in clear, straightforward English, said: "We think we know what he means. But we don't know if we really know."

Although Rumsfeld's comments were made at a news briefing in February 2002, they were nominated for this year's award.

Rumsfeld, whose boss, President Bush, is often singled out by language critics for his sometimes unusual use of English, defeated actor-turned-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger for the booby prize.

"I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman," the new California governor said.

Previous holders of the award include U.S. actress Alicia Silverstone and British Chancellor Gordon Brown. Last year's winner was actor Richard Gere.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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