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Saturday, October 09, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Bush's tailor unravels Web rumor

By Camille Ricketts
Knight Ridder Newspapers

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WASHINGTON — President Bush's tailor yesterday pooh-poohed an Internet conspiracy theory that a boxy bulge visible between President Bush's shoulder blades during the first debate could have been some kind of prompting device.

Georges de Paris, who made the suit worn by Bush, said the bulge was nothing more than a pucker along the jacket's back seam, accentuated when the president crossed his arms and leaned forward.

Salon writer David Lindorff, who suggested in an online article yesterday that presidential adviser Karl Rove might have been feeding Bush answers through some electronic gizmo with an earpiece buried in his ear canal, wasn't convinced.

"There's definitely something under there pushing up through the suit," Lindorff said.

De Paris, who has tailored suits for every U.S. president since Lyndon Johnson, said the jacket fit Bush snugly through the shoulders, which may have exaggerated the effect.

Bloggers and conspiracy buffs alike have lined up with Lindorff, insisting that the outline of a wire can be seen leading from the bulge down the president's back on some high-definition monitors.

Lindorff's story quoted Jacob McKenna, a spyware expert, who said some small microchip-based earpieces can be pushed into the ear canal so far that they virtually are undetectable.

Mark McKinnon, media director for the Bush campaign, categorically denied the use of any sort of communication device.

"The truth is not nearly as interesting," McKinnon told MediaChannel.org. "The president has never been assisted by any audio signal."

Lindorff cited moments during Bush's responses that he said suggested the president might have been wired.
 
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"On several occasions, the president simply stopped speaking for an uncomfortably long time and stared ahead with an odd expression on his face," Lindorff wrote. "Was he listening to someone helping him with his response to a question?"

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