RNC’s Steele Questions Obama’s Olympics Lobbying – White House Fires Back

September 29, 2009 - 8:25 PM
The White House and the Republican National Committee (RNC) squared off Tuesday over whether President Barack Obama should travel to Copenhagen to promote his hometown of Chicago as the host city for the 2016 Olympics.

Republican National Chairman Michael Steele at a news conference on April 16, 2009 in Evansville, Ind. (AP File Photo/Darron Cummings)


(CNSNews.com) – The White House and the Republican National Committee (RNC) squared off Tuesday over whether President Barack Obama should travel to Copenhagen to promote his hometown of Chicago as the host city for the 2016 Olympics.
 
In a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, RNC Chairman Michael Steele said the president should focus on other priorities. He said it is “noble for the president to pitch his home city, Chi-town” before the International Olympic Committee on Friday. However, Steele  said it could be a distraction from more important issues facing the nation.
 
“Where is the focus?” Steele said, according to the Associated Press. “At a time of war, at a time of recession ... I think this trip is nice but not necessary for the president. The goal should be creating job opportunities not seven years from now, but job opportunities today.”
 
That same day during the daily briefing, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs questioned why Steele would not want the president to focus on getting the Olympics in the United States.
 
“Who’s he rooting for?” Gibbs asked, referring to Steele. “Is he hoping to hop a plane in Brazil and catch the Olympics in Rio? Maybe it’s Madrid.”
 
Further commenting on the trip later this week, Gibbs said, “I think the president sees this as an opportunity to push strongly on the international stage America’s bid for the Olympics. He will obviously have a part in the Chicago presentation. He believes it will be important for him to talk with voting members of the IOC to make a strong case for the American side.”