September 29th, 2009
12:18 PM ET
5 years ago

Steele says Obama's Olympic trip 'not necessary.'

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is sharply criticizing President Obama's planned trip to Denmark.
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is sharply criticizing President Obama's planned trip to Denmark.

(CNN) – Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is sharply criticizing President Obama's planned trip to Denmark to promote Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics, characterizing the 24-hour trek as an unnecessary distraction.

"I think at a time of war, I think at a time of recession, at time where Americans have expressed rather significantly their concerns and frustrations over the course of the spring and summer …this trip, while nice, is not necessary for the president," Steele said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday.

Steele is the latest Republican to take aim at Obama's decision to accompany his wife Thursday night to the International Olympic Committee meeting in Copenhagen where representatives from the four finalist cities will make pitches ahead of the IOC vote in a few weeks. It is the first time a U.S. president has attended an IOC meeting.

"I think the first lady would have been and should have been the lead here, and let her go and sell Chicago," Steele also said. "The goal should be creating not job opportunities seven years from now, but job opportunities today."

Sen. Kit Bond, R-Missouri, and Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Michigan, both leveled similar criticisms at the president Monday.


Obama will leave Thursday night, attend meetings on Friday morning, and return Friday afternoon, the White House said. First lady Michelle Obama will leave ahead of her husband, on Tuesday night. Chicago is vying for the Summer Games against Madrid, Spain; Tokyo, Japan; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Leaders from Brazil, Spain and Japan are expected to also make in-person pitches.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs defended the trip Monday as a potential economic boon for the U.S. economy.

"Obviously any Olympics showcases the country that those Olympics are in and there's a tangible economic benefit to those games being here," he said. "And the president wants to help out America's bid."


Filed under: Michael Steele • Olympics • President Obama
soundoff (299 Responses)
  1. Travis

    Obama should try and bring the Olympics to Michigan. Plenty of room here where the jobs used to be.

    September 29, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  2. Bean Counter

    I see a lot of hoopla about Obama doing something that will "bring in tourism and help our economy". Check the facts...has any olympics been profitable compared to the cost of building the facilities and infrastructure to host it? It's a "vanity" thing just like owning a sports team. Who makes the money? Who gets to keep the money? Obama is doing us no service. He is however setting his Chicago cronies up to line their pockets. Take off the blinders folks, there's more going on that you should see.

    September 29, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  3. Deb n Texas

    Who gives a hoot what Steel says – No one not even the Republicans!

    September 29, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  4. Tony

    Maybe why OB is there he can apologize for being there? The Olympics??? Is he kidding me??? He is makeing it sooooooo easy for the Repubs to take back control and reverse all of the tax and spend bull he is pushing thru. Apology Tour 2009, poor or no national security policy, czars that couldn't get a job at McDonalds, the porkulus, cap and tax, ignoring the American public on every issue....this guy has been a god send for the conservatives in the country. This is why Dems only get control for 2 years every twenty. As soon as they get it they screw it up so bad, they are gone. They will never learn apparetnly, and for that I am grateful for the truely stupid.

    September 29, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  5. Andrew

    The republicans are just angry because they have not gotten a full handle on the internet and cell phones yet. Once they realize that the POTUS doesn't need to be physically in the white house to get stuff done. GWB however, made it pretty obvious when he went down to his ranch that he was just clearing brush and not doing much else.

    September 29, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  6. Peggy

    Michael Steele needs to get on VH1's Tool Academy so he can learn how to be a "real" man.

    September 29, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  7. Democrat in MD (CNN please post. Thank you!)

    Go ahead,Steele...keep on politicing! While our President does whatever he can to up the economy.
    BTW...HASN'T ANYONE EVER HEARD OF MULTITASKING????!!!!
    President Obama is really good at it, or haven't you noticed??!! One thing he works on in no way precludes giving his attention to something else!
    GIVE ME A BREAK & STOP WHINING!!!

    September 29, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  8. shmeckel

    No it isn’t necessary, but what is it he can’t do on the trip that he can’t do at the Whitehouse. Why do you pick the least relevant things to pick on the president about?

    Same thing with healthcare. If you guys would just point out the facts instead of nitpicking legislation and telling half truths there would be a lot less people pushing the public option.

    September 29, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  9. Mike

    I am going to go out on a limb here, but I think Air Force One has Wi-Fi, so Obama might be able to get work done.

    Having the Olympics in 2016 in the US would be a great thing. Since the GOP is opposed, and lets assume that Crist is right and that Obama will lose big in 2012...then who ever is President should not be allowed anywhere near the Olympics, should Chicago get it.

    Bush wanted a war
    Obama wants the Olympics

    September 29, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  10. Margaret Pensacola

    Typical!! I guess the Republicans are against promoting the USA as they are against everything else. I seem to stay angry and can't believe that I actually used to be one.

    September 29, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  11. Nestor

    Why cant anyone just say it. Steele, SHUT UP! No one cares what you think.

    September 29, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  12. Jerzjen

    I guess Mr. Steele forgets how many jobs would be created getting ready for the Olympics. But the party of "NO" wants to step on American laborers again. NO tax cuts! NO new jobs! NO heathcare reform! NO! NO! NO! Lets see how long it will take for big business to contradict the party of "NO" as they rub their greedy little hands together at the prospect of making millions before and during the event!

    September 29, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  13. route66atnau

    What I love about the Republicans and guys like Steele is that if Obama stayed home and didn't try to get the olympics for Chicago- he would have been BAD. Now that Obama has decided to go and try to do so, well, he's BAD.
    Leave it to the Republicans to have no policy platform beyond: " We will be against whatever Obama is for". I wonder how far that will get them?

    September 29, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  14. CK1

    The party of NO is at it again. All they can come up with is criticize the president on each and everything he does. When will they come up with something useful and meningful to say. Shut up Mr. Steele we do not need to here from you for a very long time.

    September 29, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  15. Michigan

    Shocking...lol!

    The Olympics is just one of those things that brings millions of dollars to the U.S. (and Chicago)...why would a sitting president get involved in getting the committee to choose the US over another country? Duh...it's about time!

    September 29, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  16. machtim akannah

    It's only 18 hours........ How long would it take to do something useful like talking with General McChrystal in Afganistan? Obama would have to do it without a teleprompter. He has no experience as Commander in Chief and does not want to get the experience. Inept, irrational, and without a proper focus for the American people. Who really benefits if the "games" are brought to the US. Not me, I'm sure. The benerfit is no bigger than a pimple on the ass of an elephant as compared to the waste of the stimulus monies being pissed down a hole.

    September 29, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  17. Jasmine in Germany

    Mr Steele: I think it was "not necessary" for the previous president (GWB) to be on vacation for a good part of his first eight months in office. That's just my opinion.

    If Chicago wins the venue bid for the 2016 Olympics, it will bring prosperity and possibly return prestige to the US. Mr. Steele, contrary to your opinion, this makes sense during "a time of recession". Obama's trip to address the IOC is of high value. Madrid, Tokyo, and Rio de Janeiro are first class cities, they are tough competion. I am proud that the US President is making the extra effort to capitalize on an opportunity for his (our) country.

    September 29, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  18. I think at a time of war, I think at a time of recession, at time where Americans have expressed rather significantly their concerns and frustrations over the course of the spring and summer …this trip, while nice, is not necessary for the president

    really shaft, and how did you feel about Bush taking the WHOLE SUMMER OFF when he was president every summer

    shut up shaft

    September 29, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  19. SCOTT O'CANADA

    Perhaps it's not my place to comment, but seriously. Heaven forbid he take a day or two away, help recharge the batteries with some lighter fair, and promote your country. Being neither liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, I wondered how low the Republicans can go until this critique.

    September 29, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  20. Rob

    Steele is not necessary. You're just jealous. Go away.

    September 29, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  21. Step Up

    Geee, if you're so concerned about how Barak spends his time, why didn't you, Mikee, step up to the plate and offer to be part of the First Lady's team. After all its just trying to sign up a city in the U.S. for a world class event. OOOPS I forgot, your party doesn't want to be part of a team to help out under any circumstance!

    September 29, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  22. AJ

    For once I agree with a Republican. This is yet again an example of poor judgment on the part of the President. I sat the last election out as I couldn't support Obama and wouldn't support a Republican. I don't plan on supporting him in 2012 either unless something changes. Once again, it appears that we Democrats have thrown away the opportunity to do something great. I hope I am proven wrong.

    September 29, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  23. landscapebear

    yet another useless argument by the RNC. if we do get to host the Olympics it will be the biggest boost to the economy since the last time they were here. republicans are just stupid

    September 29, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  24. sally

    I agree, not obama. his wife is plenty for what is at stake–a sporting event. it is absurd for him to go, especially at this time, and I have no doubt he would NOT be going if the bid for new orleans. what is he doing?? something's up. does someone have him by the, uh, ears? ok, just because chicago is as corrupt as corrupt can be does not suggest the first family in on it, but....this is an odd play at a very bad time.

    September 29, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
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