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. Tracy

    ...and on that note, how necessary are you?

    September 29, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  2. JP

    Michael Steele is an "Unnecessary Distraction". Obama's trip is only 24 hours in duration. 24 hours that could lead to Hundreds of Millions of dollars and thousands of jobs (in an urban metropolis that desperately needs both). Being that other world leaders are making the trip to plead their case, how could we be competitive if we did not do the same?

    September 29, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  3. Malcolm in St Louis

    Steele is irrelevant. Only Rush, Glenn and Bill can speak for the republican party. The rest of the republicans should shut up and let their leadership do the talking.

    Also the media should only report on what Rush, Glen, and Bill say. It would save a lot of time. Plus the senators like Bond (leaving and thus also irrelevant) can save their energy for the bills in the senate.

    September 29, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  4. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    What a laugh.... Steele himself is the personification of NOT NECESSARY....

    September 29, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  5. Robert Farrell

    They are jobs now... not seven years from now. I was opposed to such a trip until I thought about it more. It is important for the US to be on the world stage... what better way then hosting the world in our very own backyard. It will create jobs for construction and during the games, help improve the infrastructure of a great city, tourisum dollars and taxes... the list goes on. This is just a quick jab at the President doing his job.

    September 29, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  6. Kendall

    It is really ashame that these politicians have to go at it like this every day for the next 2 years. The only people they are talking to are people who can actually watch TV everyday and attend these meetings. I don'tthink they're main street. most people have children to tend to, jobs to go to and most aren't watching now, In two years though that giant will wake up. The repubs will get ugly and America will decide on intelligence in the white house not fear

    September 29, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  7. worriedmom

    As I said before, it would be nice to have the Olympics here in the U.S. not really in thugland Chicago, however I think that our President needs to concentrate his efforts here in the U.S. on the economy and start thinking about our brave men and women who are fighting for our safety and to see their Commander In Chief taking once again the Air Force One to another "date" trip for him and the little missy! Comeon you Libs didn't vote in a President, you voted on the Salesman of the Year!

    September 29, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  8. Joe

    I live in Illinois, we have enough problems in this state with Chicago messing it up. I for one and many more don't want it anywhere near this corrupt state. Chicago has enough spotlight mostly bad the last couple of years, don't destroy the good of the Olympics by putting it there.

    September 29, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  9. GOP foolishness

    Where were the complaints when former President Bush was on perpetual vacation? At least our current President is trying to do something positive for our country, and not off tending a fake ranch.

    September 29, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  10. Joseph B

    He has to go to represent the U.S.! No wait – he can't go! Wait – what did Obama do? Whatever Obama chose to do was wrong!

    September 29, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  11. AustHall

    If Michael Steele thinks that the short visit to the IOC meeting is a bad idea, then it was got to be a GREAT idea because Steele is wrong all of the time

    September 29, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  12. single mom

    Question – do we really want one of our most politically corrupt cities put on display like this?

    September 29, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  13. Nancy

    It's nice to see Obama have his priorities straight. With Afghanistan blowing up in his face and Iran having a second nuke factory it's nice to see him relax in Copenhagen to plea for Chicago to get the 2016 Olympics. WTG Mr. President. That's looking out for us.

    September 29, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  14. Navy Vet

    The President wants to bring the Olympics to the US and they're criticizing him? No, we don't want the 10's of thousands of tourists, the hundreds of millions of dollars in profits. That couldn't possibly be a good thing, now can it?

    Maybe the President should have called it a vacation. After all Bush had already taken 4 vacations his first six months in office.

    September 29, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  15. deborah/kansas city

    Big surprise Republicans against anything President Obama does to help this country. They are only interested in their partisan rants, and their right wing paranoid nut cases urging violence toward the governemt or democrats.
    If, Chicago gets the olympics, the jobs will start right away with bids for architec firms, construction jobs, planners;etc.
    I am so grateful we have a reasonable, realistic, honest President, instead of the lunatics in the Republican Party. NO REPUBLICANS IN 2010!!

    September 29, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  16. Hase

    Who listens to this moron?

    September 29, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  17. Michael Burton

    Views and opinions from either side of the aisle are so partisan that they frequently have little value; this is one of those times. Can anyone honestly say that billions of dollars and the spotlight of the world is not worth even 24 hours of the President's time? If this had been a Republican president, the GOP would be singing his praises, saying he's investing in our future. Instead they criticize him for wasting time.

    I'm glad I don't work in Washington; the criticism and negativism never stops. They need to take some lessons from kindergarten: play nice, learn to share, no hitting, etc. They act like a bunch of children.

    September 29, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  18. Caesar the Great

    I know its the only city we have nominated, but someone please tell me why we want to show the world Chicago. ANYONE???

    September 29, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  19. Joe In Nevada

    Of course it is not necessary. Anything the President does that might be seen as progressive or forward thinking will be construed as detrimental to the republican's strategy of derailing the President's agenda of making things right again for American.

    September 29, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  20. Just Me

    What a buffoon! This token has everything negative to say about President Oboma. When the olympics goes to Chicago, I will see what he has to say next. Moomo!

    September 29, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  21. Joy

    This attack strategy for any and everything the President does is getting very, very old.

    Is this what politics has become? Attack EVERYTHING!

    September 29, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  22. carol

    Big mistake: did it ever occur to you that this could generate jobs and money for Americans?

    September 29, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  23. Fancysmiley from Conyers

    Michael Steele says it isn't important, but Mitt Romney and other Republicans feels it's an important trip to make. Who should we believe? Obviously it isn't this fool!

    September 29, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  24. The Big NB

    The Republican party would object to anything Obama does. Anything! It's pathetic. I have never been more disgusted by the GOP. Not even during the Bush era did I feel so absolutely disgusted.

    September 29, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  25. Jane/Seattle

    I sort of agree with this guy, but this is about all I agree with! How could I? Maybe Obama considers this so important for America that he is willing to waste our tax dollars on more perks in Air Force 1! Or maybe he must now pay back his big supporters in Illinois? I am from the state of Illinois and know all about the criminal regimes that run the place, having grown up under mayor Richard J. Daly, Sr.

    Since he has his Blackberry, why not JUST TWEET them in the strongest terms for a President? Or send a special presidential envoy? How's about we start helping Americans so we will have the strength to save Darfur? How about ending these crap wars that Bush et al started for Never-Ending Profits? Oh, nevermind, Mr. President, perhaps you are far too busy being rich to care about us or those starving all over this globe because of Corruption and Capitalism! We are not fooled by the "Shock Doctors" (Naomi Klein) that you have chosen to employ above the good Economists, like Joseph Stiglitz, Ravi Batra, etc.! You have a nice time as more get to die for this evil racket you folks worship in Competition as Cooperation Dies a Slow Death in the costs of Misery. Peace speaks out!

    September 29, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
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