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. bris12pooh

    It is embarassing to see this man claiming to know what is or isn't necessary. I'm from Maryland and we obviously found him unnecessary when he was voted out of office with the new govenor in place. The world is seeing the U.S. as something other than warmongering lunatics since we dismissed Bush/Cheney. God forbid the current president do something positive versus starting another war.

    September 29, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  2. NYCitizen

    BamBam's olympian trip is really not necessary considering the President needs to be doing his job here at home. Why has he not commented on Al'Queda's Zazi getting indicted in Brooklyn today? The very thought that Al'Queda operatives are here in the United States, on our shores, plotting against us under our very noses, is extremely frightful. More frightful is Obama can't handle it. He has said nothing. Not even telling us to keep vigilant and that 8 years post-911 should never allow us to fall linto complacency. He is in way over his head and he has way too much on his plate. This spells disaster for him by way of mid-term elections and defeat in running for a second term.

    September 29, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  3. Jefe

    "at a time of war"...we were set up for permanent war under Bush. We're not going to discontinue operations of our nation just to be slaves to foreign wars.

    September 29, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  4. Steph

    I think it is so funny that Republicans don't realize this president can fly to Copenhagen, speak to the IOC and still focus on the important issues. Don't they realize that technology allows him to stay connected with everyone while in flight??? He will continue to work all the way there and back! Trying to say that he isn't focusing on what's important is just plain crazy (but what's new from the GOP).

    September 29, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  5. AUSTIN,TX

    why can't the rethugs put all this energy in healthcare reform instead of critiquing Pres Obama for everything he does

    September 29, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  6. Four and The Door

    It's more fun to act like a celebrity than a government servant. Washington has become just a bunch of nagging problems what with all of the unemployment and issues like that. Who wouldn't choose Copenhagen? (John McCain, for one... )

    Besides, isn't it customary for the sitting President to go make a plea in person? Oh, it's not???

    September 29, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  7. phoenix86

    Come on now Steele, every Third World president goes to the Olympic committee to lobby for their country.

    September 29, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  8. Bruce

    M. Steele is just upset. Everyone leave him alone. If Clinton would have won the Democratic nomination, he would have been McCain's running mate. And, most likely Vice President right now. So he has a big grudge against President Obama.

    September 29, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  9. Joe in PA

    What this additional dimwitted repulican thinks is not relevant to anything

    September 29, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  10. Get a Grip

    I guess it's better for our President to go and watch the Olympics (ie...George Bush in Bejing) than it is for our current President to go and try to get the Olympics here in his own country....where all those dollars could be spent right here in Chicago......GET A GRIP PEOPLE!!!

    September 29, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  11. paul mooney

    I think it is the right thing to do. Having an Olympics in the USA is what this country needs. I think it only fair, however, that the President be willing, at all times, to help other states secure needed revenues as well. If for instance, Volkswagen considers building a new plant in Rhode Island, Mr. Obama should be willing to fly to Germany and lobby on the behalf of RI. He is the President of the United States and not just Chicago and he must show equal consideration to all the other states as he is doing to Illinois.

    September 29, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  12. Drama

    "Not necessary" to report...The Party of No plans to criticize...again.

    Catch the fake faintings. Cue back of the hand to forehead, deep breath, big sigh, oooh! LOL. What a joke this has become. I mean, seriously...

    The jobs and commerce the Olympics would bring to our great nation is worth every moment our multi-tasking president can put forth to help improve our chances of bringing it to America.

    September 29, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  13. james

    Stop stealing our greivances against Bush and trying to flip them on us. Things have improved since Obama took office. The market is higher and Obama has kept us safe from terrorists without using torture. At least this bid for the olympics has the potential to bring tourism and money to our economy, which is more than I can say for Bush's cedar tree cutting 4 months a year, also during two wars and a bad economy. Why is it we have to wait hundreds of years for history to judge bush but you all can judge Obama before his first year? You judged him before his first 100 days, but only history can judge Bush.

    September 29, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  14. Johnny the Boy

    We have troops in Iraq and Afganistan that our president ignores.

    We have increased terror threats that our president ignores.

    We have double digit unemployment in states across the nation.

    And Obama is worried about the Olympics?

    September 29, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  15. Maxer Cat

    Michael Steele is just another empty headed Republican oxygen thief

    September 29, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  16. Keeth

    Two words, Mr. Steele: Bush's vacations. 'Nuff said.

    September 29, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  17. Jay T.

    Boy, Steele is really bad. Can the Republicans get rid of him? I don't know the process for being a chairman.

    September 29, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  18. Ambrose Smith, Borrego Springs, California

    Whaaa whaaaa whaaaaa. This Steele dud is nothing but a puppet and crybaby.

    September 29, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  19. felicia

    michael is a total HEEL. He bagged back on limburger, the repigs are grasping at straws they have nothing

    September 29, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  20. joe

    The country choose Obama not steele...

    September 29, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  21. Independant Vet

    How Big a Platter Has Barrack got ? About time he start cleaning some of it up . Each an everyday , he is applying more an doing less about the first serving.

    Gonna do this, then never finishe's . Best he stop smoking an quite his joking. Start telling the truth . For over a year he has not spoken the full truth . WRIGHT > Now he is going to play more Games with tax dollars he doesn't have.

    I am sure he does not travel around in a Glider. Pelosi has to have the biggest an best to sit her bottom in . At a whopping yearly price tag.

    An start thinking more about victory an carring for our Military . Let Chicago worry about the games. Wright an Tony will over see that.

    This change is , going down to the last Penny . Wright+++

    September 29, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  22. rcasteel

    PEOPLE PEOPLE PEOPLE. C'mon surely you understand, he has buddies in Chi town that need the money made form the Olympics.

    And besides, we could have ACORN head up financing and entertainment. It will be PERFECT.

    September 29, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  23. Irma in North Caroliina

    Hey Steele what is necessary is that you keep your mouth shut. Do you and all your followers have to Bash the President every time he says something. It probably was one of your people who put the poll on face book about the president.

    September 29, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  24. Duck Fallas

    Steele, you token tool, your "base" thinks you're an animal! Fool!

    September 29, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  25. Get a Grip

    Republicans.....I think our President said it best during the campaign...."a President has to do more than one thing at a time" it's called multi-tasking...for you dummies.

    September 29, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
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