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. A. Goodwin

    Steele: You're an idiot. I doubt that the few hours Obama will be at this meeting – to secure more jobs and all that comes with hosting the Olympics – there will be a fallout in anything Obama is currently working on.

    Just because YOU, Mr. Steele, cannot multi-task, doesn't mean our president cant!

    September 29, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  2. Rob

    The Olympics should be and will be awarded to Rio de Janiero, because South America has never hosted an Olympics before. Any bets on how the media will "cover" this whim trip for the Obamas when Rio gets the nod?

    September 29, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  3. gg

    Just to give Micheal Steel some ideas: Seven years from NOW will create infrastracture project, employment opportunities.

    September 29, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  4. Mark

    So, it's okay for Bush to: 1) Go on vacation more than any president in the history of this country; 2) Play beach volleyball at the Olympics while Russia is invading Georgia, but it's not okay for Obama to spend less than 24 hours making a pitch to the IOC to get the Olympics in Chicago, in an effort to boost a little patriotism and create jobs for people? News Flash: Getting the Olympics in Chicago will create jobs as early as 2010, not seven years from now. Maybe if Republicans would spend less time complaining about Obama's every move, and more time trying to work with him and the Democrats, this country could move forward.

    September 29, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  5. ME

    Why don't the Republicans ever seem to care about our future, unless it was their idea first? Energy, jobs, deficit when Bush was in charge, health care, etc.

    September 29, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  6. David

    Wow. Georgie Porgy Bush goes on vacation more than any other President and can barely walk and talk at the same time, but Steele gives Obama a hard time about travelling to help an American city get the biggest and most important sporting event in the world. Classic Republican idiot.

    September 29, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  7. SY

    Michael Steele is "not necessary."

    September 29, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  8. Roger

    WHO cares what the right wing wacko republicans think....President Obama is going to be gone about 24 hours to hopefully bring the 2016 Olympics to the US which is great....the problem is that this president is far from lazy, he can do more than one thing at a time, is able to walk & chew at the same time & it drives lazy people CRAZY...look at congress they make $174,000 (rank & file members) & the leadership make much more & this does not include all of their perks, & excellent health benefits & all have a staff to help with their every move & they complain about Obama doing too much at one time....ESPECIALLY the GOP.... KEEP this in mind we working citizens are paying for all of this including the presidents...I'd rather have my money going to the one(s) that are not LAZY....

    September 29, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  9. Ron

    I really hpoe that we, the taxpayers, are not paying the bill for this trip.

    September 29, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  10. Matt from Richmond VA

    Do we have to hear from this idiot every time the President does something, I mean anything.
    Can CNN just put Steele down for a permanent "NO" or "I'm against it" in regards to anything and everything the President does? I mean really is this a story, he comes out of his hole to criticize the President, this is a never ending loop.
    The President likes Orange juice, Steele "Orange juice is bad, a President shouldn't show favoritism towards one juice over another, what about grapefruit juice." Steele is a complete idiot!

    September 29, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  11. James

    Instead of rocketing us to the future.....Obama should focus on the more down-to-earth matters like urban violence in the city streets, especially CHICAGO.

    September 29, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  12. Marcus

    Why would we even listen to a man whose only claim to fame is being selected to head the GOP due to a black man being elected President of the United States. Mr. Steele you have your position due to the stupidity of the Republican Party much like Ms. Palin was selected to garner the votes of white women. How did that work for you? Expect the same results in 2012.

    September 29, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  13. David

    So when was the last time the GOP didn't criticize President Obama? That's all they do.

    I'm glad Steele admits that having the Olympics in the US creates jobs. Yes, the jobs will be in 2016 but longer term thinking is what has been lacking in our economy for quite some time. As a nation, we need to plan beyond the next quarter (aka Wall Street) if we are going to succeed.

    Having the Olympics in the US is also a source of national pride. It's clear the GOP cares nothing about that. Their only concern is to scare people into voting them back into power.

    September 29, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  14. Lil Jimmy

    I did not vote for Obama. I don't support a lot of his plans but this is silly. He is doing what most of the countries in competition for the Olympics are doing. Making a pitch. In return it will bring a economic boost to the Chicago area in construction and revenue when it happens. This is yet another distraction from the real problems our country faces. Even if the economic gains are temporary, they are gains. How about the press and others focus on our economy, terrorism and health care?

    September 29, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  15. AUSTIN,TX

    Johnny the Boy....I'm sure you're not an President Obama supporter...so he could care less what you think

    September 29, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  16. Zion

    Michael Steele, stop being the black talking point of the Republican Party. You are not even allowed to be over finances. What a joke.

    PS – I am black. Stand up bro.

    September 29, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  17. ron

    I have a box beside my desk that I use for scrap paper. 4 months ago I added a similar box that was about the same size and started printing republican complaints about the president and putting them in one box in the other I have been printing republicans solutions to any problem no matter how ridiculous I thought they were weather foreign or domestic.

    The box with complaints is full and over flowing, the other looks empty but if you look really close you will find a couple of sheets in there.

    My point, michael please shut up or buy me another box.

    September 29, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  18. Chris

    All of those individuals speaking abt the president going off for 24 hours 'stating, he needs to be her working on healthcare". What are there no phones on airforce one? I'm sure they have BB's and secure lines, and video conferencing equipment on airforce one. What a bunch of idiots!

    September 29, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  19. Robert

    President Obama: I would like eggs for breakfast.
    Steele: A bad choice; you should have had pancakes. Obviously you are not suitable to be in office.

    The party of No

    September 29, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  20. Jacob

    Hey Steele! Any thought to what this could do to help stimulate Chicago's and the rest of the country's economy? It is necessary!

    But lets not forget, the GOP still wants America hurting for the next three years. Recession is good for their poll numbers. Wars are good for their poll numbers. Hating gays is good for their poll numbers. Controlling a woman's choice is good for their poll numbers.

    The GOP is irrelevant.

    September 29, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  21. Ron - Saint Louis

    Nice comments Mr. Steele. I am guessing that you made this statement about President Obama wasting his time because the Republican Party doesn't want any votes in Chicago.

    Also, I guess during the financial tough times that the country has suffered under the past administration that creating a business opportunity as big as the Olympics would just be wasted jobs and bad development.

    Thank you, Mr Steele, for being so in touch with the American people. Maybe your party could sponsor a plan that gives incentives to off-shore America jobs next – oops, I forgot that your party already did that.

    September 29, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  22. Mike in MN

    Obama has never had his priorities right.
    That is why he is pushing health care reform and cap and trade before jobs and the economy and deficit reduction.
    That is why he has only meet with General McChrystal only once on the war in Afganistan. He has plenty of time to tour all over the country and world and to appear on Lettermen though.
    This county will be lucky if it can survive 4 years of this egotistic, control freak, socialist clown.

    September 29, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  23. jwai

    Dear no brainer (Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele) if 2016 Olympics will happen in our country make a billion of dollar not million. so think about it you no brainer pls shut up and do something good for the country.

    September 29, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  24. Mesa

    Never fret. Let him rub elbows with the elite. I

    n just a little over 3 years he will leave the White House with his head hung low looking worse then Bush ever did.

    September 29, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  25. joe

    Hopeless people!

    September 29, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
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