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. Vette66

    I think that Chitown should get it. The union bosses will get richer, the union workers will get richer and the street gangs will get richer. Since I moved out of corrupt state awhile ago I do have a question, Did the unions ever get the street gangs to unionize? I never heard if they did or not. If not, there would be another great source of income for the bosses. The gangs could then share equally in the take from selling drugs and stealing for the tourists. Of course the union bosses would want them to quite killing each other, lose of labor you know which equals lose of income.

    September 29, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  2. historian

    Does anyone believe anything Michael Steele has to say?

    September 29, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  3. Robin

    Mr. President,

    Isn't Iran, Afganistan, health care, and unemployment enough to keep you busy.

    Send Michelle, since her gloves are off.

    September 29, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  4. Cleaning up after W

    What? The repubs are complaining about something Obama is doing? I've never heard of such a thing...

    Seriosly, GOP now stands for "Griping Old Pansies". Do they actually even try to accomplish anything anymore?

    September 29, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  5. Right Again

    Given the fact, Obama has taken two vacations and several golf games and only spoke to his General in Afghanistan ONCE, I agree with Steele.

    Obama is in over his head.

    September 29, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  6. Carmelle

    and that concerns, bothers, annoys or disturbs you how Mr. Steele?

    You are, and will never be anything else but a sale-out in the eyes of the African-American community. And that matters bc the Repubs will drop you like a bag of dirt once they are done with you. And then what?

    Keep it up.

    September 29, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  7. MsDp

    Fool Steele is so JEALOUS!!!!

    September 29, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  8. WayneVT

    Even though I'm an Obama supporter, I don't disagree with point that this trip is unnecessary. The Olympic Games are a MASSIVE waste of money. The wealthiest nations buy the right to host them and in turn "win" (i.e. buy) the most medals - all in an effort to demonstrate superiority over other countries. I'm sick of hearing how GREAT we are....if a country like Costa Rica had all the resources (the best coaches, trainers, facilities, equipment) we have...they could probably win a medal in downhill skiing or swimming, too.

    Back to the point about the trip.....so where was all the Republican outrage over "W's" countless vacation trips back to the ranch? Give me a break, you bunch of hypocrites.

    September 29, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  9. Ron In California

    It serves as a photo op for Obama to stroke his ego. This President need to stop and focus...... let's think...Olympics or Healthcare, Iran. Afghanistan . Also, every time he does this it costs $$$$$ that we don't need to spend. Give me a break.

    September 29, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  10. Wheat

    Any chance the Obamas could stay there?

    September 29, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  11. Island girl

    I was about to say that Steele's input is not necessary, but then again I must remember that the Republican Party is in campaign mode to get the country back under the leadership of somebody who suits their profile whether or not it is for the benefit of the country.

    The current President is respected abroad and his political clout in the global arena could very well bring the Olympics to Chicago. This in turns translates into jobs in every sector. I can see construction workers, restauranteurs, hoteliers, sidewalk trinket vendors, etc., already salivating.

    He is desperately trying to find ways and means of getting America back on an economically sound track, so If he can walk and chew at the same time then so be it. Those whose own dexterity skills do not allow them to multi-task might think that President Obama shares their same deficiency. Not so!

    September 29, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  12. mark

    Get back to work obama, this country is a mess, afghanistan is a mess. you will have met with the ioc more than your top commander in afghanistan – good job...

    September 29, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  13. joe

    these losers will complain about anything, it will create jobs now in rebuiding the infrastructure...any chance to complain they will do it

    September 29, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  14. lanray

    Does this President EVER stay in D.C.? We must be paying a fortune for "Mr. Personality and wife" to tour the world at our expense. Who cares if Chicago gets the Olympics - just think of all the tax money that will have to go for protecting the competitors and building the arenas, etc. Stay home and take of our business. You and your family have had enough vacations around the world at my expense.

    September 29, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  15. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The only thing that is not necessary is your worthless opinion MIkey. Look, I understand, who's used to a President that can attend to so many issues at one time? Not US! But the fact is that we finally have a President that can multi-task, think outside the box, look out for OUR best interests. Obama is looking for opportunites that will benefit the country. The regular hard-working Joes. Why would he pass up on an opportunity like that? Who in their right mind would when the country's finances need a boost from wherever we can get it?

    New concept for Republicans, Country First, we know. New deal for America a President that is working to improve things HERE at home, we know. Get used to it. It's a brand new day. God Bless America. And you too, MIkey.

    September 29, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  16. Anand

    I would much rather have the chance of staging the olympics go to some other country since US has already had a chance with Atlanta in recent past and olympics tends to stay with the west majority of the times, recent exception being Beijing. Madrid shouldn't get – they had it in Barcelona already in the recent times. Other 3 viable.

    In order to fortify the bid, seems like it's now become normal for country's leaders to make a final push. If the prez didn't go, US bid would appear weaker. If you want to put the US back on the world stage, you want to bid.

    Just because we have war, economy, health, and all the problems doesn't mean that prez needs to be holed up in the white house. Not at all. He is the best spokesman for the country. Let him make the pitch. Country need not be pre-occupied with wars all the time like Republicans – it can involve in other things. US is a force in sports and it's good for the country and good for the midwest.

    September 29, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  17. roxane

    I think Republican Micahel Steel need to go sit down. It is obvious that Michael Steel is not for the American people. Thanks for not being a Preist no one sins would be forgiven.

    September 29, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  18. Objective Thinking

    Michael Steele is a typical racist Republican, just hatin' on our President because our President is black.

    September 29, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  19. JWR

    What is the GOP presently doing? Are they sleeping? They provide no leadership, just whining, whining, whining. They are really the party of NO! They are led by a "entertainer" who is an addict, deceiver and liar who knows absolutely nothing about America and Americans. The republicans have fought against Medicare for over 40 years. Recently 137 republicans voted to end Medicare, and like the hypocrites they are, they now say they are "protecting" Medicare. Recently, within a couple of years ago, "prominent republican spokesmen" male and female applauded funding for consultation to families of people who were close to death. Now they're calling them "death panels", the very same programs they supported. Anything for America, the republicans are against. They continue to use the term "the American people", instead of "some Americans". They are totally delusional. Right now they are the vocal minority and the silent majority; sensible American people, can see right through them and their lies and deceit. Who is Steele anyway? Does he work? What does he do, other than whine, whine, whine?

    September 29, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  20. Tim in Minnesota

    Is that all these wingnuts can do is criticize?! If Obama helps to bring the Olympics to Chicago in 2016 and only spends 24 hours trying to help it happen, wouldn't that be a pretty good expenditure of time?
    Oh and by the way, you various Party of No supporters: Bush used to spend the entire month of August during his eight years on his ranch. Didn't hear ya'll complainin' about that, even when his country was at war during seven of those eight years! Stop being such hypocrites!
    This president has been workin' pretty darn hard over the past eight months with just a little time off to catch his breath. Could be that he's smart, full of energy and believes in what he's doin'. You can attack the guy over his policies, but you're simply being hateful if you're attacking him over his character. That type of discourse does not help anyone or anything and only feeds your hate.

    September 29, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  21. for real

    While it would certainly be nice to have the Olympics in the US again, we will spend way more than we will bring in, and right now this country is not really in a postition to spend even more money that it doesn't have on another bad investment.

    September 29, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  22. Joseph B

    To those complaining about Obama not fixing Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and the economy in his 9 months in office – please remember how well George W. Bush did on those fronts in 8 years which you so happily gave W.

    September 29, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  23. Andre

    The country needs things to spur the economy. Jobs will be created, businesses will strive. This will allow us to fund the nasty wars and get america back to normal. Evey bit helps. if it takes a day out of 365, so be it. So so sorry for the sulky folks out there.

    September 29, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  24. sensible Cape Coral FL

    Steeele is just angry that he can't go. The Olympics will help the economy so that is why President Obama is going. The economy is one of his jobs – got that all you idiots out there?

    September 29, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  25. Major Bennington

    Mr Steele, you are partly correct. Obama needs to be concerned about the oncoming civil war within the USA - a division he helped create among the American people.

    September 29, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
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