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. Richard from PA

    Actually I believe that President Obama is performing splendidly – under the circumstances and constant blathering from his detractors!

    Mr Steele is an empty, shallow suit trying his best to herd his confused, angry, negative, wayward sheep!

    President Obama will be recognized as one of the Great Presidents when the history books are written in the future!!

    September 29, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  2. Just Me

    Steele, just put a sock in it. Attack, attack, attack. Is that all you and your partners in crime know? Of course, no solutions just critize everything the president does and maybe the rest of us won't notice that you have no solutions. When are you going to realize that the party is only using you as a token black man? If President Obama hadn't won the office, they wouldn't have given you a second look. They choose you hoping to pull in the minority voters in the next election but a tiger can't change its stripe. Give it up and maybe some time in the next hundred yrs we'll have forgotten what a tool you were for them.

    September 29, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    "So it's alright for "you" Dems to bash Bush when he was in office but it's not alright to bash Obama!!! "

    1. Yes. In fact, now that Bush is out of office, we still bash him, because he's such a complete religious freak lying sack of moron.

    2. At least we used facts and evidence to bash Bush...like the fact that there were no WMDs in Iraq or the fact that Bush conspired to wiretap the whole country or the fact that Bush held people without representation, charges or a trial and then tortured them. The GOP's got nothing like that, so it just makes stuff up willy-nilly.

    September 29, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  4. Paul

    Hey hopefully the Olympic Committee will buy into Obama and Chicago will get the 2016 Olympics. The American people elected style over substance with Obama so surely he sell that same thing to the Olympic Committee. At this rate it could be his crowning economic achievement.

    September 29, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  5. Lynne

    Who paid for Bush's jaunt to the Beijing Olympics when the economy was in free fall?

    Honestly, the republicans are getting too predictable in their constant naysaying and whining. Steele would do better to express some outrage at the ridiculous and dangerous comments his fellow Republicans are spouting about America's president and spend some time crafting some policies that would benefit the country.

    September 29, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  6. Richard

    First Bush went to the Beijing Olympics in a time of war and recession. Second if the Olympics are in Chicago it will bring BILLIONS of dollars to our economy and raise the countries moral. What exactly is the problem here? Oh it was Steele who made those comments, Steele would say Obama's time was better spent elsewhere even if Obama had found the cure to cancer.

    September 29, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  7. Porter Hemming

    Obama is making a huge international error by inviting anyone, especially the Olympics, to come to Chicago the nastiest crime-ridden city in the USA.

    September 29, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  8. Angelica

    As a citizen of the United State, I can't understand how people can be okay with this entire thing. We are going through a lot, starting from the war and ending with our economy and "RIGHT NOW" the President is just thinking about the Olympics! OMG! He has spent more time on national TV talking ridiculous stuff instead of paying attention at the critical ones.

    I was a Democrat all my life until last year. How can you tell me that it is okay to go after the people who supposedly "torture" terrorist TO PROTECT US but it is fine to have the legal abortions! Abortion is killing a baby by torturing and taking the baby from the belly pieces by pieces.

    It's not about race...I'm a Latino woman and I know how difficult it is... it's about believing in someone and unfortunately, I didn't feel that he was honest since the beginning. And now, little by little I'm discovering lies after lies. I have so many questions for the President but of course he's never going to answer them...what a shame!

    September 29, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  9. No Incumbents 2010

    Steele is the knee-jerk criticizer of everything Obama does. If Obama turns the economy around, as appears to be happening now, Steele will find a way to criticize Obama for it. If Obama keeps the peace, Steele will criticize it. Now we just need Steele to criticize Obama for stopping illegal torture.

    September 29, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  10. Robert

    Republicans are just criticizing President Obama's one-day trip because they can't stand the possibility that Chicago will get the games and Obama will get credit. That fact is making Republicans even nuttier than usual. They just reflexively oppose anything that might benefit the country and make the President look good.

    September 29, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  11. mkn

    Mr Steele has made his job easy.
    He just sits around waiting to disagree with Obama no matter what the issue.
    The Republicans have nothing else to show us because they continue to DO NOTHING.
    Perhaps Mr Steele should worry less about disagreeing with Obaman and do the job he is supposed to be doing. Solve some problems, pass some bills, reform health care. You know, those things he is actually responsible for.

    September 29, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  12. Average Joe

    Just so I understand this correctly, it was okay for us to never know where Cheney was. Ever. And it was okay for Bush2 to always be at the ranch. Always. President Obama can't go and lobby for us to host the Olympics? Okay, I was just making sure.

    September 29, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  13. Frank

    Who cares what this idiot Michael Steele thinks. If Barack Obama decided not go to Coppenhagen, Michael Steele and the republicans would criticize him for not going and representing the country. No matter what president Obama does, the republicans will find some way to criticize him.

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

    He has to find a way to pay off his Chicago cronies and more specifically Valerie Jarrett....Hello....Wake Up...do you know how many political donations (bribes) he will secure by bringing the olympics to Chicago?

    September 29, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  15. Sian Rose

    I am ashamed to admit that I agree with Michael Steele. Sentiments aside, this is none of the President's business

    September 29, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  16. ex insurance mgr

    They ( Repubs) would love nothing more than for Obama to just disappear. Lest we forget, during the last election they wanted "their" President to stay away.---– They were ashamed of their own ---

    September 29, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  17. Nick

    Heaven forbid the President go anywhere and not focus on staying in the Oval Office! The next thing you know, he will have the nerve to go to Camp David or some ranch for weeks at a time while letting Wall St CEOs run amuck.
    Doesn't massive construction for various Olympic projects count for something? Oh yeah, not if you're a Democrat...

    September 29, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  18. Mamixztwo

    Is there not anything that the GOP won't whine about?! I'm thinking that they should get exhausted from whining in the very near future because everyone else is certainly exhausted from hearing their whines OVER EVERY LITTLE THING!!!!!

    September 29, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  19. Ches

    What more would you expect from Michael Steele. He is the best thing the dems have going. Keep talking loud and saying nothing!!

    September 29, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  20. GOP hypocrites

    Can we get any more tired of the Republicans complaining just to be complaining? The Republicans want Obama to fail just so they can get back in power. What kind of morals are those?
    Shut up Republicans and do somthing constructive instead of destructive.

    September 29, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  21. R in Maine

    So you want to be able to decide on whether or not we compete for the Olympics, It is a constructive act and I say get on with it. Having Steele as the target in the shot put is the right idea.

    September 29, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  22. Florence

    More and more these Republicans are sounding like a yapping Chiwawa. They yap even when there is nothing to yap about. So what, the man accompanied his wife because he loves her and enjoys being with her. Unlike some of you who would have taken this opportunity to pop up in public bathrooms and/or on foreign land “looking for love”. You “mal-baize” you.

    September 29, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  23. Accountability

    Who asked you for your opinion Steele? Go back to making a fool of yourself and your party......

    September 29, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  24. Tim

    My only hope is that Obama thinks he is the center of attention, and gets put in his place.

    September 29, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  25. FORMER republican, NEVER again!

    Typical rethuglican = bash the President no matter what.

    September 29, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
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