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. Marci

    Because we're at a time of war and recession, It's now especially important that we as an American people have something positive to which to look forward. Politics and living everyday life isn't just about war, policies, crime, the economy. It's also about the other great enjoyable things life has to offer. Cheer up people! All you bitter folk need some joy in your lives

    September 29, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  2. citizenUSA

    President Obama should keep his concentration on the needs of the nation not just one city. Would he do this for any other city? The Olympics is for atheletes not politicians. Send Bruce Jenner.

    September 29, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  3. Emma

    He may have a valid point but Steele himself lacks credibility.

    September 29, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  4. Susan

    Regardless of Republican opinion (which would be negative no matter WHAT the First Family does) I have no problem with the President traveling. Maybe by the time he returns, the FBI will have arrested the nimwits who polled about an assassination. What is the matter with the right? How can Beck and Rush get them so riled up after less than a year, and why are the left not calling them out daily? These people are a danger to our way of life, not Obama, but the people who want to stifle this democracy and return it to the Wild West mentality...I'll shoot you so you can't shoot me. Great thinkers, these guys are.

    September 29, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  5. Harold

    jobs in seven years? this dummy doesn't realize building will be required to start now; anyone who doesn't have have pride and support for their country and others who won't be able to profit sees the Olympic bid as unnecessary; it just all about me! that is why this country is going downhill; there is no United in United States;

    September 29, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  6. Steele Boring

    Who cares what Steele says, he gets his marching orders from Boss Limbreath anyway. What he says doesn't matter because it will always be something against the president. I don't like him. He's a crybaby momma's boy who wants attention. Well he'll get my attention when he's shown the door.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    September 29, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  7. beckyofganador

    Is he taking AirForce One? How much is this going to cost taxpayers?

    September 29, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  8. republicans destroyed America!

    Yeah, why should President Obama go and try to lobby for this country? How dare he, right mr. steel? BTW, i guess it was okay when bushie went to the Olympics, right??? You rethuglicans are disgusting, the party of evil.

    September 29, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  9. JA/TN

    when did Steele become an expert , he doesn't think healthcare reform is necessary, all in opposition should step down off the high horses, give up ninety percent of incomes, then pay medical deductibles

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

    Surprise, surprise. The GOP's token spokesperson has NEVER ONCE praised anything Obama has done.

    Instead, Steele is praying that Al Qaeda attacks us so that Obama can look bad.

    September 29, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  11. Donna from Colorado Springs

    Do Republicans know how to do ANYTHING BUT COMPLAIN? I should have known that one of their talking idiots would have something snarky to say about his trip! I guess it was okay for Mr. Bush to travel all over the world promoting whatever and doing basically what he wanted. Too bad that the dark side cannot give Mr, Obama the same courtesy!

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

    Obama is Visiting Copenhagen, Denmark, to bring Business to Our Country.

    Business brings Prosperity and Prosperity boosts Economy.

    War Does not bring Prosperity.

    Bush only brought War to our Country.

    September 29, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  13. One Nation

    All I can say to Steele is...
    Jump Jim Crow, Jump Jim Crow, every time you turn around it's Jump Jim Crow.

    September 29, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  14. Jesus healed the sick

    Don't republicans get tired of being evil?

    September 29, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  15. Coherent1

    So now, future planning is a bad thing. Securing jobs 7 years from now, means all the welfare people you keep bashing will be out of your pockets in the future. So grasping long term and short term goals is not presidential and unnecessary? I believe more than anything, it is necessary, just because you, Mr. Steele, oppose of it.

    September 29, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  16. Greg

    I sense a tone of racism in all of this Steele hating.

    September 29, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  17. Debra R

    Wow, all you guys who disagree with Steele must be racists!

    September 29, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  18. Kevin in NY

    W's frequent and unprecedented trips to Crawford were A-OK though, weren't they Mikey?

    September 29, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  19. We Won Get Over It

    Republicans AREN'T NECESSARY...but goodness knows they are still around. That phrase makes more sense than any from steele any day.

    September 29, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  20. Alan Deming

    These folks are entitled to their opinions; however, if it were Bush going, or had McCain won the election and decided to make this trip, many of Obama's detractors in this situation would be praising the the actions of our President and would possibly criticize anyone opposed to Bush or McCain going to Copenhagen on behalf of the Chicago Olympic bid as unpatriotic or even anti-American.

    September 29, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  21. Jason

    Oh, shut up already!
    If he can credibly balance his schedule, and make this happen then let him do his job as he sees fit.
    If he did his job YOUR way that would make him a republican, and the nation didn't vote for that.
    And like Bushie Boy used every minute of the White House day productively and efficiently.

    September 29, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  22. Alan Deming

    These folks are entitled to their opinions; however, if it were Bush going, or had McCain won the election and decided to make this trip, many of Obama's detractors in this situation would be praising the actions of our President and would possibly criticize anyone opposed to Bush or McCain going to Copenhagen on behalf of the Chicago Olympic bid as unpatriotic or even anti-American.

    September 29, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  23. Bonnie

    Michael go out there and talk to your people, and tell them President Obama is wasting theirs and everyones time(says his bosses to Mr. Steele) yes boss, right away boss(says Mr. Steele to his bosses.)

    September 29, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  24. Mike from Milwaukee

    The people of Milwaukee think it is necessary! As a resident of Milwaukee this would bring needed money to the regions economy. To those of you who are complaining about Chicago corruption, think about other cities in the region. Milwaukee may be a progressive city, but our leadership is not tainted by Chicago politics. You may remember that our Mayor, Tom Barrett is the man who what savagely attacked this summer for trying to help an elderly Woman and her Granddaughter. Having the Olympics as chose as Chicago, and having a rail connection from Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport to Chicago's O'Hare will mean a injection of business into our economy. Furthermore, Madison stands to host cycling events if Chicago wins its bid.

    September 29, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  25. Northwest

    Who ask Steel for his input ?
    We were not born yesterday Steel but your free advise sounds as if you were.
    Hey nurse give Steel his banky and his baba .

    September 29, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
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