September 29th, 2009
12:18 PM ET
13 years ago

Steele says Obama's Olympic trip 'not necessary.'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. doro

    This Republican hate campaign isn't only damaging the president, as these unpatriotic thugs intend it to do–it's poisoning the whole well, and doing lasting harm to all of us as Americans. It has become all too obvious that they don't care about the country; clearly, their only interest is in regaining power for themselves, maintaining white privilege, and imposing their theocratic vision on the rest of us. I wish I could undo every Republican vote I ever cast, during the two decades when I voted straight Republican in every election. I am ashamed that my votes were part of what allowed this madness to happen.

    September 29, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  2. Paul Dobro

    How many vacation days did Bush have 8 months into office? Obama has been the hardest working president we have had in generations. And he has to be with the large number of problems left by the previous administraions inability to act on ANYTHING.

    Lets face facts, the GOP will criticize ANYTHING Obama does, if it is good in the long run for America.

    Way to go "America First!" party!

    September 29, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  3. Sue

    Priorities for Obama...........take a trip or stay here and work on the economy, health care, Iran and Afghanistan, etc. Guess he would rather take a trip. What do you expect from a intern?

    September 29, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  4. Jim in San Mateo

    Can anyone remember when a Republican had anything positive to say? Everything President Obama is wrong, not enough, too much, not the right time, etc., etc., etc.

    If Obama scores, guess who the small business owners of Chicago will be writing checks to? There's something proudly American about hosting an Olympic Games and it's certainly worth 24 hours of the President's time.

    Obama has already done more for this country in the short time he has been in office than George, Where am i, Bush did in 8 years. One day in Copenhagen beats two weeks in Crawford any time.

    September 29, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  5. Clint

    Steele and the Republicans would rather the money spent at the Olympics go to Rio. These guys are clowns, and anti American to the core. They want America to fail, and will do most anything to bring down President Obama.

    September 29, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  6. JohnP

    Obama talks a good talk, probably no one is any better. But what has actually been accomplished? The Olympics, what about Iran? And about a dozen other things.

    September 29, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  7. Tom in CA

    ...and the Grand Obstructionism Party thinks criticism is more important than health care reform.

    All the GOP can do is criticize – they have no vision of the future.

    September 29, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  8. Kent in CA

    Wrong again, Mr Steele. The President needs to worry about creating jobs now AND seven years from now.
    So, Mr Steele, perhaps you can explain to all of us what exactly you did today to create jobs either now or seven years from now. It seems to me that your sole contribution to our country is to gripe about things others are doing.

    September 29, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  9. Felly

    Michael Steele and the Grand Obstructionist Party feel like they have to criticize every move Obama makes for political gain. Sometimes, they just need to shut up! The more thay talk, the more they drive Americans away from the GOP.

    September 29, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  10. Ken

    Now what Steele says might be interesting if not for the fact that what he says, and what every birth-bagging [R] thinks, about Obama's trip just DOESN'T COUNT. Not even in the slightest.

    September 29, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  11. Independent in OH

    As I read this, it is clear people aren't focuing on the issue(s), but rather the argument. Who cares what Steele says? It could be anyone making the argument, but because he's a Republican it draws criticism simply for that.

    So people on this board slamming that comment honestly believe that Obama needs to meet more (and in person) with the Olympic Committee than his General in Afghanistan (by video)? And jobs are not as important? And Iran isn't important? And so on...

    With the myriad of issues facing America, it is becoming clear that Obama isn't (never was really) up to the challenege. He thinks he's still campaigning. It's an empty suit. Rookie run the government.

    When the going gets tough – the tough get going (to Copenhagen)!

    September 29, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  12. Jon

    What do you expect from a Prez who owes Big Labor and other Chicago thugs and cronies all the construction projects what will come from the possible Chicago Olympics. Imagine all the no-bid contracts and bid-rigging that will occur if the IOC decides on Chicago.

    September 29, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  13. Steve

    So it's alright for "you" Dems to bash Bush when he was in office but it's not alright to bash Obama!!! Gosh how about equal time for both parties....toe to toe with a bashing bat...last one standing wins!

    I'm an independent and I vote for the person not the party...if more of both side voted for the person and got off this party kick American would be a lot better!!!

    September 29, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  14. Dave in Albuquerque

    After a comment like this, I can't help but feel that if Mr. Obama comes out in favor of Mom and apple pie, Mr. Steele will explain that Mr. Obama is wrong to do so even though he, Steele, personally supports both.

    September 29, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  15. hockey dad

    Is there anything that this hard working President does,.. that meets the approval of the Republicans? I am really tired of their incessant negativity. This seems to be the Republican game plan for the next 4 years, ... discredit everything Obama does. i say, proceed with your plan, Mr. President, and forget bi-partisanship,.. these hacks are taking turns in their daily put downs,...the people are behind you.

    September 29, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  16. DayShifter

    Some of you just don't get it.... All you're doing is fueling the fire of hypocrisy and division, which does nothing for our country as a whole. If you have a problem with this trip, did you take the same stance, and exert the same amount of effort to call out the last president who has done the same? Yeah, you get the point.... One day this country will wake up!!

    September 29, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  17. demotax

    Do people commenting here honestly have demensia? Were you all quiet when Bush was in office!? NO! Dems were the opposition and acted like the GOP does today! Wake up hypocrites!! Obamas approcal is @ 50%.. Wonder why..

    September 29, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  18. Robert

    Someone needs to tell Michael Steele that it is not his place to decide what is and what is not necessary for the President of the United States.

    I realize his job is to criticize and tear down anything and everything the president does, but it gets tiring. Can't he just shut up until the next election is in progress?

    September 29, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  19. rapotat

    Having spent the past 9 months doing absolutely nothing to help fix the dilemma which our current president faced on Jan. 20, 2009, the GOP again shows it's irrelevancy in American politics.

    Talk about a waste of time and resources . . .

    September 29, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  20. Steve

    Steele is a reason I switched to being an independent. He is a classic example of what is wrong with the Republican party today. Wake up people. Can't you see that the Republicans have become the party of obstructionists. The Olympics would be good for the Country and also Chicago. I say go for it Mr. President.

    September 29, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  21. Reggie

    As usual, Obama is making a mistake. He's such a disaster or a presidnet!

    September 29, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  22. steven douglas

    "Unnecessary distraction " As a republican I am embarrassed by this comment cinsidering that all the GOP gods have used distractions at town hall meetings. The Olympics bring in hundreds of millions of dollars, and not just our money but foreign currency. The games are in 2016 but what a boost don't you think Mr Steele. We as republicans don't need a puppet wih Rush pulling the strings. We need the world to come here. We haven't had a world event since 9-11-01, and this would be the perfect thing this country needs. Not the GOP vDems but a time to show case the USA again. Mr Steele do our party a favor and resign !!!!!!!

    September 29, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  23. midwest

    What a two faced moron.

    September 29, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  24. Graham from SC

    Apparently, Michael Steele thinks all the construction happens in one year before the Olympics. Talk about a stimulus to an economy.....architects, builders, construction workers, steel workers, electricians, plumpers, painters, and on and on and on......The Olympics will employee probably hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next 6-7 years which great for Chicago and the rest of the country. Come on, Michael, I believe 24 hour trip to possibly help secure 6-7 years worth of work is a very smart move. The war and ecomony aren't going to change in one day.

    September 29, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  25. Les, Long Beach CA

    The only thing that's not necessary is for Michael Steele to stick his mug on TV commenting once again on every issue that comes up. He needs to stick to doing his job instead of incessent self-promotion.

    September 29, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
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