September 30, 2009 (COPENHAGEN, Denmark) (WLS) — Michelle Obama begins to lobby members of the International Olympic Committee, who will decide if Chicago will host the 2016 Summer Games.
Michelle Obama arrived in Denmark just before 5 a.m. Chicago time and was greeted by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and his wife, Maggie. About two hours later, Oprah landed.
Only two days remain before the big decision. The Chicago bid team is looking to sway as many voters as possible.
Michelle Obama met with IOC members at the host hotel. The first lady held a series of meetings for several hours with IOC members Wednesday. In the room where the meetings took place, there was a huge backdrop with venue plans on the wall, to not only talk about and demonstrate Chicago’s plan and the beauty of the city.
Between the first lady and Oprah and – on Friday – President Obama, Chicago’s bid team has been attracting the most international media attention.
Chicago is winning the media war while Brazil is answering questions about crime.
International Olympic Committee members say Chicago has proven itself a worthy host city. What they want to know now is do they have the full federal backing of the government, meaning there will be no surprises, that the United States will get this done. To that end, they’re thrilled to have President Barack Obama planning a trip there.
Barack Obama will spend more time traveling to Denmark on a one-way flight than he will on the ground. He’s not going to have one-on-one meetings with IOC leaders as other foreign leaders have done, as the president of Brazil will do on behalf of Rio.
Barack Obama intended to be present for the presentation to answer questions from the IOC, then planned to head back to the U.S. before the host city is even chosen hours later.
Critics of President Obama’s trip to Copenhagen say now is not the time for him to lobby for the Olympics.
The president leaves Thursday.
“I’ve got so much to do here. I will sleep on the plane. I will land and speak,” he said.
Those comments came as President Obama met with NATO’s secretary general at the White House Tuesday.
Previously, the president said health care reform would keep him from Copenhagen.
On Tuesday, Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele questioned the president’s priorities. The White House laughed off that notion.
From The Baltimore Sun:
Republican National Chairman Michael S. Steele said Tuesday that President Barack Obama’s upcoming trip to Copenhagen is “nice” but not essential business for the president.
Steele began a brief telephone news conference by criticizing Obama’s lack of focus on the biggest problem facing the country: weakness in the economy, which Steele said is still in recession.
In answer to a reporter’s question during a telephone news conference, Steele said it was “a noble idea for the president to pitch his home city, Chi-town,” but that “at a time of war” and recession, “this trip, while nice, is not necessary for the president.”
Obama plans to leave Washington on Thursday to lobby members of the International Olympic Committee the next morning at their decision-making meeting in Denmark.
Steele said the president should be focusing on creating jobs now, not “job opportunities seven years from now” in Chicago. He said that First Lady Michelle Obama should have been the leading salesperson for the bid.
But pressed on whether he regarded the trip as a mistake, Steele said, “Mistake is in the eye of the beholder.”
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs took a swipe at Steele when asked about the Republican chairman’s criticism of the president’s trip.
“Who’s he rooting for?” Gibbs replied, to laughter from reporters. “Is he hoping to hop a plane to Brazil and catch the Olympics in Rio? Maybe it’s Madrid.”
Shoulda been my name
‘Cause you can look right through me
Walk right by me
And never know I’m there…