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Michelle Obama, Obama lobbying for Chicago Olympics at UN, G20. Michelle's story to figure in Copenhagen pitch

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Michelle Obama mapping Olympic lobbying drive

President, First lady to pitch Chicago 2016 at upcoming UN, G20 meetings


WASHINGTON -- Friday afternoon, first lady Michelle Obama huddled for 90 minutes with a close circle of senior advisers in her East Wing office to map strategy for her biggest solo assignment to date: traveling to Copenhagen to lead Chicago's drive to land the 2016 Olympics.

The coming days will put Mrs. Obama on the international stage at a level she -- and the world -- has not seen before as she lobbies in Copenhagen, New York and Pittsburgh for Chicago's bid.

Wednesday evening, the Obamas headline a reception in New York for about 190 world leaders gathered for the opening of the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly. From there, the first couple jump to Pittsburgh to host the G20 global leaders' summit on Sept. 24 and Sept. 25, where Mrs. Obama will have her own separate schedule of events. She lands in Copenhagen on Sept. 30 in advance of the International Olympic Committee's Oct. 2 vote to name a host city for the 2016 Summer Games.

Pinch-hitting for the president -- who is staying home to battle for health-care reform legislation -- Mrs. Obama will be in the spotlight as one of the key figures in Chicago's final presentation to the 106 IOC members. Mrs. Obama's biography -- a daughter of Chicago's South Side who grew up near where many of the proposed Olympic venues will be located -- will figure heavily in her pitch.

The first lady will be competing with presidents and prime ministers, the leaders of rival nations Spain, Japan and Brazil who will be promoting Madrid, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro.

Until now, Mrs. Obama has taken on a supporting role with a small portfolio of noncontroversial issues, generating gobs of positive publicity when she has traveled overseas. Leading the homestretch of Chicago's Olympic charge, however, puts pressure on her to deliver the votes.

"I think what she appreciates is the unique role that she can play in bringing the Games to Chicago. She is very comfortable with the role, she is comfortable advocating on behalf of a city where she grew up, the city that she loves," White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett told the Chicago Sun-Times in an interview Friday in her West Wing office. "So I think she is feeling quite confident. Our job is to prepare her and make sure she is ready to go."

Mrs. Obama's presentation will take on a personal note -- something, Jarrett said, that will be important to IOC members.

"A lot of this is they are looking for passion, they are looking for people who actually care. The Olympic movement is more than just the Games, it is a spirit, a philosophy and an approach to life, and I think they are looking for kindred spirits, and in Michelle Obama they will find one."

Jarrett oversees the White House drive to win the Olympics for Chicago and leads the White House Office of Olympic, Paralympic and Youth Sport, created in June to bolster the Chicago bid. If Chicago gets the Games, Jarrett will be there to cut the red tape for the world. She was the vice chairwoman of the Chicago 2016 committee before joining the Obama administration.

While the White House hosted a splashy South Lawn Olympics event Wednesday -- featuring Olympians and Paralympians demonstrating their sports to the first couple, Mayor Daley and students -- more direct lobbying of diplomats has taken place behind the scenes for months.

Thursday evening, Jarrett and Chicago 2016 President Lori Healey headed to the Capitol for a reception honoring six African ambassadors hosted by Representatives Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) and Donald Payne (D-N.J.), who chairs the House Foreign Relations Committee's Africa panel. African nations hold 18 IOC votes, and representatives from three IOC member nations -- Tunisia, Morocco and South Africa -- showed up for cocktails.

"We all had an opportunity to reach out to the African countries to encourage them to encourage their IOC members to support the bid coming from Chicago," Jarrett said. Her office was instrumental in setting up the reception.

Friday, Mrs. Obama gamed her Olympics campaign as she met with Jarrett, Healey; the first lady's chief of staff, Susan Sher, and her deputy, Melissa Winter; policy and projects advisers Jocelyn Frye and Trooper Sanders, and Camille Johnston and Katie McCormick Lelyveld, from Mrs. Obama's communications shop.

Though the IOC electorate numbers only 106, as in any campaign the job is to identify and persuade the undecided. They are also making plans in case the voting goes to a second round -- in which case the United States has to make alliances to pick up the votes from supporters of the nations that did not make the cut -- not unlike the Iowa presidential caucus system, which the Obamas mastered.

"Our office is working closely with Lori and her team to try to figure out . . . how can we maximize the president's time -- are there people who are significant enough that we want him to make some calls? -- and how can we utilize the first lady's time while she is in Copenhagen," Jarrett said.


6 Comments

In the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqNbkLhHHOM it is shown that the entrance to the official websites of Chicago, Tokyo and Rio is easier than to the one of Madrid, that shows an error (unbelieveable, but true) instead of going in, if the 3 w and point prefix is not added. An example of the low quality of some things of Spain.

She loves Chicago so much, she'll only been back once since she's "moved on up."

As a life long Chicagoan I oppose Chicago getting the Olymics. I can't even conceive of Daley and the rest of the crooked Chicago Pols getting the their paws on the billions of dollars that we be involved in this deal. The graft and payola will be enormous. I look forward to them springing Rezko in time to do a little property development for the cause. And don't give me that crap that daley (and Stoger) care that the Olympics will help local business. They recently raised sales taxes to a point that NO ONE in the collar counties ever cross the county line to shop in Cook. That was a big help to richies beloved local businesses. I guarantee you that if Chicago wins, taxes on all visitor related activities, motels, cabs, entertainment, air port fees, etc. will go up like crazy. Much as they enjoy screwing the locals with high taxes to line their own pockets, they enjoy screwing tourists even more. These bums are drooling with glee at the thought of the chance to steal all that money. And with Chicago crooked Pols obama in the White House and burris in the Senate (not to mention turban durban) the feds will be shovelling taxpayer money to the local thugs. (A good chunk of which will wind up back in obamas and durbins campaign coffers, sadly, 2 and out Burris will have to take the cash)
Regarding Michelle's contribution.."a daughter of Chicago's South Side who grew up near where many of the proposed Olympic venues will be located -- will figure heavily in her pitch."..I hope her presentation includes a video of her old neighborhood, "A saturday evening walking tour of englewood". Thst's Daley's Chicago.
That should clinch the deal.

Will everybody get a medal?

Michelle's story is a bigger lie than Barack's!!!

The Chicago chickens are coming home to roost! Who would want to go to Chicago, where you can not even screw in a light bulb because it is union work. We used to go there for trade shows and there were about a dozen unions waiting to rip you off at every turn. We took all the trade show biz to Vegas. Too many parasites in Chicago killed the host. Funny how McCormick Place now says "come back, now we do fair days work". They are way too late. And they wanted an Olympics! Ha! You would have the teamsters officiating the basketball games, an IBEW shooting starter guns.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on September 19, 2009 8:03 AM.

Obama Sunday media blitz; Letterman on Monday was the previous entry in this blog.

Obama may dash over to Copenhagen to pitch Chicago Olympic bid. Sending advance team to Denmark. is the next entry in this blog.

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