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Obama may not travel to Copenhagen to pitch Chicago 2016 Olympics


WASHINGTON-- President Obama may not travel to Copenhagen next month to help Chicago's final push on Oct. 2 with the International Olympic Committee to win the 2016 summer Olympic games. The heads of states of Brazil, Japan and Spain will be in Denmark to help their nations land the games.

At a White House briefing on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the trip to Denmark is not now on his schedule. White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett --who was part of the Chicago 2016 committee before joining the Obama administration--will be making the trip.

After the briefing, I was told by a White House staffer that Gibbs answer was not definative--meaning it was not a hard no. It just was not a yes. Still, for those who were counting on Obama making it to Copenhagen--well, they can't count on it. Here's how the briefing unfolded.

Gibbs was asked about Copenhagen and the Olympics. Is the president going to go?
"Not that I'm aware of, no."

I then pressed Gibbs for more information about the situation.

"Well, you know now you probably made a few million ears
perk up by saying that he's not coming. So if you have," I said.

Gibbs then told me, " I should -- I said -- I said that as far as the
schedule I had seen, that was not planned."
Asked if the date was being held, Gibbs said he would check.
"Well, this is -- I will, because of those several millions ears that have now since perked, check."
Asked again "Is the date being held" Gibbs said, "Let me check. It's hard for me to look into my invisible crystal ball."

This is the transcript of Gibbs talking at the Thursday briefing about whether President Obama will travel to Copenhagen next month to bolster Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympic games.
Is the president going to go?

MR. GIBBS: Not that I'm aware of, no.

Q Really? Why not?

Chicago wants to know.

MR. GIBBS: Let me double-check on the president's schedule.
Obviously I anticipate having representatives there.

Q Well, we know that Valerie is going. Okay, and there had
always been a thought, I thought --

Thank you for bringing it up.

Q No. Please.


MR. GIBBS: The gentleman yields his time to the gentlelady from
-- representing Chicago.


Q Well, you know now you probably made a few million ears
perk up by saying that he's not coming. So if you have --

MR. GIBBS: I should -- I said -- I said that as far as the
schedule I had seen, that was not planned. I will, based on the
millions of --

Q Well, you don't just hop over to Copenhagen. I mean,
obviously --

Q Is the date being held?

MR. GIBBS: Well, this is -- I will, because of those several
millions ears that have now since perked, check.

Q Is the date being held?

MR. GIBBS: Let me check. It's hard for me to look into my
invisible crystal ball.

Q (Off mike.) He might not come, if it was thought that the
city's bid, which has a little bumpy road back home right now, was in
trouble. So that would be very useful, to get the whole picture from

MR. GIBBS: Well, look, I think, the last set of articles I read,
on where the IOC was on Olympic bids, had America's bid in Chicago at
the top of that list. So I don't -- without getting into Chicago
politics on that, I think, our bid is -- this country's bid is very
well represented and seems to be making progress.

Reclaiming your time.

Q Could this be a today thing, to get back and clarify?

MR. GIBBS: I will -- I will endeavor to call up the schedule
when I get back to my office.

Q Thank you.

MR. GIBBS: Yeah.


If Obama does not go and Chicago loses. He is the only one to blame. His people made it clear to Chicago 2016 that he will not go unless Chicago is assured to win. He doesn't want to appear weak if we lose. What arrogance!! He better get his butt out there.

Barring a crisis,if Chicago loses the Olympics because Obama didn't show up,there will be a signifigant backlash.

This is real slap in the face for Chicago. This city is responsible for making Obama and his whole family who they are today. I can't believe he would leave us in the lurch like this. This really hurts.

The president has more important things to do than shill for Chicago to get the games.
All political posturing should be removed from the process.

Great news, Obama knows that Chicago tax payers will be on the hook for millions in over runs. Also Mayor Daley is only months away from being indicted. The President does not want to go to bat for someone who is going to face charges soon

Who cares anymore about the Olympics, Chicago corrupt politicians already sold out the tax payers of Chicago. My question, where is the reporting on Acorn?The profile on Cass Sunstein? Any wonder why this newspaper and others are going down the drain.This paper and others forgot to vet candidate obama, who turned out to be President Obama. Now the media is in a love fest with this administration and no one reports the news.Oh sorry, yes you wrote articles about Bo the dog,Michelle Obamas arms. Is that why you and others became journalist? Our liberties are being lost a little by little everyday, and no reporting. How shameful, but more importantly how disgraceful.

Good, Obama has more important things to do than cheerlead for Daley's two week ego party! I know the President hasn't been in Chicago much lately, but he should get a pulse for how the city feels about this bid. A recent Trib poll showed only 47% for the games, and 84% against using tax dollars in any way for this mess!

I'm hoping for some temporary world crisis that will prevent him and his senior staff from attending so to lessen Chicago's chances.

If Obama doesn't go, he'll be supporting the plurality of Chicagoan's who do not want to pay for this party.

This is Mayor Daley and Pat Ryan's baby and they should work the phones and bid, not President Obama. If Chicago had a wonderful bid process, then they'll win. The bid goes to the best group that promotes it's city and enthusiasm for the games. Chicagoans are not enthusiastic about paying billions of dollars for a two week event. It makes no sense to create another real estate bubble with real estate projects that will not sell now or during the process leading up to the games. Who'll want to pay back billions of dollars of debt just for two weeks? This is a waste of time and money. Daley and his insiders get rich and you'll get poorer! Also, Inbee my friend, Chicago didn't make Obama, what kind of statement is that?

So it will be Obama's fault for not going to Copenhagen if Chicago loses the bid? PUH-leese!

Yeah, and the stubborn refusal of the Chicago bid people to come up with a mass transit plan so that our infrastructure can handle the traffic, or Daley and Pat Ryan's stubborn refusal to admit that Chicago would need to pony up all the money to cover losses if things went sour (until their hand was forced), or the fact that the vast majority of Chicagoans just don't want this millstone hanging around our collective necks---These are Obama's fault as well?

What's the temperature like inside that little bubble?

If Obama goes and Chicago wins, there will be a significant backlash from the other half of us who think the Olympics is a terrible idea.

The President needs to focus on gigantic issues like health care and Afghanistan, not this feel-good extravaganza that will bankrupt this city.

I hope to God he doesn't waste his time on this bull. We've got an economy still in crisis, the health care debate in full swing and two on-going wars and people want the President to waste his time making nice-nice in Denmark to help one city in this big country get the right to host a two-week long (probably economically disastrous) sports function 7 years from now?

If he goes, I'll lose a lot of respect for him.

This is the UNITED STATES' bid and he is the President of the United States...beyond that he is a Chicagoan...he needs to be there on October 2nd...every other head of state will be will be glaringly noticeable if the President of the United States says his time is more valuable than those of the leaders of Japan, Spain and Brazil!

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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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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on September 10, 2009 2:41 PM.

President Obama official schedule and guidance, Sept. 10, 2009. Abu Dhabi Prince, Health care again, Pittsburgh Penguins was the previous entry in this blog.

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