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September 29, 2009

Steele: Obama Olympics trip "not necessary" -- but not necessarily a mistake

Republican National Chairman Michael S. Steele said today that President Barack Obama's upcoming trip to Copenhagen is "nice" and "a noble idea," 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.

The former Maryland lieutenant governor said he had watched Obama push an economic stimulus plan, then "lurch into cap-and-trade, and then into health care," and now he's "pitching the Olympics in Copenhagen."

In answer to a reporter's question, Steele said it was "a noble idea for the president to pitch his home city, Chi-town" and that America "would be more than honored to host the Olympics." But Steele went on to say 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 in order to personally lobby members of the International Olympic Committee the next morning at their decision-making meeting in Denmark.

The overnight trip is seen as a risky political gamble for a president currently enmeshed in a number of difficult issues, from pushing an embattled Democratic health care plan through Congress to combatting Iran's nuclear ambitions and choosing a future course for the war in Afghanistan.

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 U.S. Olympic bid.

But when pressed on whether he regarded the president's trip as a mistake, Steele demurred.

"Mistake is in the eye of the holder," he said, adding that he didn't know the judgment behind Obama's decision to go.

Asked again, if in his eyes at least Obama was making a mistake, Steele responded, "I gave you my answer."

Posted by Paul West at 11:32 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Michael Steele
        

Comments

HUH?

not usually an obama supporter but why not?

I disagree. The last thing this country needed was for wife to fly over there and President to join her on a different flight, our tax dollars paid for these trips.

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Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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