Obama under fire for taking Chicago’s Olympic bid trip

Democrats and Republicans have both criticised President Barack Obama over his high-risk decision to fly to Copenhagen to support the Olympic bid of his home town, Chicago.

According to The Telegraph, Obama left Washington last night amid the private misgivings of fellow Democrats that he might squander more of his diminishing political capital on a failed effort. The Republicans have questioned the value of the 24-hour mission with debates raging at home on the economy, health care and Afghanistan.

It will be the first time a US president has appeared before the International Olympic Committee to lobby for an Olympics. Obama hoped to emulate Tony Blair, who helped London win the 2012 Olympics by travelling to Singapore for two days of meetings with IOC members, and Russia's Vladimir Putin who went to Guatemala to lobby in support of Sochi's bid for the 2014 Winter Games.

Presidents and prime ministers from the three other 2016 contenders, Brazil, Spain and Japan, were all due to support their countries' bids in person.

"If you actually go to Copenhagen and meet with the Olympic committee, you're really on the line to deliver. If he succeeds he is a hero, but given his personal involvement if he fails he doesn't look very good," said Darrell West, a political analyst at the Washington-based Brookings Institution.

John Feehery, a Republican strategist who is originally from Chicago and supports the bid, said: "For Obama the upside is not that great because no one else in America cares if Chicago gets it. But the downside is that if Chicago loses, people will ask why did we elect this guy who was supposed to restore America's image overseas if he can't even do that?

Republican critics have said that the salesmanship should have been left to US First Lady Michelle Obama, who arrived in Copenhagen on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters at The White House before her departure, the first lady said she knew her husband's involvement raised expectations.

"You're darned if you do, and you're darned if you don't. I'd rather be on the side of doing it," she said.


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