Wednesday, September 16, 2009

'So pumped up about this'

2016 GAMES | Obamas host rally to push Chicago's Olympics bid

WASHINGTON -- President Obama, first lady Michelle and Mayor Daley piled on praise for Chicago as the site of the 2016 Olympics at a sports-themed event at the White House on Wednesday.

Organizers hope it will help persuade the International Olympic Committee to select the city for the Summer Games when they vote Oct. 2 in Copenhagen.

"I cannot think of a better city to host the 2016 Games than my hometown. I was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago. You probably already know that. So I know a lot about this city. We have our home so close to many of the proposed venues. We can say that we are so pumped up about this, aren't we?" Mrs. Obama said.

Olympic honchos had hoped the president would be in Copenhagen for the final lobbying and sales pitch. But for now, the plan is for him to stay in Washington to work on health care, sending Mrs. Obama instead to lead the U.S. delegation. It will be her first major solo assignment as first lady.

"I would make the case in Copenhagen personally, if I weren't so firmly committed to making -- making real the promise of quality, affordable health care for every American. But the good news is, I'm sending a more compelling superstar to represent the city and country we love, and that is our first lady, Michelle Obama," Obama said. White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett -- part of the Chicago 2016 drive before joining the Obama White House -- will also be traveling to Copenhagen.

Several Olympians and Paralympians were on the South Lawn demonstrating their sports. At one point Obama grabbed a play sword and made like Obi-Wan Kenobi in "Star Wars." Mrs. Obama, taking note of the gymnastic, judo and fencing demonstrations being held for students, said Obama had tried out fencing in the White House.

"It was pathetic. But he passed the baton really well," she said.

Daley invoked the names of Chicago Olympic legends Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe in talking about Chicago's bid. Earlier in the day he met with the Illinois congressional delegation to discuss the bid. Daley said Rep. Bobby Rush was hosting a lunch with African ambassadors this week in Washington to help build up international support for Chicago.

The South Lawn was full of Chicagoans: Jarrett, David Axelrod, Arne Duncan, Desiree Rogers, Tina Tchen -- who are all in the administration -- and visitors involved with the Chicago 2016 bid, including Pat Ryan, Gery Chico and John Rogers.

There were reports that Daley was disappointed that he could not count on Obama for Copenhagen. After the event Daley said, "That is completely phony. That is a gossip story. . . . We are very pleased to have the first lady."


Post a Comment