An Olympic Sized Party at the White House

Daley and friends are said to be upset the president isn't attending the vote

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    AP
    President Barack Obama uses a light saber as he watches a demonstration of fencing with Tim Morehouse who won a silver medal in Men's Saber Fencing at the Beijing Olympics, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2009, during an event supporting Chicago's 2016 host city Olympic bid, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. At rear is Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, and first lady Michelle Obama.

    President Barack Obama said today that the whole country is rooting for his hometown of Chicago in its efforts to host the 2016 Olympics.

    Chicago "will make America proud and America will make the world proud" if the city wins the bid.

    Obama spoke at an Olympic event at the White House, along with Olympic athletes and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.

    "The United States is eager to welcome the world to our shores.  This nation would be honored to host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games," the president said.

    Obama on Olympics: "We Want These Games"

    [CHI] Obama on Olympics:  "We Want These Games"
    President Barack and Michelle Obama, a team of Olympians and Paralympians, and Chicago 2016's delegation converged on the White House Wednesday. (Published Wednesday, Sep 16, 2009)

    Daley may be quietly seething that Obama doesn’t plan to attend the Olympic vote in Copenhagen on October 2, but that didn't stop him from soaking up the White House spotlight.

    "If there's ever a possibility, he would do it, but I cannot speak for the president," Daley said before the event. "The mayor, addressing reporters, portrayed the four-city race to host the Summer Games as even."

     "I think we're all there," he said. "I think Tokyo is there, I think Madrid's there, and Rio de Janeiro--I think we're all even. You cannot underestimate any of the other cities or countries that are bidding for this."

    The Chicago mayor spoke briefly about what the event would mean to Chicago and the country before Michelle Obama took the pulpit.

    "I have to say that I'm proud of those efforts, but I am also proud of the fact that Chicago may be the host," Michelle Obama said.

    "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?" 

    The event was designed to give a needed boost to the U.S. bid, which is said to be lagging behind Brazil as the favorite to land the games.

    A party at the White House, however, might not be enough to get the job done. Olympics officials want the president to go.

    The president has agreed to send his wife, Michelle, and Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett to attend the vote on Oct. 2 in Copenhagen.

    Daley and 2016 Chicago Olympics Chairman Patrick Ryan are said to be angry that the president himself doesn’t plan to attend, even though Daley said there’s still a glimmer of hope that he might show up.

    International Olympic Committee members are said to be miffed by the president’s decision, too.

    "The risk is, your competitors are going to say 'Oh well, you know, he's too busy to come, but he sent his wife.' How that would play, I don't know," IOC member Dick Pound told the Trib yesterday. 

    For Obama, the decision not to go could be a political one. He doesn’t want to be associated too closely with the bid in case it fails.

    “If Obama goes to Copenhagen and the bid loses, it presents this problem: Obama sets himself up as a lightning rod to make the United States an equal among equals, rather than a leader among equals,” a source told the Sun-Times’ Michael Sneed.

    For complete Chicago Olympic Bid coverage
    click here.