Just hours after arriving on their red eye charter flight from O'Hare, the Chicago 2016 delegation addressed the press this morning -- and Mayor Daley wasted no time playing his trump card.
"I'm very pleased that President Barack Obama and his wife are leading our delegation," Daley said while standing on a dais, rows of former Olympians smiling behind him.
"Michelle is from our city and Barack moved there to the South Side and fell in love with the city. We are very, very honored that they are leading our delegation."
But reporters in the audience -- some from Chicago publications, others from international media -- asked whether Obama's presence really made a difference.
"I think it changes many things, many people want to see him," said Chicago 2016 CEO Pat Ryan.
But Daley, so confident in the president's appearance, stumbled when a questioner asked for his reaction to a potential ethics violation.
The mayor has allegedly suggested that Rio could not stage the games so soon after hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2014. Bid committees are discouraged from criticizing competitors plans.
"I have no idea," he said, using his favorite Chicago politics strategy.
When the question came back to him later he said: "No comment."
Ryan didn't encounter nearly as much static for his gambit. He said near the end of his statements that Chicago 2016 conducted a poll a week ago.
"I'm happy to report ... that 72 percent of Chicagoans and 82 percent of Americans support Chicago’s bid for the games," Ryan said.
The poll was conducted by Zogby International from Sept. 22 to 25, and asked the question: “Do you support having the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Chicago?” the Sun-Times reports
The sample size was 702 in Chicago and 801 in the U.S. with a margin of error of 3.5 percent.
The recent poll suggests support for the Games among Chicagoans is falling. A poll released by the bid committee pegged support at 78 percent. A recent Chicago Tribune poll said support among Chicagoans was less than 50 percent.
Later today Chicago’s 2016 bid team, along with its entourage of athletes and celebrities, plan to fan out into the streets of Copenhagen to show off Chicago’s enthusiasm for the games.
Legendary NFL place kicker Morten Anderson will host a symposium on American football that is sure to baffle soccer aficionados; Nadia Comaneci, Bart Conner and Nastia Liukin will talk about gymnastics; David Robinson and Dikembe Mutumbo will talk hoops and Michael Johnson, Willie Banks and Connie Moore will talk about being fast.
Meanwhile, Mayor Daley and Ryan will be greasing palms all day long.
"We're far from the finish line but we're in full sprint," Ryan said at the end of his statements today. "We're not going to leave anything on the field."