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Obama jets to Copenhagen to sell Chicago Olympics

September 28, 2009 |  6:28 am

There's plenty to keep the president occupied at the White House.

Overnight, Iran tested middle-range missiles, raising the stakes of international crisis a few days before Tehran's first sit-down talks with U.S. officials. At home, the healthcare-reform initiative that the president has touted as the critical benchmark of his first year in office also faces a key week.

But the White House announced this morning that President Obama, who calls Chicago home, has decided to jet to Copenhagen overnight Thursday, arriving in time to deliver an in-person pitch Friday morning for the city's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics. He'll be back Friday night.

First Lady Michelle Obama had planned to head the U.S. delegation of sports and civic leaders, but with Chicago facing tough competition from Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo -- including in-person appeals from top political leaders -- sports commentators and city officials were lobbying the White House heavily to deploy the full, two-Obama charm offensive.

Earlier, when he thought the press of business would keep him at home, Obama cut a video message to the International Olympic Committee.

The high-level pitch is the first for an American president but not unprecedented for world leaders. In fact, it seems to be the new de facto requiring for a successful bid. British Prime Minister Tony Blair sealed the deal in landing the 2012 Olympics for London. Ditto Russian President Vladimir Putin in securing the 2014 Winter Games for Sochi.

-- Johanna Neuman

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