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Michelle Obama: Copenhagen Olympic politics just like Iowa caucuses

October 1, 2009 |  7:58 am

First Lady Michelle Obama greets members of press as she campaigns in Copenhagen for Chicago's Olympic bid

In 2008, voters in the Iowa Caucus -- famous for their quirky picks -- gave a little-known Democrat named Barack Obama his first victory, propelling him toward the White House.

Now, First Lady Michelle Obama is in Copenhagen, stumping for Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. And last night, at a pep-rally dinner for 300 supporters of Chicago's bid, she likened the race in Denmark to that contest way back when in Iowa.

"As my husband would say, we are fired up and ready to go in here," she said, echoing the slogan that generated so much excitement on the campaign trail last year. Comparing the contest in Denmark to the one in Iowa, the first lady added, “Nobody makes the decision until they’re sitting there. So the next few days really provide us with a real opportunity to hold some hands, to have some conversations, to share our visions.”

President Obama joins his wife for the final pitch tomorrow -- even as Oprah Winfrey and other Chicago luminaries makes the rounds, lobbying the International Olympic Committee for votes.

The trip is not without political peril for the president.

At home, House Minority Leader John Boehner has criticized the trip, slamming Obama for "going ... off to Copenhagen when we've got serious issues here at home that need to be debated."

Abroad, if Chicago loses the bid, it would count as a defeat for Obama too. And Chicago's entry is by no means a sure bet.

With Rio de Janeira apparently the favorite, other countries with cities in the running are not sitting by idly. "President Obama is an extraordinary personality," said Spain's Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., son of the former IOC president, part of a delegation pushing for Madrid. "We will bring His Majesty the King of Spain, that's one, and Prime Minister Zapatero, that's two. So that's two against one."

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: First Lady Michelle Obama meets members of the international press corps in Copenhagen Wednesday. Credit: Getty Images

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