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Obama may appear before Olympic committee to support Chicago's bid

A presidential advisor says Obama would go to Copenhagen to lobby for the 2016 Games if he can find time away from the healthcare debate.

September 20, 2009|Christi Parsons

WASHINGTON — President Obama is dispatching an advance team to Copenhagen to pave the way for a possible personal appearance before the International Olympic Committee next month.

The decision doesn't necessarily mean Obama will be able to make an in-person appeal for his adopted hometown of Chicago, which is bidding to host the Olympics in 2016, a senior advisor to the president said Saturday.

But the president wants to make sure he has the option to go, in case he can get away from healthcare discussions to make the trip.

Before any presidential trip, White House advance teams need time to size up the security situation and make arrangements for accommodations, even for travel the president doesn't end up undertaking. The advance team will travel Monday.

"He wants to preserve his options," the advisor said.

Obama hopes to make the overseas trip if he can do so without jeopardizing healthcare legislation, his advisors say.

Whatever happens, First Lady Michelle Obama will still go and make the case for her hometown to host the Summer Games.

The White House considers her a persuasive saleswoman.

"She is regarded as an essential strength of the strategy, because she was born and raised in Chicago and her life story embodies the Olympic spirit," the presidential advisor said.

Chicago is competing with Madrid, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro to host the 2016 Games. The 100-plus member International Olympic Committee will elect a winner early next month.

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cparsons@latimes.com

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