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Obama and Romney looking to capitalize on Olympic Games

July 23, 2012|By James Rainey | This post has been corrected, as indicated below.
  • President Obama talks to members of the Team USA women's Olympic basketball team following their exhibition game against Brazil in Washington.
President Obama talks to members of the Team USA women's Olympic basketball… (Pablo Martinez Monsivais…)

President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney will do whatever they can to capture the golden glow of the Olympic Games, which begin this week in London.

It appears Team Obama will start with one-on-one defense, deploying First Lady Michelle Obama to cover the Republican challenger for openers, with the president possibly joining the fray if the opportunity presents itself.

Both the first lady and Romney are scheduled to attend a reception Friday at Buckingham Palace, to be hosted by Queen Elizabeth II and attended by 130 heads of state. The opening ceremonies follow that evening.

Romney then leaves London for Israel and Poland. The Telegraph newspaper suggests that President Obama, though not currently scheduled to attend the Games, might not want to miss a chance at the Olympic spotlight, particularly if the U.S. team is hauling home loads of gold.

The British newspaper suggested that Obama may want to swoop in for the finals of men’s basketball. Obama, who loves the game and still plays on occasion, has already suggested that he thinks the LeBron James-led team has a strong chance for a gold medal.

Among the “test scenarios” presented to the manager of the basketball venue was how to accommodate a belatedly scheduled VIP, the Guardian said, including who would be ejected from premium seating to fit Obama and his security entourage.

The president has identified with the NBA superstar for some time. Before he addressed the 2004 Democratic convention in Boston, then-Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama was asked by a Chicago Tribune reporter about the rarefied atmosphere.

“I’m LeBron, baby,” Obama responded. “ I can play on this level. I got game.”

[For the Record, 1:43 p.m. PST  July 23: This post has been updated to reflect that Obama was an Illinois State Senator during the 2004 Democratic convention.]

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james.rainey@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimesrainey

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