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Entries in Olympics (19)

Thursday
Aug022012

Romney Supports Eliminating Taxes on Olympic Medals

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Mitt Romney, who often touts his role spearheading the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, supports plans to exempt U.S. Olympic athletes from paying federal taxes on the medals and prize money they win during the Olympics, an advisor to Romney told reporters Thursday.

“He believes that there should be no taxation of the type that you’re describing on their hardware,” Eric Fehrnstrom, a senior advisor to Romney, told reporters on a conference call Thursday when asked if Romney would support a plan to end federal taxes on Olympic medals and prize money.

Under U.S. tax law, the athletes must add the value of their Olympic medals and prizes to their taxable income, and are taxed at a rate of 35 percent by the IRS.

Americans for Tax Reform found that the value of a gold medal is about $675, meaning that an athlete could be on the hook for a $236 extra tax burden.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduced such a plan in the Senate Wednesday, saying Olympic athletes should not be punished for their achievements.

“We need a fundamental overhaul of our tax code, but we shouldn’t wait any time we have a chance to aggressively fix ridiculous tax laws like this tax on Olympians’ medals and prize money,” Rubio said in a statement. “We can all agree that these Olympians who dedicate their lives to athletic excellence should not be punished when they achieve it.”

Rubio’s bill, if taken up and passed in Congress, would apply to awards won after Dec. 31, 2011.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul302012

Kristi Yamaguchi Touts Romney’s Olympic Achievement in Ad

Jonathan Leibson/FilmMagic(WASHINGTON) -- After a week of headlines over Mitt Romney’s London Olympics security skepticism, the pro-Romney Super PAC Restore Our Future is bringing in some golden reinforcements to tout the Republican presidential candidate’s 2002 Olympic achievements.

In an ad released Monday, Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi commends Romney for bringing a “huge sense of hope” to the Salt Lake City games, which were rocked by a bribery scandal before Romney took over.

Jimmy Shea, who took home the gold in 2002 for the Skelaton, says in the ad that “Mitt gets things done. He changed my life.”

And finally speed skater and 2002 gold medalist Derek Parra says: “Mitt allowed athletes like myself to realize our dreams.”

Both Yamaguchi and Parra have donated to Romney’s presidential campaign this cycle as well as his last bid in 2008.  Yamaguchi and her husband Bred Hedican each donated $2,300 to Romney’s campaign in 2007 and she donated $2,500 to support Romney’s current run.

Parra gave $2,300 to Romney’s 2007 Republican primary campaign and has donated $1,000 this time around.

While Yamaguchi has not made an official Romney endorsement, the figure skating champion appeared alongside Romney in February for a 10-year anniversary celebration of the 2002 Olympics.  Yamaguchi, who won gold in the 1992 games and was a goodwill ambassador to the 2002 games, said that because of Romney, the Salt Lake City games were a “tremendous success.”

The Restore Our Future ad comes days after the U.S. Olympics Committee told the pro-Obama Super PAC Priorities USA to take down an ad featuring footage of the 2002 Olympics.  The committee banned the use of any Olympics footage in political ads, which caused the pro-Romney Super PAC to also take down an ad last week.

“We will not allow Olympic footage to be used in any political ad, positive or negative, per the IOC’s Olympic Charter,” USOC spokesperson Patrick Sandusky said in a statement.  “For anything even remotely negative to be associated with that time-honored, inspirational moment would be extremely unfortunate.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul302012

Romney on Olympics: 'I Tend to Tell People What I Actually Believe'

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Mitt Romney on Sunday shrugged off the suggestion he would like a do-over on his controversial comments about the London Olympics, stating that he says what he “actually believes.”

He added, however, that after two days of events, the Games’ organization has been “picture perfect.”

In a wide-ranging interview with ABC News, Romney talked about his bumpy trip through London as well as assessing his prospects for debating President Obama and his moment at the Western Wall.

So far the roughest moment on the Republican presidential candidate’s road trip came after he said that some things about the Olympics were “disconcerting.”  That remark angered Brits, including the mayor of London.

“You know, I was referring to press reports before I even got to London that suggested that the organizing committee was having some challenges,” Romney told ABC News.

“I was there for two days,” he added.  “The games were carried out without a hitch.  So, as far as I’m able to tell, despite the challenges as any organizing committee faces, they were able to organize games that have been so far so good, picture perfect.”

“I tend to tell people what I actually believe,” Romney said when asked if he would want to change his words if he could go back and answer the questions again.

The Republican presidential candidate looked ahead to his two debates with Obama this fall.  He said that while he has not held any practice debates, he knows that the president was “a very effective debater in the last round.”

“There’s a lot that we’ll do at getting prepared for these debates with President Obama,” said Romney.  “I think, as you suggest, they’ll be very important because the rhetoric will be met with response.  And if there’s ever been something which is said which is untrue, the truth will come out.”

“I would expect [the president] to be very effective on the debate stage,” Romney said.  “I don’t think that it will come down to a selection of words.  I think it will come down to a selection of course.  What is the path America wants to follow?”

Romney also shared a story about a moment he had with his wife, Ann, before the couple visited one of the holiest sites in the Jewish religion on Sunday, the Western Wall.  Romney revealed that he and Ann sat together and shared the prayers they placed in the wall that day.

“Yes, before we went to the wall we both sat down and wrote prayers, and you know I read to her what I had written and she read to me what she wrote,” he said.

“My thoughts were in regards to peace, my family, my wife and the source of our salvation,” Romney said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul302012

Robert Gibbs: Romney ‘Embarrassed’ Himself at Olympics

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Obama campaign senior adviser Robert Gibbs on Sunday said that Mitt Romney “embarrassed” himself in London when he questioned the readiness of the city to host the Olympics.

“Mitt Romney wondered aloud whether London was ready for the Olympics, and I think it’s clear that voters in this country wonder aloud whether Mitt Romney is ready for the world, and I think the world is not yet ready for Mitt Romney,” Gibbs said on ABC's This Week.  “Literally to go overseas, stand in the country of our strongest ally, and on Olympics that they’ve been preparing for years for, and question whether or not they’re ready does make you wonder whether or not he’s ready to be commander-in-chief…I’m happy David Cameron had the last word, because I thought it was embarrassing for our country.”

Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, was verbally tweaked by London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, and also by Prime Minister David Cameron, after Romney questioned the readiness of London to host the Olympics just days before they got underway in the U.K., a strong ally of the United States.

“There are a few things that were disconcerting,” Romney said.  “The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging.”

Romney campaign senior adviser Kevin Madden, joining Gibbs during This Week, brushed off the remarks by the former Obama press secretary.

“I don’t think that a gaffe or a YouTube moment is really going to make or break this particular election.  I think it’s going to be about the direction of the country, how we rebuild the economy, how we continue to have a stronger national security posture around the globe,” Madden said.  “I think that the headlines that -- that come out of London on one day are not going to be as important as the overall view that people take when it comes to our economic prosperity here at home and then our safety and security around the globe.”

For his part, President Obama has come under attack from the GOP for comments he made earlier this month in which he said “if you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that.”  Gibbs lashed out at the Romney campaign for what he said was ”selectively” editing the president’s words.

“We’re not going to let him play his tried-and-true role as prep school bully,” said Gibbs, who seemed to reference reporting by the Washington Post earlier this year that Romney bullied a gay student while in high school.

Madden countered that Obama bears responsibility for the negativity engulfing the presidential campaign.

“He promised to challenge the status quo.  And instead, he’s been very much a conventional politician over the last three-and-a-half years,” Madden said.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul272012

Romney Now Convinced London Olympics Will Succeed

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages(London) -- Mitt Romney on Friday appeared to walk back on his comments that suggested he wasn't sure the London Olympics would go off without a hitch, saying in an interview that he's now "absolutely convinced" the city is ready for the games.

Romney told NBC News Friday morning that after being in London for a few days it looks to him that "London is ready," a different view for the candidate who just a few days ago said some reports about the games' organization were "disconcerting."

"I read the same reports I think a lot of people did of the challenges faced by the organizing committee but after being here for a few days it looks to me like London is ready," Romney said during the interview at Olympic Park in Stratford, England.

"I’m absolutely convinced the people here are ready for the games," he said, adding that soon the focus would turn away from the politicians and toward the athletes. "The games are about the athletes and that's why the games virtually everywhere have been highly successful," said Romney.

But the headlines in London Friday morning were already printed ahead of this interview, and the British press did not hold anything back.

The Sun dubbed the presidential candidate "Mitt the Twit," while another paper featured an editorial cartoon that showed Romney pasting his campaign sticker over the Olympic logo.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul272012

Obama Campaign Debuts Ad for Olympics Opening Ceremony

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama’s reelection campaign is releasing a new television ad to run during Friday night’s opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.

In the ad, entitled “I Believe,” Obama makes his case for “middle out” economics using clips from the speech in which he delivered the now infamous “you didn’t build that” line.

“We’re a nation of workers and doers and dreamers. We work hard for what we get and all we ask for is that our hard work pays off,” the president’s voice is heard as shots of Americana are seen on the screen.

“I believe that the way you grow the economy is from the middle out. I believe in fighting for the middle class because if they’re prospering all of us will prosper,” he continues.

The clips are taken from the president’s speech earlier this month in Roanoke, Va., the same speech in which he also said “if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own… If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.”

Republicans and Mitt Romney’s campaign have spent the past two weeks hammering the president for disparaging small business owners in his remarks.

This week, the president fired back, accusing Romney of “twisting my words.”

“I understand these are the games that get played in political campaigns, although when folks just omit entire sentences of what you said they start kind of splicing and dicing, you may have gone a little over the edge there,” the president told donors in Oakland, Calif., on Monday.

While viewers will hear the president’s campaign message on television during the opening ceremony, his rival will be attending in-person. Romney is in London to participate in the Olympic festivities as part of his three-country foreign tour.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul272012

Harry Reid Jumps on Romney for Insulting 'Everybody' in the UK 

Alex Wong/Getty Images(LONDON) -- The criticism of Mitt Romney's remarks in London that there were some things "disconcerting" about the Olympic Games have officially crossed the pond.

In an exclusive interview with The Huffington Post stateside, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, said that it is "not good for us as a country" to have somebody that is "nominated by one of the political parties to go over and insult everybody."

Romney drew criticism after he said during an interview with NBC News that "it's hard to know how well" the London Olympics will turn out, adding that a "few things were disconcerting," about the organization and days leading up to the events.

Reid told The Huffington Post that he thinks Romney should have arrived in London and told leaders there that they have "done a remarkely good job."

"That's what they should have done.  He would have been cheered and not have the mayor, before 60,000 people, belittle one of our major party nominees," said Reid, referring to London Mayor Boris Johnson, who mocked Romney in Hyde Park Thursday evening before a crowd of 60,000.  "And that's what the mayor did."

“There are some people who are coming from around the world who don’t yet know about all the preparations we’ve done to get London ready in the last seven years,” Johnson said to the crowd.  “I hear there’s a guy, there’s a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we’re ready.  He wants to know whether we’re ready?  Are we ready?”

The crowd screamed, “Yes!”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul272012

Romney 'Looking Forward' to Returning Churchill Bust to White House

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(LONDON) --  Mitt Romney, speaking to a group of more than 200 supporters in a hotel in the heart of London Thursday evening, said he is "looking forward" to returning the bust of Winston Churchill to the White House after it was sent back to Great Britain by President Obama.

The GOP candidate, who suffered a brutal day of press after he suggested that he wasn't sure the London Olympics would go off without a hitch, spoke highly of the British monuments, singling out the Churchill statue that he said he got a firsthand look at while stuck in traffic -- likely caused by the Olympic Games.

"You live here, you see the sites day in and day out, but for me as I drive past the sculpture of Winston Churchill and see that great sculpture next to Westminster Abbey and Parliament and with him larger than life, enormous heft of that sculpture suggesting the scale of the the grandeur and the greatness of the man, it tugs at the heart strings to remember the kind fo example that was led by Winston Churchill," said Romney, speaking in a ballroom at the Mandarin Oriental hotel on the edge of Hyde Park.  "And I'm looking forward to the bust of Winston Churchill being in the Oval Office again," Romney said, evoking applause from the group that helped the candidate raise more than $2 million for his campaign.

Romney's remarks about the Churchill bust came the day after an article in a British newspaper blindly quoted advisors -- who Romney said he did not know -- who asserted that the candidate really wants the statue back in Washington D.C.

Obama returned the bust in 2009, drawing ire from the British press who said that the move had made some leaders "nervous" about what the gesture meant for U.S.-U.K. relations.  The bust had a home in the Oval Office during President George W. Bush's administration.

The desire to have Churchill's bust returned to the White House was a sentiment expressed by one of two Romney advisors who spoke anonymously to the British newspaper the Telegraph.  The story has since ignited a firestorm of criticism of the candidate, who had vowed that his campaign would not speak ill of the Obama administration while on foreign soil.

Romney, who has distanced himself from the unnamed advisors who also suggested in the story that the White House doesn't appreciate the "Anglo-Saxon" relationship between the U.K and the United States, appeared to echo their assertion that he'd like the Churchill statue to return Washington.

The advisers told the Telegraph that Romney would "seek to reinstate the Churchill bust" and one told the paper that Romney "viewed the move as 'symbolically important.'"

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul262012

Jindal Defends Romney over Olympics Security Criticism

Andrew Burton/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Mitt Romney’s recent Olympics flap may have caused a stir overseas, but two top Romney surrogates here in the U.S. -- Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Bob McDonnell of Virginia -- don’t think the comments will cause a major problem for the former Massachusetts governor.

“We’re not worried about overseas headlines. We’re worried about voters back here at home in America,”  Jindal said on a conference call Thursday afternoon.  “Gov. Romney has said that he expected the London Olympics to be a phenomenal success.  The reality is we’re all rooting for our American athletes. We hope they come back with a bunch of medals, and I’m sure they’re going to be very successful, but the reality is the focus needs to continue to be on the issues that are important to voters back home.”

McDonnell, who toured Iowa aboard a Romney campaign bus with Jindal Thursday, chimed in after the Louisiana governor’s response, saying, “I agree.”

Romney, who often touts his leadership of the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, ruffled some feathers in London when he said there were “disconcerting” signs about London’s preparedness for the Olympic games.

Some major British figures have responded to Romney’s doubts, saying the city is ably prepared to host this summer’s Olympics.

“We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere,” Prime Minister David Cameron told the Daily Telegraph.

Cameron later told reporters he “felt a vote of confidence” from a private conversation he held with Romney about the Olympic Games.

Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, took to Hyde Park, where 60,000 people gathered to celebrate the end of the Olympic torch run, and made a dig at Romney as he asked the crowd whether the city was ready for the Olympics.

“There are some people coming from around the world who don’t yet know if we are ready,” Johnson said. “There’s a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we are ready. Are we ready? Yes we are!”

Gov. Romney's comments were made in response to, ironically, overseas headlines -- about a security company hired to keep watch over the Games; U.K. soldiers have been tapped to try to fill some of the gaps reportedly caused by the firm.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul262012

Romney Practices Personal Diplomacy Over Olympics Security Comment

Oli Scarff/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Emerging from 10 Downing Street this afternoon, presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney spoke of his high-level meetings on this first full day of his overseas tour.  The trip has become a rite of passage for presidential candidates.

While in London, Romney is hoping for his own ‘Olympic’ moment reminding American voters of his history leading the Salt Lake City games in 2002.  His campaign recognizes the power of the photo-op with his trip timed to coincide with the London games, but inherent in these overseas trips are political risks with the international press trained on a candidate’s every word.

In an interview Wednesday with NBC News, Romney was asked if the London games look ready to his “experienced eye.”

Romney answered, “You know it’s hard to know just how well it...will turn out.  There are a few things that were disconcerting.” Romney said.  “The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging.”

Today, after Romney’s meeting with Britain Prime Minister David Cameron, the former Massachusetts governor was asked if he was still concerned and whether he spoke of those concerns during his meeting with Cameron.

“My experience as an Olympic organizer is that there are always a few very small things that end up going not quite right in the first day. Those get ironed out and then when the games themselves begin, and the athletes take over, all the mistakes the organizing committee...and I made a few...all of those are overwhelmed by the many things that the athletes carry out that capture the spirit of the games.” Romney said.

Romney added, “I don’t know any Olympics that’s ever been able to be run without any mistakes whatsoever.  But they’re small, and I was encouraged to see that something that could have represented a real challenge, which is immigration and customs officers on duty, that is something that’s been resolved and people are all pulling together.”

Before Romney’s meeting with the prime minister, Cameron addressed Romney’s criticism with the press. “You’re going to see beyond a doubt that Britain can deliver,” Cameron said.

Britain’s Prime Minster adding that London is, “one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world.” In what many some members of the international press considered a swipe, Cameron added, “Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic games in the middle of nowhere.”  He did not say whether he was speaking of Salt Lake City.

Outside 10 Downing Street, Romney said, “We talked about the great progress that has been made in organizing the games.”  Romney adding, “Last night I had the occasion to watch a report on the Olympic torch being carried across Great Britain… the symbolism for a torch that represents hope...was heartening to me.”

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