Entries in Summer Olympics (8)


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


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


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


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


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


London Papers React to Romney's Remarks over Olympic Security

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Mitt Romney woke up in London on Thursday to headlines referencing remarks the GOP presumptive nominee made the day before in regards to security issues surrounding the Olympic Games.

“Mitt Romney casts doubt on London 2012 preparations,” read The Times of London.  “Mitt Romney questions whether Britain is ready for Games,” read The Daily Telegraph.

During an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams on Wednesday, Romney said the last-minute security issues were "disconcerting.”

Romney told Williams, “It’s hard to know just how well it … will turn out.  There are a few things that were disconcerting -- 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.”

But appearing alongside Britain’s Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband Thursday morning, Romney was singing a somewhat different tune about the Olympic issues.

"My experience with regards to the Olympics is it is impossible for absolutely no mistakes to occur," Romney said.  "Of course there will be errors from time to time, but those are all overshadowed by the extraordinary demonstrations of courage, character and determination by the athletes.  The Games are, after all, about the athletes, the volunteers and the people of the community that come together to celebrate those athletes. They are not about the Organizing Committee. And as soon as the sporting events begin, we all forget the organizers and focus on the athletes."

Romney, who is on the second day of his seven-day, three-country foreign trip, also met with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Foreign Secretary William Hague and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg on Thursday. He is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne later in the day.

At night, Romney will attend a high-dollar fundraiser in London with a group of deep-pocketed American bankers.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Olympics Are Seen Broadly Favorably, Even Without Rafalca Fever

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Americans are favorably anticipating the Olympics in general, and the swimming competition in particular, according to the findings of the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll.  But Rafalca fever hasn’t exactly gripped the nation.

Seventy-two percent of those surveyed express a favorable opinion of the upcoming London Olympics overall, and 79 percent see the swimming competition favorably.  Far fewer, 47 percent, hold a positive view of the horse-riding competition called dressage, in which a horse co-owned by Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, is competing.

The horse, Rafalca, has been the subject of some political debate: The Democratic National Committee last week pulled a television ad showing the horse prancing around (an allusion to Romney’s position on releasing his tax returns) after Ann Romney, in an ABC News interview, discussed how she has found dressage therapeutic in dealing with her multiple sclerosis.

While dressage is hardly a household word, it’s notable that more Americans see it favorably than unfavorably as an Olympic sport by 20 percentage points, 47-27 percent -- a testament, perhaps, to the strength of the Olympic brand.  The rest, another 27 percent, have no opinion in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates.

Inescapably, there’s a political component to these views: Democrats are 15 points more likely than Republicans to see dressage unfavorably -- 34 percent vs. 19 percent -- with independents positioned almost exactly between the two.  Democrats still see dressage more favorably than unfavorably, albeit by a scant 8-point margin.  That widens to 23 points among independents and 30 points among Republicans.

There are no major political divisions on the 2012 games overall, or on the widely popular swimming competition.  There, differences relate to education: Favorable views of the Olympics, and of Olympic swimming, are about 15 points higher among adults with at least an undergraduate degree than among those who haven’t been graduated from college.

The overall popularity of the swimming competition shows in “strongly” favorable views of that sport, 41 percent, compared with 29 percent strongly positive views of the Olympics overall.  Again fewer, 16 percent, see the dressage contest strongly favorably.  Perhaps a medal-winning performance by Rafalca, ridden by her co-owner, Jan Ebeling, could change that; at least, it may provide some respite to the presidential horse race here at home.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama in Rio: Returning for 2016 Summer Olympics

Mike Majchrowitz/Pool Photo(RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil) -- On President Obama’s “lighter” Sunday schedule, it seemed his mind was on sports for at least part of the day. Though still smarting from Chicago’s failed bid to win the 2016 Olympics, Obama announced his intention to come to see the games in the winning city: Rio de Janeiro.

“You might have heard that this city wasn’t exactly my first choice for the Summer Olympics,” Obama told a crowd in Rio’s historic municipal theater. “But if the Games couldn’t be in my hometown of Chicago, there’s no place I’d rather see them than right here in Rio.  And I intend to come back in 2016 to watch it happen.”

Obama has mentioned the loss/win numerous times since arriving in Brazil. Saturday he brought it up with Brazilian President Rousseff and again in a statement to reporters.

Earlier Sunday, on a tour of one of Rio’s many favelas – or slum neighborhoods – Obama channeled his inner Pele (or Ronaldo) and kicked the soccer ball around with a bunch of grade school-aged kids. Perhaps as he should have expected, the kids were decked out in blue and white Rio2016 T-shirts.

“These are the best soccer players in the world,” Obama flattered his hosts. “Look at this guy! He’s making some moves!” Obama said to one boy, as he kicked the ball up by the child’s head. The boy promptly blocked then kicked the ball back to Obama.

Obama then showed off some moves of his own, kicking the ball up with his left foot, bouncing it off of his torso and kicking it back again at about head height to the boy. The boy caught the ball with his hand.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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