Under pressure from his hometown, President Obama changed his mind and announced today he will go to Copenhagen after all to try to tip the balance in favor of Chicago's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Chicago is in a tight competition with Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, and Tokyo, and the city's boosters hope that Obama's presence will put it over the finish line.
Obama had said for weeks that he was too busy with the health care fight to go, but the White House said today that he will squeeze in a quick trip to make a presentation to the International Olympic Committee on Friday.
Obama will leave Washington Thursday night, arrive in Copenhagen on Friday just in time for Chicago’s presentation to the voting members of the IOC, and return to Washington on Friday afternoon.
First Lady Michelle Obama, whom the president had tapped to lead the US delegation, will arrive Wednesday with senior adviser Valerie Jarrett. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHoood and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, both with Chicago connections, will also present the US case.
"President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will both make presentations to the IOC during Friday’s session. They will discuss why Chicago is best to host the 2016 Summer Games, and how the United States is eager to bring the world together to celebrate the ideals of the Olympic movement," the White House said.
UPDATE: Asked about Obama's pitch, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said this afternoon, "It's a perfect place to hold the Olympics....It offers all the amenities that one would want in the Olympics. And I think, far and away, it's the strongest bid of the four that are out there."
"I think he hopes that he can make a strong case for Chicago and America's bid for the Olympics in 2016. Obviously, any Olympics showcases the country that those Olympics are in, and there's a tangible economic benefit to those games being here, and the president wants to help out America's bid," Gibbs said in his daily briefing.
"President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama symbolize the hope, opportunity and inspiration that makes Chicago great, and we are honored to have two of our city’s most accomplished residents leading our delegation in Copenhagen,” Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley said in a statement today.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.