"Now the president is going to go to Copenhagen when we've got serious issues here at home that need to be debated," House Minority Leader John Boehner told reporters Wednesday. "I think it's a great idea to promote Chicago, but he's the president of the United States, not the mayor of Chicago."
But White House officials say the trip isn't taking away from the president's responsibilities.
"In fact, I think it's consistent with his philosophy of diplomacy, of reaching out, of inviting over 200 countries to come to our shores, in the heart of country, the Midwest, in Chicago," Jarrett said. "That's completely consistent with President Obama's agenda, making America inclusive and open and so the short time he'll be here, we believe is time well spent."
The president will be on the ground for merely three hours, long enough to headline the final presentation and make the final pitch to undecided IOC members, like Ung Chang, who has been an IOC member for the last 13 years.
When asked what can convince him of his vote, Chang replied, "Last presentation, that's important."
The first lady likened IOC voters to the Iowa caucus goers who gave her husband his first campaign win in 2008.
"Barack and I have looked at this -- this is like a campaign. Just like Iowa," she said. "The international community may not understand that, but Iowa is like a caucus, and you can't take any vote for granted. Nobody makes the decision until they're sitting there."
Michelle Obama is in Copenhagen for three days and in addition to sports stars and Winfrey, she is joined by a team of Chicago officials, including Mayor Richard Daley.
"This is a very tough campaign. These are very competitive cities," Daley said. "Tokyo, Rio, Madrid -- they're fantastic cities."
The delegations of Chicago's rivals are pulling out all the stops to boost their own chances. Brazil's president, Lula da Silva, brought international soccer star Pele to woo the Olympic committee voters. The royal families from Japan and Spain will make their bids in person as well.
Most of the campaigning in Copenhagen is happening behind the scenes. Michelle Obama is meeting one-on-one with the more-than-100 members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The first lady, President Obama and Vice President Biden all have been working the phones pushing Chicago's bid.
The IOC panel is accustomed to being smooched by European royalty, and they are now being wooed by royalty from the U.S. sports world, including basketball's "Dream Team " star David Robinson and gold medal gymnast Nadia Comaneci.
Many of the IOC members are global power players themselves, and the prospect of meeting President Obama on Friday leaves some of them unfazed.
Chang told ABC News he's accustomed to seeing presidents and heads of state at these events, and so he's "not much excited" at the prospect of meeting President Obama.
Asked who might win, Chang shook his head and laughed.
"I don't know, God knows!" he said.