Republican strategist Alex Conant said despite the loss, Obama's personal pitch was a good thing.
"It's the president's job to advocate on behalf of the U.S. and, frankly, a lot of people think he should be doing more advocating on our behalf," Conant said. "His tone in Copenhagen was very different than his tone in New York [at the United Nations] last week, in terms of going out and unapologetically arguing on behalf of the United States.
"I think a lot of people are disappointed with the result, and rubbing salt in wounds is rather unproductive," he said.
The White House had no qualms with Obama's overnight flight and quick stop on the ground to make that 11th-hour pitch. They had determined that his presence today in Copenhagen could tip the scales in Chicago's favor, which didn't end up being the case.
Axelrod said the only thing the president gave up was some sleep, and he thought the quick trip was well worth the time.
"You can't have it both ways. On one hand, there are people who are complaining that he's done, doing too much and has gotten too much done, and there are others who complain that he hasn't gotten everything done," Axelrod said. "Again, I guess we don't care that much about all the chatter in Washington. We care about putting one foot in front of the other, getting done what needs to be done."
The quick trip wasn't all devoid of other major issues.
On Air Force One, Obama met with Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top general in Afghanistan, to talk about the strategy for the region.
Chicago was hoping to sell the city with the most modest bid of all the other finalists. Its bid estimate was $4.8 billion, compared with Tokyo at $5.9 billion, Madrid at $6.1 billion and Rio de Janeiro at a whopping $13.9 billion.
Chicago planned the main venues on its own park land. Most of the structures, including the Olympic Stadium, would be temporary.
Olympic backers claimed corporate donations, television rights, and ticket sales would more than cover the costs. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley promised no new taxes.
"It's an economic boom," Daley said. "It creates jobs, it creates focus, it creates marketing building up to it."
So how did Chicago, with seemingly so much momentum, ultimately earn the least number of votes?
Some IOC members said they too were surprised at the ultimate lack of enthusiam for the Windy City, but that the decision came down to sharing the games with a whole new part of the world. Members said the vote wasn't against Obama.
"The problem was not that Chicago did something wrong. I think the problem was that there were four great cities," Claudia Bokel, an IOC member from Germany, told ABC News. "I do think the first time in South America seemed to be quite charming to a lot of people."
Brazil's Da Silva emphasized that point in his final presentation.
"For the others, it will be just one more Games," he told voters earlier today. "For South America, it will be a magical moment. ... And it will also be a chance to send a powerful message to the whole world: the Olympic Games belong to all peoples, to all continents to all mankind."
Many IOC members praised Chicago's effort, particularly the first lady's personal pitch, which focused on her father's struggle with multiple sclerosis and his passion for sports in wider the context of the Paralymic Games.
"Michelle Obama was very, very, very tough. She's the woman of the day," said French IOC member Guy Drut.