ABC News' Sunlen Miller and Elizabeth Gorman report:
Stopping just short of calling President Obama’s upcoming trek to Copenhagen a “mistake,” RNC Chairman Michael Steele today criticized the President’s travels to fight for Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics as unnecessary.
“Mistake is in eye of beholder,” Steele said on a conference call with reporters today, “I just think it’s not a necessary trip when we’re facing some pretty looming issues. This administration has pushing a health care bill pronto, and if that’s important, then stay home and get it done.”
The RNC chairman said that First Lady Michelle Obama – who was to originally lead the US delegation to Copenhagen without her husband– should have sufficed as the US emissary.
“I think what the president is doing is not helpful,” Steele said, for those who are struggling while losing their jobs or health care.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs laughed off Steele’s critique during today’s White House briefing, suggesting that he’s not rooting for Chicago to win the games over Madrid, Rio, or Tokyo in the finals.
“Who's he rooting for?” Gibbs said in response to a question on Chairman Steele’s comments with a laugh, “Is he hoping to hop a plane to Brazil and catch the Olympics in Rio? I don't know. Maybe it's Madrid.”
The President plans to make his visit to Copenhagen brief. White House aides point out that the President will be on the ground in Copenhagen for merely three hours, leaving before the final decision is announced.
Gibbs said that Obama is not staying for a longer period of time so that he can get back to the United States “to do more work.”
“(It’s) just one day, there and back,” White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett said yesterday, “He’ll sleep over night so he can hit the ground running first thing on Monday and he’ll be back before you know it.”
President Obama will leave for Denmark overnight Thursday and return to Washington, DC Friday afternoon.
-Sunlen Miller and Elizabeth Gorman