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4 reasons Romney doesn't want to talk about the Olympics
Romney's rescue of the once-scandal-plagued 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics was one of his big accomplishments. So why isn't he bragging about it?
Mitt Romney in 2002, when he was president of the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee for the Winter Olympics.
Mitt Romney in 2002, when he was president of the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee for the Winter Olympics.
AP Photo/Joe Cavaretta
M

itt Romney's success in turning around the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002 has long been considered one of the most glowing entries on his resume. In a move that will remind people of that accomplishment, Romney and his wife, Ann, will attend Friday's opening ceremony at the London Olympics during a six-day overseas tour. Romney supporters point to his rescue of the financially troubled Salt Lake Olympics to demonstrate that he's better qualified than President Obama to fix the economy, so why doesn't Romney talk more about it? Here, four reasons why the Olympics might be a sore subject:

1. Romney's you-didn't-build-that moment
Mitt Romney has twisted a line of President Obama's to suggest that the president thinks the government, not entrepreneurs, should get credit for the successes of small businesses, says Steve Benen at MSNBC. Yet, in a video dug up by MSNBC, Romney tells athletes at the 2002 Winter Olympics, "you didn't get here solely on your own power." It's silly to suggest Romney is belittling Olympians' accomplishments — he's just saying they had support from their parents, coaches, and communities — but this underlines how unethical Team Romney's distortion of Obama's words is. Nice try, but Benen's attempt to chide Romney wins the "False Equivalence of the day award," says Tom Maguire at JustOneMinute. Obama was saying entrepreneurs didn't build "that" — either their businesses or the infrastructure that supports them — to justify hitting them with "even higher taxes." Romney was just giving athletes an opportunity to clap for their moms and dads.

2. New accusations of a failure to be transparent
Given Romney's refusal to release more than two years of tax returns, and his decision to destroy emails from his tenure as Massachusetts governor, says Rachel Weiner at The Washington Post, the GOP candidate is giving the impression he has something to hide. Well, guess what: A decade after Salt Lake City, Romney's Olympic records still haven't been released. The University of Utah promises they'll be made public, but many key documents were "scrubbed" or destroyed long ago. Obama strategist David Axelrod had the audacity to suggest there's something Nixonian about this, says Erika Johnsen at Hot Air. The trouble with that "facepalm-worthy" nonsense is that the Salt Lake Olympics that Romney orchestrated were a "rip-roaringly successful event about which nobody has even suggested there was anything sinister going on."

3. Mon dieu! Romney speaks French
A pro-Obama super PAC, American LP, had a field day back in December with another video from Romney's Olympic days. That time his crime was... speaking French. Given that many conservatives are no fans of the French, "the mere fact that we can show him speaking French fluently, we believe, is going to irritate primary voters," American LP founder T.J. Walker said. It was an awfully "cynical" way to try to prevent someone from becoming leader of the free world, said Matthew Balan at News Busters. Maybe, said Andrew Rosenthal at The New York Times, but it's fair "payback for the 2004 mockery of John Kerry" for his Francophone ways.

4. Those darned uniforms
Just when Romney was battling Obama over who's the real outsourcer-in-chief, says Maggie Haberman at Politico, he was faced with the "embarrassing" revelation that America's 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics uniforms were made not in the U.S., but in Burma. "This could explain part of Romney's silence on a Capitol Hill controversy over the current manufacturer of Olympics uniforms," namely China. Romney's trip to London this week, and to the London Olympics, is no longer the sure-fire public-relations hit it once seemed. "Instead, it will have the Bain-outsourcing-when-did-Romney-leave controversy as the backdrop."

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.

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