A key part of the Mitt Romney narrative is how he rode to the rescue of the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. However, some are now questioning whether the presidential candidate exaggerated his work, The Washington Post reports.
“What’s offensive to me is he made it about him and not our community and not our state,” Ken Bullock, executive director of the Utah League of Cities and Towns, told the Post. “People should remember the Games, not the individual.”
Romney, whose campaign did not respond to interview requests from the Post, has made his work on the Olympics part of the narrative of his life as a successful manager and businessman, citing the Olympic experience in books, campaign ads, and speeches.
However, Robert Garff, chairman of the Salt Lake City Olympic committee, told the Post that “it was fairly obvious” to those around him that political ambition at least partly fueled Romney’s decision.
Garff said the Games were not in danger of being canceled despite the revelations that Salt Lake officials gave cash, scholarships, and gifts to International Olympic Committee members who supported their bid for the games.
“It was a mess in a public relations sense,” Garff said. “It was very quick that people went to the throats of the previous bid committee chairmen . . . The momentum, everything we had been working for, was skidding.”
Wayne McCormack, a professor who coordinated the University of Utah’s involvement in the games, praised Romney’s role in restoring confidence but told the Post, “You could have brought Humpty Dumpty in and the same change would have happened.
"It was inevitable . . . I don’t mean to denigrate Mitt’s performance by any stretch. But to answer the question, did he cause it to happen? No, the organizational structure was such that it simply had to happen.”
Romney supporters argue that the former Massachusetts governor’s vision and leadership brought new life to the organizing committee.
“You’ve got a budget deficit, and all of the sudden no sponsors want to be a part of it,” former Olympics chief operating officer Fraser Bullock told the Post.
“We were stymied in what we wanted to do . . . [But] Mitt got out there and made it happen, personally. I had nothing to do with that. He just did it, and without that, we would have failed. He was tireless,” Bullock added.
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