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Romney to attend Summer Olympics in London

 

With 100 days until the world's attention turns to London for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney says he plans on attending the "first day or two" of the events.

Romney explained this morning to WTVN radio in Columbus, Ohio, "Ever since the games in Salt Lake City in 2002 the Olympics is a big part of my life and I would love to be there and see the kickoff of their games."

Romney's role overseeing the Salt Lake City Olympics has become a critical selling-point for his campaign. It's also an experience voters are likely to continue to hear more about as this campaign shifts to the general election.

In 1999, facing a bid-rigging scandal and financial disarray, the Salt Lake Organizing Committee hired Romney as president and CEO to get the city out of what was becoming a national embarrassment. In his official biography on the Romney for president website his campaign explains, "Mitt set to work. In a remarkably short period, he revamped the organization's leadership, trimmed the budget, and restored public confidence."

On the campaign trail, Romney often cites that experience as an example of his management style and ability to turn around a troubled organization.

He also routinely invokes the American ideals he admired during those games by recalling his interaction during the Closing Ceremonies with U.S. speed skater Derek Parra.

At campaign stops across the country Romney says Derek Parra told him his most meaning full experience was not winning gold or silver, but it was instead carrying the American flag that had flown above the World Trade Center on Sept. 11th, 2001, into the Opening Ceremonies.

It's a story that often leads supporters to wipe away tears.

Yesterday in Lancaster, PA, Romney recounted Parra’s describing of the scene as a 1930s version of the National Anthem, in which the last stanza is sung as a reprise, was being performed.

"He said Mitt, this time as the choir sung it again a gust of wind blew in the flag and lifted it in our hands. And he said for me it was as if the spirits of all those that had fought and died for American liberty had just blown in that flag. And he said the tears began to roll down my face."

Romney then pivoted to a central theme of his candidacy, saying, "If we have leaders that will tell truth and live with integrity, and know how to lead and are willing to draw upon the patriotism of the American people and ask them to rise and join together, not to be divided, but to come together and to overcome the challenges we have that we will do so."

As voters prepare to choose their next president, for Team Romney the Olympics offers the campaign an opportunity to focus on the candidate’s experience managing an organization facing multiple challenges while also invoking the greatness of America.