Mitt Romney Hopes Olympic Appearance Will Serve as a Distraction

The Republican candidate hopes to garner some positive press from his appearance at the London Olympics opening ceremony.

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When Mitt Romney travels to the Olympics in London next week, he is hoping for a round of positive media coverage of the strong leadership he provided in rescuing the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002. But he will be walking a tightrope because his Democratic critics will use the occasion to ridicule him and attempt to undermine his case.

The attacks have already started. Romney critics are resurrecting news stories from 2002 reporting that his Olympic committee outsourced the production of uniforms for torchbearers by having the clothing made in Burma (also known as Myanmar) which was governed by a military dictatorship.

Romney ran the Winter Olympics in 2002 and has been underscoring his stewardship to show that he has experience in repairing broken institutions. The Winter Olympics that year were plagued by scandal and seemed headed for failure until Romney was brought in to turn things around, which he did.

But on Wednesday morning, the Democratic National Committee released a video using Romney's upcoming Olympic moment to make fun of what it calls "Mitt Romney's favorite sport—horse dancing—and his favorite pastime—dancing around the issues."

[See a collection of political cartoons on Mitt Romney.]

Romney, the former governor of Massachusettts, is hoping to get a boost from attending the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics, which open next week and end August 12, two weeks before the start of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, where Romney will be formally nominated as the GOP presidential candidate.

Romney has been hit with weeks of criticism from President Barack Obama's re-election campaign and the Democrats over a variety of issues. The latest is criticism of his refusal to release more of his income-tax returns.

Romney strategists are hoping that the Olympic moment will allow him to change the subject and get at least a few days worth of positive publicity.

Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington," and is the author of "The Presidency" column in the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at and on Facebook and Twitter.

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