One of the lessons he learned: "If you work at it long enough, there is always another way to get the help you need in Washington."
Democrats have already seized on Olympic spending under Romney's tenure. They point to the federal accounting office report that said the government planned to spend upwards of $1.3 billion on the Salt Lake games, more than it had spent on previous American-hosted Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984 and Atlanta in 1996. In a web video released Friday, they dubbed the federal spending a "bailout" and pointed to scathing comments McCain made about the games.
McCain eventually called the games "an incredible pork-barrel project for Salt Lake City and its environs."
The U.S. does not directly finance the Olympics when a city wins a bid to host the games, unlike many countries. Instead, localities and the U.S. Olympic Committee — responsible for sponsoring and financing the U.S. Olympic team no matter where the games are held — pick up the cost. The government often pays for improving facilities and various other projects.
Ultimately, the Salt Lake City Olympic Games were a success — the first major international event after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. After those attacks, Romney wrote, he met McCain in his Capitol Hill office, where McCain made clear the games were important for the country and he wouldn't stand in the way of money for security.
On the trail, Romney repeatedly invokes the story of Derek Parra, the gold medal speed skater who helped carry a tattered American flag from ground zero into the opening ceremonies, to utter silence from the crowd. The crowds at Romney's events often go silent as he tells the story, too.
"People know me because he tells the story all the time," Parra told The Associated Press in January. And in Parra, Romney has at least one more vote.
"He's been a leader for a number of years, so I think it's what we need in this country," Parra said. "So go Mitt."
Associated Press writer Lynn DeBruin contributed to this report.
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