The Wall Street Journal reported this morning on how Mitt Romney's stint as CEO of the organizing committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics “remains one of the clearest examples of how he sought to transfer his corporate-restructuring experience to a public institution, a theme that runs through the heart of his challenge to Barack Obama.” Indeed, Romney's campaign is at the moment singularly focused on criticizing President Obama for touting the role government-funded infrastructure plays in a successful economy.
And that's why it's so curious that the Journal's write-up of Romney's Olympic tenure omitted any mention of the hundreds of millions of federal dollars Romney secured -- and later boasted of -- to help fund the 2002 Olympic Games. Romney was so appreciative of the federal contribution that a 2001 Sports Illustrated article quoted him saying: “We couldn't have done it without them. These are America's Games.”
The Journal reported:
When Mitt Romney took over the troubled Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, it was tainted by allegations of corruption and facing a yawning budget hole.
Mr. Romney immediately saw several cuts that could get the Games back on track, including a cultural-education program, a youth camp and free catered lunches for committee board meetings. The cuts required tough conversations with a community that had big expectations for the Games, but in dozens of meetings with local officials and residents, Mr. Romney portrayed the situation as dire.
Mr. Romney's 2002 Olympics stint remains one of the clearest examples of how he sought to transfer his corporate-restructuring experience to a public institution, a theme that runs through the heart of his challenge to President Barack Obama. Both the kudos and the criticisms will be back in the spotlight this week when Mr. Romney visits the London Games, a pointed reminder from the candidate of his former role.
What followed was a run-down of the various cost-cutting measures Romney put into effect (eliminating a youth camp, charging committee members for pizza lunches, etc.) that, per the article's implication, resulted in “a $100 million surplus, a number that included $65 million in cash and contributions of computers and food that were distributed to the community.”
But that surplus didn't come just from cheap pizza. As ABC's Jonathan Karl reported in March, Romney, during his 2002 run for governor of Massachusetts, boasted of the more than $410 million he got from the feds to pull off a successful Games, which he described as a collaborative effort between the private sector and all levels of government:
As for his experience running the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, Romney says, "“the whole winter games was a combination of the federal, state and local governments along with private enterprise.”
“We actually received over $410 million from the federal government for the Olympic games. That is a huge increase over anything ever done before and we did that by going after every agency of government,” he says.
He even cites money one his colleagues managed to get for the Olympics from the Department of Education.
“She said, 'Why don't I get the Department of Education to buy tickets to the Paralympics so that high school and grade school kids can go to the Paralympics?' She literally got, I believe the number was over $1 million from the Department of Education, funding to buy tickets for kids,” Romney said. “This way we got kids there and we also got additional revenues that we wouldn't have had. That kind of creativity I want to bring to everything we do.”
The closest the Journal came to acknowledging the role federal money played in the Games was a quote from IOC official Cindy Gillespie, whom they identified as having “led the committee's lobbying for federal funding.”