WHITE HOUSE NOTEBOOK: Obama still regrets Olympics

The Associated Press
Saturday, March 19, 2011; 3:38 PM

BRASILIA, Brazil -- President Barack Obama came to Brazil carrying a grudge.

Brazil beat out Chicago, Obama's hometown, for the 2016 summer Olympics, a stinging loss that Obama says he still hasn't recovered from.

Talking about business opportunities for U.S. companies in Brazil, Obama said they'd be looking for needs to fill "as Brazil prepares to host the World Cup and the Summer Olympics - which still hurts for me to say."

The comment drew laughter as Obama addressed the press jointly Saturday with Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff on the first day of his three-country Latin America swing.

Obama, who'd gotten personally involved in lobbying on Chicago's behalf, didn't let it go. At a business forum a little bit later, the president remarked to executives: "Brazil is going to be hosting several important sporting events over the next few years. I mentioned that it pains me to say this when it comes to the Olympics - Lula beat me on that one."

Lula is Brazil's ex-president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.


Rousseff mentioned a couple of times that she felt a special kinship with Obama since both made history with their elections - Rousseff as Brazil's first female president, and Obama as America's first black president.

"The peoples of our two countries built the two largest democracies of the Americas," she said after meeting with Obama at the presidential palace. "They had the courage to elect to the highest office an African-American and a woman, proving that the foundations of democracy allow us to overcome the biggest obstacles that impede the construction of a more generous and harmonic society."

Toasting Obama at a luncheon later, Rousseff again mentioned that they both represent political breakthroughs.

"I would like to raise a toast to you and to the dream of Martin Luther King, the same dream of Brazilians and Americans - the dream of freedom, the dream of hope, and also add another dream, the dream of harmony and peace among all of us."

She said it was especially significant because the U.S. and Brazil are the two countries with the largest black populations outside Africa.

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