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McCain-Romney Rancor Dates Back to OlympicsEdit

Feb 2008 from NewsMax

The acrimony that developed between John McCain and Mitt Romney cannot be blamed simply on the heated primary campaign for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination — the two Republicans were at odds years ago over the 2002 Olympics.

Romney took over operation of the then financially strapped Olympics in Salt Lake City in February 1999, and set out to enlist new corporate sponsors and fix a large budget shortfall.

Then in September 2000, John McCain spoke on the Senate floor against what he called the “staggering” cost the federal government faced in helping stage the Games.

“The American taxpayer is being shaken down to the tune of nearly a billion and a half dollars,” John McCain declared.

He vowed to “do everything in my power” to delay or kill “this pork-barrel spending,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

Romney responded by arguing that taxpayers would need to provide only $250 million, and said he was “quite confident” the Games would receive the funding they needed.

In early 2001, McCain sought to shift $30 million from the Treasury Department, earmarked for law enforcement personnel at the Olympics, to the Pentagon, but the measure was defeated.

Romney, in his 2004 book “Turnaround,” wrote that McCain and others in the Senate were threatening to revoke the tax deductibility of corporate sponsorship, which would “nail the coffin of the Salt Lake Olympics and future Games.”

The clash over Olympics spending, “which dragged on for two years, helps explain some of the acrimony that now characterizes the race between the two front-runners for the Republican presidential nomination,” the Times observed.

In the end, the federal tab — not including construction or improvement of highways, transit systems, and other infrastructure — totaled about $400 million, and the Games were a financial success.


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