Mitt Romney: 2002 Winter Olympic Games Were Made Possible By 'Enormous' Federal Spending

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks to reporters as he boards his charter plane i
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks to reporters as he boards his charter plane in Centennial, Colo., Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, en route to Aspen, Colo. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Mitt Romney said he would have been unable to host the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, had it not been for the "enormous spending and services of the federal government."

The words, uttered by Romney in 2002, are in direct contrast to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's relentless attacks on President Barack Obama over his "you didn't build that" comments.

Romney and Republicans have spent the last month knocking Obama as government-obsessed and for crediting Washington with the success of small businesses. But by the former Massachusetts governor's own admission, it was only with the government's support that he was able to pull off the Olympics he so often heralds as one of his career's greatest accomplishments.

"Without question, we simply could not host Games in Salt Lake if it were not for the enormous spending and services of the federal government," Romney had said in a 2001 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee during a hearing around cooperation between federal, state, local and private agencies for the Salt Lake City Olympics.

"When I came to the Games two years ago, following the revelations of bid impropriety, there was nothing which caused greater anxiety than whether or not we could count on this critical federal support," he said, before thanking both the Clinton and Bush administrations for being involved with his committee's planning efforts "every step of the way."

According to Romney at the time, former President George W. Bush specifically included Olympic items in the budget he submitted to Congress.

The testimony doesn't just contradict Romney's current position on the role of federal spending -- it also underscores the outside help he received in orchestrating the 2002 Olympics. Throughout Romney's candidacy, his campaign and affiliates have used the event to tout Romney as an "Olympics Savior." Pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future placed a $7.2 million ad buy centered on his Olympics success, featuring Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi in one of its ads reflecting on how Romney brought her "a sense of hope."

Missing from the ad, and Romney's own telling of the story, is how that hope for the 2002 Olympics was also restored through $342 million in direct federal funding and an additional $1.1 billion in indirect financing from Washington.



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