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Senator Mitt Romney celebrates 20th Olympic anniversary with Park City

Leslie Thatcher
KPCW Radio

U.S. Senator Mitt Romney – who also served as the President and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics – walked through the Bob Wells Plaza Saturday at Park City’s 20th anniversary celebration of hosting the games, shaking hands, posing for photos, and answering questions from the media.

Before he ran for President or elected to the U.S. Senate, Mitt Romney accepted the job as the Salt Lake Organizing Committee CEO in 1999, after the troubled organization’s leaders were indicted – and later cleared - of charges of bribery and fraud.

Facing an initial revenue shortfall of more than $375 million, when he started the job, Romney successfully restructured the Olympic organization’s leadership, reduced budgets, and boosted fundraising, while ensuring the safety of Olympic athletes and guests just after the fallout of the 9-11 attacks.

Because of that success, Romney said Saturday, he’s confident Utah will host another winter games...

“I think it's very likely that we get to host another Olympics,” Romney said, “in part because the venues are built. We had a great track record of the most successful Olympic Winter Games in history. And we did it at the lowest cost of any Olympics, summer, or winter, over the last at least 16 Olympic games. So, yeah, we’ll get them again.”

As to the timing of the games, he said that’s up to the international politics because there are several nations that would like to host the Olympic Winter games, including Canada.

The Olympics helped create a winter training ground and it’s paid off. Romney noted that about a third of the Olympic team in Beijing has ties to Utah.

“People want to come because of the sporting opportunities here,” Romney said. “The outdoor lifestyle and, and frankly people are welcoming.”

With Congress out of session for the Presidents Day holiday, Romney was able to make the visit to Utah. He said he’s pleased with some of the successes of this session.

“I’m pretty pleased we got our infrastructure bill done,” Romney said. “We also got to build a competitive bill with China completed. We got our military bill done so some things are successful. Others are not - keep on battling. That's part of my job.”

As to who he’ll support for the Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, Romney said he wants to see who President Biden selects, before committing.

“Well, it depends on who the president nominates,” he said. “There are some African American women who I have voted against for Federal Judicial positions. There are others I voted for. So, if you were to choose someone I voted for, why I would begin with the presumption that this is someone who would at least philosophically be appropriate for the bench.”

The Romneys have owned a second home in Park City for decades. With two dozen grandkids, he said they have upgraded from their Hidden Oaks home to one that provides ski in ski out access to Deer Valley’s slopes.