The Truth-O-Meter Says:
Romney

"Took on the Olympics and turned them around"

Mitt Romney on Wednesday, September 26th, 2007 in a television ad.

The effort was Olympic.

In February 1999, Romney was called on to help bail out an Olympic effort that was marred by scandal. Sponsors wondered if they still wanted their names attached to the Games after it was revealed that Salt Lake City's host committee had showered gifts on the international group that had chosen the location. Investigations were underway. The Olympics were in serious trouble.

Still, Romney's implication that he single-handedly rescued the Games is a sore subject in Utah.

Robert Garff, chairman of the Salt Lake organizing committee and a supporter of Romney's presidential bid, says Romney's commercial does overstate the problem. Garff says that contrary to Romney's ad, the Olympics were not bankrupt before he arrived.

In addition, many of the Games' sponsors predated Romney's involvement, said Sydney Fonnesbeck, a former member of the Salt Lake City Council. "He just came in and gathered the money that was already (pledged)," she said.

Fonnesbeck said Romney alienated some people with whom he worked during the Games. "He didn't want to give anyone else any credit," she said. "We became nobodies. A lot of us were hurt and angry. It didn't surprise any of us when he ran home and ran for governor."

And yet, Romney did play a decisive role in righting the troubled Olympics. Richard Pound, a Montreal attorney and a member of the International Olympic Committee, said someone had to take charge and make decisions or the Games would have been a disaster.

That's what Romney did. "There were good people in the organization, but for them to have been able to do the many things that needed to be done, they needed a good leader who could make decisions and empower them," Pound said.

Romney scored a big win early in his effort to preserve the Olympic luster by helping to convince John Hancock to remain a sponsor. Stephen A. Greyser, a professor emeritus at the Harvard Business School and a specialist in sports marketing, said the Olympic brand itself had been at stake. "It was Mitt Romney who was, in essence, Mr. Integrity," Greyser said.

In the end, we cannot award a fully True ruling to Romney's claim when even his supporters say his claim is a little overstated. But there is nothing to dispute that Romney played a vital role in rescuing a very troubled Olympic games and that's why we're rating his claim Mostly True.

Advertisement
About this statement:

Published: Tuesday, September 18th, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

Subjects: Job Accomplishments

Sources:

CQ telephone interview with Robert Garff, chairman of the Salt Lake organizing committee, September 17, 2007

CQ telephone interview with Sydney Fonnesbeck, former member of the Salt Lake City Council, September 17, 2007

CQ telephone interview with Stephen A. Greyser, a professor emeritus at the Harvard Business School and a specialist in sports marketing, September 25, 2007

CQ e-mail interview with Richard Pound, a member of the International Olympic Committee, September 25, 2007

Archive of Olympic coverage, KSL TV news

Written by: David Baumann
Researched by: Sasha Bartolf, Miranda Blue
Edited by: Scott Montgomery

How to contact us:

We want to hear your suggestions and comments.

For tips or comments on our Obameter and our GOP-Pledge-O-Meter promise databases, please e-mail the Obameter. If you are commenting on a specific promise, please include the wording of the promise.

For comments about our Truth-O-Meter or Flip-O-Meter items, please e-mail the Truth-O-Meter. We’re especially interested in seeing any chain e-mails you receive that you would like us to check out. If you send us a comment, we'll assume you don't mind us publishing it unless you tell us otherwise.

Browse The Truth-O-MeterTM:
Subscribe: