Romney offends Londoners with Olympic comment

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Romney offends Londoners with Olympic comment

From Comcast SportsNet

LONDON (AP) -- Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney, on a trip already marked by his misstep of calling some of London's Olympics issues "disconcerting," has an Olympic history of his own that could prove problematic: His management of the 2002 Winter Games was not without controversy.

Romney was set to attend Friday's opening ceremony of the London Games on the first part of a three-nation tour that will take him to Israel and Poland. The itinerary is designed to test Romney's diplomatic skills and political strengths as he challenges President Barack Obama in the November election.

Romney's political career was born out of his leading role at the Salt Lake City Games, which were plagued by scandal before he was chosen to take over.

On Friday, he said "it looks to me like London is ready," although he observed in an NBC interview that "it is hard to put on the Games in a major metropolitan area."

Romney has been trying to soften his earlier criticism of London's preparation for the games, in which he called problems such as late-developing security issues "disconcerting." British leaders jumped on the remark, with Prime Minister David Cameron saying, "Of course it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere."

London Mayor Boris Johnson told tens of thousands gathered in Hyde Park: "There's a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know if we are ready. Are we ready? Yes we are!"

Former U.S. gold medalist Carl Lewis told The Independent newspaper, "I swear, sometimes I think some Americans shouldn't leave the country."

Asked Friday about the stir his remarks caused, Romney replied, "I'm absolutely convinced that the people here are ready for the Games, and in just a few moments, all the things the politicians say will be swept away" by excitement over the competition.

The Olympic focus also brought fresh attention to Romney's actions in Utah a decade ago.

"The country is in need of a turnaround. The Olympics was a turnaround," Romney told CNN in an interview broadcast as London slept early Friday morning. "The attacks that come by people who are trying to knock down my business career, or my Olympic experience, or our success, those attacks are not going to be successful."

Such attacks have been plentiful in recent months. Democrats and even some Republicans have criticized Romney for taking credit for the 2002 games' success while relying on federal funding to help cover costs as the Salt Lake Olympics sought to recover from financial mismanagement and corruption.

"One of the things he talks about most is how he heroically showed up on the scene and bailed out and resolved the problems of the Salt Lake City Olympic Games," Rick Santorum, now a Romney supporter, said in February when he opposed Romney for the Republican nomination. "He heroically bailed out the Salt Lake City Olympic Games by heroically going to Congress and asking them for tens of millions of dollars to bail out the Salt Lake Games -- in an earmark."

By Romney's account, the government spent about 600 million helping the Salt Lake Olympic Committee. He has made himself the very public face of the effort, claiming that he personally cut millions from the budget, wooed major companies and won sponsorships himself and pulled the whole endeavor back from the brink of failure. His record in Salt Lake was the cornerstone of his run for governor in Massachusetts, a campaign he announced just weeks after the games concluded.

Romney, who promises to slash federal spending if elected president, rarely acknowledges the federal support for the 2002 games on the campaign trail. His aides say much of it was for increased security costs after the 2001 terrorist attacks, which occurred about five months earlier.

Romney doesn't elaborate on his role in persuading congressional appropriators and critics to give the games more money.

In the 2004 book he wrote about the games, "Turnaround," Romney mentioned one of the lessons he learned: "If you work at it long enough, there is always another way to get the help you need in Washington."

The Kyle Schwarber reboot begins Monday in Iowa

The Kyle Schwarber reboot begins Monday in Iowa

MIAMI – This isn’t a Tommy La Stella situation. The Cubs purposely told Kyle Schwarber to take a few days off to decompress before reporting to Triple-A Iowa. The reboot will begin Monday in Des Moines.

“We’re doing it to hopefully reset him, get him back up with a fresh start,” manager Joe Maddon said. “As you would expect, he was very professional about it, understood it entirely.

“There’s no actual timetable. I don’t anticipate it to be long. But we’ll see how it plays out, give him a little bit of room to get things right and then move it forward from there.”

The Cubs broke the news to Schwarber after Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field, where the entire lineup went 1-for-27 outside of rookie Ian Happ’s two-run homer. It left Schwarber hitting .171 with a .673 OPS, not enough to justify his 12 home runs and suspect outfield defense. The Iowa Cubs are in the middle of a four-game series this weekend in Round Rock, Texas.

The Cubs hope Schwarber can regain his confidence and almost become a trade-deadline addition, reenergizing the team the way he did in 2015, when he blasted 16 homers in 69 games and five more in the playoffs.

Under entirely different circumstances in 2012, future All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo used 70 games with Iowa to rework his swing and make adjustments after bombing his audition with the Padres.

“He’s going to go down and be able to exhale a little bit,” Rizzo said. “Hopefully, he can smooth things out. We’re all confident he will. Just do the best down there to get back up here and to be the Kyle Schwarber that we all know and love.”

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson heard some of the rumors, but not to a large degree. The former Blackhawks defenseman wasn’t spending a lot of time on the internet reading up on his potential fate. He figured he’d still stay put in Chicago.

“But when my agent called me about the 10-team list, I understood it was serious. Stan [Bowman] wouldn’t ask for that unless they made up their mind already,” Hjalmarsson said via conference call on Saturday. “That’s when it hit me that I’m probably not going to put the Hawks jersey on anymore.”

Indeed, Hjalmarsson’s next jersey will be that of the Arizona Coyotes, who acquired him in exchange for defenseman Connor Murphy on Friday. Hjalmarsson’s departure marks the end of the line for another Blackhawks core player, and this one is jarring in how it will change the team’s defense.

Speaking of change, Hjalmarsson faces a lot of it himself now. Sure, there’s the obvious change for a guy who’s played his entire career in one place. It’s new surroundings and a new team, on which he knows former Blackhawks teammate Antti Raanta and fellow countryman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

But the Coyotes have dealt with a lot of upheaval lately. Goaltender Mike Smith is gone. So is veteran Shane Doan. On Thursday, head coach Dave Tippett and the Coyotes parted ways.

“They’re on a rebuild, a lot of new faces, lot of changes,” Hjalmarsson said. “It’s tough to know what to expect but I think they’re a hungry organization that wants to win like other teams. I’m looking forward to try to contribute with playing my game, just try to get the organization back in the playoffs.”

Hjalmarsson should find chemistry with Ekman-Larsson – the two were teammates in the Winter Olympics in Sochi – and Hjalmarsson will likely play a bigger role with the Coyotes. Arizona will probably look to Hjalmarsson a lot during its rebuild, given his Cup-winning history.

The first 24 hours were full of mixed emotions of Hjalmarsson. With his limited no-move clause, he was always a likely candidate to be moved from a Blackhawks team laden will full no-move clauses. He’s turning a page, but he won’t forget his time in Chicago anytime soon.

“I’m trying to always be a positive guy,” Hjalmarsson said. “I spent my whole 20s in Chicago, 10 unbelievable years. I didn’t think I’d win three Cups. Hopefully I can get one more before my career is over. I had the best time in Chicago, enjoyed every single year, playing in front of the best fans in the league. I’ve been spoiled. Now it’s time for me and my family to move on and seize the opportunity in Arizona and create some new fond memories.”