I received a stream of emails this week from Jewish Democrats touting the White House endorsement of a minute of silence at the 2012 Olympics to commemorate the Israeli athletes slain in Munich 40 years ago.
Tommy Vietor, the National Security Council spokesman, told Yahoo that " We absolutely support the campaign for a moment of silence at the Olympics to honor the Israeli athletes killed in Munich."
In response, Andrea Saul of the Romney campaign said merely that the former Massachusetts governor had taken no public position on the issue.
(I contacted the Romney campaign myself to see if there was any update about his thinking and received no response.)
I can see why Obama’s Democratic backers are eager to seize on this situation; for them it’s a two-fer.
First, they get Obama backing a popular cause in the Jewish community, and one that already has bipartisan support in Congress, with politicians from both parties criticizing the International Olympic Committee for refusing to include the requested moment of silence.
And then, extra bonus, they have an issue to tarnish Romney’s victory lap at the opening of the Summer Games in London at the end of the month -- or at least to try to make him squirm.
Romney will be attending the international sporting event because of his role righting the badly mismanaged Salt Lake City Winter Olympics back in 2002. It was a role that shot him to national prominence and is a key piece of his biography. Going to the games in London reminds a lot of the public about that episode, and also gives him a nice reason to get his photo taken with British Prime Minister David Cameron and otherwise burnish his foreign policy credentials. (He visits Israel after the UK.)
The last thing Romney wants to see is the Olympics become a venue for controversy, where he has to risk alienating his hosts or angering voters.
In this round of their tug-of-war, it looks like Obama has prevailed.
- Hilary Leila Krieger