What Mitt Romney's response to Sept. 11 attacks can tell us about his approach to crisis management
More security personnel were deployed and procedures modified, including the banning of aircraft traffic over the area during the opening ceremonies. The only apparent enhancement to the general public was the use of military working with volunteers at venues and vehicle checkpoints and law enforcement dressed in color-coded ski jackets and pants.
"We looked like guys coming off the resorts," Flowers said. "I still wear mine when I go skiing."
Romney skillfully used 9/11 as a new symbol for the Olympics, memorializing victims at torch-run venues and using the tattered flag from ground zero during the opening ceremonies, which has become an iconic image in the 2002 highlights reel.
Romney had always wanted the opening ceremonies to be emotional, so when the United States Olympic Committee wanted to use the flag, he seized on the idea and won an exception to the IOC's traditional ban on nationalism at Olympic ceremonies.
With the Obama campaign trying to define his GOP opponent as an unethical capitalist, Romney is expected to the use the London Games as a stage to tout his own Olympic legacy.
He did a national TV interview from London with NBC's Brian Williams Thursday, which touched on his Olympic moment, but also his faith, his response to the Aurora, Colo., shootings, and his finances and tax returns. And he will address Olympic athletes before attending opening ceremonies Friday to witness the lighting of the Olympic flame.
His admirers who worked with him at SLOC say Romney's Olympic experience is relevant to the office he is seeking.
Hess, from the Brookings Institution, explained most presidential candidates from the two major parties have remarkable records and qualities, such as leadership or organizational skills, or they wouldn't reach that public stage. And some past experience can transfer to select accomplishments.
He cited President Dwight D. Eisenhower's military background as helping him know where he could cut the defense budget and how President Lyndon B. Johnson's knowledge of where all the skeletons were buried in Congress likely helped him push through his Great Society agenda.
On the other hand, there have been presidents whose past records seemed a perfect fit, like commerce secretary and business leader Herbert Hoover who was president when the Great Depression hit, but who failed to live up to that promise; then others who were criticized for appearing not up to the task, such as Franklin D. Roosevelt who rose to become one of the country's greatest leaders.
Hess, who worked in both the Eisenhower and Nixon administrations, watched Nixon as president try to work with his cabinet the way Eisenhower did, when Nixon was the vice president. "Over time, (Nixon) lost patience with his cabinet and turned to his White House staff for advice," Hess said.
Hess compares past records of candidates to a resume. "It reflects the sort of person I want, but it doesn't then translate into future," he said. "The world tends to look a lot different when you're president."
Still, pundits expect the Romney campaign to highlight the candidate's past performance leading the 2002 Olympics as among the reasons to put him into the oval office.
"The Olympics is an interesting story and people know something about it," said Michael Barone, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner. "I think it's a winner for him and I expect him to make it in some dramatic form at some point."
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