Yesterday morning the Vice President and the rest of the Presidential Delegation to the Olympics arrived. Julie and I went out to the airport to welcome them. I don’t care who you are, when you walk up to the steps of a big blue and white plane that says “United States of America” across the side and you greet the Vice President of the United States, it’s pretty special. The Vice President is accompanied by his wife Dr. Jill Biden, his two sons and their families. They are so warm toward all of us.
Also part of the delegation is Valerie Jarrett, my old colleague from Chicago who has become one of the President’s closest advisors. And the delegation wouldn’t be complete without some Olympic legends. So we are joined by gold medalists Mike Eruzione, Vonetta Flowers and Peggy Fleming. More on them later.
Our first official stop was at the pep rally for the US Olympic team. I’ve been to pep rallies in high school and college. But never anything quite like this. Surrounded by the some of the best athletes in the world, the Vice President of the United States inspired them to represent our country and the spirit it stands for in front of the world.
We then went to the opening ceremonies. I’m sure you saw them on TV. Everyone did. A couple of impressions. It made me feel really proud that when the US team walked in they were greeted by a roar from the whole crowd. Says a lot about our relationship with Canada and the world. We were among friends. And the reaction the Canadian team got was very special. You could sense not only the pride of the Canadian people, but also the fondness of the rest of the world toward them. I’ll also say KD Lang’s rendition of Hallelujah was amazing.
Today the competitions began. We drove up to Whistler. We shared a ride with Minister Jim Prentice and his wife Karen. While it was not as sunny as the last time we drove on the Sea to Sky highway it was still magnificent. We watched the ski jumping. Not something I plan to try any time soon. We had planned to watch the Men’s downhill. But as you have all heard, it was postponed because of the weather. So we toured around Whistler. After lunch with the delegation, we walked for a couple of blocks along the main street and the Vice President was mobbed along the way. He stopped every few feet to pose for pictures, to talk to kids, and to sign autographs. It showed not only how close the relationship between our two countries is, but why. We are led by individuals like Barack Obama and Joe Biden who love people.
We then headed back to Vancouver for a meeting between Prime Minister Harper and the Vice President. Then I headed off to a reception for world business leaders hosted by Peter Van Loan, the Minister of International Trade.
Julie and I finished off the evening with Vonetta, Mike and Peggy at USA House, which is a place set up for the athletes, former Olympians, members of the USOC and others. It was like going to the Olympics Hall of Fame. We met Dan Jansen, Bonnie Blair, Nancy Kerrigan, Dana Torres, and more. Quite a thrill!
All this and it’s just the beginning. Can’t wait to see what happens next.