Obama on NATO Summit: ‘Chicago performed magnificently’
By Lynn Sweet and Abdon M. Pallasch Staff Reporters May 21, 2012 9:04PM
- The NATO Summit: Latest news, protests and events
- Photos: NATO protesters rally outside Obama campaign headquarters
Updated: July 2, 2012 9:00AM
Closing the Chicago NATO Summit, President Barack Obama said “Chicago performed magnificently,” thanked folks who were inconvenienced, said the protestors had a right to demonstrate and wondered why folks were stressed —except Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“Obviously, Rahm was stressed. But he performed wonderfully,” Obama said of his former White House chief of staff during a press conference Monday at McCormick Place, the site of the two-day summit.
Obama revealed that among the gifts his White House gave global leaders were small replicas of an iconic Chicago landmark, the “Bean” sculpture in Millennium Park, and footballs to mark the dinner he hosted Sunday night at Soldier Field.
“Many of them did not know what to do with it,” Obama joked about his international colleagues’ different conception of a “football.” Obama rolled up his sleeves and in shirt and tie Sunday night tossed a football around the field, which was decorated with the NATO logo.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen complimented the city. “Chicago is famous for thinking big and for doing great things. You have just organized the biggest summit in NATO’s history and you have done it with great style.”
Obama gently scolded the Chicago press for its coverage of the downside side of the Summit — the inconveniences and the demonstrators drawn to the city to object to the world’s strongest military alliance.
“Now, I think with respect to the protesters, as I said, this is part of what NATO defends is free speech and the freedom of assembly. And — and you know, frankly, to my Chicago press, outside of Chicago, folks really weren’t all that stressed about the possibility of having some protesters here because that’s what — part of what America is about.”
“And the Chicago police — Chicago’s finest did a great job under, you know, some significant pressure and a lot of scrutiny. The only other thing I’ll say about this is thank you to everybody who endured the traffic situation.”