"With all the pressing issues we're facing right now, I think hopping off to Copenhagen is problematic," said Mark McKinnon, a Republican media consultant who worked for President George W. Bush. "People elected Obama to be president -- not the head of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce."
Healthcare legislation is moving through committees, though a bipartisan agreement is proving elusive.
The U.S. and its allies are confronting intelligence reports that Iran is covertly building an underground facility capable of producing nuclear weapons. The U.S. is expected to demand that Iran cooperate more fully with inspectors at a meeting on Thursday in Geneva.
The White House also is reevaluating its strategy in Afghanistan, where the top U.S. commander, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, has warned in a confidential memo that without an infusion of forces, the war will be lost.
In an interview, Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.) said Obama was neglecting warnings from McChrystal, while heaping too much time on Chicago's Olympics bid and frivolous appearances.
"I find it baffling that he has time to go to be on Copenhagen, to be on the [David] Letterman show and almost every other channel except the Food Network and Fox, but he doesn't have time to talk to Gen. McChrystal," Bond said.
An Obama spokesman said the president had indeed consulted McChrystal. Also, Obama has gotten a weekly written report from McChrystal and plans to speak to the general this week as part of the broad Afghanistan review that is underway.
"What does Sen. Bond have against the Olympics coming to America?" asked spokesman Tommy Vietor.
Katherine Skiba and Philip Hersh of the Chicago Tribune contributed to this report.