Romney praises Olympics security, says he won't run for president

WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney, who led the 2002 Winter Olympics in the United States, said Sunday that security threats in Sochi have not been overblown but that the Russians have shown they could keep the Games "reasonably safe."

"There's no such thing as a 100% guarantee, but I think at this stage people feel pretty comfortable that the Games will be safe," he told NBC's "Meet the Press."


Romney, the president and CEO of the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, credited Russia for how it has deployed its security forces and intelligence work during the Games, which run through Feb. 23.

On whether he would make a third run for the White House, the unsuccessful 2012 Republican nominee said he would not.

"I'm not Ronald Reagan. I think that's been pointed out to me before," Romney said. "And I'm not running for president. We've got some very good people who are considering the race, and I'm looking forward to supporting someone who I think will have the best shot of defeating whoever it is the Democrats put up."

Romney was asked about the current Democratic favorite, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in the wake of comments from likely GOP contender Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), who labeled former President Clinton a "sexual predator" for his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Bill Clinton led the country during largely positive economic times, Romney said, but added that he had also "embarrassed the nation" with Lewinsky.

"He breached his responsibility, I think, as an adult and as a leader in this relationship, and I think that's very unfortunate," Romney said. "But I don't think that's Hillary Clinton's to explain."

He said Hillary Clinton will have plenty to discuss about her own record should she become her party's nominee. "I don't imagine that Bill Clinton is going to be a big part of it," he added.

Romney also took a shot at the reported $50-billion price tag for the Sochi Games, saying the Olympics could be put on for $2 billion or $3 billion and suggesting that the extra money could be used for more important goals, such as fighting poverty and disease.

"You don't need to spend $50 billion as Russia has, or as China did" and waste money to "show off a country" or so that "politicians can be puffed up and shown around the world," he said.

While saying the International Olympic Committee should act to limit how much is spent on future Games, Romney was enthusiastic about cities such as Boston vying to host future Games.

Romney is the former governor of Massachusetts and the state's capital, Boston, wants to host the 2024 Summer Olympics.

"Everybody that touches the Olympics that I've ever seen has said it was one of the greatest experiences of their life. … Boston would love it if the Games came home," he said.

Twitter: @KatherineSkiba