While security costs did increase dramatically after Sept. 11, Romney and his team pushed for federal aid long before the attacks. In the fall of 2001, the government already planned to spend about $342 million in non-Sept. 11 related costs, according to the Government Accountability Office.
Romney listed getting more federal dollars as one of the three priorities for his Olympic committee almost as soon as he took the reins in spring of 1999.
“I was going to be spending a lot of time in D.C.,” Romney wrote in his book about the games, called “Turnaround.”
And McCain’s tirade came in 2000, well before the attacks.
After Romney took over, lobbyists for the Salt Lake Organizing Committee asked for money to support a tree planting program, anti-doping educational programs, cultural outreach, communications and Weather Service funding, among other areas. The committee hired lobbyists from top firms in Washington to help with the effort.
All told, according to Romney’s account, the government spent about $600 million helping the Salt Lake Olympic Committee. An additional $1.1 billion was planned for projects like roads and bridges, infrastructure improvement projects that the government assumed would have paid for eventually, though the timing of the games may have sped up the construction.
Romney’s record at the Olympics is viewed positively, and business and community leaders in Salt Lake City widely say he deserves significant credit for helping to lead the games in the wake of the bribery scandal.
Still, Romney is running as a deficit hawk and accusing rival Santorum of asking for millions in earmarks during his years serving as a senator from Pennsylvania. Earmarks are a potent issue with the conservative tea party voters that are a key part of the GOP primary.