- The Washington Times - Monday, August 23, 2004

From combined dispatches

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell will attend the closing ceremony of the Olympics, the first member of President Bush’s administration to visit Athens during the games, the Greek Foreign Ministry said yesterday.

Mr. Powell will arrive Saturday, attend the closing ceremony the next day and leave Greece after meeting Prime Minister Costas Caramanlis.

The announcement came as speculation heightened that Mr. Bush would attend the Olympics.

Internet newshound Matt Drudge reported this weekend that a “trip [was] being planned in secret,” particularly if the surprising Iraqi soccer team made its way into the final game, scheduled for Saturday. Iraq plays Paraguay tomorrow in the semi-final.

But “the president will not go, if it becomes too much of a distraction,” Mr. Drudge cited a “top source” as saying. There also were security concerns, Mr. Drudge reported.

Appearing yesterday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Ken Mehlman, the Bush campaign chairman, said the president would not be at the Olympics.

“I’m the president’s campaign manager, not his scheduler,” he told interviewer Tim Russert. “But I know of no plans to go to the Olympics.”

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