POLITICS: PennAve

Janet Napolitano: Obama no show at Olympics not a snub to Putin

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Former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said she doesn't think President Obama's decision not to attend the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia was an attempt to politically embarrass Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"No, I don't think so," Napolitano, who is in Sochi to head the U.S. delegation, told CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday. "He sent a delegation that represents the broad values of the United States. We're here to support our team. We're here to represent our country, and we're proud to be here."

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and White House aide Rob Nabors attended the games' opening ceremony Friday. Also picked for the U.S. delegation were former Olympic gold medalist Brian Boitano and tennis legend Billie Jean King, both openly gay — a gesture seen as a statement against Russia's anti-gay laws.

King intended to go but decided to stay home due to her mother's failing health.

Napolitano said she doesn't expect to speak with Putin during her trip.

"I'm not here as a diplomat, I'm here as the lead of the delegation to the Olympics, so no such conversations are contemplated," she said.

Obama, in an interview last week with NBC sportscaster Bob Costas, said his busy job prevented him from attending the opening ceremony, adding he also didn't go to the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games four years ago.

The president added First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden also couldn't attend because "they've got pretty busy schedules themselves."

Obama wasn't the only major world leader to skip the opening of the games, as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also were no-shows.

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