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Will Derrion Albert's Beating Death Video Hurt Chicago's Olympic Dreams?

(My Fox Chicago)
Image: Mob attacks Derrion Albert, captured on cell phone video.

NEW YORK (CBS/AP) Images of the brutal beating death of Chicago honor student Albert Derrion have shocked the nation, but the case could also have international repercussions.

Photos: Derrion Albert Beating Death Video

An uncut cell phone video, which has been widely distributed across the Web and television, shows teens viciously kicking and striking the 16-year-old with splintered railroad ties in an attack that left him dead.

The murder is carnal, brutal, and scary.

It's with this backdrop that Michelle Obama is now in Copenhagen trying to impress International Olympic Committee members that Chicago is the right place to bring the 2016 Olympics. Her husband, President Barack Obama, is set to join her later this week.

Will the appalling video seriously hurt the Olympic pitch and undercut the First Family's efforts? It may be too soon to know.

(AP Photo)
Photo: U.S. first lady Michelle Obama arrives at Copenhagen's Kastrup Airport, Sept. 30, 2009.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the video is "chilling" and that the topic came up at President Barack Obama's morning meeting in the Oval Office.

Gibbs on Wednesday said that reporters should expect an administration response to the "heinous crime" shortly.

"This is not just a Chicago-specific problem," Gibbs said. "Obviously, youth crime and gang violence are something that this administration takes seriously. And we'll have more on that soon."

Gibbs added that though the government cannot regulate what's in people's hearts, the White House believes such crimes call for community involvement.

As head of Chicago's delegation to the Internaional Olympic Committee (IOC), and her husband's representative until he arrives Friday, Mrs. Obama plans to meet with as many members as possible to try to persuade them to pick her hometown over Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Tokyo.

"I'm so happy to be here, so excited," Mrs. Obama said. "We've got a lot of work to do. We're not taking anything for granted, so I'm going to go talk to some voters."

As the first lady walked through the hotel lobby Wednesday, she spotted IOC member Nicole Hoevertsz, who only a day earlier had been appointed permanent secretary of Aruba's Council of Ministers.

"She said, 'Congratulations on your new appointment.' She already knew," Hoevertsz said. "That was a very nice detail."

President Barack Obama has been an ardent supporter of the bid since he was a U.S. Senator, and he's been working the phones in recent weeks. But when it looked as if the health care debate might keep him in Washington, he asked his wife to come to Copenhagen to meet with IOC members.

"Chicago is a wonderful host city," Mrs. Obama said. "With great people, wonderful facilities. The hospitality is like no other."

Tell that to Albert Derrion.

Chicago 2016 has a two-room suite at the Marriott, the official IOC hotel, and the first lady has a "pretty lengthy" schedule of one-on-one meetings with IOC members Wednesday and Thursday, said Valerie Jarrett, Obama's senior adviser and former vice chair of Chicago 2016.

Pictures of Chicago and its planned venues decorate the warm, bright rooms of the suite, with one wall entirely covered by a photo of the picturesque lakefront, where most of Chicago's venues would be clustered.

Although IOC president Jacques Rogge has taken great pains to say heads of state aren't expected to attend, their presence has been instrumental in recent votes. Tony Blair is widely credited for tipping the 2012 vote in London's favor, spending two days doing one-on-one meetings with IOC members in his hotel suite.

(Family photo)
Photo: Derrion Albert.
Photos: Derrion Albert Beating Death Video

Vladimir Putin did much the same thing two years later, when Sochi won the 2014 Olympics.

President Obama's decision to travel to Copenhagen has drawn criticism from some Republicans, who call it a boondoggle for Obama's hometown allies and evidence the president has blurred his priorities.

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele denounced the visit on a conference call with reporters Tuesday. Calling it "noble for the president to pitch his home city, Chi-town," before the International Olympic Committee Friday, Steele said it nonetheless was a distraction from more pressing issues such as health care, job creation and other urgent demands on Obama's time.

However, Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and 2008 Republican presidential contender, said Obama was right to make an appearance.

"In the current environment, the presence of a head of state is important to get the Games," Romney said. He headed the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Steele said it raised questions about Obama's priorities.

"Where is the focus?" Steele asked. "At a time of war, at a time of recession ... I think this trip is nice but not necessary for the president. The goal should be creating job opportunities not seven years from now, but job opportunities today."

(AP)
Just last week Obama said he wouldn't make the trip to Copenhagen, citing his need to press for health care reform legislation instead. White House officials mentioned the economic benefits the U.S. would receive from a winning Olympics bid in explaining the president's sudden change of heart.

Grumbling about Obama's trip began to bubble up on conservative blogs and Web sites soon after the White House announced Obama's trip Monday.

"It's not like the president doesn't have anything to do, nothing important on his plate at the moment, right?" the blog Rightwing Nuthouse.com asked, while the conservative Drudge Report posted a television news story about Albert Derrion's gang warfare murder.

Photos: Derrion Albert Beating Death Video

MORE ON CRIMESIDER
September 30, 2009 - Derrion Albert Beating Video "Chilling," Says White House
September 30, 2009 - Derrion Albert Beating Death: Three Killers Still on the Loose
September 29, 2009 - Photos: Derrion Albert Uncut Beating Death Video
September 29, 2009 - Derrion Albert Uncut Beating Death Video Too Much for Mother to Watch
September 29, 2009 - Derrion Albert Video Shows Teens Beating Christian Fenger High School Student to Death
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