SALT LAKE CITY - In a city where nearly everyone with a title is being wined and dined, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley was barely around long enough for someone to uncork a bottle.
O'Malley conducted a 19-hour whirlwind tour yesterday as part of the scouting mission to bring the 2012 Summer Olympics to the Baltimore-Washington region.
"You can't overtly campaign," he said. "But your presence says a lot. It's good to get reacquainted with the people who will be making the decision."
Along with Washington Mayor Anthony Williams, O'Malley attended a reception held by the U.S. Olympic Committee for the four remaining cities in the running for the games and attended a portion of one competition - 120-meter ski jumping - where he sat directly behind Lech Walesa, the former president of Poland.
Next week, Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend will make the rounds in Salt Lake City.
In October, the Baltimore-Washington bid along with New York, Houston and San Francisco made the cut to represent the United States in the competition to be the 2012 host city.
Members of the USOC selection committee are expected to visit each city in the spring before the USOC announces its choice in the fall. The International Olympic Committee will evaluate the winner against the bids expected to be submitted by, among others, Toronto; Moscow; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Budapest, Hungary; and Warsaw, Poland. The winner will be chosen in 2005.
O'Malley was careful not to handicap the field, saying each city has a strong bid. But he listed four strengths of the Baltimore-Washington bid: Many of the venues are already in place, the Eastern time zone is particularly attractive for marketing and media attention, the region has a capable public transportation system and the cities possess "the tremendous backdrop of `The Star-Spangled Banner' and the monuments of Washington."
And, though he said he was impressed with the quality of Salt Lake City's volunteer corps of 20,000, he said the Baltimore-Washington region has "an easy reservoir" of volunteers.
The mayor said he wasn't worried about additional traffic in a region already known for congestion.
"Baltimore doesn't really have a problem, and in Washington, we have the best subway system in the world and have the opportunity to strengthen the Baltimore-Washington link with more [high-speed] Acela trains and maybe double-decker trains," he said.
Plus, he said, Baltimore's two stadiums are within walking distance of Inner Harbor hotels.
One thing the mayor is going to have to work on is his enthusiasm for Olympic pins. O'Malley said he accepted one, but when asked what it was, he said, "I have to confess, I'm not a pin collector."