By Megan R. Wilson - 02/09/14 10:11 AM EST
Former Department of Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano says President Obama's decision to stay away from the Winter Olympics in Sochi is not a snub aimed at Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It has been 14 years since the president, vice president or a member of their families has not attended an event at the Olympics, CNN "State of the Union" host Candy Crowley mentioned, but Napolitano denied that Obama is trying to send a message.
“I think 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 out country and we’re proud to be here,” she told Crowley.
Openly gay former Olympians – figure skater Brian Boitano and hockey player Caitlin Cahow – fill out the U.S. delegation, an obvious nod to Russia’s controversial “gay propaganda” laws. Cahow replaced tennis legend Billie Jean King, who had to stay at home to take care of her ill mother.
Napolitano, who also co-led the delegation to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, also made clear she would not seek out conversations with the Russian president.
“I am not here as a diplomat,” she said, when asked if she would talk to Putin. “I am here as the lead of the [U.S.] delegation of the Olympics, no such conversations are contemplated.”