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Posted on on July 28th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Romney’s journey abroad affords both opportunity and risk

He leaves Tuesday on a six-nation trip. It could raise his stature or invoke the unpopularity of George W. Bush.

July 23, 2012|By David Lightman, McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney, looking for a boost after being battered recently by President Obama, heads abroad this week in a bid to portray himself as a wise statesman.

The Republican presidential candidate leaves Tuesday on a six-day swing to the United Kingdom, Israel, and Poland.

Each stop is carefully choreographed to help him gain stature in the eyes of the American public, not to mention the world. He hopes to create momentum that will continue through August, when he is expected to announce his vice presidential choice and reintroduce himself to America at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.


Romney’s advisers were divided on whether the candidate should accept the International Olympic Committee’s invitation to attend the opening of the London Games, according to reports from Bloomberg’s Lisa Lerer. Some aides argued that a visit to the Olympics, where his wife’s horse is representing the United States in the dressage competition, could draw more attention to his personal wealth, while others saw a trip abroad as the perfect opportunity to show voters “he could be an effective global player,” she writes.

Politico’s Jonathan Martin writes that expanding the trip beyond Europe to include Israel offers Romney a chance to shift attention from his time at Bain Capital to his successful rescue of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games as well as focus on foreign policy, which he has so far not done much of this campaign season.

At The Hill, Juan Williams says Romney’s trip will bring foreign policy into the campaign spotlight, which he says is a bold and potentially risky move for Romney since polls show voters consider President Barack Obama to be holding a foreign policy advantage in the race.

“As a governor and a businessman, Romney has dealt almost exclusively with domestic policy. He arguably has the least international experience of any GOP presidential candidate of the last twenty-five years,” Williams writes. “The 2012 election appears to be unique in that foreign policy looks to be an advantage for Democrats — with Republicans seeking ways to reclaim a past strong point.”




Associated Press

Updated July 27, 2012

LONDON (AP) Mitt Romney may be just what the London Olympics needed.

In little more than 24 hours in London, the U.S. presidential candidate has gotten Britons to stop complaining about bumper-to-bumper traffic, cringing about cost overruns and fretting about shoddy security – and instead start taking pride in their country’s long-awaited day in the sun.

From Prime Minister David Cameron to ordinary Londoners rushing to work, Britons recoiled at the visiting American’s suggestion that the logistical problems encountered so far were “disconcerting.” Many who have themselves been slamming organizers as incompetent, and the massive competition as an expensive fiasco, are suddenly rallying around the flag.

“Mitt the Twit” screamed Friday’s headline in The Sun, which just days ago was trumpeting an embarrassing incident in which an official bus carrying the U.S. team from Heathrow airport got lost and spent hours in traffic.

“Who invited party-pooper Romney?” asked the Daily Mail.

“Nowhere Man” declared the more reserved Times of London, a reference to a biting comment by the famously diplomatic Cameron, who implied that Romney lacked the experience to offer advice to one of the world’s great capitals since the Olympics he helped organize in Salt Lake City, Utah, took place “in the middle of nowhere.”

“We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course, it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere,” Cameron said.

Colorful London Mayor Boris Johnson also got in on the act, using Romney’s criticism as a rallying cry to stoke up a crowd of tens of thousands gathered at Hyde Park on Thursday night: “There’s a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know if we are ready. Are we ready? Yes, we are!”

Romney spent much of Friday trying to dial back his dig, but ended up raising more eyebrows when he referred to looking out of the “back side” of 10 Downing Street to see the beach volleyball stadium and after he let slip that he had met with the head of MI6, Britain’s overseas intelligence agency. Briefings with British spy chiefs are usually kept secret.

To the British, “back side” usually refers to the derriere.

Residents learned of Romney’s Olympic readiness comments from friends, television and social media. And the fact the Republican presidential candidate tried to make amends seemed to win him little favor.

“What would he know?” asked Londoner Liudmila Troshina, wearing a Team Great Britain jersey and posing for pictures along with her husband in Piccadilly Circus. “I don’t really care what people from other countries think about us because I take my information firsthand – from people who live here.”

“No matter what some man said, we are prepared … to support our country, our city and our sportsmen with everything we have,” she added.

Those sentiments are a quick about-face from the weeks of moaning many Britons have engaged in prior to the games, which begin with the opening ceremony Friday night.

For months, the nation has been awash in complaints – from taxi drivers angry over special traffic lanes for Olympics VIPS, to slack-jawed travelers staring down long lines at immigration, to commuters apoplectic about being asked to rethink their journey to avoid the crush of Olympic tourists, to residents alarmed that surface-to-air missiles have been placed on their roofs to fight terrorism.

Even the heavens have come in for a browbeating, with the Times of London publishing an editorial recently demanding an end to weeks of rain.

“It is a British sport,” Labour lawmaker David Winnick told The Associated Press on Friday. “We always complain.”

He should know.

One of the iconic images of London’s troubles was Winnick’s cutting exchange with the head of the G4S security group earlier this month after the company failed to provide enough Olympics workers, forcing the British military to step in.

“It’s a humiliating shambles for the country, isn’t it?” Winnick demanded of Nick Buckles after the CEO offered a groveling mea culpa on live TV, repeating the charge until Buckles could not deny that it was.

But even Winnick winced when he heard what Romney had to say.

“These are internal matters that would be well dealt with under our own democratic system,” he said. “There is a feeling, and I’m sure it applies in the United States, that … families can quarrel bitterly in private, but should anyone from the outside have a go, the family is united. In other words: ‘Mind your own business.'”


National Health Service honored

Children representing the Great Ormond Street Hospital, the NHS and children’s literature take part in the Opening Ceremony. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The glowing bed routine was supposedly a tribute to the National Health Service, the BBC reports.

“Olympic opening ceremony now celebrating Britain’s socialized health system with a dance routine. Really.” Slate’s @AnnieLowrey tweeted.

“Good thing Romney didn’t see a rehearsal of that..” The Post’s conservative blogger @JRubinBlogger responded.

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