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Romney’s recent visits to the United Kingdom, Poland, and Israel did not end as well as was hoped. According to Romney the trip was meant to be to “three places far apart on the map. But for an American, you can’t get much closer to the ideals and convictions of my own country.” However, he and his staff ran into several problems with the press and controversial statements.
The first ‘gaffe’ that got media attention came when Romney visited the United Kingdom. During an interview when he was asked about how he believed the Olympic games would go, Romney replied, “It’s hard to know just how well it will turn out. There are a few things that were disconcerting.” His criticism of the London games, of course, raised much criticism from Londoners, including London mayor Boris Johnson.
Another run-in with the media came on July 25th from a comment published by the Daily Telegraph, in which an anonymous adviser to the Romney camp told the Daily Telegraph reporter that Romney had an advantage over Obama when it comes to the English.“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special. The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.”
Democrats, of course, responded very harshly. David Axelrod, an Obama adviser, claimed the statement was “stunningly offensive” on Twitter. Vice President Joe Biden stated, “Governor Romney’s wheels hadn’t even touched down in London before his advisers were reportedly playing politics with international diplomacy, attempting to create daylight between the United States and the United Kingdom where none exists.”
“Our special relationship with the British is stronger than ever, and we are proud to work hand-in-hand with Prime Minister Cameron to confront every major national security challenge we face today… Not surprisingly, this is just another feeble attempt by the Romney campaign to score political points at the expense of this critical partnership. This assertion is beneath a presidential campaign.”
Amanda Henneberg, a campaign spokeswoman for Romney rejected the statement in the Daily Telegraph claiming, “If anyone said that, they weren’t reflecting the views of Governor Romney or anyone inside the campaign.” However, the Daily Telegraph stood by its article and even added a follow-up article including more quotations from the anonymous adviser: “There are not many people around the world who see the world like we do, and the British are a people who do most of the time, who do see the threats we see, do see the opportunities we see, do believe in the free market and individual liberty and has been willing to give money and blood to defend that.”
The next stop, Israel, also produced another controversial statement from Romney. In a speech to a group of high level Jewish donors Romney claimed that the reason for their success and the economic success of Israel over Palestine is from the different cultures.
“As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality.”
Many Palestinian leaders were upset with the generalization. Unfortunately no reporters have been able to ask Romney questions since Thursday, July 26 when he was still in London.
During Romney’s visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw, Poland, some reporters arrived to ask him questions. Romney laid a wreath and shook the hands of several soldiers and left. One reporter yelled out, “Governor Romney, do you have a statement for the Palestinians?”
After several other questions were also asked, Rick Gorka, a campaign spokesman for Romney, approached the journalists. In a video Gorka tells a reporter “This is a holy site for the Polish people; show some respect.” When the reporter responds with “We haven’t had another chance to ask him questions,” Gorka tells the reporter to “Kiss my a**” and then tells another reporter to “Shove it.” Gorka later apologized to both journalists via the phone.
However, Romney seemed to be rather popular with the Polish people. Romney praised their economic policies and talked about the late pope, John Paul II, who was a Pole and very well regarded among the Polish and American Catholics.
Romney praised the Poles in a speech saying, “Rather than heeding the false promise of a government-dominated economy, Poland sought to stimulate innovation, attract investment, expand trade and live within its means. Your success today is a reminder that the principles of free enterprise can propel an economy and transform a society.”
Romney’s strategist Stuart Stevens replied to claims that the several gaffes from Romney and his campaign would hurt them for the election by stating, “[Romney] has a tendency to speak his mind and to say what he believes, and whenever you do that, there will be those that disagree with you, and there will be those that agree with you. That’s what he’s done in these situations. I think people like that. I think that this idea that you have to not speak your mind is something that’s not very appealing to people.”
It seems that this tour of Romney’s has only managed to alienate some foreign groups that will not have any voice in the upcoming election anyway. Ultimately, Romney’s campaign will most likely not be hindered.