Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney began an international tour Wednesday meant to show his ability on the world stage. So far, the trip has not gone as planned.
“It’s hard to know just how well it will turn out,” Romney told NBC’s Brian Williams in an interview Wednesday night. “There are a few things that were disconcerting: the stories about the private security firm not having enough people, supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging.”
Romney also noted a lack of joie de vivre among the residents of London, and asked rhetorically, “Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment?†That’s something which we only find out once the Games actually begin.”
Romney took over leadership of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and has made his Olympic experience a key part of his appeal to voters. His ties to the Olympics made the criticism sting all the more.
In a later press conference, Romney tried to downplay his remarks.
“The weather could not be better. Fortunately the sunshine is out and the warmth is here,” Romney said. “I know the spirit and the people of this community will welcome the athletes of the world.”
Romney also continued to deal with comments from advisers coming back to hurt him. One member of Romney’s foreign policy team complained to The Telegraph about U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s March visit to Washington, saying Cameron was too close with President Barack Obama. The adviser also said Cameron’s Conservative Party was not doing enough to forge ties with the Republican Party.
“It was unprecedented,” said the unnamed adviser. “It wasnít just one more visit with the same treatment. It was very different. So why now?”
The adviser did not explain how Cameron’s warm relationship with Obama fit into the Romney campaign narrative that Obama did not understand the “special relationship” because he lacks understanding of the countries’ “Anglo-Saxon heritage.”
Brits did not take kindly to the insults. An editorial in The Telegraph said that “Mitt Romney is perhaps the only politician who could start a trip that was supposed to be a charm offensive by being utterly devoid of†charm and mildly offensive.”
Cameron, meanwhile, shot back at Romney’s assessment of the country’s Olympic readiness, and not-too-subtly implied that Salt Lake City is not quite the metropolis that London is.
“We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world,” said Cameron. “Of course itís easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.”
Romney †met with officials in the British government on Thursday, including Cameron. On Friday, he will meet with American athletes before viewing the opening ceremonies of the Olympics — assuming the crowd is enthusiastic enough to meet with Romney’s approval.
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