Many of Romney’s biggest missteps have been on foreign issues. He declared in March that Russia was “without question our number one geopolitical foe,” a comment that struck many as off base in a post-9/11 world.
A foreign trip to England, Israel, and Poland was punctuated by his questioning whether England was ready to host the Olympic Games, and he outraged Palestinians by suggesting their culture was what made their economy inferior to Israel’s. His one moment of success — an endorsement by Poland’s former president Lech Walesa — was overshadowed when a press aide cursed at reporters for shouting questions at Romney as he left a holy site.
Among Romney’s foreign policy advisers are Mitchell Reiss, a former diplomat and president of Washington College in Chestertown, Md.; Richard Williamson, who has served in senior foreign policy positions for the past three Republican presidents; and Jim Talent, a former Missouri senator.
Romney is also closely guided by Dan Senor, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who was the chief spokesman for the coalition forces during the Iraq war.
On Tuesday — the 11th anniversary of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 — Romney publicly faulted Obama for a statement issued by the US Embassy in Cairo — a statement Romney called “akin to an apology” to the attackers. It later became clear that the statement was actually issued before the attacks, in response to a film offensive to Muslims.
While the timing and the tone of Romney’s comments struck many as too heavyhanded, they did illustrate a deeper difference that Romney has long had with Obama: his belief that Obama is too weak on the world stage.
Globe correspondent Callum Borchers contributed to this report. Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.