Mitt Romney’s European tour got off to a confrontational start Wednesday when a foreign policy adviser said the Republican’s “Anglo-Saxon heritage” would give him an advantage over President Obama in relations between Britain and the United States, according to a British newspaper.
The Daily Telegraph quoted an anonymous Romney adviser as saying “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.”
Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg quickly rejected the Anglo-Saxon remark.
“If anyone said that, they weren’t reflecting the views of Governor Romney or anyone inside the campaign,” Henneberg said.
But Obama adviser David Axelrod called the remark “stunningly offensive” on Twitter, and Vice President Joe Biden ripped the comment.
“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,” Biden said. “Our special relationship with the British is stronger than ever, and we are proud to work hand-in-hand with Prime Minister [David] Cameron to confront every major national security challenge we face today.”
“The comments reported this morning are a disturbing start to a trip designed to demonstrate Governor Romney’s readiness to represent the United States on the world’s stage,” the vice president added. “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.”
Romney spokesman Ryan Williams responded by blasting Biden for using “an anonymous and false quote from a foreign newspaper to prop up their flailing campaign.”
The Romney campaign did not immediately respond to a Globe request to clarify the meaning of “false quote”—whether the campaign believes the Daily Telegraph fabricated the quote, whether the remark was made by someone unaffiliated with the campaign or whether it came from a real adviser whose words did not represent Romney’s view.
The Daily Telegraph has stood by its report, adding more from the anonymous adviser in a follow-up story.
“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 adviser said, according to the paper.Callum Borchers can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.