Democrats knocked Mitt Romney on Sunday for what has been, at times, a bumpy overseas trip, with one saying the presumptive Republican presidential nominee “fumbles around on pretty easy issues.”
“When he gets off on the first leg of this trip and he goes to Great Britain and he insults the British people, and David Cameron, the prime minister, and the mayor of London both rebuke him, the question becomes this: If he can’t engage our allies on a simple topic like the international Olympics, how is he going to be tough enough to stand up to our gravest enemies, like Iran?” Tim Roemer, a former US ambassador to India, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“Who is Iran going to take more seriously with the threat of a military option?” Roemer added. “Barack Obama, who has used our troops effectively in Iraq and Afghanistan ... or Mitt Romney, who goes to Great Britain and fumbles around on pretty easy issues?”
Romney, in London last week to meet with British officials and attend the opening ceremony of the Olympics, drew sharp criticism there for his assessment of the city’s readiness to host the Games.
“It’s hard to know just how well it will turn out,” Romney said last Wednesday in an interview with NBC News. “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 added that the question for the British public is “Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment? That’s something which we only find out once the Games actually begin.”
Romney’s Olympic comments followed an ethnically charged remark by an unnamed adviser, who was quoted in a British newspaper as saying Romney’s “Anglo-Saxon heritage” would give him an advantage over President Obama in relations between Britain and the United States.
Romney said in the NBC interview that he did not agree with the adviser.
On Sunday, before a speech by Romney in Jerusalem, one of his campaign’s foreign policy advisers, Dan Senor, jumped ahead of the candidate when he told reporters that “if Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing [nuclear] capability, the governor would respect that decision.”
Romney backtracked slightly in an interview with CBS News later in the day, saying “if all those [diplomatic] options fail, then we do have other options, and we don’t take those other options off the table. But that’s as far as I’m willing to go in terms of discussing this matter while on foreign soil.”
Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, called the episode “emblemetic of how Mitt Romney’s entire trip abroad has gone so far.”
“I think he’s demonstrated pretty repeatedly since he’s been out of the country that he lacks the experience, he lacks the preparation and the diplomatic skills to be the commander-in-chief, to be the president of the United States,” Wasserman Schultz said.Callum Borchers can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.