Romney tried to defuse controversy sparked by comments he made to NBC on Wednesday, when he cited potentially “disconcerting” problems with security and immigration staffing at the London games and said, “It’s hard to know just how well it will turn out.”Gov. Romney had hoped to show off his diplomatic chops on this trip while also using the London Olympics to remind voters of his own Olympic accomplishment and while garnering implicit support from conservative government officials in the U.K., Israel, and Poland.
Instead the Romney campaign has shown itself to be not ready for prime time.
First, a Romney advisor was caught making truly awful comments. In talking up his/her candidate, the advisor told a reporter for the London Telegraph, "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." Not only was the comment racially insensitive, but it violated a key precept that politics should stop at the water's edge.
Second, the advisor's comments were made anonymously and on background, and even though the Romney campaign surely knows the adviser's identity, they're not revealing it. This only draws more attention to Gov. Romney's proclivity for secrecy and non-disclosure. Gov. Romney only compounded his problems by later saying, "So I don't know agree with whoever that advisor might be." If you really think that Gov. Romney is in the dark about this, I've got a great deal on the London Bridge that I want to talk you about.
Third, Gov. Romney's comments about the preparations for the London games were insulting and offputing to the U.K. public. Besides creating a stir, the comments contribute yet another example of Gov. Romney boorishly insulting his hosts.
Finally, in walking back the comments, Gov. Romney reinforces his well-earned reputation as a flip-flopper.
When all is said and done, Gov. Romney's trip may turn out to be a great benefit...for the Obama campaign.
Update (7/26/12, 22:13): Gov. Romney's trip is the gift that just keeps giving. From the Washington Post
Thursday was supposed to be the easy day, when Mitt Romney would audition as a world leader here by talking about his shared values with the heads of the United States’ friendliest ally.At this point Gov. Romney must be glad that a day is only 24 hours long.
Instead, the Republican presidential candidate insulted Britain as it welcomed the world for the Olympics by casting doubt on London’s readiness for the Games, which open Friday, saying that the preparations he had seen were “disconcerting” and that it is “hard to know just how well it will turn out.”
...It was a difficult start to Romney’s first foray on the international stage as the presumptive Republican nominee, one that was supposed to present him to U.S. voters as a potential commander in chief. Beyond his Olympics remarks, Romney had a series of uncomfortable moments — some of them seemingly minor, but distractions nonetheless.
At one point, he told reporters about his previously undisclosed meeting with the head of the MI-6, Britain’s secret intelligence agency.
On the first official day of his six-day overseas tour, Romney declined to answer reporters’ questions about his foreign policy positions , saying he will avoid talking about any policy specifics while he is on foreign soil.
He ended the day in a scene that could prove damaging for a candidate sometimes labeled as out of touch. A dinner fundraiser, which raised $2 million, was co-hosted by executives at banks under investigation in London’s rate-fixing scandal.