Bumbling overseas

7/31/2012

It is a good thing Mitt Romney considers himself an Etch-a-Sketch candidate. After traveling abroad in hopes of establishing diplomatic credentials on the global stage, the presumptive GOP nominee is in serious need of a clean screen.

The first stop on Romney's three-country jaunt was Great Britain. It appeared a good choice, as the world's attention was on London and the 2012 Olympic Games. His wife has a dressage horse competing in the Olympics, and Romney himself was in charge of the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City.

One of the first comments the presidential hopeful made once arriving in London was the "disconcerting" preparations the host country had made. That didn't go over well with the home crowd. Tabloids offered headlines such as "Nowhere Man" and "Mitt the Twit" for his lack of common courtesy. The mayor of London and Britain's Culture secretary both called him out in public.

It wasn't much better back at home.

"You have to shake your head," GOP strategist Karl Rove said on Fox News.

Unable to stay in London until his wife's horse performed, Romney headed to Israel.

There he able to raise more than $1 million for his campaign from Jewish supporters, but more than ruffled the feathers of Palestinians when he touted Israelis' cultural superiority that has led to their economic vitality.

"It is a racist statement and this man doesn't realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation," said Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund long have asserted the Palestinian economy is held hostage by Israel, which has a blockade on the border, restricts Palestinian trade and movement, and allows very limited self-rule.

Palestinians also were not impressed with Romney's claim that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and that the U.S. should move its embassy there. The status of that city has been a sticking point in peace negotiations for decades. Erekat said "such statements and policy will push the region toward extremists."

Then, it was off to Poland. Romney received a warm welcome from Lech Walesa, the country's former president and former leader of the Solidarity movement. Although Solidarity was critical of Romney's hostility toward unions, it appeared he was going to depart the country without incident.

Until journalists questioned the Palestinian comments. Romney wouldn't comment, but his press secretary Rick Gorka told the reporters to "shove it."

If Mitt Romney was attempting to bolster his international capabilities, it didn't work. Foreign relations are managed with diplomacy and tact, not blunt criticisms. The candidate's team let him down on this mission. Perhaps Ann Romney's horse can bring back the medal Mitt Romney was hoping to win.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

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