Mitt Romney left on his whirlwind tour of Britain, Israel, and Poland with the classic double edge promise. As all aspirants before him who have been making a similar circuit–sometimes with different stops on their foreign itinerary—Romney said that as a candidate he would meet with leaders and discuss issue while abroad, but had no intention to criticize the President or his policies while outside U.S. waters. At the same time, the assumption would naturally emerge that the candidate was making a statement by choosing these countries and having these meeting that he would have plenty so say later critical of the current Administration.
Perhaps the most curious aspect of the preparations for the trip was announced as he departed as he departed for England. It was released that his meetings and schedule would be publicized, but Romney would not be making any speeches or holding any press conferences; at least not while in Great Britain. This decision which will be explained as being consistent with Romney’s statement that he did not want to discuss policy while abroad really stems from an entirely different—and much more serious—place.
Those who have been watching Romney have detected that for an intelligent, well educated man, he does not appear able to think well on his feet or under pressure. Knowing the acerbic nature of the British press as well as the gang of national press travelling with him, Romney and his staff apparently decided to take the heat from the locals and not make him available to the press. His campaign has had so many mis-speaks already that they wanted this trip to be flawless. Ultimately this tactic will itself be part of the picture of what a Romney presidency might be like and the American media—as well as the Obama re-election team–will certainly try to sell this to the American people. The Romney folks recognize that when the debates begin in the fall, it is likely that Romney will have his hands full. All of this is why Romney was so surprised when as he touched down on Wednesday in London, he immediately was met by a media onslaught.
It seems that in the London morning Daily Telegraph a member of his staff was reported to have remarked that Romney understood the U.S.-British relationship better than President Obama because of their shared “shared” Anglo-Saxon heritage. The implicit racial slur against the President now required immediate damage control by Romney staffers.
Wait and see whether the Romney team and the presumptive candidate can handle a similar bobble should one occur in Israel! The Israeli press will undoubtedly be ready to roast another American politician if Romney gives them the opportunity.