Mitt Romney’s overseas trip didn’t turn out to be the vision of a bold new leader on the world stage that his campaign was hoping it would be. With stumble after stumble, Romney showed that appearing poised and presidential is a lot harder than it looks. And as opposed to many of the campaign stops he makes in this country to an adoring base, what you say does matter. A lot.
The Romney campaign was hoping to repair the damage from the Middle East stop with an extended stay in Poland, which has been a staunch ally of U.S. Republicans since Ronald Reagan was credited for persuading the Soviets to tear down the Berlin Wall. So the scene in Poland was a mutual admiration society.
Romney met early in the day with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski and the two discussed the longstanding ties between the two nations and the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. Poland has helped the U.S. substantially in military conflicts in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
“On behalf of our countrymen, I express deep appreciation for your willingness to fight with us, to stand with us, and to be our friends in times of crisis and military conflict,” Romney said.
“Poland has excellent ties with the United States, regardless of which American party is in power,” Sikorski said. “We remember Ronald Reagan’s warm feelings for Poland’s Solidarity and also the fact that we joined (NATO) during Bill Clinton’s term.”
Romney heaped praise on the Polish economy as a model in its push for “smaller government,” clearly drawing a comparison with President Obama, who Romney repeatedly claims has grown the government to unprecedented levels (though analysts have concluded that the U.S. government has actually shrunk under Obama). But Romney’s Polish model actually has an unemployment rate of 12.4 percent, compared to America’s 8.2 percent—something the governor failed to mention.
The Romney campaign also showed its nasty side. As reporters tried to get him to answer questions about his statements on Israel and the Palestinians, Romney ignored them, according to ABC News, which called Romney’s entire trip “stumble-marred.” When reporters asked traveling press secretary Rick Gorka why Romney has only taken three questions from American reporters during the trip, Gorka said, “Shove it.”
He later called some journalists to apologize.
Romney’s comments in Israel continue to draw ire from around the world, as Romney claims they were mischaracterized.
In an interview with Fox News, he said he “did not speak about the Palestinian culture or the decisions made in their economy” when he told Jewish campaign donors that their own culture is part of the reason the Jewish state is more economically successful than areas where Palestinians live.
The Xinhua News Agency in China said Romney’s “hawkish remarks” made in Jerusalem could worsen the already tense Mideast stand-off, or possibly re-ignite a war between Palestinians and Israelis.