The story of the morning is that an unnamed adviser to Mitt Romney said this to the Daily Telegraph, concerning America’s relationship with England:
“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the adviser said of Mr Romney, adding: “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.”
As Josh Marshall notes, the quote is problematic because it’s putting a “racial subtext... front and center.” Josh adds: “It’s all of a piece with the constant refrains that Obama is an outsider to whatever is essential about the American experience of simply being an American.”
The Romney campaign has put out a statement distancing Romney from the remarks: “If anyone said that, they weren’t reflecting the views of Governor Romney or anyone inside the campaign.”
A number of people are speculating on Twitter and elsewhere that they’ve identified the culprit: Nile Gardiner, who is the co-chair of Romney’s working group for Europe. The original Telegraph story suggests the speaker is a member of Romney’s foreign policy team.
As some readers have pointed out, Gardiner has also written for the Telegraph and has used similar language about the “Anglo-Saxon dominance” of world affairs.
But I can tell you that I spoke to Gardiner this morning on the phone, and he flatly denied that he was the person who spoke to the Telegraph. He did say he was contacted by the Telegraph reporter who wrote the story, but said he referred the call straight to Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul.
Holding campaigns responsible for quotes coming from anonymous “advisers” is a dicey business. Anyone familiar with Beltway politics knows that all sorts of people with little influence or contact with campaigns are eager to identify themselves as ”advisers” to them. The Telegraph’s suggestion that this adviser is a member of Romney’s “foreign policy team” isn’t much better. This could easily be a reference to someone who advises the Romney campaign from the outside on these issues.
But nonetheless, the hunt is now on for the culprit, and even Joe Biden has now weighed in. Biden blasted Romney’s advisers for “reportedly playing politics with international diplomacy,” adding: “This assertion is beneath a presidential campaign.” So this story will only grow bigger.
UPDATE: The Telegraph tells TPM’s Evan McMorris-Santoro that the paper has not received a request from the Romney campaign for a retraction or correction.