Romney abroad: Live by gaffes, die by gaffes
In an interview with Fox News Channel today, former Massachuetts governor Mitt Romney lamented the gaffe-heavy coverage of his trip abroad.
“I realize that there will be some in the fourth estate or in whichever estate who are far more interested in finding something to write about that is unrelated to the economy, to geo-politics, to the threat of war,” he said.
But it’s only natural that coverage of Romney’s trip would focus on gaffes. The tour was, after all, designed at least in part to highlight gaffes made by the current occupant of the White House.
Romney’s foreign policy critique of President Obama is based largely on tone — what to say in public vs. what to say in private, how aggressive to be with other countries.
As Post columnist Marc Thiessen notes, Romney stopped in three countries where diplomatic missteps have (at least in some minds) strained relations: the UK, Israel and Poland.
In Britain, Romney said he was “looking forward to the bust of Winston Churchill being in the Oval Office again,” a reference to an Obama administration slight. In Israel, Romney didn’t break with U.S. policy, but he did say that “diplomatic distance in public between our nations emboldens Israel’s adversaries” — noting frostiness between Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In Poland, officials fear abandonment by Obama after a Bush-era missile defense base was scrapped and were offended by his recent attention to “Polish death camps.” Romney praised the country’s history while calling out Russia and Belarus. But he did not promise to reinstate the missile defense system.
Romney also gave little access to the press, limiting most of his appearances to photo-ops — and giving reporters less material to work with. As “In the Loop: notes, he also brought a very small staff.
He consciously avoided the a major event like the Berlin speech Obama staged on his 2008 trip abroad. “We’re not sure it is bad to compare us to Obama in Berlin,” a senior adviser told the Chicago Sun-Times.
It’s not fair to compare Romney abroad to Obama abroad — the Democrat was campaigning to replace a president loathed abroad while Romney hopes to defeat one still well-liked. But after building a trip around Obama’s gaffes, it’s hard for Romney to complain about the coverage of his own.