Romney is not trying to replicate the dramatic scene that unfolded when then-candidate Barack Obama addressed an estimated 200,000 Germans at Berlin’s Victory Column four years ago, but his trip will inevitably draw comparisons.
Some elaborate machinations are underway to give Romney gravitas wherever possible, but he will journey across Europe and the Middle East as a private citizen, with his visits devoid of the trappings of the presidency.
“It is an elegant dance, but it is one which is performed pretty regularly,” said Tom Rath, a senior adviser to Romney. “I don’t think anybody expects him to be treated as the president; he’s not the president. . . .
He’s not going to suggest strategic alliances or say he’s going to sign treaties. This is not the place. This is to demonstrate that he can lead the foreign policy of the United States.”
Romney’s campaign would like maximum attention and access, but his options as a candidate are limited. News photographers can capture many of his meetings with leaders, although in London, for example, diplomatic protocol prevents him from holding a joint news conference with Cameron.
Queen Elizabeth plans to hold an official reception at Buckingham Palace a few hours before the start of next week’s Olympic Games. But Romney won’t be there because he is not leading a national delegation and therefore was not invited, according to an official involved in the planning who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the trip.
Romney plans to attend the opening ceremonies of the Olympics as a guest of the International Olympic Committee. The official said he will sit in a separate section of the stadium from the more than 100 heads of state who will be there, as well as from the official U.S. delegation, led by first lady Michelle Obama.
British authorities, meanwhile, are taking special care to keep Obama and Romney (as well as their motorcades) from crossing paths during their overlapping trips to London. The goal, the official said, is to ensure “that the first lady and Governor Romney don’t find themselves in a situation they’re not comfortable with.”
Romney is conscious of the tone he sets, advisers said. Although he has used hot rhetoric to assail Obama’s foreign policy, particularly about Israel, he recognizes that it can be considered unseemly for a challenger to attack a president while traveling abroad.