The Republican’s advisers consider the trip an opportunity to shift the campaign narrative away from his Bain Capital tenure and personal finances. “It’s important that he changes the subject from foreign bank accounts to foreign leaders,” one top Romney fundraiser said.
Romney is sure to draw significant media attention, with plans to sit down with “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams in London and Fox News Channel anchor Greta Van Susteren in Israel, and he is likely to schedule other television interviews as well.
But the trip brings to the forefront foreign affairs, an issue on which Obama has consistently outpolled Romney. In April, the president led Romney 53 percent to 36 percent on international affairs in a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
In July 2008, after wrapping up the Democratic nomination, Obama traveled to Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and Britain. An Obama adviser said such campaign trips are “very challenging,” with many opportunities for logistical and diplomatic complications.
“Ours worked out well, but it wasn’t without a whole lot of risk, because there’s a lot that can go wrong,” the adviser said.
Obama campaign aides said Romney must offer substantive policy proposals during his trip, specifically regarding the war in Afghanistan and Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Romney’s itinerary is being closely held, with aides saying they are not ready to detail all that he plans to do and say. His schedule in London, where he is to meet with a full arsenal of British officials, is still fluid because he hopes to spend time with visiting leaders of other allied nations who will be there for the Olympics.
Romney’s advisers say he hopes the trip will give voters a clearer sense of his worldview, but he is unlikely to make new policy pronouncements. He plans to deliver a defining speech on foreign affairs on Tuesday in Reno, Nev., at a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention.
From there, he will head to London, where an official with knowledge of his schedule said he will meet on Thursday with Cameron; Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg; Foreign Secretary William Hague and one of his top deputies, Alistair Burt; Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, the country’s treasury secretary equivalent; and Edward Miliband, leader of the Labour Party opposition.
Romney will hold two fundraisers Thursday evening co-hosted by lobbyists and executives from more than two dozen banks, hedge funds and other financial institutions.
He plans to attend the Olympics opening ceremonies on Friday night and perhaps a sporting event or two on Saturday morning before flying to Israel, where he plans to meet with Netanyahu. Their relationship dates to the 1970s, when they worked together as business consultants in Boston.