But where the Democrat’s trip was smooth sailing (save a kerfuffle about a canceled visit with wounded troops), the Republican’s voyage has been laden with cringe-inducing gaffes.
So, what’s the difference — other than four years and two vastly different politicians? Here’s one big distinction: The Obama campaign loaded up on staff firepower while the Romney camp had a relative skeleton crew.
Our colleague Philip Rucker noted the disparity in his story on Friday (in which he reported that Romney was looking for a “breakout moment” in Israel that would salvage the trip — a hope that wasn’t borne out this week when the GOP candidate managed to infuriate Palestinians).
“When Barack Obama traveled overseas as a candidate in 2008, it was an all-hands-on-deck event. . . . By contrast, Romney’s top political advisers stayed home,” Rucker reported.
Just how lopsided were the staffs? We dug around for the rosters.
For his trip, Obama got assists from at least 14 top staffers and advisers, many of whom were heavy hitters with serious foreign policy and economic credentials. They included former national security adviser Tony Lake, former deputy national security adviser James Steinberg, former White House and State Department official
, former assistant secretary of state
, former National Security Council staffer
, longtime diplomat and State Department official
, former Navy secretary
, former undersecretary of commerce
, retired Air Force Maj. Gen.
, senior foreign policy adviser
, foreign policy speechwriter
Ben Rhodes, chief strategist David Axelrod, communications director Robert Gibbs, and spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
Romney, on the other hand, has only three senior staffers with him for the entire trip: policy director Lanhee Chen, foreign policy aide Alex Wong, and press secretary Andrea Saul.
Romney supplemented the trio at stops along the way. In London, former senator
(R-Mo.) and former Massachusetts lieutenant governor
met the gang; in Israel, Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow
hopped on board; chief strategist
joined for the Israel and Poland legs; and former deputy assistant secretary of defense
came to Poland.
Lest anyone question the power of staffing . . .
Bipartisanship lives on the Hill?
The House on Tuesday evening passed a measure to improve the clogged confirmation process for presidential appointees by eliminating the Senate-approval requirement for 169 jobs.
The positions in that category, such as assistant secretaries for public affairs or for administration or management, are ones that rarely spark partisan battles.