Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The good folks at National Lampoon must be writing the script for Willard "Mittens" Romney's "European Vacation," just as they did for Chevy Chase. Romney's European Vacation is turning into a gaffe fest.
Romney hadn't even boarded the plane yet before he put his foot in his mouth.
At a fundraiser Sunday night in San Francisco, Romney recounted his version of a conversation he had earlier in the day with Bob Carr, the Australian foreign minister. Romney claimed that Carr had told him in their private meeting that America was "in decline," but that the situation could be turned around if an appropriate budget deal is reached. As you might expect, it was a lie. Romney's new international incident:
The problem, as the Australian foreign minister was quick to point out, is that Carr didn't say what Romney claims he said. In fact, according to a statement released by the Embassy of Australia, Carr was actually praising America's economic strengths. But Romney suggested to his donors that Carr is some kind of political ally, as if the Australian foreign minister supports the GOP budget plan and believes it will help end American decline.
It's worth noting that those seeking the U.S. presidency shouldn't run around talking about the United States being in "decline," especially with foreign officials. For that matter, Carr is a Labor Party official, and by U.S. standards, quite liberal. The notion that he's secretly on Romney's side is deeply silly.
But perhaps more importantly, as Romney prepares to go abroad, it'd be nice if he avoided international incidents.
Too late . . . the Romney campaign is already in an international incident even before landing in England on Wednesday. The UK's Telegraph had this overnight report on Mitt Romney, who landed in London this morning, and his plan to improve U.S.-British relations:
In remarks that may prompt accusations of racial insensitivity, one suggested that Mr. Romney was better placed to understand the depth of ties between the two countries than Mr Obama, whose father was from Africa.
"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".
Steve Benen picks it up from there. The 'Anglo-Saxon' connection:
Romney and his inner circle have dabbled in racially-charged language in a few instances, as we've seen of late with references to President Obama as "foreign" and talk of "free stuff." But the subtext of this quote — in effect, Romney will be tighter with the UK because he's white — is far more offensive.
It didn't take long for the Romney campaign to knock the story down. A campaign spokesperson said of the Telegraph quote, "It's not true. If anyone said that, they weren't reflecting the views of Governor Romney or anyone inside the campaign."
[The Romney campaign has not asked the Telegraph for a retraction.]
I'm glad to hear it, but there are some lingering questions.
Greg Sargent had a good review of the speculation.
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.
There's been no talk, as near as I can tell, of the campaign trying to find the source and/or firing him or her.
In the meantime, Vice President Biden has weighed in, too, which necessarily raises the visibility of the controversy.
"Despite his promises that politics stops at the water's edge, Governor Romney's wheels hadn't even touched down in London before his advisors were reportedly playing politics with international diplomacy, attempting to create daylight between the United States and the United Kingdom where none exists. Our special relationship with the British is stronger than ever and we are proud to work hand-in-hand with Prime Minister Cameron to confront every major national security challenge we face today.
"On every major issue — from Afghanistan to missile defense, from the fight against international terrorism to our success in isolating countries like Iran whose nuclear programs threaten peace and stability — we've never been more in sync. The comments reported this morning are a disturbing start to a trip designed to demonstrate Governor Romney's readiness to represent the United States on the world's stage. Not surprisingly, this is just another feeble attempt by the Romney campaign to score political points at the expense of this critical partnership. This assertion is beneath a presidential campaign."
Vice President Biden is, of course, quoting Sen. Arthur H Vandenberg (R-MI), who was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1947. He cooperated with the Truman administration in forging bipartisan support for the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, and NATO.
Let's hope that Romney doesn't trigger the war with Iran that his Neoconservative foreign policy advisers from the George W. Bush administration, 23 of Romney’s foreign policy advisers served under George W Bush, are champing at the bit to start when he visits Israel.
Let's hope Romney doesn't accidently trigger a war with Russia when he visits Poland and the Czech Republic (his advisers have finally figured out that the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia no longer exist).
Let's hope the worst that Romney steps into on his European Vacation is a turd blossom from his dressage horse Rafalca at the Summer Olympics.