Romney trip to highlight foreign policy flashpoints
July 21st, 2012
12:01 AM ET
2 years ago

Romney trip to highlight foreign policy flashpoints

(CNN) - Mitt Romney's upcoming international swing will provide the presumptive GOP nominee an opportunity to lend authority to his presidential bid, but it will not generate any new proclamations of policy, advisers to his campaign said this week.

Romney will travel to London, Israel and Poland beginning Wednesday, meeting with top leaders in each country for sessions meant to "learn and listen" rather than to advance any particular policy contrast with President Barack Obama.

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The trip, Romney campaign policy director Lanhee Chen said, would be about "locking arms with our allies."

"We don't anticipate that this is an opportunity for the governor to make any specific policy pronouncement," Chen added, saying Romney would have an opportunity to make pointed foreign policy remarks when he addresses the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Tuesday, the day before he departs.

On his trip, however, Romney will come across some of the United States' most delicate diplomatic issues, which he has largely avoided speaking about in detail on the campaign trail in America. As a former businessman and governor, Romney will face the challenge of appearing presidential without any actual negotiating power. And his campaign will confront the logistical hurdles faced by presidents without the support structures that come with the office.

Romney's first stop is London, where Romney is slated to meet with virtually every major British political leader, including Prime Minister David Cameron, deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and opposition leader Ed Miliband. He will also meet with William Hague, the U.K. foreign secretary, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The U.K.-U.S. relationship has long been considered the United States' most important bilateral alliance, and London will be a key stop for Romney given the two countries' shared economic and military interests. Romney foreign policy director Alex Wong said the GOP candidate "understands the significance of the relationship," and said Romney's trip there reflects his understanding of the partnership.

"Today as we face a number of fiscal and economic challenges around the world, a turbulent Middle East and Iran pursuing nuclear weapons, the U.S.-U.K. relationship is as important as ever, and this leg of the trip really highlights that theme," Wong said on a conference call previewing Romney's foreign swing.

Britain currently deploys 9,500 servicemen and women in Afghanistan, according to the website of the Ministry of Defence, and remains a key ally to the United States as the two countries prepare to withdraw troops from the country.

Romney has called an American plan to reduce troops earlier than the 2014 deadline "naïve" and "misguided," and says on his website he would formulate a withdrawal strategy based not on electoral politics but on the "conditions on the ground as assessed by our military commanders."

Cameron, a member of Britain's Conservative Party, said this week on a visit to Afghanistan there would be no "cliff edge" after NATO troops withdraw in 2014.

Romney, who mentions often on the campaign trail his leading role in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, will be in the British capital for the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Games. Ann Romney, the candidate's wife, co-owns a dressage horse competing in London.

"This is a moment of pride for London, and the entire United Kingdom, so Gov. Romney is looking forward to celebrating this moment with the English people," Wong said.

From London Romney will travel to Israel, a staunch U.S. ally that Romney has made clear he would support as president. There, Romney will have several public events, according to his campaign, and will meet with officials including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian National Authority.

The former Massachusetts governor, who last traveled to Israel in January 2011, has had a long relationship with Netanyahu, with whom he worked at the Boston Consulting Group in the 1970s.

In an interview with CNN earlier this year, Netanyahu expressed admiration for Romney but did not go as far as making what could be considered an endorsement.

"I respect Mitt Romney as I respect Barack Obama, the president of the United States. And that's the end of the ranking," the prime minister said on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront." "I have enough politics here than to get into American politics."

On the trip, Romney "is looking forward to not only reconnecting with a number of leaders, but to listen and to learn. He feels strongly about the importance of locking arms with these leaders," according to Dan Senor, a foreign policy adviser to Romney's campaign.

Romney's visit to Israel will be his fourth, according to Senor. Previous trips included a visit with his family in the late 1990s and a four-day tour in January 2007, during which Romney participated in economic and security briefings.

Romney has used tough language when describing Obama's record on Israel. The candidate addressed the ongoing peace process at a CNN sponsored presidential debate in January, including the two-state solution that would result in an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

"There are some people who say, should we have a two-state solution? And the Israelis would be happy to have a two-state solution. It's the Palestinians who don't want a two-state solution. They want to eliminate the state of Israel," Romney said. The debate was held in the heat of the GOP primaries.

Romney continued: "The best way to have peace in the Middle East is not for us to vacillate and to appease, but is to say, 'We stand with our friend Israel. We are committed to a Jewish state in Israel. We will not have an inch of difference between ourselves and our ally, Israel.'"

In Poland Romney will meet with the country's president, prime minister and foreign minister, as well as visit historical sights.

Romney's stop in Poland came after an invitation from Lech Walesa, the shipyard worker who went on to inspire the Solidarity trade union and the eventual fall of the Iron Curtain. In 1989, Poland formed the first noncommunist government in the Soviet bloc, and Walesa later was elected president. Romney will meet with Walesa in Gdansk.

In May 2011 Walesa declined to meet with President Barack Obama, telling Agence France-Presse the meeting "would only amount to a photo opportunity."

And in 2009, Walesa – who won 1983's Nobel Peace Prize - was quoted in The Wall Street Journal expressing surprise that Obama had also won the award.

"Who, Obama? So fast? Too fast - he hasn't had the time to do anything yet," the Wall Street Journal's website quoted Walesa as saying.

Obama's image in Poland was further shaken in May when his use of the term "Polish death camp," rather than Nazi death camp, sparked outrage.

Romney's presence in Poland will also put the candidate's position on Russia in the spotlight. Romney has sharply criticized Obama's stance toward Russia, and said on CNN in March that Russia was the United States' "number one geopolitical foe."

Romney, however, will not use his trip to the country to criticize the president.

Ian Brzezinski, a Romney campaign foreign policy adviser, said the trip would instead reflect "support for shared values of Democracy and civil society that bind our two countries."

"This is a trip that is a great opportunity for the governor to express appreciation for this longstanding alliance and to explore the political, economic and military opportunities and challenges that are before the transatlantic relationship today," Brzezinski said.


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney
soundoff (313 Responses)
  1. seanomatic

    In the words of Ann Romney........You people don't need to worry about my husband going overseas.

    July 21, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  2. tonyl

    The only international tour he needs is to go to Cayman island and Switzerland to check his bank account balances and investments and visit his foreign employees. He sure has helped a lot of Chinese and Indians find jobs.

    July 21, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  3. seanomatic

    He's actually going over there to count his money!

    July 21, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  4. Zechariah14

    the unions don't back mitt Romney sorry
    they see through his scam

    July 21, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  5. Mitt the nitwit? \\

    No announcement of "No new proclamations of Policy" Someone must have told him he isn't the president, and he actually has no power to make any "new proclamationsl of Policy." If they meant to say that Mitt wouldn't be answering any questions as to how he would do things... well that shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has followed his campaign. I think the good Rev Perkins said it best yesterday. "Mitt is just now showing who he is now, rather than the person he was before." In other words.. Mitt has no idea today what he will believe tomorrow. He is still evolving.

    July 21, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  6. jane

    Gee, I seem to remember Pres. Obama being excoriated in the right wing press for having the temerity to speak in Berlin or Cairo. So, I guess this is simply another example of IOKIYR (it's okay if you're a Republican)?

    July 21, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  7. when your nightmares end WILLARD begins

    maybe "you people" over on his tour can make Mitt and company happy.

    July 21, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  8. AgrippaMT

    Mittens Rawmoney is another foreign affairs naif and babe in the woods, just like GWBush. He'll be a terrible President, but fortunately won't be President at all.

    July 21, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  9. Zechariah14

    President Obama shall win and all those
    so called people who wanted him out of
    office shall look stupid

    July 21, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  10. Larry L

    Romney is hiding the fact he paid nothing in taxes, sent all of his money offshore, and invested in offshore business that took jobs away from Americans. He also used some slippery tactics to distribute money in trusts and spread the debt out across his family members. The Mormon Church is part of the scam. No wonder he's hiding his tax returns. They will be the bullet-in-the-head of his attempt to win the election. These are now the "facts" to be used in lieu of his returns.

    July 21, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. JeffE

    Ah, yes. Ann Romney once again reminds how folksy she is as she touts the dressage horses she owns... Probably keeps them right next to those Cadillacs. You people don't need to know anything more about her and Willard the Wonderful.

    July 21, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  12. proudmemberofglobalzero

    It is already in the paper over there about his Tibor connections. Maybe we could read about it in the "Good ole USofA"?

    July 21, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  13. Joey

    I hope he's boo'd/jeered/laughed at by people when he visits. Wonder how the media would spin is unpopularity over-sea.

    July 21, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  14. GI Joe

    He'll definitely suck up to Israel just like Adelson is paying millions for him to do. I'm sure he will assure him that the U.S.A. will go to war with Iran for them and continue to give them a big check every time they come over here whining and crying.

    July 21, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  15. Richard T.

    The priillionaires have a tough time of it. The primmary reason and timing is to attend the HORSE PROM at the Olympics. Gee, I wonder if the campaign is paying for those tickets and those travel costs of his family and friends. Not realloy important because it will all be a tax write-off for him and the Mrs. I think that hourse was $77,000 of "business tax" deductions in 2010.

    July 21, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  16. Maria

    "You people" came short uttering the real words "you peasants" in her mind. That was what she really meant

    July 21, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  17. CNN The Masters of Spin

    Here is some very good advice for all you Welfare Loving Democrats;
    Just take a deep breath, get all rested up, go out & purchase yourself a good pair of comfortable shoes, a lunch pail, & a subscription to your local newspaper, so when Romney wins & jobs begin to open, you can do something that scares the he'll out of Democrats......GET A JOB!

    July 21, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  18. n2video

    Let's see the right wingnuts complain about expensive vacations NOW. What? NO fake outrage?? C'mon, you right wingnuts...let's hear some complaints.

    July 21, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  19. BeverlyNC

    Romney is on a trip to visit all the countries where he hides his money! Or maybe this is a geography lesson to learn the names of countries and their leaders for his "foreign policy" education since he knows NOTHING about what diplomacy, war, or humanity looks like. After all he did not know the Soviet Union was gone.

    July 21, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  20. Lionel

    Why is Mittens running away from the US when the nation is grieving over the loss of life in Colorado.

    He should stay there, they can have him and his money as he keeps most of it outside of the USA.

    July 21, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  21. Lar 5

    Maybe he'll learn something about how tough it is to be president and that you cannot etch a sketch foreign policy. He'll also find out that he can't buy his way into the good graces of the leaders in the world His personal wealth will mean little or nothing to them.Perhaps he will learn how to control that elitist arrogant way of speaking. Especially when conferring with other heads of state.

    July 21, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  22. Mittens launches his "I am the SUPERIOR white guy running against the INFERIOR black guy" BLIND AMBITION TOUR!

    It is strictly a tax dodge tour, Mr 1% gets to see his "ballerina pony" and charge it off as a campaign expense.

    July 21, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  23. SafeJourney

    Mitt, you are NOT respected overseas. Give it up, NO one overseas cares what you think

    July 21, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  24. Sirned

    This is a trip for foreign cash to pad his campaign coffers. Nothing more. Just selling this country off to rich foreigners for money. We don't have Sovergnty anymore when foringn interests buy influence....this country's assets are like a bag of potatoes and anyone with money gets one....

    July 21, 2012 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  25. Shannon

    Will he show them his tax returns.

    July 21, 2012 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
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