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. gwats

    Maybe he should skip the travel and get busy releasing those tax returns, and the fallout that will follow.

    July 21, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  2. Cliff Cooper

    When Mitt gets with Netanyahu to "stand" with our friends I sincerely hope he will have been fully briefed about Jonathan Pollard and the incident involving the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty. Perhpas it would be better if he simply "sits" while Benjamin explains what friendship is all about.

    July 21, 2012 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  3. Dr. Miller

    Gov. Romney, really have some balls, to comment on how long the U.S. Military should stay in Afganastan he is a draft dogging, tax evading extremist bent on destroying America buy outsourcing jobs and aiding the draft doggers. He is a foolish man his hand is so deep in the L.I.B.O.R issue i n England with is boys at Barcays.....

    July 21, 2012 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  4. charles

    @ ED. Haha you wish you have a company. You cannot even write correctly.Poor soul claiming to have outsourced 70% of his company. I bet you are receiving food stamps and live in government housing. Most republicans are the ones sucking the country dry. Majority in the rep red states are on welfare, medicaid etc.

    July 21, 2012 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  5. JasonP

    Wow, interesting countries. Go someplace with a little meat to it. What's the matter, afraid?

    July 21, 2012 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  6. Pilgrim1

    Romney travels abroad to make deposits and withdrawals from his overseas slush funds....

    July 21, 2012 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  7. Pilgrim1

    Romney is hiding money overseas...

    July 21, 2012 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  8. St8sman7

    Please Mitt, just keep your mouth shut and listen for a change. You just might learn something...but I doubt it.

    July 21, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  9. Phil Thomas

    How stupid do they think people are ? his ability to hop on a plane shows he's good with international affairs, please it's more complicated than that. As much as it kills you rightys and given the two wars he was strapped with President Obamas done a great job on international affairs. It's also funny how he got Bin Laden and you guys want to give Bush credit for that but none of our current economic issues. True losers

    July 21, 2012 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  10. Harry Baxter

    He'll get the same reaction that GW Bush got before he was elected in 2000. I was on a trip in Europe before the Repugs stole the election, and many of the citizens over there asked me: "You really wouldn't elect that man...would you??"

    July 21, 2012 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  11. richard

    Willard is just checking up on his offshore investments.

    July 21, 2012 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  12. luckjoe

    Romney 2012 or America is gone forever.

    July 21, 2012 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  13. Steve

    " You People " comment .... well thats all you have to hear. There is so much garbage coming out of this guy Romney you have to be brain dead to even think about voting for him.

    July 21, 2012 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  14. luckjoe

    Larry L. I don't give a toot about what Romney did with his own money. It bothers me that Obama has pzzz away almost $1 trillion in stimulus tax payer dollars, and put American $5 trillion in debt, whipped up class war far and at the end of the day is a socialist with the agenda to destroy America.

    July 21, 2012 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  15. luckjoe

    Unless you post a pro Obama commet you will not be published on a CNN blog.

    July 21, 2012 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  16. Dave

    Il devrait visiter la France. Peut-être il a besoin de pratiquer son français.

    July 21, 2012 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  17. demsrule

    Another vacation for Willard! That's about it! Maybe if he doesn't talk too much, they won't think he's a strange fellow!

    July 21, 2012 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  18. Marie

    I really really REALLY CANNOT stand Romney!!!!

    July 21, 2012 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  19. danel

    He sure keeped his promise of creating jobs.. OVERSEAS and no apologies for not releasing three or more years of taxes.

    July 21, 2012 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  20. T in Dallas

    Mittens does not have the swagger for an overseas tour. Getting his "foreign policy" training tour or just paying a visit to his overseas bankers?

    July 21, 2012 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  21. DCR999

    help me understand why is it any benefit for him to go to foreign countries? last i checked, the foreign countries don't vote here as to who becomes president!

    July 21, 2012 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  22. vladimir.

    He is going for a vacation. Hope Mitt doesn't put a dog on top of the plane:).

    July 21, 2012 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  23. jim

    poland? yeah, that's an international hotbed of activity. he'll learn lots there. NOT

    July 22, 2012 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  24. cachead

    Why should this trip lead to anything. It is nothing more than a PR stunt. Romney obviously has no foreign policy chops and this trip will not alter that fact.

    We already have someone with real world experience. Why take a chance on Romney?

    July 22, 2012 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  25. Name

    Hopefully some people will see through his hipocrasy that it was bad when obama did this but somehow good if your a republican???? Deplorable I say,.....

    July 22, 2012 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
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