(CNN) – Robert Gibbs, senior adviser to President Barack Obama's re-election campaign, argued Sunday that Mitt Romney's recent trip to London was an embarrassment.
"Mitt Romney wondered aloud whether London was ready for the Olympics, and I think it's clear that voters in this country wonder aloud whether Mitt Romney is ready for the world," Gibbs said on ABC's "This Week."
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The presumptive Republican nominee received an onslaught of negative headlines in the British press this week after he appeared to question London's "disconcerting" problems in gearing up for the Olympic Games.
Speaking with NBC News on Wednesday, Romney, who headed the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games, said at the time it was too early to tell if the London organizers were ready for the start of the competitions.
"You know it's hard to know just how well it will turn out," Romney said. "There are a few things that were disconcerting. The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials - that obviously is not something which is encouraging."
In the days that followed, Romney did not repeat his criticism but offered praise for the country.
Gibbs wasted no time Sunday morning going after Romney over the comment.
"To go overseas, stand in the country of our strongest ally–and the Olympics that they've been preparing years for–and question whether or not they're ready, does make you wonder whether or not he's ready to be commander in chief," the former White House press secretary said, later adding, "I thought it was embarrassing for our country."
Kevin Madden, a senior adviser to Romney's campaign, countered Gibbs' assertions on the same program, saying a "gaffe or YouTube moment" won't make or break the election.
"I think the headlines that come out of London on one day are not going to be as important as the overall view that people take when it comes to our economic prosperity here at home, and then our safety and security around the globe," Madden said.
Hitting back, Gibbs piled on: "I would probably give that answer too if I hadn't flown to London and embarrassed myself in front of our strongest ally in the world."
Romney on Saturday departed the United Kingdom for Israel, where he's meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, along with delivering a major foreign policy speech.
Dan Senor, Romney's foreign policy adviser, told the traveling press corps Sunday morning that if Israel decided to strike Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program after exhausting all diplomatic options, Romney would "respect" the Jewish state's decision.
Asked Sunday if the president held the same position, Gibbs said Israel "of course" has a right to defend itself.
"The president's position, which he's been clear about for more than three and a half years, is obviously any country–and Israel certainly does–have the right to defend itself and defend its citizens. We have never taken any option off the table in dealing with the nuclear program in Iran," Gibbs said.
He pointed to the president's signing of a bill Friday designed to increase security ties with the Jewish state.
"This president has had the strongest commitment of any U.S. president to Israel's security," Gibbs said.
Madden, however, said the president's actions in handling the U.S.-Israel relationship have been lagging since he took office.
"I think that there are many folks up on Capitol Hill who've worked with this administration that believe that and wish that the president had been stronger, that he had moved quicker, that he had done so with a much more collaborative fashion up on Capitol Hill," Madden said.