Team Obama: Romney trip an 'embarrassing disaster'
July 31st, 2012
03:01 PM ET
2 years ago

Team Obama: Romney trip an 'embarrassing disaster'

(CNN) – A few hours after Mitt Romney departed Poland to return to the United States, President Barack Obama's re-election campaign piled on to its criticism of the presumptive GOP nominee's foreign trip, calling it an "embarrassing disaster."

"As he left, he set the lowest expectations imaginable for a foreign trip," said Robert Gibbs, senior Obama campaign adviser. "He certainly didn't prove to anyone that he passed the commander-in-chief test."

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In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Gibbs railed Romney over what the Obama campaign described as a gaffe-filled trip, which began Wednesday in the United Kingdom, continued this weekend in Israel and concluded Tuesday in Poland.

Romney took heat for making comments that some groups found offensive. In London, the former Massachusetts governor seemed to question the preparedness of the country for the 2012 Olympic Games, sparking a wave of negative headlines about the candidate in the British press.

"You know it's hard to know just how well it will turn out," he said in an interview with NBC News, explaining that issues with a private security contractor and labor issues were "disconcerting."

Days later, a prominent Palestinian leader labeled Romney's remarks at a Jerusalem fund-raiser "racist." Romney had made a comparison between the per capita GDPs of Israel and Palestinian-controlled areas, pointing to culture as an important factor in economic success.

Citing the book "The Wealth and Poverty of Nations," Romney detailed his interpretation of author David Landes' thesis.

"He says if you can learn anything from the economic history of the world, it's this: culture makes all the difference. Culture makes all the difference. And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things," Romney said.

Palestinian negotiator Sa'eb Erekat said Romney's "racist statements about the Israeli culture being superior to the Palestinian culture reflect someone who needs to be educated, who needs knowledge."

Romney on Tuesday staunchly argued he was not insulting Palestinian culture.

"I'm not speaking about, did not speak about, the Palestinian culture, or the decisions made in their economy," Romney clarified in an interview with Fox News. "That's an interesting topic that deserves scholarly analysis, but I actually didn't address that. I certainly don't plan to address that during my campaign. Instead, I will point out, the choices a society makes have a profound impact on the economy and the vitality of that society."

Team Obama, however, said Romney's dust-ups with the press and various groups overseas suggested the candidate was not ready for the "world stage."

They highlighted then-Sen. Barack Obama's foreign trip as a presidential candidate in the summer of 2008. While Romney was criticized for not taking questions from the traveling press on Monday, Gibbs was quick to point out that Obama held four press conferences and participated in seven network interviews.

To be fair, Romney held at least as many network interviews during his weeklong trip, meeting with CNN, NBC, CBS, FOX and ABC, and granting more than one interview to several of those networks.

Gibbs on the call, however, argued Romney failed to clearly assert his foreign policy positions during the tour, limiting many of his visits to brief photo opportunities with foreign leaders.

"It is clear that the opportunity to credential his beliefs with American voters was nothing short for Mitt Romney of an embarrassing disaster on this trip," Gibbs said.

However, Romney made headlines in Israel when his campaign asserted the candidate would "respect" a decision by Israel to attack Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program. He also talked tough on defending Israel against Iran, making foreign policy points that closely mirror those of the Obama administration.

Responding to the conference call, Romney's campaign defended the candidate and turned the spotlight on Obama, saying the president has "weakened" foreign relationships.

"Mitt Romney will be a president who unapologetically stands up for America and the enduring values of freedom," said Romney spokesman Ryan Williams. "President Obama has weakened America's position in the world and frayed relationships with our closest allies – all while earning effusive praise from the likes of Hugo Chavez. Governor Romney has laid out a foreign policy that will strengthen our interests, ensure our security, and let our friends know they have a partner in the White House."

Not only did Obama's campaign take time to criticize the trip, commentary also came from the White House on Tuesday. After first declining to answer questions about Romney's foreign trip, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney still couldn't help but wade into his own musings on the purpose of a president's overseas tour.

"What I can tell you, having been both a reporter covering foreign trips by candidates as well as incumbent presidents, and now as a staffer, I understand that these are high stakes enterprises – that pulling them off is a lot harder than it looks, that they can be very tense, especially if they are not going well," Carney said in the White House daily press briefing.

Carney avoided making direct comments about Romney's trips, saying he would leave it to Obama's re-election campaign to make a "broad assessment." But Carney continued, emphasizing the weight that these trips carry.

"I think one thing news reports remind us of is that when American presidents, American senators and congressmen and would-be leaders–what they say is placed under a magnifying glass. It carries great impact," he said.

– CNN's Kevin Liptak and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • Israel • Mitt Romney • Poland • President Obama • Robert Gibbs
soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. jamison

    Glad to hear he is not answering questions. Imagine what would happen if he did. He is batting 1000 having offended 3 out of 3 countries he has been to. Can not imagine ANYONE voting for this moron who only thinks about duping the public by hiding his millions, not answering a straight questions and belittling those who are not as rich as he is.

    July 31, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  2. D. Harper

    As an independent I find this criticizm from the Dems ironic. If one was to publish the countless misreprentations and "miss-speaks" that have come from the mouth of Obama one could fill pages in a newspaper.

    Unfortunately for the American public politics has descended to the lowest level it can possibly attain – it has become nothing more than "mudslinging" and I have to concede the lowest comes from the DNC and Obama himself. It is obvious that when you have not fulfilled your campaign promises made to the electorate one has to divert their attention to anything but the record.

    I am certainly not a Romney fan but I have to conclude that almost anything could be an improvement over the last three and one half years – the blame game has run its course and as Obama stated within a month of his election – "if I can't get it done in four years I will be a one term president."

    He has fulfilled that promise.

    July 31, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  3. Flyer Vic

    Embarrassing?? At least he did now bow to some mid-east rag head as Barry O did. Embarrassing? Now that was embarrassing!

    July 31, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  4. namo

    I think he did great. As a matter of fact I am really starting to like him see him as presidential. I don't trust Obama and I think he is a liar.Romeny will really handle Iran. Obama has exempted so many countries his sanctions are a big joke. Iran wants a war is setting up for one. Romney will finish it fast and not show Iran a weak president like Obama. I really think Romney will make a great president and Obama will destroy this systme and country completely. I really hope people wake up and get rid of Obama who is really an embarassment. romney did the right thing on Jerusalem. it is the capital of Israel and always was. There is no Judaism without Jerudalem. Its time the Israelis stop allowing the Arabs to be convincing that its theirs. Mecca is. Mohammad never mentioned it in Koran but Jerusalem is all over the bible. The next president should say and stand with the fact that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and go back to San Remo 20 international law that Israel gets its historic borders and the aRabs get Jordan,Syria, Leban no mention of Pal Arab because there never was one

    July 31, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  5. Tony Z

    @Jon. Trying watching an Obama press conference where he is taking questions and answering reporters. Remember his trip overseas as a Presidential Candidate. Is the US not safer now? Do you remember the health care debate when the President met with the Republican Caucus.

    Talk about golf. Most presidents play regularly as a way to relax. He is working 24 hours a day. Do you not understand that?

    July 31, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  6. Romney will lead the US to HELL!

    Romney will start an unnecessary and expensive war to put a hole to the economy... I'm shocked on how people even consider him for this job. Obama Haters, please stop watching FOX News and look for the facts... Seriously!

    July 31, 2012 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  7. American

    Myviewis,
    Romney did not do fine. Please stop lying.

    And President Obama never apologized. There is no proof of 'sorry' or 'apologize' ever being said; however, there is proof of Team Romney apologizing today for their foreign outburst. Perhaps you are confused.

    July 31, 2012 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  8. LBAM

    Hey! I would embarrassed myself and the US for a million Dollar. After all, we all have a price as Robmey does..

    July 31, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  9. grahame rhodes

    I really enjoy some of the comments from the GOP supporters. When I want a good laugh. all they can do is try to point out Obama did this Obama did that....NEWS FLASH What PRESIDENT OBAMA does is be diplomatic by using diplomacy. Not this war mongering Mormon coward who advocates war. He will never send his sons to fight for the USA will he? NO because being a Mormon (Moron) he is a conscientious objector. NO! he'll send someone else's sons and daughter to be killed just like Bush and Chaney who are just the same empty suits......Romney is just yellow face it

    July 31, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  10. Name camaro guy

    More hate and divisiveness from team Obama. Running a negative campaign, and taking every opportunity to bring down the liberal media with it. No surprise since they have nothing to run on.

    July 31, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  11. MikeB

    Obama and his Faction are the threat from within.
    Remember "Marcus Tullius Cicero":
    “A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear.”

    July 31, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  12. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Humm,
    I wonder who they are trying to convince, us or them. It's a lot harder to produce than speak it. Did Obama Halve the Deficit these last 3 years? Is the jobs percend below 8 Percent? Did Obama take charge or did he vote Present too many times?

    July 31, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  13. V

    Jayson – give us specific examples of President Obama's "amazing misteps". I think you have him confused with Silly Sarah from the North! President Obama was nothing short of Presidential when he toured overseas before his election. Come on, examples, please.

    July 31, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  14. Steve

    How about 4 years of Obama "an embarrassing disaster"

    July 31, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    "He's a salesman, not a diplomat.'

    Indeed. And guess what he wants to sell to our allies? Hint: Think MIC.

    July 31, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  16. C.J. Simones

    Seriously? This is the best Obama and CNN can do to try and tear down Romney? What happened to all the Dalai 'Bama's vaunted oppo research and well oiled campaign. No matter how hysterically you hype these "gaffes," no fair minded person is going to see them that way. Jerusalem capital of Israel? 'Xactly what He-Whose-Ears-You-May-Not-Mock said in 2008 before Valerie Jarrett shut him up. Brits could do better on Olympic security? Romney's voice of reason has since been borne out. Israel culturally better at entrepreneurism and building prosperity? Where is the rebuttal on the merits of that?

    CNN, you better pick up your game if you want to have Obama around to kowtow to for another 4 years...

    July 31, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  17. Governor 47th In Job Creation (Excluding Off-shored to China and India)

    Mittwit was doing his best Clark Griswold job over there. An unMittigated failure of epic proportions along with being an embarrassing disaster.
    When the GOP establishment is taking Willard to the woodshed, there is no debate that his field trip was poor.
    Better get the bullpen ready in Tampa, this candidate is on par with Sarah...

    July 31, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  18. EX Republican

    Romney made our country look bad..Please republican let someone else run.
    I will be voteing for Obama if Romney stay in the race.
    Romney I know alot of republican will be voteing for Obama because you will make our country look bad.

    July 31, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  19. Ossobo

    Why does it look like everyone is so surprise by this " GOP Clown" performance???
    This what he IS IN REAL life. You don't have be Rep...Dem... or Indep... to see the Contrast in betwin the President and the GOP – Willard "Mitt, unless you're from TPARTY crowd.

    July 31, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain

    @Jon: "What is Obama doing about Syria ... and today his announcements about Iran ... ok, what is that going to do ... "

    Let's see, Syria and Assad are backed by Russia and China ... Iran is a direct threat to Israel and is trying to develop nuclear weapons ... Tell me, Jon, when was the last time you sat in on a high-level national security meeting? Unlike Mittens, President Obama doesn't go around bragging about how he met with MI-6 in an effort to prove his manhood.

    Rest assured, President Obama, our military and our State Department are working closely and intently on resolving these tinder-box situations as quickly and effectively as possible. Mittens would start another war, being the dunce that he is.

    If you can't appreciate or understand how hard President Obama is working to diffuse these very serious international situations, then I feel sorry for you (and suggest you unplug Fox and start dealing with reality).

    July 31, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  21. panorain

    At least he kept his head above belt level. Which is proper both for presidents and wannabees. Neither presidents nor presidential candidates are supposed to bow to greater authority. Such as to Kings or Princes. Which Obama fails to obey. Likewise, when reciting the pledge of allegience people are supposed to put their hands over their heart, not as a codpiece. Which Obama also fails to obey.

    July 31, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  22. Matt

    Desparation is a stinky cologne Obama – And you are getting more and more stinky.

    July 31, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  23. Khaleeshi

    A total failure Romneyshambles – you didn't do anything right.

    July 31, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  24. NYWB

    Heard the Romney comments in England, Israel and Poland. Nothing embarrassing there. What's embarrassing is how biased the press is protecting the amateur in the White House.

    July 31, 2012 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  25. Patriot Awesome

    I think Romney is running around undiagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. That, or he's a sociopath.

    July 31, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
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