Romney trip to highlight foreign policy flashpoints
July 21st, 2012
12:01 AM ET
10 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. TM

    Of course Willard has to "listen an learn" since he has ABSOLUTELY NO qualifications to speak authoritatively on ANY foreign policy topic, except maybe how to send his money and our jobs to foreign soil.

    July 21, 2012 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  2. michael

    Who cares. The Presidents of the Unites States is not the the Prime Minister of Isreal and why we may care, so whzt.

    July 21, 2012 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  3. 333maxwell

    If ever there was a good time for the Governor to tuck tail and get the heck out of Dodge for awhile, away from most uncontrolled cameras and the hard questions, this is that time.

    July 21, 2012 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  4. Thomas

    This is all Look See Show !

    It will be interesting to see how he is welcomed in England and Poland .

    Romney / Bush more of the same 2012.

    July 21, 2012 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  5. Milton K. Wiah

    All the European Leaders he is going to meet do not have any account in American banks. He has accounts
    across Europe. I hope journalists will have the chance to ask him this question during this trip.

    July 21, 2012 04:46 am at 4:46 am |
  6. Miroslava

    Mittens is going abroad to "sort out" his foreign money accounts. Period.

    July 21, 2012 04:51 am at 4:51 am |
  7. breezy

    i wonder if romney will get to the bottom of these foreign policy flashpoints like he did when he spent the time he should have been serving his country in vietnam under a deferment in the south of france.

    July 21, 2012 05:02 am at 5:02 am |
  8. Gurgyl

    This idiot is exactly like Sarah palin. I am glad he did not say I can see Germany from my rooftop. Bain-Capital. Please go to India too so that you will not confuse Pakistan to india. Ha, ha,

    July 21, 2012 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  9. Marie MD

    I see he wants to add to his foreign experience of when he spent two years abroad for his church NOT the country when he was just a delinquent prep prankster.
    I doubt he is going to do anything for his campaign except get a free vacation. No, wait, HE can afford a vacation and/or buy an island is he so chooses.

    July 21, 2012 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  10. GJGVT

    "but it will not generate any new proclamations of policy, advisers to his campaign said this week" <<– I thought Romney was "unemployed"... how could he be in a position to set foreign policy????

    July 21, 2012 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  11. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    He will say something stupid, then try to deny it, getting in deeper, and the next thing you know, we have an international incident.

    July 21, 2012 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  12. GI Joe

    Romney s more European than anyone that has ever run for pres. If he is elected we WILL be like Greece. All the big wigs will have money (which they won't use to help our country even maintain the infrastructure which they used to MAKE their big bucks). There ought to be a law against that. Austerity for the masses has NOT worked there, it won't work here. Make them pay taxes or move to another country PHYSICALLY. And all those verbal filibusters? Make them stand there and talk until the filibuster is over. Bet those lazy republicans would cut the cr@p really fast.

    July 21, 2012 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  13. Amy

    So, as usual, alexithymic Mitt will have nothing of substance to say.

    July 21, 2012 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  14. ron

    We only have one president at a time, willard.... To me, this trip is disrespectful to the Office of the Presidency. I guess that's just another thing you don't understand about being an American. You are not serving the government in any official capacity, so why would you go overseas to disrespect our president and the United States of America...because you think it's a cool thing to do?? What if you win and your next democrat challenger wants to go overseas for the same reasons. Would you understand the disrespect it shows to the Office? You know, had you (or any of your 5, strong, healthy sons) had the courage to serve your country in the military, you would know that it is the "rank" you ALWAYS respect even if you do not agree with the "man". And, to try to undermine his authority is mutiny.

    July 21, 2012 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  15. T'sah From Virginia

    ►"...sessions meant to "learn and listen" rather than to advance any particular policy contrast with President Barack Obama."◄

    Shut the Front Door!!! How much do you want to bet ($10,000) that Romney cannot keep from saying "what I would do differently..." or "I don't see it that way..." or "things will change because..." Come on now, that's why he is going!!!

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward!!

    July 21, 2012 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  16. Larry L

    Romney's "learn & listen" trip is really more about showing Israel he's a chicken-hawk ready to pander for those Jewish votes in the U.S. and to try and stir up some Cold War II animosity with Russia. This man would be a horrible Commander-In-Chief. President Obama has become the terrorist's worst nightmare – killing them like rats and cutting American losses. Romney would just another Republican looking for "his war" – of course his sons won't fight...

    July 21, 2012 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  17. Randy, San Francisco

    America can only hope that Romney will not pick foreign policy advisors from neo-conservatives from the now defunct Project for a New American Century (PNAC). Neo-conservatives dominated President Bush's foreign policy which led to war in Iraq. Their vision of a new world order based on American power in the Middle East has proven disastrous.

    July 21, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  18. Maxx

    Silly Mitt, what's he going to talk to them about, his car elevator? How much of his money is in their country?

    July 21, 2012 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  19. 1twinsfan

    "We don't anticipate that this is an opportunity for the governor to make any specific policy pronouncement," - Of course not. Romney's campaign has no specifics, no plans, just "I'm not Obama." And when it comes to foreign policy, what we've seen from Romney so far is disturbing. "Russia is our biggest geo-political foe."

    July 21, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  20. ty

    he is just going to visit all of his money he keeps offshore to avoid taxes.

    July 21, 2012 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  21. carly

    Romney knows zero about foreign policy. His ridiculous statement about Russia shows how clueless he is.

    July 21, 2012 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  22. hammurabi

    Mr. Romney : If elected you will be the president of USA. Do not sell your country for few Jewish votes! You should be the President of those who have the best interest of USA and who love their country!

    July 21, 2012 10:23 am at 10:23 am |

    What do you know about foreign policy ,o,that's right zero well you do know where to stach your money where the American people have no access to it for taxes or anything else .

    July 21, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |

    I can see it now ,president romney the clown and queen Ann ,you people will be extreemly lucky to ever talk to us when we are in the white house , just move along ,just pay your taxes as long as I don't have to pay mine ,suckers ????????

    July 21, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  25. Anne P

    International Studies thanks Mittens. We have a President who is very well versed in world affairs; he has over 3.5 years of very tough experience over you. Can you spell, "He got Bin Laden"? Just cozy up in your high end hotel and enjoy the scenery, you won't need anything else just like we don't need you.

    July 21, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
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