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.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

- Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

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. jOHN

    Their just takling a little vacation as a campaign expense. He already knows he's skrewd. Our tax money is also paying the security bill for secrete service and logistics, etc. I bet this is not the last trip.

    July 22, 2012 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  2. Monica

    I don't know where you get your information from but to state that Obama has done a spectacular job about foreign relations is a bold lie.
    He has been a no show just like his voting record in the senate and certainly hasn't built any friendships with Europe or any other part of the world.
    He gives very few press conferences , probably too busy golfing , raising money and campaigning.
    This President has been the worst and has done so much damage to this country.
    This is the first time I will vote Republican , hopefully Mitt Romney will restore this country and who cares how rich he is.

    July 22, 2012 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  3. Iamnotfooled

    He is just going to watch his wife's horse. Saving money on the taxpayers dime. How do you think he got so rich? This guy will get us into a war in a year tops. He does not have enough smarts to stay out of it. He is a follower-not a leader.

    July 22, 2012 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  4. Clancy

    The OUTSOURCER IN CHIEF; here's a thought, Willard....outsource yourself & just don't come back.

    July 22, 2012 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  5. Anonymous

    the fact is romney is fixing his overseas account and when he comes back he is ready to release his tax certificates

    July 22, 2012 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  6. Leroy

    Will Sarah Palin be traveling with Mitt as a mentor?

    July 22, 2012 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  7. spangler

    Most of the countries he will visit have universal health care, marriage equality and allow a woman control over herself. I hope he does not give these countries speeches about how offensive he finds these things.

    July 22, 2012 03:24 am at 3:24 am |
  8. J.V.Hodgson

    Romneys positions on foreign policy:-
    Stop Irans nukes at all costs even if that means a war we cannot afford, or gets Israel Nuked in the process.
    Syria we have to go in there as well with at least weapons support something we say Russia must not... double satandards and guarantees another Iraq as Iran will step in to support her Muslim neighbour. we prove yet again we, the US, are Jihad creators or at least exacerbators
    He has in effect said Russia remains the greatest geo politcal threat to the US = re-igniting the cold war... very undiplomatic, unpresidential comments.
    Afghanistan we must of course stay longer... never should have said. When is enough, enough... what does he hope to achieve by saying that, ie what result is he after, except to increase our budget deficit and debt we cannot afford, and more US lives lost on a lost cause.
    He's going to Israel big shock his only reason is to try and get some of the US Jewish vote and campaign money. He should go to Egypt and Palestine if he really wants to understand... like it or not diplomacy means you listen to both sides.
    Poland I do not see them as a key diplomatic problem at present enjoy the holiday and the Olympics dressage, with the wife. Whose paying for this time/trip the RNC his campaign!?

    July 22, 2012 03:33 am at 3:33 am |
  9. Alan j

    No mention of the fundraising dinner Romney is having while in Israel. It's not all about appearing presidential, rather an opportunity to generate more cash for his campaign. One would think CNN would report that rather than regurgitate what the campaign puts out.

    July 22, 2012 04:07 am at 4:07 am |
  10. Zechariah14

    Former governor mitt you are been played
    Like a second fiddle he really thinks he win
    wow he is really out of touch how things are master plan he going to be like what
    happen I thought the American people wanted me just like Ross Perot the nafta
    maker got his one wish come true well former governor mitt you get one pork belly wish but you shall not be president
    of the united states

    July 22, 2012 04:23 am at 4:23 am |
  11. freddie nerk

    Will this Tax cheat and draft dodger finally fess up to stashing millions in shady tax shelters? Drug cartels use the same schemes. What is Romney hiding? He is unfit to be Potus.

    July 22, 2012 04:33 am at 4:33 am |
  12. frag

    "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." Romney will also continue the war on drugs, attack Iran, and maybe go back to Vietnam, but he'll do it all without government financing. Afgahnistan =$ 1,350,000,000 up to now, but Mr. Fiscal responsibility thinkd we should hang in there another ten years.

    July 22, 2012 05:45 am at 5:45 am |
  13. 1Joyce

    No difference between Romney, the Presidential candidate, going to Europe, and Obama, the Presidential candidate a few years ago, going to Europe. Well, maybe one difference, I doubt that Romney will be apologizing for his country.

    July 22, 2012 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  14. Dan

    He should go back to France to hide,there is a War.

    July 22, 2012 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  15. Switters

    I think he should walk across the Iranian border unannounced – to show how brave he is.......

    July 22, 2012 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  16. Maria Rivera-Carvalho

    Translation: "To learn and listen" is really newspeak for "to check possible overseas personal investment opportunities so I don't have to invest my money int he worthless economy of the USA with all those regulations and transparency demands".

    July 22, 2012 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  17. Mitt the nitwit? \\

    Joyce, I like it when you conservative make such bold statements based off no facts. Proves to those with knowledge that most Mitt followers are still trying to get their GED. Obama, was a US Senator when he met with world leaders.. and he did some of it because McCain and company kept talking about how he hadn't ever met with world leaders.

    July 22, 2012 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  18. Marie MD

    @monica, stept ou od the bubble and turn off faux news. Yiu are confusing the president with the weeper of the house who golfs EVERY WEEK!!
    How is the bully bishop going to get to Europe? On his jet ski? If the wifey going to drive him?
    He is trying to get that foreign experience by visiting countries like a tourist. Is hen going to stop in Switzerland to visit his money?

    July 22, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  19. jonny rocket

    Romneys on this trip to check on his off shore accounts. and thats all folks

    July 22, 2012 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  20. Flowers68

    I would have guessed that, in the wake of an American tragedy, Romney would cancel his U.S. trip. Now Republicans will complain about the President going to Colorado to console families, saying its a campaign move in a swing state. But at least he went...unlike Romney, who won't even be in the country. But, with the fund raising he's expecting from this trip, no way would Romney cancel. He's all about the dollar bill...even at the expense of the American people. He's already proven that.

    July 22, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  21. Glover John

    Mitt make sure you bring your Swiss ATM Card. Hate for you to have to pay the $3 fee for non-bankers.

    July 22, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  22. Tony

    You need to start insourcing. Hire some Americans. They can help you with your English.

    July 22, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  23. Joseph Smith

    Romney and Bachmann are single-handedly going to start WW III

    July 22, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  24. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    While he's on his expensive and worthless foreign tour, he might well as visit China, Switzeland, the Cayman Island and Bermuda and lock hands with his foreign business partners who have helped to steamroll American workers

    July 22, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  25. stew

    he takes Gold digging to a new level, bet he wants the gold from Solomon's Temple, or the gold under Cestihovia Catholic Church in Poland, or maybe he just will settle for the Gold at the Olympic's, or as others indicated he has much Gold in Swiss bank accounts. Be certain folks it is about the Gold and nothing else and if you don't look like it you don't matter to Gold Mittens.

    July 22, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13