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. Steve

    So GOP...Mitt is traveling overseas in the middle of campaigning? I wonder what Rush and Beck and Hannity would be saying if it was Obama headed overseas visiting foreign nations looking for support and endorsements

    July 22, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  2. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer


    You sound just like typical Michele Bachmann. A liar, a hypocrit, a racist, a divider and a hater who distorts the facts simply because you're envious and jealous that our black President has rewritten the American history books and is already being considered as one of the greatest Presidents in American history. And if you ask me, based on what President Obama has inherited and already accomplished at home and abroad and taken into consideration that he has had to deal with a divisive and disruptive right wing who's goal is to see that he and America fails, President Obama is no doubt the greatest President in US history. Obama/Biden/Roberts 2012!

    July 22, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  3. ﺶCHEﺶ

    Criminal Out-Sourer-In-Chief; Out-Source yourself and don't come back.
    You call yourself a bishop yet; STEALS from the poor and middle class AmerCIA's.

    Shame on you! Criminal cult bishop!

    July 22, 2012 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  4. Dieter Zerressen

    This reminds me of the song "The Rainbow Tour" in the musical "Evita".

    July 22, 2012 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  5. Jake

    Can Romney take a side trip to the North Korean border and explore the wilderness trails there. Yeah...get real close to the border and...just for kicks, walk 20 feet past the border. Then he can brag about how he was so smart to be able to sneak in and out of North Korea. Oh, and not to worry about those North Korean looking guards nearby, they are just dummies made to look real. Go Romney, 20 feet is all it takes for bragging rights. Yeah....

    July 22, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  6. Anne P

    And his foreign policy experience is nothing more than which of the finest hotels to stay in . We already have President with almost 4 yrs. of some of the toughest worldwide issues any president has ever dealt with. Enjoy your pedicures, Mittens while those of us with a brain vote for Obama.

    July 22, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  7. laserman59

    Mitt Romney – candidate for President – Lackey for Israel
    Anyone who places Israel's interests above US interests should NOT be President of The US.

    July 22, 2012 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  8. NZV

    Monica where do you get the information from. I thought Obama's foreign record is impeccable given the policies of Bush and his chums. Just look at all the mess we stayed out of in the middle east with positive results. If you travel around the world people have a far more favorable opinion of Obama since Clinton. Do you really think going to another country with guns blazing is the kind of foreign policy we need. I failed to understand your definition of friendship and you certainly don't know where US stood with respect to other world leaders!!

    July 22, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  9. laserman59

    Mitt Romney ~ candidate for President ~ Lackey for Israel
    Anyone who places Israel's interests above American interests should NOT be President of The US.

    July 22, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  10. Anne P

    Romney in Europe:
    Germany: "You make the finest cars in the world; I have several Mercedes and we got one of our housekeeper's a BMW."
    UK: "I've never had tea this good!"
    Italy: "The artwork is just the right color!"
    Spain: "When I was a kid, my Dad use to share stories about the great bull fighters."
    Panderer in chief, that's Mittens. Pathetic

    July 22, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  11. Lucky18

    Maybe he'll get lost and stay there!

    July 22, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  12. Lucky18

    And the person who tints his hair!

    July 22, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |

    Must be his jobs program with the hoop bafoons party and BACHMANN ,start another war . Romney the clown and BACHMANN , send your kids first !!!

    July 22, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  14. Claire

    How much is this posh tea party going to costs taxpayers? How much will it add to the national debt?

    July 22, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  15. Allan Chertoff

    I for one am disgusted with the tone of this election campaign.
    All I am hearing right now is the negative comments hurled at each candidate.
    HELLO ! ! ..... There is an 800 pound gorilla in our living room, and its name is DEBT !
    Nothing is being said about this gorilla, either by the candidates or by the so-called media folks.
    With 2013 just around the corner, I am afraid we will experiance a RUDE awakening with the taxes that take effect at that time. And, with Mr. Obama being a lame duck president, if elected, who knows what to expect.
    As for Mr. Romney, he is making us promises if we carry him to the White House, and since he is an expert in taking advantage of wounded companies by selling them off, and with America being a Corporation comprised of 50 companies in distress...who knows what to expect?? Will we be bitten by his greed??
    So far, the silence is deafening!
    The debt grows larger and larger.
    But the silence continues as usual.
    What is to become of our nation???

    July 22, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  16. gee

    Who is this wanna be trying to impress? War is not something Europeans will readily accept. Stop trying to push it.

    July 22, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  17. 1Joyce

    Most of you act as if there has never been a rich Democrat run for president. If I were Romney, I wouldn't disclose any more than is legally required. Post like those here prove all people want is a chance to smear him. You would take any info he discloses and distort it or lie about it.

    July 22, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  18. 1Joyce

    TM – So exactly what "qualifications" did Obama have to talk about foreign policy when he was candidate Obama, campaigning in Europe.

    July 22, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  19. I've always voted

    Already he's on vacation.

    July 22, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  20. I've always voted

    Romney's policy? I like that country...I'll buy it. Except for the USA...that one? I'll be selling it off piece by piece.

    July 22, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  21. george of the jungle

    Milk toast travels abroad to learn how not to be a dick when talking to foreign leaders. Here we go again being the laughing stock of the world, Forward 2012

    July 22, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  22. korkea aika

    what a weird choice of countries to visit? If Romney is about CREATING JOBS.......then go visit CHINA, INDIA, BRAZIL or even MEXICO OR CANADA, our largest TRADING PARNERS....ROMNEY IS A FAKE

    July 22, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  23. NVa Native

    Mittens can run, and run, and run – even to his beloved France – but he can't hide – where are you tax returns??

    July 22, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  24. MikeL

    Liberals give give very little to charity. They volunteer other people's tax money to causes they want using government and then claim moral superiority for being generous.

    July 22, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  25. Grahame Rhodes

    Speaking of songs I'm reminded of the Monty Python song 'Denis Moore' (aka Mitt Romney) and I quote.
    "Steals from the Poor gives to the Rich
    Stupid B..... Stupid B......... Stupid B........"

    July 22, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
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