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. Nietodarwin

    The World Wildlife Federation of Spain just ousted King Juan Carlos after they found out he broke his hip last year on a big game hunting trip in Africa. I was wondering if he fell of Romney's horse on that trip. You know royalty like rape and pillage together.

    July 22, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  2. Independent Voters

    I don't know why Romney always copy what the President did...from the Colorado massacre speech..visited States that the President went...even the Video clip of his campaign... That is funny..that mean. He doing the why we need to elect Romney?....

    July 22, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  3. Michael B.

    Is there a way to take the Nobel Peace Prize back from the POTUS? Why did he get it in the first place....

    July 22, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  4. basky

    The most secretive candidate in the US Presidential campaign history. What a joke!!
    Can't have it both ways Romney

    July 22, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  5. Pete

    Romney and his foreign school lessons,I thought he learned from brainwashing French raised Catholics that Mormonism was superior of all religions,does he remember what he was sent there for, to keep out of the way of the Vietnam war,typical wealthy draftdodger...Now he's going overseas sucking up to the foreign elite for more big bucks,not for foreign affairs but how to take money out of foreigners hands while taking a nice trip,right!!Only in America right and that Mormon leper is showing them the American way,making money with his lies,he's good at that you know,a real pro!!

    July 22, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  6. jpmichigan

    Let me see, as I recall Obama made a trip to Europe before being elected. Had his ROCK STYLE rhetoric in Berlin. He new nothing about foreign policies unless you count living in Indonesia as a young boy, father was from Kenya and of course had associates that like to visit with Chavez (Bill Ayers and his wife). Obama 's team had to state Hilary had no foreign policies experience, but now she is the Secretary of State and doing a hell of a job. Hoped she would run instead of Obama, but he will loose and she can run in 2016.

    July 22, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  7. joe

    When Europe 'Crowned' the Prince of Peace Obama with the 'Peace Prize' they were looking for leadership. They now know they came up bone dry empty. Obama is an empty suit with a teleprompter that we know he didn't build, he couldn't build, he has no job skills, none. The important dignitaries Romney knows are business people, job creators. He will make a good POTUS.

    July 22, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  8. Kenny K

    Hillary Rodham Clinton-2016!

    July 22, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. Gaz

    Hmmm... Why israel? Why london? Why poland? Hmmm... Why not india? Why not egypt? Why not argentina?

    July 22, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  10. jim

    "Learn and listen"? I think see the problem. He might want to try listening first.

    July 22, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  11. Peace

    Even Sarah Palin as far as I remember took a trip to Israel. Did it help her????

    July 22, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  12. SafeJourney

    Mitt, release the tax returns. This is NOT going away. If you dont release your tax returns Mitt, NO vote for you

    July 22, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  13. 66Biker

    He should go to Iraq to see if he can pass the Shoe Test.

    July 22, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  14. rrd

    If you are trying to get Obama reelected why aren't you out there promoting his record instead of trashing Romney?

    July 22, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  15. Romney to Visit His Money $$

    Romney's trip is to visit the money he is Hiding so he does not have to pay taxes on.

    July 22, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  16. SMJ

    He's probably opening bank accounts in each country...or at least checking on some more hidden ones. I shudder to think of this job-killing, outsourcing, lying, idiot being elected. Scary like Palin and Bachmann.

    July 22, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  17. vs

    Is ok to travel,any way he will be our new next president of the United States of America,go Mitt Romney /vp Mr:Jhon Boehner the speacker of the house,go 2012

    July 22, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  18. Perryboy

    I wouldn't vote for this Romney guy because he's Richard Nixon the 2nd.... A CROOK!

    July 22, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  19. Larry L


    If I were Romney, I wouldn't disclose any more than is legally required
    Do you recall the "birthers"? Even the truth wouldn't change their minds. In a time when tax equality is a huge issue Americans want to know if Romney pays a fair share. Is he an honorable man or just another greedy fat-cat? He wants us to trust him with our lives but he's given us nothing specific of his vision except his willingness to accept the Ryan Budget Plan. This would trash Social Security and Medicare. That's simply not enough information. What's he hiding?

    July 22, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  20. Larry L


    The important dignitaries Romney knows are business people, job creators. He will make a good POTUS.
    Where are those jobs? If he releases his tax returns you'll see the jobs they created are in China and India. In fairness to Romney he did help the banking industry in the Caymans, Switzerland, and the Bahamas.

    July 22, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  21. Taylor

    It helped her more than it would ever help you, you keyboard warrior.

    July 22, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  22. Blue

    Israel's PM is delighted to have Mitt. He will try and talk him into a war with Iran if he is elected. Beter be carefu,l Mitt, you are counting your eggs too soon. He is a joke, surely the American people know better.

    July 22, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  23. Grow up already...

    He wants to watch his dancing horse perform at the Olympics and have his campaign contributors pay for it. What a shock...

    July 22, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  24. Bruce

    Enough already with calling rich people "job creators". It's total nonesense. That's like calling a medevil Lord a "job creator" because he allows people to work on his land for virtually nothing. ANother GOP buss word.... JOb Creators. Total nonesense.

    July 22, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  25. JDinHouston

    Of course people in Europe want to talk to Romney, they are all eager to get as many jobs from the US as possible, and Romney has a proven track record and plan to put Americans out of work and hire more non-Americans overseas. This, in turn, will support Romney's investment strategy of betting on the Euro against the Dollar.

    July 22, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
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