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)

    I want to be a surf and work for romney the clown for free while he robs my pension ,president romney the clown just doesn't sound right !!!!!

    July 21, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  2. spenteco

    The Poles were led by union workers in their fight for independence and freedom. Their leadership has really changed their tune in meeting with a man than deplores unions.

    July 21, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  3. dreucalypt

    Romney is traveling abroad to throw red meat down for the right wing. Partisanship was supposed to stop at the water's edge, but apparently that rule doesn't apply to Republicans.

    July 21, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  4. lreed580

    Romney will also be holding fundraisers with Barclay officials who are involved in the Libor scandal.

    July 21, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  5. carlos

    he will need about thousand policy advisers to know where to say what, and then, say, I did not or I will.....I will...I will, finally, won't say what he will.....pathetic mormonic doublespeak bishop

    July 21, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  6. Martin Walters Seattle

    France would have been a good place to start. Start with your strengths.

    July 21, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  7. CarrotCakeMan

    We already read the report about Romney raising funds from the British bankers involved in the banking scandal there. It's illegal for him to raise campaign funds from foreigners. But, as always, Romney doesn't have to obey the same laws that "you people" have to obey, he can just bring home the millions in secret, illegal contributions on his private jet.

    Remember, Romney himself has already been caught making secret, illegal donations to other campaigns.

    July 21, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  8. TBS

    I wonder if he is also going to visit Switzerland, Bermuda, or the Cayman Islands to check on his bank accounts!!!

    July 21, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  9. rs

    And so just what are Mr. Romney's foreign affairs chops? Where he has stashed his off-shore accounts? Seriously, after the disasterous "shoot first" Bush years (and how the GOP has the gaul to blame any of Iraq or Afghanistan on Mr. Obama is beyond me) having a President who actually talks with and negotiates with other nations is re-assuring. Even where the military has had to be used, it was surgical and precise with few casualties- Not the bloodbath Bush caused in Iraq for example.
    Mr. Romney's got nothing on Obams on foreign affairs- evenif he somehow drafts Ms. Rice for VP. Remember? She didn't know the difference between Shia and Sunni Muslims. She is a Cold War holdover. Meanwhile Romney has the old Bush neo-con hacks working for him now. He really is Bush III.

    July 21, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |

    The only foreign policy experience this Gop bum has is as a tourest and tax cheat !!!!!

    July 21, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  11. Anthony

    Other than starting a war with Iran and talking tough on China, Romney has no plan on foreign policies. The same is true on domestic policies. Romney will cut taxes, and expect revenue to magically appear to cut the deficits. If the revenue does not magically appear, Romney will wait until after the election to tell seniors what he will cut in the federal budget. Hint: after military spending, which Romney wants to increase, the second and third biggest items in the budget are Social Security and Medicare. The scary number about the cost of Obamacare that Republicans have been talking about? That is the gross 10-year cost of the program, minus adjustments in the budget that make the actual cost lower. Once the budgetary adjustments and revenues that the program raises are taken into account, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the program will actually reduce the deficits.

    July 21, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  12. MikeB

    Quite a contrast to Obama's apology tours.

    July 21, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  13. DaveC

    Remember when Obama made the same trip in 2008 and every conservative idiot and Fox News talking head made a big deal about how he is acting like he is the president already? Notice how the democrats aren't doing that? Hmmm. Which party is more grown up.

    July 21, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  14. Maria Rivera-Carvalho

    IWhen he goes to Europe he will see that his economic plan mirroes theirs. Results? Those economic policies are bankrupting member after member of the European Union. Yes, against all evidence and logic, that's his plan for the USA. Let's hope he will learn something.

    July 21, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  15. jb1963

    He will fall flat on his face. He knows nothing about foreign affairs. He know only one thing outsourcing

    July 21, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  16. Ed

    Perhaps he is going to set up outsorcing companies because you Idiots don't know how to work and produce.

    July 21, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  17. Rosa, b'ham al

    Great now the whole world will know how out of touch Romney is.

    July 21, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  18. Gurgyl

    Does it give credence to his foreign policy potifolio???? Nonsense. Does it make Americans believe that he has foreign policy experience just because this guy visits Israel or Saudi??? Jesus, save America from these wicked idiots of jobs shipping to China idiots. All say yes on OBAMA12. Amen!!!

    July 21, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  19. southernwonder

    is going to israel really international?

    July 21, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  20. basky

    Hope he's not going to tie that dog on the roof of the plane

    July 21, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  21. Name

    first time I ever read all negative stuff on one person wow.......

    July 21, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  22. Larry L


    Quite a contrast to Obama's apology tours.
    Only ignorant, right-wing chicken-hawks could consider international diplomacy an "apology". President Obama has returned to America a measure of respect in the world community. He has become the terrorist's worst nightmare and managed our military infinately better than "Mr. Mission Accomplished!". He has not falsified intelligence data to start a war where 4500 Service Members died and over 36,000 were seriously wounded.

    July 21, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  23. Chris

    This guy is good... Romney 2012, from Ohio.

    July 21, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  24. Name ma snoke

    Getting out of the country to avoid releasing his tax records when on the hot seat take a trip out of the country. He's learning.

    July 21, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  25. Name craig

    I wonder why they don't tell da truth,that da economy has been coming back slowly but surely

    July 21, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
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