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. Yonni

    Hey Mitt Make sure to convert some Christians into Mormons on your way, especially Paris those people who refused to you during the Vietnam war

    July 21, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  2. Expat Americans

    Romney and the Republicans are laying out the plans for their war with Iran on Day One.

    July 21, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  3. Expat Americans

    Quite a contrast to Obama's apology tours.
    You see it as an apology tour because you don't have a passport. President Obama needed to rebuild the nation’s standing in the world after the failed foreign policies of the criminal Bush administration.

    July 21, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  4. Larry L

    Think maybe he's trying to deflect questions regarding his tax returns? Where are they?

    July 21, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  5. Kenny K

    Maybe he will have a change of heart just like his dad did when he visited Vietnam and saw the impact of USA's hardline foreign policies. The GOP hardliners will be dissapointed then.

    July 21, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  6. mm

    I'm finding most of the PR on Romney, pretending to have public servant-type of concern to be amusing, in the disgusting sense of the word.

    When has Mitt Romney EVER, in his life – including now, been concerned about the 'least of these' or others' faiths, including Christianity? Never.

    July 21, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  7. Donkey Party

    MikeB – You're too ignorant to realize you're just parroting a Fox News / GOP / Romney talking point. Thanks for playing though.

    July 21, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  8. ED FL

    I am not to sure that Robme will impress many people during his free loading tour.His money has already given him his main imperssion,one that lets them know what kind of person he is . Why would he impress other world citizens where his money is kept Tax Free from his own country that he wants to become the leader of.That is disgraceful even for a draft dodger of his country,and they can't vote for him.

    July 21, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  9. BeadStallCup

    This happens just at the time when the people pushing the United Nations gun control bill were running into strong resistance to their gun bill in the U.S. Congress. But then a doped up guy who says he's x-military special ops, commits a mass murder in Colorado and now, lo and behold, the U.N. boys and girls suddenly have their two votes. What a strange coincidence!!

    July 21, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  10. Larry L

    This reminds me... Where are those tax returns? Should you be staying overseas to avoid the law?

    July 21, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  11. Len Smith

    Look it is good that he is doing this tour. He needs to understand more about the world. I do question some of his fund raisers in Europe and who they work for today. LIBOR, but he needs to do it.

    July 21, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  12. Larry L


    This happens just at the time when the people pushing the United Nations gun control bill were running into strong resistance to their gun bill in the U.S. Congress. But then a doped up guy who says he's x-military special ops, commits a mass murder in Colorado and now, lo and behold, the U.N. boys and girls suddenly have their two votes. What a strange coincidence!!
    Ahh... a new conspiracy for the no tooth, bigoted, right-wing group of under-educated, ill-informed, Fox News junkies.

    July 21, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  13. basky

    Romney Wants America to vote for him this November but the same Americans are demanding he releases his Tax returns, but you now what? He doesn't give a damn about us, so long you vote him in. Pity... we are not fools, we will decide wheather you will release it or not.

    July 21, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  14. Parfin Woodell

    *** Quite a contrast to Obama's apology tours.

    I miss all of those pictures of Georgie Bush kissing the Saudi prince
    and walking hand in hand in the garden.
    How cute.

    July 21, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  15. Gurgyl

    This guy is a total FRAUD.

    July 21, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  16. dreamer96

    Yeap... Mitt Romney is a gun smuggler, secret American Arms Dealer..Taking a International tour, for new orders for weapons,..Nothing like a Relgious War Mongering Mormon Bishop who side lines as a gun smuggler, weapons dealer...He can ship weapons anywhere inside a wooden crate marked Mormon Famiine Relief Shipment...A Perfect Cover....

    July 21, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  17. Sockness Monster

    Working feverishly to find a way out of the Bain problem,
    They come up with this.
    Get Romney out of the country so he wont have
    to answer any questions.

    It wont work.

    July 21, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  18. Mary

    Mitt, Where are those tax returns? Are you escaping to avoid the controversy here?

    July 21, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  19. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    He is going to Poland to pal around with Communists.

    July 21, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  20. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    In Poland will Romney be palling around with Communists?

    July 21, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  21. John Hix

    This trip is to deflect questions about his tax returns and to also stir up trouble with our over seas allies and impinge our countries diplomatic efforts so as to throw more sticks in the fire of political debate prior to the election. Disgusting of the candidate and no wonder many in the GOP have turned away from the party.

    July 21, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  22. JakeAZ

    Mitt Romney's upcoming international swing will provide the presumptive GOP nominee an opportunity to visit his money.

    July 21, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  23. Curt

    Can't believe what inflated egos American politicians have meeting with leaders of other countries. In case nobody remembers Romney is just a normal American citizen. Could you or I arrange meetings with world leaders? Personally I think its a disgrace for these various leaders to even meet with Romney. Have you ever heard of people running for office from other countries going around the world meeting with world leaders? To think that these leaders would even agree to meet with him is an insult to the government of the United States. He does not represent the government and hopefully never will. The Prime Ministers of Britain and Israel should be saying " if you get elected then we"ll meet. "

    July 21, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  24. ge

    don,t worry he will get you people into another oil war

    July 21, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  25. Kill The Wabbit

    Poland, you can keep him.

    July 21, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13