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. josephine

    He better get a doctor to fix his tax returns while away. Time is running out on you, Mr. Romney. We, the people, will still want to see those tax returns when you come back.

    July 21, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  2. n

    Romney is a major foreign disaster waiting to happen. President Obama has done a spectacular job concerning foreign affairs as he rebuilds the image of America. Romney keep your hands in your pockets and don't touch anything. LOL!

    July 21, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  3. Thomas

    Mitt's trip to Israel is to reassure the Israelis that the Banking laws in Switzerland and the US will not be enforced in regards to undeclared over seas transactions.

    Israeli banks used in U.S. tax fraud scheme , bank accounts for clients in Luxembourg and Switzerland , Swiss bank worker regarding US persons with hidden Swiss bank accounts. ... wealth from Madeoff's scam has been fully transfered to Israel .

    Then there will be a Photo Opp at the Wailing Wall .

    July 21, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  4. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Mr. Romney can travel from East to West and around the World but WE STILL WANT YOU TAX RETURNS even though he can use these travels to pad his expense accounts, it won't be enough.

    July 21, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  5. Nietodarwin

    Romney is a good mormom Maybe he can adopt the children of the people slain in CO, (just like the murdering mormons did after the Mounatin Meadows Massacre) and take them to the olympics. Well, I guess not, the CO murders were not cause by the mormoms. But he could pretend.
    He can pretend he cares and pretend he's president. I hope that damn horse costs him the election.

    July 21, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  6. steven harnack

    "quite a difference...." What, Romney gave you a copy of his itinery and told you exactly what he is going to be saying? I'd say that one difference might be that he's only going to see a few friendly mucky-mucks in frienldy territory where he will have absolutely nothing to say to or for the average citizen. How many times does he have to kiss Netanyahu's ring anyway?

    July 21, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  7. CedarRapids

    " It's the Palestinians who don't want a two-state solution. They want to eliminate the state of Israel," Romney said"

    Thanks Mitt, that helps with the situation, thanks a lot. You know as president you will be expected to try to help the peace process right?

    July 21, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  8. when your nightmares end WILLARD begins

    I seemed to have missed the Obama apology tour right wingers keep talking about. Can I find it anywhere on You-tube or should I just check Politi-Facts and see if that is actually true?

    July 21, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  9. "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." --B. Obama


    July 21, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  10. sqeptiq

    He's going to Europe to check on his money.

    July 21, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  11. Skeptic

    Um ... isn't it illegal for a private citizen to meet with foreign heads of state?

    July 21, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  12. riamb60

    He is going to England to see Ann Romney's dressage horse Rafalca who is competing in the Olympics.
    Probably throw some high end party's for the horse's trainer and rider Jan Ebeling, and pay off the judges with beaucoup money, which he withdrew from his Swiss bank account !!!!!!

    July 21, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  13. dog1

    I'm sure he'll be checking in on his homes in Europe. Wants to make sure they are ready for move-in if he gets the chance to be Pres and complete the job started by W and Cheney to gut this country.
    Does he have a dual citizenship like Bachman and the other Ultra Rich who are using the Teabaggers like the bunch of tools they are ? Of course he does.
    And I have another question that needs to be addressed. Can a person who is a concientious objector (Mormon draft dodger who got to go play with all those french girls) be the Commander in Chief and send American troops to war when there's no way he or his family or members of his religion would ever be sent? Not sure that's legal.

    July 21, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  14. dave123

    He wants to visit his money. What a sham candidate.

    July 21, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  15. donnie

    trying to evade questions on his taxes. He has no clue on foreign policy and will be a nusence to world leaders. Tell the rich kid to keep his mouth shut or he could screw up our relationships with these countries.

    July 21, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  16. Ralph

    For all those cry babies here who are requesting to see Romney's tax return... I wish I could see yours first...I am sure I will find lots of loopholes...huge tax credits ....adulterated itemized deductions, etc.

    July 21, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  17. Michael Q

    Maybe Romney, if he really listens, may be surprised to hear how USA relations have improved in the last three years over the previous eight. Then, he might actually see the error of his ways and drop out of the Republican Party and switch to a party more inline with his actual healthcare program, and moderate compromise ways which made him a successful business man, and how he really made the Salt Lake Olympics by pushing out the bad and uniting the good people both with their money and ideas. Nope, not going to happen. His quest for money and power far outreach his integrity.

    July 21, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  18. Peace

    I can not understand it at all how Romney can travel abroad without putting off the burning fire at home which is releasing "Tax Returns". Doesn't he understand that he gets no vote from those countries he will visit, especially if they are not counted as Americans abroad.

    July 21, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  19. john

    Great. Now the rest of the world can see what a "sold out" pathetic jerk he is.

    July 21, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  20. 1twinsfan

    Hey, Mitt, you can check those overseas bank balances online. No need to actually go overseas.

    July 21, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  21. snowdogg

    ..."will not generate any new proclamations of policy"

    His "policies" lack intellect, substance and detail – so why should he say anything at all?

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

    I find it amusing and also irritating when people are accused of just repeating Fox News "talking points". Where do these other people get their information? I listen to many different news organizations, and just because I am a conservative, doesn't mean I just go only to Fox and repeat everything I hear. When I hear two totally different versions of a story, I try to research it and come to my own conclusion.

    Romney going overseas is no different than when Obama campaigned in Europe.

    July 21, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |

    Mitt(I have nothing to offer)McCain thinks that Russia is our number one enemy. He's not qualified to be President. Where are his tax returns?

    July 21, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  24. Larry L

    @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.
    He also had a little romance going with Valdimir Putin – when they "looked into each other's eyes and saw their souls"...

    July 21, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  25. bev

    He is using this to go to the Olympics to see their 6-figure horse perform & if he loses his bid this will be a write-off on his supposedly tax forms, that he doesn't know where they are & that nobody but him can see.

    July 21, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
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