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. Holly

    Since when is an American citizen not allowed to speak to foreign leaders? Obama is not the only one allowed this right. Also, Walessa does not want to meet with Obama yet he invited Romney. And to the person claiming Obama kills terrorists "like rats" it not the bleeding heart Democrats who want to give them "a fair trial like everyone else"? Can any of you HONESTLY say you are better off than you were 4 years ago?

    July 21, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  2. Lenny Pincus

    Mitt should go to China and India and check out all the businesses he helped create.

    July 21, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  3. NameFrank Deery

    Smart move by Romney. These three nations are really also our best friends-with strong immigrant ties to the US vote-wise. Obama, as President, has yet to visit Israel and he offended The Poles. The UK? Well, Mrs. Obama seems to prefer their designers over ours(I.e., Sarah Burton gala gowns). Hmmmm?

    July 21, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  4. De

    Mormons believe all jews are doomed to hell and that black people are the soul less spawn of satan. A policy that Romney enforced for the church himself until the late 70's. The religious right in this country use the name of God to push their policies that are the exact opposite of what the Bible teaches. When Romney is elected they will have completely turned their back on God. The beast referred to in Revelations has many heads, Romney is the puppet.

    July 21, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  5. SFRich

    No need to go to all this trouble Mitt... you won't be winning in November.

    July 21, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  6. Woman In California

    I don't think any presidental candidate in my lifetime has made me as sick to my stomach as this loser. Since he's "going foreign" why doesn't he explain to all the wounded and veterans (on a whole) why he never had any interest in going foreign before. I also hope he stays there and NEVER returns and if and when he does the American people will be waiting for those tax returns. We didn't forget them or the condensending remark by his mouth piece of a wife Ann. Good Riddance.

    July 21, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  7. Blue

    He has no power, and he is trying to undermine our President. He is one slime ball.

    July 21, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  8. rsn

    A foreign tour didn't teach Sarah Palin anything, did it?

    July 21, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  9. nc1965

    Romney. A man who shipped jobs overseas is there to learn. Learn what? This is his foreign policy.

    He should feel right at home. He should stay there.

    July 21, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  10. Sorensen

    Most people in England, Israel and the rest of Europe already know that Romney is a fake, lying, corny fool.
    The absolute worst side of american capitalism. Car elevators, no tax returns and a crazy wife who calls the people
    "you people". Very embarrassing for America. Even Trump would be better.

    July 21, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  11. Anonymous

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

    Choose ONE:

    a) test out his new car elevator
    b) find out which countries are our enemies
    c) visit his money in his various foreign bank accounts
    d) determine if dogs can survive strapped to airplanes
    e) all of the above

    July 21, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  12. Mack

    Maybe he's going to be making some withdrawals from his foreign accounts? I wonder if the Chinese have deposited that big check in his Swiss bank account yet?

    July 21, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  13. EddyL

    International tour? Is he visiting his money in Switzerland, Cayman Island, and Bermuda?

    July 21, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  14. Mack

    If he's elected we'll have to move to China to get a job.

    July 21, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  15. linguaprof

    (CNN) – Mitt Romney's upcoming international swing will (choose one):

    a) attempt to determine who America's enemies are
    b) provide a first-hand look at his money and various foreign bank accounts
    c) determine whether or not a dog can survive a flight strapped to the top of an airplane
    d) all of the above

    July 21, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  16. Dean

    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
    That rebuilding worked out about as well as the hope and change did...........

    July 21, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  17. CaliforniaBC

    Spending a few days abroad DOES NOT give anyone international credentials. If it did I'd be an expert in international relations. I'VE got more experience than Mitty here.

    July 21, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  18. Jan930

    Mitt I still want to see your tax returns. This is NOT going away.

    July 21, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  19. AJ

    He is going to get his money out of those swiss bank accounts so he can say I don't have money in swiss bank accounts, flip-flooper.

    July 21, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  20. Leroy

    Mitt's traveling overseas to visit his money....

    July 21, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  21. biologixco

    No NEW Proclaimation of Policy?
    There was no OLD proclaimation of policy.
    Republicans are bereft of ideas

    July 21, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  22. TNPatriot

    Yep, this guy has NO IDEAS on foreign policy. It's a safe bet that this trip is solely a smoke screen. Just another attempt to hold the legitimate media at bay and give him a break from having to distance himself from his tax returns. Wonder if the campaign will be able to keep the favored media going along from coverage of Ann's Dressage expenses during this trip. Oh wait, that is a legitimate campaign expense .... right?

    July 21, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  23. nolimits3333

    Romney is a liar and a thief.

    July 21, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  24. biologixco

    Romney Agenda on International Trip:
    1. Stop in UBS Geneva to pick up millions$$$.
    2. Fly to Macao to open tax free HSBC account.
    3. Fly to Cayman Islands to pick up millions$$$

    July 21, 2012 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  25. Darla (Edmonton, Canada)

    So is sitting in London watching Ann's horse in the Olympics being considered a "campaign expense"? This is a guy who never met a write-off or deduction he didn't claim or use questionably. And, yes ... I say that without seeing his tax returns ... in 500+ pages you don't think there wasn't any fuzzy math being used, do you?

    July 21, 2012 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
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