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. Ed

    I am a small business owner and I no longer give a damm.
    I outsorced 70% of my business.
    I lowered my costs, no hallway lawyers, no benefits and above all..
    I do not care about Obama care.
    This is what is coming because you fools believe in this prsident Idiot
    Thaks knows nothing other than comunism.
    Not one more dime to this government.
    Sorry folks, it is coming. Keep taking money from people
    That work and keep giving it to those that don't want to work.

    July 21, 2012 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  2. biologixco

    WHEN will Willard Romney make his policy Proclaimation?
    November 5th?

    July 21, 2012 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  3. SafeJourney

    Release your tax returns Mitt. If you dont, no vote for you

    July 21, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  4. LIB

    I really hope he and his family will find a country to buy and stay out of this country. Sickening man. Can't stand to see him or his family on tv anymore. What arrogance and lies. You People need to not come back

    July 21, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  5. Carlos

    Any stops in Sweden, BTW??

    July 21, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  6. NVa Native

    Typical Romoney; leisurely touring through his second home-land of France, and making apologies for America while spreading his policies of appeasement while entertaining the elite euro-trash.
    Have we seen his birth certificate?
    Where are the tax returns?

    July 21, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  7. Phil T. Listener

    Perhaps he can try to convince the Israeli businesses to outsource their manufacturing to China.
    I'm sure that would go over real well. (sarcasm off)

    July 21, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  8. Jim

    Maybe we'll get lucky and he'll find a bunch of companies over there that he just can't resist the temptation to destroy. He'll drop out of the prez race and Rick Perry will take his place.

    July 21, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  9. Tom

    He's going to Europe to assure his money that it is not coming home to get taxed.

    July 21, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  10. TAK

    This is kind of similar to Eva Peron's Rainbor Tour of Europe.

    July 21, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  11. luke,az

    The only foreign policy experience Gov Robme has was when he went to the planet Kolob.

    July 21, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  12. Zechariah14

    no matter what former governor mitt Romney
    says or do he shall not win no matter how many
    billionaires and billionairess donates too his
    sinking ship campaign the master script is
    that mitt is about to get a rope a dope treatment
    president Obama shall win he shall win the electoral

    July 21, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  13. drake mallard

    Romney Horse Wins Spot on Olympic Dressage Team

    Mitt Romney oversaw a wide-ranging lobbying campaign to snare tens of millions of dollars in federal earmarks for the Salt Lake City Olympic Games at a time critics were charging the games had become a prime example of out-of-control “pork barrel” spending, according to Senate lobbying records..

    July 21, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  14. Zechariah14

    Mitt Romney running for public office he should have
    release all his tax returns from the get go
    he is hideing a lot more then what he is telling
    people and bain that is a investment firm to
    outsource American jobs they're should be
    call covert American jobs over seas bain special
    fast talking slick dealing American job dry up

    July 21, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  15. Zechariah14

    and mitt Romney going to isreal what a joke
    he truely does not understand the Jewish roots
    of the Bible and isreal

    July 21, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  16. nintex

    I agree with Ron, who said we have only one president at a time and this trip is disrespectful to the Office of the Presidency. On that same topic, I didn't think it was appropriate for Romney to make a statement after the Colorado shooting. That was for the President to do, to speak for the country, and Romney seemed to be horning in, getting in his two cents' worth just for the publicity. It was OK for him to feel bad, like we all do, but why did he have to make a public statement, like he had some kind of authority to do so?

    July 21, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  17. JDinHouston

    Nice of Romney to mix a little politics as he tours his money stashed in Switzerland, Luxembourg and other areas – he'll probably place another bet on the Euro against the Dollar, then go to the Olympics and talk about he rescued the 2002 Olympics by outsourcing F&B, uniform manufacturing and other jobs to non-Americans – just in case you forgot how much Romney likes to fire expensive American labor and hire cheap foreign labor.

    July 21, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  18. Darryl

    The only country thats going to welcome him is Poland. Good luck with the rest, they all admire President Obama for taking on the task of putting the U.S. back on track after the Republican Party destroyed it. Have a Great trip Mitt Romney because it will be your last one trying to get to the W/H.

    July 21, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  19. Zechariah14

    Hey governor mitt Romney the very Jewish
    Messianic yesus is not comeing back to salt
    Lake city Utah LOL when he comes back
    he is going too deal with the false man made
    religion gentiles of Mormonism

    July 21, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  20. Kimo

    Mittens and his dancing horse. Gotta love it but I have to laugh at Mitt calling anyone naive about foreign policy. This is the man who recently pronounced Russia as our greatest adversary.

    July 21, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  21. Marcus

    “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.

    Only the English people? What about the rest of the BRITISH people? The Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish. What are they, chopped liver?

    July 21, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  22. Charlotte

    just because you've parked all your money offshore to evade taxes does not mean you know jack about foreign policy.

    July 21, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  23. CBR

    This trip announcement is very interesting. London, Poland and Israel. Nothing is ever done during a campaign for President just because you want people to know you care. What American audience is being considered here? Visiting the Olympics is legitimate but turning that experience into foreign policy experience cannot be done. We need to be more even-handed not less so. These trips do not exemplify that at all.

    July 21, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  24. Zechariah14

    Governor mitt Romney just know that you are
    wasting your time running for office
    how can you say president Obama caused
    the economy too fall when you want release
    your tax returns you are a double standard

    July 21, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    Enjoy the last three months, then Romney can begin to repair the damage this amateur has caused for the past three-plus years.n

    July 21, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
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