In Poland, Romney gains support of iconic Solidarity leader
July 30th, 2012
12:30 PM ET
11 years ago

In Poland, Romney gains support of iconic Solidarity leader

(CNN) – Lech Walesa, the shipyard worker who went on to inspire the Solidarity trade union and the eventual fall of the Iron Curtain, said in Poland Monday he wanted U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to be successful in November's general election.

"I wish you to be successful because this success is needed to the United States, of course, but to Europe and the rest of the world, too. Gov. Romney, get your success – be successful!" Walesa said, according to a translation of his remarks provided to a small group of journalists allowed into the meeting between Romney and the Polish leader.

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Romney's stop in Poland came after an invitation from Walesa, who in 1989 helped form the first noncommunist government in the Soviet bloc. Walesa later was elected president.

Romney and Walesa met in Gdansk, where the Solidarity movement began. The presumptive GOP nominee also toured historic sights in the city, including the World War II Westerplatte memorial, and met with Poland's current Prime Minister, Donald Tusk.

In the brief meeting viewed by journalists between Romney and Walesa, the Polish leader criticized the current direction he saw America heading, and suggested new leadership was required to re-establish the United States' position in the world.

"I wish we could still be establishing something new and something better," Walesa said, according to the translator. "I'm very confident we can accomplish it."

He continued, "Poland and many other countries will certainly do their best to help the U.S. restore its leadership position."

Romney, he said, shared the viewed of "individuals who have struggled all our lives."

Walesa's warm embrace of Romney is not a surprise, given his apparent coolness toward President Barack Obama, Romney's rival in November's general election.

In May 2011 Walesa declined to meet with 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.

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Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Poland
soundoff (60 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    Yawn. Insult England, inflame Palestinian relations and get a pat on the back from a fellow cold-war-minded nincompoop in Poland. Sounds like Mittens is really doing a bang up job scratching off the items on his political career's bucket list. Pretty soon, th eonly thing left will be losing in November and then burying the corpse next to 12 or so years of never-released tax returns.

    July 30, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |

    He's not the prime minister of Poland any longer. He hangs out with the likes of Santorum. Hello?!? He's irrelevant. Next!

    July 30, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  3. kakaraka

    So Robmoney knowingly visiting people who hates the President of the United States namely Poland? It speaks volume of who Robmoney is: divisionist instead of uniter.

    July 30, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  4. katie mccarron

    I am stunned that Walesa supports Romney (death camp gaff or not). He who is from a trade union and has had a message of solidarity. Since Poland recognizes unions, the right to strike, regulation of banking and industry, and ecological public policy (Wikipedia), the match between Walesa and Romney seems a bit confusing. He may not like President Obama personally, but why would he support a man who would gut all those provisions from the American economy? Just because they are afraid of Russia, and Romney and his pals are looking for a a fight – actually several fights? He has always been one of my heroes – now not so much.
    And TM, the Cons do not have a anything resembling truth as part of your platform. Every step of the way, your side has lied about our President, unjustly and untruthfully characterized half the population of the country (even questioning our right to vote and citizenship. You have called us names, many of your representatives are ignorant of ecology and economic principles, are rude and insulting, and don't have a clue about women's bodies and health (although your male pals are obsessed with those topics), and you think Americans are too stupid to be able to vote on more issues than the economy. And you want to force your religious values on the general population. So, ya, the truth hurts. I wish you would look for information from more sources than Fox, Rush, Beck, and Bachmann. You might learn something.

    July 30, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  5. Larry L

    So Romney is campaigning in Poland? How do they think they'll fare when Romney starts a war with Russia – according to Romney "our #1 threat".

    July 30, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  6. Tony Z

    Seems he is upset with Obama. What is Poland's role in the world? That's right they want the US to protect them. Stand up.

    July 30, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  7. Marie MD

    That does it then. Some guy from Poland wishing the bully bishop good luck in November.
    What is he going to say? You shose csreer has been to run for president and have not bedn very successful would be the biggest mistake in the whole history of the US?
    At least he is diplomatic but the flip flopper wouldn't know what that means.
    Then again, Poland? Really??? 🙂

    July 30, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  8. Solidarnosc and 12 Million Workers Disagree with Walesa

    Solidarnosc, the labor movement with which Walesa was affiliated, happens to disagree with Walessa. They have put out the following statement:

    "In relation to Lech Walesa’s meeting with Mitt Romney, a candidate for President of the USA, I wish to ìnforrn that NSZZ 'Soìidarnosc' is in no way involved in the organization of this meeting nor had the initiative to invite Mitt Romney to Poland. Regretfully, we have learned from our friends in the American trade union central AFL-CIO representing over 12 million workers about Mitt Romney’s support for the attacks against trade unions and labor rights. ln this respect, I wish to express, on behalf of the President of NSZZ 'Solidarnosc' Piotr Duda, our solidarity with American workers and trade unions. NSZZ 'Solidarnosc' will always support the AFL-CIO in their struggle for the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively."

    So that's one small step for Romney, and one giant leap for Obama.

    July 30, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC


    Yeah... the Polish support him. That's a ringing
    Did you know that Chicago and the surrounding suburbs is probably the area of the country that is the most densely populated with people of Polish descent? A lot of eastern Europeans settled around the Chicago area following World War II.

    July 30, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  10. danusha

    Oh how blindsighted is the current President of Poland. He has no idea what Rommney believes, nor does
    he understand what an enept man he is. What is wrong with people, President Obama is the only man
    we should keep in office who has the honesty and brains to run the US. It upset me to read where
    LeaWalesa persived as Rommeny is who the US needs. No way! Open your eyes to the truth.

    July 30, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  11. CanadaONE

    Romney causing hatred EVERY WHERE he goes

    Romney Praising Israel has apparently caused uproar in the Palestine – reported by Canadian news sources – Palestine asking for the US to be sanctioned by the UN – we will see what China and Russia say

    July 30, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  12. Wake up people

    The fact that Mr. Walesa REFUSED to speak to the President of the United States but stands behind this vulture and wants him to succeed speaks VOLUMES to me. I guess Americans aren't the only bigots in the world.

    OBAMA 2012!

    July 30, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  13. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Everybody is doing the "Duh?!?" on this one.
    Hard to imagine a pro-union guy supporting Mitt the Twit.
    I think Lech Walesa must've fallen on the docks and bumped his head to come up with this unholy allegiance.

    July 30, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  14. Logic n LA

    What more could Mitt ask for? An old white guy endorsing him! Of course the guy also fought for unions and the rights of the individual and was anti big business. Your typical Romney supporter

    July 30, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  15. Bill from GA

    Poland probable is not looking for outsourced business from the USA.
    They want greater military presence. For the money it brings. Easy money! You don't have to compete for it; just cry. About some threat.

    Walesa is PO'd because W's lies about needing missile defense in Poland, against a threat from Iran, made no sense and Obama said so.

    And also, why are American taxpayers supposed to spend our funds for defending Eurpoe against a potential threat??
    I guess it is so Europeans can afford to subsidize healthcare for THEIR people!!

    We must be dumber than a ,well, whatever!

    July 30, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  16. Fair is Fair

    "To the average citizen, there is no difference between a society where government runs all of the businesses and a society where businesses run all of the government. No difference. None."
    The only society where government runs all of the businesses is totalitarian communism. To the best of my knowledge, there has never been a society where businesses run all of the government. So how do you make them equal in comparison?? God, Rudy, it's not even Friday yet...

    July 30, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  17. Person of Interest

    Why does this matter? The GOP were up in arms last election about Foreign leaders wanting Obama to be POTUS. Now they want it. Gotta love politics.

    July 30, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  18. normajean @ verizon ,com

    I am struck dumb by the fact thar Mitt Romney, a private citizen, with no legal standing can go to foreign countries acting as a diplomat and speak for the United States!...Is this legal??? Is he nuts?/....They still call him Govenor, but that was long ago and he was lousy at that. When is this Romney nightmare going to end?........If he became presiident we would never know what he was going to do next. The man is a potential danger if he takes it upon himself to hands out his questionable views to other parts of the world!!! This whole thing stinks!!!!!

    July 30, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    "Solidarnosc and 12 Million Workers Disagree with Walesa"

    Indeed. One would think that people who got upset with Obama's verbal mistake in terms of how he phrased his reference to Nazi death camps would be a little more sensitive to the fact that one of the very first thing's Hitler did to weaken the possibility and organization of any opposition to his regime was destroy the labor unions.

    "We must close union offices, confiscate their money and put their leaders in prison. We must reduce workers salaries and take away their right to strike" – Adolf Hitler, May 2, 1933.

    To understand just how deep the parallels the redistribution of income and wealth in America to what happened then:

    "Although millions more had jobs, the share of all German workers in the national income fell from 56.9 per cent in the depression year of 1932 to 53.6 per cent in the boom year of 1938. At the same time income from capital and business rose from 17.4 per cent of the national income to 26.6 per cent. It is true that because of much greater employment the total income from wages and salaries grew from twenty-five billion marks to forty-two billions, an increase of 66 per cent. But income from capital and business rose much more steeply – by 146 per cent. All the propagandists in the Third Reich from Hitler on down were accustomed to rant in their public speeches against the bourgeois and the capitalist and proclaim their solidarity with the worker. But a sober study of the official statistics, which perhaps few Germans bothered to make, revealed that the much maligned capitalists, not the workers, benefited most from Nazi policies" – William Shirer

    July 30, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  20. Pete in Guilford

    Nice photo Lech. Though you didn't like photo ops.

    July 30, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  21. Joan

    This Polish former politician has no clout on the world stage. Why would his endorsement mean anything? The fact that Romney made three stupid gaffes in London which have been immortalized by the British tabloids, made divisive remarks in Israel about Jerusalem and moving the embassy and then angered Palestine with what they felt were racist remarks shows he is not ready to be a world statesman. He may have single handedly put off several countries already on this trip. Michelle Obama got more favourable press overseas with her visits to the American athletes and the Queen and her hugs with the basketball team. She was also going to visit wounded soldiers. Romney needs to take some PR tips from her.

    July 30, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  22. don

    Now Mitt wants to be the union loving socialist too????

    July 30, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  23. 99 Days until Obama is THROWN OUT

    Walesa was speaking for himself and never stated he was represneting anybody else or group. As an individual he is supporting Romney as the person that is he thinks is the best for the future of the USA. Unions will of course always support other unions, the country's best interests be damned. With unions, it is always about how much they can take from others.

    July 30, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  24. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    There will never be peace between Isreal and the Palestines, Romney if President has ruined any possibility and the only thing that's left is war, without his sons.

    July 30, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  25. Solidarnosc and 12 Million Workers Disagree with Walesa

    danusha: Oh how blindsighted is the current President of Poland.

    Walesa lost his bid for reelction as Poland's president 17 years ago. He's not the president of Poland. He tried to regain the office in 2000 and received a little more than 1% of the votes of the Polish people. Maybe that is what he and Romney have in common, the 1% thing.

    July 30, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
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