July 31st, 2012
09:47 PM ET
10 years ago

Differing views on political aspect of Romney overseas trip

(CNN) - Former Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark and Richard Grenell, a former foreign policy spokesman for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, sparred Tuesday on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront" over the role of politics in Romney's recent three-country tour.

"The trip really was for political purposes, not for foreign-policy purposes," said Clark, who also makes appearances as a surrogate for President Barack Obama's campaign. He added, "There must be some horserace reason why he is leaving the country."

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Grenell said the trip's political dimension was not the Romney campaign's doing.

"He (Clark) used the word ‘political,’ and I think he's exactly right," Grenell fired back. “This is what happens when political reporters go overseas to cover a foreign trip.”

"These guys (reporters) were bored from the beginning. If you look at the Twitter feed, one reporter absolutely tweeted, ‘Why are we here?’ She had no idea," Grenell continued, apparently referring to a post by a newspaper reporter.

The reporter, Maeve Reston of the Los Angeles Times, wrote on Saturday morning, "The length to which Romney has gone to try to avoid making news on this trip is beyond mind-bending. Why are we here again?"

The news that did emerge included apparent missteps by Romney when talking about London's Olympic preparedness and a comparison between Israel and Palestine, when he said that Israel's culture "makes all the difference" and noted economic disparity between Israelis and Palestinians.

Grenell criticized reporters who covered Romney's trip, and said "of course" he would have liked better headlines.

"When you take a State Department reporter or a U.N.-based reporter on a trip, you get substance," he said. "You actually get issues like the former Polish president endorsing Mitt Romney, who understands what Barack Obama is doing in Syria by not helping the opposition. You get substance."

Grenell said another newspaper reporter, who was among several who shouted questions at Romney at the candidate's last stop, should be "embarrassed."

Romney gave no interviews to major newspapers, but did sit for several television interviews - including two with CNN - and answered three questions at a press availability in London. The questions were called out to Romney in a public plaza near Poland's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and a Romney press aide cursed at the reporters, though the aide later apologized.

Clark said politics were at play in this trip in a different way.

"So there are a lot of discussions about taxes and did he pay the right taxes and so forth, and why he won't release his returns and there was a Bain campaign, so probably... somebody said, 'Hey, you know. You need - credentialize yourself, go out there, see some allies, have a great trip," he surmised of Romney’s strategy and his campaign staff.

"That's not true," Grenell interjected as Clark made that point.

"Go out there, look presidential, don't say anything too controversial, come back and it will all have blown over," Clark added. "When you don't follow politics that closely, you might not see it. but when you followed it, you say, there's the strategy."

Filed under: Mitt Romney
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. REDO Republican Primary

    Well, it didn't work. Come home and show those taxes Mittens.

    July 31, 2012 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  2. gildenstern

    To save America don' t bother with Obama or Romney, who are one and the same, go beyond the expected and write in a vote for Dennis Kucinich.

    July 31, 2012 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  3. Romney and Adel$on

    Romney stated it was a political trip but his Republican Buddies went along such as Adelson the Billionare Casino owner who stated : "that he wishes he had served in the Israeli army instead of the US military and that he wants his son to grow up to “be a sniper for the IDF.” (1/27/12). Nice group to travel with!

    July 31, 2012 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  4. Larry L

    Romney wanted America to forget about his tax returns. Where are they? What are you hiding?

    July 31, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  5. charles

    I think the news media should ignore him altogether. Faux News will be the only one covering him. The fact is that he is going down in ever decreasing circles under the weight of his own mistakes and reversals.

    July 31, 2012 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  6. bcrunner

    Anyone who thinks Romney's trip was a success, are kidding themselves. This was a disaster!!

    August 1, 2012 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  7. Jeff

    Go Romney!!! We have had enough of Obama. You had four years dude......sorry....your gone in November.

    August 1, 2012 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  8. Mario

    If Romney wins get ready for a WAR. This will be his pay back to the Millionaires that continue to give him money. Bush and Chaney made there donors super rich with the Iraq War and thousand of our men and women lost their live's

    August 1, 2012 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  9. J.V.Hodgson

    This particular interview crystallises for me why I will not vote Republican this time or in future if this is the way the Republican side conducts itself... meaning:-
    When Clark was commenting in respose to our Republican colleague he could not let Clark finish anything he was saying and was constantly trying to overtalk say wrong, not true, and Clark never interrupted him once. Not saying some Dems do not do the same/interrupt... ( just less, so) but Republicans as soon as thier my way or the highway is criticised they are 100% all of them off interrupting all(100%) of the time.... = no debate listen to me.
    Me. I am not doing that any more.

    August 1, 2012 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  10. Wyobob

    It was just another fund raising trip, and to see where all his money is.

    August 1, 2012 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  11. Independent from NH

    Clark is right on the money.

    August 1, 2012 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  12. JulieFromTimbuktu

    When Leck Wellensa (msp) was told later on that Mitt Romney was against unions well that changed this story. One can imagine. Mr Leck IS union!

    In the fsecond place, mr L w did Not endorse Mr Romnet. that was in his own words.

    August 1, 2012 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  13. hwy9

    "Grenell criticized reporters who covered Romney's trip, and said "of course" he would have liked better headlines."

    There's the Romney strategy – when the news is bad, shoot the messenger.

    August 1, 2012 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  14. Roy

    Romney's for President of Lies, Distortion and Hate. The President of no details, just hate Obama...No spine, just hate Obama. This man is a worthless robot of the Tea Party...When is he ever going to tell the truth about anything, His taxes, His business, when was governor , his faith and his detailed vision for America. Instead he lies and distort others, like he did in the primary. I deal with many republicans who say he has no spine and that he is worse than John Kerry (And they cannot stand or trust him) . MITT STOP LYING TO AMERICA. GIVE AMERICA YOU DETAILED PLAN IF YOU HAVE ONE TO STICK TO.

    August 1, 2012 05:59 am at 5:59 am |
  15. Marry

    The whole world has seen the GOP “pretender” for President. And they are not amused! They are worried about a new GWB – only this time on steroids!
    But, that is no reason for the real “Right” to reflect on this “trip” – what do they care about the facts of their "work" in the past, the present or the future???

    August 1, 2012 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
  16. GI Joe

    He's a sock puppet. he says whatever folks tell him to say. Like Norquist said "he will sign anything I put forward to him".

    Is that really what you folks want? A country dominated (even more) by the likes of Norquist? Would you VOTE for norquist? I wouldn't.

    August 1, 2012 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  17. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I don't know how this improved (or proved) his foreign policy experience credentials. He made more flubs/ gaffes on the trip than usual.

    August 1, 2012 07:02 am at 7:02 am |