Team Obama: Romney trip an 'embarrassing disaster'
July 31st, 2012
03:01 PM ET
9 years ago

Team Obama: Romney trip an 'embarrassing disaster'

(CNN) - A few hours after Mitt Romney departed Poland to return to the United States, President Barack Obama's re-election campaign piled on to its criticism of the presumptive GOP nominee's foreign trip, calling it an "embarrassing disaster."

"As he left, he set the lowest expectations imaginable for a foreign trip," said Robert Gibbs, senior Obama campaign adviser. "He certainly didn't prove to anyone that he passed the commander-in-chief test."

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In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Gibbs railed Romney over what the Obama campaign described as a gaffe-filled trip, which began Wednesday in the United Kingdom, continued this weekend in Israel and concluded Tuesday in Poland.

Romney took heat for making comments that some groups found offensive. In London, the former Massachusetts governor seemed to question the preparedness of the country for the 2012 Olympic Games, sparking a wave of negative headlines about the candidate in the British press.

"You know it's hard to know just how well it will turn out," he said in an interview with NBC News, explaining that issues with a private security contractor and labor issues were "disconcerting."

Days later, a prominent Palestinian leader labeled Romney's remarks at a Jerusalem fund-raiser "racist." Romney had made a comparison between the per capita GDPs of Israel and Palestinian-controlled areas, pointing to culture as an important factor in economic success.

Citing the book "The Wealth and Poverty of Nations," Romney detailed his interpretation of author David Landes' thesis.

"He says if you can learn anything from the economic history of the world, it's this: culture makes all the difference. Culture makes all the difference. And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things," Romney said.

Palestinian negotiator Sa'eb Erekat said Romney's "racist statements about the Israeli culture being superior to the Palestinian culture reflect someone who needs to be educated, who needs knowledge."

Romney on Tuesday staunchly argued he was not insulting Palestinian culture.

"I'm not speaking about, did not speak about, the Palestinian culture, or the decisions made in their economy," Romney clarified in an interview with Fox News. "That's an interesting topic that deserves scholarly analysis, but I actually didn't address that. I certainly don't plan to address that during my campaign. Instead, I will point out, the choices a society makes have a profound impact on the economy and the vitality of that society."

Team Obama, however, said Romney's dust-ups with the press and various groups overseas suggested the candidate was not ready for the "world stage."

They highlighted then-Sen. Barack Obama's foreign trip as a presidential candidate in the summer of 2008. While Romney was criticized for not taking questions from the traveling press on Monday, Gibbs was quick to point out that Obama held four press conferences and participated in seven network interviews.

To be fair, Romney held at least as many network interviews during his weeklong trip, meeting with CNN, NBC, CBS, FOX and ABC, and granting more than one interview to several of those networks.

Gibbs on the call, however, argued Romney failed to clearly assert his foreign policy positions during the tour, limiting many of his visits to brief photo opportunities with foreign leaders.

"It is clear that the opportunity to credential his beliefs with American voters was nothing short for Mitt Romney of an embarrassing disaster on this trip," Gibbs said.

However, Romney made headlines in Israel when his campaign asserted the candidate would "respect" a decision by Israel to attack Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program. He also talked tough on defending Israel against Iran, making foreign policy points that closely mirror those of the Obama administration.

Responding to the conference call, Romney's campaign defended the candidate and turned the spotlight on Obama, saying the president has "weakened" foreign relationships.

"Mitt Romney will be a president who unapologetically stands up for America and the enduring values of freedom," said Romney spokesman Ryan Williams. "President Obama has weakened America's position in the world and frayed relationships with our closest allies – all while earning effusive praise from the likes of Hugo Chavez. Governor Romney has laid out a foreign policy that will strengthen our interests, ensure our security, and let our friends know they have a partner in the White House."

Not only did Obama's campaign take time to criticize the trip, commentary also came from the White House on Tuesday. After first declining to answer questions about Romney's foreign trip, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney still couldn't help but wade into his own musings on the purpose of a president's overseas tour.

"What I can tell you, having been both a reporter covering foreign trips by candidates as well as incumbent presidents, and now as a staffer, I understand that these are high stakes enterprises – that pulling them off is a lot harder than it looks, that they can be very tense, especially if they are not going well," Carney said in the White House daily press briefing.

Carney avoided making direct comments about Romney's trips, saying he would leave it to Obama's re-election campaign to make a "broad assessment." But Carney continued, emphasizing the weight that these trips carry.

"I think one thing news reports remind us of is that when American presidents, American senators and congressmen and would-be leaders–what they say is placed under a magnifying glass. It carries great impact," he said.

- CNN's Kevin Liptak and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Israel • Mitt Romney • Poland • President Obama • Robert Gibbs
soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. fred47ify

    At least Romney never gave the Queen an I-Pod with all his speeches on it ! I'm suprised Barrack never gave her an album full of his baby pictures ! Seeing as how he's such a class act !

    July 31, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  2. ABCD

    Folks, we have to give a credit to the people in Massachusetts. They know Mitt more than we do. They rejected him twice. First on his bid for senator and on his second term as governor. Why should we elect him for the highest position on earth?

    July 31, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  3. Kris Craig

    @Jon Really. Is that what President Obama was doing when he sent the Navy Seals into Pakistan– without their permission– to shoot Osama Bin Laden in the face and dump his body into the ocean?

    July 31, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  4. ART

    namo is english your first language? Well anyway it really doesn't matter, what you wrote makes no sense in any language. This Trip was a total disaster, Romney looked like a bumbling idiot, he looked like he is uncomfortable in his own skin,he is the American Borat

    July 31, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  5. bugmetoo

    What a laugh! Obama has always and still is an embarrassment to this Country about what he says
    and does overseas. He has no right to make fun of Mitt.

    July 31, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  6. DC Observer

    American Voters of all sides to Obama Camp: " Obama Presidency an Embarrassing Disaster"

    July 31, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  7. Governor 47th In Job Creation (Excluding Off-shored to China and India)

    It's funny reading the GOTPers comments on here. You know they're admitting defeat whenever their comments start off with "at least..." that's an immediate signal that they have recognized Mitt the Twit's failed field trip for what it was - a disaster.
    Baghdad Bob would be proud of some of the RMoney defenders on here. Carry on please, it's entertaining.

    July 31, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  8. DC Observer

    Art is english your first language? Well anyway it really doesn't matter, what you wrote makes no sense in any language. The Obama Presidency has been a total disaster, Obama has looked like a bumbling idiot, he looked like he is uncomfortable in his own skin,he is the American Borat

    July 31, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  9. Myviewis


    Folks, we have to give a credit to the people in Massachusetts. They know Mitt more than we do. They rejected him twice. First on his bid for senator and on his second term as governor. Why should we elect him for the highest position on earth?

    Governor Romney did not run for governor for a second term. We should elect him because he is qualified scholastically and experience. By the way, Romney also graduated from Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School, I hear a lot of people think only President Obama graduated from Harvard Law School.

    July 31, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  10. Paul

    Okay republicans, let's say it all together "its the media fault" or " its Obama's fault" or Mitt is just plan "stupid".

    July 31, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  11. randall_r16

    mittens should have visited the cayman islands, bermuda, and switzerland instead. he would have had received a warmer reception there.

    July 31, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  12. Mitt the Twitt- as dumb as Palin.

    Now we know why McCain passed up Mitt for Sarah. At least she had looks.

    July 31, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  13. Mr. Beepo

    An embarrassing disaster? Sort of like the Obama presidency only not as bad.

    July 31, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  14. Pander Bear

    Anyone who thought that Romney's trip was a success probably believes there were WMD's in Iraq and that GWB "kept us safe".

    July 31, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  15. g

    love it–AMERICAN BORAT

    July 31, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    "Iran wants a war is setting up for one. Romney will finish it fast and not show Iran a weak president like Obama"

    If Iran was really deciding to go to war and decided to start one...setting aside that this is just another delusional GOP/Teatroll demagoguery daydream...then there would be no quick finishing. Iran could likley last decades and we'd have no viable means of waging a ground war in their country. Short of dropping nukes all over them and killing millions of civilians, it would not be "fast" and would be a disaster that would end all hope for several generations around the world.

    July 31, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    D. Harper

    As an independent I find this criticizm from the Dems ironic. If one was to publish the countless misreprentations and "miss-speaks" that have come from the mouth of Obama one could fill pages in a newspaper.
    One problem with that statement. The critcizm isn't coming from Democrats. It's coming form overseas, in the countries where Romney visited. Democrats are only guilty of sitting back and watching the show, and elbowing one another in the ribs.

    Cameron's put down of Romney is somehow the fault of Democrats?
    The mayor of London's mocking of some bloke named Romney is somehow the fault of Democrats?
    Mitt Romney's spilling of the beans about MI6 is somehow the fault of the Democrats?
    No sooner had Romney left Israeli airspace that they make statements affirming their relationship with Obama?
    Whose idea was it for anti-union Romney to stand in solidarity with Walesa and hypocritically call unions symbols of freedom?
    When the press aide asked for respect and then moments later cursed to reporters, that was somehow Democrats fault?
    Are you going to blame Democrats when the dancing horse revives Mitt's gaffes in the London papers?

    Well, blame on. It shows just how far out there the right wing has gone. Me, I'm going with the folks who have both feet firmly planted on the ground, not the ones flying over the cuckoo's nest.

    July 31, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  18. SugarKube

    I don't remember Romney apologizing for "Imperialist" America and bowing deeply to Muslim leaders.

    July 31, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  19. vic , nashville ,tn

    @ Myviewis
    Your views similar to FOX news only think I can say

    Obama receive warmest well come where ever he goes from the people not a shoe

    July 31, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  20. SugarKube

    Romney did not Apologize for America. What a refreshing change of pace.

    Change and Hope in November.

    July 31, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  21. Pander Bear

    The only thing more ridiculous than Romney's botched trip is people like tkyl and myview trying to deflect from the fact that Romney is an absolute tool He's worse than Palin. Seriously.

    July 31, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  22. Karina

    Most of these comments here are nothing more than infantile drivel and shows how small minded and petty you are .
    A lot of people in England agreed with Romney , as he said what the newspapers had been addressing for the last few weeks.
    It is the American leftist media that wants to make more of it than there really is , and Obama followers are lapping it up.
    The few times one sees Obama is when he is out campaigning , fund raising or playing golf and that I find more offensive than a few words that are being misinterpreted.
    Keep money , religion and race out of politics and concentrate on what really matters .

    July 31, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  23. Keeping it Real

    It would appear that anything Romney says would be "offensive" to the Obama campaign.

    July 31, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  24. Patty

    So we should trust the people of Massachusetts? Every time I meet someone from there, I instantly think "stupid". Occassionally, I am wrong. How else can you explain voting for people like the Kennedys, kerry, and Elizabeth Warren. Obama and his entire administration is a disgrace whether they are in this country or another country. The media ranks right up there with him. Very few Americans trust any of you. ,

    July 31, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  25. woody

    Team Obummer has been an embarrassment for the last 3.5 years. LOL

    July 31, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
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