Although Mitt Romney served as the American organizer for the Olympics once before, his comments as a presidential candidate raised the ire of British Prime Minister David Cameron who sharply responded to an NBC NIGHTLY NEWS interview with Romney where Romney seemed to suggest that perhaps England wasn’t fully prepared for Olympic security or other duties, although at least 20,000 British soldiers are joining massive police forces to provide Olympic security.
Further, Romney only complicated the controversy by arranging a meeting with his Labour Party leader rival, Ed Milliband, making the dust-up incident look like a badly botched up foreign policy handling preview.
Romney’s tour of Europe was partially to prove some skills at handling foreign affairs, however Romney only managed to quickly bungle this opportunity in the views of many political observers. This foreign tour was supposed to highlight Romney in a positive light for several days before he returns to the United States to announce his Vice Presidential selection.
While Romney enjoys higher public approval for his ability to handle economic affairs than the president, President Obama draws higher marks on foreign policy handling than Romney. Romney’s handlers had hoped the European trip would give him more parity with the president as suitable to handle foreign affairs.
London Mayor Boris Johnson, also a member of the Conservative Party was quick to mock Romney’s mishandling of foreign relations as well, making the trip look like a quick disaster for candidate Romney. Normally, you would expect the Conservative Party to attempt to find some “soulmate” depth with the American conservative politician, but instead things have gone very badly so far. In recent days, even John McCain suggested that Sarah Palin was far more qualified than Romney to be his vice presidential running mate in 2008, strongly suggesting that Romney is a weaker challenger than many had hoped, although he tends to match up well against the president in public polling, mainly because of strong dissatisfaction of the economic handling of the president. These factors all seem to suggest that Romney would not be polling near as well if the president was posting far better numbers on economic handling, and that Romney may likely be a far less qualified candidate than John McCain was in 2008. Romney might find himself playing the role of John Kerry in 2012, where a bad campaign might just be enough to narrowly re-elect a president who many view as a failure, but see as narrowly the better of the two candidates. That’s sure not saying much for either President Obama or Mitt Romney here. But, it might be the unvarnished truth.
None of this suggests that Romney could not be elected president. The economy is a big enough issue that President Obama’s weakness in that area could certainly alone defeat him more than anything Romney might do himself. But, so far Romney has done himself no favors by his awkward trip to Europe, giving many in the UK a reason not to like Romney.