Mitt Romney says he will refrain from criticizing President Barack Obama while on foreign soil. That's in line with an old U.S. adage that "politics stops at the water's edge."
But that Cold War guideline now is honored mostly in the breach and observing it could be challenging for Romney.
Obama, too, insisted his 2008 overseas tour wasn't political, that he was traveling as "a citizen." But his trip was awash in politics with implied criticism of President George W. Bush's policies at nearly every stop.
The GOP candidate was in London Wednesday on a five-day trip including stops in Israel and Poland.
Romney has accused Obama of offending Israel and neglecting allies like Poland to accommodate Russia. He doesn't even have to criticize the president directly. His itinerary does it for him.
Sen. Arthur Vandenberg, R-Mich., became a symbol of national bipartisanship when he turned from isolationism to support President Harry S. Truman's major post-World War II foreign policy moves.
Vandenberg said the nation should be united "at the water's edge," words repeated many times since by American politicians — but seldom heeded nowadays.
When Bush traveled overseas in 2005, Democrats taunted him daily, accusing him of manipulating prewar intelligence on Iraq and starting a war he couldn't stop.
Outspoken Iraq war critic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went to Baghdad in January 2007, just days after Bush implored the nation to give his Iraq policy more time to work. Back home, Bush fumed, "I'm the decision maker."
So it remains to be seen if Romney mutes his criticism.
But he unleashed a barrage before leaving, accusing Obama of coddling China, being too timid on Iran, jeopardizing the military with budget cuts and overseeing an administration he said leaked classified documents for political gain.
Obama was campaigning Wednesday in New Orleans and addressing the National Urban League.
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With 104 days left until Election Day, here are insights into today's highlights in U.S. politics
- Politics & Government
- President Barack Obama
- Mitt Romney