On paper, Mitt Romney’s first overseas trip as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee looked brilliantly plotted. But apparently, Romney failed to read the briefing paper on the somewhat testy mood among Londoners of late. As it turns out, Londoners have the same proprietary view toward the Olympic Games that many parents have about their children: We can scold them, but you had better not dare.
Romney finds himself on decidedly friendlier ground on Sunday and Monday, having had what Romney policy advisor Dan Senor called on Twitter "warm and substantive meetings" with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Leader of the Israeli Opposition Party Shaul Mofaz before a trip to one of Jerusalem's holiest sites, the Western Wall. There, he found himself swarmed by a crowd of Israelis hundreds strong and the Rabbi of the Western Wall, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz. According to BuzzFeed's Zeke Miller, the Rabbi also had warm words for the GOP nominee, telling his brother Scott: "We Wish you success. We want you to win."
Senor's briefing to reporters earlier today, during which he asserted Romney's support for Israeli unilateral action to prevent a nuclear Iran, can only cement the friendly feelings among Israelis towards the GOP candidate.
But those comments reveal the double-edged nature of his international tour: They've been scrutinized by U.S. press and will likely become a focal point of this week’s political discussion, with Democrats inferring that Romney’s hardline stance is a reckless one while Republicans trumpet his demonstrated strength abroad.
As he learned so suddenly in London, Romney will have to watch what he says abroad. He’s speaking to two audiences -- those overseas and at home -- and what he says during his trip won’t sound the same to each.
--James Kitfield and Alexandra Jaffe
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
Romney and Obama Strain to Show Gap on Foreign Policy
[New York Times, 7/28/12] Romney hasn't offered many specifics on foreign policy, but those which he has provided are close to Obama's, indicating that voters will likely judge the two on style, rather than substance, when it comes to their foreign policy prowess.
Romney Would Back Israeli Attack on Iran
[National Journal, 7/29/12] An advisor to Mitt Romney said on Sunday that Romney would respect Israel's right to take action to halt Iran's nuclear program, but later released a statement saying Romney hopes economic sanctions and diplomatic efforts will prevent the need for such measures.
Romney Hopes Polish Visit Can Pay Dividends in Swing States
[National Journal, 7/29/12] Mitt Romney's trip to Poland on Monday -- the last stop on his three-country, six-day foreign tour -- offers him a chance to bolster his image as a competent diplomat, something he could use after his gaffe-filled stint in London. But the real potential prize for visiting the Eastern European nation lies at home: more votes from the Polish-American and Catholic communities.
Romney Camp Hopes Israel Trip Secures Evangelical, Jewish Votes
[L.A. Times, 7/29/12] His visit to Israel is likely aimed towards wooing voters back home, not just at creating diplomatic ties with Israeli leaders. Though Jewish voters tend to lean Democratic, Romney sees an opening there, and evangelicals have historically been wary of the Mormon candidate, but he could shore up that support with his trip.
3 Takes on Mitt Romney's London Visit
[National Journal, 7/28/12] National Journal's Josh Kraushaar, Caren Bohan and Michael Hirsh all weigh in on Romney's gaffe-filled first stop on his international tour.
Romney’s Rude Awakening
[National Journal, 7/28/12] On paper, Mitt Romney’s first overseas trip as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee looked brilliantly plotted. But misstep after misstep indicates Romney didn't quite realize what he was getting himself into with his international tour.
Obama Gives It Another College Try
[Wall Street Journal, 7/28/12] Using social media and the internet, the Obama campaign is attempting to invigorate young voters to the same extent it did in 2008, despite the fact many younger voters aren't nearly as wowed by the candidate as they were the last time around.
Presidential Also-Rans Stiff Small Businesses
[Politico, 7/29/12] Many former GOP presidential contenders closed out their campaigns in deep debt (or, often, because they were in deep debt), and now have been unable to pay back some small business owners who helped them along the trail -- the same demographic their policies claimed to aid.
Obama, Romney Contrasts Clear on Insurance
[National Journal, 7/28/12] Health care is one place where a comparison between Obama and Romney’s health policies can be easily seen. And it fits right in with the narrative the Obama campaign has been weaving: Obama is for the everyman, and Romney is for the rich.