Mitt Romney's foreign trip ends. Good thing for him these are the dog days.
Mitt Romney may be glad his less-than-perfect trip to London, Israel, and Poland has wrapped up – ending with his press secretary cursing at pushy reporters. But the good news for him is that few voters are paying attention.
(Page 2 of 2)
In Poland, Romney’s traveling press secretary, Rick Gorka, cursed at reporters for shouting questions at Romney during a visit to Poland’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Frustrations had come to a boil over the candidate’s limited availability to the press: He took only three questions the entire trip.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
But as unprofessional as Mr. Gorka’s reaction may have been – he later apologized to some of the reporters – taking on the political press rarely carries a downside with American voters.
As Romney flew back to the US Tuesday, Team Obama held a conference call to reinforce the negatives of the trip, calling it “an embarrassing disaster.”
But Romney defenders call it a largely positive venture. He got good coverage back in the US for his Israel trip – especially given his personal friendship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – and may have built some goodwill among Jewish voters, especially important in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, key swing states. The visit with former Polish President Lech Walesa, an icon of the Solidarity pro-democracy movement in the 1980s, seemed aimed at Polish-American voters in the crucial Midwest battleground.
Some Republicans have questioned the wisdom of taking the trip in the first place. After all, this election is about the economy, not foreign policy. With the summer Olympics under way, it’s possible Romney thought he could fly under the radar, at least somewhat. But having decided to go, Team Romney needed to make sure the candidate was prepared, say GOP strategists.
“You can’t hope for the best, you have to prepare for the worst,” says Ford O’Connell, head of the conservative Civic Forum PAC. “I don’t know if they recognized the level of scrutiny they’d be under. We’re in a global economy, we’re in a global press.”
Some press coverage has suggested that Romney went abroad understaffed. In contrast with then-candidate Barack Obama’s largely successful foreign campaign trip in the summer of 2008, Romney brought along only a handful of senior staff. Then-Senator Obama brought along at least 14 top staffers and advisers, including former National Security Adviser Tony Lake and longtime diplomat Dennis Ross, according to the Washington Post.
Only three senior staffers accompanied Romney for his entire trip, two with foreign policy portfolios. A handful of other foreign policy advisers joined Romney for parts of the tour, the Post reports.