Mitt Romney's overseas trip: where he's going and why
Mitt Romney, the man who rescued the Winter Olympics of 2002, is making London the first stop on his tour abroad. From Britain he'll travel to Israel and Poland, with an eye both on policy differences and domestic constituencies.
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By attending the opening ceremonies of the Summer Games Friday and holding a number of high-profile interviews as he does, Mr. Romney hopes to remind voters back home that he rescued the troubled Salt Lake City Winter Games in 2002 – and is thus the very fix-it man that America needs.
The overarching goal of Romney’s trip is to demonstrate his statesmanlike qualities and that he’s up to assuming the mantle of America’s leadership role in the world. Romney also wanted to suggest the values his foreign policy would embody, aides say, through the countries he chose to visit on this trip: Britain, Israel, and Poland.
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All three countries are “pillars of liberty,” campaign policy director Lanhee Chen told reporters before Romney’s departure. That makes the trip “an opportunity for us to demonstrate a clear and resolute stand with nations that share our values and possess the fortitude to defend those values,” he said.
But just as the stop in London, where Romney landed Wednesday, is about reaching US voters with a particular message, so is each of the presumptive Republican nominee’s subsequent stops.
After London, Romney flies to Israel. The goal there? Firm up the former Massachusetts governor’s support among Evangelicals – and perhaps peel off some of the Jewish vote that went for President Obama in 2008 – by highlighting Romney’s support for Israel and hinting at what he considers has been Mr. Obama’s “shabby treatment” of the Jewish state.
From Israel, Romney will travel to Poland. While the subtext of the stop in Eastern Europe will be to underscore Romney’s support for new democracies – and his rejection of Obama’s “reset” policy of cooperation with Russia – the real objective is to appeal to Roman Catholic voters back home, in particular the ethnic Catholics who could tip the balance in states like Ohio or Michigan.
Nowhere on the trip is Romney expected to pan either Obama or his foreign policy. As the Republican hopeful said in his speech Tuesday to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, he would not be criticizing Obama while overseas. Not only does tradition hold that it is unseemly for a presidential candidate to criticize the commander in chief from foreign soil, but the Romney campaign knows that Obama remains popular in many parts of the world, even holding his own in recent polls in Israel, where he fared poorly early in his administration.