Romney's foreign trip ends on a high note in Poland
At a library at the University of Warsaw in Poland, U.S. Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney spoke of 'freedom and justice.' Romney's stop in Poland was likely a way of appealing to Polish and Catholic voters. He returned to Boston Tuesday.
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Romney made 10 stops in Gdansk and Warsaw over two days. He met with leaders including Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski and Nobel Prize winner Lech Walesa, who co-founded the Solidarity movement and who snubbed Obama during his 2011 visit to Poland. Romney also visited historic sites such as the Memorial of the Warsaw Uprising and Pilsudskiego Square.Skip to next paragraph
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Political experts and some GOP operatives said that while Obama does not have many foreign policy weaknesses, the Poland visit allowed Romney to highlight key differences with him on missile defense and the United States’ relationship with Russia.
Relations between the United States and Poland have cooled, notably in 2009 when Obama scrapped a George W. Bush-era plan to build a missile-defense system in Poland and replaced it with a different plan to be completed by 2020. Romney has assailed the move as trying to appease the Russians, though he has committed to the same timeline as long as certain conditions don’t change.
“Poland (is) a symbolic location because that was kind of the epicenter of the controversy. Republicans are arguing Obama sold the Poles out by backing down,” said Ken Mayer, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Nothing happens by accident. You don’t go someplace because you think it would be kind of cool to go there.”
Romney’s visit also allows him to court American voters of Polish descent and Catholics who live in swing states. In Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio alone there are more than 220,000 voters of Polish descent, a group that could make a difference in a tight election.
“Certainly a speech in Poland would help,” said David Cohen, a political science professor at the University of Akron. “As generations go on it becomes less and less but there still is very much an ethnic pride and ethnic connection in a lot of these older industrial cities.”
Even before Romney landed in Boston Tuesday evening, his campaign had put out press releases announcing the leaders of “Polish Americans for Romney” and “Catholics for Romney” coalitions.
(Reston reported from Warsaw, Mehta from Los Angeles.)