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Is Mitt Romney's Europe-bashing well placed?

Mitt Romney called the Obama White House a reflection of the 'worst of what Europe has become' in his victory speech last night. But the austerity favored by the GOP is much in vogue in Europe.

By Staff writer / January 11, 2012

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney waves to supporters at a New Hampshire primary night rally at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday. Behind Romney are his sons Tagg and Craig and his wife Ann. Romney called the Obama White House a reflection of the 'worst of what Europe has become' in his victory speech last night.

Elise Amendola/AP

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To hear Mitt Romney’s victory speech in New Hampshire one might think he is running as much against Europe – or some American perception of it – as against President Obama.

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In three withering references at the end of a fiery 10-minute speech last night, the GOP front-runner depicted “Europe” as weak, socialist, an object of pity and, compared with the shining American model, lacking inspiration.

“I want you to remember when our White House reflected the best of who we are, not the worst of what Europe has become,” the potential next president said of his possible chief world ally.

President Obama, said Romney, “takes his inspiration from the capitals of Europe; we look to the cities and towns across America for our inspiration.” Mr. Obama wants to “turn America into a European-style social welfare state. We want to ensure that we remain a free and prosperous land of opportunity.”

Poor Europe! Whatever happened to China-bashing?

To be sure, Romney’s speech in Manchester seemed aimed as much at the conservative voters of South Carolina, site of the next US primary, as to voters in New Hampshire, who gave him a clear victory. A third straight win might be a knockout blow for Romney and turn the current vitriolic GOP in-fighting into a search for Romney’s vice-presidential nominee.

So “Europe,” not New York City, may become a cultural punching bag in the southern strategy of the former governor of Massachusetts. Never mind that Romney spent two years as a Mormon missionary in France, speaks fluent French, and played the cosmopolitan host at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake. He won’t need to reveal his inner Bubba on the sweet potato circuit, or explain why his Massachusetts health care reforms took on a European character, if he runs against stereotypes of the old world in old Dixie.

Here in cheese-eating Europe, among the slouching Marxist masses that throng idle cafes and welfare centers, the US presidential election has barely made a dent. Kidding aside, it is mostly European editorial writers who have followed the US race. Romney may be politically safe in bashing Europe since the continent historically favors Democrats. John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are loved. Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and the recent George Bush, not as much. America may have forgotten Iraq; Europe hasn't.

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