Did Romney start off on the wrong foot in London? (+video)
In U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney's first stop on his tour abroad, he faced challenges both from British Prime Minister David Cameron and from London's mayor. Romney now begins his trip in damage control mode.
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"My experience as the Olympic organizer is that there are always a few very small things that end up not going quite right," Romney added. "Those get ironed out, and then when the Games themselves begin, the athletes take over."Skip to next paragraph
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Did he say too much?
Romney has traded on his Olympic stint in a political career that has included serving as the governor of Massachusetts. He often cites his Salt Lake City experience as a key reason why he has the can-do spirit to rebuild the U.S. economy.
His comments about the London Games followed what already had been an inauspicious start to his week-long overseas trip, designed in part to establish his foreign policy credentials with voters back home.
Romney had to disavow comments by an unidentified adviser who told the Daily Telegraph that Obama, the United States' first African-American president, had mishandled U.S.-British ties and that Romney better understood the "Anglo-Saxon heritage" between the two countries.
On Thursday, Romney also took the unusual step of acknowledging that he had met with the head of MI6, Britain's secretive foreign intelligence agency, when asked about his discussions with British officials about Syria.
Such conversations are not normally discussed publicly by government leaders.
"I can only say that I appreciated the insights and the perspectives of the leaders of the government here and opposition here as well as the head of MI6 as we discussed Syria and hoped for a more peaceful future for that country," he said.
Romney also is using his visit to raise campaign cash from Americans living in Britain, and plans to pull in about $2 million to add to his huge campaign war chest.
The Republican was careful to avoid criticizing Obama while abroad, but in his fundraising speech he did pledge to restore to the White House a bust of Winston Churchill that Obama sent back to the British government when he took office in 2009.
"I'm looking forward to the bust of Winston Churchill being in the Oval Office again," Romney said.
Romney's discussions with British officials, including Cameron, Labour Party leader Ed Miliband of the opposition, and others were dominated by the Eurozone crisis and its impact on the British and U.S. economies, a senior Romney adviser said.
Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Tunisia, Egypt and Afghanistan all came up during the discussions, but Romney would not talk about specific policy proposals to avoid any appearance of critiquing Obama, the adviser said.
Romney, who polls indicate is in a tight race with Obama, is due to leave London on Saturday for Israel.
(Editing by Jon Boyle, David Lindsey and Mohammad Zargham)