Romney's first foreign policy foray a disaster
I suppose I could spin it and say it really wasn't that bad, and that the British press exaggerates everything. Both points are valid. Romney didn't say anyting fatal, nor does anyone imagine the tabloid editors in England as anything but gutter merchants.
But face it: Romney stunk. And he made no friends over there despite the opportunity to shine in contrast to the president.
Thursday was supposed to be the easy day, when Mitt Romney would audition as a world leader here by talking about his shared values with the heads of the United States' friendliest ally.
Instead, the Republican presidential candidate insulted Britain as it welcomed the world for the Olympics by casting doubt on London's readiness for the Games, which open Friday, saying that the preparations he had seen were "disconcerting" and that it is "hard to know just how well it will turn out."
The comments drew a swift rebuke from Prime Minister David Cameron and, by day's end, a public tongue-lashing by the city's mayor as the Olympic torch arrived in Hyde Park.
"I hear there's a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we're ready," Mayor Boris Johnson cried out to a crowd of at least 60,000. "He wants to know whether we're ready. Are we ready? Are we ready? Yes, we are."
Cameron, responding to the candidate with a note of irritation, said that "of course it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere," an apparent reference to Salt Lake City. That city held the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, which Romney organized. The prime minister and the mayor are conservatives, making their scolding all the more embarrassing for the candidate, an otherwise sympathetic ideological ally.
As far as Romney's Olympic comments, was only echoing concerns in the British press about the games. But it's one thing for the British press to come down on Cameron and quite another for a foreigner to do it. And Romney is paying the price for his gaffe.
If that had been the only miscue, Romney may have escaped with just a brusing. But the candidate wasn't done:
1. He addressed Labor party leader Ed Milliband as "Mr. Leader" -- something the British press has mercilessly hammered him for.
2. The Romney campaign confirmed a meeting with the spy agency MI-6 -- a breach of protocol and something of an embarrassment for Cameron.
3. He got in trouble with the idiom of language when he said "looked out the backside" of 10 Downing Street. Another minor gaffe that was predictably overblown by the British press.
As you can see, taken individually, there isn't much of a story. Taken together -- and the hysterical reaction from rags like the Guardian, the Independent, and the Sun -- the best you can say is that Romney failed to make a good first impression.