Just a day after he pledged to avoid direct criticisms of U.S. foreign policy on his tour of three foreign capitals, GOP presidential challenger Mitt Romney found himself embroiled in a controversy even before his plane landed in London.
President Obama’s campaign, led by Vice President Joseph R. Biden, seized on comments attributed to an unnamed Romney campaign adviser published in a British newspaper — comments immediately disavowed by senior Romney aides — that the Obama White House doesn’t appreciate America’s “Anglo-Saxon heritage” or the “special relationship between the United States and Britain.”
Said Mr. Biden in a statement, “Despite his promises that politics stops at the water’s edge, Governor Romney’s wheels hadn’t even touched down in London before his advisers were reportedly playing politics with international diplomacy, attempting to create daylight between the United States and the United Kingdom where none exists.”
Mr. Biden contended that the U.S. relationship with the British has never been stronger and that Mr. Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron have worked “hand-in-hand” on every national security challenge the two countries face “from Afghanistan to missile defense, from the fight against international terrorism to our success in isolating countries like Iran whose nuclear programs threaten peach and stability.”
“The comments reported this morning are a disturbing start to a trip designed to demonstrate Governor Romney’s readiness to represent the United States on the world’s stage,” Mr. Biden said. “Not surprisingly, this is just another feeble attempt by the Romney campaign to score political points at the expense of this critical partnership.”
But the Romney camp quickly disavowed the comments and accused the Obama campaign of giving an anonymous quote serious credence in an attempt to divert attention from the economy and the president’s own campaign woes.
“Today, the race for the highest office in our land was diminished to a sad level when the vice president of the United States used an anonymous and false quote from a foreign newspaper to prop up their flailing campaign,” a Romney spokesman said, pointing out that White House press secretary Jay Carney has often disputed the veracity of news reports based on anonymous sources.
The Daily Telegraph reported that a Romney adviser had said, “We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and [Mr. Romney] feels that the special relationship is special — the White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.”
Mr. Romney is scheduled to meet with Mr. Cameron Thursday along with leaders of the Labor Party opposition and former Prime Minister Tony Blair, before traveling onto Israel and Poland.
Mr. Romney delivered a stinging critique of President Obama’s foreign policy and national security record in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Reno, Nev., on Tuesday. He said in the speech that he was spelling out his areas of disagreement — in Iran, Israel, Russia and many other countries — there because he did not plan to discuss them while abroad.
“Since I wouldn’t venture into another country to question American foreign policy, I will tell you right here — before I leave — what I think of this administration’s shabby treatment of one of our finest friends,” he told the VFW gathering.