News / USA

Romney Foreign Trip Likely No Big Deal for US Voters

With the headline
With the headline "Mitt the Twit", The Sun newspaper criticizes comments regarding the London Olympics made by Mitt Romney in London, July 27, 2012.
Just about everywhere he went on his week-long foreign trip, U.S. Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney seemed to make headlines.

In London, the British tabloids screamed "Mitt the Twit," harshly criticizing the former governor of the northeastern state of Massachusetts for criticizing British security preparations ahead of the Olympics.

In Israel, Romney offended Palestinians when he called Jerusalem Israel's capital; Palestinians want to make East Jerusalem the capital of their future state.

And in Poland, one of Romney's aides caused a bit of commotion when he told reporters to "shove it" as they shouted questions at the candidate while he visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  The aide later called the media to apologize.

  • U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his wife Ann Romney visit the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes in Warsaw, Poland, July 31, 2012.
  • U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his wife Ann wave to people on the street before his meeting with Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk at the Old Town Hall in Gdansk, Poland, July 30, 2012.
  • Romney meets with Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk in Gdansk, July 30, 2012.
  • Romney pauses next to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, July 29, 2012.
  • Romney greets the crowd after his visit to the Western Wall.
  • Romney meets with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, July 29, 2012.
  • Romney walks down Grosvenor Place to avoid a traffic jam and is recognized by bystanders. He was walking to meet Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny at the Embassy of Ireland in London, July 27, 2012.
  • With the headline "Mitt the Twit", The Sun newspaper criticizes comments regarding the London Olympics made by Mitt Romney in London.
  • Romney meets with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny at the Irish Embassy in London, July 27, 2012.
  • Mitt Romney and his wife Ann wave during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium London, July 27, 2012.

George Mason University Professor of Public Policy Jeremy Mayer says, in many ways for Romney, the trip could not have gone much worse.

"He looked unpresidential.  He looked unprepared.  He made unforced errors," said Mayer.

So, with less than 100 days until Americans go to the polls, what difference does all this make?  Mayer says very possibly, none at all. 

"I don't think his mistakes broke through to the consciousness [of the American public]," he said, arguing that, if anything, Romney wasted a week trying to capture the attention of the very small number of U.S. voters who pay close attention to foreign policy.

Recent polling data backs up Mayer's assertion that the trip had little impact on what American voters are thinking. Tracking polls done by the Gallup Organization show Romney ended July trailing President Barack Obama by a mere two percentage points, making the race a statistical tie.

James Carafano at the Washington, D.C.-based Heritage Foundation says the trip, in fact, did some good.

"The world is not going to be surprised to see what kind of foreign policy-national security president Romney is.  He'll be very different from Obama.  So, in that sense, I give the campaign an 'A'," he said.

Still, Carafano says the trip should give the Romney campaign reason for concern, especially given the troubles the Romney campaign had with public relations and messaging to the foreign audiences.

Others are more criticial. "He managed to make a number of mistakes that didn't play very well either at home or abroad, so I don't think he can be very pleased overall with how the week went," said Judd Legum with the Center for American Progress.

"Every day and every week is important, so it did interfere with what he wanted to accomplish on this trip, which was presenting him as a credible face for America abroad."

Justin Logan, director of Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, agrees with those who say Romney's gaffes during the trip will not impact the U.S. presidential race.  But he says it is clear that Romney needs better advice on the diplomatic front.

“I do think it is interesting, and somewhat surprising, that there were some of the unforced errors - for example, causing a stir in Britain by saying some things that, in fairness, were not untrue about Britain’s preparation for the Olympics," he said. "There just was no reason to bring that up.  Even though sometime things are true, the art of diplomacy is very much about sometimes not saying things.”

That may be one reason why many U.S. presidential candidates do not make overseas trips during the campaign - the most recent exception being President Obama, who drew large crowds while campaigning abroad in 2008.

Analysts are quick to point out that Romney's trip was designed to be much more low-key in its approach.  And George Mason University's Mayer says the rough spots Romney ran into during his foreign trip could be due to the fact that the experienced businessman thrust himself into an area much less familiar to him - the diplomatic arena.

"I think he thought this was going to be easy," he said.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is national security correspondent. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs