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 covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

Video Anti-Muslim Sponsor of Texas Cartoon Contest Draws Ire

Pamela Geller's supporters say she speaks truth about sensitive topic, while critics say she preaches 'that Islam is inherently evil' More

East Meets West in Exhibition Showing Chinese Influence on Fashion

Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition juxtaposes influence of art, imagery and culture, from Imperial China to the present day, on Western fashion and design More

South Africa Begins New Love Affair With Vinyl Records

Enthusiasts say the 'rebirth' of vinyl is resulting in a rebirth of music in South Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Mass Grave Exposes Entrenched Trafficking in Thailandi
X
May 05, 2015 5:50 PM
Police in southern Thailand have found two more camps believed to have held human trafficking victims -- one containing a buried skeleton. This comes just days after officials announced arrests in connection with the grisly discovery of 26 bodies in a mass grave at another location. Officials suspect as many as 400 mostly ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar were being held for ransom at the remote camp near the Malaysian border. Steve Sandford reports on developments in the case.
Video

Video Mass Grave Exposes Entrenched Trafficking in Thailand

Police in southern Thailand have found two more camps believed to have held human trafficking victims -- one containing a buried skeleton. This comes just days after officials announced arrests in connection with the grisly discovery of 26 bodies in a mass grave at another location. Officials suspect as many as 400 mostly ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar were being held for ransom at the remote camp near the Malaysian border. Steve Sandford reports on developments in the case.
Video

Video Russia's 'Victory Day' Glory Over Nazis Overshadowed by Ukraine

ussia is preparing to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, known since the Soviet era as “The Great Patriotic War,” with a massive parade on May 9th of military hardware and millions of medals handed out to veterans or their relatives. But critics say the Soviet-style display of power and nationalism overshadows tragic scars during and after the war that still influence politics and foreign policy, especially in the current Ukraine crisis.
Video

Video WWII Anniversary Brings Old Friends and New Worries

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II has special significance, with Russia becoming more assertive in Ukraine and sending its military planes to the edges of western countries’ airspace. Changes in the geostrategic balance and the transatlantic relationship are felt across the continent, not least in German towns that have hosted U.S. military bases since the defeat of Nazi Germany. VOA’s Al Pessin visited Schweinfurt, Germany, where a large base closed last year.
Video

Video Abraham Lincoln Funeral Re-created for 150th Civil War Anniversary

Over the last four years, commemorative events to mark the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Civil War have brought thousands of visitors to battlefields and historic landmarks across the country. As VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, the final event in the Civil War's sesquicentennial honors the final journey home of the slain American President, Abraham Lincoln.
Video

Video Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalists

Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Volunteers Pull Together to Aid Baltimore Riot Victims

Calm has returned to Baltimore, Maryland, after authorities lifted an overnight curfew imposed almost a week ago to stem the rioting that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray - the 25-year-old black man who died of spinal injuries suffered while in police custody. Six police officers, three of them African-American, have been charged in connection with his death. Baltimore is now trying to get back to normal, in part with the help of volunteers who responded to calls to help those in the city'
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Obama Praises Work of 3 Immigrant Journalists

President Barack Obama met with three immigrant journalists at the White House Friday to praise them for their work ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3. In attendance: Dieu Cay (his pen name) a blogger from Vietnam recently released from prison; Lily Mengesha from Ethiopia who was harassed and detained for exposing the marrying off of young girls as child brides, and Fatima Tlisova, an ethnic Circassian from the North Caucasus region of Russia, who works for VOA's Russian Service.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs