Mitt Romney wrapped up his trip abroad Tuesday with a speech on the virtues of free enterprise in Warsaw, Poland. Returning to his favorite subject of the economy, Romney held up Poland’s transition from communism to capitalism as an economic model for prosperity for the rest of the world.
“The world should pay close attention to the transformation of Poland’s economy,” Romney said. “A march toward economic liberty and smaller government has meant a march toward higher living standards, a strong military that defends liberty at home and abroad, and an important and growing role on the international stage.”
On his two-day trip to Poland, Romney met with former President Lech Walesa and visited the site of where the Solidarity movement began in Gdansk Poland. Romney paid tribute to that history in his speech Tuesday as well. “Perhaps because here in Poland centralized control is no distant memory, you have brought a special determination to securing a free and prosperous economy,” Romney said.
Romney praised Poland’s economic success not just in overcoming communism but in recent years as well. Poland’s economy has performed well, relative to the rest of Europe, in recent years and emerged largely unscathed from the fallout of the 2008 economic crisis. And Poland’s recent attempts to rein in its budget deficits, as the Wall Street Journal points out, fit nicely with the Romney campaign’s message of cutting government spending and slashing growing budget deficits.
“In the 1980s, when other nations doubted that political tyranny could ever be faced down or overcome, the answer was, ‘Look to Poland,’” Romney said. “And today, as some wonder about the way forward out of economic recession and fiscal crisis, the answer once again is ‘Look to Poland.’”
Romney’s speech in Poland comes while the presumptive nominee is still taking heat from his more turbulent visits to London and Israel. Palestinian leaders were angered by Romney’s statements about the Israeli economy, the success of which Romney attributed to their culture. “Culture makes all the difference,” Romney said Monday morning in Jerusalem, comparing the Israeli economy to the Palestinian one.
Romney’s final leg of his trip in Poland has gone without any major hiccups — although his traveling press secretary did lose his temper with reporters, for which he later apologized.
Poland’s history and recent economic success allowed Romney to return to return to the themes of free enterprise and economic growth that he prefers to discuss at home. “Rather than heeding the false promise of a government-dominated economy, Poland sought to stimulate innovation, attract investment, expand trade, and live within its means,” Romney said. “Your success today is a reminder that the principles of free enterprise can propel an economy and transform a society.”
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.