After accusing President Obama of putting American lives in danger by failing to stem the tide of national security leaks and continuing to insist the president doesn’t understand capitalism, Mitt Romney has promised to leave the negative attacks at home as he heads on his first foreign tour since clinching the Republican presidential nomination.
His campaign has doubled down on negative attacks against the president after a daylong respite in honor of the Colorado shooting victims. So why would Romney agree to bite his tongue on a foreign policy tour? He’s not. Part of his trip is clearly aimed at bolstering his bio, but most of the tour is one long — if tacit — jab at Obama.
Romney spends two days in England, where he’ll visit with former Labor Party Prime Minister Tony Blair, as well as the current leadership from the Conservative Party. That helps show Romney would be able to transition into a role within America’s “special relationship” with Britain no matter which party is in charge.
On Friday, Romney attends the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games, giving him a chance to highlight on of the brightest spots on his resume: his tenure at the helm of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.
Democrats have focused more on Romney’s time at Bain Capital, and on his term as governor of Massachusetts, so Romney may be hoping the glow of the Olympics can outshine nagging questions about his tax returns.
Second Stop: Israel
This is where the trip starts to become more about Obama. Republicans have accused Obama of snubbing Israel for years, going back to the time the president gave a landmark speech in Cairo without stopping over in Israel. Obama has not visited Israel during his term in office — his campaign said this week that he will visit the country during his second term if he’s re-elected. Republicans have accused Obama of severing ties with the country altogether.
Romney has often joined the chorus of Republican voices condemning Obama on Israel.
“The current administration has distanced itself from Israel and visibly warmed to the Palestinian cause. It has emboldened the Palestinians,” Romney told AIPAC in March. “As president, I will treat our allies and friends like friends and allies.”
Romney has a longstanding personal relationship with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu, a fact he’s expected to highlight on his trip. But Romney’s main goal for the Israel stop will be to highlight what he sees as Obama’s failure to maintain appropriately tight ties with the country.
After spending a day in Israel on Aug. 29, Romney will wrap his tour with a two-day visit to Poland. This stop will be all about needling Obama over Russia, a nation Romney believes Obama has appeased to America’s detriment. He neatly laid out his reasoning for a Poland stop — and its connection to his attacks on Obama over Russia — in his address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention Tuesday.
Romney derided Obama’s “sudden abandonment of friends in Poland and the Czech Republic”:
They had courageously agreed to provide sites for our anti-missile systems, only to be told, at the last hour, that the agreement was off. As part of the so-called reset in policy, missile defenses were sacrificed as a unilateral concession to the Russian government. If that gesture was designed to inspire good will from Russia, it clearly missed the mark. The Russian government defended the dictator in Damascus, arming him as he slaughtered the Syrian people. We can only guess what Vladimir Putin makes of the Obama administration. He regained the Russian presidency in a corrupt election, and for that, he got a congratulatory call from the Oval Office. And then there was that exchange picked up by a microphone that President Obama didn’t know was on. We heard him asking Dmitry Medvedev to tell Mr. Putin to give him “space.” “This is my last election,” President Obama said, and “After my election I’ll have more flexibility.”
Romney has tried to tie Obama to Russia frequently on the campaign trail — particularly an incident in March in which Obama was overheard on a hot mic telling Russian President Dmitri Medvedev that he would have “more flexibility” to discuss certain issues once he won re-election. Romney said the moment was troubling because he believes Russia to be the U.S.’s “No. 1 geopolitical foe,” drawing quizzical stares from the White House.
“Gov. Romney remains mired in a Cold War mindset,” Vice President Biden said in a response to Romney’s VFW speech Tuesday.