After a rough few days in London where news of his gaffes competed with Olympic-preview headlines, Mitt Romney is moving on to Israel in attempts to reclaim a hold on his campaign swing abroad.
This is Romney’s fourth visit to Israel, and a chance to get on solid footing to salvage his trip abroad after being the butt of jokes in the British press. But the timing of Romney’s Israeli stop, which the New York Times is calling “both auspicious and fraught,” lands on directly on the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’av, when the tone of political campaigning is somewhat off-point.
And though the presumptive GOP presidential nominee is said to be cozy with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a profile of Netanyahu from the latest issue of Vanity Fair reveals that Romney may have overstated their relationship, mischaracterizing a passing acquaintance for a long-time friend.
“Israel’s current prime minister is not just a friend, he’s an old friend,” Mitt Romney, with whom Netanyahu worked at the Boston Consulting Group in the 1970s, told AIPAC in March. (Romney, Netanyahu suggests, may have overstated the tie. “I remember him for sure, but I don’t think we had any particular connections,” he tells me. “I knew him and he knew me, I suppose.”)
Romney’s trip to Israel is the second of a three-country swing to chalk-up his credentials abroad while details of his foreign policy remain murky.
“It fits into their narrative that the Obama administration has been too-cool to allies and too-warm to adversaries,” Foreign Policy’s Josh Rogin told the NOW w/ Alex Wagner panel on Friday. “This is part of their efforts to go around the world and hug allies—put their arms around them—and say ‘listen, we’re going to change to tone of this relationship.’”
But Romney’s Goldilocks approach to Obama’s foreign policy record has drawn criticism for lacking any specific details. And as Rogin reports, rank and file members within the Republican Party have gone on record admitting that they were unable to explain Romney’s stance on either Syria or Afghanistan.
And with the presidential race tightening down in the final 100 days until the election, Romney has over three months to stake out a a firm foreign policy stance.
Let the games begin.