So, Mitt Romney's international excursion is off to a rather unpleasant start. The extent to which this affects domestic politics is unclear, but if the Republican presidential hopeful hoped to prove to American voters he'll be a powerful, credible, leading force on the global stage, at this point, he's failing miserably.
But there's another angle to this particular diplomatic disaster that's significant. As Ryan Lizza noted this morning, one of Romney's "major foreign policy critiques" is that President Obama damaged the relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom -- and he can put things right.
Evan McMorris-Santoro fleshed out the larger point.
Undergirding Mitt Romney's trip to Europe and Israel this week was a single concept: President Obama has weakened the view of America in the eyes of foreign leaders thanks a policy of appeasement and "apology." How the world views America is important, Romney said, and he's going to see to it that America's reputation overseas is bolstered on his watch.Within 24 hours of Romney landing abroad, that premise had unraveled and Romney's own top surrogates were scoffing at the notion that foreign opinions of America mattered at all to American voters.
Quite right. Earlier in the week, Romney told the Veterans of Foreign Wars that the president has "dim¬inished American leadership" -- he offered no evidence to bolster the claim -- and that he knew how to improve the nation's standing and credibility.
He then proceeded to annoy and offend the Australian foreign minister and the entirety of the U.K.
The critique was always pretty silly. President Obama, domestic opinions aside, clearly commands respect on the global stage and has improved America's reputation around the world, especially as compared to the Bush/Cheney era. This, in combination with Romney's British debacle, suggests now would be a good time for the Republican to consider a new critique.
Incidentally, Romney's evening in London was eventful, too.
After a day made long by his remarks about London's readiness for the Olympic Games, Mitt Romney found a friendlier audience here on Thursday night at fund-raisers heavily populated with American financiers, donors representing an industry that has had troubles of its own.Mr. Romney held a fund-raising reception and a more exclusive dinner here on Thursday that included some of the top American financiers working in London. The firms they represent run the gamut from private equity funds, hedge funds and big investment banks like Goldman Sachs and J. P. Morgan -- all of which have substantial business hubs in London's financial district.
Romney probably assumes Americans won't hear much about this -- and he's probably right -- but for him to go to London and cozy up to financiers caught up in the middle of a massive financial scandal borders on bizarre.
Indeed, the original cosponsor of the event was none other than Robert Diamond, former chief executive for Barclays, who was recently forced to resign in disgrace, though another Barclays executive, Patrick Durkin, took Diamond's place.
Romney is believed to have raised $2 million from the foreign fundraiser.