If gaffes were an Olympic event, Mitt Romney may have scored a perfect 10 this week. After commenting on Wednesday that he thought London's preparations for the Summer Games were "disconcerting," Romney was greeted in the Olympic host city with some animosity from the British press and London Mayor Boris Johnson, who called out the presidential candidate during a rally in Hyde Park.
Can Romney salvage his international tour? Below, National Journal writers weigh in.
Josh Kraushaar: Romney's Missed Opportunities
Mitt Romney is running a cautious presidential campaign, so fearful of making political blunders that he hasn't offered much more beyond broad conservative outlines of how he would govern as president. So it comes as a surprise that he let his guard down in London at the outset of his overseas trip, critiquing the British preparation for the Olympics in a nationally televised interview, and then accidentally letting slip that he met with the head of MI6. For that effort, he was slammed mercilessly in the British tabloids and was tweaked by Prime Minister Cameron, and more loudly rebuked by the (Conservative) mayor of London in front of thousands at a rally for the Olympics. Romney's trip wasn't getting much attention in the British press; now he's made it above the fold for all the wrong reasons.
Caren Bohan: Candidate Obama Did It Better in 2008
Mitt Romney's clumsy start to his overseas trip is shaping up as a stark contrast to candidate Barack Obama's tour of the Middle East and Europe in July 2008, when he managed to strike perfect pitch at press conferences and in visits with foreign leaders.
As a reporter on his campaign plane at the time, I remember the pundit predictions about the risks that the trip held for the then-first-term Illinois senator who was running against Vietnam veteran and former POW John McCain.
Michael Hirsh: Rookie Errors
From here on out, Mitt Romney really should just shut up and smile. That's because, after a rocky start in Britain, the two most important legs of his trip overseas are coming up: Florida and the Midwest. Sorry, I meant Israel and Poland, but in both places Romney's real focus will be to appeal to key voting blocs at home: Jewish Americans, who heavily populate South Florida and could sway the vote in that battleground state; and Catholic Americans, who could help to determine Romney's fate in other critical battleground states such as Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan. (New Jersey and Pennsylvania are also heavily Catholic.)
Additionally, Twitter users were quick to sum up Thursday's events with the hashtag #romneyshambles. The Atlantic's David Graham rounds up the best tweets.