GDANSK, Poland -- Lech Walesa, the Nobel Prize winner and former Polish president, on Monday expressed hopes that Mitt Romney would win the presidential contest during a meeting between the two men on Romney’s first overseas trip as the likely Republican nominee.
“I wish you to be successful because this success is needed to the United States, of course, but to Europe and the rest of the world, too,” Walesa told Romney through a translator. “Governor Romney, get your success. Be successful!”
In response, Romney said, “Thank you so much. I appreciate your invitation and I’m glad to be here with you. ... You play such an important role on the world stage. You travel throughout the world, including Tunisia, and other parts of the world to describe the values of freedom which you champion here.”
Romney’s half-hour meeting with the former Solidarity leader, whose democracy movement in the 1980s is credited with helping end the Cold War, came on the last leg of Romney’s trip, which included stops in England and Israel. Romney also had a meeting with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk on Monday.
Solidarity, the trade union formerly headed by Walesa, issued a statement disavowing any association with Romney, citing his anti-union positions back home.
“Regretfully, we were informed by our friends from the American headquarters of (trade union federation) AFL-CIO, which represents more than 12 million employees ... that Mitt Romney supported attacks on trade unions and employees' rights,” said Andrzej Adamczyk, the union's head of international affairs.
“Solidarity was not involved in organizing Romney's meeting with Walesa and did not invite him to visit Poland,” Adamczyk wrote.