WARSAW, Poland – Mitt Romney praised the Polish economy as an example for the world in a speech in Warsaw on Tuesday, as his six-day foreign tour heads to an end.
The presumptive Republican nominee celebrated the relationship between Poland and the U.S. and said it has been one of America’s oldest allies.
“I believe it is critical to stand by those who stood by America,” he said. “At every turn in our history, through wars and crises, through every change in the geopolitical map, we have met as friends and allies. That was true in America's Revolutionary War. It was true in the dark days of the Second World War. And it has been true in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Romney mentioned Poland's Pope John Paul II several times throughout the speech, and praised his work to bring about the end of the Cold War. And, Romney also mentioned former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in his remarks, delighting some political observers who predict she could be his choice for a running mate.
Fiscal responsibility and policies for economy growth, Romney said, allowed Poland to transform its economy. As Europe continues to struggle with its debt crisis, Romney said other countries should follow Poland's example.
“It is for us, in this generation and beyond, to show all the world what free people and free economies can achieve for the good of all,” Romney said. “This nation's steady rise is a shining example of the prosperity that economic opportunity can bring. Your nation has moved from a state monopoly over the economy, price controls, and severe trade restrictions to a culture of entrepreneurship, greater fiscal responsibility, and international trade. And as a result, your economy has experienced positive growth in each of the last twenty years.”
Romney also offered a nod to Poland’s popular former President, Lech Walesa, who effectively offered an endorsement of the presumed Republican nominee during a meeting in Gdansk on Monday, telling Romney he wished him “success.”
“Americans watched with astonishment and admiration, as an electrician led a peaceful protest against a brutal and oppressive regime,” Romney said, referencing Walesa’s unlikely rise to the presidency, where he presided over Poland's transition out of communism.
In addition to meeting with Walesa, Romney held meetings with three members of Poland’s current government over the past two days: Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, and President Bronislaw Komorowski. The meetings covered a range of topics including Europe’s fiscal situation, the threat of a nuclear Iran, and the relationship between Poland and Russia.
Romney has raised eyebrows in the U.S. for calling Russia America’s “number one geopolitical foe.” He did not go so far while speaking in Poland, whose relationships with Russia has been strained as of late, but he did hold the Russian democratic system up for critique, saying that “once-promising advances toward a free and open society have faltered.”
As with the other two stops on his foreign excursion, Romney’s trip to Poland was not without distractions. After the presumed nominee paid his respects at Warsaw’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, reporters tried to ask him questions about recent gaffes. Romney ignored the questions, but his press secretary, Rick Gorka, became agitated at the members of the media who asked the questions, telling one to “kiss my ass,” and another to “shove it.” He later apologized.
Romney senior adviser, Stuart Stevens , insisted that the despite the slip-ups, the overseas trip has been a success.
“I think it was a great trip,” he said, adding, “I think it’s important to have people have a sense of how he feels about certain issues and these are things he wanted to talk about and he spoke loud and clear on them.”