Mitt Romney spent Thursday trying to recover from a comment earlier this week that suggested that London was not ready for its Olympics. But it wasn't proving to be an easy fix.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee said he had faith in the host city's Games work as he emerged from a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron and other officials. Speaking from his experience running the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002, Romney said a few things will always go wrong.
"When the games themselves begin and the athletes take over, all of the mistakes that the organizing committee -- and I made a few -- all of those are overwhelmed by the many things that the athletes carry out that capture the spirit of the games," Romney told reporters in front of 10 Downing Street.
"What I've seen shows imagination and forethought and a lot of organization and expect the games to be highly successful," he added.
Romney had earlier said he found "disconcerting" reports on several problems in the run-up to the games. That prompted a sharp retort from Cameron.
“We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world,” Cameron said, according to The Telegraph. “Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.” That was an apparent reference to Salt Lake City.
Other Brits didn’t seem to take kindly to the Romney passing judgment on their Games either. At a rally in Hyde Park after the arrival of the Olympic torch, London Mayor Boris Johnson revved up the crowd by calling out Romney.
“I hear there’s a guy, there’s a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we’re ready – he wants to know whether we’re ready. Are we ready?” he asked to the crowd to cheers. “Are we ready? Yes we are!”
In an interview Wednesday with NBC’s Brian Williams, Romney at one point cited problems London organizers were having. “You know, it's hard to know just how well it will turn out,” he said. “There are a few things that were disconcerting, the stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials. That obviously is not something which is encouraging.”
His statement in front of 10 Downing Street, however, was his second walk-back of those comments. He had a similar message about the real Olympic spirit when he met with Labour leader Ed Miliband at Parliament.
Romney plans to attend the Opening Ceremony on Friday.
London Mayor Boris Johnson's remarks at the rally in Hyde Park: