LONDON – Just one day after the British media took him to task for suggesting that England’s preparation for the Olympics had been “disconcerting,” Mitt Romney on Friday unexpectedly found himself in a position to help prove his point.
Rather than directly confront one of the biggest concerns expressed about the Games -- the snarled traffic -- Romney skipped the motorcade and ended up walking to a meeting with Ireland’s prime minister at the Irish Embassy here.
Surrounded by his security staff and several aides, Romney blended in with the locals and thousands of visitors arriving to take part in the Games. He did occasionally shake the hands of passersby who recognized him.
“Good to see you,” said one man in a shirt that said Hawaii on the back who stopped the presumptive Republican nominee.
Romney -- who is almost never late --arrived only a few minutes after his scheduled meeting time with the Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny. As they greeted each other in front of the media, Kenny asked the presumptive Republican nominee about his stroll.
"Not bad at all,” Romney replied. “I enjoyed the walk.” In what was perhaps an effort not to further antagonize his host country, he added: "I guess we didn't 'have' to walk, it's enjoyable to walk. It's a beautiful day."
Romney's son Tagg saw fit to tweet about the traffic. "Jen, Craig, Mom stuck in London gridlock," he wrote. "But the cabs here are so cool."
Later, he wrote that he ended up opting for the subway: "Me and uncle scott heading onto the Tube. Our van couldn't make it to Olympic Park despite 4 hour head start."
British officials have been warning London residents about the coming traffic congestion for some time, advising those who live outside of the city to stay there throughout the games.
"The reality is that there is going to be disruption," the spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron warned earlier this week. "We have huge numbers of people coming to London to enjoy the Olympic Games, and that will put pressure on the transport system."
At Romney's private meeting with Kenny, the two discussed the economic issues facing Ireland and Europe and the “pro-business” reforms that Ireland has put in place, according to a Romney adviser.