The Globe revealed that Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond had withdrawn as a cohost of the Romney fundraiser after the bank agreed to pay $450 million to settle allegations that it manipulated Libor — the London interbank offered rate before and after the 2008 financial crisis.
The Obama administration has its own Libor issues — Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is answering questions on Capitol Hill this week about how much he knew about the scandal — and its own ties to Barclays. Mark Gilbert, a top Barclays executive, has helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for Obama.
But left-leaning members of Parliament kept the story going, introducing a motion noting “the destructive role Barclays has played in the international Libor-setting scandal” and calling on the bank’s executives to stop fundraising for political candidates.
U.S. and British labor unions, meanwhile, offered a reward (dinner for two in London at “an American-style" restaurant) to a snitch that supplies them with the location of Romney’s “secretive but lavish fundraising event” so that they can present the candidate with a “gold medal” for secrecy.
“I’m sure Mitt feels more comfortable with his fellow international bankers than with middle-class Americans,” joked Democratic operative Paul Begala. “He can gain valuable tips on the latest offshore tax havens.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron didn't take kindly to the Olympic affront, and said so with comments which suggest that Romney's stewardship of the Salt Lake City Olympics had been no great deal.
"We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world," Cameron told the British press. "Of course it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere."
Romney tried to make amends. “My experience with regards to the Olympics is it is impossible for absolutely no mistakes to occur," he told the press. "Of course there will be errors from time to time, but those are all overshadowed by the extraordinary demonstrations of courage, character and determination by the athletes."
Romney’s awkward start is not the end of the world, particularly in a campaign season when the economy is so dominant an issue. “Both President Carter and President George H. W. Bush’s campaigns are potent reminders of the significant limits of trying to leverage foreign-policy success in a bad economy,” said McInturff.
But “starting with events like this is not the right optics,” said Mark Jacobson, a former NATO official and American military officer who serves as senior adviser to the Truman Project, a progressive national-security institute. “There is a delicate balancing in diplomacy, even more so when you are aspiring to become commander-in-chief. This is a bad way for his trip to start.”