Mitt Romney’s Magical Mystery Tour
Posted at: 08/02/2012 6:08 AM
By: Dr. Timothy Kneeland | WHEC.com
Mitt Romney has returned from his first foray into international politics with mixed reviews. In London Romney miffed the British press and the Mayor of London by suggesting that perhaps London was not quite ready for the Olympics. He then angered the Palestinians when he suggested that their weak economy was due to their culture -- a comment one aide to President Mahmoud Abbas labeled “racist.” In Poland Mitt received a warm welcome from Lech Walesa in what that amounted to a semi-official endorsement. Overall, the press at home was happy to report on the gaffes and the Democratic National Committee was more than happy to exploit them.
Despite what may be seen as the negatives my assessment is that Romney’s trip was actually a brilliant success for him in electoral terms. Romney was able to remind would-be voters that he successfully led the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics. Salt Lake was the first Olympics after September 11th and provided a needed moral boost and I expect much more play on this theme in future Romney campaign ads. In many ways the bad economic times we continue to face, the weather which will cause price increases in food, and the horror out of Colorado leave many Americans looking for some good news. Recent polls suggest that Americans are turning to the Olympics to be inspired. Romney may have failed with the press but in his visit to London he gained the opportunity to wrap himself in the glow of the Olympics and gained the advantage he sought.
In Israel his comments in support of that nation were addressed not merely to the citizens of that country but to disaffected Democrats of Jewish descent who may disagree with the tilt away from Israeli seen in the administration of President Obama. Jewish voters are a potentially significant voting bloc in the always tough-to-win state of Florida. Romney’s comments will no doubt be packaged to this audience.
Romney was also reaching out to the many conservative and evangelical voters who fully support Israel and who in the past evinced little sympathy for the Palestinians. This will buttress Romney’s credentials with this all important Republican constituency.
Finally, in Poland Romney received the warm embrace of a Reagan era Cold Warrior Lech Walesa. Walesa was integral in the collapse of communism in Poland and his endorsement of Romney can only add to the contender’s attempt to wrap himself in the mantle of the iconic conservative Ronald Reagan. In addition there are large numbers of Polish-American voters in the critical swing states of the upper Midwest who are not aligned with either of the two major parties and they may be persuaded to vote Romney simply by Walesa’s endorsement.
Let me reiterate that this trip was potentially an electoral success but in the long run, should Romney win the election, this trip will have far more negative results. Romney has not had nearly the kind of adoring press coverage that candidate Obama had which suggests a more hostile world reception in the future. As President Romney’s gaffe’s would come back to haunt him and create a potential rift with many of the nations in western Asia (a.k.a. the Middle East). Obama has worked hard to repair the rift caused by the Iraqi war but Romney may have undone this with his comment about the Palestinians.