Like the Olympians from the United States, Mitt Romney headed across the pond to London with high expectations.
No, he was not out to bring home multiple gold medals. Rather this trip to London and the continent was designed to show that the presumptive Republican nominee has what it takes to succeed in foreign policy.
But like a gymnast who struggles in her floor exercise, Romney didn’t stick his landing in London as his criticism of the city's preparation for the Olympics in an interview with NBC News created an uproar with the British media and the country's citizens, and put Romney and his communications team in serious damage-control mode.
The British media is on the attack after Romney called the country’s preparations for the upcoming Olympics “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,” Romney said to NBC’s Brian Williams.
According to Politico, the comments weren’t a part of NBC’s original broadcast, but two newspapers, The Daily Telegraph and The Times of London, picked up the quotes and subsequently led with them on Thursday, July 26.
Headlines such as "Mitt the Twit" in The Sun took aim at Romney.
Romney quickly changed his tune in an appearance with Labour leader Ed Miliband on July 26. “My experience with regards to the Olympics is it is impossible for absolutely no mistakes to occur...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 said.
What Romney and his communications team quickly learned was that when the British media gets hold of something, watch out. The smallest incident or a seemingly off-the-cuff statement can be transformed into a near scandal and, as in Romney's case, can be cast as an international blunder. Romney clearly took a PR hit that played out in the British media. Now that he's backpedaled—probably the only option available to him—it's probably best just to leave it alone, let the fury die down, pick up the pieces and get out of Dodge.
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