Prime Minister Calls Salt Lake City “Middle of Nowhere”

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A cable car rises majestically over scenic Utah

There are pluses and minuses in Mitt Romney claiming to have so many home states.

The pluses are electorally obvious. He can draw on a large home town vote in his native Michigan, where he famously observed that the trees are the right height during the primary, and Massachusetts where he was a popular Governor.

The downside is that when out of his depth, he can be an embarrassment.

This week, the Presidential candidate who can legitimately argue that he saved the Salt Lake City Olympics, embarked on his first foreign policy test, to the very friendly territory of the United Kingdom.

The UK is the easiest place in the world for an American politician to garner safe PR. There are no high profile policy differences. There is a common language. The UK is as loyal an ally to the US as is possible, even helping sell the Iraq War to a sceptical globe.

Even the occasionally gaffe prone George W Bush managed to accumulate decent PR opportunities from his trips there. Ronald Reagan was given a rare honour in addressing both Houses of the British Parliament in a fantastic photo op for the two term American President with the members of the House of Lords turned out in their ermine robes.

Visiting the UK is a very easy place to get decent PR.

This is the script:

Go to a pub, drink a pint, praise fish and chips, grovel to the Queen, stand outside 10 Downing Street and joke about the weather and if you are feeling really brave, cricket.

Romney however managed to offend the nation currently engrossed with its own hosting of the 2012 Olympics by veering off that script doubting if the host nation was ready.

David Cameron – Not likely to visit Utah any time soon. His loss.

He actually had a legitimate point.

A private security firm hired to police the Games proved woefully inadequate to the task.

An airport workers’ strike threatened to disrupt the transportation process. Romney’s doubts were not his alone.

The problem was that Romney voiced those doubts on the eve of a trip to England, aloud, in front of the press.

In an interview with US network NBC, Mr Romney said London’s difficulties were “obviously… not something which is encouraging…. It’s hard to know just how well it will turn out,” he added.

The locals were not impressed.

London Mayor Boris Johnson lampooned Romney’s remarks at a ra-ra rally in London’s Hyde Park saying:

“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? Are we ready? Yes, we are!”

Johnson is a Conservative. He is not exactly gaffe resistant himself when sport and politics meet.

After England lost the bid for the 2018 World Cup amid English press accusations the Russians had bribed their way to hosting rights, Johnson attracted headlines by withdrawing the offer of free hotel accommodation to FIFA delegates during the Olympics.

British PM David Cameron, also a Conservative, was even more caustic about Romney’s remarks noting that it was very easy to organise an Olympics “in the middle of nowhere” – a remark aimed at Romney’s stewardship of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

It has to be said in Romney’s defence that he was only saying what the press over there had also been addressing.

Nonetheless headlines such as “Mitt the Twit” appeared in the morning tabloids. Romney may think he got off lightly there. Tea Party activists termed him “Mitt for Brains”.

The attempts of his allies back in the USA to save the situation made things even worse though.

Fellow Republican and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said:

“We’re not worried about overseas headlines, we’re worried about voters here at home in America.”

Governor Jindal is correct.

It doesn’t really affect your ability to be a good candidate if you offend foreigners. It does however affect your ability to be a good President. If elected Romney will have already created a cynicism in the office of his closest foreign policy ally from Day One.

Maybe that will not be a problem though if Mr Cameron loses power to the opposition Labour Party.

But wait – in another less than stellar moment, Romney seemed to forget the name of the Opposition Leader Ed Miliband,  addressing him as “Mr Leader”.

Again in Romney’s defence, Ed Miliband is a pretty colourless politician, his forgetability being his most memorable characteristic.

Romney is heading for Israel after the Olympic opening ceremony. A similar series of gaffes over there may be more electorally damaging.

One hopes he listens to better advice than Bobby Jindal’s.

More Olympic Coverage:

Portland Athlete to Carry US Flag at Olympic Opening Ceremony

Korean Flags and Wales Gaffes Embarass ‘British’ Olympics

US Women off to Winning Start in Glasgow Goalfest

More RSL Coverage:

Friday Night Fight – New Look Whitecaps to be Tested at 2nd Place RSL

So Seth Dunny: RSL Can’t Stop a Lucrative Offer from a Wealthier Club for Kreis

Utah Diaries (all open in new window):

Utah Diary Part 1 – New Territory

Utah Diary Part 2 – New Word: Potgut

Utah Diary Part 3 – RSL Immersion Theory

Utah Diary Part 4 – Doll’s heads, superstitions and photographers’ rights

Utah Diary: Part 5 – the state that ended prohibition

 

 

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6 Comments

  1. Romney is neither a job creator nor ready to lead in the area of foreign diplomacy. OBAMA will now be reelected. Could his supporters elect someone else at the convention?

  2. The job creator issue, I’ll leave to those better informed.

    However, in the area of foreign diplomacy, he just failed the easiest test a US politician has. He’ll recover. If he screws up the Israel trip though, he may not.

  3. Based on how you describe the perfect diplomatic trip to England I think I’d be the perfect man for the job. How do i sign up?

  4. 1. Raise millions of dollars by selling your soul to wealthy contributors and interest groups

    2. Win nomination for one of two major parties

    3. Invent time machine and go back and live a life so pure that it makes Laura Inglis look like Ozzie Osbourne

    4. Introduce voter suppression laws everywhere opponents’ supporters predominate

    5. Win election

    6. Phone leaders of Japan, South Korea, Israel, Germany and Canada and ask them not to watch any telly for 48 hours

    7. Go on telly and talk about “Special Relationship” with Britain

    8. Drink beer.

  5. The beer is served before the food in England. It takes time to boil the flavour out.