The Mitt Romney world tour is over, and now it’s time for President Obama’s team to put its own (negative) spin on the globe-trotting GOP candidate.
The Obama campaign put together a press call today with senior advisers Robert Gibbs and Colin Kahl, to poke some fun at Romeny’s gaffes and to remind angry reporters that the presumptive Republican nominee avoided taking any questions from the press during his seven-day tour of England, Israel and Poland.
Obama’s campaign main message to the press was that Romney “failed his audition” for the role of commander-in-chief and leader of the free world.
According to Gibbs and Khal, the trip, to three friendly countries, was an easy opportunity for Romney to burnish his foreign policy credentials, but, they argue, he blew it.
“He couldn’t even handle the low bar that his campaign set for him,” said Khal.
The Obama campaign took issue with Romney’s statement in Israel recognizing Jerusalem as the nation’s capital.
“Romney failed in carefully choosing his words,” said Kahl, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Middle East. He said the same is true in regards to another controversial remark made by Romney, in which he blamed the Palestinian “culture” for the economic gap between Palestinians and Israelis. “Its up to Governor Romney to explain,” Kahl said of the remark, which sparked claims of racism.
Romney did, in fact, try to explain. “I’m not speaking about it, did not speak about the Palestinian culture,” the candidate said in a Tuesday interview with Fox News, although his original quote, from a fundraiser he held in Jerusalem on Monday, was that “culture makes all the difference” when it comes to disparities between Israeli and Palestinian economy.
Obama’s staff also touched on the issue of Iran, arguing that while Romney tried to “sound tougher” than Obama on Iran, there is no real difference in their policy.
The Romney campaign, in response to Democratic criticism of the Israel trip, said that, “President Obama has weakened America’s position in the world and frayed relationships with our closest allies.” Spokesman Ryan Williams also said that “Governor Romney has laid out a foreign policy that will strengthen our interests, ensure our security, and let our friends know they have a partner in the White House.”
In another attempt to counter Romney’s visibly warm relations with Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Obama campaign put out a new video with remarks made this week by Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak and President Shimon Peres, both praising the Obama administration for its support for Israel.
Nathan Guttman, staff writer, was the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.