Romney stirs Olympic tiff as European tour begins
LONDON -- Mitt Romney wanted to highlight U.S.-British bonds, and show off his diplomatic skills to boot, but he managed to rankle the Olympic hosts instead, from Prime Minister David Cameron on down.
The Republican presidential candidate, taking a turn on the world stage, called London's problems with Olympic Games preparation "disconcerting." That prompted Cameron to retort yesterday that doubters would "see beyond doubt that Britain can deliver."
Amid the uproar, Romney tried to back off his critique, finally concluding, "I expect the games to be highly successful."
Romney also caused a stir with his attendance at a fundraiser with banking executives from Barclays, which has been in the spotlight after becoming the first bank to admit its employees were involved in manipulating a key interest rate index.
And he inadvertently disclosed that he held a secret meeting with the head of Britain's intelligence service.
The bobbles threatened to undermine Romney's first international tour as the man who would replace Democratic President Barack Obama.
A one-term Massachusetts governor with limited foreign policy experience, he is hoping to show voters back home that he is ready to represent the United States strongly and smoothly at a time of global economic turmoil and security troubles. By attending this year's opening ceremonies, he also wants to emphasize his own tenure running the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
Romney's planned weeklong trip overseas will include Israel and Poland after Britain.
In the United States on Thursday, even as the issue of guns shifts to the forefront of the presidential campaign, the White House and the Senate's top Democrat made it clear that new gun legislation will not be on the political agenda this year.
Instead, Obama intends to focus on other ways to combat gun violence, a position not unlike that of Romney.
Days after the mass shootings in Colorado, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama still supports a ban on the sale of assault weapons, a restriction that expired in 2004. But he added: "There are things we can do short of legislation and short of gun laws that can reduce violence in our society."
Carney spoke as a prominent gun control group called on Obama and Romney to lead a search for solutions to gun violence. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said both candidates owe voters concrete plans and appealed to them not to duck the issue.