Romneyshambles, day two: even Carl Lewis thinks Mitt should shut up and go home
Criticism grows as Republican hopeful tries to repair damage of gaffe-laden trip to Britain
James Cusick is political correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. As an experienced member of the lobby, he has previously worked at The Sunday Times and the BBC. His career as a journalist has been split between print and television, including senior positions as producer with Sir David Frost and at BBC Newsnight. He is also an award-winning golf and travel writer, working for over a decade as the UK contributing editor for one of the USA’s leading golf magazines. He broadcasts regularly for the BBC and CNN. He lives in London.
Saturday 28 July 2012
Mitt Romney's undiplomatic "train smash" visit to London continued to reverberate across both the United States and Britain yesterday.
Though there is no Olympic competition for rowing backwards, the former Massachusetts Governor spent most of yesterday practising the art. To help clean up a gaffe-strewn series of encounters, Mr Romney and his wife, Ann, gave a contrite interview to CNN's Piers Morgan, praising London's "great weather" the "impressive venues" and in a volte-face of his earlier opinions, said "It looks to me like London is ready."
The multiple gold medal-winning US sprinter Carl Lewis, attacked Mr Romney's criticism of London's planning. "Every Olympics is ready, I don't care what he said," he told The Independent. Lewis added: "I swear, sometimes I think some Americans shouldn't leave the country. Are you kidding me – stay home if you don't know what to say."
Mr Romney's two-day London visit had dual aims of raising substantial funds for his presidential campaign and of boosting his relatively low foreign affairs standing.
Around 250 wealthy Republican supporters, mostly from the City's banks, equity and investment firms, attended a fund-raising dinner on Thursday night at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge. Though the plate-entry fee was billed as $25,000 with most expected to contribute upwards of $75,000, Scott Prenn, the organiser, refused to acknowledge the reasons behind an alleged last-minute drop in the ticket price to $10,000.
As details of Mr Romney's London gaffes emerged his US opponents went on the attack. A former US congressman in London for trade meeting during the Games, said the Republican campaign in London "currently looks and sounds like a diplomatic train smash".
The Senate Majority Leader, Democrat Harry Reid, told The Huffington Post in the US, that Mr Romney had embarrassed the United States and himself. "It's not good for us as a country, it's not good for him… to go over and insult everybody." Others were matching Mr Romney with the inexperience of Sarah Palin and the damage she inflicted on the Republicans when she was running mate to John McCain.
David Cameron's mocking rebuttal of Mr Romney's attack on London's planning – which focused on the Salt Lake City Winter Games, which the Prime Minister described as "the middle of nowhere" – brought a fresh examination of an achievement which is Mr Romney's key selling point.
A decade ago Mr Romney's "rescue" of the Utah Games propelled him to success in the gubernatorial race in Massachusetts. Now there are claims that it was marked federal funds which saved Salt lake City and not Mr Romney's financial wizardry.
Twitter mocks Mitt
"Romney has achieved the impossible and made Boris Johnson look like a statesman." @Roger Quimbly
"Romney's mouth is somehow big enough to fit both his foot and his silver spoon in at the same time." @SamGrittner
"Romney has convinced our biggest ally that he's a bigger doofus than Bush." @TheDailyEdge
"Mitt Romney struggling to connect with the British, which is not surprising because they are people." @jonlovett
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