Romney Foreign Policy Tour Turns Into Gaffe Watch

WASHINGTON – THE POLITICAL MALPRACTICE of the Romney campaign continues at breathtaking speed. The political incompetence is mounting on multiple fronts, so you’ll have to game up to keep up. Now, not only did Mitt Romney insult Great Britain on the Olympic games, but he also appeared to have forgotten Labour Party leader’s Ed Miliband’s name.

We also had the Anglo-Saxon weirdness, and then yesterday Bill Kristol called Mitt Romney out on his veracity in suggesting that Ronald Reagan went short on national security in his first 100 days.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Mitt Romney is recounting a Jim Baker anecdote in which President Reagan ordered Baker, as White House chief of staff, to hold no national security meetings over a hundred day period early in his first term so that President Reagan and his team could focus on the economy. If the Journal’s reporting is accurate—and I don’t believe the Romney camp has challenged it—Romney should stop telling this false and foolish tale.

Here’s the reporting:

Mr. Romney made that clear [that he's most focused on the economy] at a July fundraiser in Montana as he rehashed the challenges Mr. Reagan faced when he took office. He recounted how [James] Baker, a former secretary of state, held a national security meeting about Latin America during the first 100 days of Mr. Reagan’s presidency. “And after the meeting, President Reagan called me in and said, ‘I want no more national-security meetings over the next 100 days—all of our time has to be focused on getting our economy going,’” Mr. Romney recalled Mr. Baker saying.

For one thing, as Marc Thiessen points out, the fact that Romney’s recounting this anecdote doesn’t reflect well on Romney’s understanding of the job he’s campaigning for…

Former Bush adviser mentioned in Kristol’s Weekly Standard post, Marc Thiessen, took to the American Enterprise Institute website because Romney’s allegations against Reagan upset him so. It’s Theissen emphasis on the word “desirable” below, though he chose italics over bold:

But the fact that Romney thinks it would be desirable to ignore the world for his first 100 days is troubling. Yes, the American people are focused on the economy — and understandably so. But Romney isn’t running for Treasury secretary — he is running for commander in chief. And those responsibilities begin on Day 1 of his presidency.

Segue to Sen. Diane Feinstein’s charge on leaks, which has turned into an embarrassment for her, as she backtracks, but even worse for the Romney campaign, because they decided to jump into the fray. Reviewing, this is what Feinstein said in remarks at the World Affairs Council, reported by Jake Tapper on Tuesday:

“The White House has to understand that some of this is coming from its ranks. I don’t know specifically where, but I think they have to begin to understand that and do something about it.” – Sen. Diane Feinstein

Her extended remarks are even worse.

Mitt Romney jumped on Feinstein’s criticism of the White House and attempted to turn it into an opportunity to bash Obama during his VFW speech on Tuesday.

“Lives of American servicemen and women are at stake. But astonishingly, the administration failed to change its ways. More top-secret operations were leaked, even some involving covert action going on in Iran. This isn’t a partisan issue; it’s a national security crisis. And yesterday, Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, quote, ‘I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks.’ End of quote.”

Mr. Romney also said the “conduct is contemptible” and that it “betrays our national interest” and “compromises our men and women in the field.” He also demanded “a full and prompt investigation by a special counsel, with explanation and consequence.”

Then Team Romney sent out a surrogate with a statement, which Buzzfeed picked up. His name is Eric Edelman:

“Mitt Romney’s speech to the VFW convention was Reaganesque. In contrast to Barack Obama’s policies of vacillation and hesitation, Governor Romney set out a vision of determination and clarity of purpose. In place of Barack Obama’s apologies for America, Governor Romney set out principles and goals founded on our country’s enduring tradition of peace through strength. Our friends around the world who are looking for American leadership will be heartened by Romney’s plan for another American Century. The suggestion by Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, that the White House was behind recent leaks of highly classified secrets, highlights the urgent need for change.”

You might be wondering who Eric Edelman is, which Joe hit yesterday in his unintentionally hilarious post. Well, as someone who knows Joe Wilson, a man who wrote the blurb for my book jacket, as well as having had the pleasure to interview both he and his wife, Valerie Plame, I can tell you buzzers went off on this one for me. So, let me digress to prove who Mitt Romney chose to allow to send out a statement on his behalf on LEAKS, of all things.

In the Scooter Libby indictment, page 6, the following appears:

13. Shortly after publication of the article in The New Republic, LIBBY spoke by telephone with his then Principal Deputy and discussed the article. That official asked LIBBY whether information about Wilson’s trip could be shared with the press to rebut the allegations that the Vice President had sent Wilson. LIBBY responded that there would be complications at the CIA in disclosing that information publicly, and that he could not discuss the matter on a non-secure telephone line.

14. On or about June 23, 2003, LIBBY met with New York Times reporter Judith Miller. During this meeting LIBBY was critical of the CIA, and disparaged what he termed “selective leaking” by the CIA concerning intelligence matters. In discussing the CIA’s handling of Wilson’s trip to Niger, LIBBY informed her that Wilson’s wife might work at a bureau of the CIA

“Information about Wilson’s trip” refers to the CIA and Valerie Plame.

“Then Principal Deputy,” who was originally incorrectly identified by the Washington Post as John Hannah, but then corrected, is Eric Adelman.

Mr. Edelman’s statement on Feinstein’s remarks, which the Romney campaign blasted out, were as follows:

Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman today made the following statement on Mitt Romney’s speech to the VFW:

“Mitt Romney’s speech to the VFW convention was Reaganesque. In contrast to Barack Obama’s policies of vacillation and hesitation, Governor Romney set out a vision of determination and clarity of purpose. In place of Barack Obama’s apologies for America, Governor Romney set out principles and goals founded on our country’s enduring tradition of peace through strength. Our friends around the world who are looking for American leadership will be heartened by Romney’s plan for another American Century. The suggestion by Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, that the White House was behind recent leaks of highly classified secrets, highlights the urgent need for change.

…that the White House was behind recent leaks of highly classified secrets…

It’s hard to imagine any presidential campaign fumbling this so thoroughly, but you can always count on Team Romney.

But it should give you enough evidence to understand why Pres. Obama still has a chance to win in November. With an economy like today’s, it’s hard to imagine how Mitt Romney isn’t leading at this point.

As the Republican nominee, Mitt Romney has turned into a handicap.

Romney and his campaign are stumbling from one self-inflicted Etch A Sketch moment to the mandate “is a tax,” to the current photo op foreign policy tour, to Republicans killing him on releasing more taxes, then turning around and gutting him on national security claims about Ronald Reagan. And now the Romney campaign sends the man who suggested leaking the CIA’s involvement in Joe Wilson’s trip to Niger by leaking CIA NOC Valerie Plame’s name to Judith Miller (the woman who forwarded the fabricated aluminum tube story and the New York Times printed anyway), out to castigate the Obama administration on –wait for it– leaks.

If Mitt Romney can’t vet his own national security campaign surrogates, how can he navigate, let alone lead, the largest industrial military complex in the world?

What we’re watching right now is positively stunning.

I said from the start of the 2012 campaign there was little hope Mitt Romney could compete on foreign policy or national security, but I never imagined he and his team would be this incompetent, let alone negligent.

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women and power.

Paul Szep cartoon used with permission.

24 Comments

  1. The sad thing is Romney was the best the GOP could come up with. We got a good hard look at what today’s GOP wants in a candidate during the primaries. It was not encouraging.

  2. I’m not an Obama booster, as anyone who has read me knows.

    That said, Mitt Romney truly is frightening when you add all his negatives up, which for me begins with foreign policy.

    I don’t find it “sad,” as Republicans won’t take on their wingnut base, so they deserve this.

    Let’s also remember Romney can beat Obama, though if he and his team continue on this trajectory in the fall that won’t be the case.

    Note: I’ve stated this on my new media site, but I’m abstaining from voting in the presidential election this year.

  3. Note: I’ve stated this on my new media site, but I’m abstaining from voting in the presidential election this year.

    You’re not alone… Many others are planning to opt out on voting in this years election.

    Mostly it’s been those who rely on Fox News as their primary source of information; Tea-Partiers who think Obama was born in Kenya and don’t trust Mormons; and, lifelong Republicans that don’t like Romney and the direction of the Republican Party but just can’t allow themselves to vote Democrat.

    But hey… With their ‘big tent’ openness to ‘different’ views and opinions I’m sure you’ll be welcomed with open arms.

  4. The reason I’m not voting in the presidential election, though I will vote down ballot, is because I’ve decide to cover this election season beyond the partisan bounds, though remain transparently liberal in point of view.

    As anyone can see from my political analysis at TMV or my own new media site, your opinion on why I’ve made this decision has absolutely no basis in fact.

  5. I will be voting for Obama but not because I approve of him but the thought of a Romney presidency is so frightening. He has the same economic advisers and the same foreign policy advisers. Do you really want 4 or 8 more years of Bush?

  6. As anyone can see from my political analysis at TMV or my own new media site, your opinion on why I’ve made this decision has absolutely no basis in fact.

    As someone who HAS read your opinions here I see you as a liberal that just can’t accept the fact that it’s Barack Obama not Hillary Clinton that’s up for re-election.

    At first it seemed to be all you wrote about, even now it seems to be festering just below the surface waiting for a chance to explode.

    Your partisanship IMO isn’t Democrat vs. Republican it’s Hillary vs. Barack. Like the Republicans that can’t pull the Democrat lever I see you as a liberal that can’t pull the Barack Obama lever.

  7. I will be voting for Obama but not because I approve of him but the thought of a Romney presidency is so frightening.

    That’s where I’m coming from too and I guess that’s why I can’t understand why any liberal / progressive isn’t doing the same.

    2% no-shows could hand the Republicans the election.

  8. “As someone who HAS read your opinions here I see you as a liberal that just can’t accept the fact that it’s Barack Obama not Hillary Clinton that’s up for re-election. ”

    Lol you beat me to it. Seriously tho Taylor, I hope you don’t live in a swing state. As I live in a state who’s electoral votes are a forgone conclusion, those of us effectively disenfranchised by the electoral college would hate to think anyone whose vote actually goes to decide these things is not cast. On the plus side at least we don’t have to put up with the nonstop ad campaigns since our presidential candidates don’t have to waste their time talking to us.

  9. Probably pure coincidence, but yesterday, on the eve of his meeting with Romney, Conservative British Prime Minister David Cameron renewed his commitment to legal same sex civil marriage.

  10. I don’t really want a government that doesn’t care about me or the concerns I have for this country. I see a man named Mitt that is very motivated by money. He never helped a company without getting something out of it for himself. Don’t people see he lines his pockets and it’s not with a handkerchief. It’s cash folks! He wants power, I mean who doesn’t want power? But it’s Kind of like a spiderman movie, the villan wants money and want to be rich and powerful for the wrong reasons, but Obama wants to save even the little guy. You can’t just help corporations and let the average business fold. It will slowly bring us all down if some people make it financially and others don’t, it will have a domino effect. We all fall down!

  11. It was the no shows who supported Obama in 2008 and didn’t vote in 2010 who turned the House of Representatives over to the tea party.

  12. Pass the marmalade please… it appears that Mitt Romney is toast.

    London’s Mayor calls out Mitt Romney by name for his Olympic criticism

    Mitt Romney’s very bad week in London just got worse, as he was called out by name by London’s Mayor Boris Johnson in front of 100,000 in Hyde Park, and millions more watching on the ‘telly’.

    Boris Johnson: “I hear there’s a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know if we are ready. Are we ready? Are we ready? Yes, we are!”

  13. The drip-drip — now almost torrential — continues

    Watch the “warm” reception Romney gets from London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, and the people of London following his unfortunate remarks questioning the city’s readiness for the games here:.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....f=politics

  14. Sorry my simple note hijacked the thread.

    I’m used to the Hillary stuff and expect it after 2008. Knock yourself out or better yet, read my book! Just kidding. ;-)

    I’ve never stated this on TMV, but my readers and people who have interviewed me know I’m out of the activism biz. Many political writers make the choice not to vote on races they’re covering intensely. Some share it, some don’t. It’s rather stunning that you all think that’s out of the ordinary. I’m a liberal political writer and analyst, not an activist. Period. Not voting on the presidential has allowed me to get distance and cover both candidates better, imo. It’s been a very good decision for me.

    Romney’s getting creamed, SteveK. Deservedly so. See Memeorandum.

  15. DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist @
    3:22 PM

    Yeah, that was classic move by Cameron.

    I don’t believe in coincidences in politics.

  16. If we still had the old fashioned voting booth, with the big arm to lock yourself in, instead of the little open compartment with two cardboard wings, I would think there could be room for the specter of the “ECONOMY” to stand on peoples shoulder and flip the lever for Romney. Seriously, Obama is a nice guy, but so is a drunken sailor with a months pay on shore leave for the weekend. I know Romney stinks, especially around here, but some people who think we are headed for bankruptcy will decide to gamble on a different horse, not named hope and change.

  17. Lol, poor Mittens. So far his foreign policy chops are about what I expect from a Republican.

  18. dduck says:
    JULY 26, 2012 AT 7:12 PM

    I’ll say to you what I said to a reader of mine who asked if all this would make one bit of difference if the economy still sucks in the fall.

    Romney should already be ahead with the economy this listless, but he isn’t, with his negatives even higher than Obama’s, which are rising with all the negative ads he’s doing.

    Answers to questions like this won’t be known until after Election Day.

    What we do know is that Romney’s foreign policy tour was ill-planned and not thought out and his briefings were obviously not very good.

    What we also know is voters aren’t impressed with anyone this election and who can blame them?

    But to change from an incumbent, the challenger must offer a pretty solid case he’s competent on matters that include being commander in chief.

    As we saw in 2004, right before the election bin Laden appeared, with some thinking that helped sway the election to Bush. Mind you, I said “helped.”

    Team Romney knows that foreign policy is a very weak point with their candidate. This narrative doesn’t help and Romney, as the challenger to the incumbent, can’t keep adding negatives.

    If Romney’s team quickly switches to a “referendum” after their convention, they’ll have the money to start pounding Obama, which absolutely has the potential of bringing the race back in his favor.

    Obama can lose this election. Romney can help make that happen, but not how he and his team are performing right now.

  19. I agree, TM.

  20. - Imply that the POTUS is inherently incapable of relating to anyone with an “anglo-saxon heritage”
    - Diss the London Olympic Committee … just before visiting London
    - Be clueless regarding the roles and titles of dignitaries to whom you are being introduced
    - Publicly discuss secret meetings with British Intelligence

    Mitt is simply demonstrating his interpretation of “American exceptionalism”.

    When it comes to matters of international relations and diplomacy, Romney is vying for the title of “dumber” to complement GWB’s apt moniker of “dumb”.

    This is what happens when your foreign affairs expertise is limited to knowing the best locations to hide your wealth.

    Romney to foreign policy advisors:
    “Those English folks just don’t get me. Next time, start me off with a nation that is more like America … like Hawaii.”

  21. The most disturbing part of all of this for me is the fact that there are millions of Americans who won’t be disturbed by any of this.. Like the ones who felt compelled to rename anything French a few years ago…. or the ones who spout off about European socialism

    Somehow American Exceptionalism has been expanded to cover any and all boorish behavior towards international dignitaries. Mitt may know how to reorganize a failing company but he is at first glance a diplomatic zero.

  22. Great piece, Taylor!

    I still think you should vote though.

    I guess I keep going back to Mitt’s timely speech to the VFW giving the President helpful pointers on foreign policy:

    “President Obama has “. . . compromised our national-security secrets … and in dealings with other nations, given . . . insult where it is not deserved, and apology where it is not due…..” Mitt Romney, VFW Convention,

  23. “If Mitt Romney can’t vet his own national security campaign surrogates, how can he navigate, let alone lead, the largest industrial military complex in the world?”

    Rhetorical question I know, but of course the answer is that he can’t and won’t. He’ll turn that job over to Bush era neocons, John Bolton, and some others who the sane among us were hoping we’d seen the last of. Will that recipe for foreign policy disaster deter Obamas’s detractors? Not likely. They imagine a Mitt with some magic potion that will give the economy a shot of adrenalin. My take? They just don’t like Obama. So what if his opposition would be even worse, this isn’t about being rational. Cute fantasy though.

  24. “I’m used to the Hillary stuff and expect it after 2008. Knock yourself out or better yet, read my book!”

    You’re so rad, Taylor. Brava. Give em hell.

Submit a Comment