But Romney has struggled to lay out precisely how his foreign policy would differ from Obama's on issues like Iran. Romney has called for crippling sanctions coupled with the threat of force—essentially the Obama approach.
"A lot of this is Romney describing our current policy and masquerading it as criticism of the president," Kahl said.
But Kahl treaded carefully when it came to the "culture" spat with the Palestinians. "This is a very delicate issue, and I think ultimately our view is that it's up to Governor Romney to explain why those comments would be helpful at advancing the peace process in the Middle East," he said.
At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney offered a considerably more veiled criticism of Romney's trip.
"When American Presidents, American senators and congressmen and would-be leaders go abroad, what they say is placed under a magnifying glass and it carries great impact," he said at his daily briefing. "And Presidents, senators, congressmen, former governors need to be very mindful of the impact because of the diplomatic implications of what you say overseas."
"Getting it right matters greatly to America's standing in the world and to the successful execution of American foreign policy," Carney said.
Asked whether he was saying that Romney's trip had somehow undermined American foreign policy, Carney said no—and got in a dig at the tour's troubles.
"There's nothing that I can say that's detrimental—at least not to the president," he quipped.