Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney landed in Israel tonight with hopes of hitting the reset button on a foreign trip beset by verbal stumbles.
On a trip intended to prove that Romney was capable of appearing presidential overseas, the former Massachusetts governor made himself the target of hostile British headlines and rebukes by the British prime minister after he publicly questioned organizers' preparedness for the 2012 Olympics.
As it leaves London behind, the campaign is also aiming to leave behind the political bruises the city gave him.
But with a schedule that includes meeting with a Palestinian leader, giving a high-profile speech on the United Sates-Israel relationship on Sunday and holding a fundraiser Monday at Jerusalem's famous King David hotel, Romney will navigate a perilous political terrain.
In a sign that the campaign may be anxious about the risk of another gaffe, a campaign spokesman announced today that the fundraiser, which will be attended by some of Romney's biggest bankrollers, including casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, will be off limits to the press.
With that move, the campaign reneged on a commitment it made in April to allow a pool of reporters to cover all Romney fundraisers held in public venues.
Romney has already come under attack for comments he made in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. In the interview, Romney seemed to chastise President Obama for what he called "public denouncing of Israel by the U.S. in the [United Nations]."
"I believe that is the real way to achieve peace ... by working with Israel, not creating distance between Israel and America," Romney continued, according to Haaretz.
Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith hit back at Romney for both "misrepresenting" the president's record and for what she said was a violation of the longstanding tradition of not criticizing the president while overseas.
Romney had vowed before his trip to obey the so-called "water's edge" rule.
Breaking that rule "risks damaging relations with our allies and undermining our nation overseas," Smith said in a statement.
"So far on his trip, Romney has insulted our allies and broken a bipartisan tradition of not engaging in political attacks while abroad, both of which underscore that he's not ready to be our nation's top diplomat and commander-in-chief," she said.
On Wednesday, just hours after Romney's plane touched down in London, his campaign came under fire for unnamed aides' comments to the British newspaper the Daily Telegraph suggesting that, unlike Obama, Romney appreciates the two nations' "Anglo-Saxon heritage."
That comment prompted Vice President Joe Biden to accuse Romney of "playing politics with international diplomacy" and political commentators to chide what was widely perceived to be racial insensitivity in the remarks.
Adding to the campaign's public-relations woes, the White House announced Friday that Obama had signed legislation strengthening the United States' alliance with Israel. The new law provides $70 million in new funding for Israel's missile defense system, which Obama said in the signing ceremony was "critical" in the nation's effort to defend itself from missile strikes.
Though the White House said the timing of the president's approval of the bill was coincidental, it created an awkward backdrop for Romney's attacks on the president's treatment of Israel, which he has called "shabby."
Obama traveled to Israel as a presidential candidate, but he has not visited as president.