In all three countries Mitt Romney has visited on his week-long foreign trip, either the candidate or his campaign have managed to step in it.
Romney's journey to Great Britain, Israel and Poland should have been a clean kill for the presumptive Republican nominee, but instead, at almost every stop, it turned messy.
In Warsaw this morning - the final stop for Romney before returning to the United States - a campaign spokesman told reporters to "shove it" as they shouted questions at the candidate.
"Governor Romney, are you concerned about some of the mishaps of your trip?" asked a CNN reporter. "What about your gaffes?" a Washington Post journalist chimed in.
The campaign's traveling press secretary, Rick Gorka, shot back, "Kiss my a**. This is a holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect." http://abcn.ws/N8qVkF
(Romney was visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw and reporters took the opportunity to pose questions to the candidate who has held only one media availability over the last week. He took three questions after a meeting at 10 Downing Street in London on Thursday. Romney has also sat for several television interviews during his trip, including one with ABC News.)
Gorka later apologized to several members of the press corps for his remarks.
But who can forget how even before Romney touched down on foreign soil, a campaign adviser, in an interview with a British paper, had already sparked controversy by suggesting that President Obama did not fully appreciate the U.S. and England's shared "Anglo-Saxon" heritage?
Or, how on the eve of the opening of the Summer Olympics, a chance for Romney to showcase his success running the 2002 Salt Lake City games was overshadowed by his comment that some of London's preparations were "disconcerting" - an assessment that insulted his British hosts.
In Israel, the campaign was not only forced to walk back a top foreign policy adviser's statement that Romney would "respect" Israeli military action to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, it also was left grappling with an outcry from Palestinian officials over Romney's view of the role that "culture" plays in the economic disparities between Israelis and Palestinians.
After today's tensions between the campaign and the press in Poland, Romney strategist Stuart Stevens pointed out that the purpose of the trip was not to "give a town hall."
"Look, there's no electoral college here," he said.
And he's right. Voters in swing states aren't likely to care much about Romney's missteps thousands of miles away, but it's clear that when Romney returns to America, he's going to need to change the subject - and fast.
SPEAKING OF CHANGING THE SUBJECT… Political wise-man Charlie Cook writes in a column for National Journal today that "Romney has a chance to hit the reset button with his vice presidential pick. It's not that his choice itself is likely to make that much difference, unless it's a bad one, but it is likely to begin a new and different narrative, shifting the focus away from his finances and his critical review of the United Kingdom's handling of preparations for the London Olympics, and that's probably a good thing. It's highly unlikely that he will announce a game-changing pick - my odds are that there's a 40 percent chance each of former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio getting the nod and only a 20 percent chance of it being someone different - but it will change the subject, at least for a time." http://bit.ly/MY4NuE
NAME THAT VEEP: And the Romney campaign is once again using running mate speculation to their advantage. From a campaign press release: "Romney for President today launched a new mobile app that will allow users to sign up to be the first to learn the identity of the 2012 Republican Vice Presidential candidate. The new app, called 'Mitt's VP,' will serve as the campaign's first official distribution channel for Mitt Romney's announcement of who he selects to be his Vice Presidential candidate. 'The historic announcement is getting closer,' said Beth Myers, Romney Campaign Senior Adviser. 'Soon everyone will know who Mitt Romney selects as his Vice Presidential running mate.'"
ROMNEY TAX FALLOUT CONTINUES. In a "World News" report from Warsaw, ABC's David Muir chronicled the Romney campaign's reluctance to supply any more information on Romney's tax payments over the years, after the candidate told Muir in an interview in Israel on Sunday that he would be "happy to go back and look" at what rates he's paid. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/OxIiAb
In a statement Monday, campaign spokeswoman Gail Gitcho did not say what tax rate Romney has paid in the past or whether he ever paid less than 13.9 percent of his income, but she did reiterate that he has paid all the taxes he legally had to pay. "Mitt Romney has paid his taxes in full compliance with U.S. law, and he has paid 100 percent of what he has owed," she said in a statement to ABC News. "As has previously been reported, in 2011, the Romneys will pay more than $3.2 million in taxes on $20.9 million in mostly investment income and will have donated more than $4 million to charity. In 2010, The Romneys paid more than $3 million in taxes on $21.6 million in mostly investment income and donated nearly $3 million to charity." http://abcn.ws/OguTIJ
DEMOCRATIC COUNTER-PROGRAMMING. Team Obama is keeping pressure on Romney over his tax returns, ABC's Devin Dwyer notes. In a new web spot from the campaign, Romney is shown telling David Muir he's "happy to go back and look" when asked whether he's ever paid less than 13.9% in taxes. The Obama video asks: "When will Romney come clean? We're still waiting." Obama campaign spokesman Adam Fetcher said in a statement: "His refusal to do so raises serious questions about just how much he has paid in taxes and whether he has resorted to tax loopholes and dodges to avoid paying his fair share." WATCH: http://bit.ly/R3gmoL
ROMNEY IN WARSAW: 'LOOK TO POLAND.' Mitt Romney praised Poland's free-enterprise economy during remarks delivered in Warsaw earlier today. Here's an excerpt, as prepared for delivery: "Yesterday, one of your leaders shared with me an economic truth that has been lost in much of the world: 'It is simple. You don't borrow what you cannot pay back.' … Rather than heeding the false promise of a government-dominated economy, Poland sought to stimulate innovation, attract investment, expand trade, and live within its means. Your success today is a reminder that the principles of free enterprise can propel an economy and transform a society. … In the 1980s, when other nations doubted that political tyranny could ever be faced down or overcome, the answer was, 'Look to Poland.' And today, as some wonder about the way forward out of economic recession and fiscal crisis, the answer once again is 'Look to Poland.'"
ABC's RICK KLEIN: Everything's supposed to be bigger in Texas. But this time it's quieter. The Tea Party is poised to score one of its biggest victories of this or any cycle today in Texas, if Ted Cruz bests the once-heavily favored Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the GOP run-off. What would make this victory remarkable is that Dewhurst's main sin wasn't growing out of touch with his constituents, or even clear ideological breaks - it was having the "E" of the establishment close to his name, and of course daring to work with the other side from time to time. And Cruz stayed under the national radar even while surging against a Rick Perry protégé in the nation's second-largest state. It's a lesson that tea partiers, once known for shouting down incumbents and wearing creative hats, can be silent career killers, too.
with Chris Good ( @c_good)
WHO MITT MADE MAD. ABC'S Gregory J. Krieg rounds up the missteps that have marred Mitt Romney's trip to England, Israel, and Poland. For instance: Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, was not pleased [with Romney's comment about economy and culture]. "It is a racist statement," he said. "This man doesn't realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation." Here's the world tour: http://abcn.ws/M0Q7gD
TEXAS TEA PARTY TEST. ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield reports: After a long, expensive and fiercely fought battle, the Texas GOP Senate primary will come to a close today, as voters cast ballots in the runoff between Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and former Solicitor General and up and coming tea party star Ted Cruz in a test for the Tea Party. Dewhurst, 66, and Cruz, 41, are facing off for the second time in their race to win the GOP nomination for Senate in the open race to fill the seat left vacant by Kay Bailey Hutchison's retirement. The two men battled for the first time in the state's presidential and congressional primary May 29, which resulted in a runoff. Although Dewhurst held a solid lead over Cruz in the May primary, recent polling has shown Cruz ahead. http://abcn.ws/N8pDpR
FAST AND FURIOUS: HOUSE INVESTIGATION FINDS FIVE ATF OFFICIALS RESPONSIBLE. The Los Angeles Times' Richard A. Serrano reports: "Republican congressional investigators have concluded that five senior ATF officials-from the special agent-in-charge of the Phoenix field office to the top man in the bureau's Washington headquarters-are collectively responsible for the failed Fast and Furious gun-tracking operation that was 'marred by missteps, poor judgments and inherently reckless strategy.'" http://lat.ms/Q93Oum
A HORSE, OF COURSE! HOW RAFALCA COULD DECIDE ROMNEY'S VEEP TIMING. ABC's Emily Friedman reports: One person who isn't heading back to the United States quite yet is Ann Romney, who will return to England from Poland Tuesday to see her horse compete Aug. 2 and 3. Depending on how the horse performs, he could show again Aug. 8 and 9, Ann Romney's spokeswoman, Sarah Haley, said. That means Ann Romney might not be back in the United States for at least another week. The candidate is unlikely to announce his running mate - unarguably one of the most important moments of his campaign - without his wife. http://abcn.ws/QsS9ZQ
OBAMA TO LAY OUT 'SPECIFIC AGENDA' FOR 2ND TERM. ABC's Devin Dwyer reports: Obama told a group of high-dollar donors at a New York City fundraiser that he intends to spend "a lot of time talking about the specific agenda that I intend to pursue in the second term." … "There is going to be, though, as the summer winds down and we get into the fall, the need for voters in these swing states to know not just what they're voting against but also what they're voting for," he said. http://abcn.ws/OhJWoh
OBAMA TO CAMPAIGN IN VIRGINIA, FLORIDA ON THURSDAY. From an Obama for America release this morning: "On Thursday, August 2, President Obama will travel to Orlando, FL and Leesburg, VA where he will discuss the choice in this election between two fundamentally different visions of how to grow the economy, create middle-class jobs and pay down the debt."
ELIZABETH WARREN TO SPEAK AT DNC. From a Democratic National Convention release Monday night: "Elizabeth Warren will speak at the 2012 Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, Sept. 5, from the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C. Warren will speak in primetime, just before President Clinton."
OBAMA WILL LEAN ON BILL CLINTON. USA Today's David Jackson reports: "The up-and-down relationship between President Obama and Democratic predecessor Bill Clinton is back on the upswing. … [Senior Obama strategist David] Axelrod said voters will be seeing Clinton during the fall campaign. "He and the president chat on a regular basis," Axelrod said. "We're going to take as much of his time as we can get. He's a great surrogate." http://usat.ly/T1NtYv
SEQUESTER ROAD TRIP. Politico's Manu Raju reports on Sens. Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and Kelly Ayotte's campaign to prevent automatic cuts scheduled for the end of the year: "'MacDill Air Force Base is toast if this goes through,' Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned a packed lecture hall here Monday, bringing about 200 concerned citizens into stone-cold silence. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said the effects would be "draconian," and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) predicted big tanker contracts would be 'at risk.'The message was meant to rattle the Tampa crowd, as the senators launched a gloom-and-doom campaign in battleground states to warn of the impending defense cuts." http://politi.co/MPMn35
CONGRESS NEARING TEMPORARY BUDGET DEAL. The Washington Post's Rosalind S. Helderman reports: "House and Senate leaders are nearing a temporary spending deal that would keep the federal government running for the first half of the next fiscal year, which will begin in October, aides in both parties said Monday, an effort to avoid a messy government shutdown fight on the eve of the November election. The agreement could be announced by House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) as soon as Tuesday, aides said. The deal would come with two months to spare, an unusually early resolution of Washington's annual budget fight for a Congress that has repeatedly run up against do-or-die deadlines and nearly forced shutdowns." http://wapo.st/OGv1Ug
WRATH OF THE GOP MODERATES. BuzzFeed's John Stanton reports: "Speaker John Boehner and his leadership team are facing a rising tide of frustration from Republican moderates angry over the rightward tack the conference has taken under his leadership. … the Columbus Dispatch reported that Rep. Steve LaTourette had abruptly decided to retire. That decision shocked many Republicans, in part because LaTourette - who like Boehner is a from Ohio - has had, at least until recently, an extremely close relationship with the Speaker. At the same time, Syracuse Republican Rep. Hanna harshly criticized the GOP, arguing leadership has gone too far in deferring to the demands of conservatives." http://bit.ly/QUd5Du
IN THE NOTE'S INBOX:
-TIME LAPSE VIDEO: CONVENTION PREP. The Republican National Convention has released a time-lapse video of preparations inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where the convention will take place Aug. 23-25. The 2:35 video covers two weeks, as workers strip out the Tampa Bay Storm's arena football field, adjust the hanging jumbotron, and reorganize seating, and begin to construct a stage. http://bit.ly/M0OlMH
with ABC's Arlette Saenz ( @ArletteSaenz)
-PORTMAN PUNTS WHEN ASKED IF READY TO BE VP: Sen. Rob Portman refused to comment on when asked by ABC News' Gregory Simmons at a stop in Pennsylvania Monday whether he would be ready to be VP if the call came. "This week, Portman punted when asked if he would be ready if the call came asking him to join the ticket," Simmons wrote. "'I'll let the Romney folks talk about readiness,' Portman told ABC News Monday. 'Governor Romney has a lot of great choices. There are a lot of people out there who can do the job and ultimately I think people vote for the president, not the vice president.' Portman has long been rumored to be on Romney's short list of running mates and has appeared often on his behalf in states such as North Carolina, South Carolina, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and his home state of Ohio. Today Portman rallied a group of 200 plus Republicans for Romney in Lancaster County, Pa., telling the crowd he 'had a good feeling' the crucial swing state would land in the red column this election cycle." http://abcn.ws/OxM1h4
-RUBIO'S RISING STAR: Sen. Marco Rubio may not capture the vice presidential nod, but the buzz surrounding him is lifting his political stature, Politico's Scott Wong reported. "Marco Rubio may be slipping down the shortlist of potential Mitt Romney running mates. But Rubio Inc. has been booming. The vice presidential buzz surrounding the Florida Republican has helped put his new memoir on The New York Times's best-seller list, creating a windfall that could potentially wipe out the senator's personal debt. Coffers for his campaign committee and leadership PAC also have become flush with cash in recent months - he's seen a 50 percent uptick in donations," Wong wrote. "And just as it seemed his vice presidential star was dimming, prominent Republicans, including Jeb Bush, Rudy Giuliani and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, began promoting Rubio, keeping his name in the mix, and in the media, as Romney's possible No. 2." http://politi.co/QU2HM7
@jpodhoretz: The Romney people need to figure out ways to give reporters bits of news to keep them entertained, otherwise they make trouble on the bus.
@lennycurry: Have meaningful day!
-President Obama has no campaign events scheduled and will hold meetings at the White House.
-Mitt Romney continues his foreign trip spending the day in Warsaw, Poland. Romney met with Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski and visited a number of memorials and monuments including the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Romney also delivered a foreign policy remarks at the University of Warsaw Library.
ABC's Josh Haskell ( @HaskellBuzz)
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