LONDON - Mitt Romney has only been on British soil for 24 hours, but he and his campaign are quickly finding out that every word matters.
Even before he touched down, a quote by an unnamed Romney adviser in London's Daily Telegraph newspaper was already creating a stir. The "adviser" suggested that the Republican candidate had a greater appreciation for the U.S. and Britain's shared "Anglo-Saxon heritage" than President Obama, was already creating a stir.
The row - as the Brits would call it - took almost no time to reach Americans shores, setting off a virtual shouting match between the Obama and Romney campaigns that drew a reaction from Vice President Joe Biden who accused his opponent's campaign of "playing politics with international diplomacy."
Team Romney distanced itself from the quote and, in an interview with NBC News' Brian Williams. Romney did some damage control as well: "I can tell you that we have a very special relationship between the United States and Great Britain. It goes back to our very beginnings- cultural and- and- historical. But I also believe the president understands that. So I- I don't agree with whoever that advisor might be.")
In London today, Romney has a full slate of meetings. Earlier he sat down with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, current Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband, Foreign Secretary William Hague, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and he will also meet with Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne before the day is over.
But don't expect to hear much from the presumptive Republican nominee today - most of the events are photo ops only. The candidate does have at least three policy sherpas along for his meetings - former Lt. Gov Kerry Healey from Massachusetts, former Missouri Sen. Jim Talent, who serves as a foreign policy adviser to the campaign, and the campaign's Policy Director Lanhee Chen.
Before his meeting with Blair, Romney said he was "looking forward to the chance to see at least one" Olympic event. (Both men plan to attend tomorrow night's opening ceremonies.)
"I'm hoping to see at least one swimming event," Romney told Blair. "And my wife has a horse competing in the equestrian events, in dressage. Her horse was chosen number three of all U.S. horses, so she's very pleased to be a part of that."
And it's evident that Romney will try to avoid any more potholes on his journey from England to Israel and to Poland. During a meeting with Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, a British reporter asked both Miliband and Romney for their views on current British economic policy.
"While I'm on foreign soil, I'm very careful not to be critical of my own government's policies," Romney said. "I would be even more remiss if I were to be critical to any other government's policies. I will instead look forward to an exchange of ideas."
In case you missed it: Watch David Muir's report from London on Romney's trip so far, including his meeting with former British PM Tony Blair on Good Morning America. http://abcn.ws/O0P8tT
LAST NIGHT IN LONDON. Mitt and Ann Romney stepped out of their Hyde Park hotel last night in London to go to dinner at The Wolesley restaurant, ABC's Emily Friedman reports. The hotel, on Piccadilly, was originally designed to be a car show room for Wolesley Motors Limited, featuring high-end cars placed on show on a marble floor. Romney, as he notes on the trail, is an avid car fan. But the showroom went bankrupt shortly after opening, according to the restaurant website, and was taken over by Barclays Bank which turned it into a branch. It was eventually transformed into a restaurant in 2003. Bob Diamond, the former Barclays CEO who resigned in scandal earlier this month, had planned to co-host a fundraiser for Romney during his trip to the U.K. The fundraiser will go on without Diamond, and is still likely to draw contributions from Barclays' executives, many of whom have already donated to Romney's campaign.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
-Today Mitt and Ann Romney will tape an interview with CNN's Piers Morgan that will air tonight.
-According to a Romney campaign aide, three of the Romneys' sons are arriving in London today to join their parents - Tagg, Josh and Craig Romney.
ABC's RICK KLEIN: All eyes are on Mitt Romney, of course, during a trip abroad he hopes replicates the images and successes of his rival's foreign trip four years ago. But back home, the stakes may be just as high. The trip began just as Romney's messaging began to break through, gaining traction over Obama's "you didn't build that gaffe." It's left to a formidable surrogate operation - led by the veepstakers, in another reminder why an early choice would have been folly - to keep up the drumbeat, along with local activists organizing mini-events. If we're still talking about the line when Romney is back on US soil, they will have done their jobs and then some.
-WHAT HAPPENS IN CHICAGO DOESN'T STAY IN CHICAGO. "Some of President Barack Obama's most senior aides have begun making regular appearances at his campaign's Chicago headquarters, tightening the link between the White House and the re-election effort as the race intensifies," the Wall Street Journal's Peter Nicholas and Carol E. Lee report. "Top aides Pete Rouse and David Plouffe have been spending about one day a week at the campaign's offices, senior Obama advisers said. Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer made a trip to Chicago this week and is expected to spend about one day a week at the headquarters as the campaign season picks up. White House officials and the Obama campaign said the presence of the men at Obama headquarters doesn't suggest discontent with the campaign's operations. The visits are meant to ensure the White House and campaign are aware of what the other is planning and to align campaign schedules and messages, advisers said. But others close to the campaign say Mr. Rouse in particular has been on hand to support campaign manager Jim Messina, who hasn't before run an organization as large and complex. … Administration officials say the aides cleared the campaign work with White House attorneys." http://on.wsj.com/Ob51Sh
-ROMNEY CAMPAIGN UNVEILS NEW WEB VIDEO: Today, Romney for President released a new web video. Here's the release from the Romney campaign accompanying the video called, "These Hands: Nevada": "Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. But President Obama's comments show that he just doesn't understand who the real job creators are. How can he help small businesses, like those in Nevada, when he doesn't even recognize their value?" WATCH: http://mi.tt/Q7RZ4g
LAURA BUSH TALKS ABOUT LIFE POST-POLITICS WITH ABC'S JONATHAN KARL. You won't see former president George W. Bush and his wife Laura Bush at the Republican National convention this year. He's not attending and that's just fine with his wife, who told ABC News' Jonathan Karl the couple is done with politics. But that doesn't mean they're out of public life. Laura Bush outlined key initiatives she and her husband will continue to work on and she made a pitch for the importance of foreign aid, a budget item many recently elected Republicans would like to see cut. Missing the GOP Convention in Tampa next month won't be a big deal, according to Laura Bush, who pointed out that she and the former president gave a pep talk to Mitt Romney's staff in Boston on Tuesday. And she said it's not hard for her or her husband to stay on the sidelines even as Democrats criticize his legacy. "We know what politics is like," she said. "We know that, you know, people love to blame somebody else. That's just a fact of life in politics…I think George makes an easy target." WATCH: http://abcn.ws/NUv0fB
with Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)
MADE IN CHINA: AN OLYMPIC PIN SHAPED LIKE MITT ROMNEY'S FACE? ABC's Chris Good reports, like the uniforms in 2012 and in 2002, when Mitt Romney ran the Salt Lake Olympics much of its official memorabilia was manufactured overseas, including a 9/11 commemorative pin and another fashioned in the shape of Romney's head. Salt Lake 2002 Olympics paraphernalia obtained by ABC bears "Made in China" and "Made in Bangladesh" stamps. Two hats, made by Illinois-based American Needle, were manufactured in Bangladesh. A collectible tin and several pins, including a cartoonish Romney likeness and a 9/11 pin bearing the words "United We Stand," were manufactured in China by Aminco, the U.S. Olympic Committee's sole licensee for lapel pins, according to the company's website. A stuffed animal was made in China by Fischer Price, and a Salt Lake 2002 tote bag was made in Taiwan. http://abcn.ws/Ocv4bV
OLYMPICS ARE SEEN BROADLY FAVORABLY, REPUBLICANS, DEMOCRATS DIFFER ON DRESSAGE. ABC pollster Gary Langer reports, Americans are favorably anticipating the Olympics in general, and the swimming competition in particular. But Rafalca fever hasn't exactly gripped the nation. Seventy-two percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll express a favorable opinion of the upcoming London Olympics overall, and 79 percent see the swimming competition favorably. Far fewer, 47 percent, hold a positive view of the horse-riding competition called dressage, in which a horse co-owned by Mitt Romney's wife, Ann, is competing. Inescapably, there's a political component to these views: Democrats are 15 points more likely than Republicans to see dressage unfavorably, 34 percent vs. 19 percent, with independents positioned almost exactly between the two. Democrats still see dressage more favorably than unfavorably, albeit by a scant 8-point margin. That widens to 23 points among independents and 30 points among Republicans. There are no major political divisions with regards to the games overall. http://abcn.ws/M8sMuV
WORLD NEWS REWIND: CHICK-FIL-A'S CULTURE CLASH. ABC's Ron Claiborne reports on the ever-growing controversy regarding Chick-Fil-A COO Dan Cathy's recent comments on gay marriage. "I think we're inviting God's judgment when we our fist at him and say 'we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage" Cathy said. The comment resulted in a firestorm with politicians on both sides of the aisle jumping in. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the city would not be going ahead with the previously slated opening of a new Chick-Fil-A in the windy city, while former Republican presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum have called for a show of support for the chain. http://abcn.ws/NKiFcH
OBAMA RENEWS PUSH TO END GUN VIOLENCE. ABC's Mary Bruce reports, in his most extensive remarks on gun control since the tragedy in Tucson, Ariz., President Obama on Wednesday night renewed his push to reduce gun violence saying "AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals." Citing the massacre in Colorado and the "less publicized acts of violence" that plague the nation's cities, the president told the National Urban League that steps to reduce gun violence "should not be controversial, they should be common sense." http://abcn.ws/PKx4aN
THREE ATTACKS DEMOCRATS MAY USE AGAINST TIM PAWLENTY. Yahoo!'s Chris Moody reports, what kinds of attacks would the former Minnesota governor face should Romney choose him as his second fiddle? Here are three stories from Pawlenty's past that Democrats have surely looked into. And these just might re-emerge before Election Day: While in the Minnesota House, Pawlenty served on the board of a corporation whose subsidiary was charged with scamming customers… Pawlenty's first gubernatorial campaign had to pay $600,000 in fines for improper coordination with the state party… Pawlenty's campaign treasurer was charged with deceiving homeowners facing foreclosure. http://abcn.ws/PtEaj6
OBAMA: GOP HOLDING MIDDLE CLASS TAX CUTS 'HOSTAGE.' ABC's Mary Bruce reports, Just hours after the Senate voted to extend tax cuts for the middle class, President Obama accused House Republicans of holding the tax cuts "hostage" until the nation agrees to spend $1 trillion on tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans. Speaking to supporters at the House of Blues, the president praised the Senate for moving forward with his plan to extend the Bush-era tax rate for families earning less than $250,000 a year and to let the rate expire for higher earners." http://abcn.ws/Q7FQw6
SENATE VOTES TO REQUIRE OBAMA TO SPELL OUT SEQUESTRATION CUTS. Roll Call's Meredith Shiner reports: "The Senate today approved a bill to force the Obama administration to report its plans for enacting about $1 trillion in across-the-board discretionary spending cuts triggered by the failure of a budget negotiating group last fall. The Sequestration Transparency Act, approved last week by the House, was passed by unanimous consent in the Senate and will now head to President Barack Obama's desk. It will require the White House to submit a detailed plan on the cuts, both military and domestic, to Congress within 30 days of the law's enactment…The transparency legislation approved Wednesday night requires that the president's report to Congress include discretionary appropriations estimates for each category of the sequestration percentages, the amount of cuts necessary to achieve that number, an identification of each account funded by regular appropriations to be sequestered in fiscal 2013 and estimates for accounts not funded by the regular appropriation." http://bit.ly/LOzOTZ
NEGATIVE ADS HIT AT IDENTITY TO SHAPE RACE FOR PRESIDENT. The New York Times' Jeremy Peters reports: "As the presidential campaign has become a clash over a host of issues - from tax cuts to foreign diplomacy to claims of words taken out of context - Mr. Romney, Mr. Obama and their allies have started trading accusations over a much more delicate and personal question: Are you an American like me? Their choice of words and imagery is a reminder of how powerful undercurrents of identity, wealth, race and religion are shaping this election. These surface in subtle and not-so-subtle ways as two candidates who can have trouble connecting with voters on a personal level try to define each other as detached from mainstream American life." http://nyti.ms/LQCBaw
ANONYMOUS QUOTES IS A TACTIC USED BY BOTH PARTIES. ABC's Devin Dwyer notes, Mitt Romney and his campaign have been chiding the Obama forces for "adopting the comments made by people who are unnamed." But the record shows the presumptive GOP presidential nominee regularly engages in the practice, too….The use of anonymous quotes as political tools can cut both ways. http://abcn.ws/MJ6hc5
CHRIS CHRISTIE IN 2016? ABC's Shush Walshe reports, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he's open to running for president in four years if Mitt Romney doesn't win in November. According to the Associated Press, Christie said he hopes Romney beats President Obama and is running for his second term in 2016, but if not he will "certainly think about it." http://abcn.ws/Qk6HLh
A GUIDE TO THE FINAL 100 DAY SPRINT FOR OBAMA AND ROMNEY. USA Today's Susan Page reports: For the pair of presidential candidates who must feel they have been campaigning forever - after all, it's been nearly a year since the opening Iowa Straw Poll- a milestone Sunday signals the final sprint. One hundred days until Nov. 6. Much of the focus will be even tighter, on perhaps 10 hours within those 100 days: Romney's announcement of his running mate next month, the end-of-the-summer speeches delivered by Romney and Obama at the national political conventions, and the three presidential debates scheduled for October. http://usat.ly/P0Zb0H
IN THE NOTE'S INBOX:
REPUBLICAN STATE LEADERSHIP COMMITTEE ANNOUNCES "RIGHT WOMEN, RIGHT NOW" PROGRAM. The Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), the branch of the party that focuses on electing state-level Republican candidates, is announcing a new program- "Right Women, Right Now." The program will be co-chaired by Kerry Healey, the former lieutenant Gov. of Massachusetts under Mitt Romney, and former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, and aims to recruit and support 150 qualified women for state-level office. Handel and Healey, along with a board of other state-elected Republican female officials, will help construct state-by-state plans for the project, as well as recommending potential candidates.
with ABC's Arlette Saenz ( @ArletteSaenz)
VP CONTENDER BONANZA BEGINS: Mitt Romney may not be making a pick in the next week, but his surrogates and potential VP contenders are preparing to be on the trail in full force over the next five days while Romney is overseas. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell kick off the surrogate tour today by hopping on the Romney campaign bus for events in Davenport, Coralville, and Des Moines Iowa, and Sen. John Thune will hold a "We Did Build It" rally in Virginia Beach. On Friday, Tim Pawlenty will open a victory office in Wake County and hold an event at a youth hockey rink, ABC News' Shushannah Walshe reported, and Thune will head to Virginia to bracket President Obama's campaign stops in the state, ABC News' Sunlen Miller reported. Sen. Marco Rubio will make his first set of solo campaign appearances for Romney on Saturday at his old elementary school in Las Vegas as well as an event in Des Moines, Iowa while Jindal will venture down to Florida to hold an event on Saturday as well. Rep. Paul Ryan may join NC chair Reince Priebus on a bus tour through Wisconsin Sunday, and Sen. Rob Portman will campaign in Pennsylvania for Romney on Monday, ABC News' Gregory Simmons reported, closing out the five days of high profile surrogate events.
ROMNEY JOKES ON VP: Asked by NBC News' Brian Williams whether he is looking for an "incredibly boring white guy" for the number two spot on his ticket, Romney quipped back, "You told me iafor his announcement. "I can tell you I'm not gonna announce it this week. While I'm overseas, I'm not gonna announce my vice presidential running mate. But when the decision is made, I'll make that announcement. It's not made yet. But I can't tell you when it's gonna be," Romney said. "That's something which we'll decide down the road."
JEB TELLS ROMNEY: PICK RUBIO! Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush made a personal appeal to Romney recently, suggesting to him that he should pick Marco Rubio has his running mate, the AP's Brendan Farrington reported. "Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush thinks Sen. Marco Rubio is ready to be vice president and he shared those thoughts with presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, he said Wednesday," Farrington wrote. "Bush said he has been a huge fan of Rubio's for years and hopes that Romney chooses him. He said he made his pitch to Romney in a recent conversation, but the former Massachusetts governor didn't reveal which direction he was leaning. Bush said the choice is a personal one and respects Romney for keeping his thoughts close to his vest." http://hrld.us/MZ0P3m
@CPHeinze : RT @HotlineAlberta Sarah Palin, on attending the GOP Convention: "We'll have an announcement in a couple of days" http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/tv/the-tv-column-sarah-palin-vs-the-monkey-at-nbcs-press-tour-party/2012/07/25/gJQAvUEw9W_story_1.html
-President Obama holds meetings at the White House.
-Mitt Romney, in London, with Prime Minister David Cameron, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, Foreign Secretary William Hague, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband. Tonight Romney attends a fundraiser.
Check out The Note's Futures Calendar : http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV