Mitt Romney got many of the headlines he wanted out of his trip to Israel this weekend:
"Romney Backs Israeli Stance on Threat of Nuclear Iran," wrote The New York Times; Politico weighed in: "Mitt Romney: No more 'diplomatic distance' from Israel"; and the Wall Street Journal noted, "Romney Talks Tough."
But the Republican presidential candidate also got some he didn't:
"Romney Campaign Muddles Iran Stand," according to BuzzFeed; National Public Radio put it this way: "Romney Camp Comments On Israeli Action In Iran, Then Clarifies"; and from Bloomberg News: "Romney Opens Fundraiser in Israel to Media After Outcry."
From his apparent insult of London Olympics organizers to his clarification of an adviser's comment on the fraught issue of a military strike against Iran, Romney's been learning a lesson about the perils of international communication.
After Romney foreign policy aide Dan Senor noted that "if Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing [nuclear] capability the governor would respect that decision," ABC's David Muir sought, in a one-on-one interview with Romney, to decipher exactly where Romney stands on the question. http://abcn.ws/Q46b16
"I recognize the right of Israel to defend itself," Romney told Muir yesterday in Jerusalem. "At the same time we are two nations, both committed to employing every means we have to keep Iran from pursuing their nuclear folly and that means every diplomatic course, economic forces as well, sanctions are beginning to have a greater impact on Iran we want to execute all of these elements of soft power if you will but of course we maintain all options. If all of our political and economic options fail we of course retain military options as well."
And, in an interview with CBS News, Romney added: "Because I'm on foreign soil, I don't want to be creating new foreign policy for my country or in any way to distance myself from the foreign policy of our nation."
When it came to one of the issues that had been dominating the election-year debate before he left for his trip abroad - whether he would release additional years of tax returns - Romney was also keeping his cards close to the vest.
As ABC's Emily Friedman notes, Romney could not say today whether he had ever paid a tax rate lower than 13.9 percent, saying he would have to "go back and check."
"I haven't calculated that," Romney told Muir. "I'm happy to go back and look, but my view is I've paid all the taxes required by law."
"From time to time I've been audited as it happens, I think, to other citizens as well, and the accounting firm which prepares my taxes has done a very thorough and complete job pay taxes as legally due," Romney added. "I don't pay more than are legally due."
More tax questions likely await the GOP candidate when he returns stateside, but with Romney on the final leg of his trip, Democrats are reveling in Romney's missteps while overseas.
One top Democratic official told The Note: "We're going to start the week by tying a bow on Romney's foreign trip where he proved to be an embarrassment and not at all prepared to be commander-in-chief." MITT AND MUIR: WATCH ABC's David Muir interview Mitt Romney yesterday in Jerusalem: http://abcn.ws/Qqr9dB
TRANSCRIPT of the interview: http://abcn.ws/Qqr9dB
ROMNEY ON LONDON: I TELL PEOPLE WHAT I BELIEVE. In ABC's wide-ranging, exclusive interview with Mitt Romney in Jerusalem, David Muir asked Romney about the Olympics comments that roiled the British press. Romney responded: "I tend to tell people what I actually believe and referring to the comments that were made in the media was something which I felt was an honest reflection of what was being concerned what was concerning folks and having had the experience I'm absolutely convinced the organizing committee did what people hoped which is overcome the challenges and produced a brilliant product." http://abcn.ws/LXy3UK
ROMNEY VS. OBAMA ON AFGHANISTAN: WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE? More from David Muir's interview: On Afghanistan, Romney told Muir, "It's the same time frame the president is speaking of with regards to the transition of the afghan forces, I also indicated that I want to make sure that we have had consultation with the commanders on the ground. The place where the president and I have had a difference with regards to time table is with withdrawal of our surge troops. Commanders were looking at December 2012 withdrawal point the president moves that up to September 2012 which is still during fighting season I sided with the commanders and felt the 2012 decision, the September 2012 decision was premature." http://abcn.ws/P8BFzf
GOD AND MITT AT THE KING DAVID: Romney spoke Monday morning at a fundraiser at Jerusalem's King David Hotel where wealth donors in attendance included billionaire Sheldon Adelson: Romney weighed in on his impressions of Israel: "I am overwhelmingly impressed with the hand of providence, whenever it chooses to apply itself, and also the greatness of the human spirit, and how individuals who reach for greatness and have purpose above themselves are able to build and accomplish things that could only be done by a species created in the image of God. I come to this place, therefore, with a sense of profound humility, as I look around here at great people who've accomplished a great thing, and also a sense of spiritual connection, acknowledging the hand of providence in establishing this place and making it a holy city."
ABC's RICK KLEIN: Is it over yet? The no-downside Romney foreign trip left its potential on the other side of the water's edge. Not that the soil back home is that much more friendly (thanks, Newsweek), but the shadow of London followed Romney to Jerusalem and now Poland. In Israel, Romney sough to chart a distinct foreign policy without defining it as such, even as he tempers down what his campaign aides have been saying about a possible Israeli strike on Iran. The trip is hard to second-guess - candidates go abroad these days, and London for the Olympics plus a visit with an old friend named Bibi made too much sense to pass up. Yesterday's pictures, of the Romneys at the Western Wall, and next to a chummy Israeli prime minister, may have been worth the airfare alone. But Friday and its latest jobs report can't come fast enough now for Boston.
"THIS WEEK" REWIND: MESSAGE TEST: GIBBS VS. MADDEN ON THE ECONOMY. Obama adviser Robert Gibbs and senior Romney adviser Kevin Madden sparred on the election's biggest issue:
MADDEN: "[T]his is a president who sort of abandoned, really, any idea of offering the public any new ideas about getting out of the current economic stagnation. … We have had unemployment over 8 percent for 41 months now. And this is a president who continues to call for new taxes. This is a president that continues to call for new regulations on small businesses, the entrepreneurs and the Americans that are trying to help grow and expand the economy."
GIBBS: "[T]he president is the president of the United States. He understand where the buck stops. We also understand what we inherited and what we can't go back to, which are the tried-and-tested ideas of four years ago which got us into this mess. … This week, the Senate rightly voted to ensure that when - at the end of the year, we extend tax cuts for middle-class families. But their economic theory is we get this economy going by giving millionaires and billionaires more and more tax cuts. That's not what's going to get this economy moving."
WHAT ISRAEL THINKS OF ROMNEY. Ruth Marcus, who recently traveled to Israel, discussed Mitt Romney's trip there on ABC's "This Week" round table: "One thing that I took away understanding about Israel is that it has a little bit of a Sally Field relationship with this president, which is, 'Does he like us? Does he really like us?' And they're nervous about that. And that actually cuts both ways for Mitt Romney. They are interested in him, they are looking forward to hearing from him all the words of support, but they are nervous about the relationship already with the president who they think might have them to kick around for the next four years, and they don't want to make that relationship worse."
DOMESTIC POLITICS: ISRAEL AND EVANGELICALS. George Will, during the roundtabe: "The vast majority of American Jews are going to vote Democratic. Always have, far as I can tell, always will. The great support Israel right now, the energy is in the Evangelical community, which is part of the Republican base. So the trip to Israel is a way of firing up this enormously important, somewhat skeptical of Mitt Romney, Republican base."
WATCH the full episode and see clips: http://abcnews.go.com/ ThisWeek/
with Chris Good ( @c_good)
CHENEY IS BACK AND TALKING TO ABC'S JON KARL: ABC's Eric Noe writes: With a new heart, Dick Cheney is back. In an exclusive interview with ABC News' Jonathan Karl, Cheney reflects on the "miracle" that a heart transplant promises to give him years of added life. And Cheney shows he is as confrontational as ever, taking on President Obama - and even Sarah Palin. Cheney, 71, details how far back he has come. He remembers waking from weeks of heavy sedation after having a pump installed in his heart in 2010, a grueling operation that left him seeing his own mortality in the mirror.
CHENEY: PICKING PALIN WAS A 'MISTAKE.' Cheney tells Jonathan Karl: "[T]he test to get on that small list has to be: is this person capable of being president of the United States? And that's usually a very, very short list … I think that that was one of the problems McCain had. I like Gov Palin. I've met her, I know her. She was an attractive candidate, but based on her background-she'd only been a governor for two years-I don't think she passed that test … of being ready to take over. And I think that was a mistake." http://abcn.ws/MV7nUf
RECALLS KNOWING HIS HEART WAS 'AT AN END.' Cheney tells Jonathan Karl: "Two years ago this time I was on a respirator, heavily sedated. Just had a pump… installed on my heart because my heart had gotten so weak after six heart attacks and 30-some years of heart disease that it was, you know, it was at the end. … I lost 40 pounds. I was heavily sedated in the intensive care unit for weeks afterwards. I had pneumonia while I was in recovering from the surgery. And by the time I came out from under I looked in a mirror and what I saw was my dad shortly before he died. He was in his 80s." http://abcn.ws/PbsDkN
OBAMA WORSE THAN JIMMY CARTER. Asked for his general assessment of President Obama, here's what Dick Cheney had to say: "I think he's been one of our weakest presidents. I just fundamentally disagree with him philosophically. I'd be hard put to find any Democratic president that I've disagreed with more." Karl: "Worse than Jimmy Carter, from your perspective?" Cheney: "Yes."
BILL CLINTON WILL HAVE KEY ROLE AT CONVENTION. Former President Bill Clinton will play a central role at the Democratic National Convention this year, assuming the stage for a prime-time address in a slot normally reserved for an incumbent VP. Clinton will speak Wednesday night in Charlotte, the evening before President Obama will formally accept the nomination in Bank of America Stadium, campaign and DNCC officials tell ABC News's Devin Dwyer. Biden will share the stage with Obama on Thursday, delivering his own solo address before the president speaks, the officials said. News of the speaker line-up was first reported by the New York Times. Clinton's role at the Convention comes as Obama increasingly invokes his popular Democratic predecessor on the campaign trail in part as a defense of his economic plan. The two have also conducted joint fundraisers in the past few months to help rouse the Democratic base.
NEW ABC/YAHOO! VIDEO: OLYMPIC POLITICS. The Olympics are supposed to be a time when the entire world puts aside politics and comes together for athletic competition, but it doesn't always work out that way. In the latest installment of "Political Punch," ABC's Jake Tapper recaps the controversy surrounding Mitt Romney's trip to London, the Olympic Committee's request that footage not be used in political ads, and a history of Olympic politics. http://yhoo.it/Ox3T8d
ROMNEY BRINGS IN $1 MILLION AT ISRAEL FUNDRAISER. Yahoo! News' Holly Bailey reports: "Mitt Romney raised more than $1 million at a campaign fundraiser here on his way out of Israel. At least 40 donors paid between $25,000 and $50,000 apiece to attend a breakfast with Romney at a hotel - including Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who has contributed more than $20 million to Republicans and conservative super PACS so far this election cycle. Of that total, $10 million went to Restore Our Future, a political committee backing Romney's bid for president." http://abcn.ws/MOdPho
HOW WILL RUSSIA COMMENTS PLAY IN POLAND? Businessweek's Nicole Gaouette writes: "While Polish relations with Obama have been bumpy, Romney's attempts to play off Cold War fears in a former Soviet satellite and to connect with Americans of eastern European descent may not resonate in today's Poland, analysts and scholars said. Romney has called Russia, Poland's historic foe, America's 'No. 1 geopolitical foe' and accused Obama of the 'sudden abandonment' of Poles because the president delayed - and then revived - plans for a missile defense system in eastern Europe." http://buswk.co/Q4x4T9
ROMNEY FUNNELS MONEY TO STATE PARTIES. Roll Call's David Drucker reports: "Individuals are limited to contributions of $2,500 to Romney for President and $30,800 to the Republican National Committee. But through the Romney Victory Inc. joint fundraising committee, which raised $140 million in the second quarter, maxed-out Romney and RNC donors can contribute to the Republican parties of Idaho, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Vermont. There, the money will await redistribution to state parties in presidential battlegrounds as determined by team Romney and the RNC." http://bit.ly/PbkDQQ
A TEXAS TEA PARTY: GOP SENATE PRIMARY SET FOR TUESDAY. USA Today's Susan Davis reports: "One of the biggest tests of strength for the movement's ability to upend the GOP establishment in 2012 is Tuesday, when formerly long-shot candidate attorney Ted Cruz is favored by election analysts to upset Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the Senate Republican primary runoff in a race to replace retiring GOP Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Cruz started the race underfunded, lesser-known and without the support of the Texas Republican Party establishment, including Gov. Rick Perry. Endorsements from GOP activists, such as former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and Sens. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Rand Paul of Kentucky, brought in national attention and money." http://usat.ly/Oceesx
BIDEN TO AFT: ROMNEY DOESN'T VALUE EDUCATION. The Associated Press reports on Vice President Joe Biden's adderss to the American Federation of Teachers national convention: "Vice President Joe Biden, in a speech Sunday to the nation's second largest teachers unions, said Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney doesn't treat public education as a priority and distrusts the hardworking teachers who struggle to create opportunity for the nation's young people. … From what Romney and his GOP rivals said during the primary debates, 'it looks like they don't think public education is worth the investment,' Biden said."
NEW SENATE AD: WISCONSIN ENGINES. Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin, who is running for Senate in Wisconsin, released a new TV ad, highlighting local manufacturing: "Coast guard cutters: built in America, but powered by engines manufactured overseas, even though you can't buy a better engine than the ones made right here in Wisconsin. That's why I led the fight to require the Coast Guard to buy their engines from us, not foreign companies. I'm Tammy Baldwin. While the Coast Guard protects our shores, we can also protect our jobs. That's why I approve this message." http://bit.ly/MWnXBf
with ABC's Arlette Saenz ( @ArletteSaenz)
-PORTMAN 'FEELS THE PRESSURE' TO DELIVER OHIO: Campaigning in Ohio on Saturday, Portman said he sees an added pressure in bringing Romney a win in his home state of Ohio, NBC News' Andrew Rafferty reported. "Even though he is not yet on the Republican presidential ticket, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman already feels the burden of delivering his home state for presumptive nominee Mitt Romney," Rafferty wrote. "'I already feel the pressure,'Portman said when asked whether he felt he would be responsible for ensuring the Buckeye State is red this November if chosen as Romney's running mate. 'I'm chairing the effort here in Ohio and again I'm feeling good about things because there is a just a lot of volunteers who are stepping forward. I haven't seen energy like this in past elections, presidential or otherwise… My focus is going to be Ohio. And I do believe that this year, Ohio could make the difference again.'" http://nbcnews.to/Qr82Qp
-RYAN SEES WISCONSIN WIN: Rep. Paul Ryan said he believes Romney can pull off a victory in Wisconsin this fall, NBC News' Alex Moe reported. "Campaigning for the GOP nominee in his home state with just 100 days before the presidential election, Congressman Paul Ryan said he is confident Mitt Romney can win here in the Badger State this November," Moe wrote. "'We haven't gone Republican on top of the ticket since 1984 but we think this time is different. We think it's different because people in Wisconsin are tired of the direction Washington is going. They don't the president's policies have worked,' Ryan told NBC News in an interview Sunday evening. They think, 'this is not the uniter. This is not the hope and change. This is a man who is dividing us, who is giving us terrible economic policies, who is growing government, who is growing the debt, and that just doesn't rub right with Wisconsinites.'" http://nbcnews.to/MOfymY
@HotlineJosh : Nice get from @mkraju: Olympia Snowe nursing a grudge against the GOP's #MESEN nominee. Makes holding seat even harder http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0712/79100.html
@JohnJHarwood : Wishing Reps. Dave Camp and Jesse Jackson Jr. a return to good health as soon as possible
-President Obama spends the day in Washington, DC and travels to New York tonight for a fundraiser.
-Mitt Romney, in Gdansk, Poland, meets today with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, former President Lech Walesa, and visits two historical sites before heading to Warsaw.
Check out The Note's Futures Calendar : http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV