LONDON - Say what you want about the British press, they certainly have a way with words.
"Mitt the twit," reads this morning's headline in the country's national tabloid, The Sun. "Wannabe US President Romney in Games insult, but David Cameron insists: We'll show you."
Although no one seriously believes that swing voters in Iowa, Ohio or any other battleground state care all that much about this week's "diplomatic spat" (as London's Daily Telegraph described it), Romney's gaffe really seems to have mucked things up for him on the opening leg of his foreign trip. http://abcn.ws/QlNVTF
And it wasn't as if Romney was going out on a limb when he told NBC News earlier this week that "it's hard to know just how well" the Olympics would turn out. Security issues have been a major concern.
The problem was equal parts message and messenger. After seven years of preparation, the Brits weren't exactly keen on getting a lecture from America's Republican presidential candidate - a fact that the head of the 2002 Salt Lake City games should have known.
"We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world," British Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday. "Of course it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere."
Not long after Cameron's comments, Romney appeared outside 10 Downing Street predicting a "highly successful" Olympic games. Gone were his doubts from the day before.
But the damage was already done, and Romney's day of gaffes culminated with London Mayor Boris Johnson's verbal smack down in front of a crowd of at least 60,000 in Hyde Park yesterday during the Olympic torch lighting ceremony.
"There are some people who are coming from around the world who don't yet know about all the preparations we've done to get London ready in the last seven years," Johnson said. "I hear there's a guy - there's a guy called Mitt Romney - who wants to know whether we're ready. He wants to know whether we're ready. Are we ready?"
The crowd screamed, "Yes!"
Back stateside, the Democrats could not be happier with the way Romney's trip is turning out. Under the subject line, "OMG," the Democratic National Committee last night circulated nearly two dozen negative headlines in domestic and foreign news outlets. And this morning the DNC released a new web video reviewing some of that coverage titled, "#RomneyShambles."
As the great Bard once wrote, all of this may be "much ado about nothing" - a momentary fixation by a British and American press corps hungry for more substance from Romney's foreign trip that the candidate and his campaign seem unwilling to offer. But if diplomacy were an Olympic sport, Romney would most certainly not be taking home the gold.
ABC's RICK KLEIN: We've triple-checked the math on this, and ABC News can confirm that the United Kingdom controls precisely zero electoral votes. But that's not to say Mitt Romney's rough start to his foreign trip hasn't come with a price. He gets only one chance to make an impression as a leader on the world stage, since he only has this one trip to make that impression. Americans tend not to like seeing their presidents become national punch lines in countries that are our friends. Perhaps more concerning for Romney long-term is the pattern he's falling into; ask John Kerry or Al Gore or George H. W. Bush what it's like once the press starts covering you as a gaffe machine waiting to produce results.
ABC's DAVID MUIR TO MITT ROMNEY: ARE YOU STILL CONCERNED ABOUT THE OLYMPICS? After a meeting with British officials yesterday at 10 Downing Street, ABC's David Muir asked Mitt Romney whether he was "still concerned" about Olympics security issues and whether he talked to Prime Minister David Cameron about those concerns.
ROMNEY: "We talked about the great progress that has been made in organizing the games. My experience as an Olympic organizer is that there are always a few very small things that end up going not quite right in the first day. Those get ironed out and then when the games themselves begin, and the athletes take over, all the mistakes the organizing committee - and I made a few of those - are overwhelmed by the many things that the athletes carry out that capture the spirit of the games. I don't know any Olympics that's ever been able to be run without any mistakes whatsoever. But they're small, and I was encouraged to see that something that could have represented a real challenge, which is immigration and customs officers on duty, that is something that's been resolved and people are all pulling together."
PRIME MINISTER CAMERON: 'I FELT A VOTE OF CONFIDENCE' FROM ROMNEY: In an evening press conference outside of 10 Downing Street, Prime Minister David Cameron was asked about his meeting with Romney yesterday - specifically Romney's criticism that some of the preparations for the games were "disconcerting."
REPORTER: "Did he apologize to you for his remarks?"
CAMERON: "What Mitt Romney said to me is that he thought it looked extremely well organized. The venues looked good, the country is well prepared. He ran a successful Olympic Games in his own country and I think he's very much looking forward to seeing some of the events here. So, I felt a vote of confidence from what he said. Because I think he can see - as everyone can see - this is going to be a fantastic Olympic Games here in London."
OBAMA'S OLYMPIC PLAY. ABC's Mary Bruce and Devin Dwyer note that President Obama's re-election campaign is releasing a new television ad to run during tonight's opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. In the ad, entitled "I Believe," President Obama makes his case for "middle out" economics using clips from the speech in which he delivered the now infamous "you didn't build that" line. "We're a nation of workers and doers and dreamers. We work hard for what we get and all we ask for is that our hard work pays off," the president's voice is heard as shots of Americana are seen on the screen."I believe that the way you grow the economy is from the middle out. I believe in fighting for the middle class because if they're prospering all of us will prosper," he continues. http://abcn.ws/OgV71q
OLYMPIC COMMITTEE ON POLITICS: CEASE AND DESIST: ABC's Jake Tapper reports that the U.S. Olympic committee told the pro-Obama super PAC, Priorities USA Action, to pull down an attack ad against Mitt Romney using footage from the 2002 Olympics. "The Olympic Games are a celebration of friendship, excellence and respect," said U.S. Olympic Committee spokesperson Patrick Sandusky. "While we are absolutely confident that neither presidential candidate nor campaign has participated in the production or distribution of these negative ads, the attacks, using Olympic themes and images, need to stop. http://abcn.ws/NYmjkB However, Tapper reports, it didn't end there. Later in the day, the committee said that their message pertained to all ads. A source on the U.S. Olympic Committee tells ABC News that if there are political ads out there with Olympic footage in them, the committee will ask all candidates to stop using them and will ask YouTube to take them down. Romney had been using images from the Olympics in an ad titled "Leader." http://abcn.ws/LQgCW2
with Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)
ROMNEY'S RECORDS: MITT'S NEPHEW GIVEN OLYMPIC CONTRACT. When Mitt Romney's nephew pitched the idea of having his start-up Utah commodities firm help make the 2002 Winter Olympics more environmental friendly, officials with the Salt Lake Organizing Committee jumped at the prospect, ABC's Matthew Mosk and Lynn Packer report. The Olympic organizers were looking for low-cost ways to go green and Ryan Davies offered his company's services for free, hoping a contract with the vaunted sporting event would be a marketing boon for his fledgling company, called 02 Blue, Inc. How Davies secured the Salt Lake Olympic contract for his firm, however, appears to have been far less formal than the process used by the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) to award work to its vendors, ABC News has found. … ABC News has pieced together details of the arrangement between the SLOC and 02 Blue through interviews with those involved and through the very first handful of official records released by the University of Utah, which is hustling to complete work on the Salt Lake Olympics archive ahead of the 2012 presidential election. Read more: http://abcn.ws/O4Ena0
TOP LINE: IS OBAMA LOSING HIS BRAND? ABC's Amy Walter and Rick Klein and Yahoo!'s David Chalian tackle the question, can the president strike a balance in ads? Attack with one hand, and deliver positive messages on the other? WATCH: http://yhoo.it/LRIg4Z
WINSTON CHURCHILL IN SPOTLIGHT AT ROMNEY FUNDRAISER. Mitt Romney, speaking to a group of more than 200 supporters in hotel in the heart of London last night, said he is "looking forward" to returning the bust of Winston Churchill to the White House after it was sent back to Great Britain by President Obama, ABC's Emily Friedman notes. The GOP candidate spoke highly of the British monuments - singling out the Churchill statue - that he said he got a firsthand look at while stuck in traffic - likely caused by the Olympic Games. "You live here, you see the sites day in and day out, but for me as I drive past the sculpture of Winston Churchill and see that great sculpture next to Westminster Abbey and Parliament and with him larger than life, enormous heft of that sculpture suggesting the scale of the grandeur and the greatness of the man, it tugs at the heart strings to remember the kind of example that was led by Winston Churchill," said Romney, speaking in a ballroom at the Mandarin Oriental hotel on the edge of Hyde Park.
TRAVELS WITH MITT. Follow all of the presumptive GOP nominees foreign trip with the Note's travel log, courtesy of ABC's Emily Friedman who is on the ground with Romney (with assistance from ABC's Jilian Fama and Meghan Kiesel). Romney Just Misses Beckham; A Busy Day at 10 Downing - 3:43 p.m. GST (10:43 a.m. EST): Tough act to follow? David Beckham just misses Romney at 10 Downing St. Beckham is holding a plaque that was given to him in response to a letter that he gave to the Prime Minister. The letter was signed by over 50 prominent UNICEF supporters asking the PM to act now to put an end to child hunger and stunting. http://abcn.ws/M9Pv9K
NOTED: ROMNEY'S NOT THE FIRST AMERICAN POLITICIAN TO GOOF UP ON FOREIGN SOIL. ABC's Amy Bingham reports on the current and past presidents foreign faux-pas, from Obama's death camp calamity in Poland, to Gerald Ford's Soviet dominion blunder, and many events in between. http://abcn.ws/LQKXUk
WHITE HOUSE SLOWER TO REGULATE AS ELECTION APPROACHES. USA Today's Richard Wolf reports: "Several of the most expensive and controversial rules - to protect the food supply, reduce exposure to silica dust, require rear-view cameras or other devices on cars, and more - remain under review by the White House long after they were expected to be published. Advocates for the environment, health and safety say the delay signals an effort by the administration to reconsider the economic and political impacts of its actions, in light of the struggling economy and the 2010 midterm elections that empowered Republicans. http://usat.ly/OOo0gt
SHOOTINGS THAT SHAPED GUN CONTROL LAWS. In the week following the worst mass shooting in U.S. history that left 12 dead and 58 injured, the political push for gun control is far weaker than after similar tragedies of the past, notes ABC's Amy Bingham. Nearly every major reform to U.S. gun laws has come on the heels of a mass shooting. From Columbine to John F. Kennedy, America's most terrifying shootings have been the catalysts for the country's most sweeping reforms. http://abcn.ws/OrnHtP
OBAMA WELCOMES ROMNEY TO ISRAEL WITH NEW SECURITY BILL. Yahoo!'s Olivier Knox reports, President Barack Obama is signing a new U.S.-Israel security pact on Friday - a move that could steal some of the headlines there even as Republican challenger Mitt Romney opens a visit to the close U.S. ally a day later. Obama signs the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act - a bill that clears the way for the United States to provide more military equipment to Israel - at 10:15 a.m. http://abcn.ws/LUq0TT
IS OBAMA RUNNING ON BILL CLINTON'S RECORD? ABC's Jake Tapper reports, Faced with an stagnating economy and unemployment over 8 percent on his own watch, President Obama on the stump now invokes the economy during the era of former President Bill Clinton. The president's invocation of Clinton is part of his pitch to raise taxes on higher income brackets, as did President Clinton in 1993; and as a contrast to his current Republican opponents who seek to extend all the Bush-era tax rates, including those on the top wage-earners, which President Obama opposes. http://abcn.ws/P3G329
NEW HAMPSHIRE POLICE INVESTIGATING POSSIBLE HARASSMENT OF ROMNEY SUPPORTER. The Union Leader's John DiStaso reports: The New Hampshire businessman who appears in a Mitt Romney television ad accusing President Barack Obama of "demonizing" small business owners has gone to his local police after receiving two "harassing" telephone calls and, he says, hundreds of nasty emails. http://bit.ly/O2WRaL
NOTED: Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams points the finger at Democrats: "Now the Obama campaign is attacking business owner Jack Gilchrist for disagreeing with these arrogant comments. This is the same kind of Chicago-style politics that the Obama political machine has repeatedly used to push the president's liberal agenda and intimidate anybody who disagrees with his failed policies."
OBAMA, DEMS RECASTING HEALTH CARE BILL TO BLUNT ATTACKS. Bloomberg's Heidi Pryzbyla reports: "With a Supreme Court ruling upholding the law's constitutionality and a Republican plan to privatize Medicare to use as a political counter-punch, Democrats are trying to neutralize the health-care issue - if not turn it to their advantage. The Health and Human Services Department is airing a $20 million national advertising effort - an informational blitz authorized as part of the law - to inform Americans about their new benefits and services. http://bloom.bg/NxrlWs
CONSERVATIVE STARS TURN OUT FOR FINAL STRETCH OF TEXAS SENATE PRIMARY. ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield reports: It's been 19 months and tens of millions of dollars in the making, but the Texas Senate primary between former State Solicitor General Ted Cruz and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is finally nearing its end. Next Tuesday the two candidates face off in a runoff race for the GOP nomination for the Senate seat left open by Kay Bailey Hutchison's retirement. Sarah Palin, Jim DeMint, Glenn Beck and Rick Santorum will all be campaigning on Cruz's behalf this weekend. http://abcn.ws/MO4SB4
IN THE NOTE'S INBOX:
-NEW DEBT REDUCTION AD CAMPAIGN LAUNCHES. A $1.2 million national ad campaign is launching this week from the Public Notice Research and Education Fund with the goal of urging Washington to focus on debt reduction. The group's ad buy will begin running this weekend through August 6 on national cable and online. The group's ad is titled "Washington Is Still Digging" and features video of a man digging a large hole. The message: "If you keep on digging, you'll put yourself deeper and deeper in the hole." Gretchen Hamel, president of Public Notice Research and Education Fund, said: "The national debt has become a national disgrace made even worse by Washington's steadfast refusal to agree to a long-term strategy for fiscal responsibility. While our elected officials are content to play political games, the weight of the debt on our economy grows heavier." WATCH: http://bit.ly/PQjzGo
-ONE REPUBLICAN'S ADVICE TO ROMNEY: TALK UP YOUR OLYMPICS RECORD. Republican strategist Ford O'Connell, the chairman of CivicForumPAC, writes that "Romney should use the London Olympics to showcase himself": "What he can discuss, what he absolutely must discuss, what the timing could not be more perfect to discuss, is his time as head of the Salt Lake Olympics. When Romney entered the scene, the 2002 Winter Games were in danger of being canceled because of the ineptitude of the local organizing committee. He came in, cut unneeded programs, reconfigured others, and delivered a smashing success for the nation and the world. Telling this story during the London Olympics would fulfill a variety of needs for his campaign. It would pivot to the positive at a time voters are tiring of relentless negativity. It would move the conversation away from Bain, the Caymans, and ostentatious wealth and toward one about successfully managing big enterprises, winning cooperation from disparate and sometimes-hostile groups and bringing about a sharp and quick turnaround. And it will come at a time when the political space is relatively clear and water-cooler conversations are focused on the Olympics." http://bit.ly/OqjKW7
- SCOTT BROWN LAUNCHES NEW TV AD. Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown's campaign launched a new television ad this morning featuring the former Democratic Mayor of Boston Ray Flynn. Flynn was Mayor of Boston from 1983 until 1993 when he left his post to serve as Ambassador to the Vatican in the Clinton administration. The ad, which runs 30 seconds, will air in the media markets of Boston, Springfield, Providence (which serves the southern parts of Massachusetts) and Albany (which includes some areas in western Mass.) as well as on statewide cable. Watch here: http://bit.ly/O38uhO
with ABC's Arlette Saenz ( @ArletteSaenz)
GIULIANI TOUTS RUBIO: While in Florida Thursday, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani weighed in on the veepstakes and touted Sen. Marco Rubio's as the best choice to be Mitt Romney's runningmate, Tampa's News Channel 8's Lauren Mayk reported. "Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani says U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio would be the best choice of a running mate for Mitt Romney. In an interview in Tampa with News Channel 8, the one-time presidential candidate said he was comfortable with all the potential vice presidential candidates he's heard being talked about, but thinks Rubio is 'the most exciting,'" Mayk wrote. "Giuliani said the Florida senator could help the campaign attract young people. 'He's of a different generation,' Giuliani said. 'He makes outreach much more possible to a younger people - people in their 30s where the Republican Party has a little bit of a, of a deficit.' Giuliani supported Rubio in his run for the U.S. Senate against then-Gov. Charlie Crist, who had left the Republican Party to campaign as an independent." http://bit.ly/O1odAY
BOEHNER PUSHES PORTMAN: Speaker of the House John Boehner promoted fellow Ohioan Rob Portman as the best choice to fill the number two spot on the GOP ticket this fall during an interview on Fox News, ABC News' Gregory Simmons reported. "I'm partial to Rob Portman,'" Boehner said on "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren" Thursday when asked who he thinks Romney should select as VP. "Been a long-time friend, United States senator from Ohio, served as the director of Office of Management and Budget under George W. Bush, also served as the U.S. trade rep, served in the House of Representatives as well. Knows his way around Washington, and I think he'd be a great asset for Governor Romney."
@ZekeJMiller : ICYMI: Pro-Israel Group Launches Anti-Obama Ad In Israel http://www.buzzfeed.com/zekejmiller/pro-israel-group-launches-anti-obama-ad-in-israel … via @buzzfeed
@billburton716 : By the way, Utah isn't in the middle of nowhere, it's in the middle of the USA. Isn't Romney going to stand up for the good folks in Utah?
-President Obama holds meetings at the White House. Tonight, he will attend a fundraiser in Northern Virginia.
- -Mitt Romney, in London, will meet with Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Tonight, he will attend the Olympics opening ceremonies.
Check out The Note's Futures Calendar : http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV