A live blog of Mitt Romney’s foreign trips- ABC’s Emily Friedman reports from the trail in Israel and Poland with input from Kyle Blaine and Jilian Fama out of D.C.:
7/30/12 – Poland Day 1 – Mitt, Ann, and Josh visit Westerplatte Memorial
White House Says Romney’s Comments in Israel Have People “scratching their heads” – From ABC’s Mary Bruce – White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest took a stab at Romney’s comments in Israel, saying “it is clear that there are some people who have taken a look at those comments and are scratching their heads a little bit.”
“You know, one of the challenges of being an actor on the international stage, particularly when you’re traveling to such a sensitive part of the world, is that your comments are very closely scrutinized for meaning, for nuance, for motivation,” he said. “I would leave it to Governor Romney to further explain what he meant and what he intended when he said that.”
Asked if he was suggesting that Romney is failing that challenge as an actor on the world stage, Earnest said “I will leave it to you and others who are experienced observers of candidates and presidents and other world leaders who have gone onto the world stage and have faced that challenge. And it’s not — it wouldn’t be appropriate from my position to grade him from here.”
Remembering in Poland- 7:39 p.m. CET (12:39 a.m. EST) Mitt, Ann and son, Josh Romney lay a wreath in remembrance at the Westerplatte Memorial in Gdańsk, Poland. The memorial site is located where the first shots were fired in World War II. The memorial symbolizes the clash between Polish and German forces during the Invasion of Poland.
A Nobel Endorsement by former Polish President - 06:30 p.m. CET (11:30 a.m. EST) - Lech Walesa, the Nobel Prize winner and former Polish president, “has effectively endorsed Romney.”
“I wish you to be successful because this success is needed to the United States, of course, but to Europe and the rest of the world, too. Gov Romney, get your success – be successful,” Walesa told Romney, according to a translator.
Romney Greeted by Ron Paul Supporters – 03:35 p.m. CET (8:35 a.m. EST) - Mitt and Ann Romney were greeted upon arriving for a meeting with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk by hundreds of people lining the narrow streets here, some of whom held signs for another U.S. presidential candidate, Ron Paul.
The large sign read “Polish Choice – R. Paul” with a photograph of Paul.
But not everyone is a Paul supporter. As Romney and his wife Ann arrived at Gdank’s Old Town Hall, the candidate shoot hands with well-wishers, one of whom told him, “I want you to be president of the United States.”
The Romneys admired the crowd before heading into the meeting, Ann comparing it to a rally stateside. “Wow, look at that,” said Mitt. “This is great.” “This is like a local rally in the U.S.,” said Ann.
Romney arrives in Poland, No Meeting With Merkel - 03:35 p.m. CET (8:35 a.m. EST) – Romney is wheels down in Gdansk, Poland, the first of two stops in Poland.
A senior advisor gave an on background briefing on the plane, in which he said Romney would not be meeting with Merkel because she is out of the country but did say the campaign considered an additional stop to Germany.
“We did endeavor to meet with Chancellor Merkel. Unfortunately she’s on holiday throughout the entirety of our trip. I will say though that the governor and the chancellor will find a time to speak soon.”
Romney left Israel, but not before angering a Palestinian – A Palestinian leader today accused Romney of making a “racist statement” in Israel towards Palestinians. Full story here.
Romney’s Weekend Rewind – What You Missed From Romney’s Travels
7/29/12 – Israel Day 2 – Romney at the Western Wall and Interview With David Muir Romney Unsure About His Tax Rate, Says What He Believes – Mitt 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.”
In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ David Muir to air tonight on World News, Romney was asked if there has ever been a year when he paid less than 13.9 percent, the rate he paid in 2010.
“I haven’t calculated that,” said Romney. “I’m happy to go back and look, but my view is I’ve paid all the taxes required by law.”
Romney also shrugged off the suggestion he would like a do-over on his controversial comments about the London Olympics, stating that he says what he “actually believes.”
You know, I was referring to press reports before I even got to London that suggested that the organizing committee was having some challenges,” said Romney.
“I was there for two days,” he added. “The games were carried out without a hitch. So, as far as I’m able to tell, despite the challenges as any organizing committee faces, they were able to organize games that have been so far so good, picture perfect.” ”
I tend to tell people what I actually believe,” said Romney when asked if he would want to change his words if he could go back and answer the questions again.
At the Western Wall – Mitt and Ann Romney visited one of the holiest sites in the Jewish faith today, arriving at the Western Wall on a sacred day of mourning in Israel. The Romneys arrived via motorcade at the site of prayer and spent about 15 minutes walking to the wall and placing their prayers in the wall and got a warm reception. The wall is split in two – one side for men and the other for women – so Ann and her female staffers approached one side, while the candidate approached the other with Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz.
7/28/12 – London Day 4/Israel Day 1 – Olympic Pit Stop and Then Off To Israel Press Barred from Israel Fundraiser…Just Kidding – In a precedent-breaking move, the Romney campaign Saturday said they would bar reporters from attending a high-dollar fundraiser in Israel Monday morning, but a day later walked back from that decision, saying they would allow the press pool to attend.
The fundraiser on Monday will be held at the King David hotel in Jerusalem, and is slated to be an intimate affair with just 30 attendees. Those going were asked to donate $50,000 per couple or raise $100,000.
Las Vegas billionaire and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who has so far contributed $10 million to a pro-Romney SuperPAC, is expected to attend the fundraiser.
Wheels Down in Tel Aviv – Romney is wheels down in Tel Aviv at a quarter past 9pm local time – all now motorcading to Jerusalem. Romney did not come speak to the press during the flight. Mitt and Ann walked hand in hand off the plane, Romney waving to the press as he walked on a red carpet to a waiting black SUV. Romney escorted Ann to her side of the car before walking back around to his door.
Olympic Pit Stop – Hours before departing for Israel, his second stop on his overseas trip, Mitt Romney made a pit stop. At the Olympics. Romney and his wife Ann went to Olympic Park — where they had been last night to take in the opening ceremonies — to watch a men’s swimming competition. Romney’s body man, Garrett Jackson, tweeted a photo of the couple taking their seats before the heat: http://t.co/nHy7T3Ev
New York Times reporter Doug Mills tweeted another photo of the couple — Romney in mid-cheer for during Michael Phelps 400IM race. http://t.co/wigS0jAX
Romney said yesterday during an interview that he’d be rooting for Phelps.