LONDON – Emerging from 10 Downing Street this afternoon, presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney spoke of his high-level meetings on this first full day of his overseas tour. The trip has become a rite of passage for presidential candidates.
While in London, Romney is hoping for his own ‘Olympic’ moment reminding American voters of his history leading the Salt Lake City games in 2002. His campaign recognizes the power of the photo-op with his trip timed to coincide with the London games, but inherent in these overseas trips are political risks with the international press trained on a candidate’s every word.
In an interview Wednesday with NBC News, Romney was asked if the London games look ready to his “experienced eye.”
Romney answered, “You know it’s hard to know just how well it.. will turn out. There are a few things that were disconcerting.” Romney said. “The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging.”
Today, after Romney’s meeting with Britain Prime Minister David Cameron, I asked the former Massachusetts governor if he was still concerned and whether he spoke of those concerns during his meeting with Cameron.
“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.. all of those are overwhelmed by the many things that the athletes carry out that capture the spirit of the games.” Romney said.
Romney added, “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.”
Before Romney’s meeting with the prime minister, Mr. Cameron addressed Romney’s criticism with the press. “You’re going to see beyond a doubt that Britain can deliver,” Cameron said.
Britain’s Prime Minster adding that London is, “one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world.” In what many some members of the international press considered a swipe, Cameron added, “Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic games in the middle of nowhere.” He did not say whether he was speaking of Salt Lake City.
Outside 10 Downing Street, Romney said, “We talked about the great progress that has been made in organizing the games.” Romney adding, “Last night I had the occasion to watch a report on the Olympic torch being carried across Great Britain… the symbolism for a torch that represents hope.. was heartening to me.”