Election 2012

Romney Blames Media Over Trip Troubles

Geoff Dyer

Mitt Romney said that the media was partly to blame for his controversial week-long foreign tour which ended with the Republican candidate receiving a warm reception in Poland after a series of gaffes and missteps.

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney walks back to greet journalist while boarding a campaign plane
Emmanuel Dunand | AFP | Getty Images

In an interview with Fox News on Tuesday, said that some journalists would “try and find anything else to divert from the fact that these last four years have been tough years for our country”.

He added: “I realize that there will be some in the Fourth Estate, or whichever estate, who are far more interested in finding something to write about that is unrelated to the economy, to geopolitics, to the threat of war.”

Mr. Romney’s attack on the media was broadcast at the conclusion of a three-country tripwhich was designed to project the Republican presidential candidate as a potential world leader.

However, rather than enhancing his presidential credibility, the overseas trip has been beset with controversies which have seen him rebuked by the British prime minister for criticizing the preparations for the and accused of being a “racist” by Palestinian officials.

In a speech on Tuesday at Warsaw University, Mr. Romney praised Poland’s economy and defended the values of liberty. While Mr. Romney avoided new gaffes during his visit to Poland, a member of his staff was involved in a heated argument at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw with reporters who complained at being allowed to ask only three questions of the candidate in six days.

One of Mr. Romney’s spokesmen, Rick Gorka, told the reporters: “Kiss my ass. This is a holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect.” He also told another journalist to “shove it”. Mr. Gorka later apologized.

Poland was on Mr. Romney’s agenda in part because it is a staunch US ally, but also because of the potential appeal to Catholic voters and those of central European descent in a number of key states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania.

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“The world should pay close attention to the transformation of Poland’s economy,” he said in his speech. “A march toward economic liberty and smaller government has meant a march toward higher living standards, a strong military that defends liberty at home and abroad, and an important and growing role on the international stage.”

Mr. Romney also included a dig at Russia, which he once referred to as “without doubt, our number one geopolitical foe”. “In Russia, once promising advances toward a free and open society have faltered,” he said.

Mr. Romney’s difficult trip has provided a field day for the Obama campaign, which has been able to shift the conversation away from last week’s weak economic data.

Robert Gibbs, an adviser to the Obama campaign, said that Mr. Romney had failed the test to be a future commander-in-chief. “It is clear that the opportunity to credential his beliefs with American voters was nothing short for Mitt Romney of an embarrassing disaster on this trip,” he said.

While in Poland, Mr. Romney was still trying to damp down the controversy he caused in Israel on Monday when he suggested that culture was one of the main reasons that Israelis were better off than Palestinians—remarks which prompted a furious response from Palestinian officials. In the Fox interview, Mr. Romney said that he had not been talking about “the Palestinian culture or the decisions made in their economy”.