Romney's Disastrous Trip Abroad

At the beginning of this week, I argued that Mitt Romney had nothing to gain from going abroad. If voters put him into the Oval Office, it will be because of discontent with the country's economy. Few people, especially undecided voters, are interested in what Romney has to say about foreign policy. Insofar as they even have opinions on it, they are most likely to agree with President Obama’s approach. For Romney, I argued, a foreign trip was high risk, low reward.

So far, everything in Romney’s trip has confirmed that assessment. In less than 72 hours, Romney and his team have offended British prime minister David Cameron over the country’s Olympics preparations, lied about or revealed confidential conversations with the Australian foreign minister, confused Russia with the “Soviet Union,” attacked President Obama with an oddly racialized criticism, and suffered the ridicule of 60,000 Britons. The Romney team began this trip with hopes that Romney would emerge as the picture of a seasoned, committed statesman. Instead, he looks like an amateur at best. At worst, he looks like a buffoon.

Not only does this help Obama capitalize on a key difference between the two candidates—Obama’s competence as commander-in-chief—but it overshadows the economy, which is Romney’s only hope for winning the election. Indeed, if Romney were in the country, he’d be well-positioned to comment on this morning’s economic numbers, which show anemic 1.5 percent GDP growth for the second quarter. As it stands, Romney is stuck in the worst of all worlds: Unable to attack Obama—politics stops at water’s edge, after all—and stuck with the mistakes and gaffes of the last week.

He should have stayed home.