Romney advisers, speaking with The Telegraph, allegedly made remarks that have been described as racially insensitive. They said Romney would restore US "Anglo-Saxon heritage" relations with the UK and that Obama is "comfortable with American decline."
According to the UK's The Telegraph, Romney advisers said Romney understands better "the depth of ties between the UK and the US," unlike Obama, whose father is from Africa.
A Romney adviser, speaking to The Telegraph, reportedly said: “We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he (Romney) feels that the... relationship is special.” The adviser said Obama's administration does not “fully appreciate the shared history we have."
Members of Romney's foreign policy advisory team said that as president, Romney would reverse Obama's policy of seeking to repair strained relations with adversaries at the expense of traditional alliances with countries such as Britain and Israel. An adviser reportedly told The Telegraph: “In contrast to President Obama, whose first instinct is to reach out to America’s adversaries, the Governor’s first impulse is to consult and co-ordinate and to move closer to our friends and allies overseas so they can rely on American constancy and strength.” One of the advisers allegedly said: “Obama is a Left-winger. He doesn’t value the NATO alliance as much (as Romney does). He’s very comfortable with American decline and the traditional alliances don’t mean as much to him. He wouldn’t like singing ‘Land of Hope and Glory.'"
The two Romney advisers who spoke to The Telegraph, said Romney will reinstate the Churchill bust displayed in the Oval Office by George W. Bush. The bust was removed from the Oval Office after Obama took office. The Romney advisers described the removal of the bust as "symbolically important."
According to ABC News, the advisers declined to go on record because they had been instructed not to criticize the US president during the six-day trip overseas.
The remarks come as Romney embarks on an overseas tour of Britain, Israel and Poland in which he intends to counter claims that he is inexperienced in matters of foreign affairs. Romney is expected to meet with David Cameron and other senior ministers on Thursday. He is also expected to meet with Tony Blair and attend the opening ceremony of the Olympics.
The NY Daily News reports that before he left for the UK, Romney delivered a scathing critique of Obama’s foreign policy to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Reno, Nevada. He accused the White House of leaking classified information, including intelligence about the strike that killed Osama bin Laden. He accused Obama of softening America's stance towards traditional rivals and for imposing "devastating" spending cuts on the US military. Romney told the Veterans of Foreign Wars, "If you do not want America to be the strongest nation on earth, I am not your President." He added: "I will not surrender America’s leadership in the world."
'Someone on the Romney staff needs to be sacked'
An opinion piece in The Telegraph, by Tim Stanley, "a historian of the United States," described the remarks by the Romney advisers as a major campaign gaffe, and predicted that the media "will show no mercy" in exploiting the remarks. Stanley said, "Someone on the Romney staff needs to be sacked – fast and publicly."
"There are two problems with the 'Anglo-Saxon' bomb. First, the extent of the division between our nations is up for debate. Yes, Obama took the Churchill bust out of the Oval Office and hasn’t been super supportive during Britain’s spat with Argentina. But David Cameron’s last visit to the White House was a veritable love-in, and Obama’s popularity in the UK is undiminished."
He added: "Few of us (British) are keen to revive an alliance that led to the bloody mess of Iraq and Afghanistan."
Stanley pointed out that the emphasis upon the term "Anglo-Saxon" by the Romney advisers was anachronistic. He noted that with both countries now more multicultural than ever it is inevitable that the Romney advisers will be accused of playing the "race card," and exploiting the impression that Obama is anti-British because he is of African descent.
CBS News reports David Axelrod, campaign adviser to Obama, tweeted a comment on the "Anglo-Saxon" gaffe on Wednesday:
"Mitt's trip off to flying start, even before he lands, with stunningly offensive quotes from his team in British press."Romney campaign responds
According to CBS News, Romney's spokeswoman Andrea Saul, has responded to the The Telegraph report, saying the comments do not express Romney's views. She said:
"It's not true. If anyone said that, they weren't reflecting the views of Governor Romney or anyone inside the campaign."CBS notes, however, that Saul did not say specifically which of the comments attributed to the Romney advisers was incorrectly quoted by The Telegraph.