July 26, 2012 by Nash Riggins
Republican candidate Mitt Romney began his first international tour as a presidential hopeful this week by touching down in London on the eve of the 2012 Olympic Games; however, it appears that Mr Romney has, in a matter of hours, already produced high levels of cynicism throughout the country.
The journey immediately started off on the wrong foot after an unnamed campaign adviser asserted to the press that Mr Romney boasts a much better understanding of America’s ‘special relationship’ with the UK than does President Barack Obama, as the African-American incumbent does not claim an “Anglo-Saxon heritage.”
The remark has been widely condemned on both sides of the Atlantic, and has made for a somewhat chilly reception in London – after all, the City boasts a population of over 2.3 million ethnic minorities. That being said, the Romney campaign will most likely choose to distance itself from the remark post-haste by arranging a surprise visit to one of London’s more ethnically diverse outer-city boroughs. Unfortunately for Mr Romney, however, undeniably racist remarks being made by his staff will not be the only reason for which his visit to London may prove a little uncomfortable.
For a start, Mitt Romney has decided against visiting the source of his not-so-distant ancestral English and Mormon roots, leading some English Mormons to assert that he is shamefully attempting to play down his association with the religion in the hopes of pandering to the bigotry of his conservative base in America. Romney’s great-great grandparents in Lancashire are assumed to have been amongst the first batch of those in Victorian England to convert to Mormonism, and the Romneys’ former village of Preston now boasts one of the largest populations of Mormons in Europe. Despite many within the church criticising Mr Romney for giving them the cold shoulder, community leaders in Preston have expressed little scorn for the oversight, reasoning that they “are not excited in terms of his politics,” anyway. Yet more awkward still is the reception in which Mitt Romney may or may not receive from Britain’s political leaders.
Throughout President Obama’s first term as President, David Cameron has taken great lengths in order to heavily associate himself with the President and his Democratic party. Indeed, Cameron did no favours for the Romney campaign whilst visiting the US in March – during which time he joined Barack Obama on the campaign trail in the swing-state of Ohio and traded jokes with the President while enjoying court-side seats at a late-season NCAA basketball game. Meanwhile, Cameron was regrettably ‘unable’ to pencil Romney in for so much as a photo-op.
Five months later, Mr Romney will finally have his chance in order to show the Prime Minister what sort of person he truly is; however, although the presidential hopeful has planned a visit to 10 Downing Street in which he will be allowed to enter through its famous front door, David Cameron will reportedly not be there to greet him based upon sheer principle – why?
On the one hand, Mr Cameron’s general alignments with the liberal social platforms of the US Democratic party may leave him and Mitt Romney with few talking points (aside from that of their own personal wealth). Yet on the other hand, Mr Cameron has – for the entirety of his term in office – attempted to distance himself as much as possible from meeting with election candidates so as not to be used as a foreign campaign tool. Indeed, during Barack Obama’s first visit to London as a prospective presidential candidate, he was ushered in quickly and quietly through the back door of 10 Downing Street in order to meet with Britain’s leaders. Four years on, Cameron’s hypocrisy with regards to his support of Mr Obama’s re-election campaign is obvious – although the PM did admittedly stick to his guns when he declined a meeting with France’s Socialist President Francois Hollande prior to his election earlier this year. Clearly the unsociable nature of the Prime Minister with regards to foreign elections is not applicable to everyone.
That being said, Mr Romney was able to gain the pleasure of meeting with Labour Party leader Ed Miliband yesterday – who, unlike David Cameron, can count Francoise Hollande among his friends, and was very keen to arrange a meeting with Romney. However, a cruel twist of fate ensured that the US Presidential hopeful failed to remember Miliband’s name, instead referring to him as “mister leader.” The gaffe was especially detrimental for the Romney campaign, as Ed Miliband was one of few British politicians genuinely excited to meet Romney – not because the two men share similar views on gay marriage or nationalised healthcare, but because they are both fervent supports of the Boston Red Sox (who are undeniably under-performing).
Yet regardless of whether or not Mitt Romney is able to make new friends on his visit to London, he will no doubt be heavily scrutinized throughout the UK with regards to his social and economic values – after all, the UK has an astronomically stronger welfare state in which socialist-inspired public programmes reign supreme. Either way, these meetings with Britain’s ‘boldest and brightest’ are beginning to show the UK just the sort of cloth that Mitt Romney is cut from – so long as he can squeeze in enough time to discuss politics in between his $50,000-75,000 per plate fundraisers with executives from Barclays and HSBC.