Mitt Romney’s Supposed Olympic “Gaffe”

Like most of you, I sat down in front of the television last night to watch the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics.  I was heartened to see Gov. Romney and Ann in the stands, smiling and waving warmly when the American athletes came out.  Of course, as we are all aware, Gov. Romney saved the 2002 Winter Olympics.  It was nice that the NBC commentators pointed his Olympic accomplishment out, saying that people should appreciate that regardless of political persuasion.

But what about that gaffe that you’ve all heard about?  Less than 24 hours before the Games began, Brits were all atwitter, because Gov. Romney expressed what everyone had already been thinking.  He was asked a simple question and he gave a reasonable response:

You know, it’s hard to know just how well it will turn out. There are a few things that were disconcerting. 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.

John O’Sullivan over on NRO reacts to this:

Well, in short order: (1) It is unquestionably true that it is hard to know how well the games will turn out since the answer lies in the future. (2) There undoubtedly are a few things about the games that were disconcerting. (3) Those things include the reports about the security company having too few people and the threat of a strike by immigration and customs officials.

Nor did Romney predict the failure of the games; he merely wondered if people would come together and “celebrate the Olympic moment” when it arrived. On that question, see point (1) above.

Yet, immediately, the British media went nuts.  The Sun’s headline was “Mitt the Twit,” in a ridiculous overreaction to Gov. Romney’s response.  Reporters who had complained the organizers were incompetent and spending too much were aghast. David Cameron made a rude reference to Gov. Romney’s Olympics which were held “in the middle of nowhere.” (I guess he doesn’t need any votes in Utah).  Then, Boris Johnson led a crowd into a chant reminiscent of Obama’s “Yes, we can.”

I get it, I get it.  It’s just like siblings who fight between themselves but defend each other from outside criticism.  However, Gov. Romney is not exactly “outside” of the Olympic family.  Not only did he save the Winter Olympics, his wife Ann has a horse competing in the dressage competition.  He has legitimate critiques based on a huge amount of previous experience.  Plus, as John O’Sullivan points out, Gov. Romney handled the criticism well:

With heroic restraint Romney responded in the way that in the past an English gentleman was popularly supposed to respond to excitable foreigners jabbering over some grievance. Though there was always the risk of errors, he said, he was sure that they would be overshadowed by the courage, character, determination of the athletes . . . perfectly splendid . . . good show . . . nice being here . . . is that the exit? . . . etc., etc.

In other word, he summed up, “It’s not Romney who needs to wonder what went wrong in London; it’s his ungracious hosts.”
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Nancy French is a three time New York Times Best Selling Author.

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  • TimShawSr

    Remember, the SLC Olympics were just 5 months after 9/11. No one was sure security was ready, we were facing a new enemy that we thought was capable of anything. If you read Romney’s book “Turnaround” his story of those Olympics, it is clear his number one worry was security. I was fearful they may even have to cancel the games after 9/11. But, the US Military beefed up security, but it was still a constant worry for Romney. So, is it any wonder that when he got to London, which has been the site of terrorist attacks it’s self, where would Romney’s mind naturally be… security. The British themselves had been fretting for weeks about this security contractor not producing, and the custom officials the day before his arrival were threatening to go out on strike (like good patriotic British citizens of course…. again a union trying to hold hostage a moment of national pride), so is it any wonder Romney’s mind was on security just like it had been in 2002, it must have been a flashback for him. He probably should have kept his thoughts to himself, and not repeated what the Brits were saying about themselves. I suppose he learned an important lesson of diplomacy. Is that worst than when Obama gave the PM a set of CD’s that didn’t work in Britain, or giving the Queen an iPod? Low class?

  • chas holman

    Don’t tell me the author of this piece, is so lost in some alternate reality that they don’t understand when you fly into a Country trying to act as an ambassador and diplomat, it’s probably not a good idea to make snide cryptic comments about a world even your host has organized the second you touch down.

    He came off with a strong ‘I can run the Olympics, look at me’ vibe, the UK picked up on it and quite frankly, they have seen a side of Governor Romney many of us back in the States do. I Governor totally out of touch (like when asked about the Federal position on Medical Marijuana saying ‘Don’t we have anything important to talk about’.. Or how millions of Americans are struggling, and the Governor is overseas telling his posse that a big priority is to get the ‘lent’ bust of Winston Churchill back on American soil and in the White House.

    No, on a day to day basis, the guy comes off as ‘I don’t care what your probl;em is until it bothers me personally’. In the UK he could’t even drop his ego long enough to pat the other guy on the back and say ‘good show ol chaps’.. man o man o man that would of went a LONG way.. but Noooo the guy opens his trap, says something totally stupid that most 5th graders would of known not to say in the presence of their host, and then get’s alternate universe reporters to come save him by projecting it is everyone who has a problem with such callousness, problem. I mean even dyed in the wool Conservatives are shaking their heads at this guy lately.

    Instead of empowering him to keep acting so goofy and saying such silly things, maybe his base should try and pressure him by asking ‘what’s up’ instead of applauding every time he dribbles on himself?

    • chas holman

      Ha.. few typos, misspellings, words missing.. old slow fingers on a new slick tiny keyboard is never a good mix.. sorry..

    • Uaintdown

      sounds like you’re reading too much into it. of course, i understand people believe whatever fits their personal political persuasion. here you’ve revealed yours.

    • Jesus Morales

      Eh, you haven’t really shown that David was wrong. Romney said all the same things that the media had been complaining about. Plus, even if we say this is a gaffe, let’s consider this. If Romney loses the election, is anyone going to point to this London remarks as one of pivotal moments? No. If Obama loses the election, you’d better believe that “you didn’t build that” and “it worked” are going to be considered pivotal moments. So, I’ll take those Obama remarks over Mitt’s supposed “gaffe” any day of the week thank-you-very-much.

  • Josh Brewer

    From his 2010 book: No Apology, the Case for American Greatness : “England is just a small island. Its roads and houses are small. With few exceptions, it doesn’t make things that people in the rest of the world want to buy. And if it hadn’t been separated from the continent by water, it almost certainly would have been lost to Hitler’s ambitions.” Why WOULD they like this guy? He’s a jingoistic jerk.

    • Uaintdown

      sounds like world war 2 era… context is key my friend.

  • Frozone

    You know, I watched the original interview, and didn’t notice anything amiss. This is much ado about nothing. A deflection, as some rather devastating manufacturing numbers came out Friday. Don’t buy the distraction…

    Seems the Brits are as thin skinned as Obama… :)

  • svdb

    Yeah, you’re right, rednecks are certainly thicker skinned. Especially the richer ones, it’s because of all the sun they get when they go sipping cocktails in the Bahamas.

  • Darin Scott

    thanks for setting this straight!

  • joeydg

    The Brits may be our friends, but that doesn’t mean that we like them or that they like freedom.

    To me, this was a fine reaction from a people who also failed to recognize the fallen Israeli athletes during former terrorist attacks on the Olympic games. Mitt Romney heads to Israel next.

    Also, don’t forget the bold move in 2002 to hold the Olympics in the US just after the 9/11 attacks. That took some guts, precautions, and some additional security.

    • bobob

      Just to point out the Israeli thing is to do with the IOC, not the UK.

  • bobob

    Amusing reading from Britain :)

    There’s a couple of things I think your average American is missing here. Firstly, the British media coming over all outraged about some minor gaffe from a senior US politician is nothing unusual. We’re sensitive to perceived slights from that direction, and the British media is happy to play to this. Obama has had this happen to him several times, as have most presidents. Normally it makes little if any impression in the US press – the only thing that is unusual about this incident is that it seems to have become a fair sized story in the US.

    Secondly the British press is far more prone to working itself up into a fury than the US press seems to be. If you are not used to it, this probably seems like it is a huge deal over here, when really it is strictly storm in a teacup territory. Its pretty much been forgotten already. What was a bit strange was how eager UK politicians were to jump on the bandwagon. Cameron’s jab about the “middle on nowhere” was one thing, but Boris Johnson criticising Romney by name was odd. You certainly wouldn’t see that of an actual US president, and I was surprised to see it against a candidate; US presidents are important people after all, and avoiding directly insulting them is generally considered sensible. Maybe they don’t think he has a hope of wining, but it still seems a little short-sighted.

    So anyway US friends :) Don’t take it too seriously. I recommend next time a US president visits us, particularly if you are not a supporter of his, keep an eye on the British press, and try and guess what they are going to find to get upset about this time.

    • http://PlanetRomney Annette S

      Bobob….You have pretty much nailed it for me. We are sorry that Romney didn’t lather on the compliments with politically expedient rhetorical remarks. But the Boris Johnson remarks were just over the top. ” There is this guy named Mitt Romney who thinks we’re not ready.” If he is questioning Romney’s diplomacy than he needs to turn that finger around and point it at himself. What kind of diplomacy is this?. NO….they wouldn’t refer to a US President in this way. How is Boris Johnson going to feel if Romney is elected as the next US President. I guess they don’t think there is a chance. I wouldn’t make that assumption. We have David Cameron a supposed conservative who has been criticized to be giving in to liberals. He’s even defended Obama’s spending. Him and Obama are buddies actually.

      A British pundit was interviewed by Laura Ingraham. He made the remark that the British like glamour and Romney is not glamorous. Even the British conservatives don’t think Romney is glamorous…. Really? So the truth comes out. It wasn’t the remarks? Apparently they’d rather have a singing president who spends all his time at fundraisers instead traveling to Israel or holding a meeting with the jobs council.

    • lee

      You are so right . I have a daughter and son-in-law that live in London and are closely involved with the Olympics. My son-in-law is a native Londoner. It is a well know fact that the British press is even worse on politicians than our press if you can believe it. They were just waiting for the chance to pounce. They did. They relish the chance and of course our media picked up on it. The local Londoners paid hardly any attention to it. It fact a couple of publications came out and wrote glowing articles of Mitts English roots and Anne’s Welsh roots. Just so you also know the British press is brutal on Obama. My daughter says they can’t stand Obama and look at him as an adolescent. Romney will change that when elected.

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  • GotMullet

    Romney’s quote was not in posted in it’s entirety. Yes he said there were things disconcerting, but his statement was overall positive rather than critical, as it was portrayed.

    However…. in hind sight, one may wonder…. the flame doused numerous times in the days leading up to, and during the games, problems with time clocks at critical moments, empty seats when so many have been excluded, NBC’s stellar coverage and convenient omissions, etc.

    Yahoo has had the best coverage. At least you can find what you want to find…. unlike the official Olympic website.

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  • Garry Moss

    I am ashamed of my British heritage about now. Their reaction is most arrogant. Americans should be outraged that they would make a big deal out of an American, who by the way has actually ran a successful Olympics, agreeing with what they themselves are saying! Then they have the audacity to think it’s smart to call America “nowhere.” As far as I am concerned, they can keep their Olympics and without me this time.