We would hope, first, that a presidential contender would know enough about U.S. foreign policy relationships to move seamlessly through various nations without making waves. This is not to critique Mitt Romney, the candidate, good or bad; but to look at the repeated unnecessary, self-inflicted crises he’s launched in his overseas trip.
Let’s face it, he chose to go abroad — to Britain, Israel, Poland — during the Summer Olympics. Other than shining light on his own Olympic experience in Salt Lake City, the timing screams “low-key.”
But the concepting feels flawed from the start. Placing the Romneys at the Olympic Opening Ceremonies allowed commentators to point out Ann Romney’s involvement in dressage, a sport of kings that most common voters probably couldn’t define if you spotted them the horse.
His handlers wanted him relegated to the fifth or sixth story on TV each night, and the back of the A sections of major newspapers. But Mitt muffed it, fumbling his way into lead positions.
He insulted the Brits by criticizing their Olympics. He infuriated the Palestinians with borderline stereotypes of Jews, and bad ethnic generalizations about the Palestinian character. He hasn’t told any bad Polish jokes yet, but there’s still time.
The latest installment in what the New York Daily News is calling “Mitt’s Excellent Overseas Adventure,” is an aide cursing [audibly] at reporters for asking questions during a visit to a memorial shrine in Poland.
If these are the sorts of fixes Romney’s staff gets him in to when the pressure’s off, it’s not a good sign for the next few months, not to mention after Jan. 20. We talked a lot in this space about a crisis no one sees coming — oil spill, earthquake/tsunami, famine, drought. Those are largely unavoidable.
But we can’t help but be surprised when a staff that should be the best money can buy consistently screws up on the basics, putting its principal out front with no clothes. It’s at least embarrassing. What should Mitt do?
He should fire some people. A recent poll showed that Romney does well on the issues, but loses to President Obama 60-40 on likability. Romney might gain from decisive action. Accountability is something Republicans find Obama lacks. Find the trip planner and ask him or her to step aside for something they’re better at.
Not since George W. Bush failed foreign policy 101 — and what a glaring portend that was — in his run against Al Gore has someone of supposed presidential caliber come up so lame.
The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with seven offices in the Northeast and Southeast. Learn more about EMA at www.mower.com. Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.