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Foreign gaffes won't matter, Romney strategist says

July 31, 2012|By Maeve Reston and Alana Semuels
  • Mitt Romney visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City.
Mitt Romney visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City. (Uriel Sinai / Getty Images )

WARSAW -- At the end of a rocky foreign tour, senior campaign strategist Stuart Stevens said he was confident that Mitt Romney’s strengths as a candidate would matter more to voters than any controversial comments made on his trips to Britain, Israel and Poland.
 
Romney has been criticized for talking to a group of donors in Israel about the role culture plays in the economic success of different countries. He made the remarks after noting the disparities between Israelis and Palestinians. Last week, Romney, as he when visiting Britain, was flogged by Fleet Street for questioning whether London was ready for the Olympics.

PHOTOS: Romney's travels abroad
 
But Stevens, in a briefing for the media traveling with Romney, said neither comment would matter to voters.
 
"I don't think that will go down in history as very important," he said. "I think that the public is very good at discerning what's important and what's not important. I don't think they give equal value to all things, and I think the people focus on what they find important and what is relevant to them in their lives."
 
Stevens said the tour, which he called "a great trip," has helped U.S. voters learn more about where Romney stands on issues. He added that it is very easy to imagine Romney being president because of his stature, background and accomplishments.
 
Candidates often tour Europe so they can try to demonstrate to voters that they are statesmen with the ability to deal with foreign countries, as presidents do.
 
The recent criticisms of Romney did not change that, Stevens said.
 
"He has a tendency to speak his mind and to say what he believes and whenever you do that, there will be those that disagree with you and there will be those that agree with you," he said. "I think people like that. I think that this idea that you have to not speak your mind is something that's not very appealing to people."
 
Regarding the Palestinian comment in particular, Romney advisors noted that the GOP presidential candidate has talked about the economic disparities between other neighboring countries in the same context, including the U.S. and Mexico, and Chile and Ecuador. They also note that he wrote about the subject in his book.

Speaking to Fox News' Carl Cameron in Warsaw, Romney said the media "are far more interested in finding something that is unrelated to the economy, to geopolitics, to the threat of war ... they'll instead try and find something else to divert from the fact that these last four years have been tough years for our country."

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maeve.reston@latimes.com
alana.semuels@latimes.com

twitter.com/@MaeveReston, @AlanaSemuels

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