"Anglo-Saxon" quote overshadows start of Romney tour

LONDON Thu Jul 26, 2012 11:29am EDT

U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney addresses the 113th Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) National Convention in Reno, Nevada, July 24, 2012. REUTERS/James Glover

U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney addresses the 113th Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) National Convention in Reno, Nevada, July 24, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/James Glover

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LONDON (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney began a foreign tour on Wednesday forced to disavow a report that an adviser had accused President Barack Obama of not understanding the shared "Anglo-Saxon heritage" of Britain and the United States.

As Romney arrived in London for a three-day stay, The Daily Telegraph quoted an unnamed Romney campaign adviser who lauded the special relationship between the two countries.

"We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special," the Telegraph quoted the adviser as saying, "The White House didn't fully appreciate the shared history we have."

The paper said the adviser's remarks "may prompt accusations of racial insensitivity."

Romney is in London to attend the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games on Friday, the first leg of a week-long trip that will also take him to Israel and Poland as he seeks to burnish his foreign policy credentials and present himself as a viable alternative to the Democratic incumbent.

Romney, in an NBC News interview, dismissed the comment but said the United States and Britain do enjoy specialties and that he believes Obama recognizes this as well.

"It goes back to our very beginnings -- cultural and historical. But I also believe the president understands that. So I don't agree with whoever that adviser might be, but do agree that we have a very common bond between ourselves and Great Britain," the former Massachusetts governor said.

The Obama re-election campaign, which is trying to portray Romney as a foreign policy novice, leaped on the Anglo-Saxon remark by issuing a statement from Vice President Joe Biden, who accused Romney of "playing politics with international diplomacy."


"The comments reported this morning are a disturbing start to a trip designed to demonstrate Governor Romney's readiness to represent the United States on the world's stage. Not surprisingly, this is just another feeble attempt by the Romney campaign to score political points at the expense of this critical partnership. This assertion is beneath a presidential campaign," Biden said.

Romney is to meet British Prime Minister David Cameron, Labour Party leader Ed Milliband and other British officials as well as former Prime Minister Tony Blair on Thursday.

While he is not expected to issue any policy pronouncements, all of the meetings will have carefully orchestrated photo opportunities with the aim of showing American voters images of Romney on the world stage.

Issues from back home, however, were still front and center. In the NBC interview, conducted from the Tower of London, Romney defended his decision not to release more of his tax records beyond the 2010 documents already released and the 2011 papers that are being worked on.

The Obama campaign has made a big issue out of Romney's tax records, suggesting he has something to hide.

Romney expressed ignorance about when a horse owned by his wife, Ann Romney, would be participating in the Olympic sport called dressage. Democrats have used the Romneys' involvement in the sport to call attention to their vast wealth. Ann Romney rides horses to relieve stress and ease symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

"I have to tell you. This is Ann's sport. I'm not even sure which day the sport goes on. She will get the chance to see it, I will not be watching the event. I hope her horse does well," he said.

Obama is trying to head off a strong challenge from Romney in a campaign largely centered on the weak U.S. economy. Romney is taking some risk by spending a week abroad in the heat of a close campaign since any comment he makes could be seen as criticizing the president, which most U.S. politicians are reluctant to do once they leave American shores.

To get around that problem, Romney set the stage for his trip with a scathing speech on American soil on Tuesday, accusing the president of mishandling foreign policy hot spots from the Middle East to China and neglecting U.S. allies.

Romney's visit to London is aimed at recalling the role he played in salvaging the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, a key portion of his resume as a businessman who can fix problems.

That part of his biography has come under fire from the Obama campaign, which insists that at that time he was still nominally in control of Bain Capital, a private equity firm that had shipped some U.S. jobs overseas.

(Editing by Alistair Bell and Mohammad Zargham)

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Comments (3)
twodm wrote:
Obama also has British and Irish heritage so how could this have meant anything other than “we’re white and he’s not”? Besides that, the peoples of the UK are not “Anglo-Saxon” and unless Romney is of German ancestry, neither is he. I think calling Britain and British heritage “Anglo Saxon” is its own form of ignorant bigotry and does the UK a disservice. Brits are NOT Anglo-Saxons

Jul 25, 2012 10:54pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
flashrooster wrote:
No one’s criticizing Romney’s celebration of our two nations’ heritage. This is the part that’s troubling: “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.” Why would a Romney surrogate say that? Why doesn’t an Obama White House appreciate our two countries’ “Anglo-Saxon” heritage? Look at the entire quote carefully, and DO keep in mind that Presidential campaigns are very careful in how they design their statements: “We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he [Romney] feels that the special relationship is special,” the Telegraph quoted the adviser as saying, “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.”
Besides the idiot redundancy, notice he says “Anglo-Saxon” heritage and that it’s something this particular President can’t fully appreciate. Anyone claiming that there isn’t racist innuendo in that just isn’t too bright, or you simply fail to understand how words are used to manipulate the masses. The Republicans rely on it all the time. One of their primary attack strategies against Obama is to scare Americans into voting for Romney by painting Obama as not being American, not being “one of us,” because the Republicans define “one of us” as being white, conservative, and Christian. Obama happens to be a black, moderate, Christian. Not good enough for Republicans.

There are an endless number of ways that we can describe the relationship between Great Britain and the US. The Romney camp was careful to choose “Anglo-Saxon” heritage because their opponent is not perceived as being Anglo-Saxon. This is not a very apt way of commemorating our two nations’ history because it doesn’t include a large percentage of the countries’ populations. You see, when honoring our nations’ longstanding friendship it should include all the people of our countries, not just the Anglo-Saxons. Though the Anglo-Saxon connection is true, our heritage is really much bigger than that and includes all Americans and all Brits, and not all Americans or Brits are Anglo-Saxons. So the Romney camp could just as easily have said, ‘We have a special relationship together that is built on our shared histories.’ That way they avoid any controversy AND the inane redundancy. But they didn’t. They did precisely what they wanted to do. And the Republicans have been doing it for nearly 4 years now.

Jul 25, 2012 11:42pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
TessaD wrote:
It’s fascinating the way this story has been repeated without verification. Firstly, it should be noted that the reporter who “broke” this story for the London Daily Telegraph is Jon Swaine, the paper’s Washington correspondent. Secondly, Swaine attributed the remarks to members of Romney’s “foreign policy advisory team.” Aside from the “Anglo-Saxon” remark that has garnered so much attention, Swaine, in his article, also wrote:

“Obama is a left-winger,” another adviser later said.

“He doesn’t value the NATO alliance as much. 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’.”

So is Jon Swaine straight-man for the Obama administration???? This article and Biden’s quick response are straight out of Chicago politics play-book. But who’s surprised??? Apparently the media outlets are.

Jul 26, 2012 12:08pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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