Just as the opening ceremony of the London Olympics kicked off on Friday, two renowned British reporters stopped by the Hardball studio to offer their perspective on Mitt Romney’s inflammatory remarks suggesting that Britain wasn’t prepared to handle the Games.
MSNBC host Chris Matthews asked Simon Marks of Feature Story News for his take:
“There’s no question that there’s nothing the British press corps. enjoys more than having some fresh meat to savage, particularly if that meat happens to be a presidential candidate from the United States. I think Mitt Romney, and equally his team, misread some of the very British tea leaves that existed going into this trip to London. There had been an enormous amount of moaning and whining about the Olympics by ordinary Brits over the course of the last several weeks. But the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, himself a conservative, said about a week ago, 'put a sock in it.' Largely, Brits listened to that but Mitt did not.”
ITV News’ Chris Ship agreed.
“There’s nothing quite like somebody coming from overseas, telling us that we’re not behind our Olympics for the Brits to really get behind it. And I think since Mitt Romney rucked up a couple days ago, you can almost see the Brits put their arms around the Olympic stadium, saying you know what, 'We are behind this,'" he said. "Everyone’s behind the Games and it’s looking good.”
Earlier this week, Romney delivered a scathing critique of President Obama’s leadership, especially on national security and foreign policy. Now, British papers are touting headlines like “Who invited party-pooper Romney?” and “Mitt the twit.”
Chris Matthews (who, some say, sort of resembles Boris Johnson) said he was surprised Romney isn’t getting along with Mayor Johnson and UK Prime Minister David Cameron given that they’re all conservatives. Simon Marks explained how Romney’s latest misstep is more than a trivial gaffe, but a missed opportunity to strengthen conservative relationships between the United States and the UK:
“There’s been a tremendous strain in the relationship between Britain’s conservative party and the Republican party here in the United States going back over the last 10 years, since George W. Bush forged a very close relationship with former British prime minister Tony Blair, with whom he was not an idealogical soulmate. Here was an opportunity for Mitt Romney and David Cameron, peas in a pod politically, both conservatives, to try and establish some kind of alliance that could take them both forward. And instead, Mitt Romney has found himself causing David Cameron to come out and push back on this issue of the Olympics because, as Chris Ship knows better than anyone, David Cameron’s own credibility is at stake over the success or failure of these Olympic Games.”
As Romney walks back his statement, reactions continued pouring in. Legendary US gold medalist and four-time Olympian Carl Lewis made an appearance on The Ed Show Friday and offered his two cents. As someone who helped organize the Games in the past and knows how hard volunteers work to put them together, Lewis said Romney “should have known better.”