Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney continued an uneven overseas diplomatic trip Monday by landing in Poland and receiving the endorsement of former president Lech Walesa.
A day after angering Palestinians with remarks he delivered in Israel, Romney met with Walesa, who co-founded Poland's Solidarity movement that challenged Communist rule in the 1980s. Romney was visiting the country at Walesa's invitation.
"I wish you to be successful because this success is needed to the United States, of course, but to Europe and the rest of the world, too," Walesa told Romney. "Romney, get your success! Be successful!"
The Romneys marked their visit to Poland by visiting two national monuments -- Westerplatte, where Nazi troops fired the first shots of their Polish invasion in World War II, and the Solidarity Monument, where Walesa's movement began. He was also scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
On Sunday, Romney angered Palestinian officials when he suggested that the Israeli economy had outpaced that of the Palestinians primarily because of cultural differences. Palestinians complained that Romney was ignoring the impact of Israeli restrictions on crossings in the area, which they said hamper trade.
Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, went so far as to call Romney's statement "racist."
"This man doesn't realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation," Erekat told the Associated Press. "It seems to me this man (Romney) lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people."
Romney aides later said the remark had been "grossly mischaracterized" and that Romney has made such claims before.
The White House weighed in through a deputy press secretary, Josh Earnest, who said, "it is clear that there are some people who have taken a look at those comments and are scratching their heads a little bit."
"You know, one of the challenges of being an actor on the international stage, particularly when you're traveling to such a sensitive part of the world, is that your comments are very closely scrutinized for meaning, for nuance, for motivation," Earnest said.
On Friday, during a two-day visit to London, Romney was forced to backtrack comments he made earlier last week in which he openly questioned the city's preparedness for the Summer Olympics, after the country's top officials and tabloid media reacted angrily. Romney switched gears and said he was "absolutely convinced" that London was prepared.
In an interview on Sunday, Romney said he made his initial remarks based on press reports he had read ahead of his visit.
by RTT Staff Writer
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