Romney finds support in Poland after missteps abroad | News | DW | 31.07.2012
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Romney finds support in Poland after missteps abroad

The US Republican Party's presumptive presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, is wrapping up a gaffe-filled three country tour in Poland. Former Polish president Lech Walesa has offered Romney words of support.

The former leader of Poland's anti-communist Solidarity movement, Lech Walesa, has wished Romney "success", a needed political boost for the Republican presidential contender after a series of diplomatic blunders in Great Britain and Israel.

"I wish you to be successful because this success is needed for the United States of course, but for Europe and the rest of the world too," Walesa said after a meeting with Romney on Monday. "Governor Romney, get your success. Be successful."

But Solidarity's current leadership has distanced itself from Walesa's remarks. The trade union has accused Romney, a former venture capitalist, of being hostile toward organized labor. Solidarity said in a release that Romney "supported attacks on trade unions and employees' rights."

Under Walesa's leadership, Solidarity helped usher in democracy in Poland by challenging the Soviet-backed communist government in Warsaw in the 1980s.

Romney is scheduled to meet with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski on Tuesday and deliver a keynote speech before returning to the US.

Rocky trip abroad

The former Massachusetts governor has sought to beef up his foreign policy credentials as his campaign against the Democratic incumbent, President Barack Obama, picks up steam. A USA Today/Gallup poll published last week gave Obama 52 percent support on foreign policy among likely voters compared to 40 percent for Romney.

But Romney's first major foray onto the world stage as the presumptive Republican nominee has been checkered by a series of gaffes.

While in Israel on Monday, Romney angered Palestinians when he told Jewish-American donors in Jerusalem that he may move the American embassy to Jerusalem if elected president . Israel seized Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Six Day War. Currently, foreign governments - including the US - have their embassies in the coastal city of Tel Aviv.

Romney also suggested that culture was partially responsible for Israel's resounding economic success compared to the poverty in the Palestinian territories.

"It seems to me this man lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people," said Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. "It is a racist statement, and this man doesn't realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation."

Romney similarly stirred up controversy during the first leg of his trip in Great Britain, where he attended the opening of the Olympic Games. The Republican presidential nominee questioned Britain's preparation for the games, drawing a rebuff even from Prime Minister David Cameron.

slk/lw (AP, AFP, Reuters)