Mitt Romney questions London's enthusiasm for Olympics
Republican candidate on visit to UK makes diplomatic gaffe by questioning preparations for Olympics
MITT ROMNEY'S attempts to portray himself as the guardian of the 'special relationship' between the US and UK got off to a shaky start after he cast doubt on London's readiness for the Olympic Games and questioned the enthusiasm of the British public.
Romney, in London for tomorrow's opening ceremony, was due to meet Prime Minister David Cameron at Downing Street this afternoon. The Times reports that British journalists would be allowed to shout questions at Romney, but his advisers have made clear there will "no remarks".
If this is to guard against gaffes, it may be too late.
Last night, in an interview with NBC, Romney was asked whether he thought London was ready for the Games.
Romney replied: "You know, it's hard to know just how well it will turn out.There are a few things that were disconcerting, the stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials.
"That obviously is not something which is encouraging."
Romney, who is credited with turning around the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics after they had become mired in a corruption scandal and funding problems, went on to list three things that make a Games successful.
First, the athletes; second, the volunteers - "and they'll have great volunteers here". And third?
"Number three are the people of the country," explained Romney. "Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment? And that's something which we only find out once the Games actually begin."
As if questioning the enthusiasm of the British public wasn't enough, Romney appeared to go on to denounce the whole of Europe, telling NBC: "We're at a point here where we have two different roads we can go down. One leads to Europe. The other leads to the kind of dynamism and prosperity which has always characterised America."
British journalists had plenty to shout about in Downing Street today.