Of course Mitt Romney’s arrival in London was awkward. Mitt Romney’s arrival anywhere is awkward.
But don’t think that Romney’s jaunt across the pond has been a complete disaster.
Aside from some public relations missteps, he has accomplished precisely what he set out to do.
Romney’s bumpkin-in-chief beginning in London was epic: he suggested the Brits had done a poor job organizing the Olympics, violated international security protocols and struggled to keep the names of his hosts straight. Britain’s Sun, a particularly conservative tabloid, went so far as to dub him “Mitt the Twit” on a frontpage that the Brits—and plenty of American Democrats—will dub a “keeper.”
What with an aide making cryptic comments about how Romney has a better understanding than President Obama of “Anglo-Saxon heritage,” nothing about the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s step onto the global stage seemed to go right.
Except, of course, for the real purpose of the trip, which was to collect cash from the most scandal-plagued of London’s financial insiders— and to assure the embattled banksters that he would, if elected, use the power of the presidency to protect them from regulation and oversight.
That task Romney managed with the agility of the “vulture capitalist” described by his Republican primary foes.
Within the well-guarded confines of London’s posh Mandarin Oriental hotel Thursday night, Romney met with at least 250 of the top bankers, speculators and financial manipulators in the world—including representatives of Barclays, the bank that recently paid almost $500 million in fines after its officials were charged with providing false information to interest-rate regulators.
Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond had to withdraw as a co-chair of Romney’s London fundraiser festivities—after Diamond was forced out of his position and then dragged before a Parliamentary select committee for a round of “what did you know and when did you know it” questioning about the filing of false reports and the manipulation of global markets. Embarrassing? Not really. The no-shame-when-it-comes-to-money-grabbing Romney campaign just made another Barclays insider a co-chair, along with representatives of of Bank of Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Goldman Sachs, Blackstone and Wells Fargo Securities—and, of course, Bain Capital Europe.
What was Romney thinking?
First and foremost, he wanted the estimated $2 million in campaign contributions that the global financiers ponied up Thursday night.
But the Republican presidential candidate came to London to offer the the scandal-plagued bankers something in return for the checks that were delivered in increments of as much as $75,000: reassurance that he really is one of them. And that a Romney presidency would serve their interests.
Referring to the signature Wall Street regulatory reform of the Obama presidency, Romney reassured the bankers that “I’d like to get rid of Dodd Frank and go back and look at regulation piece by piece.”
While he couldn’t quite get the hang of international diplomacy, Mitt Romney was entirely comfortable standing on foreign soil and promising international bankers that, as president, he would take care of them.