he came to get money. he left with egg on his face.
i have no reason to like mitt romney, from what little i know i am pretty sure he won’t be a great president (though ironically he will probably be more supportive of the uk than president obama). yet i can’t help feel sorry for him. he came to the uk to whip up some support from the ex-pat community, and to get some of their money, and he just seems to have been gaffe prone.
as we all know by now, mr. romney was involved with the utah winter olympics of 2002. he joined it in 1999 when it was thought that the games would have to be scaled back because of lack of funding. he also had to deal with increased security needs following the september 9th 2001 terrorist attack. the utah games managed to get all the funding it needed, they went ahead and made a profit. mr. romney even donated his salary to charity. it is true to say that there is some debate about how much of the credit for the success of the games should go to mr. romney, but it is safe to say he knows something about putting on an olympic games.
so he was asked what he thought of london’s preparations for the games.
now i am sure that mitt has a lot of things on his mind at the moment – he is running for president and he needs to raise a bit of cash for that – so he probably hasn’t been keeping abreast of all the ins and outs of the olympic build up. if he had been paying attention to our press then he would have thought that the games were doomed to failure. the gloom merchants having been out in force about this, that and the other when it came to the readiness of the games. then throw in a potential strike or two, a scandal about overseas tickets on the black market and g4s being crap and well you have the makings of a problem.
naturally romney was asked about the london olympics. he said "there were a few things that were disconcerting," "it's hard to know just how well it will turn out."
given the way the run up to the olympics had been covered this seemed like a pretty reasonable i am going to hedge my bets kind of answer.
it caused a shit storm. boris was supposed to have been scathing about mr. romney, when in reality he just asked a very large crowd to shout out that london was ready (take that you republican dandy you), it was left to david cameron to get in the one good hit, that he is much easier to put on an olympic games in the middle of nowhere (bitch slapped).
all of a sudden all the press was onside. the london olympics are wonderful. problems? we have never written about them? concerns? we have not a one. complaints? how could we have? all was well in the land of stratford – in fact this part of the east end was now a place of milk and honey.
mitt romney may have appeared to be a gaffe machine – but he did something that boris couldn’t do, that seb couldn’t do, and that livingstone and cameron couldn’t do: he made the uk love the london olympics.
hats off to mitt.