There has been no shortage of Olympics-related PR gaffes leading up to the start of the games, which are set to kick off with the opening ceremonies in London tonight. Recent headlines have included everything from the backlash over foreign-made Team USA uniforms, to the dismissal of a Greek athlete due to an insensitive tweet. And now presidential candidate Mitt Romney has joined the ranks of those scrambling to clean up self-made PR messes before the games begin.
According to The Huffington Post, Romney, while in London earlier this week, offended British leaders and citizens alike by questioning the city’s preparedness during an NBC News interview that aired on Wednesday evening. “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,” he said. He also called some of the potential issues “disconcerting.”
On Thursday, in what some believe was a jab at Romney’s leadership of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, British Prime Minister David Cameron responded to Romney’s remarks by saying, “We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.”
According to The Huffington Post UK, when Romney attempted to make nice on Thursday afternoon, he inadvertently raised more eyebrows. He reportedly started off well as he spoke on the steps of Downing Street, saying that he “applauded the work of the organizing committee” of the games. But it quickly went south when he made a comment about enjoying the view while looking “out the backside of Downing Street.” Granted, streets don’t actually have anatomical parts, but the image of Romney peering out from a “backside” has been enough to get people snickering.
Probably not how Romney envisioned his first trip abroad as the Republican presidential nominee. But if he’s lucky, maybe once everyone’s eyes are on the games, they’ll be less focused on Romney’s flailing attempts to salvage what could have been an opportunity for much more positive international press.