Mitt Romney created a stir when he seemed to be less than absolutely positive the British will put on a smashing Olympics.
“It’s hard to know just how well it will turn out,” the Republican presidential candidate told NBC News in an interview yesterday, citing the threat of a strike by immigration officers and reports of a shortage of security workers.
The empire struck back.
First, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron suggested they’ll do just fine putting on the show in one of the world’s “busiest, most active” cities. It’s not as if they’re doing it in, say, Salt Lake City, where Romney ran the 2002 Winter Olympics.
“Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere,” Cameron allowed.
And then there’s the British press.
In the Telegraph, a commentary carried the headline: “Mitt Romney is perhaps the only politician who could start a trip that was supposed to be a charm offensive by being utterly devoid of charm and mildly offensive.”
Finally, London’s Mayor Boris Johnson fired up a crowd estimated at 80,000 in Hyde Park assembled for the arrival of the Olympic torch: “There’s a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we’re ready,” Johnson said. “Are we ready? Yes, we are!”
Johnson led the masses in a chant of “Yes we can!”
That, of course, was President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign theme.
Lisa Lerer contributed from London