Editorial: Mitt Romney’s foreign fundraising

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

We’ll not make too much of Mitt Romney’s unfortunate remarks in London, the first stop of his European tour.

He didn’t say anything plenty of others weren’t saying, and it’s no badge of shame to be beaten up in the British tabloids.

It was interesting to watch Romney, who has built a refusal to ever apologize into a high principle, trying to make up for offending people without saying he’s sorry. It would be nice if he learned through the experience that a humble tone can be a powerful tool of diplomacy.

Of greater concern here is what Romney said behind the scenes in his visits to London, Israel and Poland. What promises did he make to British Prime Minister David Cameron? What assurances did he give to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about what he might do about –– or to –– Iran should he move into the White House in January?

When foreign leaders greet a major party nominee for U.S. president, they aren’t just shooting the breeze. They are sizing up a future partner or adversary, and, in a sense, opening negotiations. We trust Romney’s statements that he planned to make no new policies on his overseas trip. As Barack Obama said on his pre-convention trip four years ago, “we only have one president at a time.”

We’re also curious about what Romney said at his fundraisers. He hosted two fundraising events in London, both hosted by bankers. In Israel, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who has promised $100 million to defeat Obama, was Romney’s co-star at a fundraising event in the King David Hotel. Romney’s remarks to the groups were open to the press, but a lot of conversations between the men with the money and the candidate asking for it were anything but open.

What did Romney promise? What do the donors want? We know what Adelson wants: abandonment of the two-state strategy in Israel and friendly commercial relations with his partners in China. What do the international financiers in London want? Support for the euro? Repeal of Dodd-Frank? Protection for international tax havens?

Four years ago, candidate Obama addressed a huge crowd in Berlin and visited American service members in Afghanistan. There were justifiable concerns that something he said might muddy the diplomatic waters. But at least he wasn’t accepting checks.

We understand that mostly Americans attended Romney’s fundraisers, and that some of them work for U.S.-based companies, including the London staff of Bain Capital, the firm Romney founded. They could attend a Romney fundraiser in New York and make the same pitches to the prospective nominee. We understand there’s a diversity of opinions in London and Israel, and that most candidates are careful about making iron-clad policy commitments at fundraisers.

We also understand that we live in a global economy, and we shouldn’t be surprised that a global politics is developing as well. Money chases power, even over international borders. And, as Romney says, “corporations are people, too.”

But we can’t help but wonder if these global corporate people are really Americans, and how much they care about ordinary American people? Is it old-fashioned to wonder whether people writing checks to U.S. campaign committees are pursuing American interests or foreign ones?

-- MetroWest Daily News (Mass.)