So First Round was somewhat surprised by Mitt’s pre-Olympic comments to a US TV channel, after arriving in London just before the start of the Games – a trip which, lest we forget, was at least in part a bid to rally support from potential expat donors in the UK.
In case you missed it, the man who wants to be America’s next president (and once ‘saved’ the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002) cast doubt on London’s readiness to host the Games, thus managing to instantly offend all the senior politicians who had rolled out the red carpet for him. This, along with various other gaffes, prompted the UK press to gleefully label his visit as ‘the Romneyshambles’ or (a personal favourite) ‘Mitt hits the fan’.
Now First Round is no IR expert. But one would humbly venture to suggest that turning up and insulting your hosts is rarely the best way to persuade them to part with their cash (especially if your doubts turn out subsequently to be wholly misplaced, as in this case).
Let’s say Mitt found himself in Japan shortly before the World Championships in 1991. Did he try to persuade the country’s top banks to cough up a few billion yen for Bain’s new Asia fund by denouncing the use of bullet trains and criticising its top Sumo wrestlers for being too fat?
Judging by Bain’s fundraising success in the region, he presumably did not. So must we conclude that his powers of diplomacy have actually got worse since he became a politician? Surely it’s supposed to work the other way round…