WASHINGTON - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s criticism of the London Olympics was a national embarrassment for the United States, a top aide to President Barack Obama said on Sunday. Romney’s remarks were widely seen as a gaffe and were ill-timed as his visit to Britain kicked off an important foreign tour aimed at burnishing his diplomatic credentials ahead of the US presidential election in November. “I’m happy (British Prime Minister) David Cameron had the last word, because I thought it was embarrassing for our country,” Robert Gibbs, a senior advisor on Obama’s re-election team, told ABC’s “This Week” program.
Within hours of landing in London, NBC television broadcast an interview in which Romney said it was “hard to know just how well” the Olympics would turn out and said there were “a few things that were disconcerting.” He even questioned the British Olympic spirit, adding: “Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment? That’s something which we only find out once the Games actually begin.” Cameron duly responded with what was believed to be a veiled attempt to belittle one of Romney’s crowning achievements, his rescue of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City from financial ruin. “We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world,” the British leader said. “Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.” Gibbs said Romney’s decision to “stand in the country of our strongest ally,” and question whether or not Britain was ready for the Olympics “does make you wonder whether or not he’s ready to be commander-in-chief?” “It’s clear that voters in this country wonder aloud whether Mitt Romney is ready for the world, and I think the world is not yet ready for Mitt Romney,” the former White House press secretary said.