Saturday 21 October 2017

Mitt Romney backtracks on Olympic criticism

James Kirkup

US Republican Party presidential candidate Mitt Romney has quickly backtracked after saying he did not think London was properly prepared for the Olympics.

Mitt Romney had told US television during a visit to the British capital that there were "disconcerting" signs about London’s readiness.

"It's hard to know just how well it will turn out," he said. "There are a few things that were disconcerting: the stories about the private security firm not having enough people, supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging."

Mr Romney questioned the enthusiasm of the British public. "Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment?" he asked. "That's something which we only find out once the Games actually begin."

But in a meeting with Labour leader Ed Miliband in London, the Republican US presidential candidate avoided criticism of the Olympics organisers and focused on the athletes.

"This event will change the hearts of many, many people," Mr Romney said.

He added: "It is impossible for no mistakes to occur but those are overshadowed by the extraordinary demonstrations of courage, character and determination by the athletes."

Prime Minister David Cameron rejected his earlier criticisms and said he would tell the Republican nominee in person today that London 2012 is well-organised and set to be celebrated by people across Britain.

Mr Romney later made a second gaffe when he referred to Ed Miliband as "Mr Leader".

“Like you Mr Leader I look forward to our conversations this morning and I have had a number of conversations with leaders both present and past and recongise of course the unique relationship that exists between our nations,” he said.

Later on Thursday, Mr Romney will hold a fundraiser at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Knightsbridge. One of the hosts of the fundraiser, former Barclays CEO Bob Diamond, withdrew from the event following the Libor scandal.

Telegraph.co.uk

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