Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's overseas trip to England, Israel and now Poland hasn't been the foreign-policy showcase many supporters had hoped for. In London, politicians and the press were offended by comments that seemed to criticize their management of the Olympics. Then, in Jerusalem, he made comments about Jewish cultural exceptionalism that offended Palestinians.
And to his traveling press corps, Romney has said next to nothing. And reporters really want to ask him about the controversies or, in their words, gaffes and mishaps.
Their only real shot seemed to come Tuesday in a public plaza near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw, Poland. That's when the trouble began. Here's CNN's transcript, which fails to name the reporters but gives the name of Romney spokesman Rick Gorka (who in my experience with him is a decent, solid media handler):
NYT: "Governor Romney do you have a statement for the Palestinians?
Washington Post: "What about your gaffes?
NYT: "Governor Romney do you feel that your gaffes have overshadowed your foreign trip?"
CNN: "Governor Romney just a few questions sir, you haven't taken but three questions on this trip from the press!
Gorka: "Show some respect" NYT: "We haven't had another chance to ask a question..."
Gorka: "Show some respect"
NYT: "We haven't had another chance to ask a question..."
Gorka: "Kiss my ass. This is a Holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect."
Moments later, Gorka told Jonathan Martin, a reporter for Politico, to "shove it." About a half-hour later, the aide called reporters to apologize.
Normally, we don't post non-Florida goings on here, but this case stands out because it shows Romney's sometimes-contentious relationship with the D.C. press corps, which reports the day-to-day of the campaign. That reporting helps establishes the narrative through which the press views Romney. If Romney has a contentious relationship with the traveling press coprs, it's bad for his campaign. And it's probably not so good for the press, either. It's not like Romney didn't sit for interviews. He spoke to NBC's Brian Williams and Piers Morgan. He took only three questions from the travelling press corps. Most people would say: So what? Going on a trip to Israel, London and Poland beats roofing or ditch-digging in July. Still, the Romney campaign higher-ups need to consider whether it's wise to needlessly pick a fight with some reporters and put its spokesman in a situation where he'll lose his cool.