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London's Boris Johnson mocks Romney over Olympics comments

posted 27 Jul 2012, 02:38 by Mpelembe   [ updated 27 Jul 2012, 02:39 ]

Mayor of London Boris Johnson mocks U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney over comments suggesting London was not ready for the Games.

LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (JULY 26, 2012) (REUTERS) - Speaking in front of a cheering crowd in London's Hyde Park, Mayor of London Boris Johnson mocked U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney's statement suggesting that London was not ready for the Olympic Games.

The Republican candidate ruffled British feathers by appearing to suggest in a U.S. television interview on Wednesday that London was not ready for the Games, whose opening ceremony in the British capital is on Friday (July 27).

The comments provoked an uproar in the feisty British media and drew a biting response from Prime Minister David Cameron and Johnson who spoke to the estimated 60,000 people who have gathered at the park for the penultimate day of the Olympic Torch relay.

"I hear there's a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we're ready," Johnson said, in a moment that could have been scripted as a commercial for U.S. President Barack Obama, Romney's opponent in the Nov. 6 election.

"He wants to know whether we're ready," Johnson called out to the crowd. "Are we ready? Are we ready? Yes, we are."

The scene puts Romney in damage control mode at the start of a foray to Britain, Israel and Poland that is scheduled to be light on policy pronouncements and heavy on photo opportunities and fundraising.

His comments about the London Games followed what already had been an inauspicious start to his week-long overseas trip, designed in part to establish his foreign policy credentials with voters back home.

Romney had to disavow comments by an unidentified adviser who told the Daily Telegraph that Obama, the United States' first African-American president, had mishandled U.S.-British ties and that Romney better understood the "Anglo-Saxon heritage" between the two countries.

On Thursday, Romney also took the unusual step of acknowledging that he had met with the head of MI6, Britain's secretive foreign intelligence agency, when asked about his discussions with British officials about Syria.

Such conversations are not normally discussed publicly by government leaders.

"I can only say that I appreciated the insights and the perspectives of the leaders of the government here and opposition here as well as the head of MI6 as we discussed Syria and hoped for a more peaceful future for that country," he said.

Romney also is using his visit to raise campaign cash from Americans living in Britain, and plans to pull in about $2 million to add to his huge campaign war chest.

Romney's discussions with British officials, including Cameron, Labour Party leader Ed Miliband of the opposition, and others were dominated by the Eurozone crisis and its impact on the British and U.S. economies, a senior Romney adviser said.

Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Tunisia, Egypt and Afghanistan all came up during the discussions, but Romney would not talk about specific policy proposals to avoid any appearance of critiquing Obama, the adviser said.

Romney, who polls indicate is in a tight race with Obama, is due to leave London on Saturday (July 28) for Israel.