July 29, 2012

Romney visits Gdansk, Walesa Monday

Mitt Romney heads for Poland Monday, stopping in Gdansk, site of the labor union uprising in 1980 that sparked the nation's march to freedom from Soviet domination.

The Rrepublican presidential candidate's schedule, released Sunday, features a Monday meeting with former Poland President Lech Walesa, key figure in the Solidarity union movement. Romney also plans meetings in Gdansk with Prime Minister Donald Tusk, and will visit a Solidarity monument. The meetings are private.

He's also go to the World War II Westerplatte memorial. Germany invaded Poland Sept. 1, 1939, in what was considered the first battle of the war. Romney will head for Warsaw later Monday evening.


July 26, 2012

Romney's Olympics comments cause a flap in London

On the eve of the Olympic opening ceremonies, Mitt Romney caused a stir Thursday in London with comments that appeared to question the city's preparedness for the games.

"It's hard to know just how well it will turn out," Romney told NBC News in an interview broadcast Wednesday. "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."

Romney, kicking off a visit to Europe that's meant to burnish his foreign policy credentials, was referring to the much publicized failure of a private security company, G4S, to furnish the 10,000 security guards it had agreed to provide security at Olympic venues. The British military had to step in, calling up an additional 3,500 troops last week and 1,200 this week to fill the gap.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee was scheduled to meet with Prime Minister David Cameron and other trop British officials but had barely stepped off the plane in London before newspapers ran with his comments. The Times of London reported, "Mitt Romney questions whether Britain is ready for the Olympic Games."

Later, in a meeting with opposition Labor Party leader Ed Miliband, Romney tried to walk back those comments, telling reporters, "My experience with regards to the Olympics is it is impossible for absolutely no mistakes to occur. Of course there will be errors from time to time, but those are all overshadowed by the extraordinary demonstrations of courage, character and determination by the athletes."

Cameron, the prime minister who has called for the biggest deployment of British security forces ever in peacetime to secure the events for 10,000 athletes and hundreds of thousands of spectators, seemed to take exception to Romney's remarks. Before meeting Romney, Cameron told reporters, "You are going to see beyond doubt that Britain can deliver," the Telegraph newspaper reported.

Times of London: Romney watching Olympic preparations closely

Shashank Bengali, who's covering the Olympics for McClatchy in London--and watching as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney visits--passes along this clip from the Times of London Thursday:

"Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, has cast doubt on Britain’s readiness for the Olympic Games as he prepares to meet leaders from all three political parties in Westminster. The Governor of Massachussets told US TV last night that there were “disconcerting” stories about Britain’s readiness and it was hard to know “just how well it .. will turn out”. He also used an NBC interview to launch an attack on Europe. “We’re ...we’re at ... a point here where we have two different roads we can go down. One leads to Europe. The other leads to the kind of dynamism and prosperity which has always characterised America.” 


Romney ran the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, and is widely credited with rescuing the games from financial trouble.

May 24, 2011

Obamas staying in "newlywed suite" at palace

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama arrived at Buckingham Palace in London Tuesday for a state visit and found they’re staying in what might be called the honeymoon suite.

Shortly after arriving at the 775-room palace, the Obamas were shown to their six room suite by Queen Elizabeth II. It was last used by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their wedding night.

"It may not be the same bed,” said one palace aide. “It is the same suite."

After the tour, the Obamas were to meet briefly with the newlywed couple – also known as Prince William and Kate -- before walking outside for a formal arrival ceremony.

May 23, 2011

Volcano ash cloud forces Obama to leave Ireland early

President Barack Obama will cut short a visit to Ireland and leave Monday evening as a plume of ash from a volcano in Iceland heads toward the British Isles, threatening to strand him on the ground.

Obama’s entourage,including Air Force One and a chartered plane carrying the White House press corps, had been scheduled to fly from Dublin, Ireland, to London on Tuesday morning. But the plume of ash from the Grimsvotn volcano in Iceland was expected to cover Ireland, Scotland and parts of northern Britain by 6 am Tuesday, according to reports in London.

British authorities said late Monday that airspace would be closed at 7 am Tuesday, local time, over Northern Ireland and Scotland. News reports in London said airlines already were grounding flights.

The earlier departure for London will not change Obama's planned state visit to London Tuesday, accordingto Deputy White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

Last year, an ash cloud from another Iceland volcano wreaked havoc on European air travel for days. It also forced Obama to cancel a trip to Poland to attend the funeral of its president; a trip he’s making up this week after stops in Ireland, the United Kingdom and France.

Obama and Cameron to unveil new joint security board

When he arrives in London later this week, President Barack Obama will join British Prime Minister David Cameron in announcing a a new joint effort to coordinate national security analysis and staretgy.

The National Security Strategy Board would be co-chaired by White House National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and British National Security Adviser Sir Peter Ricketts, according to U.S. and British officials in London who spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of the official announcement.

Donilon flew to London Sunday ahead of Obama to finish the arrangements.

The joint-board would coordinate the two governments’ assessments of threats from terrorists and rogue nations, as well as developments in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the rapid changes emerging through the Arab Spring pro-democracy movements sweeping North Africa and the Middle East.

“The new board will allow us to look ahead and develop a shared view of emerging challenges, how we should deal with them, and how our current policy can adapt to longer term developments," said a statement from a British official.

“It reflects a welcome further development of our close relationship on foreign and defense business. Sharing the knowledge and insights of the experts in London and Washington will help both governments look ahead in an increasingly complex and fast moving world.”

Obama to plant tree next to JFK's

White House press pool report from Dublin:

President Barack Obama arrived at President Mary McAleese's residence, a large white house set in a large park, shortly after 10 a.m. local.

He and Michelle Obama walked into the State Reception Room alongside the Irish President and her husband, Martin. The large guest book with sheets of lined manila-colored paper sat on a wooden table at the center of the State Reception Room, an ornate room with gold trim on the ceiling and walls, a deep green carpet and fireplace. An Irish Army commandant stood off to the side, behind the table. The Obamas only signed their name. They thanked the McAleeses before being ushered into another room.

As he walked out, an Irish reporter shouted: "Mr. President, may we ask your first impressions of Ireland?" President Obama would only smile and wave his hand.

He is now meeting with President McAleese before moving outdoors for a tree planting. His tree will be about 50 feet or so from a Sequoia planted in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy.

Obama lands in windy Ireland

From a White House press pool report:

Air Force One landed at Dublin Airport in blustery winds at 9:29 local time. After taxiing a bit, the President and First Lady disembarked. He was wearing a dark suit, she was wearing a grey jacket and light grey skirt. They were greeted by the Irish chief of protocol and the US ambassador to Ireland, Dan Rooney.


Moments later:

POTUS landed in a broad green field in Phoenix Park at 9:59. Very windy ride over from the airport. President and Mrs. Obama walked through the waving grass, through a stand of trees, to their motorcade, which left for the short drive to the Irish president's house.

March 21, 2011

Pelosi taken to hospital in italy, but has resumed her schedule

Nancy Pelosi's OK.

The House minority leader was taken to a Rome hospital Monday morning after feeling ill. She's on a trip to Italy, where she's leading a congressional delegation that's helping celebrating that country's 150th birthday, and Afghanistan. One report said she had a fainting spell.

Pelosi's office said she became sick after "several flights yesterday in Afghanistan and a long flight back to Italy that arrived early this morning."

As a result of not feeling well, "this morning in Rome, the leader was advised to visit a clinic, and the closest medical facility was a hospital. The leader is now resuming her schedule in Italy."

May 05, 2010

Biden to Europe

Vice President Joe Biden left for Europe this morning. He’s headed to Brussels and Madrid for meetings with NATO and the European Union as well as the leaders of Belgium and Spain.

One mission: make up for President Obama’s decision not to attend a regular meeting of the US and EU in Madrid this spring, a decision that led to the cancellation of the summit.


"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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