WASHINGTON — Wrapping up a stumble-marred overseas trip, Mitt Romney pivoted quickly into a three-month stretch to the election on Tuesday with a new feel-good television ad. Aides simultaneously stoked speculation about his vice presidential pick.
The economy was Romney’s primary text abroad as well as at home. “We could probably learn something from what’s happening right here,” the former Massachusetts governor said of Polish policies shortly before boarding his chartered jet for the flight back to the U.S.
Advisers accompanying him said he would resume direct criticism of President Barack Obama’s record soon enough, after observing a mini-moratorium while on foreign soil.
Yet a new television commercial suggested another immediate priority was to close a likeability gap in the polls.
Shorn of any criticism of Obama, the ad appears designed to introduce Romney to voters in battleground states who know little or nothing about his personal background except what they’ve seen and heard in unflattering commercials aired by Democrats.
In the ad, Romney speaks of his years in private business, in government and as the head of the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City a decade ago and says, “I want to use those experiences to help Americans have a better future.”
In the final hours of his trip, in Warsaw, the Republican extolled the Polish economy as a model for the rest of the world in an era of slow growth or worse, and he simultaneously sought to limit the political fallout caused by comments he made earlier on a stop in Israel.
“The world should pay close attention to the transformation of the Polish economy” since the end of communist rule more than two decades ago, he said in a speech in the Polish capital city. “A march toward economic liberty and smaller government has meant a march toward higher living standards, a strong military that defends liberty at home and abroad and an important and growing role on the international stage.
“Rather than heeding the false promise of a government-dominated economy, Poland sought to stimulate innovation, attract investment, expand trade and live within its means,” he added.
It was thinly veiled criticism — one of several instances on the trip — of the policies Obama has pursued while in office, and Romney was slightly less veiled in a Fox News interview. He did not mention that joblessness in Poland is more than 12 percent, roughly half as much as in the United States.With just under 100 days until the election, the presidential race remains a tight one, likely to be decided by a relative sliver of undecided voters who live in eight or so states that remain competitive. Romney heads to one of them Thursday, when he resumes traditional campaigning with an appearance in the Denver area.
His time to pick a running mate is dwindling, with the Republican National Convention set to open Aug. 27 in Tampa, Fla. His campaign unveiled an app for smartphones that officials said would “serve as the campaign’s first official distribution channel” for the news of his choice. Separately, GOP officials noted an announcement could come any day.
As for one of the controversies on his trip, Romney said in the interview with Fox before leaving Europe that he hadn’t been speaking about “the Palestinian culture or the decisions made in their economy” in his remarks earlier in the week that prompted one Palestinian official to question whether his views were racist.