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Romney 'plans to visit Berlin this summer'

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Romney 'plans to visit Berlin this summer'
Photo: DPA
10:38 CEST+02:00
US presidential candidate Mitt Romney will reportedly visit Berlin this summer, echoing President Barack Obama's trip shortly before the 2008 election. But the Republican candidate is unlikely to generate the enthusiasm that his rival did.

Romney would plan to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel during his visit, which would be part of a European summer tour.

The US website Politico reported on Thursday that the idea was for Romney to differentiate himself from Obama on foreign policy and to present himself as a potential world leader. He plans to announce the tour at a speech in Reno, Nevada later this month, the site said.

However, should he turn up in Berlin, the comparisons are likely to be unfavourable. At least 200,000 people swarmed to the Victory Column in the centre of the city to cheer on Obama as he made a speech about future US foreign policy and global warming.

The speech was well-received in Germany, where dislike of President George W. Bush was widespread. A smiling Obama graced the front pages of the major newspapers, and buttons were produced with his photo, the date of the speech, July 24, 2008, and the slogan: “I can listen.”

Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit called the 30-minute speech “courageous,” and said it was “a sign that US politics are heading in a new direction.”

And although Romney's economic proposals might be more in line with Merkel's austerity demands for European countries, the chancellor has a good working relationship with Obama.

He awarded Merkel the presidential Medal of Freedom at a state dinner in the White House Rose Garden last year. The two leaders smiled broadly as they toasted each other. Merkel told the US president, “the next time you come to Germany, you can speak at any gate you want,” according to the New York Times.

Obama had wanted to speak in front of the Brandenburg Gate, a spot many Americans still associate with President Ronald Reagan's famous speech in which he challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “Tear down this wall!” But Obama's campaign was refused permission for this, and chose the Victory Column instead – to huge acclaim.

Whether Romney tries to reproduce such a stunt remains open to question.

As former CEO of the organizing committee for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, he plans to visit London at the start of the summer Olympics and to make a speech on US foreign policy while in Britain, Politico reported.

His foreign policy tour would also include a stop with several meetings in Israel – a country Obama has not yet visited, and which would be symbolically important for many Jewish voters in the US.

Romney's campaign also reportedly plans a speech in Poland, a country where Obama was criticized for his decision in 2009 to scrap a missile defence shield for Eastern Europe planned by his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Some of Obama's statements have also drawn fire in Warsaw. In May, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk demanded a stronger apology from Obama, who, during a ceremony honoring a Polish resistance fighter, referred to a “Polish death camp,” instead of “Nazi death camp.”

The Local/mbw

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