Likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney annoyed Prime Minister David Cameron by suggesting Thursday Britain is not ready for the Olympics.
In an interview with NBC, Romney said London seems "unprepared" for the games, which start this Friday. A senior British government source said officials were stunned, The Guardian reported.
"What a total shocker," the source told the newspaper. "We are speechless."
Cameron himself responded with a joke about the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, which Romney managed: "We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere."
After spending 45 minutes with the prime minister at No. 10 Downing Street, Romney said he expected the games to be "highly successful."
Romney also met Thursday with former Prime Minister Tony Blair and Labor Party leader Ed Miliband in London. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee focused on the Olympics, rather than policy issues, in his meeting, The Washington Post reported.
"The athletes have arrived, the torch is about to come into London ... My experience is that this event will change the hearts of many, many people," Romney said.
Romney aides have said U.S. Republicans were irked with Cameron's embrace of President Obama.
Cameron, who visited the White House in March, joined the Democratic president on a visit to a college basketball game in Ohio -- a key swing state in November's presidential election -- and was later honored with a White House state dinner.
Cameron declined to meet any Republican leaders during the visit, the Romney advisers -- who requested anonymity -- told the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph.
Senior advisers to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee expressed similar criticisms to the British newspaper The Guardian in May, calling Cameron's White House visit a "love-in" with Obama.
One of the Romney advisers told the Telegraph Romney considered Britain "our oldest friend in the world," although Romney wrote in his memoir "No Apology": "England is just a small island. Its roads and houses are small. With few exceptions, it doesn't make things that people want to buy."
The Republican Party presented a united front with Britain's Conservative Party in the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan was president and Margaret Thatcher was prime minister. Since then, the political picture has become more complex, with the Labor Party in Britain moving to the right. Blair supported President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq when few other European leaders did.
Cameron's party is more in line with Democrats in several areas. He supports legalizing same-sex marriage and has called his administration the "greenest" in the nation's history.
Most Popular Stories
- The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn., John Beifuss column
- Cabot Street Cinema in Beverly for sale
- Entrepreneurs Chase Social Media
- Will Yahoo Splurge on $1-Billion acquisition of Tumblr?
- Financial Times Twitter, Email Hacked
- European Car Sales up First Time in 20 Months
- Travel Startup Localeur Expands to Houston
- Google Fiber Making an Impact
- Jolie Mastectomy Raises Legal Questions
- 'Star Trek Into Darkness': The Return of Khan?