Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney brought his campaign here Thursday where he was met with questions about his concerns for Britain's Olympics security preparations and a controversial comment attributed to an unnamed aide.
After meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron, Romney said he believed the Games that open today would be "highly successful."
Romney, who directed the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, made the remarks a day after expressing concern about the failure of a private company to provide its quota of security guards across the city. Earlier Thursday, Romney said it was "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," Romney said.
Romney spokesman Rick Gorka also denied that a campaign official had anything to do with comments in a British newspaper suggesting that the Obama administration did not fully appreciate the "Anglo-Saxon" heritage linking the U.S. and Britain.
The comments were attributed to an unnamed representative of the Romney campaign.
"It's not true," Gorka said. "If anyone said that, they weren't reflecting the views of Gov. Romney or anyone inside the campaign."
The questions served as a bumpy start to Romney's official trip here, where his visit with the prime minister capped a busy day of meetings with top government officials and former prime minister Tony Blair.
Romney plans to attend the Olympics opening ceremonies before continuing his three-nation trip to Israel and Poland.
As Romney was meeting with Cameron, crowds gathered outside the prime minister's No. 10 Downing St. residence to get a glimpse of the Olympic flame, which was set to stop there.
Cameron had no public comments after the meeting. Earlier, he was bristling about Romney.
"Look at what we're capable of achieving as a nation, even in difficult times," Cameron said, gesturing to the gleaming new Olympic Stadium. "Look behind me at this extraordinary Olympic Park, built from nothing in seven years," he said.
Cameron also took issue with Romney's suggestion that the British, who are often deeply divided along regional lines, might not unite to support the Games.
"The torch relay demonstrates that this is not a London Games, this is not an England Games, this is a United Kingdom Games," Cameron said. "We'll show the whole world not just that we've come together as a United Kingdom, but also we're extremely good at welcoming people from across the world. I'd obviously make those points to Mitt Romney."
And when the Olympic flame was carried before a raucous Hyde Park crowd Thursday evening, London Mayor Boris Johnson also took a swipe at Romney: "There's a guy named Mitt Romney who wants to know if we're ready. Are you ready?"
The estimated 60,000 spectators responded with a roar.
In an interview Wednesday with NBC, Romney was asked about London's Olympics and responded: "It's hard to know just how well it will turn out. There are a few things that were disconcerting."
He cited the meltdown of the private security firm and said a key element of a successful Olympics is "the people of the country. Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment? And that's something which we only find out once the Games actually begin."
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