CNN — Mitt Romney said Wednesday that a racially charged anonymous quote in a British newspaper slamming President Barack Obama for his understanding of the United States’ ‘special relationship’ with Britain did not come from him, and did not reflect the presumptive GOP nominee’s views.
“I’m not sure who this person is, but I can tell you that we have a very special relationship between the United States and Great Britain,” Romney said in an interview with NBC News. “But I also believe the president understands that.”
Obama supporters wasted no time jumping on the quote from an “adviser” to Romney with Vice President Joe Biden, among others, weighing in.
The quote, which appeared in The Daily Telegraph as Mitt Romney arrived in London for his three-country overseas tour, was sourced to an “adviser” to Romney. The newspaper said the person requested anonymity because the Romney campaign did not want to be seen as criticizing Obama to foreign media outlets.
“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the adviser is quoted as saying. “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.”
The anonymous remark sparked an angry reaction from Biden Wednesday, who called the remarks “disturbing” in a statement released by Obama’s re-election campaign.
“Despite his promises that politics stops at the water’s edge, Governor Romney’s wheels hadn’t even touched down in London before his advisors were reportedly playing politics with international diplomacy, attempting to create daylight between the United States and the United Kingdom where none exists,” Biden wrote.
He went on to list a series of issues he said were indicative of a relationship with Britain that was “stronger than ever,” including Afghanistan, missile defense and Iran.
“The comments reported this morning are a disturbing start to a trip designed to demonstrate Governor Romney’s readiness to represent the United States on the world’s stage,” Biden wrote. “Not surprisingly, this is just another feeble attempt by the Romney campaign to score political points at the expense of this critical partnership. This assertion is beneath a presidential campaign.”
Responding to Biden’s remarks, Romney chided the use of anonymous quotes.
“First of all, I’m genuinely not enthusiastic about adopting the comments made by people who are unnamed. I have a lot of advisers, actually we’ve gone from calling the rope line where I shake hands everyday to the advice line, because we have a lot of people that offer advice. So I’m not sure who this person is, but I can tell you that we have a very special relationship between the United States and Great Britain,” Romney said in the NBC News interview, building on the pushback his campaign had already initiated earlier in the day.
He added: “It goes back to our very beginnings, culture and historical, but I also believe the president understands that, so I don’t agree with whoever that adviser might be, but do agree that we have a very common bond between ourselves and Great Britain.”
David Axelrod, a senior adviser to Obama’s campaign, was also critical on Twitter, writing: “Mitt’s trip off to flying start, even before he lands, with stunningly offensive quotes from his team in British press.”
Romney arrived in London early Wednesday, his first stop on a three-country tour meant to bolster his foreign policy credentials months ahead of November’s general election.
On Thursday Romney is slated to meet with virtually every major British political leader, including Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and opposition leader Ed Miliband. He will also meet with William Hague, the U.K. foreign secretary, and former Prime Minister Tony Blair.
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