“Most candidates who have not been on the world stage before often realize that it’s just a bigger stage than they thought,” says John Geer, a political scientist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. "You find out that there’s a lot more land mines out there in the international arena.”
What Romney went through was not all that atypical for a novice, Mr. Geer says, noting, for example, the extraordinary complexity of Israeli-Palestinian relations. “The question is, is there any kind of learning curve from it?” he says.
To recap: Romney’s first eyebrow-raiser came in London, when he expressed reservations to Brian Williams of NBC about London’s readiness to host the summer Olympics, calling some issues “disconcerting.” That opened a torrent of criticism from the British press, and chiding from Prime Minister David Cameron and London’s mayor, Boris Johnson.
In Israel, Romney insulted Palestinians when he spoke of “cultural differences” leading to their sluggish economy. He also had to correct the impression that he would approve a unilateral military strike by Israel to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capability. It is considered bad form for an opposition politician to contradict US policy while traveling abroad.