Sunday, February 18, 2018

Romney hails Poland as economic model

WARSAW — Mitt Romney ended his six-day foreign trip Tuesday with an address praising Poland as an economic and freedom-loving model for the world, a speech that proved a decided contrast to the turbulence that shadowed much of his journey.

The rousing speech was meant to cap a three-country tour designed to showcase a confident Romney moving easily on the world stage. Instead, the Republican presidential candidate found himself dogged by verbal missteps in the United Kingdom and Israel.

At virtually the same time Romney finished his address in Warsaw, he unveiled a new, upbeat ad in the United States that talked about his business and government experience and his love for America. He also announced a new mobile app that will allow viewers to learn instantly of his vice presidential choice.

Stuart Stevens, Romney's chief strategist, insisted the entire journey was a success, despite Romney's suggestion last week that the British were not ready for the Summer Olympics, and on Monday, that Israel's economy thrived partly because of cultural differences with the Palestinians.

"Part of the reason you come on these trips is to learn and to get a better sense of how things are on the ground, to listen and be able to speak to them with more specificity and granularity and to have personal exchanges with people that you can build on," Stevens said.

"I think people look at it and get a better sense of what he would be like as president, what he believes as president," he said.

Tuesday was the last chapter in that process, as Romney spoke to about 400 people at the University of Warsaw Library.

The 15-minute address was aimed at driving home two key points: that market-driven economies can flourish as long as government stays out of the way, and that the United States must take a tough line against dictatorships and terrorists.

"The world should pay close attention to the transformation of Poland's economy," Romney said. "A march toward economic liberty and smaller government has meant a march toward higher living standards, a strong military that defends liberty at home and abroad, and an important and growing role on the international stage."

Romney took aim at the Obama administration's efforts to have government actively involved in reviving the United States' wounded economy and made a veiled reference to the president's often futile bid to significantly reduce the federal debt.

"Rather than heeding the false promise of a government-dominated economy, Poland sought to stimulate innovation, attract investment, expand trade and live within its means," Romney said. "Your success today is a reminder that the principles of free enterprise can propel an economy and transform a society."

Romney's speech got a polite response and mixed reviews.

"Nothing new; we know about freedom and war," said Artur Kozlowski, a Polish Senate official.

"He read off a Wikipedia page. It felt like he just got briefed yesterday about everything," complained Thomas Rudnicki, a student at Collegium Civitas, a Warsaw university.

Krzysztof Daniewski, president of the Harvard University Alumni Club of Poland, was more impressed.

"We'd like to hear this speech from President Obama," he said.

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