Nightly News   |  July 30, 2012

Romney on the defensive during foreign trip

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney had another diplomatic misstep – this time in Israel. The Romney campaign pushed back, disputing the reporting of Romney’s comments. NBC’s Peter Alexander reports.

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>>> was supposed to be a low risk and statesman like three-nation overseas trip. instead and beginning with his conversation with us in london it's been controversial including his stop in israel where the news from there followed the candidate to poland where peter alexander is tonight traveling with governor romney . peter, good evening.

>> reporter: brian, good evening to you. mitt romney has found himself on the defensive during the first two stops of his foreign tour. first in london with the olympics then in israel with the palestinians and here in poland his campaign insists it will not be three stops in a row. with a solemn visit to the polish memorial marking the start of world war ii and a meeting with the founder of the country's solidarity movement --

>> thank you so much.

>> reporter: mitt romney today tried to contrast himself with president obama , who romney says has neglected this eastern european ally. but the day began in israel with another diplomatic misstep that forced the romney campaign on the defensive. this morning romney told jewish donors at a fundraiser that israeli culture is part of what's enabled israel to be more economically prosperous than the palestinian territories never mentioning the impact of severe trade restrictions imposed by the israeli government on the palestinian economy . culture makes all the difference, he said. i look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation. i recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things. that prompted this angry response from the palestinian leadership.

>> today mr. romney takes another step with a racist statement saying the israeli culture is better than the palestinian culture .

>> reporter: the romney campaign forcefully pushed back calling this a gross mischaracterization and their top strategist said this was not in any way an attempt to slight the palestinians and everyone knows that. the palestinians were already upset by romney 's call during a speech sunday for jerusalem to be the capital of israel , a point of contention for decades.

>> since 1967 administrations of both parties have had the same position, which is that the status of jerusalem has to be solved through negotiations.

>> reporter: romney will wrap up this overseas tour with a major policy speech, a foreign policy speech here in the capital city of warsaw tomorrow and then he returns home to the united states to focus on the issue he believes is the number one topic in this election, the economy.

>> peter alexander traveling with governor romney in warsaw tonight. peter, thanks.