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Mitt Romney has failed his first test of international diplomacy, before he even got a chance to start it. He is embarking on a foreign trip this week, starting with the London Olympics where he and wife Ann will watch their dancing horse compete in dressage, then proceeding on to Israel and Poland. The trip is meant to show his foreign policy bonafides on a world stage, and present him as a credible statestman and CiC, but he's already embarrassed a foreign leader before the trip has even begun. And it's not as if he wasn't warned of the potential risks awaiting him.

The Washington Post has a long, 4 page article today meant to shore up Mitt's foreign exposure and background.

In the meantime, Mitt ran into Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr at his hotel in San Francisco where his fundraiser was being held.  At the fundraiser, Romney seized on a remark made by Carr and told donors that foreign leaders see America in decline.

Romney said he met with Foreign Minister Bob Carr in a San Francisco hotel Sunday night shortly before a Republican fundraiser.
He said Carr suggested that America could improve that international perception "with one budget deal" that helps balance the budget.
"And this idea of America in decline, it was interesting [Carr] said that; he led the talk of American being in decline," Romney said at the fundraiser, according to The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. "And if they're thinking about investing in America, entrepreneurs putting their future in America -- if they think America's in decline they're not gonna do it."
Bob Carr is already denouncing Romney's remark, which he says is being misconstrued as critical of the Obama administration. Foreign Minister Carr has dismissed reports he made a diplomatic gaffe during a meeting with US presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Associated Press (AP) reported on Monday that Senator Carr suggested to Mr Romney that the US could improve the perception of foreign leaders that America was "in decline" with one budget that helped to balance the books.

But Senator Carr said reports suggesting his comment was a criticism of the US economy were wrong.

He said his exact comment to Mr Romney was: "America is just one budget deal away from ending all talk of America being in decline," Senator Carr said in a statement on Monday.

Senator Carr said his comment was in praise of US economic strengths.

Opposition foreign affairs spokesperson Julie Bishop said Senator Carr's comments were being reported as implicit criticism of President Barack Obama's performance.

"That will be seen as unwelcome intervention into the US presidential election," she said.

Senator Carr is the first senior Australian official to hold a meeting with Mr Romney since he became the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

Mitt's first meeting with any senior official from a foreign government, three days before he starts his foreign policy cred enhancing trip, and he has already stepped in it. No response yet from the Romney campaign on what Mitt really meant to say, who as usual are scrambling to craft a belated response.

The WaPo article details Mitt's experience in crafting foreign deals, with foreign businessmen. Fine, he may be good at that. But that doesn't qualify him for a part in international diplomacy, and this incident shows just what a neophyte he is.

8:39 PM PT: The Embassy of Australia released an official statement disputing Romney's characterization of FM Bob Carr's remarks:

Carr took issue with Romney’s characterization of the events, insisting that the former Massachusetts governor got it backward. He said in a statement released by the Embassy of Australia that “his remark that ‘America is just one budget deal away from ending all talk of America being in decline’ was in praise of America’s economic strengths.”
"The foreign minister's remarks represent a considered assessment of the U.S. economy and an antidote to talk of U.S. declinism," said Kim Beazley, Australia's ambassador to the United States.
He said Carr has identified increasing U.S. energy competitiveness and continued inventiveness coming from Silicon Valley "as a sound base for the next progression in the U.S. economy."

8:41 PM PT: The Romney campaign is hoping saying nothing about the issue makes it go away.

Romney's campaign declined to further characterize the meeting with Carr, which they said came at Carr's request.
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