AP Photo—Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney meets with Poland's former President Lech Walesa, Monday, July 30, 2012, in Artus Court, in Gdansk, Poland.
Mitt Romney is slated to deliver a “values of liberty” speech at Warsaw University on Tuesday, July 31, 2012.
On Monday, Romney traveled to Gdansk, Poland at the invitation of Lech Walesa, the ex-shipyard electrician, Nobel Prize winner and former Solidarność (Solidarity) leader. Gdansk, it should be noted, is a city intimately familiar with tyrannical oppression and home to Ronald Reagan Park which features a statue of Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II.
Walesa, along with Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and the Pope were instrumental in bringing down the Iron Curtain.
David Lightman, for McClatchy Newspapers, writes:
The trip is designed to remind everyone of "U.S. support of Poland as a captive nation during the Cold War," as well as Reagan's support of the Solidarity movement, said Ian Brzezinski, Romney's foreign-policy adviser.
Romney also hopes to remind U.S. voters of Walesa's frosty relationship with Obama.
Walesa rejected an invitation to meet with Obama when the president visited Poland last year. Reports said Walesa was annoyed that he could not a have a one-on-one meeting. Romney will stress he's coming to Poland at Walesa's invitation.
Conservatives have sharply criticized Obama for his treatment of Poland, particularly the 2009 decision to reverse the Bush administration decision to develop a missile defense shield system based partly in Poland. The country's leaders were concerned that Obama was going too far in his "reset" of relations with the Russians.
The president also stumbled in May, when he referred to a World War II "Polish death camp."
Obama made the remark during a Medal of Freedom ceremony for Jan Karski, a resistance fighter against the Nazi occupation of Poland. The president said: "Before one trip across enemy lines, resistance fighters told him that Jews were being murdered on a massive scale and smuggled him into the Warsaw Ghetto and a Polish death camp to see for himself."
Polish officials were outraged at the awkward phrasing that suggested the death camps were Polish, when they were run by the Nazis who held Poland captive. The White House quickly said it was referring to "Nazi death camps in Poland" and Obama expressed regret over the comment in a letter to Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski.
In his meeting today, Walesa said through a translator, “I wish you to be successful because this success is needed to the United States, of course, but to Europe and the rest of the world, too. Governor Romney, get your success, be successful!”
Walesa, I strongly believe, is trying to warn us.