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Entries in London (13)

Friday
Mar222013

Joe Biden's Million Dollar Nights in London & Paris

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Europe last month led to a hefty tab with over one million dollars dedicated to securing hotels for himself, staff and security for two nights in London and Paris, government documents show.

As first reported by The Weekly Standard, documents show that the U.S. government obtained contracts with two five star hotels in London and Paris where the vice president stayed for two nights during a five day tour of Europe last month.

One contract was awarded to the Hyatt Regency London for a total of $459,338.65 while another contract was given to the Hotel Intercontinental Paris Le Grand for $585,000.50

While the figure may be eye popping, a State Department official said these costs are par for the course in high-level international trips as they also include staff, security details and military personnel.

“These costs are nothing out of the ordinary. They are in line with high level travel across multiple administrations,” the State Department official said.  “The contract costs cover the entire range of support, including accommodations for military, communications, secret service staff, and other support professionals.  Security experts are also required to travel in advance of the President or Vice President. Safety and security are not negotiable.”

A 1999 GAO report showed that trips President Bill Clinton took to Africa, Chile and China in 1998 cost $42.8 million, $10.5 million, and $18.8 million dollars, respectively – adding up to over $72 million.  1302 travelers were on the trip to Africa while 592 and 510 people were on the trips to Chile and China, respectively.

The White House normally does not disclose the amount paid for the vice president and president’s travel.  Last year, an Air Force official told ABC News that one hour of flying time aboard Air Force One totaled $179,750 in FY2012.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney would not reveal how much the president’s day trip to Illinois earlier this month would cost when asked about it by ABC News’ White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl.

“I don't have a figure on the cost of presidential travel.  It is obviously something, as every president deals with because of security and staff, a significant undertaking,” Carney said. “But the President has to travel around the country.  He has to travel around the world.  That is part of his job.”

In an interview during the campaign last year, President Obama said the decisions about travel are not up to him when he was asked if he was out of touch with ordinary Americans if his family is “jetting around” on Air Force One.

"The fact of the matter is, I think if you look at my track record, I'm raising a family here. When we travel, we got to travel through Secret Service, and Air Force One, that's not my choice. I think most folks understand how hard I work and how hard this administration is working on behalf of the American people," Obama told KMOV of St Louis.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul302012

Romney on Olympics: 'I Tend to Tell People What I Actually Believe'

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Mitt Romney on Sunday shrugged off the suggestion he would like a do-over on his controversial comments about the London Olympics, stating that he says what he “actually believes.”

He added, however, that after two days of events, the Games’ organization has been “picture perfect.”

In a wide-ranging interview with ABC News, Romney talked about his bumpy trip through London as well as assessing his prospects for debating President Obama and his moment at the Western Wall.

So far the roughest moment on the Republican presidential candidate’s road trip came after he said that some things about the Olympics were “disconcerting.”  That remark angered Brits, including the mayor of London.

“You know, I was referring to press reports before I even got to London that suggested that the organizing committee was having some challenges,” Romney told ABC News.

“I was there for two days,” he added.  “The games were carried out without a hitch.  So, as far as I’m able to tell, despite the challenges as any organizing committee faces, they were able to organize games that have been so far so good, picture perfect.”

“I tend to tell people what I actually believe,” Romney said when asked if he would want to change his words if he could go back and answer the questions again.

The Republican presidential candidate looked ahead to his two debates with Obama this fall.  He said that while he has not held any practice debates, he knows that the president was “a very effective debater in the last round.”

“There’s a lot that we’ll do at getting prepared for these debates with President Obama,” said Romney.  “I think, as you suggest, they’ll be very important because the rhetoric will be met with response.  And if there’s ever been something which is said which is untrue, the truth will come out.”

“I would expect [the president] to be very effective on the debate stage,” Romney said.  “I don’t think that it will come down to a selection of words.  I think it will come down to a selection of course.  What is the path America wants to follow?”

Romney also shared a story about a moment he had with his wife, Ann, before the couple visited one of the holiest sites in the Jewish religion on Sunday, the Western Wall.  Romney revealed that he and Ann sat together and shared the prayers they placed in the wall that day.

“Yes, before we went to the wall we both sat down and wrote prayers, and you know I read to her what I had written and she read to me what she wrote,” he said.

“My thoughts were in regards to peace, my family, my wife and the source of our salvation,” Romney said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul272012

Romney Now Convinced London Olympics Will Succeed

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages(London) -- Mitt Romney on Friday appeared to walk back on his comments that suggested he wasn't sure the London Olympics would go off without a hitch, saying in an interview that he's now "absolutely convinced" the city is ready for the games.

Romney told NBC News Friday morning that after being in London for a few days it looks to him that "London is ready," a different view for the candidate who just a few days ago said some reports about the games' organization were "disconcerting."

"I read the same reports I think a lot of people did of the challenges faced by the organizing committee but after being here for a few days it looks to me like London is ready," Romney said during the interview at Olympic Park in Stratford, England.

"I’m absolutely convinced the people here are ready for the games," he said, adding that soon the focus would turn away from the politicians and toward the athletes. "The games are about the athletes and that's why the games virtually everywhere have been highly successful," said Romney.

But the headlines in London Friday morning were already printed ahead of this interview, and the British press did not hold anything back.

The Sun dubbed the presidential candidate "Mitt the Twit," while another paper featured an editorial cartoon that showed Romney pasting his campaign sticker over the Olympic logo.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul272012

Harry Reid Jumps on Romney for Insulting 'Everybody' in the UK 

Alex Wong/Getty Images(LONDON) -- The criticism of Mitt Romney's remarks in London that there were some things "disconcerting" about the Olympic Games have officially crossed the pond.

In an exclusive interview with The Huffington Post stateside, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, said that it is "not good for us as a country" to have somebody that is "nominated by one of the political parties to go over and insult everybody."

Romney drew criticism after he said during an interview with NBC News that "it's hard to know how well" the London Olympics will turn out, adding that a "few things were disconcerting," about the organization and days leading up to the events.

Reid told The Huffington Post that he thinks Romney should have arrived in London and told leaders there that they have "done a remarkely good job."

"That's what they should have done.  He would have been cheered and not have the mayor, before 60,000 people, belittle one of our major party nominees," said Reid, referring to London Mayor Boris Johnson, who mocked Romney in Hyde Park Thursday evening before a crowd of 60,000.  "And that's what the mayor did."

“There are some people who are coming from around the world who don’t yet know about all the preparations we’ve done to get London ready in the last seven years,” Johnson said to the crowd.  “I hear there’s a guy, there’s a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we’re ready.  He wants to know whether we’re ready?  Are we ready?”

The crowd screamed, “Yes!”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul272012

Romney 'Looking Forward' to Returning Churchill Bust to White House

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(LONDON) --  Mitt Romney, speaking to a group of more than 200 supporters in a hotel in the heart of London Thursday evening, said he is "looking forward" to returning the bust of Winston Churchill to the White House after it was sent back to Great Britain by President Obama.

The GOP candidate, who suffered a brutal day of press after he suggested that he wasn't sure the London Olympics would go off without a hitch, spoke highly of the British monuments, singling out the Churchill statue that he said he got a firsthand look at while stuck in traffic -- likely caused by the Olympic Games.

"You live here, you see the sites day in and day out, but for me as I drive past the sculpture of Winston Churchill and see that great sculpture next to Westminster Abbey and Parliament and with him larger than life, enormous heft of that sculpture suggesting the scale of the the grandeur and the greatness of the man, it tugs at the heart strings to remember the kind fo example that was led by Winston Churchill," said Romney, speaking in a ballroom at the Mandarin Oriental hotel on the edge of Hyde Park.  "And I'm looking forward to the bust of Winston Churchill being in the Oval Office again," Romney said, evoking applause from the group that helped the candidate raise more than $2 million for his campaign.

Romney's remarks about the Churchill bust came the day after an article in a British newspaper blindly quoted advisors -- who Romney said he did not know -- who asserted that the candidate really wants the statue back in Washington D.C.

Obama returned the bust in 2009, drawing ire from the British press who said that the move had made some leaders "nervous" about what the gesture meant for U.S.-U.K. relations.  The bust had a home in the Oval Office during President George W. Bush's administration.

The desire to have Churchill's bust returned to the White House was a sentiment expressed by one of two Romney advisors who spoke anonymously to the British newspaper the Telegraph.  The story has since ignited a firestorm of criticism of the candidate, who had vowed that his campaign would not speak ill of the Obama administration while on foreign soil.

Romney, who has distanced himself from the unnamed advisors who also suggested in the story that the White House doesn't appreciate the "Anglo-Saxon" relationship between the U.K and the United States, appeared to echo their assertion that he'd like the Churchill statue to return Washington.

The advisers told the Telegraph that Romney would "seek to reinstate the Churchill bust" and one told the paper that Romney "viewed the move as 'symbolically important.'"

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul262012

Jindal Defends Romney over Olympics Security Criticism

Andrew Burton/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Mitt Romney’s recent Olympics flap may have caused a stir overseas, but two top Romney surrogates here in the U.S. -- Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Bob McDonnell of Virginia -- don’t think the comments will cause a major problem for the former Massachusetts governor.

“We’re not worried about overseas headlines. We’re worried about voters back here at home in America,”  Jindal said on a conference call Thursday afternoon.  “Gov. Romney has said that he expected the London Olympics to be a phenomenal success.  The reality is we’re all rooting for our American athletes. We hope they come back with a bunch of medals, and I’m sure they’re going to be very successful, but the reality is the focus needs to continue to be on the issues that are important to voters back home.”

McDonnell, who toured Iowa aboard a Romney campaign bus with Jindal Thursday, chimed in after the Louisiana governor’s response, saying, “I agree.”

Romney, who often touts his leadership of the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, ruffled some feathers in London when he said there were “disconcerting” signs about London’s preparedness for the Olympic games.

Some major British figures have responded to Romney’s doubts, saying the city is ably prepared to host this summer’s Olympics.

“We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere,” Prime Minister David Cameron told the Daily Telegraph.

Cameron later told reporters he “felt a vote of confidence” from a private conversation he held with Romney about the Olympic Games.

Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, took to Hyde Park, where 60,000 people gathered to celebrate the end of the Olympic torch run, and made a dig at Romney as he asked the crowd whether the city was ready for the Olympics.

“There are some people coming from around the world who don’t yet know if we are ready,” Johnson said. “There’s a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we are ready. Are we ready? Yes we are!”

Gov. Romney's comments were made in response to, ironically, overseas headlines -- about a security company hired to keep watch over the Games; U.K. soldiers have been tapped to try to fill some of the gaps reportedly caused by the firm.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul262012

London Papers React to Romney's Remarks over Olympic Security

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Mitt Romney woke up in London on Thursday to headlines referencing remarks the GOP presumptive nominee made the day before in regards to security issues surrounding the Olympic Games.

“Mitt Romney casts doubt on London 2012 preparations,” read The Times of London.  “Mitt Romney questions whether Britain is ready for Games,” read The Daily Telegraph.

During an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams on Wednesday, Romney said the last-minute security issues were "disconcerting.”

Romney told Williams, “It’s hard to know just how well it … will turn out.  There are a few things that were disconcerting -- the stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials -- that obviously is not something which is encouraging.”

But appearing alongside Britain’s Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband Thursday morning, Romney was singing a somewhat different tune about the Olympic issues.

"My experience with regards to the Olympics is it is impossible for absolutely no mistakes to occur," Romney said.  "Of course there will be errors from time to time, but those are all overshadowed by the extraordinary demonstrations of courage, character and determination by the athletes.  The Games are, after all, about the athletes, the volunteers and the people of the community that come together to celebrate those athletes. They are not about the Organizing Committee. And as soon as the sporting events begin, we all forget the organizers and focus on the athletes."

Romney, who is on the second day of his seven-day, three-country foreign trip, also met with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Foreign Secretary William Hague and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg on Thursday. He is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne later in the day.

At night, Romney will attend a high-dollar fundraiser in London with a group of deep-pocketed American bankers.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul252012

Mitt Romney Lands in London

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(LONDON) -- A day after he declared he was "not ashamed of American power" and cast himself as an "unapologetic believer in the greatness of this country," Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney landed on foreign soil this morning to begin his seven-day, three-country overseas tour.

"The President's policies have made it harder to recover from the deepest recession in seventy years, exposed the military to cuts that no one can justify, compromised our national-security secrets, and in dealings with other nations, given trust where it is not earned, insult where it is not deserved, and apology where it is not due," Romney said in his speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention in Reno, Nev., yesterday. "From Berlin to Cairo to the United Nations, President Obama has shared his view of America and its place among nations. I have come here today to share mine."

But this trip forces Romney to put the tough talk on mute as he travels from Great Britain to Israel and to Poland over the next week. Greeting Romney this morning in London, however, is this headline in The Daily Telegraph: "Mitt Romney would restore 'Anglo-Saxon' relations between Britain and America." The story quotes an unnamed Romney adviser who says, "We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special. The White House didn't fully appreciate the shared history we have."

Another adviser referred to President Obama as a "left winger" who "doesn't value the NATO alliance as much" and who is "very comfortable with American decline."

The Telegraph's Jon Swaine notes, "advisers spoke on the condition of anonymity because Mr. Romney's campaign requested that they not criticise the President to foreign media."

The first few days of Romney's visit will include meetings with British officials, including Prime Minister David Cameron, and some Olympics-related appearances, including at Friday's opening ceremonies.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul172012

Obama Weighs in on Dream Team Controversy

JIM WATSON/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- Getting a firsthand look at the 2012 U.S. Olympic basketball team at an exhibition game against Brazil, President Obama Monday night praised the London-bound squad, but shot down claims that they are better than the 1992 Dream Team.

“This is a generational thing.  I was around in ’92.  I was a Bulls fan. S o I have to go with the original Dream Team,” the basketball-fan-in-chief told ESPN at halftime.

Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant ruffled some feathers last week when he said the 2012 team could beat the 1992 Dream Team, which included superstars Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Patrick Ewing.  Among the players on the 2012 team are Bryant, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul.

“This is a great team, unbelievable talent.  Kobe is a competitor, so you expect him to do a little trash talking whenever the opportunity arises,” Obama quipped.

The president, however, is still confident this year’s team can go all the way.

“There’s no reason we shouldn’t bring home the Gold.  We just have to stay focused,” he said.  “One thing I’m happy about is to see how hard everybody is playing.  You really get a sense of how proud they are to represent the United States.”

The president, dressed in jeans, a white T-shirt and a navy blue zip-up, entered the Verizon Center Monday night to cheers and applause, taking a seat next to Vice President Joe Biden and former aide, and former Duke basketball captain, Reggie Love.

After the first quarter, the president was joined by his wife and family.  The president and Michelle Obama were quickly featured on the “kiss cam.”  Obama, who sat with his arm around his wife, appeared not to notice.

The kiss cam later focused on the Obamas again.  This time, the president leaned in and smooched his wife on the lips as the crowd cheered them on.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun112012

Ann Romney’s Horse Comes in Third in Olympic Qualifying Event

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Ann Romney’s dressage trainer Jan Ebeling and the horse they co-own, Rafalca, came in third this weekend at the United States Equestrian Federation National Dressage Championships in Gladstone, N.J.  The competition, which will continue next weekend, also serves as an Olympics qualifying event for the U.S. Dressage Team for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Romney is avidly involved in the expensive world of dressage, sometimes known as “horse ballet,” and credits horseback riding for almost eliminating her symptoms from multiple sclerosis, which she was diagnosed with in 1998.

According to a USEF press release, Ebeling was the first to go, scoring 71.489 percent.  The release said the “comfort level” between Rafalca and Ebeling was “evident in the ring.”  Ebeling has been riding Rafalca for six years.

The same release says the wife of the presumptive GOP nominee was on hand to watch Rafalca and Ebeling.

“I was really happy that they could all make it,” said Ebeling.  “I think it is wonderful for our sport to have that visibility.”

Last week on a three-day campaign swing of Florida, Romney visited a therapeutic horse riding facility and told patients and staff there she was “not able to get out of bed” or even walk at one point because her MS symptoms were that severe.  But the “excitement of getting on a horse” helped her.

“Horses are amazing teachers,” said Romney, who visited with other patients who like her use riding as therapy.  “I love these wonderful, sweet companions that teach us so much.”

In a Los Angeles Times story last month, Robin Abcarian reported that despite Romney’s relatively late start in dressage, Romney won silver and gold medals in 2005 and 2006 at the highest level of competition from the U.S. Dressage Federation and she credits Ebeling with her success in the top tier of amateur dressage.

The Romneys are planning on attending the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.  Mitt Romney’s role overseeing the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics is an important selling point for his campaign on the trail.  He consistently stresses on the stump how he was able to save the games from scandal and financial disarray, citing it as an example of his turn around skills and management experience.

On Monday, Ann Romney will attend a fundraiser in Spartanburg, S.C., with GOP bundler and investment fund executive Barry Wynn, according to a Romney aide.  Wynn stopped supporting Rick Perry during the GOP primary and went to the Romney camp in January when Perry started attacking Romney’s record at Bain Capital.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio