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SALT LAKE CITY — Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is distancing himself from an adviser who reportedly told British media that Romney better understands America's "Anglo-Saxon heritage" than Pres. Barack Obama does.
The Daily Telegraph, based in London, quoted an unnamed Romney adviser Wednesday as lauding the special relationship between the U.K. and the U.S., and as saying that Romney was in a better position to understand it.
"We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special," the adviser reportedly said. "The White House didn't fully appreciate the shared history we have."
The newspaper reported that the remarks may "prompt accusations of racial insensitivity," and indeed, the story has overshadowed much of Romney's activity since he arrived in London.
The candidate is in London to attend the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games on Friday, after which he will also visit Israel and Poland during his first foreign trip this election cycle as a presidential candidate.
In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Romney dismissed the comments, but said Americans and Britons do enjoy a special relationship.
"It goes back to our very beginnings -- cultural and historical," Romney said. "But I also believe the president understands that. So I don't agree with whoever that adviser might be, but do agree that we have a very common bond between ourselves and Great Britain."
The two countries have recognized having a "special relationship" since the 19th century, but the most famous use of the term came in 1946 by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Obama reaffirmed the importance of the relationship upon meeting Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009.
Vice President Joe Biden said the focus on race having to do with the relationship was a bad move on the part of the Romney campaign.
"The comments reported this morning are a disturbing start to a trip designed to demonstrate Governor Romney's readiness to represent the United States on the world's stage," Biden said. "Not surprisingly, this is just another feeble attempt by the Romney campaign to score political points at the expense of this critical partnership. This assertion is beneath a presidential campaign."
The Romney camp, though, said the credibility of the comments reported in the Daily Telegraph rested on the back of an anonymous source that could not be trusted.
"Today, the race for the highest office in our land was diminished to a sad level when the Vice President of the United States used an anonymous and false quote from a foreign newspaper to prop up their flailing campaign," Romney spokesperson Ryan Williams said in a statement. "The President's own press secretary has repeatedly discredited anonymous sources, yet his political advisors saw fit to advance a falsehood."
Other political news:
- The group Dogs Against Romney plans to release a video game designed for mobile devices playing on a 1983 incident in which Mitt Romney took the family dog, Seamus, on a trip to Canada with the dog in a carrier strapped to the top of the Romneys' car. The game will feature the presidential candidate being chased by Seamus through a variety of levels, the National Journal reports.
House Democrats will not allow Republicans to fix a typo in a regulatory bill. One section of the bill would not allow federal agencies to adopt new regulations until the national unemployment rate drops to 6 percent. But because of the typo, the new regulations would not be adopted until the national employment rate drops to 6 percent — meaning 94 percent of Americans would have to be unemployed. Republicans asked for unanimous consent to fix the typo, but Democrats said that is unlikely, Mediaite reports."My, my, my, how carefully they read that bill," House minority whip Steny Hoyer said.
- New Jersy Gov. Chris Christie has said he is open to running for president in 2016, if Mitt Romney does not win in 2012. "If there's an opportunity for me to serve in another capacity and I think I have something to add to the mix, I don't think I'd back away from it," he said.
- Vice President Joe Biden joked Wednesday while addressing a group of firefighters in Philadelphia that he had to propose to his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, five times.
- In an address Wednesday to the National Urban League, Pres. Obama told teens they are "competing against young people in Beijing and Bangalore," Politico reports. The president said teens in those countries are not "playin' video games" or "watching ‘Real Housewives.'"