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SALT LAKE CITY — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney just returned from a trip to London, Israel, and Poland.
In London, he voiced his concern about security preparations for the Olympic Games.
In Israel, he suggested that "culture" explains the "stark difference in economic vitality" between Israelis and Palestinians.
In Poland, when reporters complained that they had no chance to ask Mitt questions, his traveling press secretary Rick Gorka replied with an expletive. In each place, there was local blowback that generated unfavorable press coverage about the candidate and his campaign.
He's like the guy who is a competent-but-not- gifted athlete...
–Unnamed GOP source on Mitt Romney
Speaking about Mitt's recent trips abroad, an unnamed GOP source said, "He's like the guy who is a competent-but- not-gifted athlete who learns to play golf. He works really hard at it, and most of the time he's perfectly competent, if not stellar. But once each round he is going to shank one and break a window on a house lining the golf course."
Probably none of this will matter in November. The economy is virtually flat-lined, housing values in some parts of the country have recently decreased again, and job creation has been so anemic that unemployment likely will remain above 8 percent. Not surprisingly, a majority of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction.
In response, the Obama campaign is trying to paint Mitt as someone who is out of touch with middleclass Americans, who also is trying to hide something questionable by not disclosing his tax returns showing his income and taxes during his years at Bain Capital. (George Romney disclosed 12 years of his tax returns when he ran for president.)
Mitt's undisclosed tax returns and his campaign's unintended gaffes may become bigger issues in the three presidential debates that will be televised in October.
This could affect Mitt's likeability.
If voters are not enthusiastic about either candidate, the few million truly undecided voters living in the ten battleground states that choose the next president may vote for the person they like more. This happened before, when Reagan Democrats voted for a Republican president they liked more than his Democratic rivals.
As of right now, the most recent polls show Obama is leading in likeability.