LONDON — Mitt Romney struggled Friday to stem political fallout at home after insulting Britain’s handling of the London Games. The stumble at least briefly pitted the Republican presidential candidate against America’s strongest ally while limiting his ability to capitalize on more troubling US economic news.
At the same time, President Obama used his office to try to take advantage of the Republican’s missteps abroad, praising Britain for its Olympics preparations one day and sending money to Israel the next — just as Romney prepared to visit that nation.
The confluence of events — just as the world focused on London’s opening ceremonies — confounded Republicans and tickled Democrats. People in both parties wondered aloud how the former Massachusetts governor could have complicated the opening leg of a three-nation tour carefully crafted to highlight his diplomatic strengths and personal Olympic experience.
‘‘You have to shake your head,’’ GOP strategist Karl Rove said on Fox News.
Romney had sought to burnish his limited foreign policy credentials with his trip to London, but instead he stoked talk in political circles in Washington, if not elsewhere, of political tone-deafness.
British news reports laced with lingering resentment targeting Romney’s initial comment — that problems with Olympic preparations were ‘‘disconcerting’’ — made it difficult for him to turn the page.
‘‘Mitt the Twit’’ screamed Friday’s headline in The Sun.
‘‘Who invited party-pooper Romney?’’ asked the Daily Mail.
Romney spent much of Friday trying to dial back his dig, but ended up raising more eyebrows when he referred to looking out of the ‘‘back side’’ of 10 Downing St. to see the beach volleyball stadium and after he let slip that he had met with the head of MI6, Britain’s overseas intelligence agency. Briefings with British spy chiefs are usually kept secret.
To the British, ‘‘back side’’ usually refers to the derriere.
Romney’s criticisms of the Olympics preparations echoed in many ways what many Britons have said in the runup to the Games, with complaints about bumper-to-bumper traffic, cost overruns, and shoddy security. Yet Romney’s comments prompted many Britons, from Prime Minister David Cameron to commoners in the street, to rally around their country.
‘‘There is a feeling, and I’m sure it applies in the United States, that . . . families can quarrel bitterly in private, but should anyone from the outside have a go, the family is united,’’ said Labor lawmaker David Winnick. “In other words: ‘Mind your own business.’ ”
Pro-Romney super PAC spending $1m on radio ads
WASHINGTON — A super PAC backing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said it is spending $1 million on radio ads in nine states.
Restore Our Future plans to put the 60-second ad on the air in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. In it, a female narrator says President Obama has no record to run on and has resorted to negative attacks on Romney.
The group is an independent committee run by former Romney aides.
Romney has not spent heavily on radio ads, and his advisers say they have none running at the moment.
Obama has been airing ads aimed at promoting his record to rural and Hispanic voters.
FEC to require groups airing issue ads to disclose donorsWASHINGTON — The Federal Election Commission on Friday said that it would require groups funding issue ads, such as the US Chamber of Commerce and Crossroads GPS, to disclose their donors.
The FEC ruling applies only to what are known as “electioneering communications,” so-called issue ads that run before an election and mention a federal candidate without urging viewers to vote for or against the person.
“Independent expenditures,” which advocate support or opposition to a candidate, are not affected by the FEC decision.
The commission said all groups should report donors of $1,000 or more effective March 30. That is when a US District Court judge threw out FEC rules allowing groups to hide their contributors.
The case was brought by Representative Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, who argued that the 2002 campaign-finance law required such disclosure.
“This lawsuit is one step forward in our fight to restore the integrity of our electoral process, and will shine an important light on some of the shadowy money that has flooded our elections,” Van Hollen said.
That district court ruling has been appealed, and the FEC said it could reverse its policy if a higher court overturns the decision. A phone call to the Chamber was not immediately returned.
Organizations can get around the FEC ruling and continue to hide their donors if they fund “independent expenditures,” which advocate directly for or against a particular candidate.
That is because when the 2002 law was written, independent expenditures could be funded only by groups reporting donors and spending. Subsequent court decisions allowed corporations and unions to fund such expenditures without disclosing donors.