That’s a good way to make new friends: Romney questions Britain’s ability to host Olympics on visit to London…

Mitt Romney went into full-blown damage  control mode across the pond after he was rebuked by British leaders for  questioning whether Britain will be able to stage the Olympic Games  effectively.

Romney caused an international stir during a  Wednesday interview when he questioned  London’s ability to host the games, saying: ‘It’s hard to know just how well it  will turn out.’

But on Thursday, after a morning of meetings  with top British officials – including Prime Minister David Cameron – Romney  made a complete about-face on his remarks, saying he believes the Olympics will  be ‘successful.’

That declaration came after Cameron  challenged Romney and other critics during an appearance in Olympic Park, when  he said: ‘You’re going to see  beyond  doubt that Britain can deliver.’

On Wednesday, Romney told NBC’s Brian  Williams that  ‘disconcerting’ events  surrounding Olympics preparations mean ‘it’s  hard to know just how well it will  turn out.’

He continued: ‘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.

‘Because in the games, there are three  parts  that makes games successful. Number one, of course, are the  athletes. That’s  what overwhelmingly the games are about. Number two are the volunteers.

‘And they’ll have great volunteers here. But  number three are the people of the – of the country. Do they come  together and  celebrate the Olympic moment? And that’s something which we only find out once  the games actually begin.’

But Romney began to distance himself from the  comments after speaking with Labour Party boss Ed Miliband.

Following their encounter at the Houses of  Parliament, Romney said: ‘As the sporting  events begin, we all forget the organisers and focus on the  athletes.’

But it wasn’t until after the sit-down with  Cameron at 10 Downing Street, when Romney completed the 180-degree turn,  declaring: ‘I expect the games to be  highly successful.’

Romney would know, as he managed the 2002  Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

The 2012 Olympics has been dogged with  concerns ever since private security firm G4S said it would have to provide  thousands fewer staff than they originally promised.

The British government has been forced to  call in thousands of members of the armed forces – many of whom have just  returned from Afghanistan – to plug the gaps.

There has also been problems with Border  Agency staff threatening to go on strike during the Games, although such action  was called off yesterday.

The following morning, however, he struck a  more upbeat tone as he spoke at the Houses of Parliament with Miliband, whom he  addressed awkwardly as ‘Mr Leader.’

As Romney met with  Miliband at Westminister,  he was asked by the British media about Olympic security issues  and the error  over the North Korean team flag, in which the country’s women’s soccer team  refused to take the field after a South Korean flag flashed on a screen next to  a North Korean player.

Romney replied: ‘It is impossible for  absolutely no mistakes to occur. 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.

Prime Minister David Cameron also called the  incident an ‘honest mistake.’

The former Massachusetts governor said: ‘My  experience with regards to the Olympics is it is impossible for absolutely no  mistakes to occur.

Discussion on Downing: Romney speaks to reporters outside 10 Downing Street after his meeting with Prime Minister CameronDiscussion on Downing: Romney speaks to reporters  outside 10 Downing Street after his meeting with Prime Minister Cameron

‘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 Organising  Committee.

‘And as soon as the sporting events begin, we  all forget the organisers and focus on the athletes.’

The gaffe occurred as he met with British  opposition leader Ed Miliband as the Houses of Parliament when  Romney awkwardly said: ‘Like you, Mr Leader, I look forward  to our conversation this morning.’

‘Mr Leader’ is not to be confused with the  ‘Dear Leader’ moniker for North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il.

While Romney likely had only the best of  intentions, ‘Mr Miliband’ would have been just fine for the Labour Party  leader.

Romney is not the first – and certainly won’t  be the last – to commit a blunder in the face of British leaders.

President Barack Obama was left red-faced  last year when he proposed a toast to Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham  Palace.

But as Obama spoke, the orchestra began  playing ‘God Save the Queen,’ and the president shunned Royal etiquette as he  continued speaking over the music.

In the NBC interview, Romney has been  referring to the shortcomings of G4S, a private  security company, which  provided thousands fewer staff than were  expected, leading the armed forces to  step in to help, and a threatened  strike by immigration officers that was  called off at the eleventh hour.

Romney also toured the Great Pavilion exhibit  with Foreign Secretary William Hague before heading to Downing  Street for a private meeting with Prime Minister Cameron.

He also met with Deputy Prime  Minister Nick  Clegg and is later scheduled to sit down with Chancellor  of the Exchequer  George Osborne.

But it wasn’t all about  pleasantries.

Romney was the subject of a Twitter rant by  veteran NBC News White House correspondent and political director Chuck Todd,  who chided the candidate for taking questions from British reporters, but not  their American counterparts.

Mr Todd tweeted: ‘Can’t believe Romney took  questions from the British press corps but not from my colleagues traveling  overseas with him. Bad form’.

In another post, Mr Todd said: ‘Whether you love or hate us in the media; you should  want your leaders to at least submit themselves to questions’.

Three hours later, after Romney took queries  from U.S. journalists outside 10 Downing Street, Mr Todd tweeted: ‘Glad to see  Romney took a few questions just now from the traveling press  corps.’

Romney will also be holding fundraisers using  the spirit of the Olympic season to put a spotlight on his time managing the  2002 Salt Lake City games.

Breaking bread with British officials is  typically one of the first priorities of any new president, and  establishing  those relationships beforehand can help smooth the  transition.

It’s not unusual for American  presidential  candidates to meet with British leaders during the  campaign; Obama did so when  he took a trip abroad as the likely  Democratic nominee in 2008.

Romney’s week-long overseas trip will also  take him to Israel and Poland.

 At No. 10: Romney was also photographed outside of 10 Downing Street before a meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron

At No. 10: Romney was also photographed outside of 10  Downing Street before a meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron

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