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Matt Romney Goes To Russia, Secretly Sends Message To Putin To Ignore Dad’s Campaign Rhetoric

By Hamed Aleaziz  

"Matt Romney Goes To Russia, Secretly Sends Message To Putin To Ignore Dad’s Campaign Rhetoric"

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This week Mitt Romney’s son Matt traveled to Moscow for business and, reports say, allayed any concerns the Russian government had about his father’s harsh stance on Russia. When it comes to Russia, Mitt Romney has been brash, at one point labeling Russia “without question our number one geopolitical foe” and “a geopolitical adversary.” He’s also repeatedly lashed out at President Obama for allegedly being weak on Russia. But according to a New York Times report, Matt Romney is trying to convince Russia that the tough talk is just talk:

“But while in Moscow, Mr. Romney told a Russian known to be able to deliver messages to Mr. Putin that despite the campaign rhetoric, his father wants good relations if he becomes president, according to a person informed about the conversation.”

Romney’s statements have drawn negative feedback from Republicans like Sen. Richard Luger, who called Romney’s statements on Russia “discredited objections.” Others, like former Secretary of State Colin Powell have gone even further, urging Romney to develop more nuance on the issue. In May, Powell said:

“I think he really needs to not just accept these cataclysmic sort of pronouncements. I think he really needs to think carefully about these statements because they’re now on the wall for people to see. … Let’s not go creating enemies where none yet exist. Does this mean that we should trust Putin or Medvedev? No. Let’s be mature people and look at the reality of the situation and not find ways to see if we can hyperbolize the situation.

Russia experts were dismayed at Romney’s harsh stance. Steve Pifer, the Brookings Institution’s Arms Control Initiative director, told the New York Times in May that Romney’s arguments “left people scratching their heads.” Romney’s stance even “set off disagreements among some of his foreign policy advisers” according to the New York Times and signaled to some of his inner circle his view of “foreign policy conflicts as zero-sum negotiations.” One foreign policy adviser told the Daily Beast that “the campaign should have walked it back and moved on.”

Some Russian officials weren’t amused by Romney’s words. In July, a top international affairs official said of Romney’s words: “If he is serious about this, I’m afraid he may choose the neocon-type people…In the first year of his presidency, we may have a full-scale crisis.” Dmitri Medvedev, Russia’s former president and current prime minister, commented too: “My other advice is to check their clocks from time to time. It is 2012, not the mid-1970s.” But Vladimir Putin, Russia’s current president, dismissed Romney’s statements as “pre-election rhetoric.”

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