THE RACE: Romney hopes foreign trip helps in US

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By TOM RAUM, Associated Press

It worked for then-Sen. Barack Obama four years ago. Maybe it will work for Republican rival Mitt Romney now.

In July 2008, Obama took a well-received fast-paced tour through Europe, the Middle East and Afghanistan. It was designed to reassure skeptical American voters about his leadership ability and point a frayed cross-Atlantic alliance in a new direction.

Romney next week travels to Europe and Israel. Like Obama before him, he hopes to boost his foreign-policy credentials.

But there are some possible pitfalls.

Romney, who ran the 2002 Summer Olympics in Salt Lake City, will attend the opening of the London games. He will also attend two London fundraisers, where some organizers have ties to Barclays PLC and other financial institutions under investigation for allegations they tried to manipulate interest rates.

U.S. election law lets candidates accept donations from Americans living abroad. But critics will suggest it shows the former private-equity executive is beholden to the global financial community.

On a visit to Poland, Romney might have to explain his frequent campaign attacks suggesting Obama wants to turn the U.S. into a "European-style socialist state."

In Israel, he will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an old friend. Romney has blasted Obama's policies toward Israel and says he would just "do the opposite." He may be pressed for specifics.

Obama's 2008 globe-trotting rattled Republicans and GOP nominee John McCain.

The day Obama addressed a crowd of over 200,000 in Berlin, McCain met with business leader in a German restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. He wistfully told reporters he, too, would like to give a speech in Germany. "But I'd much prefer to do it as president of the United States rather than as a candidate."

Obama cut short his campaigning Friday in Florida because of the deadly shooting at a Denver-area theater. Romney was in New Hampshire.

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