Mitt Romney's press secretary got so mad at reporters yelling questions at the candidate that he yelled back, "Kiss my ass. This is a holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect." Romney was visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw, and aide Rick Gorka was so moved by the sacred spot that the violation of a respectful silence compelled him to swear. The outburst was six days into Romney's eventful foreign tour, and there seem to be some tensions between the reporters assigned to cover him and his aides, judging by their complaints on Twitter. It's one of those situations where people who don't like each other are forced to share a small space. That's rare in adult life, which is why they have to use some artificial conceit to make it happen on reality shows, and which is why we spectators like to enjoy the reality show-like outburst.
After Gorka's "kiss" comment -- the audio captured by CNN's Jim Acosta, naturally -- Gorka told Politico's Jonathan Martin to "shove it." Gorka later apologized to two reporters for being "inappropriate." But that doesn't mean everything's all better. Martin notes that Romney hasn't answered questions from the traveling press corps since he took just three questions back in London last Thursday.
On Saturday, reporters were unhappily tweeting that despite a longstanding agreement, a fundraiser in Israel would be closed to the press. Romney hadn't answered questions on the plane ride from the U.K., so it made the reporters' trip seem like it was all for nothing. Given the "restive traveling press corps, this might not be the best way, however, to change the trajectory of the media narrative," Time's Mark Halperin said. The campaign eventually relented.
And how was the campaign rewarded for its change of heart? With the Associated Press reporting that Romney suggested Israel was richer than Palestinian areas because "culture makes a difference." You can imagine how that would stir up controversy, given that the "stark difference in economic vitality" Romney observed could be affected of a combination of factors, like the the Gaza blockade that for a while prevented the importation of weapon-making materials as well as less obviously dangerous things like cilantro.
The headlines on this trip ("Mitt the Twit") haven't been great. It's understandable Gorka would be miffed as Romney walked to his car, ignoring the press while they shouted at him about dumb things he said. Which were, according to CNN:
CNN: "Governor Romney are you concerned about some of the mishaps of your trip?
NYT: "Governor Romney do you have a statement for the Palestinians?
Washington Post: "What about your gaffes?"
NYT: "Governor Romney do you feel that your gaffes have overshadowed your foreign trip?"
Amusingly, this development comes the same day The Washington Post's Amy Gardner, who is covering Obama, writes a long explanation of campaign food and how it's just so deliciously fattening.
“I had breakfast,” [the Chicago Tribune's Mike] Memoli said. “I had two cookies. I have to think about it in my head. How much have I eaten? Do I have any right to be hungry?”
His voice faded away. And then he walked over to the chafing dishes to take a closer look...
“We do what we can to make traveling a little easier for the press,” said White House spokesman Nick Papas.