An unnamed adviser to the Republican presidential hopeful has caused a scandal by raising the apparent plight of Anglo-Saxons under U.S. President Barack Obama in an interview with a British newspaper.
The aide suggested the Republican presidential hopeful could forge deeper ties with the United Kingdom than the president due to Romney's heritage.
"We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special," the adviser told the Daily Telegraph.
"The White House didn't fully appreciate the shared history we have."
The remarks prompted Telegraph reporter Jon Swaine, the paper's Washington correspondent, to suggest to the aide that the comments could be construed as racist since Obama's heritage includes a Kenyan father.
"Obama is a left-winger," another adviser later said.
"He doesn't value the NATO alliance as much. He's very comfortable with American decline and the traditional alliances don't mean as much to him. He wouldn't like singing 'Land of Hope and Glory.'"
Swaine later tweeted that the remarks came from members of Romney's "foreign policy advisory team."
Romney attempted to distance himself from the comments, although he didn't go as far as his campaign did earlier in the day when it questioned the veracity of the story.
"I don't agree with whoever that adviser is," Romney said in an interview with NBC News. "But I can tell you that we have a very special relationship between the United States and Great Britain ... I also believe the president understands that."
Nonetheless, the White House pounced.
David Axelrod, Obama's chief strategist, called the comments "stunningly offensive."
Vice-President Joe Biden was also critical, pointing out that Romney had pledged not to malign the president during his trip overseas this week to Great Britain, Israel and Poland.
"Despite his promises that politics stops at the water's edge, Gov. Romney's wheels hadn't even touched down in London before his advisers were reportedly playing politics with international diplomacy," Biden said in a statement.
"The comments reported this morning are a disturbing start to a trip designed to demonstrate Gov. Romney's readiness to represent the United States on the world's stage ... This assertion is beneath a presidential campaign."
The brouhaha threatened to overshadow Romney's meeting on Thursday with British Prime Minister David Cameron, a conservative who nonetheless enjoys a chummy relationship with the president.
The remarks also resulted in gleeful ridicule on various social media platforms.
"Will no one speak up on behalf of Norman culture?" one wag tweeted.
Added another: "Hoo boy — Romney's 'Anglo-Saxon' remark is totally going to lose him the Norman, Druid, Jute and Saracen vote!"
David Waldman, contributing editor at the Daily Kos, joked: "In Poland, they're privately telling Anglo-Saxon jokes before Romney's arrival."
Brett Friedman, a blogger for the Marine Corps Gazette, quipped: "Glad Romney has a plan for Anglo-Saxon advancement. The Lombards and Visigoths are on the march, and the Frankish tribes grow restless."
NBC blogger Edward McClelland, meantime, provided a list of non-Anglo-Saxon presidents: Martin Van Buren, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.
And Ian Vance, a columnist at the Guardian newspaper, illustrated how seriously the British take their history by providing the Romney campaign with a primer on "good Anglo-Saxon values."
"The myth of Anglo-Saxon roots that Romney wants to perpetrate denies the enormous contribution to British culture by, essentially, the French," Vance wrote.
"Without the Norman invasion of Anglo-Saxon England, our language and culture would obviously be very different — Mitt Romney would be wise not to cast us all back into the Dark Ages."Suggest a correction