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Rahm Emanuel: Romney’s ‘made a mess of being a tourist’

CHICAGO -- Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday that Mitt Romney has “made a mess of being a tourist” on his three-nation overseas tour, with stumbles that raise doubts about his ability to serve as commander in chief.

Emanuel, who is Jewish and served as President Obama’s first chief of staff, joined the Obama campaign in condemning the all-but-certain Republican nominee for remarks at a fundraiser in Jerusalem on Sunday in which he said he saw the power of “culture” at work in the large disparity between living standards in Israel and its Palestinian neighbors.

“At every level, this trip has shown more of how Mitt Romney is not ready for the Oval Office,” Emanuel said in an interview in his City Hall office, adding that he didn’t “understand the political or intellectual basis” for the comment.

“Part of America’s role is to be seen as between the Israelis and the Palestinians as somebody that can be an honest broker. Mitt Romney just showed that under his administration he would never be able to assume that role for the United States.”

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Romney’s campaign had said the candidate’s travels would be a chance to “learn and listen,” not a vehicle for major foreign policy proposals. Emanuel’s assessment nearly a week in: “I don’t know how he’ll handle the head of state job. He’s made a mess of being a tourist.”

Traveling with the president to New York for campaign events, Obama 2012 spokesperson Jen Psaki joined the criticism of Romney.

“He’s been fumbling the foreign policy football from country to country. And there’s a threshold question that he has to answer for the American people and that’s whether he’s prepared to be commander in chief,” she said. “This raises some questions about his preparedness.”

Romney campaign spokesperson Ryan Williams fired back that Obama’s campaign was engaging in “distractions and political attacks” to distract from an economic record that has “diminished America’s strength in the world.”

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As president, Romney would “be a steadfast defender of the values of liberty and an unapologetic ambassador for them,” Williams said in an emailed statement.

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michael.memoli@latimes.com

Twitter: @mikememoli

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