Discuss as:

Romney tells London fundraiser he'll return bust of Churchill to Oval Office


LONDON -- Mitt Romney collected $2 million from expats at a fundraiser here this evening, delivering remarks that seemed to suggest the presumptive GOP presidential nominee was maybe measuring the drapes in the Oval Office, to an extent.

Romney told the crowd in the United Kingdom's capital that he was "looking forward to the bust of Winston Churchill being in the Oval Office again," referring to the sculpture of the towering World War II-era prime minister that President Obama removed from the Oval Office after taking office.

Charles Dharapak / AP

Republican presidential candidate. Mitt Romney walks out of 10 Downing Street after meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron in London July 26.

"You live here, you see the sites day in and day out, but for me as I drive past the sculpture of Winston Churchill and see that great sculpture next to Westminster Abbey and Parliament and with him larger than life, enormous heft of that sculpture suggesting the scale of the the grandeur and the greatness of the man, it tugs at the heart strings to remember the kind of example that was led by Winston Churchill," Romney told donors gathered at the Mandarin Oriental hotel this evening.

Obama had the bust of Churchill replaced with a bust of Abraham Lincoln as part of the customary redecorating on which a new president usually embarks. At the time, some British news outlets speculated that the switch was an affront to the "special relationship" between the United States and United Kingdom.

Romney took questions from his 250 guests -- all American citizens who had their passports checked at the door -- while atypically allowing the press to remain in the room for the Q&A.

While Romney made no major news, he did criticize the financial regulatory reform bill -- a regular topic of his stump speech that took on pronounced meaning in London, one of the world's financial centers.

"I very much believe in updated regulation, but I believe Dodd-Frank has gone beyond what was appropriate for the sector. With regard to regulation here in the UK, I’ve got nothing to say about what goes on here, but back in the U.S. I want us to stay highly competitive, the financial capital of the world," Romney said. "At the same time I want to make sure that we protect the citizens in the nation and have rules that people can rely upon.

The presumptive GOP nominee did not further comment upon the day's other media kerfuffle, over comments he made appearing to criticize London's readiness to host the Olympic games, but did praise the games' setting in downtown London.

“What I love and I'm sure you've already seen this is how the organizers have placed the Olympic venues right in the heart of the city. So that it's not that Olympics will be off in some far place that only people who are able to get a ticket can then experience, instead it's right here," Romney said.

Romney was accompanied by his sons Tagg and Craig, and their wives, along with his wife Ann, who over the weekend will travel to Wales to visit with relatives there, according to a campaign aide.

Earlier in the day, Romney met with a pantheon of current and former British government officials, including Prime Minister David Cameron, Foreign Secretary George Osbourne and former Prime Minister Tony Blair. A senior adviser to the campaign, present for the meetings said they mostly revolved around economic issues, including the looming fiscal cliff in the United States, and the Eurozone crisis here in Europe.

In remarks to reporters this afternoon, Romney also disclosed that he spoke today with Sir John Sawers, the head of Britain's intelligence agency MI6; a meeting not on his public schedule and which his campaign would not explicitly confirm or comment upon after the fact.