Mitt Romney Overseas Trip Sends Networks Flying

NEW YORK -- When then-Sen. Barack Obama headed overseas during the 2008 presidential campaign, network anchors went along for the ride. The Democratic candidate ended up sitting for interviews on three consecutive days abroad, with CBS's Katie Couric in Jordan, ABC's Charles Gibson in Israel, and NBC's Brian Williams in Germany.

Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney -- who this week embarks on a mid-campaign overseas trip to England, Israel and Poland -- doesn't have as packed a media schedule, but will sit down with at least one braodcast network anchor.

On Wednesday, Williams -- who's in London, along with most of NBC's other stars, for the upcoming Olympics -- will interview Romney at the Tower of London. The interview is slated to air during "NBC Nightly News."

On the cable side, CNN host Piers Morgan will talk to Romney this Thursday in London and CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer wil interview him in Jerusalem on Sunday. Fox News host Greta Van Susteren will also reportedly sit down with the candidate in Israel.

While it's not yet clear who else will land Romney interviews over the next week, the networks are sending some of their top correspondents to Europe and the Middle East.

David Muir, weekend anchor of "ABC World News," will be traveling with Romney throughout his trip and interview him on Sunday in Israel. Although "World News" anchor Diane Sawyer isn't heading overseas, she did land a major interview with Romney in April after Rick Santorum dropped out of the primary race.

Jan Crawford, CBS News political correspondent and chief legal correspondent, is also traveling with Romney. Crawford, who was the beneficiary of some rare Supreme Court leaks following the health care ruling last month, has recently interviewed Romney twice.

CNN national political correspondent Jim Acosta, who recently interviewed the candidate during a network round robin to address questions about his tenure at Bain Capital, is covering Romney's trip, too.

In addition to Williams' interviews, NBC's Peter Alexander will cover Romney throughout the foreign trip.

During a Monday conference call with reporters pegged to Romney's trip, top Obama adviser Robert Gibbs said the Republican "need[s] to prove to the American people that he sees foreign policy issues as worthy of substantive discussion rather than just generalities and sound bites."

Gibbs also noted that Obama did several interviews and held media availabilities during his trip exactly four years ago this week, according to Politico's "Playbook":

"We did press conferences … in Jordan and France, did a press avail in Israel, we sat down with the three network news anchors for their broadcasts during parts of the trip, did segments on 'Meet the Press' and 'Face the Nation' as well as interviews with CNN and Fox. I think at the end of that trip the American people knew exactly where Barack Obama stood on all the major foreign policy issues of the day. The question I think for Governor Romney is whether this trip will be similarly substantive, and live up to the bar that was set in 2008, or whether this is one long photo-op and fundraising tour."

In 2008, Obama sat down with CBS's Lara Logan for "Face the Nation" on July 20 and, over the next week, did interviews abroad with Couric, Gibson, Williams, CNN's Candy Crowley, Fox News' Bill Hemmer and NBC's Tom Brokaw. Obama's rally in Berlin received much media attention, too. Romney doesn't have any comparable event scheduled that networks would be likely to swarm.

Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul told The Huffington Post that Romney will be doing interviews abroad but, at this time, had no additional interviews to announce.

Whether any more big-time anchors make the trek, reporters who've been covering Romney on the campaign trail will be along for the ride.

The Romney campaign is coordinating with the traveling press corps by allowing reporters to purchase tickets on a campaign charter plane from England to Israel and from Israel to Poland. Reporters are on their own in making arrangements for travel and accommodations in England, but the campaign is blocking off rooms for them in Israel and Poland.

This article was update after interviews with Blitzer and Muir were announced.



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