Australian Foreign Minister Claims Romney Misinterpreted Him

“America is just one budget deal away from ending all talk of America being in decline,” was meant as a compliment, Minister for Foreign Affairs Bob Carr says, not an indictment of the Obama administration.

Mitt Romney’s meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr on Sunday is turning into something of a diplomatic kerfuffle.

Romney recounted their meeting at a fundraiser in San Francisco last night, quoting Carr as saying “America is just one budget deal away from ending all talk of America being in decline.” Romney took the quote as a criticism of the Obama administration — but in a statement Carr said it was meant in just the opposite context.

“Senator Carr’s comment was in praise of American economic strengths,” his office said in a statement.

Judge for yourself:

Romney’s remarks on the meeting:

“I met today with the foreign minister of Australia. He said something, and I said ‘Can I quote you?’ and he said yes. He said ‘America is just one budget deal away from ending all talk of America being in decline.’ What he meant by that is that if we get serious about taking steps to make sure that America will finally get to a balanced budget, and if we make sure these unfunded liabilities don’t crush us, if we show the world that we come together to get that job done, if we have real leadership that will get Congress to work together and actually reach that conclusion, that agreement, than the world will recognize America’s going to come roaring back. And this idea of America in decline, it was interesting he said that, he led the talk of America being in decline. See that’s not talk we hear about here as much as they’re hearing there. And if they’re thinking about investing in America, entrepreuneurs putting their future in America, if they think America’s in decline they’re not gonna do it.”

Carr’s office released a statement contesting Romney’s interpretation of the line:

At today’s meeting with Governor Mitt Romney, Senator Carr said (exact quote):
“America is just one budget deal away from ending all talk of America being in decline.”
Senator Carr’s comment was in praise of American economic strengths.
Reports suggesting these were a criticism of the American economy are incorrect.
The comment repeats a published statement by Senator Carr at the CSIS Banyan Tree Leadership Forum in Washington D.C. on April 25, 2012:
“This notion that I’ve been thinking of for the last few days, and that is that America could be one budget deal away - in the context of economic recovery - one budget deal away from banishing the notion of American declinism.
Think about that: one budget deal, an exercise of statesmanship up the road in the context of an economic bounceback.
And all of a sudden, with energy independence crystallising, with technological innovation, resurgence of American manufacturing,[and] people who spoke about American decline could be revising their thesis.”

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