Any hope that Mitt Romney's trip abroad would provide a respite from the candidate's chronic foot-in-mouth disease dissipated almost instantaneously, with the campaign once again in damage-control mode.
The culprit this time is a story in the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph in which an anonymous Romney adviser allegedly questioned how President Obama's lack of "Anglo-Saxon heritage" might undermine the relationship between the United States and Britain.
"We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special," the adviser was quoted as saying in reference to Romney. "The White House didn't fully appreciate the shared history we have."
The racial undertones of the comment are clear, and the Romney campaign quickly sought to distance itself from any fallout, strenuously disavowing the statement and suggesting that the Telegraph had published a false report. Andrea Saul, Romney's press secretary, called the story "not true" and added that, if someone had made the comment, they "weren't reflecting the views of Governor Romney or anyone inside the campaign."
Romney himself cast doubt on the accuracy of the Telegraph article, pronouncing himself "generally not enthusiastic about adopting the comments made by people who are unnamed." A separate statement from spokesman Ryan Williams was more forceful.
That didn't prevent the Obama campaign from condemning the comment, with Vice President Joe Biden calling the comment "disturbing" and saying that it cast into doubt Romney's capacity to lead.
The comment was "just another feeble attempt by the Romney campaign to score political points at the expense of this critical partnership," Biden said.
"The race for the highest office in our land was diminished to a sad level when the vice president of the United States used an anonymous and false quote from a foreign newspaper to prop up their flailing campaign," was Williams' reply . "The president's own press secretary has repeatedly discredited anonymous sources, yet his political advisers saw fit to advance a falsehood."
And so the Romney campaign found itself in a familiar cycle: someone misspeaks, the Obama campaign pounces, followed by denials and recrimination. Romney has demonstrated an unusual aptitude for comments that make him seem out of touch, from "I like being able to fire people" to "I'm not concerned about the very poor."
Of course, the fact an unnamed adviser made the "Anglo-Saxon" remark, rather than the candidate himself, changes things. And while Romney has aided the Obama campaign's attempt to portray him as an out-of-touch rich man, his blunders have not come freighted with the racial baggage of, for example, Newt Gingrich's description of Obama as the "food-stamp president."
But the gaffe is still an unwanted headache for the Romney campaign at a time when it is focused on showcasing its candidate abroad, not on defusing another controversy.