Mitt Romney's campaign on Wednesday denied a report that an adviser suggested the presumptive GOP presidential nominee was better able to navigate the "special relationship" between the United States and England because of his understanding of "Anglo-Saxon heritage."
"We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special," the unnamed adviser said, according to the Daily Telegraph. "The White House didn't fully appreciate the shared history we have."
The Romney campaign worked to distance itself from the controversial quote as allies of President Obama — including Vice President Biden — seized on the remark.
“Despite his promises that politics stops at the water’s edge, Governor Romney’s wheels hadn’t even touched down in London before his advisors were reportedly playing politics with international diplomacy, attempting to create daylight between the United States and the United Kingdom where none exists," Biden said in a statement released by Obama's reelection team.
"It’s not true. If anyone said that, they weren’t reflecting the views of Governor Romney or anyone inside the campaign," Romney spokeswoman Amanda Hennenberg wrote in an e-mail.
Later Wednesday, the Romney campaign addressed Biden's comments directly, saying the vice president had brought the race for the White House to a "sad level."
“Today, 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," said Romney spokesman Ryan Williams. "The President’s own press secretary has repeatedly discredited anonymous sources, yet his political advisors saw fit to advance a falsehood. We have very serious problems confronting our nation and American families are hurting, yet the Obama campaign continues to try to divert voters' attention with specious shiny objects. We have more faith in American voters, and know they will see this latest desperate ploy for what it is.”
Still, the Obama campaign seemed to believe the quotes had political traction. Senior campaign strategist David Axelrod blasted the remark via Twitter as "stunningly offensive."
Mitt's trip off to flying start, even before he lands, with stunningly offensive quotes from his team in British press.abcn.ws/M8oLGE— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) July 25, 2012
Biden also addressed critiques of the president's foreign policy found within the story, which also quotes Romney advisers anonymously criticizing Obama as a "left-winger."
"He doesn’t value the NATO alliance as much, he’s very comfortable with American decline and the traditional alliances don’t mean as much to him," one adviser said.
But Biden argued in his statement that the "special relationship with the British is stronger than ever."
"On every major issue — from Afghanistan to missile defense, from the fight against international terrorism to our success in isolating countries like Iran whose nuclear programs threaten peace and stability — we’ve never been more in sync," Biden said. "The comments reported this morning are a disturbing start to a trip designed to demonstrate Governor Romney’s readiness to represent the United States on the world’s stage. Not surprisingly, this is just another feeble attempt by the Romney campaign to score political points at the expense of this critical partnership. This assertion is beneath a presidential campaign.”
The Telegraph did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the Romney camp's refutation, but in the story said "the advisers spoke on the condition of anonymity because Mr. Romney’s campaign requested that they not criticise the President to foreign media."
— Updated at 2:24 p.m.