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More overseas controversy for Romney

Comments anger Palestinians while Poland's Solidarity is cool
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U.S. Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney lays a wreath with his wife Ann at the Second World War Westerplatte Memorial in Gdansk, Poland, Monday.

Republican Mitt Romney's campaign tried to keep the domestic political focus on the U.S. economy and jobs Monday, although the effort was overshadowed by more controversy from a foreign trip after he made remarks that upset Palestinians.

Hoping to take advantage of President Barack Obama's "you didn't build that" comment, Romney's campaign sent high-profile supporters to events in a dozen swing states to hammer home its message that Obama is an anti-business lover of big government.

One-time Republican presidential rivals Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty, who is now a vice-presidential possibility, were among the Romney supporters who fanned out across the country to push attacks on Obama for saying, "If you own a business, you didn't build that."

But Romney was forced to fight off his own controversy after he called Jerusalem the Israeli capital and said later that differences in culture powered Israel's economic success compared with the Palestinians.

Both comments angered Palestinian leaders, just days after Romney annoyed Britons during a stop in London by questioning their readiness to host the Olympic Games.

Romney pointed to the big difference in wealth between Israel and the Palestinians and suggested Israel's culture was the reason for the gap.

"If you could learn anything from the economic history of the world, it's this: culture makes all the difference," he told a fundraising event in Jerusalem.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Romney's comments amounted to "a racist statement that shows a lack of knowledge."

He added, "Everyone knows that the Palestinians cannot reach their full potential given the Israeli restrictions imposed on them."

It was another bumpy day on an international trip aimed at showing U.S. voters that the former governor of Massachusetts can handle foreign policy, an area where Obama has a lead in opinion polls.

"He's been fumbling the foreign policy football from country to country. And there's a threshold question that he has to answer to the American people, and that's whether he is prepared to be commander in chief," Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Air Force One.

Romney received words of encouragement on his visit to Poland Monday from Lech Walesa, a former union leader and ex-Polish president, who said: "I wish you to be successful because this success is needed for the United States, of course, but for Europe and the rest of the world, too. Governor Romney, get your success."

But Solidarity, the union led by Walesa in the 1980s that helped topple communism in Poland, distanced itself from Romney, who it said "supported attacks on trade unions and employees' rights."

Obama and Romney are running neck and neck in national polls ahead of the Nov. 6 election.