Mitt Romney’s campaign staff is trying to set up a meeting with Poland’s former president Lech Walesa when the presidential candidate visits Poland later this month, Romney insiders and foreign sources told Politico
The two likely would get together in Gdansk, the Baltic port city where Walesa first made his mark as trade union activist. While he’s in the area, Romney also may travel to Westerplatte peninsula, scene of the first World War II battles in 1939 after Germany invaded Poland.
A meeting between Romney and the legendary former Polish labor leader would provide a marked contrast to President Barack Obama’s relationship with Walesa, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983.
Obama invited Walesa to a meeting he had with a group of Polish officials during a 2011 visit. But Walesa turned down the president, perhaps insulted that he wasn’t offered a one-on-one meeting.
And earlier this year, Obama didn’t invite Walesa to a ceremony bestowing the Presidential Medal of Freedom on the late World War II Polish freedom fighter Jan Karski. The Polish press reported that Walesa hoped to receive the medal on Karski’s behalf.
A visit by Romney to Westerplatte also might provide a thorn in Obama’s side. Some Poles were upset in 2009 when Obama skipped a solemn ceremony there to observe the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the war. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended the ceremony, but Obama sent National Security Adviser James Jones.
U.S. relations with Poland overall have cooled since President George W. Bush left office in 2009.