(AFP) – Jul 27, 2012
WASHINGTON — Salt Lake City's mayor has extended a tongue-in-cheek invitation to David Cameron, offering the prime minister a map to show him where the "middle of nowhere" is.
The taunt was the latest salvo in a transatlantic heated exchange over the 2012 Olympics.
It all started when US presidential hopeful Mitt Romney made some ill-advised remarks about London's Olympic preparations after arriving in Britain on the first-stop of an international tour designed to showcase his diplomatic skills.
Within hours of landing, NBC television broadcast an interview in which Romney, a Republican, said it was "hard to know just how well" the Olympics will turn out and said there were "a few things that were disconcerting."
He even questioned the British Olympic spirit, adding: "Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment? That's something which we only find out once the Games actually begin."
The British press poured scorn on Romney's comments.
"Mitt Romney is perhaps the only politician who could start a trip that was supposed to be a charm offensive by being utterly devoid of charm and mildly offensive," the right-leaning Daily Telegraph said.
The tabloid Daily Mail was more forthright demanding: "Who invited him?"
Cameron duly responded with what was believed to be a veiled attempt to belittle one of Romney's crowning achievements, his rescue of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City from financial ruin.
"We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world," Cameron said. "Of course it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere."
Cue a prickly but amusing response from Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker.
"While those of us who have had the fortune of visiting London know it is certainly a wonderful city, Prime Minister Cameron's comments likely reflect his lack of familiarity with Salt Lake City," he said through his spokesman Art Raymond.
"He can stop by, any time -- we'd love to have him and happy to send a map so he doesn't run into any trouble locating the middle of nowhere," said the statement sent to AFP.
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