Mitt Romney fails to resonate with senior Conservative Party figures, most of whom have a much closer connection to Barack Obama, a Cabinet minister has disclosed to The Huffington Post on Friday. Their comments will add to the sense that the presidential hopeful's trip to London on the eve of the Olympics has been something of a PR disaster for the Republican party.
"Our head is with Romney, but our heart is with Obama," the senior Tory told us, the day after Romney caused outrage in London by suggesting the city wasn't prepared to stage the 2012 Olympics. "Romney would be a fantastic CEO president but in our hearts there's connection that we all have with Obama," claimed the cabinet minister.
Diplomatic politeness, but behind the scenes Cameron was said to be irritated by Romney
Romney's visit to the UK to meet the leaders of all three main political parties was marred by the presumptive Republican presidential candidate's comments. In an interview he suggested "It's hard to know how well it will turn out, there were a few things that were disconcerting," in relation to the problems with the security firm G4S and the threat of a strike by UK Border Force workers.
His comments were said to have irritated David Cameron, who at the time of Romney's comments had yet to meet the Republican. A Downing Street source tells The Huffington Post: "The warmth that was obvious between Cameron and Obama on the president's trip to the UK wasn't really on display yesterday when Cameron met Romney."
Romney's visit to London is part of a tour of several nations closely allied to the US, including Israel, and was designed to show the presidential candidate had serious foreign policy credentials, something American commentators feel Romney lacks in comparison to Barack Obama. Instead the gaffe on Thursday dominated the evening news on several US TV networks.
The reaction in the British media was even more scathing, with the Sun branding Romney "Mitt the Twit" and thanks to HuffPost coining phrase "Romneyshambles" the outrage among Brits spread quickly across social networks.
Tim Montgomerie from influential ConservativeHome website told HuffPost that Romney had failed to ignite passions among British Conservatives.
"I think there's been a cooling towards Obama from Conservatives but there's not been a reigniting of enthusiasm for Romney or the Republicans," he said.
"The situation is characterised by indifference. There's very little enthusiasm for Romney in Tory circles. We're so engrossed in our own challenges."
Other Conservative Party sources privately tell HuffPost that the problem isn't just with Romney, in fact there's a widening gulf between Conservatives on either side of the Atlantic. "There are far-right parts of the Republican party that don’t sit comfortably with the liberal parts of the Cameron Conservative Party - although, to be fair, Romney's a sane part of it," says one CCHQ source.
The source is far from alone in expressing concerns about Mitt Romney's suitability for the White House:
Addressing a huge crowd in Hyde Park in Central London on Thursday night, Mayor of London Boris Johnson slapped down Romney for his remarks about the Olympics, telling the audience: "There's a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we're ready. Are we ready?" to large cheers.
David Cameron was barely more polite, pointing out that while Romney had experience in running winter Olympics in Salt Lake City in 2002, it wasn't anything like on the scale of the London 2012 games.
"We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world," he said. "Of course it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere."
Much warmer - After a slow start Barack Obama and David Cameron have developed a friendly relationship
The events of the past two days come in the context of significant cooling in relations between Conservatives in the UK and America. In the 2008 presidential election many Tory MPs were surprisingly hostile towards John McCain, who stood against Barack Obama in the race for the White House.
A survey of Conservative MPs for The Telegraph at the time suggested as many as thirty preferred Obama over McCain. Senior Tories suggested that the eight-year presidency of George W Bush and the rise of the neo-conservative movement in the US had driven a wedge between Republicans and the British Conservative Party.