Fresh off his trip abroad, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney accused President Barack Obama of undermining America's competitiveness in international sports competitions.
"We have a president who apologizes for America's athletic greatness," Mr. Romney said in a speech to Athletes In Action, a Christian sports organization. "He's afraid of what foreigners will think if we steal second base while up by 10 runs in The World Baseball Classic, or refuse to empty the bench while blowing out France in basketball. As president, I will full-court-press no matter what the score."
He also played on perceptions that the president had ceded American sovereignty to world athletic organizations. "I will never seek permission from the International Olympic Committee before deploying our athletes into foreign lands," Mr. Romney said.
The centerpiece of Mr. Romney's critique was the president's anti-doping policy. "The president has put crippling sanctions in place that force companies like Balco to produce performance enhancing drugs in China," he said.
"As president I will create jobs for American chemists and will make sure that our brave cyclists and weight-lifters compete on a level playing field against athletes from countries that don't test for steroids."
The broadside from Mr. Romney comes atop unfavorable news coverage for the Coach in Chief. An article in the Wall Street Journal quotes an anonymous White House official as saying that the president booed the Israeli team while watching the Olympic Games' opening ceremonies.
And Donald Trump made a sensational claim about the president during an appearance on Fox and Friends. "My investigators have uncovered unassailable proof that Barack Obama played on the 1984 Kenyan Olympic basketball team," he said.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney depicted the recent criticism of the president as a distraction. "The Republicans are using these issues to avoid talking about the inequality between the one-percent of athletes who get endorsement deals and the average Olympian who has to hold down multiple jobs while training," Mr. Carney said at his daily press briefing.
President Obama, wearing an Olympic uniform beret, took aim at his Republican opponent while campaigning at a Foot Locker store in Florida. "When Mitt Romney ran the Olympics we finished third in the gold medal count," he told reporters. "I won't stand for third place finishes. I want championships."
Later in the day, while visiting a Gold's Gym, the president reaffirmed his stance on performing enhancing drugs. "We need to invest in alternative forms of muscle building, like energy drinks and power bars," he said.
The presidential campaigns continued their sniping on Meet The Press, where Romney surrogate John Sununu and Obama surrogate Robert Gibbs squared off. "If it were up to the president there would be no gold medals. Everyone would get a trophy just for showing up," Mr. Sununu said. "That's un-American."
Mr. Gibbs responded quickly to Mr. Sununu's comment. "If Mr. Romney were president all our gold medalists would get outsourced to the Cayman Islands Olympic team," Mr. Gibbs said.
The campaign even reached overseas, when British Prime Minister David Cameron was asked about the Olympic dressage competition, which features a horse owned by Mr. Romney and his wife, Ann.
"The Romney horse has a good chance," he told reporters. "My only fear is that given the animal's lineage, it might develop foot and mouth disease."
Ben Krull is a writer in New York City. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun