Australia's foreign minister privately warned Sunday that foreign leaders see "America in decline," Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said.
Romney said he met with Foreign Minister Bob Carr in a San Francisco hotel Sunday night shortly before a Republican fundraiser.
He said Carr suggested that America could improve that international perception "with one budget deal" that helps balance the budget.
"And this idea of America in decline, it was interesting [Carr] said that; he led the talk of American being in decline," Romney said at the fundraiser, according to The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. "And if they're thinking about investing in America, entrepreneurs putting their future in America -- if they think America's in decline they're not gonna do it."
The foreign minister requested the private meeting, a Romney spokesman said. The campaign would not say whether the two discussed foreign policy.
Bob Carr wasn't particularly pleased about being misrepresented:
He met the former Massachusetts governor at a San Francisco hotel on Sunday, local time.
But Senator Carr said reports suggesting his comment was a criticism of the US economy were wrong.
He said his exact comment to Mr Romney was: "America is just one budget deal away from ending all talk of America being in decline," Senator Carr said in a statement on Monday.
Senator Carr said his comment was in praise of US economic strengths.
Opposition foreign affairs spokesperson Julie Bishop said Senator Carr's comments were being reported as implicit criticism of President Barack Obama's performance.
"That will be seen as unwelcome intervention into the US presidential election," she said.
It's never a good idea to deliberately misconstrue a foreign leader's words, nor is it a good idea to deliberately shit on a sitting president's economic policy while in the company of foreign leadership, many of whom are interested in doing business with this country.
He hasn't even set off on his first trip abroad and he's already screwing up by speaking not as a representative of this nation, but as someone who doesn't care what he does to cinch the election. If that means downplaying America's economic strength via twisted comment, then that's what he'll do.
Seriously, It's the gift that keeps on giving. And giving, and giving...