US presidential candidate Mitt Romney has struggled to stem political fallout at home after insulting Britain's handling of the Olympic Games.
President Barack Obama used his office to try to take advantage of the Republican's actions abroad, praising Britain for its Olympics preparations one day and sending money to Israel the next - just as Mr Romney prepared to visit that nation.
The events - just as the world focused on London's opening ceremonies - confounded Republicans and amused Democrats.
People in both parties wondered how the former Massachusetts governor could have complicated the opening leg of a three-nation tour carefully crafted to highlight his diplomatic strengths and personal Olympic experience.
Republican Party strategist Karl Rove said: "You have to shake your head."
It was unclear how much damage Mr Romney, who had hoped to burnish his limited foreign policy credentials, did with an American electorate that has not fully tuned into the presidential race. But he certainly raised questions about his readiness to stand on the world stage.
Mr Romney's campaign shrugged it all off as having little impact on American voters. His aides hastily organised a conference call with reporters to discuss his schedule in Jerusalem and preview a speech there two days away.
Seeking to end the row, Mr Romney declared on NBC: "It looks to me like London is ready."
Asked in London about the stir, he said "I'm absolutely convinced that the people here are ready for the Games, and in just a few moments, all the things the politicians say will be swept away" by excitement over the competition.
Mr Romney's trip comes just over 100 days before an election that is expected to be close and is dominated by the US economy's sluggish recovery.