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On foreign trip, Romney makes time for fundraisers

Mitt Romney leaves 10 Downing Street after meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron on July 26, 2012 in London, England.
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Mitt Romney leaves 10 Downing Street after meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron on July 26, 2012 in London, England.
Getty Images

Mitt Romney is in the midst of a trip to London, Israel and Poland designed to burnish his foreign policy credentials and remind voters of his successful stewardship of the Salt Lake City Olympics.

It is also a chance for him to raise a significant amount of money for his campaign.

After meeting with officials and making headlines for questioning whether Britain is ready for the Olympics, Romney kicked things off in London Thursday with a pair of controversial fundraisers at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Why controversial? Because the events were designed to raise money from donors in London's scandal-scarred banking and finance industry, the epicenter of the LIBOR interest rate fixing scandal.

(Romney visits London for the Olympics.)

One of the fundraisers was originally supposed to be hosted by Bob Diamond, the chief executive of Barclays - until Diamond pulled out following his resignation from the company, which paid more than $450 million for allegedly trying to manipulate the interbank interest rate. The Washington Post reported that one of the co-chairs of the fundraiser, Barclay's lobbyist Patrick Durkin, has helped raise more than $1 million for Romney.

In response to Romney's fundraisers, a group of British lawmakers called on "Barclays and its executives to cease fundraising for political candidates immediately and to concentrate entirely on repairing confidence and trust in the banking system instead." The liberal advocacy group Americans United for Change, meanwhile, released a web video saying that "Big banks write checks for Romney so they can write their own rules." 

At the first fundraising event, Romney said he isn't opposed to all regulation of banks - but he does believe the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill passed in response to the 2008 economic meltdown was bad legislation that should be repealed.

"You have to make the regulations modern and up to date," he said. "And when you find in some cases they have been counterproductive, you get rid of them. Change them. Bring in new ones."

(Romney speaks in London.)

"With regard to regulation here in the UK, I've got nothing to say about what goes on here," Romney added. The European Union proposed on Wednesday criminalizing the manipulation of global interest rates, including LIBOR. (President Obama has also received donations from Barclays employees, to the tune of $34,800, the New York Times reported; Romney raised $234,650 from that group through the end of May.)

It might seem odd that Romney is raising money abroad at all. While American politicians cannot raise money from foreign nationals, they can raise money from Americans living abroad or visiting other countries - something Mr. Obama has done as well. Ambassadors are allowed to donate to a candidate, but they are barred from bundling contributions from others.

When Romney gets to Jerusalem he is making time to host a small, $50,000 per person fundraising dinner that had to be rescheduled because it was originally set to take place on Tisha B'Av, a Jewish day of fasting and mourning. One Romney donor told ABC News that major conservative donor and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, for whom Israel is a top concern, may attend that event. Adelson and his family have already spent $10 million to support Romney after initially backing Newt Gingrich; he has said he is willing to spend in excess of $100 million to defeat Mr. Obama.