SALT LAKE CITY – Mitt Romney jabbed. British Prime Minister David Cameron countered. Salt Lake City's mayor hit back.
Ah, let the games begin. No, not the much-anticipated 2012 Olympics, but an across-the-pond kerfuffle between London, the host city, and Salt Lake City, the home of the 2002 Winter Olympics.
It began with the suggestion from presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who led the Utah games, that British officials might not be prepared to pull off a successful Olympics.
The remark sparked sharp responses from Britain's top officials, including Cameron, who said it was easier to hold an Olympics in the "middle of nowhere." That "middle of nowhere" seemed a reference to Salt Lake City. Cameron's office, however, insisted the comment was not intended to refer to Salt Lake City.
Enter the city's mayor, Ralph Becker, whose office noted Friday that officials in Utah would gladly educate Cameron on all Salt Lake City has to offer, even providing a map "so he doesn't run into any trouble locating the middle of nowhere."
"We'd welcome the opportunity to share all that we enjoy here with the PM, including a great number of assets that you'd be hard-pressed to find in London," said the mayor's spokesman, Art Raymond.
Raymond pointed to world-class outdoor recreation, a resilient and prospering economy, one of the best-educated populations in the world and a rare sense of community.
Romney's political career was born from his leading role in organizing the 2002 games, which were plagued by scandal before he was tapped to take over. His remarks about London's readiness drew the ire of residents across the United Kingdom.
Cameron said: "We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course, it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere."
The British news media also weighed in, lampooning Romney at that start of his trip to meet foreign leaders.
"Who invited party-pooper Romney?" the Daily Mail quipped. "Nowhere Man" declared the more reserved Times of London. "Mitt the Twit" screamed The Sun's headline.
Cameron said Romney and others would "see beyond doubt that Britain can deliver."
Back in Utah, Becker's office paid no mind to Romney's comment, which the former Massachusetts governor walked back on Friday, saying "it looks to me like London is ready."