SAN DIEGO - Delivering a Memorial Day tribute today, Mitt Romney thanked the sacrifice of servicemen and women while warning of the grave dangers around the globe, remarking frankly that "the world is not safe" before ticking off a list of grave security issues around the globe.
"I wish I could tell you that the world is a safe place today," said Romney, speaking before a crowd of nearly 5,000 which included servicemen and women in uniform. The sizable crowd is one of the largest Romney has ever drawn. "It's not. Iran is rushing to become a nuclear nation. As the national sponsor of terror around the world, the thought of missile material in the hands of Hezbollah or Hamas or other terrorists is simply unthinkable. Pakistan is home to some 100 nuclear weapons."
"China's on the road to becoming a … military superpower," Romney continued. " Russia is rebuilding their military and is now led by a man who believes that the Soviet Union was a great, as opposed to evil, empire. Chavez is campaigning for power throughout Latin America. Mexico is under siege from the cartels and in the Middle East the Arab Spring has become an Arab Winter."
Romney, who never served in the military and received a deferment because he was doing his Mormon missionary work overseas, did not explicitly mention his bid for presidency during his speech but did weave in one of the main pillars of his foreign policy: maintaining the strength of the U.S. military.
"We have two courses we can follow," said Romney. "One is to follow the pathway of Europe. To shrink our military smaller and smaller to pay for our social needs. And they of course rely on the strength of America and they hope for the best. Were we to follow that kind of course, there would be no one that could stand to protect us."
"The other is to commit to preserve America as the strongest military in the world, second to none, with no comparable power anywhere in the world," he said. "We choose that course. We choose that course for America not just so that we can win wars, but so we can prevent wars. Because a strong America is the best deterrent to war that ever has been invented."
Calling on servicemen in the crowd to stand so they could be recognized by the audience, Romney spoke about sacrifice and heroism.
"Greatness in a people I believe is measured by the extent to which they will give themselves to something bigger than themselves," said Romney. "To sacrifice for a cause of significance. And when that sacrifice of self, and for purpose and for principle greater than self, surpasses our everyday understanding by the widest margin we call that greatness heroic. We are a nation that has been formed and preserved by heroes. John McCain is one of them."
The event was held at the Veterans Memorial Day Center Museum in San Diego, where before speaking Romney and Sen. John McCain laid wreaths in honor of the day of remembrance. McCain, who endorsed Romney's candidacy in January, served in the Navy during the Vietnam war and was held as a prisoner of war. McCain delivered Romney's introduction here, remarking that Romney is a "great friend, a great man, a great governor" and a man he believes is "fully qualified to be commander in chief."
A new Gallup poll today shows that U.S. veterans, who make up approximately 13 percent of the adult population, favor Romney over President Obama by 58 percent to 34 percent.