Sat, Oct 08, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Romney speech to show his foreign policy mettle

Reuters, CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was set to vow yesterday to exert US leadership worldwide with military power and diplomacy in a speech aimed at showing he has foreign policy mettle.

Romney was expected to say that if elected in November next year, he would promise a series of actions over his first 100 days in office to demonstrate US might.

“I will not surrender America’s role in the world. This is very simple: If you do not want America to be the strongest nation on Earth, I am not your president,” Romney was to say, according to excerpts released by his campaign.

Romney, a former businessman who was also a former governor of Massachusetts, has little foreign policy experience. In his speech, he seeks to demonstrate to the US public that he would be able to handle crises abroad and exert US leadership in an unsettled world.

He also attempts to portray US President Barack Obama, whom he wants to replace, as weak despite some clear foreign policy successes, such as the killing in May of former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and well-received efforts to wind down the US troop presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Romney would step up pressure on Iran over its nuclear program by ordering the regular presence of an aircraft carrier task force in both the eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf region and begin discussions with Israel to increase military and intelligence coordination.

Stressing the need to maintain US military supremacy, Romney was expected to pledge to prevent any massive cuts in defense spending. Last month, he denounced an agreement between Obama and Congress that could permit deep cuts in the US defense budget as part of an effort to tackle record budget deficits.

Romney would order that the US Navy be built up by increasing the shipbuilding rate to about 15 a year from nine to bolster the US’ presence on the high seas.

“The United States should always retain military supremacy to deter would-be aggressors and to defend our allies and ourselves,” he was to say.

He would work to bolster -relations with Israel that some critics say have been damaged by what they feel was Obama’s favoring of the Palestinians over Israel.

Romney would also strengthen the US-UK “special relationship” and begin talks with Mexico on border violence due to the drug trade.

“America must lead the world, or someone else will,” Romney was to say.

Romney is hoping South Carolina will give him a second chance next year.

Consigned to a humbling fourth-place finish in the South Carolina Republican primary in 2008, Romney has some convincing to do to persuade the state’s conservatives to back him this time over rivals such as Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Romney on Thursday spent the first of two days in the Charleston area trying to appeal to US military veterans who live in the state and are an influential voting bloc.

He leads in national opinion polls over Perry and businessman Herman Cain three months before Republican primary voting begins, but is attempting to break out of the pack.

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