(CNSNews.com) – Citing pending cuts in the military budget and threats abroad, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told veterans Tuesday that President Barack Obama is not projecting American strength in the world and sought to paint the choice for voters in stark terms.
“It’s very simple. If you don’t want America to be the strongest nation on earth, I’m not your president,” Romney told the gathering at the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Reno, Nev. “But with his cuts to the military, you have that president today. The 21st Century can and must be an American century.”
Romney told the audience that “the world is dangerous, destructive, chaotic, and the two men running to be your commander in chief must offer their answers to the challenges we face.”
The military cuts he referred to were part of a deal reached by Obama and House Republicans last year on increasing the debt limit. After the super committee did not reach a plan, automatic budget cuts and tax hikes are set to take place at the end of the year unless further congressional action is taken. Although defense is only 20 percent of the federal budget, it would be 50 percent of the automatic cuts.
“Today we’re just months away from an arbitrary mandatory budget reduction that would saddle the military with $1 trillion in cuts, severely shrink our force structure, and impair our ability to meet and deter threats,” Romney said. “Don’t bother, by the way, trying to find a serious military rationale behind any of that, unless that rationale is wishful thinking. Strategy is not driving the president’s massive defense cuts.”
Romney, during the speech, said as president he would seek to halt uranium enrichment in Iran, which is seeking nuclear weapons. He also criticized the president’s treatment of allies such as Israel and Poland, but an appeasement like stance toward an increasingly aggressive Russia.
He also pointed out America is still at war, while the terror threat continues. Romney further repeated his call for a special counsel to investigate national security leaks by the Obama administration.
“When the biggest announcement in the last State of the Union address on improving our military was that the Pentagon would start using more clean energy, then you know it’s time for a change,” Romney said.
Speaking to the same gathering on Monday, Obama said Congress is to blame for the pending cuts.
“Those big, across-the-board cuts, including defense that Congress said would occur next year if they couldn’t reach a deal to reduce the deficit? Let’s understand, first of all, there’s no reason that should happen, because people in Congress ought to be able to come together and agree on a plan, a balanced approach that reduces the deficit and keeps our military strong,” Obama told the VFW Monday. “It should be done.”
If the sequestration takes effect in January, the defense budget would be cut an additional $492 billion on top of the $487 billion in cuts already being implemented, according to the House Armed Services Committee. This would separate another 100,000 soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen from services, which would be the smallest force since 1940, according to the committee.
The cuts would lead to an estimated 1 million lost private sector jobs, according to the Armed Services Committee, with regards to military contractors and businesses located near military bases. The 10 states that will feel the largest pain as a percentage of the state economy are Virginia, Connecticut, Alabama, Arizona, Maryland, Alaska, Hawaii, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Missouri, the committee said.
Veterans could be an important voting group for both Obama and Romney in this election. Also, Nevada is a battleground state for the November election. The most recent RealClearPolitics average of polls shows Obama leading Romney by 5.2 percent in the state.