Romney: America Is ‘Best Deterrent to War’ That’s Ever Been Invented

GOP hopeful joins Sen. John McCain at Veterans Museum ceremony attended by thousands.

Updated at 7:45 p.m. May 28, 2012

Mitt Romney said a strong America “is the best deterrent to war there ever has been invented” and saluted the sacrifice of veterans at a Memorial Day event at Balboa Park, where he quietly laid a wreath outside public view.

“The greatness in a people, I believe, is measured by the extent to which they will give themselves to something bigger than themself, to sacrifice for a cause of significance,” Romney told an audience of about 5,000, including 500 standing for nearly 2 hours.

“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’re a nation that has been formed and preserved by heroes.”

Speaking for 13 minutes after Sen. John McCain, Romney told of another Memorial Day when he was governor of Massachusetts early in the Iraq War.

He said he had traveled to the Mideast and collected phone numbers from 63 service members, promising to call their spouses and families when he got back.  He started with the intention of calling three or four, but the Internet alerted the troops and their families that he was calling.

So after hearing one family member say she had been expecting his call, Romney resolved to phone all 63, he told an audience, which had passed through Secret Service security checks in the parking lot of the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center next to the old naval hospital.

McCain was interrupted by a man in the audience four minutes into his own remarks, and the person was hustled away by Secret Service.

“Jerk,” McCain said to scattered cheers of the mostly older audience, who chanted USA, USA to drown out the heckler.

The heckler, wearing a black T-shirt and jacket, had mentioned the USS Liberty, the American spy ship attacked by Israel in 1967 and whose crew suffered 34 deaths.

Romney—who had several college deferments amid his Mormon missionary years and didn't serve in the military—sat next to Nick Popaditch, the retired Marine running against Rep. Susan Davis for Congress.

La Mesa Councilwoman Ruth Sterling, who had arrived at the center planning to take part in the annual reading of the names of Vietnam war dead, instead learned she would be sitting on the stage—almost behind Popaditch.

She thus was feet from the Republican presdiential nominee of 2008 and the 2012 presumptive nominee.

She said her place was secured as a thank you from Donald Barnard of the San Diego Veterans Memorial Center, even though the printed program—and the public address announcer—said she would be performing America the Beautiful with the Kister Family Singers.

That wasn’t really her plan.

“I’m happy that I was up there [on stage],” Sterling said Monday night. “I was happy with what they gave me. ... They were just being nice to me” by citing her in the program.

As military service anthems and patriotic music played on loudspeakers and plastic water bottles were distributed, veterans were seated nearest the stage on white folding chairs. A 10-member Navy band in dress whites followed, playing God Bless America and other tunes.

Members of Republican clubs, including La Jolla and Rancho Bernardo women, took seats facing a stage with Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force flags fluttering behind.

GOP Reps. Darrell Issa and Duncan Hunter mixed with the crowd in the event being covered by the traveling press corps and major networks.

Other speakers included Kim Dang Trang of the Vietnamese Community Association; retired Marine David Dickey, the San Diego Veteran of the Year; and Carl DeMaio, the openly gay councilman running for mayor of San Diego.

“I am honored to be celebrating Memorial Day this year with John McCain,” Romney said in a statement issued in connection with the release of a 45-second Memorial Day-related video titled Thank You.

“I don't have to tell John’s story; the world already knows it. But it is what today’s holiday is all about—sacrifice, valor, honor, courage and love of country.

“A lot of young Americans are risking their lives in distant battlefields today. Memorial Day is a day to give thanks to them and to remember all of America’s soldiers who have laid down their lives to defend our country.

“As we enjoy our barbecues with friends and families and loved ones, let’s keep them in our thoughts and in our prayers,” said the part-time La Jolla resident.

The San Diego appearance comes one day after Romney called for the United States to “work with partners to organize and arm Syrian opposition groups so they can defend themselves.”

Romney’s comments came in response to Friday's massacre of at least 108 people—including 49 children and 34 women—in the area of Houla, Syria, a collection of Sunni villages 15 miles northwest of the central city of Homs, according to the United Nations.

“After nearly a year and a half of slaughter, it is far past time for the United States to begin to lead and put an end to the Assad regime,” Romney said, referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“President (Barack) Obama can no longer ignore calls from congressional  leaders in both parties to take more assertive steps.

“The bloodshed in Houla makes clear that our goal must be a new Syrian government, one that contributes to peace and stability in the Middle East and that truly represents the brave Syrian people.”

There was no immediate response to an email sent to the Obama campaign Sunday or the White House today seeking a response.

In his remarks under a bright sky in mid-70s temperatures, Romney spoke of threats from around the world.

“I wish I could tell you that the world is a safe place today,” Romney said as a dozen or more jetliners descended for landing at Lindbergh Field. “It’s not.” 

Iran was rushing to become a nuclear nation, Romney said.

“As a national sponsor of terror around the world, the thought of fissile material in the hands of Hezbollah or Hamas or other terrorists is simply unthinkable,” he said.

Pakistan was home to some 100 nuclear weapons, China was on the road to becoming a military superpower and Russia was rebuilding its military with a leader who believes the Soviet Union was a great, as opposed to evil, empire.

Mexico was under siege from the cartels and in the Middle East, the Arab Spring had become an Arab winter, Romney said.

Romney said there were two courses the country could take, one was to follow in the pathway of Europe, to shrink our military to pay for our social needs—a prospect that brought boos from the crowd.

“Were we to follow that kind of a course, there’d be no one that could stand to protect us,” he said.

The alternative was to “commit to preserve America as the strongest military in the world, second to none, with no comparable power anywhere in the world,” Romney said.

“We choose that course in America not so that we just win wars, but so we can prevent wars because a strong America is the best deterrent to war there ever has been invented,” Romney said to cheers.

He also spoke of heroism, calling McCain a hero.

Romney believed the greatness of a people was measured by the extent to which they would give themselves to something bigger than themselves, to
sacrifice for a cause of significance.

“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,” Romney told the crowd. “We’re a nation that has been formed and preserved by heroes.”

City News Service contributed to this report.

Frank Ferraro May 30, 2012 at 06:05 PM
I think the Angel Moroni wrote on his Golden Tablet that Romney was going to be the first Mormon President.
Things I Learned May 30, 2012 at 06:08 PM
I think Bill Ayers wrote Obama's fauxtobiography.
Doug Curlee May 30, 2012 at 06:46 PM
kevin.. having been born and mostly raised in utah, i got to see firsthand how the church operates..even took a couple of high school seminary courses (most high schools in utah have LDS seminaries attached)..before they figured out i was a roman catholic, and therefore viewed as an enemy spy..and mostly treated as one.. the LDS church does take very good care of its own people.. the church welfare department, the last time i checked, was bigger and served more people than the state welfare folks.. but it can be ruthless in its drive to convert everyone..do you have any idea how many people have been "baptized" into the LDS church ..without their consent or even knowledge?..not to mention people who have been posthumously "baptized" into the faith?..a couple million.. i just don't like the way they tend to handle "gentiles"..which is what they call those of us who are NOT mormons.. been there, done that..got the t-shirt.. doug
Kevin George May 30, 2012 at 06:54 PM
doug(sic), I can sum up my opinion of Moromons very simply: Religiously whacked. Culturally enviable.
Libi Uremovic May 30, 2012 at 07:10 PM
utah offers the best social programs in the nation...regardless of race, creed, or religion...and they are still a donor state so they must be doing something right...
Libi Uremovic May 30, 2012 at 07:14 PM
...''more mormons about all...'' you could say the same thing about the catholics...and they did when kennedy was running for president in 1960... it won't be the dems & indies that have problem with romney being a mormon....it will be the bible belt because they don't believe that mormons are christians...
F. Dunn May 30, 2012 at 07:22 PM
As a religious scholar for yeah this many years I still have a hard time understanidng how Mitt gets his own Celestial Planet to rule. But should't his sons get one, too? And y'all are voting for this guy.
Libi Uremovic May 30, 2012 at 07:26 PM
it might be for self-interest...but the results show that it's good for the kids...it broaden their minds, introduces them to other cultures, and it gets them away from their parents...it's a win/win for all.... we've got 350 kids that graduated from high school, but only about 50 of them have any plans ...we should have some options for the kids.....they should have an options to do community service in exchange for college or trade school education...
Frank Ferraro May 30, 2012 at 08:39 PM
After reading this book: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Under_the_Banner_of_Heaven , I would never vote Mormon.
Larry May 30, 2012 at 08:41 PM
"Culturally enviable" Kevin wants sister wives?
Doug Curlee May 30, 2012 at 08:42 PM
yes, libi, utah does do that.. and again, it's commendable.. but anyone who does NOT believe the state of utah is a wholly owned subsidiary of the church of jesus christ of latter day saints needs to do a WHOLE lot more research.. doug
Larry May 30, 2012 at 08:43 PM
libi...Is Utah a Mormon State?
Larry May 30, 2012 at 08:44 PM
That answered my question, thanks Doug.
Kevin George May 30, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Sounds like 1960 when JFK was responsible for the Inquisition.
Kevin George May 30, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Larry, you know only what you have heard or seen on TV about Mormons. The mainstream Mormon Church officially ended the practice of polygamy in 1890. The polygamists are strictly in odd ball sects of the Mormon Church, but don't let the facts stop you.
Larry May 30, 2012 at 09:35 PM
Kevin, you don't know what I know, and I was kidding.
Frank Ferraro May 31, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Well it isn't 1960. It's the age of the internet where crackpot religions and cults like Scientology and the LDS are fully exposed for the insanity they believe in.
Libi Uremovic May 31, 2012 at 12:56 AM
there's a lot of stats on religious demographics ....60% of the residence of utah are mormons ...but mormons only makes up 2% of our population nation wide.... catholics make up 25% of the population, with rhode island in the lead at 53%.... massachusetts come in at about 40%...
Libi Uremovic May 31, 2012 at 02:01 AM
i seem to have set off a firestorm by using the 'm' word...but as we can see from the comments here; being mormon is going to be a deterrent for some people... as are most people; romney was born into his religion...but i've never gotten the impression that he's 'working for the church'.....and i doubt that he's giving them 10% of his big bucks... ....if he is i bet the mormon church in la jolla is jumping for joy ... because they're about to score big time...
Larry May 31, 2012 at 04:04 AM
He'll re-direct NASA to start looking for a system with enough planets for Mitt and the little mittens.
Angel J. June 20, 2012 at 05:40 PM
THE CONVENIENT TRUTH IS: So the Republicans want at least 30% of us to vote for Romney! Really? Let’s see they are against public schools and our teachers; against Affordable Health Care for our families; want our kids “maybe” to be considered eligible for any citizenship if they go fight in their wars that they or kids refused to do; Supports being” business friendly” to continued export of many of our jobs to China; So Romney continues to insult our intelligence that he stands for little nor nothing tangible to address most of our major issues of Latinos as well as other Americans, but expects voting for him and his non-existent policy positions! So again, this public interview on Face the Nation was very revealing for all of us! Hum..
Things I Learned June 20, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Kevin George June 20, 2012 at 06:12 PM
So you're pro " Dream Act" yet lament the loss of jobs to China? Would it be more to your liking if we brought the Chinese to Mexico so they could come into the US and take the jobs more directly?
Angel J. June 20, 2012 at 06:20 PM
KEEPING IT THOUGHTFULLY HONEST: This is an example of “Fast and Furious" political witch hunt by Mr. Darell Issa! He has nothing better to do with his time and use of tax payer funds. THE CONVENIENT TRUTH IS: If Issa was concerned about this serious gun running and gun buying issue by the Drug Cartels in Mexico that contributed to the loss of lives such as our Agent Brian Terry, he would be taking the lead to create legislation to close the loop holes that currently allows whomever to buy guns without any documentation at gun shows! But since Mr. Issa takes his $$$ from lobby of the National Rifleman’s Association, this is not a politically workable for him and his republican political prostitutes in congress. So the Guns sales and smuggling from America continue in arming the Drug Cartel Killers in Mexico just like the Russians are doing for Assad in Syria! This is another example of Hypocrite’s behavior in Washington D.C. So the killings will continue just like Mr. Issa continues his contemptible and hypocritical dog and pony show to create constitutional conflict! Maybe when the drug cartels with guns move-in across the border into Mr. Issa’s district in San Diego, he may take responsible legislative action of banning gun sales without documentation!
Things I Learned June 20, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Things I Learned June 20, 2012 at 06:26 PM
"WASHINGTON -- President Obama granted an 11th-hour Justice Department request Wednesday to exert executive privilege over "Fast and Furious" documents, a last-minute legal maneuver that appears unlikely to head off a contempt vote against Attorney General Eric Holder by Republicans in the House." http://www.nypost.com/p/news/national/obama_administration_claims_executive_WL1oF39lFUVL0Lz8zy867N
Selina Forte June 20, 2012 at 06:32 PM
There are more Asian immigrants now than there are Mexican.
Komfort June 20, 2012 at 06:41 PM
How many illegal alien Asians are here compared to illegal alien Mexicans?
Kevin George June 20, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Selina, " Dream Act East"? Don't give them any ideas.
Selina Forte June 20, 2012 at 08:24 PM
I have no idea how many illegal immigrants there are in the US. I tried to find the answer, but all I could find was a compilation of census data that stated 2.2 million people in California were here illegally. This is not the most current data and is only an estimate. I also couldn't find another source to verify this fact. What I did find was the following quote from an article: "About 430,000 Asians — or 36 percent of all new immigrants, legal and illegal — moved to the United States in 2010, compared with 370,000 Hispanics, or 31 percent of all new arrivals, the study said. Just three years earlier, the ratio was reversed: about 390,000 Asians immigrated in 2007, compared with 540,000 Hispanics." It should be noted that this article is talking about total immigration, not just illegal. Ref: http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/i/immigration-and-emigration/index.html


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