- (Photo: REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi)
Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney shared the stage with his 2008 presidential campaign rival Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) today at the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in San Diego, where they observed Memorial Day and Romney spoke about the need for a strong U.S. military.
Romney noted the threats posed by Iran and its nuclear ambition; China and its military superpower aspiration; and Mexico and its drug-related violence, and said that the U.S. has chosen to maintain a strong military not only to win wars, but to prevent them.
"Because a strong America is the best deterrent to war that ever has been invented," Romney said to a crowd of some 5,000 people, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The former Massachusetts governor called McCain, who was a Navy fighter pilot during the Vietnam War and spent six years as a prisoner of war, a "national treasure."
McCain also complimented Romney, saying he was honored to share the stage with Romney, who he called a "great friend, a great man, and a man who I believe is fully qualified to be commander-in-chief."
"We are very grateful that Mitt is here. He believes in American exceptionalism, he believes that the 21st century will also be an American century. And I am confident of his leadership and I know of his support for veterans and their families," the Arizona senator said.
Earlier on Monday, Romney released a video thanking American military personnel and veterans for their service.
"We rightly call our fathers and mothers the greatest generation," exclaims Romney. "But every woman and every man who has or now defends American liberty share in their heritage of greatness. Every veteran is the greatest of his generation."
"It's time for us to come together, to carry this message across the country, that we're restoring those principles that made America the great nation and worthy of the great sacrifice of America's veterans and those young men and women who put their lives on the line for us even today," he added.
Even without the public endorsement of McCain – who is popular among veterans – on Memorial Day, Romney already led Obama 58 to 34 percent among veterans, according to a new Gallup poll.
But among non-veterans, Obama leads Romney by four points.
"Obama and Romney are tied overall at 46 percent apiece among all registered voters in this sample," Gallup reports. "Men give Romney an eight-point edge, while women opt for Obama over Romney by seven points."
Interestingly, the edge with men Romney has over Obama is almost entirely accounted for by veterans, the study shows. Also of note, in 2008, McCain defeated Obama 54 percent to 44 percent among veterans but lost the general election.
The 2012 election will be the first time since World War II in which neither major party candidate is a veteran.
President Obama today also gave remarks to commemorate Memorial Day at the Arlington National Cemetery and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.