CHARLESTON, S.C. – Mitt Romney on Friday will call for a buildup of America’s naval forces and missile defense system and accuse President Obama of undermining the nation’s global leadership status in what his campaign is billing as a major foreign policy address here.
Excerpts of the GOP presidential contender’s speech, released by his campaign Thursday evening, include a call for the nation to assert itself as the unchallenged leader of the globe – a role that some Democrats and Republicans have suggested might be too much of a burden in an era when the nation is struggling to erase a massive deficit.
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“God did not create this country to be a nation of followers,” Romney asserts in the prepared text. “America is not destined to be one of several equally balanced global powers.”
The remarks are an attack on the foreign policy that Obama has pursued, one that sees the world as a network of multilateral powers and relies on U.S. allies to take the lead in some crises – as France and Great Britain did in Libya.
Romney rejects that view. “This century must be an American century,” he plans to say in his speech, prepared for delivery at The Citadel, a military university here. “In an American century, America leads the free world.”
Despite his party’s emphasis on budget-cutting, Romney insists the Pentagon’s budget must grow. He will promise to “reverse President Obama’s massive defense cuts” and restore cuts the president has made to a planned national missile defense system. Romney wants to make a high-tech shield from missile attacks “a top priority.”
Romney also will unveil plans to ramp up the pace of Navy shipbuilding from nine vessels per year to 15 per year.
On Afghanistan, Romney will call for a full review of the nation’s posture and policy. In a debate earlier this year, Romney appeared to endorse plans to pull American troops out of the country, but since then his campaign has criticized two rivals, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, for calling for a quick pullout. Huntsman’s campaign on Thursday accused Romney of flip-flopping on the issue.