Romney Says He Wants 'Big Stick'

By AMY LORENTZEN
The Associated Press
Saturday, June 16, 2007; 4:17 PM

DUBUQUE, Iowa -- Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said Saturday that if he's elected, he wants "to carry the big stick" by increasing the size of the nation's military.

The former Massachusetts governor said his plans include boosting the size of the military by at least 100,000 troops and increasing the military budget.

Romney recalled the words of President Theodore Roosevelt, who said the United States should "Speak softly and carry a big stick," in its foreign relations.

"I want to carry the big stick," Romney told about 200 people at an event in Dubuque. "I hope I don't have to use it, but I want to make sure we have it so that people understand we are a nation of strength."

"If you look across the world you can recognize that there is terror going on," Romney said. "... There is a worldwide effort of different people all intent on bringing down modernity and, replacing it, in some respects, with barbarism."

Romney defended President Bush's performance, noting his policies extend beyond Iraq. He called Bush a statesman who has shored up the nation's economy, expanded renewable energy capabilities and chosen appropriate U.S. Supreme Court justices.

"Everything he does, he does from the standpoint of what is best for the American people," Romney said.

His wife, Ann, gave the crowd a scare, falling a couple of inches from the platform stage. After the noisy tumble, which elicited a loud gasp from the crowd, she got up quickly with help from her husband and those around. She joked "that I ride horses, that was nothing."

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STORY CITY, Iowa (AP) _ Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama speculated Saturday that his prescription drug plan could save seniors on Medicare $157 billion over the next decade.

The potential saving is proof that the nation needs to change the Medicare system, he said.

"There is no reason for this other than the fact it makes the drug companies more money," said Obama. `It's wrong that Americans have to spend more for their prescriptions because drug companies can spend billions on lobbying."

The prescription drug plan pushed by Obama would allow Medicare officials to bargain for lower prescription drugs prices, allow Americans to buy prescriptions from Canada and other developed countries where safe drugs are available and increase the use of generic drugs in public health programs like Medicare.

Obama recently unveiled a health care proposal he said would significantly broaden coverage while also finding more than $2,000 in savings per person, largely through finding efficiencies in the system. Prescription drugs would be a key part of that, aides said.

Obama aides have estimated his health care plan would cost $50 billion to $65 billion. Much of the financing would come from ending previously approved tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000 a year.

On Saturday, Obama began the day by discussing his faith at a convention of the United Church of Christ, where he argued that Democrats can't concede the issue of faith to Republicans. He spoke of his faith journey, talking of "my own spiritual dilemma" where he reconnected with church as a young man in Chicago.

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GRINNELL, Iowa (AP) _ Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards said Saturday that President Bush's negligence of international institutions has hurt America's position as a global leader.

Edwards, speaking to more than 300 people in Grinnell, said he has supported groups like the International Criminal Court since his days as a U.S. senator from North Carolina and would continue to do so as president.

The U.S. is currently not a member of the international court, located in The Hague in The Netherlands, which usually hears cases involving genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Bush administration has opposed the court in the past, saying it threatens U.S. sovereignty.

"What's happened with Bush is America is disengaged from international institutions in general and the ICC is one of those," he said. "And if America wants to be a leader in the world and we want to be respected by other countries and treated in a way we like to be treated, then we're going to have to show that we're willing to engage with the international community."

He also said the U.S. should make primary school education available to 100 million children worldwide and lead the effort in causes such as ending genocide in Darfur, curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS and ensuring access to sanitary water.

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Associated Press writers Mike Glover in Story City, Iowa and Nafeesa Syeed in Grinnel, Iowa contributed to this report.

© 2007 The Associated Press