GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Sept. 11 reiterated his promise to build a U.S. military “so strong no one would even think about testing it,” even as lawmakers were questioning his vow to buy more F-22 fighter jets.
“America must lead the free world, and the free world must lead the entire world,” Romney told an audience at the National Guard Association Convention in Reno, Nev. “And in our dealings with other nations we must demonstrate confidence in our cause ... and resolve in the applications of our military might.”
Romney signaled he views a strong military as a cornerstone to America’s global leadership.
“We must have a military that is second-to-none,” the Republican nominee said.
Noting the U.S. military has “twice saved Europe,” Romney called the U.S. armed forces the best tool for the “preservation for peace around the world.”
As Romney was getting applause in Reno, even members of his own party acknowledged one of his recent campaign pledges would be tough to pull off.
While campaigning over the weekend, Romney raised eyebrows by saying, if elected, he would buy more F-22 fighters.
The Pentagon in 2009 announced it would stop buying the Lockheed Martin-made jets and cap its fleet at nearly 190. The production line has since been shuttered, and re-launching it would come at a hefty price.
A Romney administration would need the approval of the House and Senate armed services committees — and funding from both chambers’ appropriations committees — before buying more Raptors and re-starting the production line.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told reporters a larger Raptor fleet is not a bad idea, due to the jet’s stealth coating that is designed to evade enemy radar systems. He cited the need to perform a mission inside Iran as a potential task for the F-22 fleet. The super-stealthy F-22s would need to sneak past Tehran’s air defenses to strike the Middle East nation’s nuclear facilities, Graham noted.
But how to pay for more, and to re-launch the production line? “Something would have to give,” Graham said.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., was also asked about Romney’s F-22 pledge. As he disappeared into an elevator, Levin said buying more “has not been my position.”