Monday, March 26, 2007

Romney reiterates support for war

In the News

Conservative GOP candidate visits Milwaukee

During a Milwaukee campaign appearance Friday, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney defended President Bush's troop buildup in Iraq and warned against any quick U.S. withdrawal.

"I want to see us be successful, if at all possible, militarily" in backing a central government and military in Iraq, said Romney, a Republican candidate for president. He spoke to about 100 people attending a fund-raiser breakfast at the University Club and also addressed reporters.

If the U.S. were to leave now, Iraq could become bogged down in a regional conflict with other Middle East nations and political movements, he said. The U.S. should remain involved fighting in Iraq "as long as there is a reasonable probability" of Iraq's fledgling democratic government succeeding in quelling sectarian violence, Romney said.

He'd like to remove U.S. troops "as soon as we possibly can," he said. Whether the increased presence of U.S. troops helps or not should be clear in several months, Romney said.

He also underscored his opposition to legalized abortion, an issue on which Romney's been accused of switching sides. Romney, 60, acknowledged he had supported abortion rights in the past, but said he's always personally been against abortion. He said he switched his public position to opposing legal abortion during a debate on human cloning while he was governor, from 2003 to early this year.

He said states should have the right to determine their own laws on abortion.

Asked to characterize his political views, Romney said he was a fiscal, social and foreign policy conservative. He's come under criticism for shifting rightward for the GOP presidential primaries.

Romney said he expects to be an appealing candidate, in part because of his diverse background that has included work in private business and heading the organizing committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. In the polls, Romney has generally trailed fellow Republicans Arizona Sen. John McCain and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Friday was Romney's 24th straight day on the road, mostly raising campaign cash. Aides did not release how much was raised in Milwaukee, but the $500 charged each of the 100 attendees for the breakfast would have pulled in at least $50,000. Some also paid more for a "VIP reception" with Romney.

He said he considered himself a proponent of Midwestern values, noting he grew up in Michigan and visited Wisconsin as a boy when his father headed American Motors.