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Excerpts of Governor Mitt Romney's Commencement Address At Hillsdale College

May 12, 2007

[Excerpts Of Governor Romney's Remarks (As Prepared For Delivery):]

"The right course for America in a world where evil still exists is not acquiescence and weakness, it is assertiveness and strength.

"Following the end of the Cold War, President Clinton began to dismantle our military. He reduced our forces by 500,000. He retired almost 80 ships. Our spending on national defense dropped from over 6% of GDP to 3.8% today. He called it a 'peace dividend.' We got the dividend, but we didn't get the peace. Charles Krauthammer called our blissful disarmament a 'holiday from history.'

"There are still some who are on holiday. They refuse to see Jihad as a global struggle, as a war. They would continue to reduce our military spending to finance social programs. They would celebrate, chanting that they are going to 'give peace a chance.' But it is strength, not weakness, that gives peace a chance.

"Some of our citizens see the evil in the world, but argue that we should simply isolate ourselves from it. But one characteristic of evil is that it seeks domination over others, all others. Germany was poised to conquer one last European island and Japan had attacked our Pacific fleet – there is no safe place if evil is unrestrained. The weak may hide, but they become weaker still, until at last they are discovered, and easily conquered.

"History teaches us this: the best ally of peace is a strong America. As Ronald Reagan observed: 'Of the four wars during my lifetime, none of them began because America was too strong.'"


"In my view, a strong America is built upon several pillars. First, is a strong military. Teddy Roosevelt said we should 'speak softly and carry a big stick.' Lately, some of the enemies of democracy think that we speak loudly and carry a small stick.

"I would like to see us strengthen our military by adding at least an additional 100,000 troops. I believe that we must also re-equip our troops, particularly after the loss of our armaments in the current conflicts. I want to accelerate our missile defense system. And we need to make sure that the veterans who have been willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom receive the care, the support and the outpouring of appreciation they deserve. This will mean that defense spending must rise, at least for a time, to 4% of our national economic activity, or more.

"We must always be able to defend America on our own. But we know that our strength is amplified when it is combined with the strength of other nations. America is stronger when we have friends standing with us."


"Our military strength depends in large measure on our economic strength. Today, America is the economic superpower. But that is not inevitable."


"How must we move to stay ahead, permanently? Raise the bar in education, sharply increase our investment in research and technology, remove the weighty burdens of unnecessary government taxation and regulation, close the plaintiff lawyer's gold mine, and once and for all, actually do what it takes to become energy independent. It makes no sense to send a billion dollars a day out of our economy, often to nations that use it against us."


"We can project America's strength and its goodness to the world through our military, our diplomacy, and our economy. But we cannot project more strength and more goodness than we actually have.

"And so we must ask ourselves: what is the source of America's strength?

"In the final analysis, a nation's strength flows from its people. The source of America's strength is the American people – hard working, educated, risk taking, God-loving, family-oriented, sacrificing, patriotic, freedom-loving American people. They always have been the source of our strength and they always will be."


"Today, we face a new generation of challenges. Enemies of freedom have attacked, here and on far-flung battlefields. New competition threatens our economic leadership. Our children swim in turbulent waters. In the face of our new generation of challenges, I am confident that your generation and my generation will rise to the occasion. As Abigail Adams wrote: 'Great necessities bring forth great virtues.' The motto of this institution offers the same truth: 'Strength rejoices in the challenge.' You are up to the challenge. You have been raised in good families, taught in an independent-minded institution and schooled in the land of liberty. Together, we will keep America the hope of the world."

Mitt Romney, Excerpts of Governor Mitt Romney's Commencement Address At Hillsdale College Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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