"We have two courses we can follow: One is to follow in the pathway of Europe, to shrink our military smaller and smaller to pay for our social needs," Romney said outside the city's Veterans Memorial Center and Museum. "The other is to commit to preserve America as the strongest military in the world, second to none, with no comparable power anywhere in the world."
A new Gallup survey has found that veterans prefer Romney over Obama by a double-digit margin, 58 percent to 34 percent. That voting bloc, consisting mostly of older men, makes up 13 percent of the adult population.
Obama won the presidency handily four years ago while losing veterans by 10 points to Sen. John McCain, a former Navy pilot.
Neither Obama nor Romney served in the military. Romney, 65, did not serve in Vietnam. His campaign says he received deferments for his Mormon mission to France and academic studies. He later entered the draft, but his number was not called, a spokesman said. Obama, 50, was a child during the Vietnam conflict.
In San Diego, Romney was joined by McCain, a Vietnam veteran who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war. McCain said that Romney "I believe, is fully qualified to be commander in chief."
Romney noted that he visited Afghanistan and Iraq during his term as Massachusetts governor. But he has limited foreign-policy experience.