By Jim Forsyth
SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - Mitt Romney bashed President Barack Obama's policies and took an implicit sideswipe at rival Rick Perry on Tuesday in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
"We stand at the threshold of profound economic misery," Romney said at the VFW's 112th annual convention. "Four more years on the same political path could prove disastrous."
Romney spoke to the VFW in the home state of Texas Governor Perry, who has emerged as Romney's strongest rival for the Republican presidential nomination for the 2012 election.
Unlike Perry, who in a Monday speech to the VFW hinted at his possible foreign policy approach but kept direct politics to a minimum, Romney mentioned Obama by name and warned the "peril of his mismanagement is imminent."
Romney touted his career in the private sector and said, "professional politicians got us into this mess, and they don't know how to get us out."
Perry has been a full-time Texas elected official for the past two decades, while Romney had one term as governor of Massachusetts.
He spent most of his time blasting President Obama's "muddled" foreign and military policies, saying Obama has been so "critical of America that Fidel Castro complimented him for his courage."
The remark was in apparent reference to 2009 remarks in which the Cuban president praised Obama's observation that the United States had been slow to respond to climate change issues.
"America is the greatest country in the world and a force for good, and while we are not perfect, I will not apologize for America," Romney said. "We cannot lead the world by hoping our enemies will hate us less."
Romney blasted proposed cuts in military spending he said were put forth "without any consideration being given to the risks of those involved."
"Cuts of this magnitude can only be the product of one of two different beliefs," he said.
"On one hand is the wishful thinking that the world is becoming a safer place, when exactly the opposite is true. Or on the other hand, we have the belief that America should be a lesser power."
More talk and less action, he said, "may be what they think at the Harvard faculty lounge, but it is not what you know from the battlefield."
(Edited by Karen Brooks and Jerry Norton)