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Political Notebook

Mitt Romney promises world’s strongest military

Mitt Romney spoke Monday before a crowd of 5,000 at a ceremony at the Veterans Museum & Memorial Center in San Diego.

Denis Poroy/Reuters

Mitt Romney spoke Monday before a crowd of 5,000 at a ceremony at the Veterans Museum & Memorial Center in San Diego.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney promised Monday to maintain a US military ‘‘with no comparable power anywhere in the world.’’

The probable Republican presidential nominee faced a San Diego crowd estimated at 5,000 in what was billed as a Memorial Day service paying tribute to the nation’s war dead, not a campaign rally. But without naming his general election rival, Romney drew clear contrasts with President Obama on the issue of defense.

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The Democratic president has proposed reducing the size of the military after the end of the US combat role in Iraq and plans to remove troops from Afghanistan at the end of 2014.

‘‘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 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 Senator John McCain, a former Navy pilot. Neither Obama nor Romney served in the military.

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 ‘‘is fully qualified to be commander in chief.’’

Romney visited Afghanistan and Iraq during his term as Massachusetts governor but has limited foreign policy experience.

Still, Romney has been critical of Obama’s plans to reduce the military and of the administration’s policy toward Syria’s handling of the uprising against President Bashar Assad’s government.

Romney said America’s military might is needed ‘‘not so that we just win wars, but so we can prevent wars.’’ ASSOCIATED PRESS

Presidential campaigns mining voters’ online data

Voters who click on President Obama’s campaign website are likely to start seeing display ads promoting his reelection bid on their Facebook pages and other sites they visit. Voters searching Google for information about Mitt Romney may notice a 15- second ad promoting the Republican presidential hopeful the next time they watch a video online.

The 2012 election could be decided by which campaign is best at exploiting voters’ Internet data.

The Romney and Obama campaigns are spending heavily on television ads and other traditional tools to convey their messages. But strategists say the most important breakthrough this year is the campaigns’ use of online data to raise money, share information, and persuade supporters to vote.

The practice, known as ‘‘microtargeting,’’ has been a staple of product marketing. Now it’s facing the greatest test of its political impact in the race for the White House.

Campaigns have worked for years to target subsets of voters, but the growing sophistication of data-mining tools has allowed campaigns to dig deeply into voters’ online habits, giving politicians an unparalleled ability to personalize messages.

Officials in both campaigns declined to discuss their digital strategies, but a review of their most recent Federal Election Commission reports shows both are spending heavily on it. The Romney team spent nearly $1 million on digital consulting in April and Obama at least $300,000. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Romney expected to clinch GOP nomination in Texas

For so long, Mitt Romney was the putative front-runner, the nominal front-runner, the weak front-runner. Then he became the presumptive nominee. But Tuesday night, he will be able to ditch the modifiers once and for all.

Romney is about to do what his father never did and no one in his church ever has. In the Texas primary, he is expected to secure the 1,144 delegates required to clinch the Republican presidential nomination.

The long slog of primaries effectively ended on April 3 with Romney’s victory in Wisconsin. Three weeks after that, the former Massachusetts governor returned to New Hampshire, where he launched his campaign one year ago this week.

When Texas voters push Romney over the finish line in the delegate race, the Republican Party of 2012 will have selected an unlikely standard-bearer: a New Englander in a party rooted in the South; a man of moderate temperament in a party fueled by hot rhetoric; a Mormon in a party guided by evangelical Christians; and a flip-flopper in a party that demands ideological purity.

However reluctantly they may be have settled on Romney, most Republicans are now rallying behind him. WASHINGTON POST

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