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On Perry's Turf, Romney Aims Jab At 'Career Politicians'

Deep in the heart of Texas, home to one of his toughest rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney declared today that:

"I have spent most of my life outside of politics, dealing with real problems in the real economy. Career politicians got us into this mess and they simply don't know how to get us out."

Left unsaid: that rival, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, has held elected office for more than 25 years. Romney, though he's the son of a former governor of Michigan and has run for president once before, has only held elected office once — as Massachusetts governor from 2003 to 2007.

Romney was speaking to the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention.

Since entering the GOP race earlier this month, Perry has jumped ahead of former front-runner Romney in recent polls.

At the end of a discussion of proposed cuts in military spending, Romney also took a shot at Harvard, the school where he earned both law and business degrees:

"This is the first time in my memory that massive defense cuts were proposed without any reference to the missions that would be foreclosed and the risks to which our country and its men and women in uniform would be exposed. Cuts of this magnitude can only be the product of one of two mistaken beliefs.

"On the one hand is wishful thinking that the world is becoming a safer place. The opposite is true. Consider simply the Jihadists, a near-nuclear Iran, a turbulent Middle East, an unstable Pakistan, a delusional North Korea, an assertive Russia, and an emerging global power called China. No, the world is not becoming safer.

"And so, on the other hand, that leaves us with the belief that America should become a lesser power. It flows from the conviction that if we are weak, tyrants will choose to be weak as well; that if we could just talk more, engage more, pass more U.N. resolutions, that peace will break out. That may be what they think in that Harvard faculty lounge, but it's not what they know on the battlefield."

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.