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The Monitor Breakfast

Carl Levin calls Romney's defense budget criticism "just a political statement"

The chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee and senior Senator from Michigan said even with reduced funding, US military has "shown our capabilities, shown our adeptness."

By Dave Cook / February 6, 2012

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin speaks at the Monitor Breakfast, Thursday, January 26, 2012 at the St. Regis Hotel.

Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor

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Michigan Senator Carl Levin, a Democrat, is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He was the guest speaker at the Jan. 26 Monitor breakfast in Washington.

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Mitt Romney's charge that President Obama plans to cut Pentagon spending beyond what would allow the US "to remain the hope of the Earth."

"It is just a political statement ... not borne out by the facts. Our military is incredibly strong ... no other military ... comes close. We have shown our capabilities, our adeptness, our ability to move quickly [recently] in Somalia, [and] before that with [Osama] bin Laden."

Possibility of base closings as the Pentagon plans to cut $487 billion in spending over a decade:

"Before I believe there is any realistic possibility of looking at domestic bases for reductions, there have got to be some significant reductions [abroad], particularly in Europe – not in the Middle East, not in the Pacific.... I am not talking about pulling out of Europe or pulling out of NATO."

How top military officers see an Obama administration plan to spend $525 billion on defense in fiscal year 2013, a reduction of $6 billion:

"They very much support this budget request, not because they have to but because they were involved in preparing it. They believe it is a sound budget, a strong budget."

The pretrial agreement that resulted in no jail time for US Marine Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich for his role in the killing of 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians in 2005:

"I was kind of surprised overall by this outcome. I thought there would be more severe outcomes."

A Romney financial adviser's characterization of a Swiss bank account for Ann Romney as "an ordinary bank account."

"The Swiss government has been ... working out an agreement ... with us that their banks are not going to hide American accounts from Uncle Sam.... There is no such thing as an 'ordinary' Swiss bank account.... As far as I know Mrs. Romney was not living in Switzerland."

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