RENO - In honoring the nearly 3,000 people who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney declined to attack President Barack Obama or talk politics on Tuesday and instead thanked National Guard and service members for defending the nation.
"There is a time and place for that (partisan politics)," Romney told 4,000 people at the National Guard Association of the U.S. convention. "This day is not that. This is the time to express gratitude for the men and women who serve our country."
By the evening of the 9/11 attacks, 8,500 National Guard members were assisting in New York City.
During a somber, 19-minute address, Romney received warm applause and cheers from the audience.
Romney never spoke loudly and addressed the crowd almost as if he were speaking one-on-one.
"On this 11th anniversary we remember the victims who perished in the tragedy and the men and women who serve in dangerous places around the world," he said.
As part of the 9/11 observance, both Romney and Obama suspended negative political advertising on TV.
Obama, who will campaign in Las Vegas today, observed a moment of silence on the White House lawn and attended a memorial service at the Pentagon.
Romney told his Reno audience he would properly fund the active-duty military and the National Guard in coming years, even after the war in Afghanistan ends.
"We will not use (the end of the war) as an excuse to hollow out our military or for defense cuts," he said. "We cannot cancel programs or cut corners in the quality of equipment we provide men and women in uniform. When our troops come home, they should not struggle to find jobs."
Romney said he would let military commanders in the field decide when to leave Afghanistan.
He also pledged to "keep faith with our veterans" by adequately funding the Veterans Administration and ensuring veterans receive the medical care, mental health and suicide prevention help they need.
National Guard members gathered for a three-day convention in Reno have expressed concern about possible cuts in military spending.
Billions of dollars in automatic budget cuts will come in January unless Congress reverses it.
Contact reporter Ed Vogel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-687-3901.