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Associated Press
Mitt Romney

Don't expect to read much about Utah or the Mormon Church in Mitt Romney's newest book, "No Apology: The Case for American Greatness."

Sure, he mentions leading the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and even talks briefly about being a bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

But the focus of the more than 300-page book, due to be published March 2, is what Romney believes should be done to strengthen the United States and its role in the world.

Borrowing a theme from his unsuccessful bid for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, Romney calls for a strong economy, a strong military and a free and strong people.

He goes on to detail an agenda that is summarized in 64 "action steps" in the book's epilogue, a list that includes stopping trillion-dollar deficits, ending illegal immigration, building new nuclear power plants and adding at least 100,000 troops.

"A strong America is our only assurance that prosperity will follow hardship and that our lives and liberty will always be secure," Romney writes in the introduction, according to an advance, uncorrected proof of the book.

Although Romney has yet to declare he's making another run for the White House in 2012, the book is seen as a clear signal he's serious about the race. Romney's last book, "Turnaround: Crisis, Leadership, and the Olympic Games," about what he learned saving the Salt Lake Games from scandal, came out in advance of his last presidential run.

"People who are planning on running for office write a book filled with general policy ideas," said University of Utah political science professor Matthew Burbank. "It's a way to get your name out there."

The key, Burbank said, is to not be too controversial. Romney's book "clearly plays to the right of center. Still, it's designed to appeal to a fairly broad range of people. … The very title of this book is an indication of the kind of argument you're going to get here."

Making the case that America is great is "not a tough position for any politician to take," Burbank said. "It's a fairly tried-and-true standard political tactic, and it's being used in such a way that it's largely unobjectionable."

Romney does attempt to downplay the politics of his proposals. "Despite my affiliation with the Republican Party, I don't think of myself as highly partisan," Romney states. "Neither party can claim 100 percent of the good ideas."

He adds, however, "in light of the challenges faced by this country, I am puzzled by those who align themselves with a political agenda that may be well-intentioned, but weakens the country and hazards our freedom."

Democratic President Barack Obama is taken to task by Romney — including for apologizing for America with "criticisms, put-downs and jabs directed at the nation he was elected to represent and defend" — but the book remains largely positive.

Longtime Romney supporter Kirk Jowers, head of the U.'s Hinckley Institute of Politics, said the book "is an attempt, in most instances, to be a nonpartisan, pragmatic view of how to solve our problems."

Voters are growing tired of the partisanship in Washington that Obama is trying now to address, Jowers said. He said if Romney runs, it will be on "substance and solutions and not on personality and vague slogans."

The Hinckley Institute is hosting Romney's only Utah stop on his book tour, at the Salt Palace on March 13. Romney is arguably the most popular politician in Utah, even though he hasn't lived here since the Olympics.

"His experience in Utah, especially with the Olympics, guides many of his opinions," Jowers said, acknowledging that "No Apology" is about "America's place in the world and, accordingly, is not Utah-centric."

But there are some references that Utahns will appreciate.

Romney retells a familiar story from the Olympics about the appearance in the opening ceremonies of the tattered flag recovered from the ruins of the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack. As the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang the national anthem, a gust of wind filled the flag and lifted it in the hands of the athletes holding it on Rice-Eccles Stadium field.

"It was as if all those who had died for America's liberty had just blown into the flag," Romney quotes U.S. speedskater Derek Parra as remembering.

Romney also pointed out that only U.S. gold-medal winners held their hands over their hearts as the "Star Spangled Banner" was played, something he says he knew to watch for only because he had learned from a Utah elementary school teacher that tradition is distinctly American.

Writing about boosting the nation's productivity, Romney referred to his time as a "lay pastor" in the Mormon Church, serving a group of Boston-area congregations.

"Among these were inner-city and Spanish-, Chinese- and Portuguese-speaking congregations," he said. "I cannot count the number of times I consoled or counseled a person who had lost a job. … Ever since these experiences, unemployment is not merely a statistic to me."

For an audio clip, go to http://us.macmillan.com/noapology

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