WHITE HOUSE - U.S. President Barack Obama says his administration has laid the foundation for a new era of American leadership in the world. The president Wednesday incorporated re-election campaign themes into a commencement speech at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
The president told more than 1,000 academy graduates at a football stadium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, that he believes the world has "a new feeling about America."
"I see it everywhere I go, from London and Prague, to Tokyo and Seoul, to Rio and Jakarta. There is a new confidence in our leadership," he said.
Obama claimed that immense progress has been made in the four years since the graduates entered the academy, which have coincided with his time in the White House.
He said Americans are no longer fighting in Iraq, al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is no longer a threat, and the United States can now see clearly how the war in Afghanistan will end.
"Today, we can say with confidence and pride, the United States is stronger, safer and more respected in the world. Because even as we have done the work of ending these wars, we have laid the foundation for a new era of American leadership."
The president said the end of the two wars will relieve stress on the U.S. military, and that America is using other sources of power - diplomatic, economic and humanitarian.
Some of Obama's statements were a rebuttal to his presumed Republican challenger in the November election, Mitt Romney, who has questioned the president's belief in America's strength.
Obama said the United States is exceptional, and will always be "the one indispensable nation in world affairs."
"I see an American century because no other nation seeks the role that we play in global affairs, and no other nation can play the role that we play in global affairs. That includes shaping the global institutions of the 20th century to meet the challenges of the 21st," he said.
The president also reassured the new Air Force officers that the U.S. will maintain its military superiority in the world, despite Romney's claims that Obama is weakening America's forces.
The Air Force Academy was the first stop on a two-day presidential trip that combines official business with election campaigning.
From Colorado Springs, Obama was headed for a campaign fundraising event in Denver, Colorado, three more in California and another in the central state of Iowa.
The president is reported to have a significant fundraising lead, but Romney is said to be closing the gap quickly.
With less than six months to go before the election, most nationwide public opinion polls show the two candidates nearly even.