"Unless we change course, we could get eclipsed by other nations," Romney told a crowd of 350 at the Book Revue. "The implication of some nation being stronger than America is frightening."
Kicking off his 47-city tour promoting his book, "No Apology," Romney sounded like the presidential candidate he was in 2008 and that many in the crowd said they hope he will be again in 2012.
"He'll hopefully be our next president," said Pat Power, 70, of Garden City, who arrived 90 minutes early toting a "Romney for President" campaign placard, button and Christmas card. "I like his values."
Romney, 62, avoided delving into specific policy issues in his seven-minute speech but said his generation is in danger of becoming "America's worst generation" because of growing federal deficits and excessive spending.
The one-term Massachusetts governor sought the GOP presidential nomination in 2008 and is widely seen as preparing for a second national run in 2012.
His book, according to published reviews, largely avoids hot-button social issues that tend to dominate Republican presidential primaries and focuses on broader topics. His hometown newspaper, The Boston Globe, wrote that he is seeking to burnish an image of himself as a sober intellectual who does not hew to populist themes.
Romney's political action committee, Free and Strong America PAC, has $1.05 million in cash, according to the latest federal campaign finance filings.
Nina Zschunke, 64, of Brookfield, Conn., drove to Huntington to see Romney Wednesday night because she wants him to run for president again. "There's a lot of energy around him," she said.