Republican candidate Mitt Romney attracted an overflow crowd in Clinton today, prompting the presidential hopeful to steer into a different restaurant and make comments to a crowd there first before reaching his scheduled location and the people who’d packed into Homer’s Deli.

“This is an extraordinary welcome in Clinton. I will not forget it. I thought when I was coming to a place called Clinton I might have some difficulty — at least you’re not called Obama,” Romney said, getting laughter from the crowd.  “But I have received such a warm welcome here. I am so happy, so pleased to be with you. I am optimistic about the future.”

Romney closed by stressing an economic message. A few minutes earlier, Romney pivoted from a man’s question about Iran’s threat to blockade a major shipping route in the Persian Gulf to send a subtle signal about rival Ron Paul’s statements about Iran.

“It’s unacceptable, in my view, for Iran to have a nuclear weapon,” Romney said. “And for those that say, ‘Well, but the Soviet Union had a nuclear weapon,’ the difference is we had mutually assured destruction and the Soviets were not suicidal.”

Romney warns the Iranians might turn nuclear material over to terrorists intent on striking at Israel and the U.S.  Ron Paul has also advocated closing U.S. military bases around the world and shrinking the size of the Defense Department. It’s part of Paul’s pledge to cut a trillion dollars from the federal budget. Romney aired a different view in Clinton today.

“I know there are some that think we should shrink our military and who think it’s just too big. The world isn’t safer. The world has not become safer in the last few years. It’s a more dangerous world and I want to maintain a strong military that is so superior that no one else in the world wants to test it,” Romney said, getting applause from the crowd.

Romney shook hands and signed autographs for about five minutes before popping into the deli’s kitchen to meet the staff and exit the restaurant. Romney is scheduled to hold a town hall meeting early this evening in North Liberty. Over 300 people gathered in Muscatine just before sunrise today to hear Romney speak at a coffee shop that overlooks the Mississippi River.