Political Headlines August 5, 2013: RNC to TV Networks: Pull Hillary Clinton Movies, or No Debates

POLITICAL HEADLINES

http://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

RNC to TV Networks: Pull Clinton Movies, or No Debates

Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Republican National Committee has a message for NBC and CNN: If they don’t pull their planned Hillary Clinton miniseries and movie, no RNC partnered 2016 debates for them.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus wrote a letter to the heads of both networks to “express his deep disappointment” in their decision to either air a miniseries in NBC’s case or a movie in CNN’s, writing that the networks are “promoting former Secretary Hillary Clinton ahead of her likely candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016.”….READ MORE

Campaign Headlines October 22, 2012: Barack Obama v. Mitt Romney: Who Won The 3rd Presidential on Foreign Policy? CNN/ORC Poll No Clear Winner

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

There was no clear winner of Monday’s presidential debate, according to a CNN/ORC poll of people who watched.

CNN Poll: Who won the debate?

CNN Poll: Who won the debate?
Source: CNN, 10-22-12

The details behind the CNN/ORC post-debate poll showing Obama over Romney, 48-40.

More of CNN post debate Poll: Can Obama handle job of Cmdr. in Chief? Yes: 63%. Can Romney? Yes: 60%. A draw on that Q.

A CNN/ORC International Poll following Monday’s presidential debate found those who watched the third and final head-to-head matchup of President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney did not identify a clear winner.

Debate viewers split 48% for Obama and 40% for Romney in the poll, a margin within the sampling error of plus or minus 4.5%

A majority – 59% – of those who watched the Boca Raton, Florida debate thought Obama performed stronger than expected, while 15% thought he was weaker than expected and 23% thought he performed on par with their expectations.

Romney outperformed the expectations of 44% of debate watchers, while 26% thought he performed weaker than expected and 26% said he performed on par with expectations….READ MORE

Poll: Obama wins final presidential debate

Source: CBS News, 10-22-12

In a poll of 521 uncommitted voters conducted immediately after the final presidential debate, 53% of these said President Obama was the winner, 23% think Romney won, another 24% feel the debate was a tie.

Campaign Headlines October 22, 2012: Barack Obama v. Mitt Romney: Quotes from Foreign Policy Third Presidential Debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida Excerpts

Full Text Campaign Buzz October 22, 2012: Barack Obama v. Mitt Romney: Foreign Policy Third Presidential Debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida Transcript

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

TRANSCRIPT: Presidential debate on foreign policy at Lynn University

Source: NYT, 10-22-12

PrezDebate.jpg
Oct. 22: Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney listens to President Barack Obama speak during the third presidential debate at Lynn University, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP)

The following is a running transcript of President Obama and Mitt Romney’s remarks from the third presidential debate in Boca Raton, Fla., on Oct. 22, 2012. It will be continually updated throughout the debate. (Transcript courtesy of Federal News Service).

 

BOB SCHIEFFER: Good evening from the campus of Lynn University here in Boca Raton, Florida. This is the fourth and last debate of the 2012 campaign, brought to you by the Commission on Presidential Debates. This one’s on foreign policy. I’m Bob Schieffer of CBS News. The questions are mine, and I have not shared them with the candidates or their aides.

The audience has taken a vow of silence — no applause, no reaction of any kind except right now when we welcome President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. (Sustained cheers, applause.) Gentlemen, your campaigns have agreed to certain rules and they are simple. They have asked me to divide the evening into segments. I’ll pose a question at the beginning of each segment. You will each have two minutes to respond, and then we will have a general discussion until we move to the next segment.

Tonight’s debate, as both of your know, comes on the 50th anniversary of the night that President Kennedy told the world that the Soviet Union had installed nuclear missiles in Cuba — perhaps the closest we’ve ever come to nuclear war. And it is a sobering reminder that every president faces at some point an unexpected threat to our national security from abroad. So let’s begin.

The first segment is the challenge of a changing Middle East and the new face of terrorism. I’m going to put this into two segments, so you’ll have two topic questions within this one segment on that subject. The first question, and it concerns Libya, the controversy over what happened there continues. Four Americans are dead, including an American ambassador. Questions remain. What happened? What caused it? Was it spontaneous?

Was it an intelligence failure? Was it a policy failure? Was there an attempt to mislead people about what really happened?

Governor Romney, you said this was an example of an American policy in the Middle East that is unraveling before our very eyes. I’d like to hear each of you give your thoughts on that.

Governor Romney, you won the toss. You go first.

MITT ROMNEY: Thank you, Bob, and thank you for agreeing to moderate this debate this evening. Thank you to Lynn University for welcoming us here, and Mr. President, it’s good to be with you again. We were together at a humorous event a little earlier, and it’s nice to maybe be funny this time not on purpose. We’ll see what happens. (Laughter.)

This is obviously an area of great concern to the entire world and to America in particular, which is to see a — a complete change in the — the — the structure and the — the environment in the Middle East. With the Arab Spring came a great deal of hope that there would be a change towards more moderation and opportunity for greater participation on the part of women and — and public life and in economic life in the Middle East. But instead we’ve seen in nation after nation a number of disturbing events. Of course, we see in Syria 30,000 civilians having been killed by the military there. We see in — in — in Libya an attack apparently by — well, I think we know now by terrorists of some kind against — against our people there, four people dead. Our hearts and minds go to them. Mali has been taken over, the northern part of Mali, by al-Qaida-type individuals. We have in — in Egypt a Muslim Brotherhood president.

And so what we’re seeing is a — a — a pretty dramatic reversal in the kind of hopes we had for that region. Of course, the greatest threat of all is Iran, four years closer to a nuclear weapon. And — and we’re going to have to recognize that we have to do as the president has done. I congratulate him on — on taking out Osama bin Laden and going after the leadership in al-Qaida. But we can’t kill our way out of this mess. We’re — we’re going to have to put in place a very comprehensive and robust strategy to help the — the world of Islam and — and other parts of the world reject this radical violent extremism which is — it’s really not on the run. It’s certainly not hiding. This is a group that is now involved in 10 or 12 countries, and it presents an enormous threat to our friends, to the world, to America long term, and we must have a comprehensive strategy to help reject this kind of extremism.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, my first job as commander in chief, Bob, is to keep the American people safe, and that’s what we’ve done over the last four years. We ended the war in Iraq, refocused our attention on those who actually killed us on 9/11. And as a consequence, al-Qaida’s core leadership has been decimated.

In addition, we’re now able to transition out of Afghanistan in a responsible way, making sure that Afghans take responsibility for their own security, and that allows us also to rebuild alliances and make friends around the world to combat future threats. Now, with respect to Libya, as I indicated in the last debate, when we received that phone call, I immediately made sure that, number one, we did everything we could to secure those Americans who were still in harm’s way; number two, that we would investigate exactly what happened; and number three, most importantly, that we would go after those who killed Americans, and we would bring them to justice, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

But I think it’s important to step back and think about what happened in Libya. Now, keep in mind that I and Americans took leadership in organizing an international coalition that made sure that we were able to — without putting troops on the ground, at the cost of less than what we spent in two weeks in Iraq — liberate a country that had been under the yoke of dictatorship for 40 years, got rid of a despot who had killed Americans.

And as a consequence, despite this tragedy, you had tens of thousands of Libyans after the events in Benghazi marching and saying, America’s our friend. We stand with them. Now that represents the opportunity we have to take advantage of. And you know, Governor Romney, I’m glad that you agree that we have been successful in going after al-Qaida, but I have to tell you that, you know, your strategy previously has been one that has been all over the map and is not designed to keep Americans safe or to build on the opportunities that exist in the Middle East.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, my strategy’s pretty straightforward, which is to go after the bad guys, to make sure we do our very best to interrupt them, to — to kill them, to take them out of the picture. But my strategy is broader than — than that. That’s — that’s important, of course, but the key that we’re going to have to pursue is a — is a pathway to — to get the Muslim world to be able to reject extremism on its own. We don’t want another Iraq. We don’t want another Afghanistan. That’s not the right course for us. The right course for us is to make sure that we go after the — the people who are leaders of these various anti-American groups and these — these jihadists, but also help the Muslim world.

And how we do that? A group of Arab scholars came together, organized by the U.N., to look at how we can help the — the world reject these — these terrorists. And the answer they came up was this.

One, more economic development. We should key our foreign aid, our direct foreign investment and that of our friends — we should coordinate it to make sure that we — we push back and give them more economic development.

Number two, better education.

Number three, gender equality.

Number four, the rule of law. We have to help these nations create civil societies.

But what’s been happening over the last couple years as we watched this tumult in the Middle East, this rising tide of chaos occur, you see al-Qaida rushing in, you see other jihadist groups rushing in.

And — and they’re throughout many nations of the Middle East.

It’s wonderful that Libya seems to be making some progress, despite this terrible tragedy, but next door, of course, we have Egypt. Libya’s 6 million population, Egypt 80 million population. We want — we want to make sure that we’re seeing progress throughout the Middle East. With Mali now having North Mali taken over by al-Qaida, with Syria having Assad continuing to — or to kill — to murder his own people, this is a region in tumult. And of course Iran on the path to a nuclear weapon. We’ve got real gaps in the region.

MR. SCHIEFFER: We’ll get to that, but let’s give the president a chance.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Governor Romney, I’m glad that you recognize that al-Qaida’s a threat because a few months ago when you were asked, what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia — not al-Qaida, you said Russia. And the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.

But, Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s. You say that you’re not interested in duplicating what happened in Iraq, but just a few weeks ago you said you think we should have more troops in Iraq right now.

And the — the challenge we have — I know you haven’t been in a position to actually execute foreign policy, but every time you’ve offered an opinion, you’ve been wrong. You said we should have gone into Iraq despite the fact that there were no weapons of mass destruction. You said that we should still have troops in Iraq to this day. You indicated that we shouldn’t be passing nuclear treaties with Russia, despite the fact that 71 senators, Democrats and Republicans, voted for it.

You’ve said that first we should not have a timeline in Afghanistan then you said we should. Now you say maybe or it depends, which means not only were you wrong but you were also confusing and sending mixed messages both to our troops and our allies.

So what — what we need to do with respect to the Middle East is strong, steady leadership, not wrong and reckless leadership that is all over the map. And unfortunately, that’s the kind of opinions that you’ve offered throughout this campaign, and it is not a recipe for American strength or keeping America safe over the long term.

MR. SCHIEFFER: I’m going to add a couple of minutes here to give you a chance to respond.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, of course I don’t concur with what the president said about my own record and the things that I’ve said. They don’t happen to be accurate. But — but I can say this: that we’re talking about the Middle East and how to help the Middle East reject the kind of terrorism we’re seeing and the rising tide of tumult and — and confusion. And — and attacking me is not an agenda. Attacking me is not talking about how we’re going to deal with the challenges that exist in the Middle East and take advantage of the opportunity there and stem the tide of this violence. But I’ll respond to a couple of the things you mentioned. First of all, Russia, I indicated, is a geopolitical foe, not —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Number one —

MR. ROMNEY: Excuse me. It’s a geopolitical foe. And I said in the same — in the same paragraph, I said, and Iran is the greatest national security threat we face. Russia does continue to battle us in the U.N. time and time again. I have clear eyes on this. I’m not going to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to Russia or Mr. Putin, and I’m certainly not going to say to him, I’ll give you more flexibility after the election. After the election he’ll get more backbone.

Number two, with regards to Iraq, you and I agreed, I believe, that there should have been a status of forces agreement. Did you — PRESIDENT OBAMA: That’s not true.

MR. ROMNEY: Oh, you didn’t — you didn’t want a status of forces agreement?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: No, but what I — what I would not have done is left 10,000 troops in Iraq that would tie us down. That certainly would not help us in the Middle East.

MR. ROMNEY: I’m sorry, you actually — there was a —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Here — here is — here is —

MR. ROMNEY: There was an effort on the part of the president to have a status of forces agreement. And I concurred in that and said we should have some number of troops that stayed on. That was something I concurred with.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Governor —

MR. ROMNEY: That was your posture. That was my posture as well.

I thought it should have been 5,000 troops.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Governor —

MR. ROMNEY: I thought it should have been more troops. But you — (inaudible).

PRESIDENT OBAMA: This is just a few weeks ago.

MR. ROMNEY: The answer was, we got no troop (through ?) whatsoever.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: This is just a few weeks ago that you indicated that we should still have troops in Iraq.

MR. ROMNEY: No, I didn’t. I’m sorry, that’s —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You made a major speech.

MR. ROMNEY: I indicated — I indicated that you failed to put in place a status of forces agreement at the end of the conflict that —

MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Governor, here’s — here’s one thing — here’s one thing — here’s one thing I’ve learned as commander in chief.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Let him have — (inaudible).

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You’ve got to be clear, both to our allies and our enemies, about where you stand and what you mean. Now, you just gave a speech a few weeks ago in which you said we should still have troops in Iraq. That is not a recipe for making sure that we are taking advantage of the opportunities and meeting the challenges of the Middle East.

Now, it is absolutely true that we cannot just beat these challenges militarily, and so what I’ve done throughout my presidency and will continue to do, is, number one, make sure that these countries are supporting our counterterrorism efforts; number two, make sure that they are standing by our interests in Israel’s security, because it is a true friend and our greatest ally in the region. Number three, we do have to make sure that we’re protecting religious minorities and women because these countries can’t develop unless all the population — not just half of it — is developing. Number four, we do have to develop their economic — their economic capabilities. But number five, the other thing that we have to do is recognize that we can’t continue to do nation building in these regions. Part of American leadership is making sure that we’re doing nation building here at home. That will help us maintain the kind of American leadership that we need.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Let me interject the second topic question in this segment about the Middle East and so on, and that is, you both mentioned — alluded to this, and that is Syria. The war in Syria has now spilled over into Lebanon. We have, what, more than a hundred people that were killed there in a bomb. There were demonstrations there, eight people dead.

Mr. President, it’s been more than a year since you saw — you told Assad he had to go. Since then 30,000 Syrians have died. We’ve had 300,000 refugees. The war goes on. He’s still there. Should we reassess our policy and see if we can find a better way to influence events there, or is that even possible? And it’s you — you go first, sir.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: What we’ve done is organize the international community, saying Assad has to go. We’ve mobilized sanctions against that government. We have made sure that they are isolated. We have provided humanitarian assistance, and we are helping the opposition organize, and we’re particularly interested in making sure that we’re mobilizing the moderate forces inside of Syria. But ultimately, Syrians are going to have to determine their own future. And so everything we’re doing, we’re doing in consultation with our partners in the region, including Israel, which obviously has a huge interest in seeing what happens in Syria, coordinating with Turkey and other countries in the region that have a great interest in this.

Now, this — what we’re seeing taking place in Syria is heartbreaking, and that’s why we are going to do everything we can to make sure that we are helping the opposition. But we also have to recognize that, you know, for us to get more entangled militarily in Syria is a serious step. And we have to do so making absolutely certain that we know who we are helping, that we’re not putting arms in the hands of folks who eventually could turn them against us or our allies in the region.

And I am confident that Assad’s days are numbered. But what we can’t do is to simply suggest that, as Governor Romney at times has suggested, that giving heavy weapons, for example, to the Syrian opposition is a simple proposition that would lead us to be safer over the long term.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, let’s step back and talk about what’s happening in Syria and how important it is. First of all, 30,000 people being killed by their government is a humanitarian disaster.

Secondly, Syria’s an opportunity for us because Syria plays an important role in the Middle East, particularly right now. Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world. It’s their route to the sea. It’s the route for them to arm Hezbollah in Lebanon, which threatens, of course, our ally Israel. And so seeing Syria remove Assad is a very high priority for us. Number two, seeing a — a replacement government being responsible people is critical for us. And finally, we don’t want to have military involvement there. We don’t want to get drawn into a military conflict.

And so the right course for us is working through our partners and with our own resources to identify responsible parties within Syria, organize them, bring them together in a — in a form of — of — if not government, a form of — of council that can take the lead in Syria, and then make sure they have the arms necessary to defend themselves. We do need to make sure that they don’t have arms that get into the — the wrong hands. Those arms could be used to hurt us down the road. We need to make sure as well that we coordinate this effort with our allies and particularly with — with — with Israel. But the Saudis and the Qatari and — and — and the Turks are all very concerned about this. They’re willing to work with us. We need to have a very effective leadership effort in Syria, making sure that the — the — the insurgents there are armed and that the insurgents that become armed are people who will be the responsible parties.

Recognize I believe that Assad must go. I believe he will go. But I believe we want to make sure that we have the relationships of friendship with the people that take his place such that in the years to come we see Syria as a — as a friend and Syria as a responsible party in the Middle East. This — this is a critical opportunity for America.

And what I’m afraid of is that we’ve watched over the past year or so first the president saying, well, we’ll let the U.N. deal with it, and Assad — excuse me, Kofi Annan came in and — and said, we’re going to try — have a cease-fire.

That didn’t work. Then it looked to the Russians and said, see if you can do something. we should. We should be playing the leadership role there, not on the ground with military —

MR. SCHIEFFER: All right.

MR. ROMNEY: — by the leadership role.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: We are — we playing the leadership role. We organized the “Friends of Syria.” We are mobilizing humanitarian support and support for the opposition. And we are making sure that that those we help are those who will be friends of ours in the long term and friends of our allies in the region over the long term.

But you know, going back to Libya, because this is an example of — of how we make choices, you know, when we went into Libya and we were able to immediately stop the massacre there because of the unique circumstances and the coalition that we had helped to organize, we also had to make sure that Moammar Gadhafi didn’t stay there. And to the governor’s credit, you supported us going into Libya and the coalition that we organized. But when it came time to making sure that Gadhafi did not stay in power, that he was captured, Governor, your suggestion was that this was mission creep, that this was mission muddle.

Imagine if we had pulled out at that point. That — Moammar Gadhafi had more American blood on his hands than any individual other than Osama bin Laden. And so we were going to make sure that we finished the job. That’s part of the reason why the Libyans stand with us. But we did so in a careful, thoughtful way, making certain that we knew who we were dealing with, that those forces of moderation on the ground were ones that we could work with. And we have to take the same kind of steady, thoughtful leadership when it comes to Syria. That’s exactly what we’re doing.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor, can I just ask you, would you go beyond what the administration would do? Like, for example, would you put in no-fly zones over Syria?

MR. ROMNEY: I don’t — I don’t want to have our military involved in — in Syria. I don’t think there’s a necessity to put our military in Syria at — at this stage.

I don’t anticipate that in the future.

As I indicated, our objectives are to replace Assad and to have in place a new government which is friendly to us — a responsible government, if possible. And I want to make sure the get armed and they have the arms necessary to defend themselves but also to remove — to remove Assad. But I do not want to see a military involvement on the part of — of our — of our troops.

And this isn’t — this isn’t going to be necessary. We have — with our partners in the region, we have sufficient resources to support those groups. But look, this has been going on for a year. This is a time — this should have been a time for American leadership. We should have taken a leading role — not militarily, but a leading role organizationally, governmentally, to bring together the parties there to find responsible parties.

As you hear from intelligence sources even today, the insurgents are highly disparate. They haven’t come together. They haven’t formed a unity group, a council of some kind. That needs to happen. America can help that happen. And we need to make sure they have the arms they need to carry out the very important role, which is getting rid of Assad.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Could we get a quick response, Mr. President, because I want to ask —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I’ll — I’ll — I’ll be — I’ll be very quick. What you just heard Governor Romney said is he doesn’t have different ideas, and that’s because we’re doing exactly what we should be doing to try to promote a moderate, Syrian leadership and a — an effective transition so that we get Assad out. That’s the kind of leadership we’ve shown. That’s the kind of leadership we’ll continue to show.

MR. SCHIEFFER: May I ask you, you know, during the Egyptian turmoil, there came a point when you said it was time for President Mubarak to go.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Right.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Some in your administration thought perhaps we should have waited a while on that. Do you have any regrets about that?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: No, I don’t because I think that America has to stand with democracy. The notion that we would have tanks run over those young people who were in Tahrir Square, that is not the kind of American leadership that John F. Kennedy talked about 50 years ago.

But what I’ve also said is that now that you have a democratically elected government in Egypt, that they have to make sure that they take responsibility for protecting religious minorities — and we have put significant pressure on them to make sure they’re doing that — to recognize the rights of women, which is critical throughout the region. These countries can’t develop if young women are not given the kind of education that they need.

They have to abide by their treaty with Israel. That is a red line for us, because not only is Israel’s security at stake, but our security is at stake if that unravels.

They have to make sure that they’re cooperating with us when it comes to counterterrorism. And we will help them with respect to developing their own economy, because ultimately, what’s going to make the Egyptian revolution successful for the people of Egypt but also for the world is if those young people who gathered there are seeing opportunities. Their aspirations are similar to young people’s here. They want jobs. They want to be able to make sure their kids are going to a good school. They want to make sure that they have a roof over their heads and that they have a — the prospects of a better life in the future.

And so one of the things that we’ve been doing is — is, for example, organizing entrepreneurship conferences with these Egyptians to — to give them a sense of how they can start rebuilding their economy in a way that’s noncorrupt, that’s transparent.

But what is also important for us to understand is — is that for America to be successful in this region, there are some things that we’re going to have to do here at home as well. You know, one of the challenges over the last decade is we’ve done experiments in nation building in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. And we’ve neglected, for example, developing our own economy, our own energy sectors, our own education system. And it’s very hard for us to project leadership around the world when we’re not doing what we need to do here.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor Romney, I want to hear your response to that, but I would just ask you, would you have stuck with Mubarak?

MR. ROMNEY: No, I believe, as the president indicated and said at the time, that I supported his — his action there. I felt that — I wish we’d have had a better vision of the future. I wish that, looking back at the beginning of the president’s term and even further back than that, that we’d have recognized that there was a growing energy and passion for freedom in that part of the world and that we would have worked more aggressively with our — our friend and with other friends in the region to have them make the transition towards a more representative form of government such that it didn’t explode in the way it did. But once it exploded, I felt the same as the president did, which is these — these freedom voices in the — the streets of Egypt where the people who were speaking of our principles and the — the — President Mubarak had done things which were unimaginable, and the idea of him crushing his people was not something that we could possibly support.

Let me — let me step back and talk about what I think our mission has to be in the Middle East, and even more broadly, because our purpose is to make sure the world is more — is peaceful. We want a peaceful planet. We want people to be able to enjoy their lives and know they’re going to have a bright and prosperous future and not be at war. That’s our purpose. And the mantle of — of leadership for promoting the principles of peace has fallen to America. We didn’t ask for it, but it’s an honor that we have it.

But for us to be able to promote those principles of peace requires us to be strong, and that begins with a strong economy here at home, and unfortunately, the economy is not stronger. When the — when the — the president of Iraq — excuse me — of Iran, Ahmadinejad, says that our debt makes us not a great country, that’s a frightening thing. The former chief of — chief of the Joints Chief of Staff said that — Admiral Mullen — said that our debt is the biggest national security threat we face. This — we have weakened our economy.

We need a strong economy. We need to have as well a strong military. Our military is second to none in the world. We’re blessed with terrific soldiers and extraordinary technology and intelligence. But the idea of a trillion dollars in cuts through sequestration and budget cuts to the military would change that.

We need to have strong allies. Our association and — and connection with our allies is essential to America’s strength. We’re the — the great nation that has allies, 42 allies and friends around the world.

And finally, we have to stand by our principles. And if we’re strong in each of those things, American influence will grow. But unfortunately, in nowhere in the world is America’s influence greater today than it was four years ago.

MR. SCHIEFFER: All right.

MR. ROMNEY: And that’s because we’ve become weaker on each of those four dimensions.

MR. SCHIEFFER: All right — perfect. You’re going to get a chance to respond to that because that’s a perfect segue into our next segment, and that is what is America’s role in the world. And that is the question. What do each of you see as our role in the world?

And I believe, Governor Romney, it’s your turn to go first.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, I — I absolutely believe that America has a — a responsibility and the privilege of helping defend freedom and promote the principles that — that make the world more peaceful. And those principles include human rights, human dignity, free enterprise, freedom of expression, elections, because when there are elections, people tend to vote for peace. They don’t vote for war. So we want to — to promote those principles around the world. We recognize that there are places of conflict in the world. We want to end those conflicts to the extent humanly possible. But in order to be able to fulfill our role in the world, America must be strong. America must lead.

And for that to happen, we have to strengthen our economy here at home. You can’t have 23 million people struggling to get a job. You — you can’t have an economy that over the last three years keeps slowing down its growth rate. You can’t have kids coming out of college, half of whom can’t find a job today, or a job that’s commensurate with their college degree. We have to get our economy going.

And our military — we’ve got to strengthen our military long- term. We don’t know what the world is going to throw at us down the road. We — we make decisions today in a military that — that will confront challenges we can’t imagine.

In the 2000 debates there was no mention of terrorism, for instance. And a year later, 9/11 happened. So we have to make decisions based upon uncertainty. And that means a strong military. I will not cut our military budget.

We have to also stand by our allies. I think the tension that existed between Israel and the United States was very unfortunate. I think also that pulling our missile defense program out of Poland in the way we was also unfortunate in terms of, if you will, disrupting the relationship in some ways that existed between us.

And then of course, with regards to standing for our principles, when — when the students took to the streets in Tehran and the people there protested, the Green Revolution occurred. For the president to be silent I thought was an enormous mistake. We have to stand for our principles, stand for our allies, stand for a strong military and stand for a stronger economy.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: America remains the one indispensable nation. And the world needs a strong America. And it is stronger now then when I came into office. Because we ended the war in Iraq, we were able to refocus our attention on not only the terrorist threat but also beginning a transition process in Afghanistan. It also allowed us to refocus on alliances and relationships that had been neglected for a decade.

And, Governor Romney, our alliances have never been stronger. In Asia, in Europe, in Africa, with Israel where we have unprecedented military and intelligence cooperation, including dealing with the Iranian threat. But what we also have been able to do is position ourselves so we can start rebuilding America.

And that’s what my plan does: Making sure that we’re bringing manufacturing back to our shores so that we’re creating jobs here, as we’ve done with the auto industry, not rewarding companies that are shipping jobs overseas; making sure that we’ve got the best education system in the world, including retraining our workers for the jobs of tomorrow; doing everything we can to control our energy.

We’ve cut our oil imports to the lowest level in two decades because we’ve developed oil and natural gas, but we also have to develop clean energy technologies that will allow us to cut our exports in half by 2020. That’s the kind of leadership that we need to show.

And we’ve got to make sure that we reduce our deficit. Unfortunately, Governor Romney’s plan doesn’t do it. We’ve got to do it in a responsible way, by cutting out spending we don’t need but also asking the wealthiest to pay a little bit more. That way we can invest in the research and technology that’s always kept us at the cutting edge.

Now Governor Romney has taken a different approach throughout this campaign. You know, both at home and abroad, he has proposed wrong and reckless policies. He’s praised George Bush as good economic steward and Dick Cheney as somebody who shows great wisdom and judgment. And taking us back to those kinds of strategies that got us into this mess are not the way that we are going to maintain leadership in the 21st century.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor Romney, wrong and reckless policies?

MR. ROMNEY: (Chuckles.) I’ve got a policy for the future and agenda for the future. And when it comes to our economy here at home, I know what it takes to create 12 million new jobs and rising take- home pay. And what we’ve seen over the last four years is something I don’t want to see over the next four years. The — the president said by now we’d be at 5.4 percent unemployment. We’re 9 million jobs short of that. I will get America working again and see rising take- home pay again. And I’ll do it with five simple steps.

Number one, were going to have North American energy independence. We’re going to do it by taking full advantage of oil, coal, gas, nuclear and our renewables.

Number two, we’re going to increase our trade. Trade grows about 12 percent per year. It doubles about every — every five or — or so years. We can do better than that, particularly in Latin America. The opportunities for us in Latin America we have just not taken advantage of fully.

As a matter of fact, Latin America’s economy is almost as big as the economy of China. We’re all focused on China. Latin America is a huge opportunity for us: time zone, language opportunities.

Number three, we’re going to have to have training programs that work for our workers and schools that finally put the parents and the teachers and the kids first, and the teachers union’s going to have to go behind.

And then we’re going to have to get to a balanced budget. We can’t expect entrepreneurs and businesses large and small to take their life savings or their companies’ money and invest in America if they think we’re headed to the road to Greece. And that’s where we’re going right now unless we finally get off this spending and borrowing binge. And I’ll get us on track to a balanced budget.

And finally, number five, we’ve got to champion small business. Small business is where — where jobs come from. Two-thirds of our jobs come from small businesses. New business formation is down to the lowest level in 30 years under this administration. I want to bring it back and get back good jobs and rising take-home pay.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, let’s talk about what we need to compete. First of all, Governor Romney talks about small businesses, but Governor, when you were in Massachusetts, small businesses’ development ranked about 48, I think, out of 50 states, in Massachusetts, because the policies that you’re promoting actually don’t help small businesses. And the way you define small businesses include folks at the very top. They include you and me. That’s not the kind of small business promotion we need.

But — but let’s take an example that we know is going to make a difference 21st century, and that’s our education policy. We didn’t have a lot of chance to talk about this in the last debate. You know, under my leadership, what we’ve done is reformed education, working with governors, 46 states. We’ve seen progress and gains in schools that were having a terrible time, and they’re starting to finally make progress. And what I now want to do is to hire more teachers, especially in math and science, because we know that we’ve fallen behind when it comes to math and science. And those teachers can make a difference.

Now, Governor Romney, when you were asked by teachers whether or not this would help the economy grow, you said, this isn’t going to help the economy grow. When you were asked about reduced class sizes, you said class sizes don’t make a difference. But I tell you, if you talk to teachers, they will tell you it does make a difference.

And if we’ve got math teachers who are able to provide the kind of support that they need for our kids, that’s what’s going to determine whether or not the new businesses are created here. Companies are going to locate here depending on whether we’ve got the most highly skilled workforce. And the kinds of budget proposals that you’ve put forward — when we don’t ask either you or me to pay a dime more in terms of reducing the deficit, but instead we slash support for education, that’s undermining our long-term competitiveness. That is not good for America’s position in the world. And the world notices.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Let me get back to foreign policy.

MR. ROMNEY: Well —

MR. SCHIEFFER: Can I just get back —

MR. ROMNEY: Well, I need to speak a moment if you’ll let me, Bob —

MR. SCHIEFFER: OK.

MR. ROMNEY: — just about education, because I’m — I’m so proud of the state that I had the chance to be governor of. We have, every two years, tests that look at how well our kids are doing. Fourth graders and eighth graders are tested in English and math. While I was governor, I was proud that our fourth graders came out number one of all 50 states in English and then also in math, and our eighth graders number one in English and also in math — first time one state had been number one in all four measures. How did we do that?

Well, Republicans and Democrats came together on a bipartisan basis to put in place education that focused on having great teachers in the classroom. And that was —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Ten years earlier —

MR. ROMNEY: That was — that was what allowed us to become the number one state in the nation. And this is — and we were —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: But that was 10 years before you took office.

MR. ROMNEY: And we — absolutely.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Gentlemen —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: And then you cut education spending when you came into office.

MR. ROMNEY: The first — the first — and we kept our schools number one in the nation. They’re still number one today. And the principles that we’ve put in place — we also gave kids not just a graduation exam that — that determined whether they were up to the skills needed to — to be able to compete, but also, if they graduated in the top quarter of their class, they got a four-year tuition-free ride at any Massachusetts public institution of higher learning.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: That happened — that happened before you came into office.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor —

MR. ROMNEY: That was actually mine, actually, Mr. President.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Let me — I want to try to shift it, because we have heard some of this in the other debates. Governor, you say you want a bigger military. You want a bigger Navy. You don’t want to cut defense spending. What I want to ask you, we’re talking about financial problems in this country. Where are you going to get the money?

MR. ROMNEY: Well, let’s — let’s come back and talk about the military, but all the way — all the way through. First of all, I’m going through, from the very beginning, we’re going to cut about 5 percent of the discretionary budget excluding military. That’s number one. All right?

MR. SCHIEFFER: But can you do this without driving us deeper into debt?

MR. ROMNEY: The good news is, I’ll be happy to have you take a look. Come on our website, you’ll look at how we get to a balanced budget within eight to 10 years. We do it by getting — by reducing spending in a whole series of programs. By the way, number one I get rid of is “Obamacare.” There are a number of things that sound good but, frankly, we just can’t afford them. And that one doesn’t sound good, and it’s not affordable, so I get rid of that one from day one; to the extent humanly possible, we get that out. We take program after program that we don’t absolutely have to have and we get rid of them.

Number two, we take some programs that we are going to keep, like Medicaid, which is a program for the poor. We’re — take that health care program for the poor, and we give it to the states to run because states run these programs more efficiently. As a governor, I thought, please, give me this program.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Can he do that?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (Inaudible.)

MR. ROMNEY: I can run this more efficiently than the federal government. And states, by the way, are proving it. States like Arizona, Rhode Island have taken these Medicaid dollars, have shown they can run these programs more cost effectively.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Bob —

MR. ROMNEY: So I want to do those two things that gets us — it gets us to a balanced budget with eight in — eight to 10 years. PRESIDENT OBAMA: Bob —

MR. ROMNEY: But the military —

MR. SCHIEFFER: Let —

MR. ROMNEY: Let’s go back to the military, though.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Well, that’s what I’m trying to find out about.

MR. ROMNEY: Let’s talk about the military.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You should have answered the first question.

Look, Governor Romney’s called for $5 trillion of tax cuts that he says he’s going to pay for by closing deductions.

Now, the math doesn’t work but he continues to claim that he’s going to do it. He then wants to spend another $2 trillion on military spending that our military’s not asking for.

Now, keep in mind that our military spending has gone up every single year that I’ve been in office. We spend more on our military than the next 10 countries combined — China, Russia, France, the United — United Kingdom, you name it, next 10. And what I did was work with our Joint Chiefs of Staff to think about what are we going to need in the future to make sure that we are safe? And that’s the budget that we’ve put forward.

But what you can’t do is spend $2 trillion in additional military spending that the military is not asking for, $5 trillion on tax cuts, you say that you’re going to pay for it by closing loopholes and deductions without naming what those loopholes and deductions are, and then somehow you’re also going to deal with the deficit that we’ve already got. The math simply doesn’t work.

But when it comes to our military, what we have to think about is not, you know, just budgets, we got to think about capabilities. We need to be thinking about cybersecurity. We need to be thinking about space. That’s exactly what our budget does, but it’s driven by strategy. It’s not driven by politics. It’s not driven by members of Congress and what they would like to see. It’s driven by what are we going to need to keep the American people safe?

That’s exactly what our budget does. And it also then allows us to reduce our deficit, which is a significant national security concern because we’ve got to make sure that our economy is strong at home so that we can project military power overseas.

MR. ROMNEY: Bob, I’m pleased that I’ve balanced budgets. I was in the world of business for 25 years.

If you didn’t balance your budget, you went out of business. I went to the Olympics that was out of balance, and we got it on balance and made a success there. I had the chance to be governor of a state. Four years in a row, Democrats and Republicans came together to balance the budget. We cut taxes 19 times, balanced our budget. The president hasn’t balanced a budget yet. I expect to have the opportunity to do so myself.

MR. SCHIEFFER: All right.

MR. ROMNEY: I — I’m going to be able to balance the budget. Let’s talk about military spending, and that’s this. Our Navy —

MR. SCHIEFFER: About 30 seconds.

MR. ROMNEY: Our Navy is older — excuse me — our Navy is smaller now than any time since 1917. The Navy said they needed 313 ships to carry out their mission. We’re now down to 285. We’re headed down to the — to the low 200s if we go through with sequestration. That’s unacceptable to me. I want to make sure that we have the ships that are required by our Navy.

Our Air Force is older and smaller than any time since it was founded in 1947. We’ve changed for the first time since FDR. We — since FDR we had the — we’ve always had the strategy of saying we could fight in two conflicts at once. Now we’re changing to one conflict.

Look, this, in my view, is the highest responsibility of the president of the United States, which is to maintain the safety of the American people. And I will not cut our military budget by a trillion dollars, which is the combination of the budget cuts that the president has as well as the sequestration cuts. That, in my view, is — is — is making our future less certain and less secure. I won’t do it.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Bob, I just need to comment on this. First of all, the sequester is not something that I proposed. It’s something that Congress has proposed. It will not happen. The budget that we’re talking about is not reducing our military spending. It’s maintaining it.

But I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works. You — you mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets — (laughter) — because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.

And so the question is not a game of Battleship where we’re counting ships. It’s — it’s what are our capabilities.

And so when I sit down with the secretary of the Navy and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, we determine how are we going to be best able to meet all of our defense needs in a way that also keeps faith with our troops, that also makes sure that our veterans have the kind of support that they need when they come home. And that is not reflected in the kind of budget that you’re putting forward, because it just don’t work.

MR. SCHIEFFER: All right.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: And you know, we’ve visited the website quite a bit. And it still doesn’t work.

MR. SCHIEFFER: A lot to cover. I’d like — (murmurs) — I’d like to move to the next segment: red lines, Israel and Iran. Would either of you — and you’ll have two minutes, and President Obama, you have the first go at this one. Would either of you be willing to declare that an attack on Israel is an attack on the United States, which of course is the same promise that we give to our close allies like Japan? And if you made such a declaration, would not that deter Iran? It’s certainly deterred the Soviet Union for a long, long time when we made that — when we made that promise to our allies.

Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, Israel is a true friend. It is our greatest ally in the region. And if Israel is attacked, America will stand with Israel. I’ve made that clear throughout my presidency. And —

MR. SCHIEFFER: So you’re saying we’ve already made that declaration?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I will stand with Israel if they are attacked. And this is the reason why, working with Israel, we have created the strongest military and intelligence cooperation between our two countries in history. In fact, this week we’ll be carrying out the largest military exercise with Israel in history, this very week.

But to the issue of Iran, as long as I’m president of the United States, Iran will not get a nuclear weapon.

I’ve made that clear when I came into office. We then organized the strongest coalition and the strongest sanctions against Iran in history, and it is crippling their economy. Their currency has dropped 80 percent. Their oil production has plunged to the lowest level since they were fighting a war with Iraq 20 years ago. So their economy is in a shambles.

And the reason we did this is because a nuclear Iran is a threat to our national security and it’s threat to Israel’s national security. We cannot afford to have a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region of the world. Iran’s a state sponsor of terrorism, and for them to be able to provide nuclear technology to nonstate actors — that’s unacceptable. And they have said that they want to see Israel wiped off the map.

So the work that we’ve done with respect to sanctions now offers Iran a choice. They can take the diplomatic route and end their nuclear program or they will have to face a united world and a United States president, me, who said we’re not going to take any options off the table.

The disagreement I have with Governor Romney is that during the course of this campaign he’s often talked as if we should take premature military action. I think that would be a mistake because when I’ve sent young men and women into harm’s way, I always understand that that is the last rest, not the first resort.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Two minutes.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, first of all, I — I want to underscore the — the same point the president made, which is that if I’m president of the United States, when I’m president of the United States, we will stand with Israel. And — and if Israel is attacked, we have their back, not just diplomatically, not just culturally, but militarily. That’s number one.

Number two, with regards to — to Iran and the threat of Iran, there’s no question but that a nuclear Iran, a nuclear-capable Iran, is unacceptable to America.

It presents a threat not only to our friends, but ultimately a threat to us to have Iran have nuclear material, nuclear weapons that could be used against us or used to be threatening to us.

It’s also essential for us to understand what our mission is in Iran, and that is to dissuade Iran from having a nuclear weapon through peaceful and diplomatic means. And crippling sanctions are something I’d called for five years ago when I was in Israel speaking at the Herzliya Conference. I laid out seven steps.

Crippling sanctions were number one. And they do work. You’re seeing it right now in the economy. It’s absolutely the right thing to do to have crippling sanctions. I’d have put them in place earlier, but it’s good that we have them.

Number two, something I would add today is I would tighten those sanctions. I would say that ships that carry Iranian oil can’t come into our ports. I imagine the EU would agree with us as well. Not only ships couldn’t, I’d say companies that are moving their oil can’t, people who are trading in their oil can’t. I would tighten those sanctions further.

Secondly, I’d take on diplomatic isolation efforts. I’d make sure that Ahmadinejad is indicted under the Genocide Convention. His words amount to genocide incitation. I would indict him for it. I would also make sure that their diplomats are treated like the pariah they are around the world, the same way we treated the apartheid diplomats of South Africa.

We need to increase pressure time and time again on Iran because anything other than a — a — a solution to this which says — which stops this nuclear folly of theirs is unacceptable to America. And of course, a military action is the last resort. It is something one would only, only consider if all of the other avenues had been — had been tried to their full extent.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Let me ask both of you, there — as you know, there are reports that Iran and the United States, as part of an international group, have agreed in principle to talks about Iran’s nuclear program. What is the deal if there are such talks? What is the deal that you would accept? Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, those were reports in the newspaper. They are not true. But our goal is to get Iran to recognize it needs to give up its nuclear program and abide by the U.N. resolutions that have been in place, because they have the opportunity to re-enter the community of nations, and we would welcome that. There are — there are people in Iran who have the same aspirations as people all around the world, for a better life. And we hope that their leadership takes the right decision. But the deal we’ll accept is, they end their nuclear program. It’s very straightforward.

And you know, I’m glad that Governor Romney agrees with the steps that we’re taking. You know, there have been times, Governor, frankly, during the course of this campaign, where it sounded like you thought that you’d do the some things we did, but you’d say them louder and somehow that that would make a difference, and it turns out that the work involved in setting up these crippling sanctions is painstaking; it’s meticulous. We started from the day we got into office.

And the reason it was so important — and this is a testament to how we’ve restored American credibility and strength around the world — is we had to make sure that all the countries participated, even countries like Russia and China, because if it’s just us that are imposing sanctions, we’ve had sanctions in place for a long time. It’s because we got everybody to agree that Iran is seeing so much pressure. And we’ve got to maintain that pressure.

There is a deal to be had, and that is that they abide by the rules that have already been established; they convince the international community they are not pursuing a nuclear program; there are inspections that are very intrusive. But over time, what they can do is regain credibility. In the meantime, though, we’re not going to let up the pressure until we have clear evidence that that takes place.

And one last thing. I’m — just to make this point: The clock is ticking.

We’re not going to allow Iran to perpetually engage in negotiations that lead nowhere. And I’ve been very clear to them, you know, because of the intelligence coordination that we do with a range of countries, including Israel, we have a sense of when they would get breakout capacity, which means that we would not be able to intervene in time to stop their nuclear program, and that clock is ticking.

MR. SCHIEFFER: All right.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: And we’re going to make sure that if they do not meet the demands of the international community, then we are going to take all options necessary to make sure they don’t have a nuclear weapon.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor.

MR. ROMNEY: I think from the very beginning, one of the challenges we’ve had with Iran is that they have looked at this administration and — and felt that the administration was not as strong as it needed to be. I think they saw weakness where they had expected to find American strength.

And I say that because from the very beginning, the president, in his campaign some four years ago, said he’d meet with all the world’s worst actors in his first year. He’d — he’d sit down with Chavez and — and Kim Jong-Il, with Castro and with — with President Ahmadinejad of — of Iran. And — and I think they looked and thought, well, that’s an unusual honor to receive from the president of the United States.

And then the president began what I’ve called an apology tour of going to — to various nations in the Middle East and — and criticizing America. I think they looked at that and saw weakness. Then when there were dissidents in the streets of Tehran, the Green Revolution, holding signs saying, is America with us, the president was silent. I think they noticed that as well. And I think that when the president said he was going to create daylight between ourselves and Israel that — that they noticed that as well.

All of these things suggested, I think, to the Iranian mullahs that, hey, you know, we can keep on pushing along here; we can keep talks going on, but we’re just going to keep on spinning centrifuges. Now there are some 10,000 centrifuges spinning uranium, preparing to — to create a — a — a — – a nuclear threat to the United States and to the world.

That’s unacceptable for us, and — and — and it’s essential for a president to show strength from the very beginning to make it very clear what is acceptable and not acceptable. And an Iranian nuclear program is not acceptable to us. They must not develop nuclear capability. And the way to make sure they understand that is by having from the very beginning the tightest sanctions possible. They need to be tightened. Our diplomatic isolation needs to be tougher. We need to indict Ahmadinejad. We need to put the pressure on them as hard as we possibly can, because if we do that, we won’t have to take the military action.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Bob, let me just respond. Nothing Governor Romney just said is true, starting with this notion of me apologizing. This has been probably the biggest whopper that’s been told during the course of this campaign, and every fact-checker and every reporter’s looked at it. The governor has said this is not true.

And when it comes to tightening sanctions, look, as I said before, we’ve put in the toughest, most crippling sanctions ever. And the fact is while we were coordinating an international coalition to make sure these sanctions were effective, you were still invested in a Chinese state oil company that was doing business with the Iranian oil sector. So I’ll let the American people decide, judge who’s going to be more effective and more credible when it comes to imposing crippling sanctions.

And with respect to our attitude about the Iranian revolution, I was very clear about the murderous activities that had taken place, and that was contrary to international law and everything that civilized people stand for. And — and so the strength that we have shown in Iran is shown by the fact that we’ve been able to mobilize the world. When I came into office, the world was divided. Iran was resurgent. Iran is at its weakest point economically, strategically, militarily than since — than in many years.

MR. ROMNEY: We’re four years closer to a nuclear Iran. We’re four years closer to a nuclear Iran. And — and we should not have wasted these four years to the extent they’ve — they continue to be able to spin these centrifuges and get that much closer. That’s number one.

Number two, Mr. President, the reason I call it an apology tour is because you went to the Middle East and you flew to — to Egypt and to Saudi Arabia and to — to Turkey and Iraq. And — and by way, you skipped Israel, our closest friend in the region, but you went to the other nations. And by the way, they noticed that you skipped Israel. And then in those nations and on Arabic TV you said that America had been dismissive and derisive. You said that on occasion America had dictated to other nations. Mr. President, America has not dictated to other nations. We have freed other nations from dictators.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Bob, let me — let me respond. You know, if we’re going to talk about trips that we’ve taken, you know, when I was a candidate for office, first trip I took was to visit our troops.

And when I went to Israel as a candidate, I didn’t take donors, I didn’t attend fundraisers, I went to Yad Vashem, the — the Holocaust museum there, to remind myself the — the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be unbreakable.

And then I went down to the border towns of Sderot, which had experienced missiles raining down from Hamas. And I saw families there who showed me where missiles had come down near their children’s bedrooms, and I was reminded of — of what that would mean if those were my kids, which is why, as president, we funded an Iron Dome program to stop those missiles.

So that’s how I’ve used my travels when I travel to Israel and when I travel to the region.

And the central question at this point is going to be, who’s going to be credible to all parties involved?

And they can look at my track record — whether it’s Iran sanctions, whether it’s dealing with counterterrorism, whether it’s supporting democracy, whether it’s supporting women’s rights, whether it’s supporting religious minorities — and they can say that the president of the United States and the United States of America has stood on the right side of history. And — and that kind of credibility is precisely why we’ve been able to show leadership on a wide range of issues facing the world right now.

MR. SCHIEFFER: What if — what if the prime minister of Israel called you on the phone and said: Our bombers are on the way. We’re going to bomb Iran. What do you say?

MR. ROMNEY: Bob, let’s not go into hypotheticals of that nature. Our relationship with Israel, my relationship with the prime minister of Israel is such that we would not get a call saying our bombers are on the way or their fighters are on the way. This is the kind of thing that would have been discussed and thoroughly evaluated well before that kind of action.

MR. SCHIEFFER: So you’re saying just what —

MR. ROMNEY: I’m — that’s — that’s —

MR. SCHIEFFER: OK. But let’s see what — (inaudible) —

MR. ROMNEY: Yes, but let me — let me — let me come back — let’s come back — let’s come back and go back to what the president was speaking about, which is what’s happening in the world and — and — and the president’s statement that things are going so well.

Look, I — I look at what’s happening around the world and I see Iran four years closer to a bomb. I see the Middle East with a rising tide of violence, chaos, tumult. I see jihadists continuing to spread. Whether they’re rising or just about the same level hard to — hard to precisely measure, but it’s clear they’re there. They’re very, very strong.

I see Syria with 30,000 civilians dead, Assad still in power. I see our trade deficit with China larger than it’s — growing larger every year as a matter of fact. I look around the world and I don’t feel that — you see North Korea continuing to export their nuclear technology.

Russia’s said they’re not going to follow Nunn-Lugar anymore; they’re (back ?) away from their nuclear proliferation treaty that we had with them. I look around the world, I don’t see our influence growing around the world. I see our influence receding, in part because of the failure of the president to deal with our economic challenges at home, in part because of our withdrawal from our commitment to our military and the way I think it ought to be, in part because of the — the — the turmoil with Israel. I mean, the president received a letter from 38 Democrat senators saying the tensions with Israel were a real problem.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: No.

MR. ROMNEY: They asked him, please repair the tension — Democrat senators — please repair the damage in his — in his own party.

MR. SCHIEFFER (?): All right.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Governor, the problem is, is that on a whole range of issues, whether it’s the Middle East, whether it’s Afghanistan, whether it’s Iraq, whether it’s now Iran, you’ve been all over the map. I mean, I’m pleased that you now are endorsing our policy of applying diplomatic pressure and potentially having bilateral discussions with the Iranians to end their nuclear program. But just a few years ago you said that’s something you’d never do, in the same way that you initially opposed a time table in Afghanistan, now you’re for it, although it depends; in the same way that you say you would have ended the war in Iraq, but recently gave a speech saying that we should have 20,000 more folks in there; the same way that you said that it was mission creep to go after Gadhafi.

When it comes to going after Osama bin Laden, you said, well, any president would make that call. But when you were a candidate in 2008 — as I was — and I said, if I got bin Laden in our sights, I would take that shot, you said we shouldn’t move heaven and earth to get one man, and you said we should ask Pakistan for permission.

And if we had asked Pakistan for permission, we would not have gotten him. And it was worth moving heaven and earth to get him.

You know, after we killed bin Laden, I was at Ground Zero for a memorial and talked to a — a — a young woman who was 4 years old when 9/11 happened.

And the last conversation she had with her father was him calling from the twin towers, saying, Peyton (sp), I love you, and I will always watch over you. And for the next decade she was haunted by that conversation. And she said to me, you know, by finally getting bin Laden, that brought some closure to me.

And when we do things like that, when we bring those who have harmed us to justice, that sends a message to the world, and it tells Peyton (sp) that we did not forget her father.

MR. SCHIEFFER: All right.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: And — and I make that point because that’s the kind of clarity of leadership — and those decisions are not always popular. Those decisions generally are not poll-tested. And even some in my own party, including my current vice president, had the same critique as you did. But what the American people understand is, is that I look at what we need to get done to keep the American people safe and to move our interests forward, and I make those decisions.

MR. SCHIEFFER: All right. Let’s go — and that leads us — this takes us right to the next segment, Governor, America’s longest war, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

MR. ROMNEY: Bob —

MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor, you get to go first.

MR. ROMNEY: You can’t — you can’t — well, OK, but you can’t have the president just lay out a whole series of items without giving me a chance to respond.

MR. SCHIEFFER: With respect, sir, you had laid out quite a program there.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, that’s probably true. (Chuckles.)

MR. SCHIEFFER: And we’ll — we’ll give you —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: We’ll agree (with that ?).

MR. SCHIEFFER: We’ll catch you up.

The United States is scheduled to turn over responsibility for security in Afghanistan to the Afghans.

At that point we will withdraw our combat troops, leave a smaller force of Americans, if I understand our policy, in Afghanistan for training purposes. It seems to me the key question here is what do you do if the deadline arrives and it is obvious the Afghans are unable to handle their security? Do we still leave? And I believe Governor Romney, it — you go first.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, we’re going to be finished by 2014. And when I’m president, we’ll make sure we bring our troops out by the end of 2014. The commanders and the generals there are on track to do so. We’ve seen progress over the past several years. The surge has been successful, and the training program is proceeding at pace. There are now a large number of Afghan security forces, 350,000, that are — are ready to step in to provide security. And — and we’re going to be able to make that transition by the end of — of 2014. So our troops’ll come home at that point.

I — I can tell you, at the same time, that — that we will make sure that we — we look at what’s happening in Pakistan and recognize that what’s happening in Pakistan is going to have a major impact on the success in Afghanistan. And — and I say that because I know a lot of people just feel like we should just brush our hands and walk away. And I don’t mean you, Mr. President, but some people in the — in our nation feel that Pakistan (doesn’t ?) — being nice to us and that we should just walk away from them.

But Pakistan is important to the region, to the world and to us, because Pakistan has 100 nuclear warheads, and they’re rushing to build a lot more. They’ll have more than Great Britain sometime in the — in the relatively near future. They also have the Haqqani network and — and the Taliban existent within their country. And so a — a Pakistan that falls apart, becomes a failed state would be of extraordinary danger to Afghanistan and us. And so we’re going to have to remain helpful in encouraging Pakistan to move towards a — a more stable government and — and rebuild a relationship with us. And that means that — that — that our aid that we provide to Pakistan is going to have to be conditioned upon certain benchmarks being met.

So for me, I look at this as both a — a — a need to help move Pakistan in the right direction and also to get Afghanistan to be ready. And they will be ready by the end of 2014.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, when I came into office, we were still bogged down in Iraq, and Afghanistan had been drifting for a decade. We ended the war in Iraq, refocused our attention on Afghanistan. And we did deliver a surge of troops. That was facilitated in part because we had ended the war in Iraq.

And we are now in a position where we have met many of the objectives that got us there in the first place. Part of what had happened is we’d forgotten why we’d gone. We went because there were people who were responsible for 3,000 American deaths. And so we decimated al-Qaida’s core leadership in the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan. We then started to build up Afghan forces. And we’re now in a position where we can transition out, because there’s no reason why Americans should die when Afghans are perfectly capable of defending their own country.

Now, that transition’s — has to take place in a responsible fashion. We’ve been there a long time, and we’ve got to make sure that we and our coalition partners are pulling out responsibly and giving Afghans the capabilities that they need.

But what I think the American people recognize is after a decade of war, it’s time to do some nation-building here at home. And what we can now do is free up some resources to, for example, put Americans back to work, especially our veterans, rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our schools, making sure that, you know, our veterans are getting the care that they need when it comes to post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, making sure that the certifications that they need for good jobs of the future are in place.

You know, I was having lunch with some — a veteran in Minnesota who had been a medic dealing with the most extreme circumstances. When he came home and he wanted to become a nurse, he had to start from scratch. And what we’ve said is, let’s change those certifications.

The first lady has done great work with an organization called Joining Forces putting our veterans back to work. And as a consequence, veterans’ unemployment is actually now lower than general population, it was higher when I came into office. So those are the kinds of things that we can now do because we’re making that transition in Afghanistan.

MR. SCHIEFFER: All right. Let me go to Governor Romney because you talked about Pakistan and what needs to be done there. General Allen, our commander in Afghanistan, says that Americans continue to die at the hands of groups who are supported by Pakistan. We know that Pakistan has arrested the doctor who helped us catch Obama’s — bin Laden. It still provides safe haven for terrorists, yet we continue to give Pakistan billions of dollars. Is it time for us to divorce Pakistan?

MR. ROMNEY: No, it’s not time to divorce a nation on earth that has a hundred nuclear weapons and is on the way to double that at some point, a nation that has serious threats from terrorist groups within its nation — as I indicated before, the Taliban, Haqqani network. It’s a nation that’s not like — like others and that does not have a civilian leadership that is calling the shots there.

You’ve got the ISI, their intelligence organization is probably the most powerful of the — of the three branches there. Then you have the military and then you have the — the civilian government. This is a nation which if it falls apart — if it becomes a failed state, there are nuclear weapons there and you’ve got — you’ve got terrorists there who could grab their — their hands onto those nuclear weapons.

This is — this is an important part of the world for us. Pakistan is — is technically an ally, and they’re not acting very much like an ally right now, but we have some work to do.

And I — I don’t blame the administration for the fact that the relationship with Pakistan is strained. We had to go into Pakistan; we had to go in there to get Osama bin Laden. That was the right thing to do. And that upset them, but there was obviously a great deal of anger even before that. But we’re going to have to work with the — with the people in Pakistan to try and help them move to a more responsible course than the one that they’re on. And it’s important for them, it’s important for the nuclear weapons, it’s important for the success of Afghanistan, because inside Pakistan you have a large group of Pashtuns that are — that are Taliban, that they’re going to come rushing back into Afghanistan when we go. And that’s one of the reasons the Afghan security forces have so much work to do to be able to fight against that. But it’s important for us to recognize that we can’t just walk away from Pakistan. But we do need to make sure that as we — as we send support for them, that this is tied to them making progress on — on matters that would lead them to becoming a civil society.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you, Governor, because we know President Obama’s position on this, what is — what is your position on the use of drones?

MR. ROMNEY: Well, I believe that we should use any and all means necessary to take out people who pose a threat to us and our friends around the world. And it’s widely reported that drones are being used in drone strikes, and I support that entirely and feel the president was right to up the usage of that technology and believe that we should continue to use it to continue to go after the people who represent a threat to this nation and to our friends.

Let me also note that, as I said earlier, we’re going to have to do more than just going after leaders and — and killing bad guys, important as that is. We’re also going to have to have a far more effective and comprehensive strategy to help move the world away from terror and Islamic extremism.

We haven’t done that yet. We talk a lot about these things, but you look at the — the record. You look at the record of the last four years and say, is Iran closer to a bomb? Yes. Is the Middle East in tumult? Yes. Is — is al-Qaida on the run, on its heels? No. Is — are Israel and the Palestinians closer to — to reaching a peace agreement? No, they haven’t had talks in two years. We have not seen the progress we need to have, and I’m convinced that with strong leadership and an effort to build a strategy based upon helping these nations reject extremism, we can see the kind of peace and prosperity the world demands.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, keep in mind our strategy wasn’t just going after bin Laden. We’ve created partnerships throughout the region to deal with extremism — in Somalia, in Yemen, in Pakistan. And what we’ve also done is engage these governments in the kind of reforms that are actually going to make a difference in people’s lives day to day, to make sure that their government aren’t corrupt, to make sure that they are treating women with the kind of respect and dignity that every nation that succeeds has shown, and to make sure that they’ve got a free market system that works.

So across the board, we are engaging them in building capacity in these countries and we have stood on the side of democracy. One thing I think Americans should be proud of — when Tunisians began to protest, this nation, me, my administration stood with them earlier than just about any other country. In Egypt we stood on the side of democracy. In Libya we stood on the side of the people. And as a consequence there is no doubt that attitudes about Americans have changed.

But there are always going to be elements in these countries that potentially threaten the United States.

And we want to shrink those groups and those networks, and we can do that, but we’re always also going to have to maintain vigilance when it comes to terrorist activities. The truth, though, is that al-Qaida is much weaker than it was when I came into office, and they don’t have the same capacities to attack the U.S. homeland and our allies as they did four years ago.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Let’s go to the next segment because it’s a very important one. It is the rise of China and future challenges for America. I want to just begin this by asking both of you — and Mr. President, you go first this time — what do you believe is the greatest future threat to the national security of this country?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think it will continue to be terrorist networks. We have to remain vigilant, as I just said.

But with respect to China, China’s both an adversary but also a potential partner in the international community if it’s following the rules. So my attitude coming into office was that we are going to insist that China plays by the same rules as everybody else.

And I know Americans had — had seen jobs being shipped overseas, businesses and workers not getting a level playing field when it came to trade. And that’s the reason why I set up a trade task force to go after cheaters when it came to international trade. That’s the reason why we have brought more cases against China for violating trade rules than the other — the previous administration had done in two terms. And we’ve won just about every case that we’ve filed, that — that has been decided. In fact, just recently, steelworkers in Ohio and throughout the Midwest, Pennsylvania, are in a position now to sell steel to China because we won that case.

We had a tire case in which they were flooding us with cheap domestic tires — or — or — or cheap Chinese tires. And we put a stop to it and, as a consequence, saved jobs throughout America. I have to say that Governor Romney criticized me for being too tough in that tire case, said this wouldn’t be good for American workers and that it would be protectionist. But I tell you, those workers don’t feel that way. They feel as if they had finally an administration who was going to take this issue seriously.

Over the long term, in order for us to compete with China, we’ve also got to make sure, though, that we’re taking — taking care of business here at home. If we don’t have the best education system in the world, if we don’t continue to put money into research and technology that will allow us to — to create great businesses here in the United States, that’s how we lose the competition. And unfortunately, Governor Romney’s budget and his proposals would not allow us to make those investments.

MR. SCHIEFFER: All right.

Governor.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, first of all, it’s not government that makes business successful. It’s not government investments that make businesses grow and hire people.

Let me also note that the greatest threat that the world faces, the greatest national security threat, is a nuclear Iran.

Let’s talk about China. China has an interest that’s very much like ours in one respect, and that is they want a stable world. They don’t want war. They don’t want to see protectionism. They don’t want to see the — the world break out into — into various forms of chaos, because they have to — they have to manufacture goods and put people to work. And they have about 20,000 — 20 million, rather, people coming out of the farms every year, coming into the cities, needing jobs. So they want the economy to work and the world to be free and open.

And so we can be a partner with China. We don’t have to be an adversary in any way, shape or form. We can work with them. We can collaborate with them if they’re willing to be responsible.

Now, they look at us and say, is it a good idea to be with America?

How strong are we going to be? How strong is our economy?

They look at the fact that we owe them a trillion dollars and owe other people 16 trillion (dollars) in total, including them. They — they look at our — our decision to — to cut back on our military capabilities — a trillion dollars. The secretary of defense called these trillion dollars of cuts to our military devastating. It’s not my term. It’s the president’s own secretary of defense called them devastating. They look at America’s commitments around the world and they see what’s happening and they say, well, OK, is America going to be strong? And the answer is yes. If I’m president, America will be very strong.

We’ll also make sure that we have trade relations with China that work for us. I’ve watched year in and year out as companies have shut down and people have lost their jobs because China has not played by the same rules, in part by holding down artificially the value of their currency. It holds down the prices of their goods. It means our goods aren’t as competitive and we lose jobs. That’s got to end.

They’re making some progress; they need to make more. That’s why on day one I will label them a currency manipulator which allows us to apply tariffs where they’re taking jobs. They’re stealing our intellectual property, our patents, our designs, our technology, hacking into our computers, counterfeiting our goods. They have to understand, we want to trade with them, we want a world that’s stable, we like free enterprise, but you got to play by the rules.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Well, Governor, let me just ask you, if you declare them a currency manipulator on day one, some people are saying you’re just going to start a trade war with China on day one. Is that — isn’t there a risk that that could happen?

MR. ROMNEY: Well, they sell us about this much stuff every year. And we sell them about this much stuff every year. So it’s pretty clear who doesn’t want a trade war. And there’s one going on right now that we don’t know about. It’s a silent one and they’re winning. We have an enormous trade imbalance with China. And it’s worse this year than last year. And it was worse last year than the year before.

And — and so we have to understand that we can’t just surrender and — and lose jobs year in and year out. We have to say to our friends in China, look, you guys are playing aggressively, we understand it, but — but this can’t keep on going. You can’t keep on holding down the value of your currency, stealing our intellectual property, counterfeiting our products, selling them around the world, even into the United States.

I was with one company that makes valves in — in process industries. And they said, look, we were — we were having some valves coming in that — that were broken, and we had to repair them under warranty. And we looked them up, and — and they had our serial number on them. And then we noticed that — that there was more than one with that same serial number. They were counterfeit products being made overseas with the same serial number as a U.S. company, the same packaging. These were being sold into our market and around the world as if they were made by the U.S. competitor.

This can’t go on. I want a great relationship with China. China can be our partner. But — but that doesn’t mean they can just roll all over us and steal our jobs on an unfair basis.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, Governor Romney’s right. You are familiar with jobs being shipped overseas, because you invested in companies that were shipping jobs overseas. And, you know, that’s your right. I mean, that’s how our free market works.

But I’ve made a different bet on American workers. You know, if we had taken your advice, Governor Romney, about our auto industry, we’d be buying cars from China instead of selling cars to China. If we take your advice with respect to how we change our tax codes so that companies that are in profits overseas don’t pay U.S. taxes compared to companies here that are paying taxes, now, that’s estimated to create 800,000 jobs. The problem is they won’t be here; they’ll be in places like China. And if we’re not making investments in education and basic research, which is not something that the private sector is doing at a sufficient pace right now and has never done, then we will lose the lead in things like clean energy technology.

Now, with respect to what we’ve done with China already, U.S. exports have doubled, since I came into office, to China. And actually, currencies are at their most advantageous point for U.S. exporters since 1993. We absolutely have to make more progress, and that’s why we’re going to keep on pressing.

And when it comes to our military and Chinese security, part of the reason that we were able to pivot to the Asia-Pacific region after having ended the war in Iraq and transitioning out of Afghanistan, is precisely because this is going to be a massive growth area in the future. And we believe China can be a partner, but we’re also sending a very clear signal that America is a Pacific power, that we are going to have a presence there. We are working with countries in the region to make sure, for example, that ships can pass through, that commerce continues. And we’re organizing trade relations with countries other than China so that China starts feeling more pressure about meeting basic international standards. That’s the kind of leadership we’ve shown in the region. That’s the kind of leadership that we’ll continue to show.

MR. ROMNEY: I just want to take one of those points. Again, attacking me is not talking about an agenda for getting more trade and opening up more jobs in this country. But the president mentioned the auto industry and that somehow I would be in favor of jobs being elsewhere. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m a son of Detroit. I was born in Detroit. My dad was head of a car company. I like American cars. And I would do nothing to hurt the U.S. auto industry. My plan to get the industry on its feet when it was in real trouble was not to start writing checks. It was President Bush that wrote the first checks. I disagree with that. I said they need — these companies need to go through a managed bankruptcy, and in that process they can get government help and government guarantees, but they need to go through bankruptcy to get rid of excess cost and the debt burden that they’d — they’d built up.

And fortunately the president picked —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Governor Romney, that’s not what you said.

MR. ROMNEY: Fortunately, the president — you can take — you can take a look at the op-ed.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Governor, you did not —

MR. ROMNEY: You can take a look at the op-ed.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You did not say that you would provide, Governor, help.

MR. ROMNEY: You know, I’m — I’m still speaking. I said that we would provide guarantees and — and that was what was able to allow these companies to go through bankruptcy, to come out of bankruptcy. Under no circumstances would I do anything other than to help this industry get on its feet. And the idea that has been suggested that I would liquidate the industry — of course not. Of course not.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Let’s check the record.

MR. ROMNEY: That’s the height of silliness.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Let’s — let’s check the record.

MR. ROMNEY: I have never said I would — I would liquidate the industry. I want to keep the industry growing and thriving.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Governor, the people in Detroit don’t forget.

MR. ROMNEY: And — and that’s I have the kind of commitment to make sure that our industries in this country can compete and be successful. We in this country can compete successfully with anyone in the world. And we’re going to. We’re going to have to have a president, however, that doesn’t think that somehow the government investing in — in car companies like Tesla and — and Fisker, making electric battery cars — this is not research, Mr. President. These are the government investing in companies, investing in Solyndra. This is a company. This isn’t basic research. I — I want to invest in research. Research is great. Providing funding to universities and think tanks — great. But investing in companies? Absolutely not. That’s the wrong way to go.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Governor, the fact of the matter is —

MR. ROMNEY: I’m still speaking.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well — (chuckles) —

MR. ROMNEY: So I want to make sure that we make — we make America more competitive —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yeah.

MR. ROMNEY: — and that we do those things that make America the most attractive place in the world for entrepreneurs, innovators, businesses to grow. But your investing in companies doesn’t do that. In fact it makes it less likely for them to come here —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: All right, Governor —

MR. ROMNEY: — because the private sector’s not going to invest in a — in a — in a solar company if —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I’m happy — I’m — I’m — I’m happy to respond —

MR. ROMNEY: — if you’re investing government money and someone else’s.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You’ve held the floor for a while. The — look, I think anybody out there can check the record. Governor Romney, you keep on trying to, you know, airbrush history here.

You were very clear that you would not provide government assistance to the U.S. auto companies even if they went through bankruptcy. You said that they could get it in the private marketplace. That wasn’t true. They would have gone through a —

MR. ROMNEY: You’re wrong. You’re wrong, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I — no, I am not wrong.

MR. ROMNEY: You’re wrong.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I am not wrong. And —

MR. ROMNEY: People can look it up. You’re right.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: People will look it up.

MR. ROMNEY: Good.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: But more importantly, it is true that in order for us to be competitive, we’re going to have to make some smart choices right now. Cutting our education budget — that’s not a smart choice. That will not help us compete with China. Cutting our investments in research and technology — that’s not a smart choice. That will not help us compete with China. Bringing down (sic) our deficit by adding $7 trillion of tax cuts and military spending that our military’s not asking for before we even get to the debt that we currently have — that is not going to make us more competitive. Those are the kinds of choices that the American people face right now. Having a tax code that rewards companies that are shipping jobs overseas instead of companies that are investing here in the United States — that will not make us more competitive.

And — and the one thing that I’m absolutely clear about is that after a decade in which we saw drift, jobs being shipped overseas, nobody championing American workers and American businesses, we’ve now begun to make some real progress. What we can’t do is go back to the same policies that got us into such difficulty in the first place. And that’s why we have to move forward and not go back.

MR. ROMNEY: I couldn’t agree more about going forward, but I certainly don’t want to go back to the policies of the last four years. The policies of the last four years have seen incomes in America decline every year for middle-income families, now down $4,300 during your term, 23 million Americans still struggling to find a good job. When you came into office, 32 million people on food stamps — today 47 million people on food stamps.

When you came to office, just over $10 trillion in debt — now $16 trillion in debt. It hasn’t worked. You said by now we’d be at 5.4 percent unemployment. We’re 9 million jobs short of that. I’ve met some of those people. I’ve met them in Appleton, Wisconsin. I — I met a young woman in — in — in Philadelphia who’s coming out of — out of college, can’t find work. I’ve been — Ann was with someone just the other day that was just weeping about not being able to get work. It’s just a tragedy in a nation so prosperous as ours that these last four years have been so hard.

And that — and that’s why it’s so critical that we make America once again the most attractive place in the world to start businesses, to build jobs, to grow the economy. And that’s not going to happen by — by just hiring teachers. Look, I — I love to — I love teachers, and I’m happy to have states and communities that want to hire teachers, do that. I — by the way, I don’t like to have the federal government start pushing its way deeper and deeper into — into our schools. Let the states and localities do that. I was a governor. The federal government didn’t hire our teachers.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor —

MR. ROMNEY: But I love teachers. But I want to get our private sector growing, and I know how to do it.

MR. SCHIEFFER: I think we all love teachers. (Laughter.) Gentlemen, thank you so much for a very vigorous debate. We have come to the end. It is time for closing statements. I believe you’re first, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, thank you very much Bob, Governor Romney, and to Lynn University.

You know, you’ve now heard three debates, months of campaigning and way too many TV commercials. (Laughter.) And now you’ve got a choice. You know, over the last four years, we’ve made real progress digging our way out of policies that gave us two prolonged wars, record deficits and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

And Governor Romney wants to take us back to those policies: a foreign policy that’s wrong and reckless; economic policies that won’t create jobs, won’t reduce our deficit, but will make sure that folks at the very top don’t have to play by the same rules that you do.

And I’ve got a different vision for America. I want to build on our strengths. And I put forward a plan to make sure that we’re bringing manufacturing jobs back to our shores by rewarding companies and small businesses that are investing here not overseas. I want to make sure we’ve got the best education system in the world and we’re retraining our workers for the jobs of tomorrow.

I want to control our own energy by developing oil and natural gas, but also the energy sources of the future. Yes, I want to reduce our deficit by cutting spending that we don’t need, but also by asking the wealthy to do a little bit more so that we can invest in things like research and technology that are the key to a 21st century economy.

As commander in chief, I will maintain the strongest military in the world, keep faith with our troops and go after those who would do us harm. But after a decade of war, I think we all recognize we got to do some nation building here at home, rebuilding our roads, our bridges and especially caring for our veterans who’ve sacrificed so much for our freedom.

You know, we’ve been through tough times, but we always bounce back because of our character, because we pull together. And if I have the privilege of being your president for another four years, I promise you I will always listen to your voices, I will fight for your families and I will work every single day to make sure that America continues to be the greatest nation on earth. Thank you.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor.

MR. ROMNEY: Thank you, Bob, Mr. President, folks at Lynn University — good to be with you. I’m optimistic about the future. I’m excited about our prospects as a nation. I want to see peace. I want to see growing peace in this country, it’s our objective. We have an opportunity to have real leadership. America’s going to have that kind of leadership and continue to promote principles of peace that’ll make a world the safer place and make people in this country more confident that their future is secure.

I also want to make sure that we get this economy going. And there are two very different paths the country can take. One is a path represented by the president, which, at the end of four years, would mean we’d have $20 trillion in debt, heading towards Greece. I’ll get us on track to a balanced budget. The president’s path will mean continuing declining in take-home pay. I want to make sure our take-home pay turns around and starts to grow. The president’s path means 20 million people out of work struggling for a good job. I’ll get people back to work with 12 million new jobs. I’m going to make sure that we get people off of food stamps not by cutting the program but by getting them good jobs.

America’s going to come back. And for that to happen, we’re going to have to have a president who can work across the aisle. I was in a state where my legislature was 87 percent Democrat. I learned how to get along on the other side of the aisle. We’ve got to do that in Washington. Washington is broken. I know what it takes to get this country back. And we’ll work with good Democrats and good Republicans to do that.

This nation is the hope of the earth. We’ve been blessed by having a nation that’s free and prosperous thanks to the contributions of the Greatest Generation. They’ve held a torch for the world to see, the torch of freedom and hope and opportunity. Now it’s our turn to take that torch. I’m convinced we’ll do it. We need strong leadership. I’d like to be that leader, with your support. I’ll work with you. I’ll lead you in an open and honest way. And I ask for your vote. I’d like to be the next president of the United States to support and help this great nation, and to make sure that we all together maintain America as the hope of the earth. Thank you so much.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Gentlemen, thank you both so much. That brings an end to this year’s debates. And we want to thank Lynn University and its students for having us. As I always do at the end of these debates, I leave you with the words of my mom who said, go vote. It makes you feel big and strong.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: That’s great.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Good night.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you.

Campaign Headlines October 22, 2012: Barack Obama v. Mitt Romney: Live Blogging the Foreign Policy Third Presidential Debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

WATCH LIVE: President Obama and Mitt Romney Meet Up for Final Debate in Florida

Source:  ABC News Radio, 10-22-12

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama and Mitt Romney face off Monday night for their third and final debate in Boca Raton, Fla.

Watch the debate LIVE

Live! Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in the third U.S. Presidential debate

Final Presidential Debate Fact-Checks and Updates

Source: NYT, 10-22-12

President Obama and Mitt Romney square off on Monday night in Boca Raton, Fla. for the final presidential debate. Live coverage begins at 8 p.m. eastern….READ MORE

Presidential Debate: Live Blog and Fact Check

Source: ABC News, 10-22-12

ABC News will be live blogging and fact checking the third and final presidential debate, which is focused on foreign policy, will be moderated by CBS News anchor Bob Schieffer, and held at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. Anchored live stream coverage….READ MORE

Live blog: Final presidential debate

Source: CNN, 10-22-12

President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney battle it out for the third and final time when they take the debate stage Monday at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. The topic of the final debate is foreign policy….READ MORE

Live blog of third debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney

Source: Boston Globe, 10-22-12 
The incumbent Democrat and his Republican challenger were sitting down – literally – for 90 minutes at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., in a debate sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. Bob Schieffer of CBS News will moderate….READ MORE

Campaign Headlines October 22, 2012: Barack Obama v. Mitt Romney: Foreign Policy Takes Center Stage in Final Presidential Debate

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Foreign Policy Takes Center Stage in Final Presidential Debate

Source: ABC News Radio, 10-22-12

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

There are 15 days and one presidential debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney left before the general election.

While both candidates acknowledge the outcome of the election depends on no more than two dozen swing states, the debate Monday night — the third of the campaign season — provides the final opportunity for the candidates to make their case to a national TV audience.  Both Obama and Romney spent the weekend behind closed doors preparing…..READ MORE

Campaign Headlines October 17, 2012: Candy Crowley Defends Her Libya Comment in Presidential Debate

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Candy Crowley Defends Her Libya Comment

Source: ABC News Radio, 10-17-12

Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

Debate moderator Candy Crowley defended her decision to interject in a heated moment about Libya during last night’s presidential debate, saying she was not trying to “fact check,” but just trying to move the debate along.

“It didn’t come to me as I’m going to fact check that. It came to me as let’s get passed this. To me I was really trying to move the conversation along. This is a semantic thing,” Crowley told the hosts of The View.

Her comments angered some debate watchers, particularly Mitt Romney supporters….READ MORE

Campaign Headlines October 17, 2012: Peter Roff: Mitt Romney Won the Second Presidential Debate

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Mitt Romney Won the Second Debate

Source: US News & World Report, 10-17-12
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama debate on Oct. 16, 2012, during the second of three presidential debates at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.
Having had a night’s sleep to reflect on things, Tuesday night’s debate between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is starting to feel more like the challenger scored a narrow victory.The instant analysis, which I helped provide as part of the U.S. News & World Report opinion team’s live blogging of the event, lends itself to snap judgments made in the heat of the moment. What matters more is what people remember the next day, even as everything both candidates said and everything both candidates did is analyzed to death.

Certainly, President Obama turned in a much more polished, much more comfortable performance. The format was better suited to him than to Romney, who at times seem uncomfortable fighting for the chance to be heard over both the president and the moderator, CNN’s Candy Crowley. But in looking at what each candidate said, give the points to Romney for this simple reason: Both candidates spent more time talking about what Romney would do or wanted to do or had done than was spent on Obama’s record….READ MORE

Campaign Headlines October 16, 2012: Barack Obama v. Mitt Romney: Mitt Romney’s Quotes from the Second Presidential Debate

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Mitt Romney: “The President Has Tried, But His Policies Haven’t Worked”

Source: Mitt Romney Press, 10-16-12

“I can tell you that if you were to elect President Obama, you know what you’re going to get. You’re going to get a repeat of the last four years. We just can’t afford four more years like the last four years.” – Mitt Romney

Presidential Debate
Hempstead, NY
October 16, 2012

Click Here To Watch Mitt Romney

MITT ROMNEY: “I think you know better. I think you know that these last four years haven’t been so good as the President just described and that you don’t feel like you’re confident that the next four years are going to be much better either.

“I can tell you that if you were to elect President Obama, you know what you’re going to get. You’re going to get a repeat of the last four years. We just can’t afford four more years like the last four years.

“He said that by now we’d have unemployment at 5.4 percent. The difference between where it is and 5.4 percent is 9 million Americans without work.

“I wasn’t the one that said 5.4 percent. This was the President’s plan. Didn’t get there.

“He said he would have by now put forward a plan to reform Medicare and Social Security, because he pointed out they’re on the road to bankruptcy. He would reform them. He’d get that done. He hasn’t even made a proposal on either one.

“He said in his first year he’d put out an immigration plan that would deal with our immigration challenges. Didn’t even file it.

“This is a president who has not been able to do what he said he’d do. He said that he’d cut in half the deficit. He hasn’t done that either. In fact, he doubled it. He said that by now middle-income families would have a reduction in their health insurance premiums by $2,500 a year. It’s gone up by $2,500 a year. And if Obamacare is passed, or implemented — it’s already been passed — if it’s implemented fully, it’ll be another $2,500 on top.

“The middle class is getting crushed under the policies of a president who has not understood what it takes to get the economy working again. He keeps saying, ‘Look, I’ve created 5 million jobs.’ That’s after losing 5 million jobs. The entire record is such that the unemployment has not been reduced in this country. The unemployment, the number of people who are still looking for work, is still 23 million Americans.

“There are more people in poverty, one out of six people in poverty.

“How about food stamps? When he took office, 32 million people were on food stamps. Today, 47 million people are on food stamps. How about the growth of the economy? It’s growing more slowly this year than last year, and more slowly last year than the year before.

“The President wants to do well. I understand. But the policies he’s put in place from Obamacare to Dodd-Frank to his tax policies to his regulatory policies, these policies combined have not let this economy take off and grow like it could have.

“You might say, ‘Well, you got an example of one that worked better?’ Yeah, in the Reagan recession where unemployment hit 10.8 percent, between that period — the end of that recession and the equivalent period of time to today, Ronald Reagan’s recovery created twice as many jobs as this president’s recovery. Five million jobs doesn’t even keep up with our population growth. And the only reason the unemployment rate seems a little lower today is because of all the people that have dropped out of the workforce.

“The President has tried, but his policies haven’t worked. He’s great as a speaker and describing his plans and his vision. That’s wonderful, except we have a record to look at. And that record shows he just hasn’t been able to cut the deficit, to put in place reforms for Medicare and Social Security to preserve them, to get us the rising incomes we need. Median income is down $4,300 a family and 23 million Americans out of work. That’s what this election is about. It’s about who can get the middle class in this country a bright and prosperous future and assure our kids the kind of hope and optimism they deserve.”

Campaign Buzz October 16, 2012: Barack Obama v. Mitt Romney: Who Won? Draw in Second Presidential Debate

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

IN FOCUS: SECOND PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are shown. | AP Photo

‘Gov. Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan; he has a one-point plan,’ Obama said. | AP Photo

Mitt Romney, left, addresses President Barack Obama during the second presidential debate at Hofstra University. | AP Photo

Romney has closed on Obama in swing-state polling in recent days. | AP Photo

STATS

IN THE NEWS

Rivals Bring Bare Fists to Rematch

Source: NYT, 10-17-12

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Mitt Romney and President Obama during the debate, their second, Tuesday night at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. More Photos »

President Obama and Mitt Romney engaged Tuesday in one of the most intensive clashes in a televised presidential debate, with tensions between them spilling out in interruptions, personal rebukes and accusations of lying as they parried over the last four years under Mr. Obama and what the next four would look like under a President Romney.

Competing for a shrinking sliver of undecided voters, many of them women, their engagements at times bordered on physical as they circled each other or bounded out of their seats while the other was speaking, at times more intent to argue than to address the questions over jobs, taxes, energy, immigration and a range of other issues….READ MORE

Obama and Romney Get Fired Up in Heated Second Debate

Source: ABC News Radio, 10-16-12

Circling each other like boxers at times and looking one another in the eye, President Obama and Mitt Romney came out swinging as soon as Monday night’s debate began, sparring over Libya, energy production, and an assault weapons ban.

At one point during a particularly heated exchange, Romney snapped when Obama tried to interrupt, “I’m still speaking.”

An another point, Obama said Romney’s insinuation that his administration played politics with the deaths of four Americans in Libya was “offensive.”

Obama, whose performance at the first debate two weeks ago was roundly considered to be lackluster, tried to make up lost ground Monday night….READ MORE

Obama goes on attack against Romney in debate rematch

Source: Reuters, 10-16-12

President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney clashed repeatedly on jobs, energy and Libya in their second debate on Tuesday, with Obama moving aggressively to challenge his opponent.

Obama was much sharper and more energetic than in their first encounter two weeks ago, when his listless performance was heavily criticized and gave Romney’s campaign a much-needed boost….READ MORE

Presidential debate 2012: Fight night on Long Island

Source: Politico, 10-16-12

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney confronted each other almost face to face on the debate stage here at Hofstra University Tuesday, as the president delivered an aggressive, prosecutorial critique of his Republican challenger for the first time in the 2012 debate season.

In one of the most combative presidential debates in recent memory, the two nominees circled each other in the town hall-style format, frequently interrupting each other and squabbling over the rules of engagement. “I want to make sure our timekeepers are working here,” Obama complained at one point, while Romney protested to an interjecting Obama: “You’ll get your chance in a second.” CNN anchor Candy Crowley, who moderated the debate, was at times powerless to keep the two candidates at more than arm’s length….READ MORE

QUOTES

FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY

Answering question on women paid less than men:

“What we can do to help young women and women of all ages is to have a strong economy, so strong that employers that are looking to find good employees are bringing them into their workforce and adapting to a flexible work schedule that gives women opportunities that they would otherwise not be able to afford.”

On Obama’s record:

“The president has tried, but his policies haven’t worked. He’s great as a speaker and at describing his plans and his vision. That’s wonderful, except we have a record to look at and that record shows that he just hasn’t been able to cut the deficit, to put in place reforms for Medicare and Social Security to preserve them, to get us the rising incomes we need.”

On his own job plan:

“I want to make small businesses grow and thrive. I know how to make that happen. I spent my life in the private sector. I know why jobs come and why they go. And they’re going now because of the policies of this administration.”

On comparisons to President George W. Bush:

“President Bush and I are different people and these are different times. And that’s why my five-point plan is so different from what he would have done.”

On energy:

“I want to make sure we use our oil, our coal, our gas, our nuclear, our renewables… But what we don’t need is to have the president keeping us from taking advantage of oil, coal and gas. This has not been Mr Oil, or Mr Gas, or Mr Coal.”

On taxes:

“I will not under any circumstances reduce the share that’s being paid by the highest-income paying taxpayers and I will not under any circumstance increase taxes on the middle class. The president’s spending, the president’s borrowing will cause this nation to have to raise taxes on the American people, and not just at the high end.”

On unemployment:

“We have fewer people working today than we had when the president took office… We have not made the progress we need to make to put people back to work.”

On employment after college:

“The key thing is to make sure you’ve got a job when you get out of school. And what’s happened over the last four years has been very, very hard for America’s young people… Half of college kids graduating this year without a job, without a college level job, that’s just unacceptable…. When you come out in 2014, I presume I’m going to be president. I’m going to make sure you get a job.”

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

On his response to Libya:

“Not everybody agrees with some of the decisions I’ve made, but when it comes to our national security I mean what I say… When I say that we’re going to find out exactly what happened, everybody will be held accountable and I am ultimately responsible for what’s taking place there, because these are my folks and I’m the one who has to greet those coffins when they come home – you know I mean what I say.

On Romney’s responses to Libya attack:

“While we were still dealing with our diplomats still being threatened, Governor Romney put out a press release, trying to make political points. And that’s not how a commander-in-chief operates. You don’t turn national security into a political issue, certainly not right when it’s happening.”

On women’s issues:

“These are not just women’s issues. These are family issues. These are economic issues… That’s been one of the hallmarks of my administration. I’m going to continue to push on this issue for the next four years.”

On Romney’s tax plan:

“What he says is he’s going to make sure that this doesn’t add to the deficit and he’s going to cut middle-class taxes. But when he’s asked, ‘how are you going to do it, which deductions, which loopholes are you going to close?’ he can’t tell you… We haven’t heard from the governor any specifics beyond Big Bird

and eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood in terms of how he pays for that.”

Answering why Americans should vote for him again:

“The commitments I’ve made, I’ve kept. And those that I haven’t been able to keep, it’s not for a lack of trying and we’re going to get it done in the second term.”

On Romney’s promise to crack down on China:

“When he talks about getting tough on China, keep in mind that Governor Romney invested in companies that were pioneers of outsourcing to China… Governor, you’re the last person to get tough on China.”

On energy:

“When I hear Governor Romney say he’s a big coal guy, I mean, keep in mind, Governor, when you were governor of Massachusetts, you stood in front of a coal plant and pointed at it and said, ‘This plant kills,’ and took great pride in shutting it down. And now suddenly, you’re a big champion of coal.”

On lower gas prices when he took office:

“The economy was on the verge of collapse because we were about to go through the worst recession since the Great Depression, as a consequence of some of the same policies that Governor Romney now promotes. So it’s conceivable that Governor Romney could bring down the gas prices, because with his policies we might be back in that same mess.”

On Romney’s energy plan:

“He’s got the oil and gas part, but he doesn’t have the clean energy part. And if we’re only thinking about tomorrow and the next day and not thinking about ten years from now, we’re not going to control our economic future. Because China, Germany, they’re making these investments, and I’m not going to cede those jobs in the future to those counties.”

On Romney’s economic plan:

“Governor Romney says he’s got a five-point plan. Governor Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan, he has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules. That’s been his philosophy in the private sector, that’s been his philosophy as a governor and that’s been his philosophy as a presidential candidate.”

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS COMMENTS

Dr. Paul A. Rahe, professor of history, Hillsdale College, Michigan:

Source: One News Now, 10-17-12

“It seems to me that when you have a draw between a president of the United States and a challenger, the challenger wins; and when you have a president of the United States whose policies have obviously failed, that he’s trying to sell you a bill of goods for the future, he’s at a real disadvantage in the debate. So I think Romney did well enough that he will build upon what he achieved in the first debate when he throttled Obama…. You know, if you leave aside the Libya business where Candy Crowley sided with Obama and told an untruth – it’s as simple as that about what went on in the Rose Garden that day. What Obama said was that it was an act of senseless violence, not that it was a terrorist act. Now, an act of senseless violence is consistent with the line that they were peddling – that this was just a demonstration and a reaction to the movie.”

Michael Beschloss, presidential historian:

Source: PBS Newshour, 10-16-12

1984, Ronald Reagan as president was debating Walter Mondale, famously, bad for him, turned in a performance that thought that — many thought that President Reagan had lost it. He just wasn’t with the intensity that he had had before. People wondered whether he was up for a second term, a lot of the same things that were said about Barack Obama.

The thing is Reagan in the second debate, after the first one had caused him in some polls to be actually tied with Walter Mondale, reversed the damage, swept it away.

So I think — with this performance tonight, I think Barack Obama may very well do the same thing….

You know, this is the sixth town meeting debate. And the idea of this in the first place when it was started in 1992 was that it’s one way of making sure that at least you have got one debate where they’re kindly to each other because they’re not going to confront each other.

This was the iciest town meeting debate of all six. I used to think that 2000 between George W. Bush and Al Gore was an uncomfortable evening. Compared to this one, that was Valentine’s Day….

Well, and the other thing is that, in terms of degree of difficulty, it’s almost always harder for an incumbent president running for reelection because he’s got to defend the record. He’s done all sorts of things for four years.

The challenger can always say, I will do this and that, I will do better. It sounds better. So I think by that standard also, Barack Obama did very well tonight…..

But what he didn’t do is what we have seen with other incumbent presidents, which is they’re very heavy on rebutting what the challenger says, very light in terms of saying what they would do in the second term, Ronald Reagan especially.

Campaign Headlines October 17, 2012: Internet, Twitter Takes Off with Mitt Romney’s ‘Binders Full of Women’ Remark at Second Presidential Debate

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Internet Takes Off with Mitt Romney’s ‘Binders Full of Women’

Source: ABC News Radio, 10-17-12

Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Despite all the fireworks over taxes, oil and Libya, the most buzzworthy social media moment of Tuesday night’s presidential debate was Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s comment about “binders full of women.”

The inadvertently funny comment came in response to a question about pay equity for women from a member of the audience of the debate between Romney and President Obama at Hofstra University.

Romney was explaining that as the governor of Massachusetts searching for qualified women to fill cabinet posts, women’s groups brought him “binders full of women” who were good candidates.

“And I said, ‘Well, gosh, can’t we — can’t we find some — some women that are also qualified?” Romney said. “I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks,’ and they brought us whole binders full of women.”….READ MORE

Campaign Headlines October 16, 2012: Barack Obama v. Mitt Romney: 10 best Presidential debate lines from Romney, Obama

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

10 best debate lines from Romney, Obama

Source: Politico, 10-16-12

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are shown. | AP Photo

‘Gov. Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan; he has a one-point plan,’ Obama said. | AP Photo

GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney went head-to-head with President Barack Obama at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., on Tuesday for the second, town hall–style presidential debate. Here are some of their most memorable lines:

ROMNEY:

1. “When do you graduate? 2014. When you come out in 2014, I presume I’m going to be president. I’m going to make sure you get a job.

2. “When we’re talking about math that doesn’t add up, how about $5 trillion of deficits over the last four years. That’s math that doesn’t add up.”

3. “We took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks.’ And they brought us whole binders full of women.”

4. “You shouldn’t have to hire a lawyer to figure out how to get into this country legally.”

5. “The president took Detroit bankrupt. You took General Motors bankrupt. You took Chrysler bankrupt. So when you say that I wanted to take the auto industry bankrupt, you actually did. And I think it’s important to know that was a process that was necessary to get those companies back on their feet so they could start hiring more people.”

OBAMA:

1. “Gov. Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan; he has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules.”

2. “When he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considers themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about: folks on social security who have worked all their lives; veterans, who sacrificed for this country; students, who are out there trying to hopefully advance their own dreams but also this country’s dreams; soldiers, who are overseas fighting for us right now; people who are working hard every day.”

3. “We haven’t heard from the governor any specifics beyond Big Bird and eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood in terms of how he pays for that.”

4. “I don’t look at my pension. It’s not as big as yours, so it doesn’t take as long.”

5. “Gov. Romney was a very successful investor. If somebody came to you, governor, with a plan that said, ‘Here, I want to spend $7 or $8 trillion and we’re going to pay for it but we can’t tell you until maybe after the election how we’re going to do it.’ You wouldn’t have taken such a sketchy deal and neither would you, the American people.”

Campaign Headlines October 16, 2012: Barack Obama v. Mitt Romney: CNN Poll: Who won the second Presidential debate? Obama 46%- Romney 39%

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Poll: Who won the debate? Obama 46%- Romney 39%

Source: CNN, 10-16-12

CNN Confirms CBS Poll: 58-40% in Romney’s favor on Economy; 49-46 Romney on health care; 51-44 Romney on taxes; 59-36 Romney on Deficit

On the Trail

Confrontations define second debate

Obama, Romney clash over energy

More Political news

Campaign Headlines October 16, 2012: Barack Obama v. Mitt Romney: CBS News Poll: Obama edges Romney to win second presidential debate

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Poll: Obama edges Romney in second presidential debate

Source: CBS News, 10-16-12

In a CBS News Instant Poll of uncommitted voters, 37 percent say President Obama won the second presidential debate, 30 percent say Romney won, and 33 percent called it a tie.

Full Text Campaign Buzz October 16, 2012: Barack Obama v. Mitt Romney: Townhall Second Presidential Debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York Transcript

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Second Presidential Debate Full Transcript

Source: Politico, 10-16-12

Transcript of the Oct. 16, 2012, presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney in Hempstead, N.Y., as prepared by the Commission on Presidential Debates with permission to re-publish.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA AND FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY
PARTICIPATE IN A CANDIDATES DEBATE, HOFSTRA UNIVERSITY,
HEMPSTEAD, NEW YORK

OCTOBER 16, 2012

SPEAKERS: FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

CANDY CROWLEY, MODERATOR

[*]
CROWLEY: Good evening from Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. I’m Candy Crowley from CNN’s “State of the Union.” We are here for the second presidential debate, a town hall, sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

CROWLEY: The Gallup organization chose 82 uncommitted voters from the New York area. Their questions will drive the night. My goal is to give the conversation direction and to ensure questions get answered.

The questions are known to me and my team only. Neither the commission, nor the candidates have seen them. I hope to get to as many questions as possible.

CROWLEY: And because I am the optimistic sort, I’m sure the candidates will oblige by keeping their answers concise and on point.

Each candidate has as much as two minutes to respond to a common question, and there will be a two-minute follow-up. The audience here in the hall has agreed to be polite and attentive — no cheering or booing or outbursts of any sort.

We will set aside that agreement just this once to welcome President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney.

(APPLAUSE)

Gentlemen, thank you both for joining us here tonight. We have a lot of folks who’ve been waiting all day to talk to you, so I want to get right to it.

Governor Romney, as you know, you won the coin toss, so the first question will go to you. And I want to turn to a first-time voter, Jeremy Epstein, who has a question for you.

QUESTION: Mr. President, Governor Romney, as a 20-year-old college student, all I hear from professors, neighbors and others is that when I graduate, I will have little chance to get employment. What can you say to reassure me, but more importantly my parents, that I will be able to sufficiently support myself after I graduate?

ROMNEY: Thank you, Jeremy. I appreciate your — your question, and thank you for being here this evening and to all of those from Nassau County that have come, thank you for your time. Thank you to Hofstra University and to Candy Crowley for organizing and leading this — this event.

Thank you, Mr. President, also for being part of this — this debate.

Your question — your question is one that’s being asked by college kids all over this country. I was in Pennsylvania with someone who had just graduated — this was in Philadelphia — and she said, “I’ve got my degree. I can’t find a job. I’ve got three part- time jobs. They’re just barely enough to pay for my food and pay for an apartment. I can’t begin to pay back my student loans.”

So what we have to do is two things. We have to make sure that we make it easier for kids to afford college.

ROMNEY: And also make sure that when they get out of college, there’s a job. When I was governor of Massachusetts, to get a high school degree, you had to pass an exam. If you graduated in the top quarter of your airlines, we gave you a John and Abigail Adams scholarship, four years tuition free in the college of your choice in Massachusetts, it’s a public institution.

I want to make sure we keep our Pell grant program growing. We’re also going to have our loan program, so that people are able to afford school. But the key thing is to make sure you can get a job when you get out of school. And what’s happened over the last four years has been very, very hard for America’s young people. I want you to be able to get a job.

I know what it takes to get this economy going. With half of college kids graduating this year without a college — excuse me, without a job. And without a college level job, that’s just unacceptable.

And likewise you’ve got more and more debt on your back. So more debt and less jobs. I’m going to change that. I know what it takes to create good jobs again. I know what it takes to make sure that you have the kind of opportunity you deserve. And kids across this country are going to recognize, we’re bringing back an economy.

It’s not going to be like the last four years. The middle-class has been crushed over the last four years, and jobs have been too scarce. I know what it takes to bring them back, and I’m going to do that, and make sure that when you graduate — when do you graduate?

QUESTION: 2014.

ROMNEY: 2014. When you come out in 2014, I presume I’m going to be president. I’m going to make sure you get a job. Thanks Jeremy. Yeah, you bet.

CROWLEY: Mr. President?

OBAMA: Jeremy, first of all, your future is bright. And the fact that you’re making an investment in higher education is critical. Not just to you, but to the entire nation. Now, the most important thing we can do is to make sure that we are creating jobs in this country. But not just jobs, good paying jobs. Ones that can support a family.

OBAMA: And what I want to do, is build on the five million jobs that we’ve created over the last 30 months in the private sector alone. And there are a bunch of things we can do to make sure your future is bright.

Number one, I want to build manufacturing jobs in this country again. Now when Governor Romney said we should let Detroit go bankrupt. I said we’re going to bet on American workers and the American auto industry and it’s come surging back.

I want to do that in industries, not just in Detroit, but all across the country and that means we change our tax code so we’re giving incentives to companies that are investing here in the United States and creating jobs here.

It also means we’re helping them and small businesses to export all around the world to new markets.

Number two, we’ve got to make sure that we have the best education system in the world. And the fact that you’re going to college is great, but I want everybody to get a great education and we’ve worked hard to make sure that student loans are available for folks like you, but I also want to make sure that community colleges are offering slots for workers to get retrained for the jobs that are out there right now and the jobs of the future.

Number three, we’ve got to control our own energy. Now, not only oil and natural gas, which we’ve been investing in; but also, we’ve got to make sure we’re building the energy source of the future, not just thinking about next year, but ten years from now, 20 years from now. That’s why we’ve invested in solar and wind and biofuels, energy efficient cars.

We’ve got to reduce our deficit, but we’ve got to do it in a balanced way. Asking the wealthy to pay a little bit more along with cuts so that we can invest in education like yours.

And let’s take the money that we’ve been spending on war over the last decade to rebuild America, roads, bridges schools. We do those things, not only is your future going to be bright but America’s future is going to bright as well.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you for more immediate answer and begin with Mr. Romney just quickly what — what can you do? We’re looking at a situation where 40 percent of the unemployed have been unemployed have been unemployed for six months or more. They don’t have the two years that Jeremy has.

What about those long term unemployed who need a job right now?

ROMNEY: Well what you’re seeing in this country is 23 million people struggling to find a job. And a lot of them, as you say, Candy, have been out of work for a long, long, long time. The president’s policies have been exercised over the last four years and they haven’t put Americans back to work.

We have fewer people working today than we had when the president took office. If the — the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent when he took office, it’s 7.8 percent now. But if you calculated that unemployment rate, taking back the people who dropped out of the workforce, it would be 10.7 percent.

We have not made the progress we need to make to put people back to work. That’s why I put out a five-point plan that gets America 12 million new jobs in four years and rising take-home pay. It’s going to help Jeremy get a job when he comes out of school. It’s going to help people across the country that are unemployed right now.

And one thing that the president said, which I want to make sure that we understand, he said that I said we should take Detroit bankrupt. And that’s right. My plan was to have the company go through bankruptcy like 7-Eleven did and Macy’s and Condell (ph) Airlines and come out stronger.

And I know he keeps saying, you want to take Detroit bankrupt. Well, the president took Detroit bankrupt. You took General Motors bankrupt. You took Chrysler bankrupt. So when you say that I wanted to take the auto industry bankrupt, you actually did.

And I think it’s important to know that that was a process that was necessary to get those companies back on their feet, so they could start hiring more people. That was precisely what I recommended and ultimately what happened.

CROWLEY: Let me give the president a chance.

Go ahead. OBAMA: Candy, what Governor Romney said just isn’t true. He wanted to take them into bankruptcy without providing them any way to stay open. And we would have lost a million jobs. And that — don’t take my word for it, take the executives at GM and Chrysler, some of whom are Republicans, may even support Governor Romney. But they’ll tell you his prescription wasn’t going to work.

And Governor Romney’s says he’s got a five-point plan? Governor Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan. He has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules. That’s been his philosophy in the private sector, that’s been his philosophy as governor, that’s been his philosophy as a presidential candidate.

You can make a lot of money and pay lower tax rates than somebody who makes a lot less. You can ship jobs overseas and get tax breaks for it. You can invest in a company, bankrupt it, lay off the workers, strip away their pensions, and you still make money.

That’s exactly the philosophy that we’ve seen in place for the last decade. That’s what’s been squeezing middle class families.

And we have fought back for four years to get out of that mess. The last thing we need to do is to go back to the very same policies that got us there.

CROWLEY: Mr. President, the next question is going to be for you here.

And, Mr. Romney — Governor Romney — there’ll be plenty of chances here to go on, but I want to…

ROMNEY: That — that Detroit — that Detroit answer…

CROWLEY: We have all these folks.

ROMNEY: … that Detroit answer…

CROWLEY: I will let you absolutely…

ROMNEY: … and the rest of the answer, way off the mark.

CROWLEY: OK. Will — will — you certainly will have lots of time here coming up.

Because I want to move you on to something that’s sort of connected to cars here, and — and go over. And we want to get a question from Phillip Tricolla.

QUESTION: Your energy secretary, Steven Chu, has now been on record three times stating it’s not policy of his department to help lower gas prices. Do you agree with Secretary Chu that this is not the job of the Energy Department?

OBAMA: The most important thing we can do is to make sure we control our own energy. So here’s what I’ve done since I’ve been president. We have increased oil production to the highest levels in 16 years.

Natural gas production is the highest it’s been in decades. We have seen increases in coal production and coal employment. But what I’ve also said is we can’t just produce traditional source of energy. We’ve also got to look to the future. That’s why we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars. That means that in the middle of the next decade, any car you buy, you’re going to end up going twice as far on a gallon of gas. That’s why we doubled clean — clean energy production like wind and solar and biofuels.

And all these things have contributed to us lowering our oil imports to the lowest levels in 16 years. Now, I want to build on that. And that means, yes, we still continue to open up new areas for drilling. We continue to make it a priority for us to go after natural gas. We’ve got potentially 600,000 jobs and 100 years worth of energy right beneath our feet with natural gas.

And we can do it in an environmentally sound way. But we’ve also got to continue to figure out how we have efficiency energy, because ultimately that’s how we’re going to reduce demand and that’s what’s going to keep gas prices lower.

Now, Governor Romney will say he’s got an all-of-the-above plan, but basically his plan is to let the oil companies write the energy policies. So he’s got the oil and gas part, but he doesn’t have the clean energy part. And if we are only thinking about tomorrow or the next day and not thinking about 10 years from now, we’re not going to control our own economic future. Because China, Germany, they’re making these investments. And I’m not going to cede those jobs of the future to those countries. I expect those new energy sources to be built right here in the United States.

That’s going to help Jeremy get a job. It’s also going to make sure that you’re not paying as much for gas.

CROWLEY: Governor, on the subject of gas prices?

ROMNEY: Well, let’s look at the president’s policies, all right, as opposed to the rhetoric, because we’ve had four years of policies being played out. And the president’s right in terms of the additional oil production, but none of it came on federal land. As a matter of fact, oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land, and gas production was down 9 percent. Why? Because the president cut in half the number of licenses and permits for drilling on federal lands, and in federal waters.

So where’d the increase come from? Well a lot of it came from the Bakken Range in North Dakota. What was his participation there? The administration brought a criminal action against the people drilling up there for oil, this massive new resource we have. And what was the cost? 20 or 25 birds were killed and brought out a migratory bird act to go after them on a criminal basis.

Look, I want to make sure we use our oil, our coal, our gas, our nuclear, our renewables. I believe very much in our renewable capabilities; ethanol, wind, solar will be an important part of our energy mix.

But what we don’t need is to have the president keeping us from taking advantage of oil, coal and gas. This has not been Mr. Oil, or Mr. Gas, or Mr. Coal. Talk to the people that are working in those industries. I was in coal country. People grabbed my arms and said, “Please save my job.” The head of the EPA said, “You can’t build a coal plant. You’ll virtually — it’s virtually impossible given our regulations.” When the president ran for office, he said if you build a coal plant, you can go ahead, but you’ll go bankrupt. That’s not the right course for America.

Let’s take advantage of the energy resources we have, as well as the energy sources for the future. And if we do that, if we do what I’m planning on doing, which is getting us energy independent, North America energy independence within eight years, you’re going to see manufacturing jobs come back. Because our energy is low cost, that are already beginning to come back because of our abundant energy. I’ll get America and North America energy independent. I’ll do it by more drilling, more permits and licenses.

We’re going to bring that pipeline in from Canada. How in the world the president said no to that pipeline? I will never know.

This is about bringing good jobs back for the middle class of America, and that’s what I’m going to do. CROWLEY: Mr. President, let me just see if I can move you to the gist of this question, which is, are we looking at the new normal? I can tell you that tomorrow morning, a lot of people in Hempstead will wake up and fill up and they will find that the price of gas is over $4 a gallon.

Is it within the purview of the government to bring those prices down, or are we looking at the new normal?

OBAMA: Candy, there’s no doubt that world demand’s gone up, but our production is going up, and we’re using oil more efficiently. And very little of what Governor Romney just said is true. We’ve opened up public lands. We’re actually drilling more on public lands than in the previous administration and my — the previous president was an oil man.

And natural gas isn’t just appearing magically. We’re encouraging it and working with the industry.

And when I hear Governor Romney say he’s a big coal guy, I mean, keep in mind, when — Governor, when you were governor of Massachusetts, you stood in front of a coal plant and pointed at it and said, “This plant kills,” and took great pride in shutting it down. And now suddenly you’re a big champion of coal.

So what I’ve tried to do is be consistent. With respect to something like coal, we made the largest investment in clean coal technology, to make sure that even as we’re producing more coal, we’re producing it cleaner and smarter. Same thing with oil, same thing with natural gas.

And the proof is our oil imports are down to the lowest levels in 20 years. Oil production is up, natural gas production is up, and, most importantly, we’re also starting to build cars that are more efficient.

And that’s creating jobs. That means those cars can be exported, ’cause that’s the demand around the world, and it also means that it’ll save money in your pocketbook.

OBAMA: That’s the strategy you need, an all-of-the-above strategy, and that’s what we’re going to do in the next four years.

ROMNEY: But that’s not what you’ve done in the last four years. That’s the problem. In the last four years, you cut permits and licenses on federal land and federal waters in half.

OBAMA: Not true, Governor Romney.

ROMNEY: So how much did you cut (inaudible)?

OBAMA: Not true.

ROMNEY: How much did you cut them by, then?

OBAMA: Governor, we have actually produced more oil —

ROMNEY: No, no. How much did you cut licenses and permits on federal land and federal waters?

OBAMA: Governor Romney, here’s what we did. There were a whole bunch of oil companies.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: No, no, I had a question and the question was how much did you cut them by?

OBAMA: You want me to answer a question —

ROMNEY: How much did you cut them by?

OBAMA: I’m happy to answer the question.

ROMNEY: All right. And it is —

OBAMA: Here’s what happened. You had a whole bunch of oil companies who had leases on public lands that they weren’t using. So what we said was you can’t just sit on this for 10, 20, 30 years, decide when you want to drill, when you want to produce, when it’s most profitable for you. These are public lands. So if you want to drill on public lands, you use it or you lose it.

ROMNEY: OK, (inaudible) —

OBAMA: And so what we did was take away those leases. And we are now reletting them so that we can actually make a profit.

ROMNEY: And production on private — on government land —

OBAMA: Production is up.

ROMNEY: — is down.

OBAMA: No, it isn’t.

ROMNEY: Production on government land of oil is down 14 percent.

OBAMA: Governor —

ROMNEY: And production on gas —

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: It’s just not true.

ROMNEY: It’s absolutely true. Look, there’s no question but the people recognize that we have not produced more (inaudible) on federal lands and in federal waters. And coal, coal production is not up; coal jobs are not up.

I was just at a coal facility, where some 1,200 people lost their jobs. The right course for America is to have a true all-of-the-above policy. I don’t think anyone really believes that you’re a person who’s going to be pushing for oil and gas and coal. You’ll get your chance in a moment. I’m still speaking.

OBAMA: Well —

ROMNEY: And the answer is I don’t believe people think that’s the case —

OBAMA: — (inaudible).

ROMNEY: That wasn’t the question.

OBAMA: OK.

ROMNEY: That was a statement. I don’t think the American people believe that. I will fight for oil, coal and natural gas. And the proof, the proof of whether a strategy is working or not is what the price is that you’re paying at the pump. If you’re paying less than you paid a year or two ago, why, then, the strategy is working. But you’re paying more. When the president took office, the price of gasoline here in Nassau County was about $1.86 a gallon. Now, it’s $4.00 a gallon. The price of electricity is up.

If the president’s energy policies are working, you’re going to see the cost of energy come down. I will fight to create more energy in this country, to get America energy secure. And part of that is bringing in a pipeline of oil from Canada, taking advantage of the oil and coal we have here, drilling offshore in Alaska, drilling offshore in Virginia where the people want it. Those things will get us the energy we need.

CROWLEY: Mr. President, could you address, because we did finally get to gas prices here, could you address what the governor said, which is if your energy policy was working, the price of gasoline would not be $4 a gallon here. Is that true?

OBAMA: Well, think about what the governor — think about what the governor just said. He said when I took office, the price of gasoline was $1.80, $1.86. Why is that? Because the economy was on the verge of collapse, because we were about to go through the worst recession since the Great Depression, as a consequence of some of the same policies that Governor Romney’s now promoting.

So, it’s conceivable that Governor Romney could bring down gas prices because with his policies, we might be back in that same mess.

What I want to do is to create an economy that is strong, and at the same time produce energy. And with respect to this pipeline that Governor Romney keeps on talking about, we’ve — we’ve built enough pipeline to wrap around the entire earth once.

So, I’m all for pipelines. I’m all for oil production. What I’m not for is us ignoring the other half of the equation. So, for example, on wind energy, when Governor Romney says “these are imaginary jobs.” When you’ve got thousands of people right now in Iowa, right now in Colorado, who are working, creating wind power with good-paying manufacturing jobs, and the Republican senator in that — in Iowa is all for it, providing tax breaks (ph) to help this work and Governor Romney says I’m opposed. I’d get rid of it.

That’s not an energy strategy for the future. And we need to win that future. And I intend to win it as President of the United States.

CROWLEY: I got to — I got to move you on —

ROMNEY: He gets the first —

CROWLEY: — and the next question —

ROMNEY: He actually got —

CROWLEY: — for you —

ROMNEY: He actually got the first question. So I get the last question — last answer —

CROWLEY: (Inaudible) in the follow up, it doesn’t quite work like that. But I’m going to give you a chance here. I promise you, I’m going to.

And the next question is for you. So if you want to, you know, continue on — but I don’t want to leave all —

ROMNEY: Candy, Candy —

CROWLEY: — sitting here —

ROMNEY: Candy, I don’t have a policy of stopping wind jobs in Iowa and that — they’re not phantom jobs. They’re real jobs.

CROWLEY: OK.

ROMNEY: I appreciate wind jobs in Iowa and across our country. I appreciate the jobs in coal and oil and gas. I’m going to make sure —

CROWLEY: OK.

ROMNEY: — we’re taking advantage of our energy resources. We’ll bring back manufacturing to America. We’re going to get through a very aggressive energy policy, 31/2 million more jobs in this country. It’s critical to our future.

OBAMA: Candy, it’s not going to —

CROWLEY: We’re going to move you along —

OBAMA: Used to being interrupted.

CROWLEY: We’re going to move you both along to taxes over here and all these folks that have been waiting.

Governor, this question is for you. It comes from Mary Follano — Follano, sorry.

ROMNEY: Hi, Mary.

QUESTION: Governor Romney, you have stated that if you’re elected president, you would plan to reduce the tax rates for all the tax brackets and that you would work with the Congress to eliminate some deductions in order to make up for the loss in revenue.

Concerning the — these various deductions, the mortgage deductions, the charitable deductions, the child tax credit and also the — oh, what’s that other credit? I forgot.

OBAMA: You’re doing great.

QUESTION: Oh, I remember.

The education credits, which are important to me, because I have children in college. What would be your position on those things, which are important to the middle class?

ROMNEY: Thank you very much. And let me tell you, you’re absolutely right about part of that, which is I want to bring the rates down, I want to simplify the tax code, and I want to get middle- income taxpayers to have lower taxes.

And the reason I want middle-income taxpayers to have lower taxes is because middle-income taxpayers have been buried over the past four years. You’ve seen, as middle-income people in this country, incomes go down $4,300 a family, even as gasoline prices have gone up $2,000. Health insurance premiums, up $2,500. Food prices up. Utility prices up.

The middle-income families in America have been crushed over the last four years. So I want to get some relief to middle-income families. That’s part — that’s part one.

Now, how about deductions? ‘Cause I’m going to bring rates down across the board for everybody, but I’m going to limit deductions and exemptions and credits, particularly for people at the high end, because I am not going to have people at the high end pay less than they’re paying now.

The top 5 percent of taxpayers will continue to pay 60 percent of the income tax the nation collects. So that’ll stay the same.

Middle-income people are going to get a tax break.

And so, in terms of bringing down deductions, one way of doing that would be say everybody gets — I’ll pick a number — $25,000 of deductions and credits, and you can decide which ones to use. Your home mortgage interest deduction, charity, child tax credit, and so forth, you can use those as part of filling that bucket, if you will, of deductions.

But your rate comes down and the burden also comes down on you for one more reason, and that is every middle-income taxpayer no longer will pay any tax on interest, dividends or capital gains. No tax on your savings. That makes life a lot easier.

If you’re getting interest from a bank, if you’re getting a statement from a mutual fund or any other kind of investment you have, you don’t have to worry about filing taxes on that, because there’ll be no taxes for anybody making $200,000.00 per year and less, on your interest, dividends and capital gains. Why am I lowering taxes on the middle-class? Because under the last four years, they’ve been buried. And I want to help people in the middle-class.

And I will not — I will not under any circumstances, reduce the share that’s being paid by the highest income taxpayers. And I will not, under any circumstances increase taxes on the middle-class. The president’s spending, the president’s borrowing will cost this nation to have to raise taxes on the American people. Not just at the high end. A recent study has shown the people in the middle-class will see $4,000.00 per year in higher taxes as a result of the spending and borrowing of this administration.

I will not let that happen. I want to get us on track to a balanced budget, and I’m going to reduce the tax burden on middle income families. And what’s that going to do? It’s going to help those families, and it’s going to create incentives to start growing jobs again in this country.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Governor.

OBAMA: My philosophy on taxes has been simple. And that is, I want to give middle-class families and folks who are striving to get into the middle-class some relief. Because they have been hit hard over the last decade. Over the last 15, over the last 20 years.

So four years ago I stood on a stage just like this one. Actually it was a town hall, and I said I would cut taxes for middle- class families, and that’s what I’ve done, by $3,600.00. I said I would cut taxes for small businesses, who are the drivers and engines of growth. And we’ve cut them 18 times. And I want to continue those tax cuts for middle-class families, and for small business.

But what I’ve also said is, if we’re serious about reducing the deficit, if this is genuinely a moral obligation to the next generation, then in addition to some tough spending cuts, we’ve also got to make sure that the wealthy do a little bit more.

So what I’ve said is, your first $250,000.00 worth of income, no change. And that means 98 percent of American families, 97 percent of small businesses, they will not see a tax increase. I’m ready to sign that bill right now. The only reason it’s not happening is because Governor Romney’s allies in Congress have held the 98 percent hostage because they want tax breaks for the top 2 percent.

But what I’ve also says is for above $250,000, we can go back to the tax rates we had when Bill Clinton was president. We created 23 million new jobs. That’s part of what took us from deficits to surplus. It will be good for our economy and it will be good for job creation.

Now, Governor Romney has a different philosophy. He was on 60 Minutes just two weeks ago and he was asked: Is it fair for somebody like you, making $20 million a year, to pay a lower tax rate than a nurse or a bus driver, somebody making $50,000 year? And he said, “Yes, I think that’s fair.” Not only that, he said, “I think that’s what grows the economy.”

Well, I fundamentally disagree with that. I think what grows the economy is when you get that tax credit that we put in place for your kids going to college. I think that grows the economy. I think what grows the economy is when we make sure small businesses are getting a tax credit for hiring veterans who fought for our country. That grows our economy.

So we just have a different theory. And when Governor Romney stands here, after a year of campaigning, when during a Republican primary he stood on stage and said “I’m going to give tax cuts” — he didn’t say tax rate cuts, he said “tax cuts to everybody,” including the top 1 percent, you should believe him because that’s been his history.

And that’s exactly the kind of top-down economics that is not going to work if we want a strong middle class and an economy that’s striving for everybody.

CROWLEY: Governor Romney, I’m sure you’ve got a reply there.

(LAUGHTER) ROMNEY: You’re absolutely right.

You heard what I said about my tax plan. The top 5 percent will continue to pay 60 percent, as they do today. I’m not looking to cut taxes for wealthy people. I am looking to cut taxes for middle-income people.

And why do I want to bring rates down, and at the same time lower exemptions and deductions, particularly for people at the high end? Because if you bring rates down, it makes it easier for small business to keep more of their capital and hire people.

And for me, this is about jobs. I want to get America’s economy going again. Fifty-four percent of America’s workers work in businesses that are taxed as individuals. So when you bring those rates down, those small businesses are able to keep more money and hire more people.

For me, I look at what’s happened in the last four years and say this has been a disappointment. We can do better than this. We don’t have to settle for, how many months, 43 months with unemployment above 8 percent, 23 million Americans struggling to find a good job right now.

There are 3.5 million more women living in poverty today than when the president took office.

We don’t have to live like this. We can get this economy going again. My five-point plan does it. Energy independence for North America in five years. Opening up more trade, particularly in Latin America. Cracking down on China when they cheat. Getting us to a balanced budget. Fixing our training programs for our workers. And finally, championing small business.

I want to make small businesses grow and thrive. I know how to make that happen. I spent my life in the private sector. I know why jobs come and why they go. And they’re going now because of the policies of this administration.

CROWLEY: Governor, let me ask the president something about what you just said.

The governor says that he is not going to allow the top 5 percent, believe is what he said, to have a tax cut, that it will all even out, that what he wants to do is give that tax cut to the middle class. Settled?

OBAMA: No, it’s not settled.

Look, the cost of lowering rates for everybody across the board, 20 percent. Along with what he also wants to do in terms of eliminating the estate tax, along what he wants to do in terms of corporates, changes in the tax code, it costs about $5 trillion.

Governor Romney then also wants to spend $2 trillion on additional military programs even though the military’s not asking for them. That’s $7 trillion.

He also wants to continue the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. That’s another trillion dollars — that’s $8 trillion.

Now, what he says is he’s going to make sure that this doesn’t add to the deficit and he’s going to cut middleclass taxes.

But when he’s asked, how are you going to do it, which deductions, which loopholes are you going to close? He can’t tell you.

The — the fact that he only has to pay 14 percent on his taxes when a lot of you are paying much higher. He’s already taken that off the board, capital gains are going to continue to be at a low rate so we — we’re not going to get money that way.

We haven’t heard from the governor any specifics beyond Big Bird and eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood in terms of how he pays for that.

Now, Governor Romney was a very successful investor. If somebody came to you, Governor, with a plan that said, here, I want to spend $7 or $8 trillion, and then we’re going to pay for it, but we can’t tell you until maybe after the election how we’re going to do it, you wouldn’t take such a sketchy deal and neither should you, the American people, because the math doesn’t add up.

And — and what’s at stake here is one of two things, either Candy — this blows up the deficit because keep in mind, this is just to pay for the additional spending that he’s talking about, $7 trillion – $8 trillion before we even get to the deficit we already have. Or, alternatively, it’s got to be paid for, not only by closing deductions for wealthy individuals, that — that will pay for about 4 percent reduction in tax rates.

You’re going to be paying for it. You’re going to lose some deductions, and you can’t buy the sales pitch. Nobody who’s looked at it that’s serious, actually believes it adds up.

CROWLEY: Mr. President, let me get — let me get the governor in on this. And Governor, let’s — before we get into a…

ROMNEY: I — I…

CROWLEY: …vast array of who says — what study says what, if it shouldn’t add up. If somehow when you get in there, there isn’t enough tax revenue coming in. If somehow the numbers don’t add up, would you be willing to look again at a 20 percent…

ROMNEY: Well of course they add up. I — I was — I was someone who ran businesses for 25 years, and balanced the budget. I ran the Olympics and balanced the budget. I ran the — the state of Massachusetts as a governor, to the extent any governor does, and balanced the budget all four years. When we’re talking about math that doesn’t add up, how about $4 trillion of deficits over the last four years, $5 trillion? That’s math that doesn’t add up. We have — we have a president talking about someone’s plan in a way that’s completely foreign to what my real plan is.

ROMNEY: And then we have his own record, which is we have four consecutive years where he said when he was running for office, he would cut the deficit in half. Instead he’s doubled it. We’ve gone from $10 trillion of national debt, to $16 trillion of national debt. If the president were reelected, we’d go to almost $20 trillion of national debt. This puts us on a road to Greece. I know what it takes to balance budgets. I’ve done it my entire life. So for instance when he says, “Yours is a $5 trillion cut.” Well, no it’s not. Because I’m offsetting some of the reductions with holding down some of the deductions.

And…

CROWLEY: Governor, I’ve gotta — gotta — actually, I need to have you both (inaudible).

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: I understand the stakes here. I understand both of you. But I — I will get run out of town if I don’t…

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: And I just described — I just described to you, Mr. President — I just described to you precisely how I’d do it which is with a single number that people can put — and they can put they’re — they’re deductions and credits…

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Mr. President, we’re keeping track, I promise you. And Mr. President, the next question is for you, so stay standing.

OBAMA: Great. Looking forward to it.

And it’s Katherine Fenton, who has a question for you.

QUESTION: In what new ways to you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?

OBAMA: Well, Katherine, that’s a great question. And, you know, I was raised by a single mom who had to put herself through school while looking after two kids. And she worked hard every day and made a lot of sacrifices to make sure we got everything we needed. My grandmother, she started off as a secretary in a bank. She never got a college education, even though she was smart as a whip. And she worked her way up to become a vice president of a local bank, but she hit the glass ceiling. She trained people who would end up becoming her bosses during the course of her career.

She didn’t complain. That’s not what you did in that generation. And this is one of the reasons why one of the first — the first bill I signed was something called the Lily Ledbetter bill. And it’s named after this amazing woman who had been doing the same job as a man for years, found out that she was getting paid less, and the Supreme Court said that she couldn’t bring suit because she should have found about it earlier, whereas she had no way of finding out about it. So we fixed that. And that’s an example of the kind of advocacy that we need, because women are increasingly the breadwinners in the family. This is not just a women’s issue, this is a family issue, this is a middle-class issue, and that’s why we’ve got to fight for it.

It also means that we’ve got to make sure that young people like yourself are able to afford a college education. Earlier, Governor Romney talked about he wants to make Pell Grants and other education accessible for young people.

Well, the truth of the matter is, is that that’s exactly what we’ve done. We’ve expanded Pell Grants for millions of people, including millions of young women, all across the country.

We did it by taking $60 billion that was going to banks and lenders as middlemen for the student loan program, and we said, let’s just cut out the middleman. Let’s give the money directly to students.

And as a consequence, we’ve seen millions of young people be able to afford college, and that’s going to make sure that young women are going to be able to compete in that marketplace.

But we’ve got to enforce the laws, which is what we are doing, and we’ve also got to make sure that in every walk of life we do not tolerate discrimination.

That’s been one of the hallmarks of my administration. I’m going to continue to push on this issue for the next four years.

CROWLEY: Governor Romney, pay equity for women?

ROMNEY: Thank you. And important topic, and one which I learned a great deal about, particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men.

And I — and I went to my staff, and I said, “How come all the people for these jobs are — are all men.” They said, “Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.” And I said, “Well, gosh, can’t we — can’t we find some — some women that are also qualified?”

ROMNEY: And — and so we — we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet.

I went to a number of women’s groups and said, “Can you help us find folks,” and they brought us whole binders full of women.

I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my Cabinet and my senior staff, that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states, and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.

Now one of the reasons I was able to get so many good women to be part of that team was because of our recruiting effort. But number two, because I recognized that if you’re going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school.

She said, I can’t be here until 7 or 8 o’clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o’clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said fine. Let’s have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.

We’re going to have to have employers in the new economy, in the economy I’m going to bring to play, that are going to be so anxious to get good workers they’re going to be anxious to hire women. In the — in the last women have lost 580,000 jobs. That’s the net of what’s happened in the last four years. We’re still down 580,000 jobs. I mentioned 31/2 million women, more now in poverty than four years ago.

What we can do to help young women and women of all ages is to have a strong economy, so strong that employers that are looking to find good employees and bringing them into their workforce and adapting to a flexible work schedule that gives women opportunities that they would otherwise not be able to afford.

This is what I have done. It’s what I look forward to doing and I know what it takes to make an economy work, and I know what a working economy looks like. And an economy with 7.8 percent unemployment is not a real strong economy. An economy that has 23 million people looking for work is not a strong economy.

An economy with 50 percent of kids graduating from college that can’t finds a job, or a college level job, that’s not what we have to have. CROWLEY: Governor?

ROMNEY: I’m going to help women in America get good work by getting a stronger economy and by supporting women in the workforce.

CROWLEY: Mr. President why don’t you get in on this quickly, please?

OBAMA: Katherine, I just want to point out that when Governor Romney’s campaign was asked about the Lilly Ledbetter bill, whether he supported it? He said, “I’ll get back to you.” And that’s not the kind of advocacy that women need in any economy. Now, there are some other issues that have a bearing on how women succeed in the workplace. For example, their healthcare. You know a major difference in this campaign is that Governor Romney feels comfortable having politicians in Washington decide the health care choices that women are making.

I think that’s a mistake. In my health care bill, I said insurance companies need to provide contraceptive coverage to everybody who is insured. Because this is not just a — a health issue, it’s an economic issue for women. It makes a difference. This is money out of that family’s pocket. Governor Romney not only opposed it, he suggested that in fact employers should be able to make the decision as to whether or not a woman gets contraception through her insurance coverage.

That’s not the kind of advocacy that women need. When Governor Romney says that we should eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, there are millions of women all across the country, who rely on Planned Parenthood for, not just contraceptive care, they rely on it for mammograms, for cervical cancer screenings. That’s a pocketbook issue for women and families all across the country. And it makes a difference in terms of how well and effectively women are able to work. When we talk about child care, and the credits that we’re providing. That makes a difference in whether they can go out there and — and earn a living for their family.

These are not just women’s issues. These are family issues. These are economic issues.

And one of the things that makes us grow as an economy is when everybody participates and women are getting the same fair deal as men are.

CROWLEY: Mr. President…

OBAMA: And I’ve got two daughters and I want to make sure that they have the same opportunities that anybody’s sons have. That’s part of what I’m fighting for as president of the United States.

CROWLEY: I want to move us along here to Susan Katz, who has a question.

And, Governor, it’s for you. QUESTION: Governor Romney, I am an undecided voter, because I’m disappointed with the lack of progress I’ve seen in the last four years. However, I do attribute much of America’s economic and international problems to the failings and missteps of the Bush administration.

Since both you and President Bush are Republicans, I fear a return to the policies of those years should you win this election. What is the biggest difference between you and George W. Bush, and how do you differentiate yourself from George W. Bush?

ROMNEY: Thank you. And I appreciate that question.

I just want to make sure that, I think I was supposed to get that last answer, but I want to point out that that I don’t believe…

OBAMA: I don’t think so, Candy.

ROMNEY: … I don’t believe…

OBAMA: I want to make sure our timekeepers are working here.

ROMNEY: The time — the time…

CROWLEY: OK. The timekeepers are all working. And let me tell you that the last part, it’s for the two of you to talk to one another, and it isn’t quite as (inaudible) you think.

But go ahead and use this two minutes any way you’d like to, the question is on the floor.

ROMNEY: I’d just note that I don’t believe that bureaucrats in Washington should tell someone whether they can use contraceptives or not. And I don’t believe employers should tell someone whether they could have contraceptive care of not. Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives. And — and the — and the president’s statement of my policy is completely and totally wrong.

OBAMA: Governor…

ROMNEY: Let me come back and — and answer your question.

President Bush and I are — are different people and these are different times and that’s why my five point plan is so different than what he would have done.

I mean for instance, we can now, by virtue of new technology actually get all the energy we need in North America without having to go to the — the Arabs or the Venezuelans or anyone else. That wasn’t true in his time, that’s why my policy starts with a very robust policy to get all that energy in North America — become energy secure.

Number two, trade — I’ll crack down on China, President Bush didn’t. I’m also going to dramatically expand trade in Latin America. It’s been growing about 12 percent per year over a long period of time. I want to add more free trade agreements so we’ll have more trade.

Number three, I’m going to get us to a balanced budget. President Bush didn’t. President Obama was right, he said that that was outrageous to have deficits as high as half a trillion dollars under the Bush years. He was right, but then he put in place deficits twice that size for every one of his four years. And his forecast for the next four years is more deficits, almost that large. So that’s the next area I’m different than President Bush.

And then let’s take the last one, championing small business. Our party has been focused too long. I came through small business. I understand how hard it is to start a small business. That’s why everything I’ll do is designed to help small businesses grow and add jobs. I want to keep their taxes down on small business. I want regulators to see their job as encouraging small enterprise, not crushing it.

And the thing I find the most troubling about Obama Care, well it’s a long list, but one of the things I find most troubling is that when you go out and talk to small businesses and ask them what they think about it, they tell you it keeps them from hiring more people.

My priority is jobs. I know how to make that happen. And President Bush has a very different path for a very different time. My path is designed in getting small businesses to grow and hire people.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Governor.

Mr. President?

OBAMA: Well, first of all, I think it’s important to tell you that we did come in during some tough times. We were losing 800,000 jobs a month when I started. But we had been digging our way out of policies that were misplaced and focused on the top doing very well and middle class folks not doing well.

Now, we’ve seen 30 consecutive — 31 consecutive months of job growth; 5.2 million new jobs created. And the plans that I talked about will create even more. But when Governor Romney says that he has a very different economic plan, the centerpiece of his economic plan are tax cuts. That’s what took us from surplus to deficit. When he talks about getting tough on China, keep in mind that Governor Romney invested in companies that were pioneers of outsourcing to China, and is currently investing in countries — in companies that are building surveillance equipment for China to spy on its own folks.

That’s — Governor, you’re the last person who’s going to get tough on China. And what we’ve done when it comes to trade is not only sign three trade deals to open up new markets, but we’ve also set up a task force for trade that goes after anybody who is taking advantage of American workers or businesses and not creating a level playing field. We’ve brought twice as many cases against unfair trading practices than the previous administration and we’ve won every single one that’s been decided.

When I said that we had to make sure that China was not flooding our domestic market with cheap tires, Governor Romney said I was being protectionist; that it wouldn’t be helpful to American workers. Well, in fact we saved 1,000 jobs. And that’s the kind of tough trade actions that are required.

But the last point I want to make is this. You know, there are some things where Governor Romney is different from George Bush. George Bush didn’t propose turning Medicare into a voucher. George Bush embraced comprehensive immigration reform. He didn’t call for self-deportation.

George Bush never suggested that we eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, so there are differences between Governor Romney and George Bush, but they’re not on economic policy. In some ways, he’s gone to a more extreme place when it comes to social policy. And I think that’s a mistake. That’s not how we’re going to move our economy forward.

CROWLEY: I want to move you both along to the next question, because it’s in the same wheelhouse, so you will be able to respond. But the president does get this question. I want to call on Michael Jones.

QUESTION: Mr. President, I voted for you in 2008. What have you done or accomplished to earn my vote in 2012? I’m not that optimistic as I was in 2012. Most things I need for everyday living are very expensive.

OBAMA: Well, we’ve gone through a tough four years. There’s no doubt about it. But four years ago, I told the American people and I told you I would cut taxes for middle class families. And I did. I told you I’d cut taxes for small businesses, and I have.

I said that I’d end the war in Iraq, and I did. I said we’d refocus attention on those who actually attacked us on 9/11, and we have gone after Al Qaeda’s leadership like never before and Osama bin Laden is dead.

OBAMA: I said that we would put in place health care reform to make sure that insurance companies can’t jerk you around and if you don’t have health insurance, that you’d have a chance to get affordable insurance, and I have.

I committed that I would rein in the excesses of Wall Street, and we passed the toughest Wall Street reforms since the 1930s. We’ve created five million jobs, and gone from 800 jobs a month being lost, and we are making progress. We saved an auto industry that was on the brink of collapse.

Now, does that mean you’re not struggling? Absolutely not. A lot of us are. And that’s why the plan that I’ve put forward for manufacturing and education, and reducing our deficit in a sensible way, using the savings from ending wars, to rebuild America and putting people back to work. Making sure that we are controlling our own energy, but not only the energy of today, but also the energy of the future. All of those things will make a difference, so the point is the commitments I’ve made, I’ve kept.

And those that I haven’t been able to keep, it’s not for lack of trying and we’re going to get it done in a second term. But, you should pay attention to this campaign, because Governor Romney has made some commitments as well. And I suspect he’ll keep those too. You know when members of the Republican Congress say, “We’re going to sign a no tax pledge, so that we don’t ask a dime for millionaires and billionaires to reduce our deficit so we can still invest in education, and helping kids go to college. He said, “Me too.”

When they said, “We’re going to cut Planned Parenthood funding.” He said, “Me too.” When he said, “We’re going to repeal Obamacare. First thing I’m going to do,” despite the fact that it’s the same health care plan that he passed in Massachusetts and is working well. He said, “Me too.” That is not the kind of leadership that you need, but you should expect that those are promises he’s going to keep.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Mr. President, let me let…

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: …the choice in this election is going to be whose promises are going to be more likely to help you in your life? Make sure your kids can go to college. Make sure that you are getting a good paying job, making sure that Medicare and Social Security… (CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Mr. President. Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: …will be there for you.

CROWLEY: Thank you. Governor?

ROMNEY: I think you know better. I think you know that these last four years haven’t been so good as the president just described and that you don’t feel like your confident that the next four years are going to be much better either.

I can tell you that if you were to elect President Obama, you know what you’re going to get. You’re going to get a repeat of the last four years. We just can’t afford four more years like the last four years.

He said that by now we’d have unemployment at 5.4 percent. The difference between where it is and 5.4 percent is 9 million Americans without work.

I wasn’t the one that said 5.4 percent. This was the president’s plan. Didn’t get there.

He said he would have by now put forward a plan to reform Medicare and Social Security, because he pointed out they’re on the road to bankruptcy. He would reform them. He’d get that done. He hasn’t even made a proposal on either one.

He said in his first year he’d put out an immigration plan that would deal with our immigration challenges. Didn’t even file it.

This is a president who has not been able to do what he said he’d do. He said that he’d cut in half the deficit. He hasn’t done that either. In fact, he doubled it. He said that by now middle-income families would have a reduction in their health insurance premiums by $2,500 a year. It’s gone up by $2,500 a year. And if Obamacare is passed, or implemented — it’s already been passed — if it’s implemented fully, it’ll be another $2,500 on top.

ROMNEY: The middle class is getting crushed under the policies of a president who has not understood what it takes to get the economy working again. He keeps saying, “Look, I’ve created 5 million jobs.” That’s after losing 5 million jobs. The entire record is such that the unemployment has not been reduced in this country. The unemployment, the number of people who are still looking for work, is still 23 million Americans.

There are more people in poverty, one out of six people in poverty.

How about food stamps? When he took office, 32 million people were on food stamps. Today, 47 million people are on food stamps. How about the growth of the economy? It’s growing more slowly this year than last year, and more slowly last year than the year before.

The president wants to do well. I understand. But the policies he’s put in place from Obamacare to Dodd-Frank to his tax policies to his regulatory policies, these policies combined have not let this economy take off and grow like it could have.

You might say, “Well, you got an example of one that worked better?” Yeah, in the Reagan recession where unemployment hit 10.8 percent, between that period — the end of that recession and the equivalent of time to today, Ronald Reagan’s recovery created twice as many jobs as this president’s recovery. Five million jobs doesn’t even keep up with our population growth. And the only reason the unemployment rate seems a little lower today is because of all the people that have dropped out of the workforce.

The president has tried, but his policies haven’t worked. He’s great as a — as a — as a speaker and describing his plans and his vision. That’s wonderful, except we have a record to look at. And that record shows he just hasn’t been able to cut the deficit, to put in place reforms for Medicare and Social Security to preserve them, to get us the rising incomes we need. Median income is down $4,300 a family and 23 million Americans out of work. That’s what this election is about. It’s about who can get the middle class in this country a bright and prosperous future and assure our kids the kind of hope and optimism they deserve.

CROWLEY: Governor, I want to move you along. Don’t — don’t go away, and we’ll have plenty of time to respond. We are quite aware of the clock for both of you. But I want to bring in a different subject here.

Mr. President, I’ll be right back with you.

Lorraine Osorio has a question for you about a topic we have not…

OBAMA: This is for Governor Romney?

CROWLEY: It’s for Governor Romney, and we’ll be right with you, Mr. President. Thanks.

ROMNEY: Is it Loraina?

QUESTION: Lorraine.

ROMNEY: Lorraine?

QUESTION: Yes, Lorraine.

ROMNEY: Lorraine.

QUESTION: How you doing?

ROMNEY: Good, thanks.

QUESTION: Mr. Romney, what do you plan on doing with immigrants without their green cards that are currently living here as productive members of society?

ROMNEY: Thank you. Lorraine? Did I get that right? Good. Thank you for your question. And let me step back and tell you what I would like to do with our immigration policy broadly and include an answer to your question.

But first of all, this is a nation of immigrants. We welcome people coming to this country as immigrants. My dad was born in Mexico of American parents; Ann’s dad was born in Wales and is a first-generation American. We welcome legal immigrants into this country.

I want our legal system to work better. I want it to be streamlined. I want it to be clearer. I don’t think you have to — shouldn’t have to hire a lawyer to figure out how to get into this country legally. I also think that we should give visas to people — green cards, rather, to people who graduate with skills that we need. People around the world with accredited degrees in science and math get a green card stapled to their diploma, come to the U.S. of A. We should make sure our legal system works.

Number two, we’re going to have to stop illegal immigration. There are 4 million people who are waiting in line to get here legally. Those who’ve come here illegally take their place. So I will not grant amnesty to those who have come here illegally.

What I will do is I’ll put in place an employment verification system and make sure that employers that hire people who have come here illegally are sanctioned for doing so. I won’t put in place magnets for people coming here illegally. So for instance, I would not give driver’s licenses to those that have come here illegally as the president would.

The kids of those that came here illegally, those kids, I think, should have a pathway to become a permanent resident of the United States and military service, for instance, is one way they would have that kind of pathway to become a permanent resident.

ROMNEY: Now when the president ran for office, he said that he’d put in place, in his first year, a piece of legislation — he’d file a bill in his first year that would reform our — our immigration system, protect legal immigration, stop illegal immigration. He didn’t do it.

He had a Democrat House, a Democrat Senate, super majority in both Houses. Why did he fail to even promote legislation that would have provided an answer for those that want to come legally and for those that are here illegally today? What’s a question I think the — the president will have a chance to answer right now.

OBAMA: Good, I look forward to it.

Was — Lorranna — Lorraine — we are a nation of immigrants. I mean we’re just a few miles away from Ellis Island. We all understand what this country has become because talent from all around the world wants to come here. People are willing to take risks. People who want to build on their dreams and make sure their kids have an even bigger dreams than they have.

But we’re also a nation of laws. So what I’ve said is we need to fix a broken immigration system and I’ve done everything that I can on my own and sought cooperation from Congress to make sure that we fix the system.

The first thing we did was to streamline the legal immigration system, to reduce the backlog, make it easier, simpler and cheaper for people who are waiting in line, obeying the law to make sure that they can come here and contribute to our country and that’s good for our economic growth.

They’ll start new businesses. They’ll make things happen to create jobs here in the United States.

Number two, we do have to deal with our border so we put more border patrol on the — any time in history and the flow of undocumented works across the border is actually lower than it’s been in 40 years.

What I’ve also said is if we’re going to go after folks who are here illegally, we should do it smartly and go after folks who are criminals, gang bangers, people who are hurting the community, not after students, not after folks who are here just because they’re trying to figure out how to feed their families. And that’s what we’ve done. And what I’ve also said is for young people who come here, brought here often times by their parents. Had gone to school here, pledged allegiance to the flag. Think of this as their country. Understand themselves as Americans in every way except having papers. And we should make sure that we give them a pathway to citizenship.

And that’s what I’ve done administratively. Now, Governor Romney just said, you know he wants to help those young people too, but during the Republican primary, he said, “I will veto the DREAM Act”, that would allow these young people to have access.” His main strategy during the Republican primary was to say, “We’re going to encourage self-deportation.” Making life so miserable on folks that they’ll leave. He called the Arizona law a model for the nation. Part of the Arizona law said that law enforcement officers could stop folks because they suspected maybe they looked like they might be undocumented workers and check their papers.

You know what? If my daughter or yours looks to somebody like they’re not a citizen, I don’t want — I don’t want to empower somebody like that. So, we can fix this system in a comprehensive way. And when Governor Romney says, the challenge is, “Well Obama didn’t try.” That’s not true. I have sat down with Democrats and Republicans at the beginning of my term. And I said, let’s fix this system. Including Senators previously who had supported it on the Republican side. But it’s very hard for Republican’s in Congress to support comprehensive immigration reform, if their standard bearer has said that, this is not something I’m interested in supporting.

CROWLEY: Let me get the governor in here, Mr. President. Let’s speak to, if you could…

ROMNEY: Yes.

CROWLEY: …the idea of self-deportation?

ROMNEY: No, let — let — let me go back and speak to the points that the president made and — and — and let’s get them correct.

I did not say that the Arizona law was a model for the nation in that aspect. I said that the E-Verify portion of the Arizona law, which is — which is the portion of the law which says that employers could be able to determine whether someone is here illegally or not illegally, that that was a model for the nation. That’s number one.

Number two, I asked the president a question I think Hispanics and immigrants all over the nation have asked. He was asked this on Univision the other day. Why, when you said you’d filed legislation in your first year didn’t you do it? And he didn’t answer. He — he doesn’t answer that question. He said the standard bearer wasn’t for it.

I’m glad you thought I was a standard bearer four years ago, but I wasn’t.

Four years ago you said in your first year you would file legislation.

In his first year, I was just getting — licking my wounds from having been beaten by John McCain, all right. I was not the standard bearer.

My — my view is that this president should have honored his promise to do as he said.

Now, let me mention one other thing, and that is self-deportation says let people make their own choice. What I was saying is, we’re not going to round up 12 million people, undocumented illegals, and take them out of the nation. Instead let people make their own choice. And if they — if they find that — that they can’t get the benefits here that they want and they can’t — and they can’t find the job they want, then they’ll make a decision to go a place where — where they have better opportunities.

But I’m not in favor of rounding up people and — and — and taking them out of this country. I am in favor, as the president has said, and I agree with him, which is that if people have committed crimes we got to get them out of this country.

ROMNEY: Let me mention something else the president said. It was a moment ago and I didn’t get a chance to, when he was describing Chinese investments and so forth.

OBAMA: Candy?

Hold on a second. The…

ROMNEY: Mr. President, I’m still speaking.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: Mr. President, let me finish.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: I’ve gotta continue.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Governor Romney, you can make it short. See all these people? They’ve been waiting for you. (inaudible) make it short (inaudible).

ROMNEY: Just going to make a point. Any investments I have over the last eight years have been managed by a blind trust. And I understand they do include investments outside the United States, including in — in Chinese companies.

Mr. President, have you looked at your pension? Have you looked at your pension?

OBAMA: I’ve got to say…

ROMNEY: Mr. President, have you looked at your pension?

OBAMA: You know, I — I don’t look at my pension. It’s not as big as yours so it doesn’t take as long.

ROMNEY: Well, let me give you some advice.

OBAMA: I don’t check it that often.

ROMNEY: Let me give you some advice. Look at your pension. You also have investments in Chinese companies. You also have investments outside the United States. You also have investments through a Cayman’s trust.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: We’re way off topic here, Governor Romney.

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: I thought we were talking about immigration.

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: I do want to make sure that…

CROWLEY: If I could have you sit down, Governor Romney. Thank you.

OBAMA: I do want to make sure that — I do want to make sure that we just understand something. Governor Romney says he wasn’t referring to Arizona as a model for the nation. His top adviser on immigration is the guy who designed the Arizona law, the entirety of it; not E-Verify, the whole thing. That’s his policy. And it’s a bad policy. And it won’t help us grow.

Look, when we think about immigration, we have to understand there are folks all around the world who still see America as the land of promise. And they provide us energy and they provide us innovation and they start companies like Intel and Google. And we want to encourage that.

Now, we’ve got to make sure that we do it in a smart way and a comprehensive way, and we make the legal system better. But when we make this into a divisive political issue, and when we don’t have bipartisan support — I can deliver, Governor, a whole bunch of Democrats to get comprehensive immigration reform done, and we can’t…

ROMNEY: I’ll get it done. I’ll get it done. First year…

OBAMA: … we can’t — we have not seen Republicans serious about this issue at all. And it’s time for them to get serious on it.

CROWLEY: Mr. President, let me move you on here please. Mr. President, (inaudible).

OBAMA: This used to be a bipartisan issue.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Don’t go away, though — right. Don’t go away because I — I want you to talk to Kerry Ladka who wants to switch the topic for us.

OBAMA: OK.

Hi, Kerry.

QUESTION: Good evening, Mr. President.

OBAMA: I’m sorry. What’s your name?

QUESTION: It’s Kerry, Kerry Ladka.

OBAMA: Great to see you.

QUESTION: This question actually comes from a brain trust of my friends at Global Telecom Supply (ph) in Minneola yesterday.

OBAMA: Ah.

QUESTION: We were sitting around, talking about Libya, and we were reading and became aware of reports that the State Department refused extra security for our embassy in Benghazi, Libya, prior to the attacks that killed four Americans.

Who was it that denied enhanced security and why?

OBAMA: Well, let me first of all talk about our diplomats, because they serve all around the world and do an incredible job in a very dangerous situation. And these aren’t just representatives of the United States, they are my representatives. I send them there, oftentimes into harm’s way. I know these folks and I know their families. So nobody is more concerned about their safety and security than I am.

So as soon as we found out that the Benghazi consulate was being overrun, I was on the phone with my national security team and I gave them three instructions.

Number one, beef up our security and procedures, not just in Libya, but at every embassy and consulate in the region.

Number two, investigate exactly what happened, regardless of where the facts lead us, to make sure folks are held accountable and it doesn’t happen again.

And number three, we are going to find out who did this and we’re going to hunt them down, because one of the things that I’ve said throughout my presidency is when folks mess with Americans, we go after them.

OBAMA: Now Governor Romney had a very different response. While we were still dealing with our diplomats being threatened, Governor Romney put out a press release, trying to make political points, and that’s not how a commander in chief operates. You don’t turn national security into a political issue. Certainly not right when it’s happening. And people — not everybody agrees with some of the decisions I’ve made. But when it comes to our national security, I mean what I say. I said I’d end the war in Libya — in — in Iraq, and I did.

I said that we’d go after al-Qaeda and bin Laden, we have. I said we’d transition out of Afghanistan, and start making sure that Afghans are responsible for their own security, that’s what I’m doing. And when it comes to this issue, when I say that we are going to find out exactly what happened, everybody will be held accountable. And I am ultimately responsible for what’s taking place there because these are my folks, and I’m the one who has to greet those coffins when they come home. You know that I mean what I say.

CROWLEY: Mr. President, I’m going to move us along. Governor?

ROMNEY: Thank you Kerry for your question, it’s an important one. And — and I — I think the president just said correctly that the buck does stop at his desk and — and he takes responsibility for — for that — for the failure in providing those security resources, and — and those terrible things may well happen from time to time. I — I’m — I feel very deeply sympathetic for the families of those who lost loved ones. And today there’s a memorial service for one of those that was lost in this tragedy. We — we think of their families and care for them deeply. There were other issues associated with this — with this tragedy. There were many days that passed before we knew whether this was a spontaneous demonstration, or actually whether it was a terrorist attack.

ROMNEY: And there was no demonstration involved. It was a terrorist attack and it took a long time for that to be told to the American people. Whether there was some misleading, or instead whether we just didn’t know what happened, you have to ask yourself why didn’t we know five days later when the ambassador to the United Nations went on TV to say that this was a demonstration. How could we have not known?

But I find more troubling than this, that on — on the day following the assassination of the United States ambassador, the first time that’s happened since 1979, when — when we have four Americans killed there, when apparently we didn’t know what happened, that the president, the day after that happened, flies to Las Vegas for a political fund-raiser, then the next day to Colorado for another event, other political event.

I think these — these actions taken by a president and a leader have symbolic significance and perhaps even material significance in that you’d hope that during that time we could call in the people who were actually eyewitnesses. We’ve read their accounts now about what happened. It was very clear this was not a demonstration. This was an attack by terrorists.

And this calls into question the president’s whole policy in the Middle East. Look what’s happening in Syria, in Egypt, now in Libya. Consider the distance between ourselves and — and Israel, the president said that — that he was going to put daylight between us and Israel.

We have Iran four years closer to a nuclear bomb. Syria — Syria’s not just a tragedy of 30,000 civilians being killed by a military, but also a strategic — strategically significant player for America.

The president’s policies throughout the Middle East began with an apology tour and — and — and pursue a strategy of leading from behind, and this strategy is unraveling before our very eyes.

CROWLEY: Because we’re — we’re closing in, I want to still get a lot of people in. I want to ask you something, Mr. President, and then have the governor just quickly.

Your secretary of state, as I’m sure you know, has said that she takes full responsibility for the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi. Does the buck stop with your secretary of state as far as what went on here?

OBAMA: Secretary Clinton has done an extraordinary job. But she works for me. I’m the president and I’m always responsible, and that’s why nobody’s more interested in finding out exactly what happened than I do.

The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people in the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror and I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime.

And then a few days later, I was there greeting the caskets coming into Andrews Air Force Base and grieving with the families.

And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the Secretary of State, our U.N. Ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, governor, is offensive. That’s not what we do. That’s not what I do as president, that’s not what I do as Commander in Chief.

CROWLEY: Governor, if you want to…

ROMNEY: Yes, I — I…

CROWLEY: … quickly to this please.

ROMNEY: I — I think interesting the president just said something which — which is that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.

OBAMA: That’s what I said.

ROMNEY: You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror.

It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you’re saying?

OBAMA: Please proceed governor.

ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.

OBAMA: Get the transcript.

CROWLEY: It — it — it — he did in fact, sir. So let me — let me call it an act of terror…

OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?

CROWLEY: He — he did call it an act of terror. It did as well take — it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that.

ROMNEY: This — the administration — the administration indicated this was a reaction to a video and was a spontaneous reaction.

CROWLEY: It did.

ROMNEY: It took them a long time to say this was a terrorist act by a terrorist group. And to suggest — am I incorrect in that regard, on Sunday, the — your secretary —

OBAMA: Candy?

ROMNEY: Excuse me. The ambassador of the United Nations went on the Sunday television shows and spoke about how —

OBAMA: Candy, I’m —

ROMNEY: — this was a spontaneous —

CROWLEY: Mr. President, let me —

OBAMA: I’m happy to have a longer conversation —

CROWLEY: I know you —

OBAMA: — about foreign policy.

CROWLEY: Absolutely. But I want to — I want to move you on and also —

OBAMA: OK. I’m happy to do that, too.

CROWLEY: — the transcripts and —

OBAMA: I just want to make sure that —

CROWLEY: — figure out what we —

OBAMA: — all of these wonderful folks are going to have a chance to get some of their questions answered.

CROWLEY: Because what I — what I want to do, Mr. President, stand there a second, because I want to introduce you to Nina Gonzalez, who brought up a question that we hear a lot, both over the Internet and from this crowd.

QUESTION: President Obama, during the Democratic National Convention in 2008, you stated you wanted to keep AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. What has your administration done or planned to do to limit the availability of assault weapons?

OBAMA: We’re a nation that believes in the Second Amendment, and I believe in the Second Amendment. We’ve got a long tradition of hunting and sportsmen and people who want to make sure they can protect themselves.

But there have been too many instances during the course of my presidency, where I’ve had to comfort families who have lost somebody. Most recently out in Aurora. You know, just a couple of weeks ago, actually, probably about a month, I saw a mother, who I had met at the bedside of her son, who had been shot in that theater.

And her son had been shot through the head. And we spent some time, and we said a prayer and, remarkably, about two months later, this young man and his mom showed up, and he looked unbelievable, good as new.

But there were a lot of families who didn’t have that good fortune and whose sons or daughters or husbands didn’t survive.

So my belief is that, (A), we have to enforce the laws we’ve already got, make sure that we’re keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, those who are mentally ill. We’ve done a much better job in terms of background checks, but we’ve got more to do when it comes to enforcement.

But I also share your belief that weapons that were designed for soldiers in war theaters don’t belong on our streets. And so what I’m trying to do is to get a broader conversation about how do we reduce the violence generally. Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced. But part of it is also looking at other sources of the violence. Because frankly, in my home town of Chicago, there’s an awful lot of violence and they’re not using AK-47s. They’re using cheap hand guns.

And so what can we do to intervene, to make sure that young people have opportunity; that our schools are working; that if there’s violence on the streets, that working with faith groups and law enforcement, we can catch it before it gets out of control.

And so what I want is a — is a comprehensive strategy. Part of it is seeing if we can get automatic weapons that kill folks in amazing numbers out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. But part of it is also going deeper and seeing if we can get into these communities and making sure we catch violent impulses before they occur.

CROWLEY: Governor Romney, the question is about assault weapons, AK-47s.

ROMNEY: Yeah, I’m not in favor of new pieces of legislation on — on guns and taking guns away or making certain guns illegal. We, of course, don’t want to have automatic weapons, and that’s already illegal in this country to have automatic weapons. What I believe is we have to do, as the president mentioned towards the end of his remarks there, which is to make enormous efforts to enforce the gun laws that we have, and to change the culture of violence that we have.

And you ask how — how are we going to do that? And there are a number of things. He mentioned good schools. I totally agree. We were able to drive our schools to be number one in the nation in my state. And I believe if we do a better job in education, we’ll — we’ll give people the — the hope and opportunity they deserve and perhaps less violence from that. But let me mention another thing. And that is parents. We need moms and dads, helping to raise kids. Wherever possible the — the benefit of having two parents in the home, and that’s not always possible. A lot of great single moms, single dads. But gosh to tell our kids that before they have babies, they ought to think about getting married to someone, that’s a great idea.

Because if there’s a two parent family, the prospect of living in poverty goes down dramatically. The opportunities that the child will — will be able to achieve increase dramatically. So we can make changes in the way our culture works to help bring people away from violence and give them opportunity, and bring them in the American system. The — the greatest failure we’ve had with regards to — to gun violence in some respects is what — what is known as Fast and Furious. Which was a program under this administration, and how it worked exactly I think we don’t know precisely, where thousands of automatic, and AK-47 type weapons were — were given to people that ultimately gave them to — to drug lords.

They used those weapons against — against their own citizens and killed Americans with them. And this was a — this was a program of the government. For what purpose it was put in place, I can’t imagine. But it’s one of the great tragedies related to violence in our society which has occurred during this administration. Which I think the American people would like to understand fully, it’s been investigated to a degree, but — but the administration has carried out executive privilege to prevent all of the information from coming out.

I’d like to understand who it was that did this, what the idea was behind it, why it led to the violence, thousands of guns going to Mexican drug lords. OBAMA: Candy?

CROWLEY: Governor, Governor, if I could, the question was about these assault weapons that once were once banned and are no longer banned.

I know that you signed an assault weapons ban when you were in Massachusetts, obviously, with this question, you no longer do support that. Why is that, given the kind of violence that we see sometimes with these mass killings? Why is it that you have changed your mind?

ROMNEY: Well, Candy, actually, in my state, the pro-gun folks and the anti-gun folks came together and put together a piece of legislation. And it’s referred to as an assault weapon ban, but it had, at the signing of the bill, both the pro-gun and the anti-gun people came together, because it provided opportunities for both that both wanted.

There were hunting opportunities, for instance, that haven’t previously been available and so forth, so it was a mutually agreed- upon piece of legislation. That’s what we need more of, Candy. What we have right now in Washington is a place that’s gridlocked.

CROWLEY: So I could — if you could get people to agree to it, you would be for it?

ROMNEY: We have —

OBAMA: Candy?

ROMNEY: — we haven’t had the leadership in Washington to work on a bipartisan basis. I was able to do that in my state and bring these two together.

CROWLEY: Quickly, Mr. President.

OBAMA: The — first of all, I think Governor Romney was for an assault weapons ban before he was against it. And he said that the reason he changed his mind was, in part, because he was seeking the endorsement of the National Rifle Association. So that’s on the record.

But I think that one area we agree on is the important of parents and the importance of schools, because I do believe that if our young people have opportunity, then they are less likely to engage in these kinds of violent acts. We’re not going to eliminate everybody who is mentally disturbed and we have got to make sure they don’t get weapons.

(AUDIO GAP)

OBAMA: because I do believe that if our young people have opportunity, then they’re less likely to engage in these kind of violent acts.

We’re not going to eliminate everybody who is mentally disturbed, and we’ve got to make sure they don’t get weapons. But we can make a difference in terms ensuring that every young person in America, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, have a chance to succeed.

And, Candy, we haven’t had a chance to talk about education much, but I think it is very important to understand that the reforms we’ve put in place, working with 46 governors around the country, are seeing schools that are some of the ones that are the toughest for kids starting to succeed. We’re starting to see gains in math and science.

When it comes to community colleges, we are setting up programs, including with Nassau Community College, to retrain workers, including young people who may have dropped out of school but now are getting another chance, training them for the jobs that exist right now.

And in fact, employers are looking for skilled workers. And so we’re matching them up. Giving them access to higher education. As I said, we have made sure that millions of young people are able to get an education that they weren’t able to get before.

Now…

CROWLEY: Mr. President, I have to — I have to move you along here. You said you wanted to…

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: We need to do it here.

OBAMA: But — but it’ll — it’ll — it’ll be…

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: … just one second.

CROWLEY: One…

OBAMA: Because — because this is important. This is part of the choice in this election.

When Governor Romney was asked whether teachers, hiring more teachers was important to growing our economy, Governor Romney said that doesn’t grow our economy.

When — when he was asked would class size…

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: The question, Mr. President, was guns here, so I need to move us along.

OBAMA: I understand.

CROWLEY: You know, the question was guns. So let me — let me bring in another…

OBAMA: But this will make a difference in terms of whether or not we can move this economy forward for these young people…

CROWLEY: I understand.

OBAMA: … and reduce our violence.

CROWLEY: OK. Thank you so much.

I want to ask Carol Goldberg to stand up, because she gets to a question that both these men have been passionate about. It’s for Governor Romney.

QUESTION: The outsourcing of American jobs overseas has taken a toll on our economy. What plans do you have to put back and keep jobs here in the United States?

ROMNEY: Boy, great question and important question, because you’re absolutely right. The place where we’ve seen manufacturing go has been China. China is now the largest manufacturer in the world. It used to be the United States of America. A lot of good people have lost jobs. A half a million manufacturing jobs have been lost in the last four years. That’s total over the last four years.

One of the reasons for that is that people think it’s more attractive in some cases to go offshore than to stay here. We have made it less attractive for enterprises to stay here than to go offshore from time to time. What I will do as president is make sure it’s more attractive to come to America again.

This is the way we’re going to create jobs in this country. It’s not by trickle-down government, saying we’re going to take more money from people and hire more government workers, raise more taxes, put in place more regulations. Trickle-down government has never worked here, has never worked anywhere.

I want to make America the most attractive place in the world for entrepreneurs, for small business, for big business, to invest and grow in America.

Now, we’re going to have to make sure that as we trade with other nations that they play by the rules. And China hasn’t. One of the reasons — or one of the ways they don’t play by the rules is artificially holding down the value of their currency. Because if they put their currency down low, that means their prices on their goods are low. And that makes them advantageous in the marketplace.

We lose sales. And manufacturers here in the U.S. making the same products can’t compete. China has been a currency manipulator for years and years and years. And the president has a regular opportunity to label them as a currency manipulator, but refuses to do so.

On day one, I will label China a currency manipulator, which will allow me as president to be able to put in place, if necessary, tariffs where I believe that they are taking unfair advantage of our manufacturers.

So we’re going to make sure that people we trade with around the world play by the rules. But let me — let me not just stop there. Don’t forget, what’s key to bringing back jobs here is not just finding someone else to punish, and I’m going to be strict with people who we trade with to make sure they — they follow the law and play by the rules, but it’s also to make America the most attractive place in the world for businesses of all kinds.

That’s why I want to down the tax rates on small employers, big employers, so they want to be here. Canada’s tax rate on companies is now 15 percent. Ours is 35 percent. So if you’re starting a business, where would you rather start it? We have to be competitive if we’re going to create more jobs here.

Regulations have quadrupled. The rate of regulations quadrupled under this president. I talk to small businesses across the country. They say, “We feel like we’re under attack from our own government.” I want to make sure that regulators see their job as encouraging small business, not crushing it. And there’s no question but that Obamacare has been an extraordinary deterrent to enterprises of all kinds hiring people.

My priority is making sure that we get more people hired. If we have more people hired, if we get back manufacturing jobs, if we get back all kinds of jobs into this country, then you’re going to see rising incomes again. The reason incomes are down is because unemployment is so high. I know what it takes to get this to happen, and my plan will do that, and one part of it is to make sure that we keep China playing by the rules.

CROWLEY: Mr. President, two minutes here, because we are then going to go to our last question.

OBAMA: OK. We need to create jobs here. And both Governor Romney and I agree actually that we should lower our corporate tax rate. It’s too high. But there’s a difference in terms of how we would do it. I want to close loopholes that allow companies to deduct expenses when they move to China; that allow them to profit offshore and not have to get taxed, so they have tax advantages offshore.

All those changes in our tax code would make a difference.

Now, Governor Romney actually wants to expand those tax breaks. One of his big ideas when it comes to corporate tax reform would be to say, if you invest overseas, you make profits overseas, you don’t have to pay U.S. taxes.

But, of course, if you’re a small business or a mom-and-pop business or a big business starting up here, you’ve got to pay even the reduced rate that Governor Romney’s talking about.

And it’s estimated that that will create 800,000 new jobs. The problem is they’ll be in china. Or India. Or Germany.

That’s not the way we’re going to create jobs here. The way we’re going to create jobs here is not just to change our tax code, but also to double our exports. And we are on pace to double our exports, one of the commitments I made when I was president. That’s creating tens of thousands of jobs all across the country. That’s why we’ve kept on pushing trade deals, but trade deals that make sure that American workers and American businesses are getting a good deal.

Now, Governor Romney talked about China, as I already indicated. In the private sector, Governor Romney’s company invested in what were called pioneers of outsourcing. That’s not my phrase. That’s what reporters called it.

And as far as currency manipulation, the currency has actually gone up 11 percent since I’ve been president because we have pushed them hard. And we’ve put unprecedented trade pressure on China. That’s why exports have significantly increased under my presidency. That’s going to help to create jobs here.

CROWLEY: Mr. President, we have a really short time for a quick discussion here.

iPad, the Macs, the iPhones, they are all manufactured in China. One of the major reasons is labor is so much cheaper here. How do you convince a great American company to bring that manufacturing back here?

ROMNEY: The answer is very straightforward. We can compete with anyone in the world as long as the playing field is level. China’s been cheating over the years. One by holding down the value of their currency. Number two, by stealing our intellectual property; our designs, our patents, our technology. There’s even an Apple store in China that’s a counterfeit Apple store, selling counterfeit goods. They hack into our computers. We will have to have people play on a fair basis, that’s number one.

Number two, we have to make America the most attractive place for entrepreneurs, for people who want to expand their business. That’s what brings jobs in. The president’s characterization of my tax plan…

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: …is completely…is completely…

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: …is completely false. Let me tell you…

CROWLEY: Let me to go the president here because we really are running out of time. And the question is can we ever get — we can’t get wages like that. It can’t be sustained.

OBAMA: Candy, there are some jobs that are not going to come back. Because they are low wage, low skill jobs. I want high wage, high skill jobs. That’s why we have to emphasize manufacturing. That’s why we have to invest in advanced manufacturing. That’s why we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got the best science and research in the world. And when we talk about deficits, if we’re adding to our deficit for tax cuts for folks who don’t need them, and we’re cutting investments in research and science that will create the next Apple, create the next new innovation that will sell products around the world, we will lose that race.

If we’re not training engineers to make sure that they are equipped here in this country. Then companies won’t come here. Those investments are what’s going to help to make sure that we continue to lead this world economy, not just next year, but 10 years from now, 50 years from now, 100 years from now.

CROWLEY: Thanks Mr. President.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: Government does not create jobs. Government does not create jobs.

CROWLEY: Governor Romney, I want to introduce you to Barry Green, because he’s going to have the last question to you first?

ROMNEY: Barry? Where is Barry?

QUESTION: Hi, Governor. I think this is a tough question. To each of you. What do you believe is the biggest misperception that the American people have about you as a man and a candidate? Using specific examples, can you take this opportunity to debunk that misperception and set us straight?

ROMNEY: Thank you, and that’s an opportunity for me, and I appreciate it.

In the nature of a campaign, it seems that some campaigns are focused on attacking a person rather than prescribing their own future and the things they’d like to do. In the course of that, I think the president’s campaign has tried to characterize me as — as someone who’s very different than who I am.

I care about 100 percent of the American people. I want 100 percent of the American people to have a bright and prosperous future. I care about our kids. I understand what it takes to make a bright and prosperous future for America again. I spent my life in the private sector, not in government. I’m a guy who wants to help with the experience I have, the American people.

My — my passion probably flows from the fact that I believe in God. And I believe we’re all children of the same God. I believe we have a responsibility to care for one another. I — I served as a missionary for my church. I served as a pastor in my congregation for about 10 years. I’ve sat across the table from people who were out of work and worked with them to try and find new work or to help them through tough times.

I went to the Olympics when they were in trouble to try and get them on track. And as governor of my state, I was able to get 100 percent of my people insured, all my kids, about 98 percent of the adults. I was able also to get our schools ranked number one in the nation, so 100 percent of our kids would have a bright opportunity for a future.

ROMNEY: I understand that I can get this country on track again. We don’t have to settle for what we’re going through. We don’t have to settle for gasoline at four bucks. We don’t have to settle for unemployment at a chronically high level. We don’t have to settle for 47 million people on food stamps. We don’t have to settle for 50 percent of kids coming out of college not able to get work. We don’t have to settle for 23 million people struggling to find a good job.

If I become president, I’ll get America working again. I will get us on track to a balanced budget. The president hasn’t. I will. I’ll make sure we can reform Medicare and Social Security to preserve them for coming — coming generations. The president said he would. He didn’t.

CROWLEY: Governor…

ROMNEY: I’ll get our incomes up. And by the way, I’ve done these things. I served as governor and showed I could get them done.

CROWLEY: Mr. President, last two minutes belong to you.

OBAMA: Barry, I think a lot of this campaign, maybe over the last four years, has been devoted to this nation that I think government creates jobs, that that somehow is the answer.

That’s not what I believe. I believe that the free enterprise system is the greatest engine of prosperity the world’s ever known.

I believe in self-reliance and individual initiative and risk takers being rewarded. But I also believe that everybody should have a fair shot and everybody should do their fair share and everybody should play by the same rules, because that’s how our economy’s grown. That’s how we built the world’s greatest middle class.

And — and that is part of what’s at stake in this election. There’s a fundamentally different vision about how we move our country forward.

I believe Governor Romney is a good man. Loves his family, cares about his faith. But I also believe that when he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about.

Folks on Social Security who’ve worked all their lives. Veterans who’ve sacrificed for this country. Students who are out there trying to hopefully advance their own dreams, but also this country’s dreams. Soldiers who are overseas fighting for us right now. People who are working hard every day, paying payroll tax, gas taxes, but don’t make enough income.

And I want to fight for them. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last four years. Because if they succeed, I believe the country succeeds.

When my grandfather fought in World War II and he came back and he got a G.I. Bill and that allowed him to go to college, that wasn’t a handout. That was something that advanced the entire country. And I want to make sure that the next generation has those same opportunities. That’s why I’m asking for your vote and that’s why I’m asking for another four years.

CROWLEY: President Obama, Governor Romney, thank you for being here tonight.

On that note we have come to an end of this town hall debate. Our thanks to the participants for their time and to the people of Hofstra University for their hospitality.

The next and final debate takes place Monday night at Lynn (ph) University in Boca Raton, Florida. Don’t forget to watch. Election Day is three weeks from today. Don’t forget to vote.

Good night.

(APPLAUSE)

END

%d bloggers like this: