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

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TRANSCRIPT: Presidential debate on foreign policy at Lynn University

Source: NYT, 10-22-12

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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 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.”

Full Text Campaign Buzz October 11, 2012: Joe Biden v. Paul Ryan: Vice Presidential Debate at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky Transcript

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Vice-presidential debate transcript, Oct. 11, 2012

Source: Washington Post, 10-11-12

Republican vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., right, greets Vice President Joe Biden at the beginning of the vice presidential debate. | AP Photo

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Here is a complete transcript of Vice President Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan’s remarks at the vice-presidential debate in Danville, Ky., on Oct. 3, 2012. Remarks from the two candidates were updated as the debate unfolded.

REP. PAUL D. RYAN, R-WIS., VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, AND VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR. PARTICIPATE IN A CANDIDATES DEBATE, DANVILLE, KENTUCKY

OCTOBER 11, 2012

SPEAKERS: VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

REP. PAUL D. RYAN, R-WIS.

MARTHA RADDATZ, MODERATOR: Good evening, and welcome to the first and only vice presidential debate of 2012, sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. I’m Martha Raddatz of ABC News, and I am honored to moderate this debate between two men who have dedicated much of their lives to public service.

Tonight’s debate is divided between domestic and foreign policy issues. And I’m going to move back and forth between foreign and domestic, since that is what a vice president or president would have to do. We will have nine different segments. At the beginning of each segment, I will ask both candidates a question, and they will each have two minutes to answer. Then I will encourage a discussion between the candidates with follow-up questions.

By coin toss, it has been determined that Vice President Biden will be first to answer the opening question. We have a wonderful audience here at Centre College tonight. You will no doubt hear their enthusiasm at the end of the debate — and right now, as we welcome Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan.

(APPLAUSE)

OK, you got your little wave to the families in. It’s great. Good evening, gentlemen. It really is an honor to be here with both of you.

I would like to begin with Libya. On a rather somber note, one month ago tonight, on the anniversary of 9/11, Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other brave Americans were killed in a terrorist attack in Benghazi. The State Department has now made clear, there were no protesters there.

RADDATZ: it was a pre-planned assault by heavily armed men. Wasn’t this a massive intelligence failure, Vice President Biden?

BIDEN: What is was, it was a tragedy, Martha. It — Chris Stevens was one of our best. We lost three other brave Americans.

I can make absolutely two commitments to you and all the American people tonight. One, we will find and bring to justice the men who did this. And secondly, we will get to the bottom of it, and whatever — wherever the facts lead us, wherever they lead us, we will make clear to the American public, because whatever mistakes were made will not be made again.

When you’re looking at a president, Martha, it seems to me that you should take a look at his most important responsibility. That’s caring for the national security of the country. And the best way to do that is take a look at how he’s handled the issues of the day.

On Iraq, the president said he would end the war. Governor Romney said that was a tragic mistake, we should have left 30,000 — he ended it. Governor Romney said that was a tragic mistake, we should have left 30,000 troops there.

With regard to Afghanistan, he said he will end the war in 2014. Governor Romney said we should not set a date, number one. And number two, with regard to 2014, it depends.

When it came to Osama bin Laden, the president the first day in office, I was sitting with him in the Oval Office, he called in the CIA and signed an order saying, “My highest priority is to get bin Laden.”

Prior to the election, prior to the — him being sworn in, Governor Romney was asked the question about how he would proceed. He said, “I wouldn’t move heaven and earth to get bin Laden.” He didn’t understand it was more than about taking a murderer off the battlefield. It was about restoring America’s heart and letting terrorists around the world know, if you do harm to America, we will track you to the gates of hell if need be.

And lastly, the president of the United States has — has led with a steady hand and clear vision. Governor Romney, the opposite. The last thing we need now is another war.

RADDATZ: Congressman Ryan?

RYAN: We mourn the loss of these four Americans who were murdered.

RYAN: When you take a look at what has happened just in the last few weeks, they sent the U.N. ambassador out to say that this was because of a protest and a YouTube video. It took the president two weeks to acknowledge that this was a terrorist attack.

He went to the U.N. and in his speech at the U.N. he said six times — he talked about the YouTube video.

Look, if we’re hit by terrorists we’re going to call it for what it is, a terrorist attack. Our ambassador in Paris has a Marine detachment guarding him. Shouldn’t we have a Marine detachment guarding our ambassador in Benghazi, a place where we knew that there was an Al Qaida cell with arms?

This is becoming more troubling by the day. They first blamed the YouTube video. Now they’re trying to blame the Romney-Ryan ticket for making this an issue.

With respect to Iraq, we had the same position before the withdrawal, which was we agreed with the Obama administration. Let’s have a status of forces agreement to make sure that we secure our gains. The vice president was put in charge of those negotiations by President Obama and they failed to get the agreement. We don’t have a status of forces agreement because they failed to get one. That’s what we are talking about.

Now, when it comes to our veterans, we owe them a great debt of gratitude for what they’ve done for us, including your son Beau. But we also want to make sure that we don’t lose the things we fought so hard to get.

Now, with respect to Afghanistan, the 2014 deadline, we agree with a 2014 transition. But what we also want it do is make sure that we’re not projecting weakness abroad, and that’s what’s happening here.

RYAN: This Benghazi issue would be a tragedy in and of itself, but unfortunately it’s indicative of a broader problem. And that is what we are watching on our TV screens is the unraveling of the Obama foreign policy, which is making the (inaudible) more chaotic us less safe.

RADDATZ: I just want to you about right in the middle of the crisis. Governor Romney, and you’re talking about this again tonight, talked about the weakness; talked about apologies from the Obama administration. Was that really appropriate right in the middle of the crisis?

RYAN: On that same day, the Obama administration had the exact same position. Let’s recall that they disavowed their own statement that they had put out earlier in the day in Cairo. So we had the same position, but we will — it’s never too early to speak out for our values.

We should have spoken out right away when the green revolution was up and starting; when the mullahs in Iran were attacking their people. We should not have called Bashar Assad a reformer when he was turning his Russian-provided guns on his own people. We should always stand up for peace, for democracy, for individual rights.

And we should not be imposing these devastating defense cuts, because what that does when we equivocate on our values, when we show that we’re cutting down on defense, it makes us more weak. It projects weakness. And when we look weak, our adversaries are much more willing to test us. They’re more brazen in their attacks, and are allies are less willing to…

(CROSSTALK)

BIDEN: With all due respect, that’s a bunch of malarkey.

RADDATZ: And why is that so?

BIDEN: Because not a single thing he said is accurate. First of all…

RADDATZ: Be specific.

BIDEN: I will be very specific. Number one, the — this lecture on embassy security — the congressman here cut embassy security in his budget by $300 million below what we asked for, number one. So much for the embassy security piece.

Number two, Governor Romney, before he knew the facts, before he even knew that our ambassador was killed, he was out making a political statement which was panned by the media around the world. And this talk about this — this weakness. I — I don’t understand what my friend’s talking about here.

We — this is a president who’s gone out and done everything he has said he was going to do. This is a guy who’s repaired our alliances so the rest of the world follows us again. This is the guy who brought the entire world, including Russia and China, to bring about the most devastating — most devastating — the most devastating efforts on Iran to make sure that they in fact stop (inaudible).

Look, I — I just — I mean, these guys bet against America all the time.

RADDATZ: Can we talk — let me go back to Libya.

BIDEN: Yeah, sure.

RADDATZ: What were you first told about the attack? Why — why were people talking about protests? When people in the consulate first saw armed men attacking with guns, there were no protesters. Why did that go on (inaudible)?

BIDEN: Because that was exactly what we were told by the intelligence community. The intelligence community told us that. As they learned more facts about exactly what happened, they changed their assessment. That’s why there’s also an investigation headed by Tom Pickering, a leading diplomat from the Reagan years, who is doing an investigation as to whether or not there are any lapses, what the lapses were, so that they will never happen again.

RADDATZ: And they wanted more security there.

BIDEN: Well, we weren’t told they wanted more security there. We did not know they wanted more security again. And by the way, at the time we were told exactly — we said exactly what the intelligence community told us that they knew. That was the assessment. And as the intelligence community changed their view, we made it clear they changed their view.

That’s why I said we will get to the bottom of this. You know, usually when there’s a crisis, we pull together. We pull together as a nation. But as I said, even before we knew what happened to the ambassador, the governor was holding a press conference — was holding a press conference. That’s not presidential leadership.

RADDATZ: Mr. Ryan, I want to ask you about — the Romney campaign talks a lot about no apologies. He has a book called called “No Apologies.” Should the U.S. have apologized for Americans burning Korans in Afghanistan? Should the U.S. apologize for U.S. Marines urinating on Taliban corpses?

RYAN: Oh, gosh, yes. Urinating on Taliban corpses? What we should not apologize for…

RADDATZ: Burning Korans, immediately?

RYAN: What — what we should not be apologizing for are standing up for our values. What we should not be doing is saying to the Egyptian people, while Mubarak is cracking down on them, that he’s a good guy and, in the next week, say he ought to go.

What we should not be doing is rejecting claims for — for calls for more security in our barracks, in our Marine — we need Marines in Benghazi when the commander on the ground says we need more forces for security. There were requests for extra security; those requests were not honored.

Look, this was the anniversary of 9/11. It was Libya, a country we knew we had Al Qaida cells there, as we know Al Qaida and its affiliates are on the rise in Northern Africa. And we did not give our ambassador in Benghazi a Marine detachment?

Of course there’s an investigation, so we can make sure that this never happens again, but when it comes to speaking up for our values, we should not apologize for those. Here’s the problem. Look at all the various issues out there, and it’s unraveling before our eyes. The vice president talks about sanctions on Iran. They got — we’ve had four…

RADDATZ: Let’s move to Iran. I’d actually like to move to Iran, because there’s really no bigger national security…

RYAN: Absolutely.

RADDATZ: … this country is facing. Both President Obama and Governor Romney have said they will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, even if that means military action. Last week, former Defense Secretary Bob Gates said a strike on Iran’s facilities would not work and, quote, “could prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations.” Can the two of you be absolutely clear and specific to the American people how effective would a military strike be? Congressman Ryan?

RYAN: We cannot allow Iran to gain a nuclear weapons capability. Now, let’s take a look at where we’ve gone — come from. When Barack Obama was elected, they had enough fissile material — nuclear material to make one bomb. Now they have enough for five. They’re racing toward a nuclear weapon. They’re four years closer toward a nuclear weapons capability.

We’ve had four different sanctions, the U.N. on Iran, three from the Bush administration, one here. And the only reason we got it is because Russia watered it down and prevented the — the sanctions from hitting the central bank.

Mitt Romney proposed these sanctions in 2007. In Congress, I’ve been fighting for these sanctions since 2009. The administration was blocking us every step of the way. Only because we had strong bipartisan support for these tough sanctions were we able to overrule their objections and put them in spite of the administration.

Imagine what would have happened if we had these sanctions in place earlier. You think Iran’s not brazen? Look at what they’re doing. They’re stepping up their terrorist attacks. They tried a terrorist attack in the United States last year when they tried to blow up the Saudi ambassador at a restaurant in Washington, D.C.

And talk about credibility? When this administration says that all options are on the table, they send out senior administration officials that send all these mixed signals.

And so, in order to solve this peacefully — which is everybody’s goal — you have to have the ayatollahs change their minds. Look at where they are. They’re moving faster toward a nuclear weapon. It’s because this administration has no credibility on this issue. It’s because this administration watered down sanctions, delayed sanctions, tried to stop us for putting the tough sanctions in place.

Now we have them in place because of Congress. They say the military option’s on the table, but it’s not being viewed as credible. And the key is to do this peacefully, is to make sure that we have credibility. Under a Romney administration, we will have credibility on this issue.

RADDATZ: Vice President Biden?

BIDEN: It’s incredible. Look, imagine had we let the Republican Congress work out the sanctions. You think there’s any possibility the entire world would have joined us, Russia and China, all of our allies? These are the most crippling sanctions in the history of sanctions, period. Period.

When Governor Romney’s asked about it, he said, “We gotta keep these sanctions.” When he said, “Well, you’re talking about doing more,” what are you — you’re going to go to war? Is that what you want to do?

RYAN: We want to prevent war.

BIDEN: And the interesting thing is, how are they going to prevent war? How are they going to prevent war if they say there’s nothing more that we — that they say we should do than what we’ve already done, number one.

And number two, with regard to the ability of the United States to take action militarily, it is — it is not in my purview to talk about classified information. But we feel quite confident we could deal a serious blow to the Iranians.

But number two, the Iranians are — the Israelis and the United States, our military and intelligence communities are absolutely the same exact place in terms of how close — how close the Iranians are to getting a nuclear weapon. They are a good way away. There is no difference between our view and theirs.

When my friend talks about fissile material, they have to take this highly enriched uranium, get it from 20 percent up, then they have to be able to have something to put it in. There is no weapon that the Iranians have at this point. Both the Israelis and we know — we’ll know if they start the process of building a weapon.

So all this bluster I keep hearing, all this loose talk, what are they talking about? Are you talking about, to be more credible — what more can the president do, stand before the United Nations, tell the whole world, directly communicate to the ayatollah, we will not let them acquire a nuclear weapon, period, unless he’s talking about going to war.

RYAN: Martha? Let’s…

RADDATZ: Congressman Ryan? RYAN: Let’s look at this from the view of the ayatollahs. What do they see? They see this administration trying to water down sanctions in Congress for over two years. They’re moving faster toward a nuclear weapon. They’re spinning the centrifuges faster.

They see us saying when we come into the administration, when they’re sworn in, we need more space with our ally, Israel. They see President Obama in New York City the same day Bibi Netanyahu is and he, instead of meeting with him, goes on a — on a daily talk show.

They see, when we say that these options are on the table, the secretary of defense walked them back.

They are not changing their mind. That’s what we have to do, is change their mind so they stop pursuing nuclear weapons, and they’re going faster.

RADDATZ: How do you do it so quickly? Look, you — you both saw Benjamin Netanyahu hold up that picture of a bomb with a red line and talking about the red line being in spring. So can you solve this, if the Romney-Ryan ticket is elected, can you solve this in two months before spring and avoid nuclear — nuclear…

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: We can debate a time line. We can debate the time line, whether there’s — it’s that short a time or longer. I agree that it’s probably longer.

Number two, it’s all about…

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: You don’t agree with that bomb and whether the Israelis…

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: I don’t want to go into classified stuff. But we both agree that to do this peacefully you’ve got to get them to change their minds. They’re not changing their minds. And look at what this administration…

RADDATZ: But what — what do…

(CROSSTALK)

BIDEN: Let me tell you what the ayatollah sees.

RYAN: You have to have credibility.

BIDEN: The ayatollah sees his economy being crippled. The ayatollah sees that there are 50 percent fewer exports of oil. He sees the currency going into the tank. He sees the economy going into freefall. And he sees the world for the first time totally united in opposition to him getting a nuclear weapon.

Now, with regard to Bibi, who’s been my friend 39 years, the president has met with Bibi a dozen times. He’s spoken to Bibi Netanyahu as much as he’s spoken to anybody. The idea that we’re not — I was in a, just before he went to the U.N., I was in a conference call with the — with the president, with him talking to Bibi for well over an hour, in — in — in stark relief and detail of what was going on.

This is a bunch of stuff. Look, here’s the deal.

RADDATZ: What does that mean, a bunch of stuff?

BIDEN: Well, it means it’s simply inaccurate.

RYAN: It’s Irish.

BIDEN: It — it is.

(LAUGHTER)

We Irish call it malarkey.

RADDATZ: Thanks for the translation. OK.

(CROSSTALK)

BIDEN: We Irish call it malarkey. But last thing. The secretary of defense has made it absolutely clear, we didn’t walk anything back. We will not allow the Iranians to get a nuclear weapon. What Bibi held up there was when they get to the point where they can enrich uranium enough to put into a weapon. They don’t have a weapon to put it into.

Let’s all calm down a little bit here. Iran is more isolated today than when we took office. It was on the ascendancy when we took office. It is totally isolated.

RADDATZ: Congressman Ryan?

BIDEN: I don’t know what world this guy’s living in. RYAN: Thank heavens we had these sanctions in place. It’s in spite of their opposition.

BIDEN: Oh, god.

RYAN: They’ve given 20 waivers to this sanction. And all I have to point to are the results. They’re four years closer toward a nuclear weapon. I think that case speaks for itself.

RADDATZ: Can you tell the American people…

BIDEN: By the way, they…

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: What’s worse, another war in the Middle East…

BIDEN: … they are not four years closer to a nuclear weapon.

RYAN: Of course they are.

BIDEN: They’re — they’re closer to being able to get enough fissile material to put in a weapon if they had a weapon.

RADDATZ: You are acting a little bit like they don’t want one.

BIDEN: Oh, I didn’t say — no, I’m not saying that. But facts matter, Martha. You’re a foreign policy expert. Facts matter. All this loose talk about them, “All they have to do is get to enrich uranium in a certain amount and they have a weapon,” not true. Not true.

They are more — and if we ever have to take action, unlike when we took office, we will have the world behind us, and that matters. That matters.

RADDATZ: What about Bob Gates’ statement? Let me read that again, “could prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations.”

BIDEN: He is right. It could prove catastrophic, if we didn’t do it with precision.

RADDATZ: Congressman Ryan?

RYAN: And what it does is it undermines our credibility by backing up the point when we make it that all options are on the table. That’s the point. The ayatollahs see these kinds of statements and they think, “I’m going to get a nuclear weapon.”

When — when we see the kind of equivocation that took place because this administration wanted a precondition policy, so when the Green Revolution started up, they were silent for nine days. When they see us putting — when they see us putting daylight between ourselves and our allies in Israel, that gives them encouragement. When they see Russia watering down any further sanctions, the only reason we got a U.N. sanction is because Russia watered it down and prevented these central bank sanctions in the first place. So when they see this kind of activity, they are encouraged to continue, and that’s the problem.

BIDEN: Martha, let me tell you what Russia…

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: Well, let me ask you what’s worse, war in the Middle East, another war in the Middle East, or a nuclear-armed Iran?

RYAN: I’ll tell you what’s worse. I’ll tell you what’s worse.

RADDATZ: Quickly.

RYAN: A nuclear-armed Iran which triggers a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. This is the world’s largest sponsor of — of terrorism. They’ve dedicated themselves…

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: … to wiping an entire country off the map. They call us the Great Satan. And if they get nuclear weapons, other people in the neighborhood will pursue their nuclear weapons, as well.

RADDATZ: Vice President Biden?

RYAN: We can’t live with that.

BIDEN: War should always be the absolute last resort. That’s why these crippling sanctions, which Bibi Netanyahu says we should continue, which — if I’m not mistaken — Governor Romney says we — we should continue. I may be mistaken. He changes his mind so often, I could be wrong.

But the fact of the matter is, he says they’re working. And the fact is that they are being crippled by them. And we’ve made it clear, big nations can’t bluff. This president doesn’t bluff.

RADDATZ: Gentlemen, I want to bring the conversation to a different kind of national security issue, the state of our economy. The number-one issue here at home is jobs. The percentage of unemployed just fell below 8 percent for the first time in 43 months. The Obama administration had projected that it would fall below 6 percent now after the addition of close to a trillion dollars in stimulus money.

So will both of you level with the American people: Can you get unemployment to under 6 percent and how long will it take?

BIDEN: I don’t know how long it will take. We can and we will get it under 6 percent. Let’s look at — let’s take a look at the facts. Let’s look at where we were when we came to office. The economy was in free fall. We had — the great recession hit; 9 million people lost their job; $1.7 — $1.6 trillion in wealth lost in equity in your homes, in retirement accounts for the middle class.

We knew we had to act for the middle class. We immediately went out and rescued General Motors. We went ahead and made sure that we cut taxes for the middle class. And in addition to that, when that — when that occurred, what did Romney do? Romney said, “No, let Detroit go bankrupt.” We moved in and helped people refinance their homes. Governor Romney said, “No, let foreclosures hit the bottom.”

But it shouldn’t be surprising for a guy who says 47 percent of the American people are unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives. My friend recently in a speech in Washington said “30 percent of the American people are takers.”

These people are my mom and dad — the people I grew up with, my neighbors. They pay more effective tax than Governor Romney pays in his federal income tax. They are elderly people who in fact are living off of Social Security. They are veterans and people fighting in Afghanistan right now who are, quote, “not paying any tax.”

I’ve had it up to here with this notion that 47 percent — it’s about time they take some responsibility here. And instead of signing pledges to Grover Norquist not to ask the wealthiest among us to contribute to bring back the middle class, they should be signing a pledge saying to the middle class we’re going to level the playing field; we’re going to give you a fair shot again; we are going to not repeat the mistakes we made in the past by having a different set of rules for Wall Street and Main Street, making sure that we continue to hemorrhage these tax cuts for the super wealthy.

BIDEN: They’re pushing the continuation of a tax cut that will give an additional $500 billion in tax cuts to 120,000 families. And they’re holding hostage the middle class tax cut because they say we won’t pass — we won’t continue the middle class tax cut unless you give the tax cut for the super wealthy.

It’s about time they take some responsibility.

RADDATZ: Mr. Ryan?

RYAN: Joe and I are from similar towns. He’s from Scranton, Pennsylvania. I’m from Janesville, Wisconsin. You know what the unemployment rate in Scranton is today?

BIDEN: I sure do.

RYAN: It’s 10 percent.

BIDEN: Yeah.

RYAN: You know what it was the day you guys came in — 8.5 percent.

BIDEN: Yeah.

RYAN: That’s how it’s going all around America.

Look…

BIDEN: You don’t read the statistics. That’s not how it’s going. It’s going down.

RADDATZ: (inaudible) two-minute answer (inaudible)

RYAN: Look, did they come in and inherit a tough situation? Absolutely. But we’re going in the wrong direction. Look at where we are. The economy is barely limping along. It’s growing a 1.3 percent. That’s slower than it grew last year and last year was slower than the year before.

Job growth in September was slower than it was in August, and August was slower than it was in July. We’re heading in the wrong direction; 23 million Americans are struggling for work today; 15 percent of Americans are living in poverty today. This is not what a real recovery looks like. We need real reforms for real recovery and that’s exactly what Mitt Romney and I are proposing. It’s a five-point plan. Get America energy independent in North America by the end of the decade. Help people who are hurting get the skills they need to get the jobs they want. Get this deficit and debt under control to prevent a debt crisis.

Make trade work for America so we can make more things in America and sell them overseas, and champion small businesses. Don’t raise taxes on small businesses because they’re our job creators.

RYAN: He talks about Detroit. Mitt Romney’s a car guy. They keep misquoting him, but let me tell you about the Mitt Romney I know. This is a guy who I was talking to a family in Northborough, Massachusetts the other day, Sheryl and Mark Nixon. Their kids were hit in a car crash, four of them. Two of them, Rob and Reed, were paralyzed. The Romneys didn’t know them. They went to the same church; they never met before.

Mitt asked if he could come over on Christmas. He brought his boys, his wife, and gifts. Later on, he said, “I know you’re struggling, Mark. Don’t worry about their college. I’ll pay for it.”

When Mark told me this story, because, you know what, Mitt Romney doesn’t tell these stories. The Nixons told this story. When he told me this story, he said it wasn’t the help, the cash help. It’s that he gave his time, and he has consistently.

This is a man who gave 30 percent of his income to charity, more than the two of us combined. Mitt Romney’s a good man. He cares about 100 percent of Americans in this country. And with respect to that quote, I think the vice president very well knows that sometimes the words don’t come out of your mouth the right way.

(LAUGHTER)

BIDEN: But I always say what I mean. And so does Romney.

RYAN: We want everybody to succeed. We want to get people out of poverty, in the middle class, onto a life of self-sufficiently. We believe in opportunity and upward mobility. That’s what we’re going to push for in a Romney administration.

RADDATZ: Vice president? I have a feeling you have a few things to say here.

BIDEN: The idea — if you heard that — that little soliloquy on 47 percent and you think he just made a mistake, then I think you’re — I — I think — I got a bridge to sell you.

Look, I don’t doubt his personal generosity. And I understand what it’s like. When I was a little younger than the congressman, my wife was in an accident, killed my daughter and my wife, and my two sons survived. I have sat in the homes of many people who’ve gone through what I get through, because the one thing you can give people solace is to know if they know you’ve been through it, that they can make it. So I don’t doubt his personal commitment to individuals. But you know what? I know he had no commitment to the automobile industry. He just — he said, let it go bankrupt, period. Let it drop out. All this talk — we saved a million jobs. Two hundred thousand people are working today.

And I’ve never met two guys who’re more down on America across the board. We’re told everything’s going bad. There are 5.2 million new jobs, private-sector jobs. We need more, but 5.2 million — if they’d get out of the way, if they’d get out of the way and let us pass the tax cut for the middle class, make it permanent, if they get out of the way and pass the — pass the jobs bill, if they get out of the way and let us allow 14 million people who are struggling to stay in their homes because their mortgages are upside down, but they never missed a mortgage payment, just get out of the way.

Stop talking about how you care about people. Show me something. Show me a policy. Show me a policy where you take responsibility.

And, by the way, they talk about this Great Recession if it fell out of the sky, like, “Oh, my goodness, where did it come from?” It came from this man voting to put two wars on a credit card, to at the same time put a prescription drug benefit on the credit card, a trillion-dollar tax cut for the very wealthy. I was there. I voted against them. I said, no, we can’t afford that.

And now, all of a sudden, these guys are so seized with the concern about the debt that they created.

RADDATZ: Congressman Ryan?

RYAN: Let’s not forget that they came in with one-party control. When Barack Obama was elected, his party controlled everything. They had the ability to do everything of their choosing. And look at where we are right now.

They passed the stimulus. The idea that we could borrow $831 billion, spend it on all of these special interest groups, and that it would work out just fine, that unemployment would never get to 8 percent — it went up above 8 percent for 43 months. They said that, right now, if we just passed this stimulus, the economy would grow at 4 percent. It’s growing at 1.3.

RADDATZ: When could you get it below 6 percent?

RYAN: That’s what our entire premise of our pro-growth plan for a stronger middle class is all about: getting the economy growing at 4 percent, creating 12 million jobs over the next four years.

Look at just the $90 billion in stimulus. The vice president was in charge of overseeing this. $90 billion in green pork to campaign contributors and special interest groups. There are just at the Department of Energy over 100 criminal investigations that have been launched into just how stimulus…

(CROSSTALK)

BIDEN: Martha…

RADDATZ: Go ahead. Go ahead.

BIDEN: Martha, look. His colleague…

RYAN: Crony capitalism and corporate welfare.

BIDEN: … runs an investigative committee, spent months and months and months going into this.

RYAN: This is the — this is the inspector general.

BIDEN: Months and months. They found no evidence of cronyism.

And I love my friend here. I — I’m not allowed to show letters but go on our website, he sent me two letters saying, “By the way, can you send me some stimulus money for companies here in the state of Wisconsin?” We sent millions of dollars. You know…

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: You did ask for stimulus money, correct?

BIDEN: Sure he did. By the way…

RYAN: On two occasions we — we — we advocated for constituents who were applying for grants. That’s what we do. We do that for all constituents who are…

(CROSSTALK) BIDEN: I love that. I love that. This was such a bad program and he writes me a letter saying — writes the Department of Energy a letter saying, “The reason we need this stimulus, it will create growth and jobs.” His words. And now he’s sitting here looking at me.

And by the way, that program, again, investigated. What the Congress said was it was a model. Less than four-tenths of 1 percent waste or fraud in the program.

And all this talk about cronyism. They investigated and investigated, did not find one single piece of evidence. I wish he would just tell — be a little more candid.

RYAN: Was it a good idea to spend taxpayer dollars on electric cars in Finland, or on windmills in China?

BIDEN: Look…

RYAN: Was it a good idea to borrow all this money from countries like China and spend it on all these various different interest groups?

BIDEN: Let me tell you what was a good idea. It was a good idea, Moody’s and others said that this was exactly what we needed to stop this from going off the cliff. It set the conditions to be able to grow again. We have, in fact, 4 percent of those green jobs didn’t go under — went under, didn’t work. It’s a better batting average than investment bankers have. They have about a 40 percent…

RYAN: Where are the 5 million green jobs that were being…

RADDATZ: I want to move on here to Medicare and entitlements. I think we’ve gone over this quite enough.

BIDEN: By the way, any letter you send me, I’ll entertain.

RYAN: I appreciate that, Joe.

(LAUGHTER)

RADDATZ: Let’s talk about Medicare and entitlements. Both Medicare and Social Security are going broke and taking a larger share of the budget in the process.

Will benefits for Americans under these programs have to change for the programs to survive?

Mr. Ryan?

RYAN: Absolutely. Medicare and Social Security are going bankrupt. These are indisputable facts.

Look, when I look at these programs, we’ve all had tragedies in our lives. I think about what they’ve done for my own family. My mom and I had my grandmother move in with us who was facing Alzheimer’s. Medicare was there for here, just like it’s there for my mom right now who is a Florida senior.

After my dad died, my mom and I got Social Security survivors benefits, helped me pay for college, it helped her go back to college in her 50s where she started a small business because of the new skills she got. She paid all of her taxes on the promise that these programs would be there for her.

We will honor this promise. And the best way to do it is reform it for my generation.

You see, if you reform these programs for my generation, people 54 and below, you can guarantee they don’t change for people in or near retirement, which is precisely what Mitt Romney and I are proposing.

Look what — look what Obamacare does. Obamacare takes $716 billion from Medicare to spend on Obamacare. Even their own chief actuary at Medicare backs this up. He says you can’t spend the same dollar twice. You can’t claim that this money goes to Medicare and Obamacare.

RYAN: And then they put this new Obamacare board in charge of cutting Medicare each and every year in ways that will lead to denied care for current seniors.

This board, by the way, it’s 15 people, the president’s supposed to appoint them next year. And not one of them even has to have medical training.

And Social Security? If we don’t shore up Social Security, when we run out of the IOUs, when the program goes bankrupt, a 25 percent across-the-board benefit cut kicks in on current seniors in the middle of their retirement. We’re going to stop that from happening.

They haven’t put a credible solution on the table. He’ll tell you about vouchers. He’ll say all these things to try and scare people. Here’s what we’re saying: give younger people, when they become Medicare eligible, guaranteed coverage options that you can’t be denied, including traditional Medicare. Choose your plan, and then Medicare subsidizes your premiums, not as much for the wealthy people, more coverage for middle-income people, and total out-of-pocket coverage for the poor and the sick.

Choice and competition. We would rather have 50 million future seniors determine how their Medicare is delivered to them instead of 15 bureaucrats deciding what, if, when, where they get it.

RADDATZ: Vice President Biden, two minutes.

BIDEN: You know, I heard that death panel argument from Sarah Palin. It seems every vice presidential debate I hear this kind of stuff about panels.

But let’s talk about Medicare. What we did is, we saved $716 billion and put it back, applied it to Medicare. We cut the cost of Medicare. We stopped overpaying insurance companies, doctors and hospitals. The AMA supported what we did. AARP endorsed what we did. And it extends the life of Medicare to 2024. They want to wipe this all out.

It also gave more benefits. Any senior out there, ask yourself: Do you have more benefits today? You do. If you’re near the donut hole, you have $800 — $600 more to help your prescription drug costs. You get wellness visits without co-pays. They wipe all of this out, and Medicare goes — becomes insolvent in 2016, number one.

Number two, “guaranteed benefit”? It’s a voucher. When they first proposed — when the congressman had his first voucher program, the CBO said it would cost $6,400 a year, Martha, more for every senior, 55 and below, when they got there. He knew that, yet he got all the guys in Congress and women in the Republican Party to vote for it. Governor Romney, knowing that, said, I would sign it, were I there.

Who you believe, the AMA, me, a guy who’s fought his whole life for this, or somebody who would actually put in motion a plan that knowingly cut — added $6,400 a year more to the cost of Medicare?

Now they got a new plan: “Trust me, it’s not going to cost you any more.” Folks, follow your instincts on this one.

And with regard to Social Security, we will not — we will not privatize it. If we had listened to Romney, Governor Romney, and the congressman during the Bush years, imagine where all those seniors would be now if their money had been in the market.

Their ideas are old and their ideas are bad, and they eliminate the guarantee of Medicare.

RYAN: Here’s the problem. They got caught with their hands in the cookie jar, turning Medicare into a piggybank for Obamacare. Their own actuary from the administration came to Congress and said one out of six hospitals and nursing homes are going to go out of business as a result of this.

BIDEN: That’s not what they said.

RYAN: 7.4 million seniors are projected to lose their current Medicare Advantage coverage they have. That’s a $3,200 benefit cut.

BIDEN: That didn’t happen.

RYAN: What we’re saying…

BIDEN: More people signed up.

RYAN: These are from your own actuaries.

BIDEN: More — more — more people signed up for Medicare Advantage after the change.

RYAN: What — there’s…

BIDEN: Nobody is…

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: Mr. Vice President, I know…

BIDEN: No, this is…

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: Mr. Vice President, I know you’re under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground, but I think people would be better served if we don’t keep interrupting each other.

BIDEN: Well, don’t take all the four minutes then.

RYAN: Let me just — let me just say this. We are not — we’re saying don’t change benefits for people 55 and above. They already organized their retirement around these promises.

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: … programs for those of us.

RADDATZ: But let — let me ask you this. What — what is your specific plan for seniors who really can’t afford to make up the difference in the value of what you call a premium support plan and others call a voucher?

RYAN: Hundred percent coverage…

RADDATZ: And what…

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: That’s what we’re saying. So we’re saying…

RADDATZ: How do you make that up?

RYAN: … income adjusts (inaudible) these premium support payments by taking down the subsidies for wealthy people.

Look, this is a plan — by the way, that $6,400 number, it was misleading then, it’s totally inaccurate now. This is a plan that’s bipartisan. It’s a plan I put together with a prominent Democrat senator from Oregon.

BIDEN: There’s not one Democrat who endorses it.

RYAN: It’s a plan…

BIDEN: Not one Democrat who (inaudible).

RYAN: Our partner is a Democrat from Oregon.

BIDEN: And he said he does no longer support (inaudible).

RYAN: We — we — we put it — we put it together with the former Clinton budget director.

BIDEN: Who disavows it.

RYAN: This idea — this idea came from the Clinton commission to save Medicare chaired by Senator John Breaux.

Here’s the point, Martha.

BIDEN: Which was rejected.

RYAN: If we don’t — if we don’t fix this problem pretty soon then current seniors get cut. Here’s the problem: 10,000 people are retiring every single day in America today and they will for 20 years. That’s not a political thing, that’s a math thing.

BIDEN: Martha, if we just did one thing, if we just — if they just allowed Medicare to bargain for the cost of drugs like Medicaid can, that would save $156 billion right off the bat.

RYAN: And it would deny seniors choices.

BIDEN: All — all — all…

RYAN: It has a restricted…

(CROSSTALK)

BIDEN: Seniors are not denied.

RYAN: Absolutely.

BIDEN: They are not denied.

Look, folks, all you seniors out there, have you been denied choices? Have you lost Medicare Advantage.

RYAN: Because it’s working well right now.

(CROSSTALK)

BIDEN: Because we’ve changed the law.

RADDATZ: Vice President Biden, let me ask you, if it could help solve the problem, why not very slowly raise the Medicare eligibility age by two years, as Congressman Ryan suggests?

BIDEN: Look, I was there when we did that with Social Security in 1983. I was one of eight people sitting in the room that included Tip O’Neill negotiating with President Reagan. We all got together and everybody said, as long as everybody’s in the deal, everybody’s in the deal, and everybody is making some sacrifice, we can find a way.

We made the system solvent to 2033. We will not, though, be part of any voucher plan eliminating — the voucher says, “Mom, when you’re — when you’re 65, go out there, shop for the best insurance you can get. You’re out of Medicare.” You can buy back in if you want with this voucher, which will not keep pace — will not keep pace with health care costs. Because if it did keep pace with health care costs, there would be no savings. That’s why they go the voucher. They — we will be no part of a voucher program or the privatization of Social Security.

RYAN: A voucher is you go to your mailbox, get a check, and buy something. Nobody’s proposing that. Barack Obama four years ago running for president said if you don’t have any fresh ideas, use stale tactics to scare voters. If you don’t have a good record to run on, paint your opponent as someone people should run from.

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: Make a big election about small ideas.

RADDATZ: You were one of the few lawmakers to stand with President Bush when he was seeking to partially privatize Social Security.

RYAN: For younger people. What we said then, and what I’ve always agreed is let younger Americans have a voluntary choice of making their money work faster for them within the Social Security system.

BIDEN: You saw how well that worked.

RYAN: That’s not what Mitt Romney’s proposing. What we’re saying is no changes for anybody 55 and above.

BIDEN: What Mitt Romney is proposing…

RYAN: And then the kinds of changes we’re talking about for younger people like myself is don’t increase the benefits for wealthy people as fast as everybody else. Slowly raise the retirement age over time.

BIDEN: Martha…

RYAN: It wouldn’t get to the age of 70 until the year 2103 according to the actuaries.

Now, here’s…

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: Quickly, Vice President?

BIDEN: Quickly. The bottom line here is that all the studies show that if we went with Social Security proposal made by Mitt Romney, if you’re 40 — in your 40s now you will pay $2,600 a year — you get $2,600 a year less in Social Security. If you’re in your 20s now, you get $4,700 (inaudible) less.

The idea of changing, and change being in this case to cut the benefits for people without taking other action you could do to make it work is absolutely the wrong way.

These — look, these guys haven’t been big on Medicare from the beginning. Their party’s not been big on Medicare from the beginning. And they’ve always been about Social Security as little as you can do.

Look, folks, use your common sense. Who do you trust on this — a man who introduced a bill that would raise it 40 — $6,400 a year; knowing it and passing it, and Romney saying he’d sign it, or me and the president?

RYAN: That statistic was completely misleading. But more importantly…

BIDEN: That’s — there are the facts right…

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: This is what politicians do when they don’t have a record to run on: try to scare people from voting for you. If you don’t get ahead of this problem, it’s going to…

(CROSSTALK)

BIDEN: Medicare beneficiaries — there are more beneficiaries…

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: We’re going to — we’re going to move…

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: … very simple question…

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: We’re not going to run away. Medicare and Social Security did so much for my own family. We are not going to jeopardize this program, but we have to save it…

(CROSSTALK)

BIDEN: You are jeopardizing this program. You’re changing the program from a guaranteed benefit to premium support. Whatever you call it, the bottom line is people are going to have to pay more money out of their pocket and the families I know and the families I come from, they don’t have the money to pay more out…

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: That’s why we’re saying more for lower income people and less for higher income people.

RADDATZ: Gentlemen, I would like to move on to a very simple question for both of you, and something tells me I won’t get a very simple answer, but let me ask you this.

BIDEN: I gave you a simple answer. He’s raising the cost of Medicare.

RADDATZ: OK, on to taxes. If your ticket is elected, who will pay more in taxes? Who will pay less? And we’re starting with Vice President Biden for two minutes.

BIDEN: The middle class will pay less and people making $1 million or more will begin to contribute slightly more. Let me give you one concrete example. The continuation of the Bush tax cuts — we are arguing that the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy should be allowed to expire. Of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, $800 million — billion of that goes to people making a minimum of $1 million.

We see no justification in these economic times for those, and they’re patriotic Americans. They’re not asking for this continued tax cut. They’re not suggesting it, but my friends are insisting on it; 120,000 families by continuing that tax cut will get an additional $500 billion in tax relief in the next 10 years and their income is an average of $8 million.

We want to extend permanently the middle-class tax cut for — permanently, from the Bush middle-class tax cut. These guys won’t allow us to. You know what they’re saying? We say “let’s have a vote — let’s have a vote on the middle-class tax cut and let’s have a vote on the upper (ph) tax cut; let’s go ahead and vote on it.”

They’re saying no. They’re holding hostage the middle class tax cut to the super wealthy. And on top of that, they’ve got another tax cut coming that’s $5 trillion that all of the studies point out will in fact give another $250 million — yeah, $250,000 a year to those 120,000 families and raise taxes for people who are middle income with a child by $2,000 a year.

This is unconscionable. There is no need for this. The middle class got knocked on their heels. The great recession crushed them. They need some help now. The last people who need help are 120,000 families for another — another $500 billion tax cut over the next 10 years.

RADDATZ: Congressman?

RYAN: Our entire premise of these tax reform plans is to grow the economy and create jobs. It’s a plan that’s estimated to create 7 million jobs. Now, we think that government taking 28 percent of a family and business’s income is enough. President Obama thinks that the government ought to be able to take as much as 44.8 percent of a small business’s income.

RYAN: Look, if you taxed every person and successful business making over $250,000 at 100 percent, it would only run the government for 98 days. If everybody who paid income taxes last year, including successful small businesses, doubled their income taxes this year, we’d still have a $300 billion deficit. You see? There aren’t enough rich people and small businesses to tax to pay for all their spending.

And so the next time you hear them say, “Don’t worry about it, we’ll get a few wealthy people to pay their fair share,” watch out, middle class, the tax bill’s coming to you.

That’s why we’re saying we need fundamental tax reform. Let’s take a look at it this way. Eight out of 10 businesses, they file their taxes as individuals, not as corporations. And where I come from, overseas, which is Lake Superior, the Canadians, they dropped their tax rates to 15 percent. The average tax rate on businesses in the industrialized world is 25 percent, and the president wants the top effective tax rate on successful small businesses to go above 40 percent.

Two-thirds of our jobs come from small businesses. This one tax would actually tax about 53 percent of small-business income. It’s expected to cost us 710,000 jobs. And you know what? It doesn’t even pay for 10 percent of their proposed deficit spending increases.

What we are saying is, lower tax rates across the board and close loopholes, primarily to the higher-income people. We have three bottom lines: Don’t raise the deficit, don’t raise taxes on the middle class, and don’t lower the share of income that is borne by the high-income earners.

He’ll keep saying this $5 trillion plan, I suppose. It’s been discredited by six other studies. And even their own deputy campaign manager acknowledged that it wasn’t correct.

RADDATZ: Well, let’s talk about this 20 percent. You have refused — and, again — to offer specifics on how you pay for that 20 percent across-the-board tax cut. Do you actually have the specifics? Or are you still working on it, and that’s why you won’t tell voters?

RYAN: Different than this administration, we actually want to have big bipartisan agreements. You see, I understand the…

RADDATZ: Do you have the specifics? Do you have the…

(CROSSTALK) BIDEN: That would — that would be a first for the Republican Congress.

RADDATZ: Do you know exactly what you’re doing?

RYAN: Look — look at what Mitt Romney — look at what Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill did. They worked together out of a framework to lower tax rates and broaden the base, and they worked together to fix that.

What we’re saying is, here’s our framework. Lower tax rates 20 percent. We raised about $1.2 trillion through income taxes. We forego about $1.1 trillion in loopholes and deductions. And so what we’re saying is, deny those loopholes and deductions to higher-income taxpayers so that more of their income is taxed, which has a broader base of taxation…

BIDEN: Can I translate?

RYAN: … so we can lower tax rates across the board. Now, here’s why I’m saying this. What we’re saying is, here’s the framework…

BIDEN: I hope I’m going to get time to respond to this.

RADDATZ: You’ll get time.

RYAN: We want to work with Congress — we want to work with the Congress on how best to achieve this. That means successful. Look…

RADDATZ: No specifics, again.

RYAN: Mitt — what we’re saying is, lower tax rates 20 percent, start with the wealthy, work with Congress to do it…

RADDATZ: And you guarantee this math will add up?

RYAN: Absolutely. Six studies have guaranteed — six studies have verified that this math adds up. But here’s…

RADDATZ: Vice President Biden…

(CROSSTALK)

BIDEN: Look…

(CROSSTALK)

BIDEN: .. let me translate. Let me have a chance to translate.

RYAN: I’ll come back in a second, then, right?

BIDEN: First of all, I was there when Ronald Reagan tax breaks — he gave specifics of what he was going to cut, number one, in terms of tax expenditures. Number two, 97 percent of the small businesses in America pay less — make less than $250,000. Let me tell you who some of those other small businesses are: hedge funds that make $600 million, $800 million a year. That’s — that’s what they count as small businesses, because they’re pass- through.

Let’s look at how sincere they are. Ronald — I mean, excuse me, Governor Romney on “60 Minutes” — I guess it was about 10 days ago — was asked, “Governor, you pay 14 percent on $20 million. Someone making $50,000 pays more than that. Do you think that’s fair?” He said, “Oh, yes, that’s fair. That’s fair.”

This is — and they’re going to talk — you think these guys are going to go out there and cut those loopholes? The loophole — the biggest loophole they take advantage of is the carried interest loophole and — and capital gains loophole. They exempt that.

BIDEN: Now, there’s not enough — the reason why the AEI study, the American Enterprise Institute study, the Tax Policy Center study, the reason they all say it’s going — taxes go up on the middle class, the only way you can find $5 trillion in loopholes is cut the mortgage deduction for middle-class people, cut the health care deduction, middle-class people, take away their ability to get a tax break to send their kids to college. That’s why they arrive at it.

RADDATZ: Is he wrong about that?

RYAN: He is wrong about that. They’re…

BIDEN: How’s that?

RYAN: You can — you can cut tax rates by 20 percent and still preserve these important preferences for middle-class taxpayers…

BIDEN: Not mathematically possible.

RYAN: It is mathematically possible. It’s been done before. It’s precisely what we’re proposing.

BIDEN: It has never been done before.

RYAN: It’s been done a couple of times, actually.

BIDEN: It has never been done before.

RYAN: Jack Kennedy lowered tax rates, increased growth. Ronald Reagan…

BIDEN: Oh, now you’re Jack Kennedy?

(LAUGHTER)

RYAN: Ronald Reagan — Republicans and Democrats…

BIDEN: This is amazing.

RYAN: Republican and Democrats have worked together on this.

BIDEN: That’s right.

RYAN: You know, I understand you guys aren’t used to doing bipartisan deals…

BIDEN: But we told each other what we’re going to do.

RYAN: Republicans and Democrats…

BIDEN: When we did it Reagan, we said, here — here are the things we’re going to cut.

(CROSSTALK)

BIDEN: That’s what we said.

RYAN: We said here’s the framework, let’s work together to fill in the details. That’s exactly…

BIDEN: Fill in the detail.

RYAN: That’s how you get things done. You work with Congress — look, let me say it this way.

(CROSSTALK)

BIDEN: That’s coming from a Republican Congress working bipartisanly, 7 percent rating? Come on.

RYAN: Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts, where 87 percent of the legislators he served, which were Democrats. He didn’t demonize them. He didn’t demagogue them. He met with those party leaders every week. He reached across the aisle. He didn’t compromise principles.

BIDEN: And you saw what happened.

RYAN: He found common ground — and he balanced the budget…

BIDEN: You saw — if he did such a great job…

RADDATZ: Mr. Vice President…

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: … four times without raising taxes…

BIDEN: Why isn’t he even contesting Massachusetts?

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: Mr. Vice President, what would you suggest — what would you suggest beyond raising taxes on the wealthy, that would substantially reduce the long-term deficit?

BIDEN: Just let the taxes expire like they’re supposed to on those millionaires. We don’t — we can’t afford $800 billion going to people making a minimum of $1 million. They do not need it, Martha. Those 120,000 families make $8 million a year. Middle-class people need the help. Why does my friend cut out the tuition tax credit for them? Why does he go after the childcare…

RADDATZ: Can you declare anything off-limits?

BIDEN: Why do they do that?

RADDATZ: Can you declare anything off-limits?

RYAN: Yeah, we’re saying close loopholes…

RADDATZ: Home mortgage deduction?

RYAN: … on high-interest people.

RADDATZ: Home mortgage deduction?

RYAN: For higher-income people. Here…

BIDEN: Can you guarantee that no one making less than $100,000 will have a mortgage — their mortgage deduction impacted? Guarantee?

RYAN: This taxes a million small businesses. He keeps trying to make you think that it’s just some movie star or hedge fund guy or an actor…

BIDEN: Ninety-seven percent of the small businesses make less than $250,000 a year, would not be affected.

RYAN: Joe, you know it hits a million — this taxes a million people, a million small businesses.

BIDEN: Does it tax 97 percent of the American businesses?

RYAN: It taxes a million small businesses…

BIDEN: Small businesses?

RYAN: … who are our greatest job creators.

BIDEN: I wish I’d get — the “greatest job creators” are the hedge fund guys.

RADDATZ: And you’re — and you’re going to increase the defense budget.

RYAN: Think about it this way.

RADDATZ: And you’re going to increase the defense budget.

RYAN: No, we’re not just going to cut the defense budget like they’re — they’re proposing…

BIDEN: They’re going to increase it $2 billion.

RYAN: That’s not…

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: We’re talking about… RADDATZ: So no massive defense increases?

RYAN: No, we’re saying don’t — OK, you want to get into defense now?

RADDATZ: Yes, I do. I do, because that’s another math question.

RYAN: So — right, OK.

RADDATZ: How do you do that?

RYAN: So they proposed a $478 billion cut to defense to begin with. Now we have another $500 billion cut to defense that’s lurking on the horizon. They insisted upon that cut being involved in the debt negotiations, and so we have a $1 trillion cut…

RADDATZ: Let’s put the automatic defense cuts aside, OK?

RYAN: Right, OK.

RADDATZ: Let’s put those aside. No one wants that.

BIDEN: I’d like to go back to that.

RADDATZ: But I want to know how you do the math and have this increase in defense spending?

BIDEN: Two trillion dollars.

RYAN: You don’t cut defense by a trillion dollars. That’s what we’re talking about.

RADDATZ: And what — what national security issues justify an increase?

BIDEN: Who’s cutting it by $1 trillion?

RYAN: We’re going to cut 80,000 soldiers, 20,000 Marines, 120 cargo planes. We’re going to push the Joint Strike Fighter out…

RADDATZ: Drawing down in one war and one war…

RYAN: If these cuts go through, our Navy will be the smallest — the smallest it has been since before World War I.

This invites weakness. Look, do we believe in peace through strength? You bet we do. And that means you don’t impose these devastating cuts on our military.

So we’re saying don’t cut the military by a trillion dollars. Not increase it by a trillion, don’t cut it by a trillion dollars.

RADDATZ: Quickly, Vice President Biden on this. I want to move on.

BIDEN: Look, we don’t cut it. And I might add, this so-called — I know we don’t want to use the fancy word “sequester,” this automatic cut — that was part of a debt deal that they asked for.

And let me tell you what my friend said at a press conference announcing his support of the deal. He said, and I’m paraphrase, We’ve been looking for this moment for a long time.

RYAN: Can I tell you what that meant?

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: We’ve been looking for bipartisanship for a long time.

BIDEN: And so the bipartisanship is what he voted for, the automatic cuts in defense if they didn’t act.

And beyond that, they asked for another — look, the military says we need a smaller, leaner Army, we need more special forces, we need — we don’t need more M1 tanks, what we need is more UAVs.

RADDATZ: Some of the military.

(CROSSTALK)

BIDEN: Not some of the military. That was the decision of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recommended to us and agreed to by the president. That is a fact.

RADDATZ: Who answers to a civilian leader.

BIDEN: They made the recommendation first.

RADDATZ: OK. Let’s move on to Afghanistan.

RYAN: Can I get into that for a second?

RADDATZ: I’d like to move on to Afghanistan please. And that’s one of the biggest expenditures this country has made, in dollars, and more importantly in lives.

We just passed the sad milestone of losing 2,000 U.S. troops there in this war. More than 50 of them were killed this year by the very Afghan forces we are trying to help.

Now, we’ve reached the recruiting goal for Afghan forces, we’ve degraded Al Qaida. So tell me, why not leave now? What more can we really accomplish? Is it worth more American lives?

RYAN: We don’t want to lose the gains we’ve gotten. We want to make sure that the Taliban does not come back in and give Al Qaida a safe haven.

We agree with the administration on their 2014 transition.

Look, when I think about Afghanistan, I think about the incredible job that our troops have done. You’ve been there more than the two of us combined. First time I was there in 2002, it was amazing to me what they were facing. When I went to the Ahgandah (ph) Valley in Kandahar before the surge, I sat down with a young private in the 82nd from the Monamanee (ph) Indian reservation who would tell me what he did every day, and I was in awe. And to see what they had in front of them.

And then to go back there in December, to go throughout Helmand with the Marines, to see what they had accomplished, it’s nothing short of amazing.

What we don’t want to do is lose the gains we’ve gotten. Now, we’ve disagreed from time to time on a few issues. We would have more likely taken into accounts the recommendations from our commanders, General Petraeus, Admiral Mullen, on troop levels throughout this year’s fighting season. We’ve been skeptical about negotiations with the Taliban, especially while they’re shooting at us.

But we want to see the 2014 transition be successful, and that means we want to make sure our commanders have what they need to make sure that it is successful so that this does not once again become a launching pad for terrorists.

RADDATZ: Vice President Biden?

BIDEN: Martha, let’s keep our eye on the ball. The reason — I’ve been in and out of Afghanistan and Iraq 20 times. I’ve been up in the Konar (ph) Valley. I’ve been throughout that whole country, mostly in a helicopter, and sometimes in a vehicle.

The fact is, we went there for one reason: to get those people who killed Americans, Al Qaida. We’ve decimated Al Qaida central. We have eliminated Osama bin Laden. That was our purpose.

And, in fact, in the meantime, what we said we would do, we would help train the Afghan military. It’s their responsibility to take over their own security. That’s why with 49 of our allies in Afghanistan, we’ve agreed on a gradual drawdown so we’re out of there by the year 20 — in the year 2014.

My friend and the governor say it’s based on conditions, which means it depends. It does not depend for us. It is the responsibility of the Afghans to take care of their own security. We have trained over 315,000, mostly without incident. There have been more than two dozen cases of green-on-blue where Americans have been killed. If we do not — if the measures the military has taken do not take hold, we will not go on joint patrols. We will not train in the field. We’ll only train in the — in the Army bases that exist there.

But we are leaving. We are leaving in 2014. Period. And in the process, we’re going to be saving over the next 10 years another $800 billion. We’ve been in this war for over a decade. The primary objective is almost completed. Now, all we’re doing is putting the Kabul government in a position to be able to maintain their own security.

It’s their responsibility, not America’s.

RADDATZ: What — what conditions could justify staying, Congressman Ryan?

RYAN: We don’t want to stay. We want — look, one of my best friends in Janesville, a reservist, is at a forward-operating base in eastern Afghanistan right now. Our wives are best friends. Our daughters are best friends. I want — I want him and all of our troops to come home as soon and safely as possible.

We want to make sure that 2014 is successful. That’s why we want to make sure that we give our commanders what they say they need to make it successful. We don’t want to extend beyond 2014. That’s the point we’re making. You know, if it was just this, I’d feel like we would — we would be able to call this a success, but it’s not. What we are witnessing as we turn on our television screens these days is the absolute unraveling of the Obama foreign policy. Problems are growing at home, but — problems are growing abroad, but jobs aren’t growing here at home.

RADDATZ: Let me go back to this. He says we’re absolutely leaving in 2014. You’re saying that’s not an absolute, but you won’t talk about what conditions would justify…

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: Do you know why we say that?

BIDEN: I’d like to know…

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: Because we don’t want to broadcast to our enemies “put a date on your calendar, wait us out, and then come back.” We want to make sure…

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: But you agree with the timeline.

RYAN: We do agree — we do agree with the timeline and the transition, but what we — what any administration will do in 2013 is assess the situation to see how best to complete this timeline. What we do not want to do…

BIDEN: We will leave in 2014.

RYAN: … what we don’t want to do is give our allies reason to trust us less and our enemies more — we don’t want to embolden our enemies to hold and wait out for us and then take over…

(CROSSTALK)

BIDEN: Martha, that’s a bizarre statement.

RYAN: That’s why we want to make sure — no, that’s why we want to make sure that…

(CROSSTALK)

BIDEN: Forty-nine of our allies — hear me — 49 of our allies signed on to this position.

RYAN: And we’re reading that they want to…

(CROSSTALK)

BIDEN: Forty-nine — 49 of our allies said “out in 2014.” It’s the responsibility of the Afghans. We have other responsibilities… (CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: Do you really think that this timeline…

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: Which is — which is…

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: We have — we have soldiers and Marines. We have Afghan forces murdering our forces over there. The Taliban is, do you think, taking advantage of this timeline?

BIDEN: Look, the Taliban — what we’ve found out, and we — you saw it in Iraq, Martha, unless you set a timeline, Baghdad, in the case of Iraq, and — and Kabul, in the case of Afghanistan will not step up. They’re happy to let us continue to do the job; international security forces to do the job.

The only way they step up is to say, “Fellas, we’re leaving; we’ve trained you; step up, step up.”

RADDATZ: Let me go back.

BIDEN: That’s the only way it works.

RADDATZ: Let me go back to the — the surge troops that we put in there. And — and you brought this up, Congressman Ryan. I have talked to a lot of troops. I’ve talked to senior offices who were concerned that the surge troops were pulled out during the fighting season, and some of them saw that as a political — as a political move. So can you tell me, Vice President Biden, what was the military reason for bringing those surge troops home…

BIDEN: The military reason…

RADDATZ: … before the fighting had ended?

BIDEN: … was bringing — by the way, when the president announced the surge, you’ll remember, Martha, he said the surge will be out by the end of the summer. The military said the surge will be out. Nothing political about this.

Before the surge occurred — so you be a little straight with me here, too — before the surge occurred, we said they’ll be out by the end of the summer. That’s what the military said. The reason for that is…

RADDATZ: The military follows orders. I mean, there — trust me. There are people who were concerned about pulling out on the fighting season.

BIDEN: Sure. There are people that are concerned, but not the Joint Chiefs. That was their recommendation in the Oval Office to the president of the United States of America. I sat there. I’m sure you’ll find someone who disagrees with the Pentagon. I’m positive you’ll find that within the military. But that’s not the case here.

And, secondly, the reason why the military said that is, you cannot wait and have a cliff. It takes — you know — months and months and months to draw down forces.

RYAN: Let me…

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: Let me try and illustrate the issue here, because I think this — it can get a little confusing. We’ve all met with General Allen and General Scaparrotti in Afghanistan to talk about fighting seasons.

Here’s the way it works. The mountain passes fill in with snow. The Taliban and the terrorists and the Haqqani and the Quetta Shura come over from Pakistan to fight our men and women. When it fills in with snow, they can’t do it. That’s what we call fighting seasons. In the warm months, fighting gets really high. In the winter, it goes down.

And so when Admiral Mullen and General Petraeus came to Congress and said, if you pull these people out before the fighting season is end, it puts people more at risk. That’s the problem.

Yes, we drew 22,000 troops down last month, but the remaining troops that are there, who still have the same mission to prosecute counterinsurgency, are doing it with fewer people. That makes them less safe.

BIDEN: Fighting season…

RYAN: We’re sending fewer people out in all of these hotspots to do the same job that they were supposed to do a month ago.

BIDEN: Because we turned it over…

RYAN: But we took 22,000 people out…

BIDEN: … we turned it over to the Afghan troops we trained. No one got pulled out that didn’t get filled in by trained Afghan personnel. And he’s — he’s conflating two issues. The fighting season that Petraeus was talking about and former — and Admiral Mullen was the fighting season this spring. That’s what he was talking about. We did not — we did not pull them out.

RYAN: The calendar works the same every year.

BIDEN: It does work the same every year. But we’re not staying there…

RYAN: Spring, summer, fall. It’s warm, or it’s not. They’re still fighting us. They’re still coming over the passes. They’re still coming into Zabul, to Kunar, to all of these areas, but we are sending fewer people to the front to fight them. And that’s…

(CROSSTALK)

BIDEN: That’s right, because that’s the Afghan responsibility. We’ve trained them.

RYAN: Not in the east.

RADDATZ: Let’s move — let’s move to another war.

BIDEN: Not in the east?

RYAN: R.C. East — R.C. East…

BIDEN: R.C. East is the most dangerous place in the world.

RYAN: That’s right. That’s why we don’t want to send fewer people to the…

BIDEN: That’s — that’s why we should send Americans in to do the job, instead of the — you’d rather Americans be going in doing the job instead of the trainees?

RYAN: No. We are already sending Americans to do the job, but fewer of them. That’s the whole problem.

BIDEN: That’s right. We’re sending in more Afghans to do the job, Afghans to do the job.

RADDATZ: Let’s move to another war, the civil war in Syria, where there are estimates that more — estimates that more than 25,000, 30,000 people have now been killed. In March of last year, President Obama explained the military action taken in Libya by saying it was in the national interest to go in and prevent further massacres from occurring there. So why doesn’t the same logic apply in Syria? Vice President Biden?

BIDEN: Different country. It’s a different country. It is five times as large geographically, it has one-fifth the population, that is Libya, one-fifth the population, five times as large geographically.

It’s in a part of the world where they’re not going to see whatever would come from that war. It seep into a regional war.

You’re in a country that is heavily populated in the midst of the most dangerous area in the world. And, in fact, if in fact it blows up and the wrong people gain control, it’s going to have impact on the entire region causing potentially regional wars.

We are working hand and glove with the Turks, with the Jordanians, with the Saudis, and with all the people in the region attempting to identify the people who deserve the help so that when Assad goes — and he will go — there will be a legitimate government that follows on, not an Al Qaida-sponsored government that follows on.

And all this loose talk of my friend, Governor Romney, and the congressman, about how we’re going to do, we could do so much more in there, what more would they do other than put American boots on the ground?

The last thing America needs is to get in another ground war in the Middle East, requiring tens of thousands, if not well over 100,000 American forces. That — they are the facts. They are the facts.

Now, every time the governor is asked about this, he doesn’t say anything. He — he goes up with a whole lot of verbiage, but when he gets pressed he says, no, he would not do anything different than we are doing now.

Are they proposing putting American troops on the ground? Putting American aircraft in the airspace? Is that what they’re proposing? If they do, they should speak up and say so, but that’s not what they’re saying.

We are doing it exactly like we need to do to identify those forces who, in fact, will provide for a stable government and not cause a regional Sunni-Shia war when Bassad (sic) — when Bashar Assad falls.

RADDATZ: Congressman Ryan?

RYAN: Nobody is proposing to send troops to Syria. American troops.

Now, let me say it this way. How would we do things differently? We wouldn’t refer to Bashar Assad as a reformer when he’s killing his own civilians with his Russian-provided weapons. We wouldn’t be outsourcing our foreign policy to the United Nations giving Vladimir Putin veto power over our efforts to try and deal with this issue. He’s vetoed three of them.

Hillary Clinton went to Russia to try and convince them not to do so. They thwarted her efforts. She said they were on the wrong side of history. She was right about that. This is just one more example of how the Russia reset’s not working.

And so where are we? After international pressure mounted, the President Obama said Bashar Assad should go. It’s been over a year. The man has slaughtered tens of thousands of his own people. And more foreign fighters are spilling into this country.

So the longer this has gone on, the more people, groups like Al Qaida are going in. We could have more easily identified the free Syrian army, the freedom fighters, working with our allies, the Turks, the Qataris, the Saudis, had we had a better plan in place to begin with working through our allies. But, no, we waited for Kofi Annan to try and come up with an agreement through the U.N. That bought Bashar Assad time.

We gave Russia veto power over our efforts through the U.N. And meanwhile about 30,000 Syrians are dead.

BIDEN: What would my friend do differently? If you notice, he never answers the question.

RYAN: No, I would — I — we would not be going through the U.N. in all of these things.

BIDEN: Let me — you don’t go through the U.N. We are in the process now — and have been for months — in making sure that help, humanitarian aid, as well as other aid and training is getting to those forces that we believe, the Turks believe, the Jordanians believe, the Saudis believe are the free forces inside of Syria. That is underway.

Our allies were all on the same page, NATO, as well as our Arab allies, in terms of trying to get a settlement. That was their idea. We’re the ones that said, “Enough.” With regard to the reset not working, the fact of the matter is that Russia has a different interest in Syria than we do, and that’s not in our interest.

RADDATZ: What happens if Assad does not fall, Congressman Ryan? What happens to the region? What happens if he hangs on? What happens if he does?

RYAN: Then Iran keeps their greatest ally in the region. He’s a sponsor of terrorism. He’ll probably continue slaughtering his people. We and the world community will lose our credibility on this. Look, he mentioned the reset…

RADDATZ: So what would Romney-Ryan do about that credibility?

RYAN: Well, we agree with the same red line, actually, they do on chemical weapons, but not putting American troops in, other than to secure those chemical weapons. They’re right about that.

But what we should have done earlier is work with those freedom fighters, those dissidents in Syria. We should not have called Bashar Assad a reformer. And…

RADDATZ: What’s your criteria…

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: … we should not have — we should not have waited to Russia…

RADDATZ: What’s your criteria…

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: … should not have waited for Russia to give us the green light at the U.N. to do something about it.

BIDEN: Russia…

RYAN: They’re — they’re still arming the man. Iran is flying flights over Iraq…

BIDEN: And the opposition is being armed.

RYAN: … to help Bashar Assad. And, by the way, if we had the status-of-forces agreement that the vice president said he would bet his vice presidency on in Iraq, we probably would have been able to prevent that. But he failed to achieve that, as well, again.

RADDATZ: Let me ask you a quick question.

BIDEN: I don’t…

RADDATZ: What’s your criteria for intervention?

BIDEN: Yeah. RYAN: In Syria?

RADDATZ: Worldwide.

RYAN: What is in the national interests of the American people.

RADDATZ: How about humanitarian interests?

RYAN: What is in the national security of the American people. It’s got to be in the strategic national interests of our country.

RADDATZ: No humanitarian?

RYAN: Each situation will — will come up with its own set of circumstances, but putting American troops on the ground? That’s got to be within the national security interests of the American people.

RADDATZ: I want to — we’re — we’re almost out of time here.

RYAN: That means like embargoes and sanctions and overflights, those are things that don’t put American troops on the ground. But if you’re talking about putting American troops on the ground, only in our national security interests.

RADDATZ: I want to move on, and I want to return home for these last few questions. This debate is, indeed, historic. We have two Catholic candidates, first time, on a stage such as this. And I would like to ask you both to tell me what role your religion has played in your own personal views on abortion.

Please talk about how you came to that decision. Talk about how your religion played a part in that. And, please, this is such an emotional issue for so many people in this country…

RYAN: Sure.

RADDATZ: … please talk personally about this, if you could.

Congressman Ryan?

RYAN: I don’t see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith. Our faith informs us in everything we do. My faith informs me about how to take care of the vulnerable, of how to make sure that people have a chance in life.

RYAN: Now, you want to ask basically why I’m pro-life? It’s not simply because of my Catholic faith. That’s a factor, of course. But it’s also because of reason and science.

You know, I think about 10 1/2 years ago, my wife Janna and I went to Mercy Hospital in Janesville where I was born, for our seven week ultrasound for our firstborn child, and we saw that heartbeat. A little baby was in the shape of a bean. And to this day, we have nicknamed our firstborn child Liza, “Bean.” Now I believe that life begins at conception.

That’s why — those are the reasons why I’m pro-life. Now I understand this is a difficult issue, and I respect people who don’t agree with me on this, but the policy of a Romney administration will be to oppose abortions with the exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. What troubles me more is how this administration has handled all of these issues. Look at what they’re doing through Obamacare with respect to assaulting the religious liberties of this country. They’re infringing upon our first freedom, the freedom of religion, by infringing on Catholic charities, Catholic churches, Catholic hospitals.

Our church should not have to sue our federal government to maintain their religious liberties. And with respect to abortion, the Democratic Party used to say they wanted it to be safe, legal and rare. Now they support it without restriction and with taxpayer funding. Taxpayer funding in Obamacare, taxpayer funding with foreign aid. The vice president himself went to China and said that he sympathized and wouldn’t second guess their one child policy of forced abortions and sterilizations. That to me is pretty extreme.

RADDATZ: Vice President Biden?

BIDEN: My religion defines who I am, and I’ve been a practicing Catholic my whole life. And has particularly informed my social doctrine. The Catholic social doctrine talks about taking care of those who — who can’t take care of themselves, people who need help. With regard to — with regard to abortion, I accept my church’s position on abortion as a — what we call a (inaudible) doctrine. Life begins at conception in the church’s judgment. I accept it in my personal life.

But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews, and I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the — the congressman. I — I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that — women they can’t control their body. It’s a decision between them and their doctor. In my view and the Supreme Court, I’m not going to interfere with that. With regard to the assault on the Catholic church, let me make it absolutely clear, no religious institution, Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic Social Services, Georgetown Hospital, Mercy Hospital, any hospital, none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact.

That is a fact. Now with regard to the way in which the — we differ, my friend says that he — well I guess he accepts Governor Romney’s position now, because in the past he has argued that there was — there’s rape and forcible rape. He’s argued that in the case of rape or incest, it was still — it would be a crime to engage in having an abortion. I just fundamentally disagree with my friend.

RADDATZ: Congressman Ryan.

RYAN: All I’m saying is, if you believe that life begins at conception, that, therefore, doesn’t change the definition of life. That’s a principle. The policy of a Romney administration is to oppose abortion with exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.

Now, I’ve got to take issue with the Catholic church and religious liberty.

BIDEN: You have on the issue…

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: … why would they keep — why would they keep suing you? It’s a distinction without a difference.

RADDATZ: I want to go back to the abortion question here. If the Romney-Ryan ticket is elected, should those who believe that abortion should remain legal be worried?

RYAN: We don’t think that unelected judges should make this decision; that people through their elected representatives in reaching a consensus in society through the democratic process should make this determination.

BIDEN: The court — the next president will get one or two Supreme Court nominees. That’s how close Roe v. Wade is. Just ask yourself, with Robert Bork being the chief adviser on the court for — for Mr. Romney, who do you think he’s likely to appoint? Do you think he’s likely to appoint someone like Scalia or someone else on the court far right that would outlaw (inaudible) — outlaw abortion? I suspect that would happen.

I guarantee you, that will not happen. We picked two people. We pick people who are open-minded. They’ve been good justices. So keep an eye on the Supreme Court…

RYAN: Was there a litmus test on them?

BIDEN: There was no litmus test. We picked people who had an open mind; did not come with an agenda.

RADDATZ: I’m — I’m going to move on to this closing question because we are running out of time.

Certainly (inaudible) and you’ve said it here tonight, that the two of you respect our troops enormously. Your son has served and perhaps someday your children will serve as well.

I recently spoke to a highly decorated soldier who said that this presidential campaign has left him dismayed. He told me, quote, “the ads are so negative and they are all tearing down each other rather than building up the country.”

What would you say to that American hero about this campaign? And at the end of the day, are you ever embarrassed by the tone?

Vice President Biden?

BIDEN: I would say to him the same thing I say to my son who did serve a year in Iraq, that we only have one truly sacred obligation as a government. That’s to equip those we send into harm’s way and care for those who come home. That’s the only sacred obligation we have. Everything else falls behind that.

I would also tell him that the fact that he, this decorated soldier you talked about, fought for his country, that that should be honored. He should not be thrown into a category of a 47 percent who don’t pay their taxes while he was out there fighting and not having to pay taxes, and somehow not taking responsibility.

I would also tell him that there are things that have occurred in this campaign and occur in every campaign that I’m sure both of us regret anyone having said, particularly in these — these special new groups that can go out there, raise all the money they want, not have to identify themselves, who say the most scurrilous things about the other candidate. It’s — it’s an abomination.

But the bottom line here is I’d ask that hero you referenced to take a look at whether or not Governor Romney or President Obama has the conviction to help lift up the middle class, restore them to where they were before this great recession hit and they got wiped out. Or whether or not he’s going to continue to focus on taking care of only the very wealthy, not asking them to make — pay any part of the deal to bring — bring back the middle class and the economy of this country.

I’d ask him to take a look at whether the president of the United States has acted wisely in the use of force and whether or not the slipshod comments being made by my — my — or by Governor Romney serve — serve our interests very well.

But there are things that have been said in campaigns that I — I find not very appealing.

RADDATZ: Congressman Ryan?

RYAN: First of all, I’d thank him to his service to our country.

Second of all, I’d say we are not going to impose these devastating cuts on our military which compromises their mission and their safety.

And then I would say, you have a president who ran for president four years ago promising hope and change, who has now turned his campaign into attack, blame and defame.

You see, if you don’t have a good record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone to run from. That was what President Obama said in 2008. It’s what he’s doing right now.

Look at all the string of broken promises. If you like your health care plan, you can keep it. Try telling that to the 20 million people who are projected to lose their health insurance if Obamacare goes through or the 7-point million — 7.4 million seniors who are going to lose it.

Or remember when he said this: I guarantee if you make less than $250,000, your taxes won’t go up. Of the 21 tax increases in Obamacare, 12 of them hit the middle class.

Or remember when he said health insurance premiums will go down $2,500 per family, per year? They’ve gone up $3,000, and they’re expected to go up another $2,400.

Or remember when he said, “I promise by the end of my first term I’ll cut the deficit in half in four years”? We’ve had four budgets, four trillion-dollar deficits.

A debt crisis is coming. We can’t keep spending and borrowing like this. We can’t keep spending money we don’t have.

Leaders run to problem to fix problems. President Obama has not even put a credible plan on the table in any of his four years to deal with this debt crisis. I passed two budgets to deal with this. Mitt Romney’s put ideas on the table.

We’ve got to tackle this debt crisis before it tackles us. The president likes to say he has a plan. He gave a speech. We asked his budget office, “Can we see the plan?” They sent us to the press secretary. He gave us a copy of the speech. We asked the Congressional Budget Office, “Tell us what President Obama’s plan is to prevent a debt crisis.” They said, “It’s a speech, we can’t estimate speeches.”

You see, that’s what we get in this administration — speeches — but we’re not getting leadership.

Mitt Romney is uniquely qualified to fix these problems. His lifetime of experience, his proven track record of bipartisanship.

And what do we have from the president? He broke his big promise to bring people together to solve the country’s biggest problems.

And what I would tell him is we don’t have to settle for this.

BIDEN: Martha?

RYAN: We can do better than this.

BIDEN: I hope I’ll get equal time.

RADDATZ: You will get just a few minutes here. A few seconds, really.

BIDEN: The two budgets the congressman introduced have eviscerated all the things that the middle class cares about. It is (inaudible) he will knock 19 million people off of Medicare. It will kick 200,000 children off of early education. It will eliminate the tax credit people have to be able to send their children to college. It cuts education by $450 billion.

It does — it does virtually nothing except continue to increase the tax cuts for the very wealthy. And, you know, we’ve had enough of this.

The idea that he’s so concerned about these deficits, I’ve pointed out he voted to put two wars on a credit card. He did…

RADDATZ: We’re going to — we’re going to the closing statements in a minute.

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: You’re going to have your closing statement.

RYAN: Not raising taxes is not cutting taxes. And by the way, our budget…

BIDEN: We have not raised…

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: … by 3 percent a year instead of 4.5 percent like they propose. Not spending more money as much as they say is not a spending cut.

RADDATZ: Let me — let me calm down things here just for a minute. And I want to talk to you very briefly before we go to closing statements about your own personal character. If you are elected, what could you both give to this country as a man, as a human being, that no one else could?

RYAN: Honesty, no one else could? There are plenty of fine people who could lead this country. But what you need are people who, when they say they’re going to do something, they go do it. What you need are, when people see problems, they offer solutions to fix those problems. We’re not getting that.

Look, we can grow this economy faster. That’s what our five- point plan for a stronger middle class is all about. It’s about getting 12 million jobs, higher take-home pay, getting people out of poverty into the middle class. That means going with proven, pro- growth policies that we know works to get people back to work. Putting ideas on the table, working with Democrats — that actually works sometimes — and then…

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: Vice President, can we get to that — to that issue of what you could bring as a man, a human being? And I really — I’m going to keep you to about 15 seconds here.

BIDEN: Well, he gets 40, I get 15, that’s OK.

RADDATZ: He didn’t have 40. He didn’t have 40.

BIDEN: That’s all right.

Let me tell you. I — my — my record stands for itself. I never say anything I don’t mean. Everybody knows, whatever I say, I do. And my whole life has been devoted to leveling the playing field for middle-class people, giving them an even break, treating Main Street and Wall Street the same, hold them to the same responsibility.

Look at my record. It’s been all about the middle class. They’re the people who grow this country. We think you grow this country from the middle out, not from the top down.

RADDATZ: OK, we now turn to the candidates for their closing statements. Thank you, gentlemen. And that coin toss, again, has Vice President Biden starting with the closing statement.

BIDEN: Well, let — let me say at the outset that I want to thank you, Martha, for doing this, and Centre College. The fact is that we’re in a situation where we inherited a god-awful circumstance. People are in real trouble. We acted to move to bring relief to the people who need the most help now.

And — and in the process, we — in case you haven’t noticed, we have strong disagreements, but I — you probably detected my frustration with their attitude about the American people. My friend says that 30 percent of the American people are takers. Romney points out 47 percent of the people won’t take responsibility.

He’s talking about my mother and father. He’s talking about the places I grew up in, my neighbors in Scranton and Claymont, and he’s talking about — he’s talking about the people that have built this country. All they’re looking for, Martha, all they’re looking for is an even shot. Whenever you give them the shot, they’ve done it. They’ve done it. Whenever you’ve leveled the playing field, they’ve been able to move. And they want a little bit of peace of mind.

And the president and I are not going to rest until that playing field is leveled, they, in fact, have a clear shot, and they have peace of mind, until they can turn to their kid and say with a degree of confidence, “Honey, it’s going to be OK. It’s going to be OK.” That’s what this is all about. RADDATZ: Congressman Ryan?

RYAN: I want to thank you, as well, Martha, Danville, Kentucky, Centre College, and I want to thank you, Joe. It’s been an honor to engage in this critical debate.

We face a very big choice. What kind of country are we going to be? What kind of country are we going to give our kids? President Obama, he had his chance. He made his choices. His economic agenda, more spending, more borrowing, higher taxes, a government takeover of health care. It’s not working. It’s failed to create the jobs we need.

Twenty-three million Americans are struggling for work today. Fifteen percent of Americans are in poverty. This is not what a real recovery looks like. You deserve better. Mitt Romney and I want to earn your support. We’re offering real reforms for a real recovery for every American.

Mitt Romney — his experience, his ideas, his solutions — is uniquely qualified to get this job done. At a time when we have a jobs crisis in America, wouldn’t it be nice to have a job-creator in the White House?

The choice is clear: a stagnant economy that promotes more government dependency or a dynamic, growing economy that promotes opportunity and jobs. Mitt Romney and I will not duck the tough issues, and we will not blame others for the next four years. We will take responsibility. And we will not try to replace our founding principles. We will reapply our founding principles.

The choice is clear, and the choice rests with you. And we ask you for your vote. Thank you.

RADDATZ: And thank you both again. Thank you very much.

BIDEN: Thank you.

RADDATZ: This concludes the vice presidential debate. Please tune in next Tuesday for the second presidential debate at Hofstra University in New York. I’m Martha Raddatz of ABC News. I do hope all of you go to the polls. Have a good evening.

(APPLAUSE)

END

Full Text Campaign Buzz October 3, 2012: First Presidential Debate Transcript — President Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney Debate in Denver, Colorado

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Presidential Debate Transcript

VIDEO: Mitt Romney congratulates the president and first lady on their 20th wedding anniversary.

The full transcript of the Presidential Debate from Denver, Colo. below, updated every 15 minutes throughout the debate.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA AND FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, PARTICIPATE IN A CANDIDATES DEBATE, UNIVERSITY OF DENVER, COLORADO

OCTOBER 3, 2012

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

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

JIM LEHRER, MODERATOR

JANET BROWN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COMMISSION ON PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES,

FRANK FAHRENKOPF, CO-CHAIRMAN, COMMISSION ON PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES

MIKE MCCURRY, CO-CHAIRMAN, COMMISSION ON PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES

BROWN: We’d like to get started on the program that you will see unfold here before the debate actually starts in the next — slightly less than 30 minutes. My name is Janet Brown. I’m the executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates. And I’d like to welcome you to the first debate of the 2012 general election season. We are very…

(APPLAUSE)

Go, Pioneers.

(APPLAUSE)

We’re very grateful to be here on this beautiful campus, very grateful to the leadership of the university, to the entire community, to the city of Denver, to the state of Colorado.

My happy duty is to introduce some people that will thank a lot of the organizations and individuals who have been working for two years to make tonight possible. There are many of them, and their contribution is critical to what you will see unfold here over the next hour-and-a-half.

BROWN: I am going to start by introducing the co-chairmen of the Commission on Presidential Debates, Frank Fahrenkopf and Mike McCurry.

(APPLAUSE)

FAHRENKOPF: Good afternoon, ladies and gentleman. And welcome to this great city, this great hall, and this most important debate.

This is actually a very, very important time for the Commission on Presidential Debates because this is our 25th anniversary. It was in 1987 when then Democratic Chairman Paul Kirk, when I was chairman of the Republican National Committee, formed the Commission on Presidential Debates. Tonight is the 23rd debate in the general elections that we’ve conducted through seven terms, seven different cycles. So it’s a very, very important — important time for us.

But it’s also in one way a sad one for me, and that is that Paul Kirk is no longer the co-chairman of this commission. For most of you in this audience in Washington that you know, that when Ted Kennedy passed away, Paul was appointed and to serve in his seat until the special election was held in Massachusetts. And Paul at that time resigned.

But Paul was with us for 25 years. We know that he and Gail (ph) are sitting out on Cape Cod right now watching this on C-SPAN. And all of us on the commission, not only the members of the commission, but the people behind these cameras, the people backstage in lighting and the people with sound who have been doing this for 25 years, we miss Paul, we respect the great dedication he gave to this commission. And our best to him and Gail (ph).

(APPLAUSE)

It is also special because of the change in format that you’re going to see tonight from what you’ve seen in the past 22 debates. The commission for a long time has wrestled with the question of how can we get more depth in discussion on the issues that are so important to the American people in making a decision who they’re going to vote for.

And so the commission has proposed — and you will see it put in place tonight — 90 minutes divided into six pods, if you will, six sections of time, which will be covering six different subjects. And the moderator tonight, Jim Lehrer, focusing on domestic relations and domestic matters, will have the power to follow up and hopefully drill down and really give to the American people clear status from these two candidates of what they will do if they’re elected by the American people on November 6th.

The same format will be held in the final debate, which will be held in Florida later this month. Bob Schieffer of CBS News will moderate that. And that focus will be on foreign policy.

We’re also happy tonight to have with us in this audience four of the commissioners, members of the commission. I don’t think we’ve ever had six of us together at one debate (inaudible). So I’m going to ask them if they would please stand when I call their name. The first, a former United States senator from the great state of Missouri, John “Jack” Danforth.

(APPLAUSE)

From the great state of Wyoming, former United States Senator Al Simpson.

(APPLAUSE)

From the state of California — and I’ve always got to look at Antonia’s (ph) title, because she’s been with us so many years, she’s the president of the California Community Foundation of Los Angeles, Antonia Hernandez (ph). Been with us for many years. Welcome, Antonia (ph).

(APPLAUSE)

And the newest member of the commission, which means a lot to me, I have a daughter and a son-in-law who are Golden Domers, who graduated from Notre Dame, and we’re happy to add to our list tonight Father John Jenkins (ph), president of Notre Dome — Notre Dame University in South Bend.

(APPLAUSE)

Now I have to lecture — I have to lecture first about these things. Please not only but them on silent running, turn them off. This hall will be dark as we go forward. And, you know, even if you’re — you’ve got it on silent running and you turn it on, it flashes a light.

Hopefully we can live for 90 minutes without these things on. So please won’t you join us, turn them off, keep them off, so that we won’t interfere.

Secondly, this is not the primary debates, folks. And all the cheering that we just heard, we hope that we won’t hear that anymore until the end of the debate. There are many people in this audience who really are part of history tonight, because you’re here in person. But there’ll be somewhere between 50 million and 100 million people sitting at home watching this, listening very carefully to the president and to Governor Romney, trying to make determinations as to what they’re going to on November 6th.

FAHRENKOPF: It’s wrong for us to intrude on them. So please, don’t clap, don’t cheer, don’t make any noise. Jim Lehrer will talk to you again about this in a moment.

And we have a little surprise for those who don’t follow the rules. This is a hockey arena, and what you don’t know is we’ve built in secret trap doors under every seat. You can look down. You won’t see it. But if you break the rules, a button will be pushed and you will be swimming with the fishes.

(LAUGHTER)

So please, very, very seriously, it’s important that this be done in a way that we maintain the dignity of this event and we don’t interfere with those people at home.

And now, my last chore is not a chore at all, but a great, great delight, to welcome the new co-chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates. Most of you will recognize him as the first press secretary in the White House for William Jefferson Clinton.

Mike, it’s all yours, buddy.

MCCURRY: Thanks.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you very much, and it’s been great to be your partner in this. But I want to also send a special word to Paul Kirk, my former boss, someone who led this commission extraordinarily well. And it is a daunting challenge to follow in his incredible footsteps.

I also want to start by just saying we really have had a great time at the University of Denver, and I hope you have been, too. They are just incredible as partners and we could not have had a better facility, a better team to work with. So to the entire university community and all the folks at the University of Denver who have helped us, thank you very much on behalf of the commission.

(APPLAUSE)

There are a number of other organizations that have been absolutely key to us in helping put this on, make it a working space, and make it an enjoyable place for those who come here to participate in this debate. I want to start with Anheiser-Busch, who’s been our partner since 1992. Thank you.

Southwest Airlines, which has helped us transport things around the country so all four of these debates can go off in a timely way; the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Sheldon S. Cohen, Crowell and Moring, the International Bottled Water Association, the Kovler Fund and many, many others. Please give those sponsors and the folks who help us a big hand.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, a little bit of information about how we put this broadcast on. You’ll see so many cameras around you. They represent the major network organizations that together pool their resources so that we can bring this broadcast to the American people. And I want to spend a little bit of time tonight paying a special tribute to ABC News. It was their turn tonight to work with us, and all of the sound equipment and cameras that you see here are theirs.

ABC, thank you for doing a tremendous job for us.

(APPLAUSE)

And last and certainly not least, our friends at C-SPAN. This part of this debate program is being carried to the American people by C-SPAN so that my mother can see it. And so for our friends at C- SPAN, thank you very much for carrying this part of the debate to the American people.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, I want to — I also just want to add to what Frank said about the importance of turning your cell phones off now. Pretend you just got on the plane and they just said the door is closed and everything with an on and off button has to go off now. So just check and make sure that it’s off. And just contemplate the pleasure — the sheer bliss of having 90 minutes that you don’t have to text, tweet, or read an e-mail. Wouldn’t that be nice?

(APPLAUSE)

And also — and also, as Frank said, very important that we do respect the television audience watching this debate and make sure that we refrain from interrupting what the candidates need to do and what the American people need to do as they hear the candidates, by disturbing this important occasion with applause or any other outward demonstration.

That’s it for us, but lastly for me, the greatest pleasure of all — I’ve mentioned what a great partnership we’ve had with the University of Denver. And it’s a great pleasure for me to introduce now a great friend of the commission, someone who’s worked very closely and very well with us, the chancellor of the University of Denver, Robert Coombe.

(APPLAUSE)

COOMBE: On behalf of the entire University of Denver community — students, faculty and staff members, alumni throughout the world, welcome — welcome to the University of Denver.

It is a remarkable time, a critical time for our country and really for all the world. And it’s very pleasing for us at D.U. to play even a small role in such an event that is so important for so many people worldwide.

This is just one of the ways that we live up to our vision to be a great private university, dedicated to the public good. We’re very proud to be a resource for people worldwide who — who thirst for knowledge and who seek creative solutions to the great issues of our time. Some of those folks who thirst for knowledge are our students. And a number of them are present in this debate hall this evening. They’re the lucky few who got tickets to this event out of the lottery that we ran for the last few months. Many, many more — many, many more, though, participated in a series of events starting this past January and, really, running up to the first part of this week, in total 115 different debate-related events that were attended by more than 25,000 people in total.

Our students have been with us all the way on this. They have played an amazing part in staging the entire thing, from planning to logistics. And so I’d simply like to say thank you to you, Pioneers.

(APPLAUSE)

For those of us who — who make our lives here at the University of Denver, those of us who study and teach and do research, and, really, all of us in the Denver community, this is a particularly important event. It’s the first presidential debate to be held in our city, the first in the state, and, really, only one of a few in the West.

Over the last several months, the nation has paid particular attention to how we view things in this remarkably beautiful and diverse part of the country, because Colorado is a — is a pivotal state in this election. And while I certainly would not offer any — any opinions in that regard, I would simply say that, as a people, we are generally well-educated and engaged. We are fair-minded and open to new ideas. And like everybody in our country, we are eager to hear from our candidates.

Once again, thanks so much for being here. It’s a great pleasure to host this debate.

(APPLAUSE)

BROWN: Thank you, gentlemen. Ladies and gentlemen, would you join me in welcoming Mrs. Romney and Mrs. Obama?

(APPLAUSE)

One of the great privileges of working for the Commission on Presidential Debates is to work with Jim Lehrer. This is the 12th time that he will moderate a debate. I would like to introduce him now.

(APPLAUSE)

LEHRER: Let me be the very last to welcome you to this very important event, this presidential debate. Show of hands, how many of you all have been in the hall for one of these fall presidential — vice presidential debates before?

OK, so you all know the rules: absolute silence. Those of you who have been in or watched on television the primary debates know that is not the case. The rules are different here for these events. In the early days, when I first started addressing the audience in the hall, I threatened people. I mean, I’d say, OK, you make noise, you hiss and boo or — or even applaud, cheer, I’ll turn around and I’ll stop and I’ll make you stand up and humiliate you in front of the whole world.

(LAUGHTER)

I don’t do that anymore, because I don’t need to, because everybody knows the drill. Certainly all of you do. You’ve come here for a very important reason. Most of you are here as committed supporters of President Obama or Governor Romney or others involved in this electoral process, and you know how important this event is.

And it’s important because it’s about those millions and millions of people who are going to watch this event tonight. They’re — they’re watching to make a decision, one of the most important decisions a citizen of this country makes, and so it’s — it behooves all of you and me, us, in other words, to help the dialogue. And you can help me by remaining quiet, as well.

I — this has — we’ve got a new kind of complicated format here tonight. And I’ve got to be — I’ve got to be really concentrating. I want to be concentrating on what the candidates are saying, along with you, rather than what’s going on behind me. And — and I know you’re going to do that. And I don’t have any fear that you all will.

And, I mean, if you hear something that’s really terrific, sit on it. If you hear something you don’t like, sit on it. And — and it’ll — it’ll work.

And as I say, I have no — no fear that anybody’s going to do anything, but as a precaution, I’m going to ask Mrs. Obama on this side and Mrs. Romney on this side to enforce the rules on your side…

(LAUGHTER)

… and your side. Take names. I’ll humiliate them. I’ll do anything, whatever. But, anyhow.

The drill here is what you see in a few moments, we’re going to start. I’m going to sit down. My back’s going to be to you, and we’ll introduce — I’m going to do an opening through this — TelePrompTer’s right there. And I’m going to do an opening, welcome, everybody, to the event. And then President Obama is going to come in from the right, Governor Romney from the left. They’ll shake hands. They’ll go behind the podium. And we’ll be on the way.

VIDEO: Mitt Romney congratulates the president and first lady on their 20th wedding anniversary.
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And between now and then, you can feel free to talk and do whatever — any noise you would like to make. But once I sit down and I’ll turn around and say, OK, shh, or words of that effect, please. And — and when they do come in — there is one exception — when they do come in, you can applaud. I’m going to applaud. I’m going to stay seated and applaud. You can applaud then and at the very end. At the very end, I’m going to look at that prompter again and I’m going to say good night to everybody, and then we can all applaud then, as well.

LEHRER: But in between, 90 minutes of wonderful, serious, delightful silence. OK, let’s have a good time.

(APPLAUSE)

LEHRER: Thirty seconds, folks. Let’s have a terrific evening, for all of you and for our country.

Good evening from the Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. I’m Jim Lehrer of the “PBS NewsHour,” and I welcome you to the first of the 2012 presidential debates between President Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee.

LEHRER: This debate and the next three — two presidential, one vice presidential — are sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. Tonight’s 90 minutes will be about domestic issues and will follow a format designed by the commission. There will be six roughly 15-minute segments with two-minute answers for the first question, then open discussion for the remainder of each segment.

Thousands of people offered suggestions on segment subjects or questions via the Internet and other means, but I made the final selections. And for the record, they were not submitted for approval to the commission or the candidates.

The segments as I announced in advance will be three on the economy and one each on health care, the role of government and governing, with an emphasis throughout on differences, specifics and choices. Both candidates will also have two-minute closing statements.

The audience here in the hall has promised to remain silent — no cheers, applause, boos, hisses, among other noisy distracting things, so we may all concentrate on what the candidates have to say. There is a noise exception right now, though, as we welcome President Obama and Governor Romney.

(APPLAUSE)

Gentlemen, welcome to you both. Let’s start the economy, segment one, and let’s begin with jobs. What are the major differences between the two of you about how you would go about creating new jobs?

LEHRER: You have two minutes. Each of you have two minutes to start. A coin toss has determined, Mr. President, you go first.

OBAMA: Well, thank you very much, Jim, for this opportunity. I want to thank Governor Romney and the University of Denver for your hospitality.

There are a lot of points I want to make tonight, but the most important one is that 20 years ago I became the luckiest man on Earth because Michelle Obama agreed to marry me.

And so I just want to wish, Sweetie, you happy anniversary and let you know that a year from now we will not be celebrating it in front of 40 million people.

(LAUGHTER)

You know, four years ago we went through the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Millions of jobs were lost, the auto industry was on the brink of collapse. The financial system had frozen up.

And because of the resilience and the determination of the American people, we’ve begun to fight our way back. Over the last 30 months, we’ve seen 5 million jobs in the private sector created. The auto industry has come roaring back. And housing has begun to rise.

But we all know that we’ve still got a lot of work to do. And so the question here tonight is not where we’ve been, but where we’re going.

Governor Romney has a perspective that says if we cut taxes, skewed towards the wealthy, and roll back regulations, that we’ll be better off. I’ve got a different view.

I think we’ve got to invest in education and training. I think it’s important for us to develop new sources of energy here in America, that we change our tax code to make sure that we’re helping small businesses and companies that are investing here in the United States, that we take some of the money that we’re saving as we wind down two wars to rebuild America and that we reduce our deficit in a balanced way that allows us to make these critical investments.

OBAMA: So all of this is possible. Now, in order for us to do it, we do have to close our deficit, and one of the things I’m sure we’ll be discussing tonight is, how do we deal with our tax code? And how do we make sure that we are reducing spending in a responsible way, but also, how do we have enough revenue to make those investments?

And this is where there’s a difference, because Governor Romney’s central economic plan calls for a $5 trillion tax cut — on top of the extension of the Bush tax cuts — that’s another trillion dollars — and $2 trillion in additional military spending that the military hasn’t asked for. That’s $8 trillion. How we pay for that, reduce the deficit, and make the investments that we need to make, without dumping those costs onto middle-class Americans, I think is one of the central questions of this campaign.

LEHRER: Both of you have spoken about a lot of different things, and we’re going to try to get through them in as specific a way as we possibly can.

But, first, Governor Romney, do you have a question that you’d like to ask the president directly about something he just said?

ROMNEY: Well, sure. I’d like to clear up the record and go through it piece by piece.

First of all, I don’t have a $5 trillion tax cut. I don’t have a tax cut of a scale that you’re talking about. My view is that we ought to provide tax relief to people in the middle class. But I’m not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income people. High-income people are doing just fine in this economy. They’ll do fine whether you’re president or I am.

The people who are having the hard time right now are middle- income Americans. Under the president’s policies, middle-income Americans have been buried. They’re just being crushed. Middle- income Americans have seen their income come down by $4,300. This is a — this is a tax in and of itself. I’ll call it the economy tax. It’s been crushing.

At the same time, gasoline prices have doubled under the president. Electric rates are up. Food prices are up. Health care costs have gone up by $2,500 a family. Middle-income families are being crushed.

ROMNEY: And so the question is how to get them going again. And I’ve described it. It’s energy and trade, the right kind of training programs, balancing our budget and helping small business. Those are the — the cornerstones of my plan.

But the president mentioned a couple of other ideas I’ll just note. First, education. I agree: Education is key, particularly the future of our economy. But our training programs right now, we’ve got 47 of them, housed in the federal government, reporting to eight different agencies. Overhead is overwhelming. We’ve got to get those dollars back to the states and go to the workers so they can create their own pathways to get in the training they need for jobs that will really help them.

The second area, taxation, we agree, we ought to bring the tax rates down. And I do, both for corporations and for individuals. But in order for us not to lose revenue, have the government run out of money, I also lower deductions and credits and exemptions, so that we keep taking in the same money when you also account for growth.

The third area, energy. Energy is critical, and the president pointed out correctly that production of oil and gas in the U.S. is up. But not due to his policies. In spite of his policies.

Mr. President, all of the increase in natural gas and oil has happened on private land, not on government land. On government land, your administration has cut the number of permits and licenses in half. If I’m president, I’ll double them, and also get the — the oil from offshore and Alaska. And I’ll bring that pipeline in from Canada.

And, by the way, I like coal. I’m going to make sure we can continue to burn clean coal. People in the coal industry feel like it’s getting crushed by your policies. I want to get America and North America energy independent so we can create those jobs.

And finally, with regards to that tax cut, look, I’m not looking to cut massive taxes and to reduce the — the revenues going to the government. My — my number-one principal is, there will be no tax cut that adds to the deficit. I want to underline that: no tax cut that adds to the deficit.

But I do want to reduce the burden being paid by middle-income Americans. And I — and to do that, that also means I cannot reduce the burden paid by high-income Americans. So any — any language to the contrary is simply not accurate. LEHRER: Mr. President?

OBAMA: Well, I think — let’s talk about taxes, because I think it’s instructive. Now, four years ago, when I stood on this stage, I said that I would cut taxes for middle-class families. And that’s exactly what I did. We cut taxes for middle-class families by about $3,600.

And the reason is, because I believe that we do best when the middle class is doing well. And by giving them those tax cuts, they had a little more money in their pocket, and so maybe they can buy a new car. They are certainly in a better position to weather the extraordinary recession that we went through. They can buy a computer for their kid who’s going off to college, which means they’re spending more money, businesses have more customers, businesses make more profits, and then hire more workers.

Now, Governor Romney’s proposal that he has been promoting for 18 months calls for a $5 trillion tax cut, on top of $2 trillion of additional spending for our military. And he is saying that he is going to pay for it by closing loopholes and deductions. The problem is that he’s been asked over 100 times how you would close those deductions and loopholes, and he hasn’t been able to identify them.

But I’m going to make an important point here, Jim.

LEHRER: All right.

OBAMA: When you add up all the loopholes and deductions that upper-income individuals can — are currently taking advantage of, you take those all away, you don’t come close to paying for $5 trillion in tax cuts and $2 trillion in additional military spending.

OBAMA: And that’s why independent studies looking at this said the only way to meet Governor Romney’s pledge of not reducing the deficit or — or — or not adding to the deficit is by burdening middle-class families. The average middle-class family with children would pay about $2,000 more.

Now, that’s not my analysis. That’s the analysis of economists who have looked at this. And — and that kind of top — top-down economics, where folks at the top are doing well, so the average person making $3 million is getting a $250,000 tax break, while middle-class families are burdened further, that’s not what I believe is a recipe for economic growth.

LEHRER: All right. What is the difference? Let’s just stay on taxes.

(CROSSTALK)

LEHRER: Just — let’s just stay on taxes for (inaudible).

(CROSSTALK)

LEHRER: What is the difference…

ROMNEY: Well, but — but virtually — virtually everything he just said about my tax plan is inaccurate.

LEHRER: All right.

ROMNEY: So if the tax plan he described were a tax plan I was asked to support, I’d say absolutely not. I’m not looking for a $5 trillion tax cut. What I’ve said is I won’t put in place a tax cut that adds to the deficit. That’s part one. So there’s no economist that can say Mitt Romney’s tax plan adds $5 trillion if I say I will not add to the deficit with my tax plan.

Number two, I will not reduce the share paid by high-income individuals. I know that you and your running mate keep saying that and I know it’s a popular thing to say with a lot of people, but it’s just not the case. Look, I’ve got five boys. I’m used to people saying something that’s not always true, but just keep on repeating it and ultimately hoping I’ll believe it. But that — that is not the case. All right? I will not reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans.

And number three, I will not under any circumstances raise taxes on middle-income families. I will lower taxes on middle-income families. Now, you cite a study. There are six other studies that looked at the study you describe and say it’s completely wrong. I saw a study that came out today that said you’re going to raise taxes by $3,000 to $4,000 on middle-income families.

There are all these studies out there. But let’s get at the bottom line. That is, I want to bring down rates. I want to bring the rates down, at the same time lower deductions and exemptions and credits and so forth, so we keep getting the revenue we need. And you’d think, well, then why lower the rates?

ROMNEY: And the reason is because small business pays that individual rate; 54 percent of America’s workers work in businesses that are taxed not at the corporate tax rate, but at the individual tax rate. And if we lower that rate, they will be able to hire more people. For me, this is about jobs. This is about getting jobs for the American people.

(CROSSTALK)

LEHRER: That’s where we started. Yeah.

Do you challenge what the governor just said about his own plan?

OBAMA: Well, for 18 months he’s been running on this tax plan. And now, five weeks before the election, he’s saying that his big, bold idea is, “Never mind.”

And the fact is that if you are lowering the rates the way you described, Governor, then it is not possible to come up with enough deductions and loopholes that only affect high-income individuals to avoid either raising the deficit or burdening the middle class. It’s — it’s math. It’s arithmetic.

Now, Governor Romney and I do share a deep interest in encouraging small-business growth. So at the same time that my tax plan has already lowered taxes for 98 percent of families, I also lowered taxes for small businesses 18 times. And what I want to do is continue the tax rates — the tax cuts that we put into place for small businesses and families.

But I have said that for incomes over $250,000 a year, that we should go back to the rates that we had when Bill Clinton was president, when we created 23 million new jobs, went from deficit to surplus, and created a whole lot of millionaires to boot.

And the reason this is important is because by doing that, we cannot only reduce the deficit, we cannot only encourage job growth through small businesses, but we’re also able to make the investments that are necessary in education or in energy.

OBAMA: And we do have a difference, though, when it comes to definitions of small business. Under — under my plan, 97 percent of small businesses would not see their income taxes go up. Governor Romney says, well, those top 3 percent, they’re the job creators, they’d be burdened.

But under Governor Romney’s definition, there are a whole bunch of millionaires and billionaires who are small businesses. Donald Trump is a small business. Now, I know Donald Trump doesn’t like to think of himself as small anything, but — but that’s how you define small businesses if you’re getting business income.

And that kind of approach, I believe, will not grow our economy, because the only way to pay for it without either burdening the middle class or blowing up our deficit is to make drastic cuts in things like education, making sure that we are continuing to invest in basic science and research, all the things that are helping America grow. And I think that would be a mistake.

LEHRER: All right.

ROMNEY: Jim, let me just come back on that — on that point, which is these…

LEHRER: Just for the — just for record…

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: … the small businesses we’re talking about…

LEHRER: Excuse me. Excuse me. Just so everybody understands, we’re way over our first 15 minutes.

ROMNEY: It’s fun, isn’t it?

LEHRER: It’s OK, it’s great. No problem. Well, you all don’t have — you don’t have a problem, I don’t have a problem, because we’re still on the economy. We’re going to come back to taxes. I want move on to the deficit and a lot of other things, too.

OK, but go ahead, sir.

ROMNEY: You bet. Well, President, you’re — Mr. President, you’re absolutely right, which is that, with regards to 97 percent of the businesses are not — not taxed at the 35 percent tax rate, they’re taxed at a lower rate. But those businesses that are in the last 3 percent of businesses happen to employ half — half of all the people who work in small business. Those are the businesses that employ one-quarter of all the workers in America. And your plan is to take their tax rate from 35 percent to 40 percent.

Now, and — and I’ve talked to a guy who has a very small business. He’s in the electronics business in — in St. Louis. He has four employees. He said he and his son calculated how much they pay in taxes, federal income tax, federal payroll tax, state income tax, state sales tax, state property tax, gasoline tax. It added up to well over 50 percent of what they earned. And your plan is to take the tax rate on successful small businesses from 35 percent to 40 percent. The National Federation of Independent Businesses has said that will cost 700,000 jobs.

I don’t want to cost jobs. My priority is jobs. And so what I do is I bring down the tax rates, lower deductions and exemptions, the same idea behind Bowles-Simpson, by the way, get the rates down, lower deductions and exemptions, to create more jobs, because there’s nothing better for getting us to a balanced budget than having more people working, earning more money, paying more taxes. That’s by far the most effective and efficient way to get this budget balanced.

OBAMA: Jim, I — you may want to move onto another topic, but I — I would just say this to the American people. If you believe that we can cut taxes by $5 trillion and add $2 trillion in additional spending that the military is not asking for, $7 trillion — just to give you a sense, over 10 years, that’s more than our entire defense budget — and you think that by closing loopholes and deductions for the well-to-do, somehow you will not end up picking up the tab, then Governor Romney’s plan may work for you.

But I think math, common sense, and our history shows us that’s not a recipe for job growth. Look, we’ve tried this. We’ve tried both approaches. The approach that Governor Romney’s talking about is the same sales pitch that was made in 2001 and 2003, and we ended up with the slowest job growth in 50 years, we ended up moving from surplus to deficits, and it all culminated in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

OBAMA: Bill Clinton tried the approach that I’m talking about. We created 23 million new jobs. We went from deficit to surplus. And businesses did very well. So, in some ways, we’ve got some data on which approach is more likely to create jobs and opportunity for Americans and I believe that the economy works best when middle-class families are getting tax breaks so that they’ve got some money in their pockets, and those of us who have done extraordinarily well because of this magnificent country that we live in, that we can afford to do a little bit more to make sure we’re not blowing up the deficit.

ROMNEY: Jim, the president began this segment, so I think I get the last word.

(CROSSTALK)

LEHRER: Well, you’re going to get the first word in the next segment.

ROMNEY: All right. Well, but he gets the first word of that segment. I get the last word (inaudible) I hope. Let me just make this comment.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: I think first of all, let me — let me repeat — let me repeat what I said. I’m not in favor of a $5 trillion tax cut. That’s not my plan. My plan is not to put in place any tax cut that will add to the deficit. That’s point one.

So you may keep referring to it as a $5 trillion tax cut, but that’s not my plan.

Number two, let’s look at history. My plan is not like anything that’s been tried before. My plan is to bring down rates, but also bring down deductions and exemptions and credits at the same time so the revenue stays in, but that we bring down rates to get more people working.

My priority is putting people back to work in America. They’re suffering in this country. And we talk about evidence. Look at the evidence of the last four years. It’s absolutely extraordinary. We’ve got 23 million people out of work or stopped looking for work in this country. It’s just — it’s — we’ve got — when the president took office, 32 million people on food stamps; 47 million on food stamps today; economic growth this year slower than last year, and last year slower than the year before.

Going forward with the status quo is not going to cut it for the American people who are struggling today.

LEHRER: All right. Let’s talk — we’re still on the economy. This is, theoretically now, a second segment still on the economy, and specifically on what to do about the federal deficit, the federal debt.

And the question, you each have two minutes on this, and Governor Romney, you — you go first because the president went first on segment one. And the question is this, what are the differences between the two of you as to how you would go about tackling the deficit problem in this country?

ROMNEY: Good. I’m glad you raised that, and it’s a — it’s a critical issue. I think it’s not just an economic issue, I think it’s a moral issue. I think it’s, frankly, not moral for my generation to keep spending massively more than we take in, knowing those burdens are going to be passed on to the next generation and they’re going to be paying the interest and the principal all their lives.

And the amount of debt we’re adding, at a trillion a year, is simply not moral.

So how do we deal with it? Well, mathematically, there are three ways that you can cut a deficit. One, of course, is to raise taxes. Number two is to cut spending. And number is to grow the economy, because if more people work in a growing economy, they’re paying taxes, and you can get the job done that way.

The presidents would — president would prefer raising taxes. I understand. The problem with raising taxes is that it slows down the rate of growth. And you could never quite get the job done. I want to lower spending and encourage economic growth at the same time.

What things would I cut from spending? Well, first of all, I will eliminate all programs by this test, if they don’t pass it: Is the program so critical it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it? And if not, I’ll get rid of it. Obamacare’s on my list.

I apologize, Mr. President. I use that term with all respect, by the way.

OBAMA: I like it.

ROMNEY: Good. OK, good. So I’ll get rid of that.

I’m sorry, Jim, I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS, I love Big Bird. Actually like you, too. But I’m not going to — I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for. That’s number one.

Number two, I’ll take programs that are currently good programs but I think could be run more efficiently at the state level and send them to the state.

ROMNEY: Number three, I’ll make government more efficient and to cut back the number of employees, combine some agencies and departments. My cutbacks will be done through attrition, by the way.

This is the approach we have to take to get America to a balanced budget.

The president said he’d cut the deficit in half. Unfortunately, he doubled it. Trillion-dollar deficits for the last four years. The president’s put it in place as much public debt — almost as much debt held by the public as al prior presidents combined.

LEHRER: Mr. President, two minutes.

OBAMA: When I walked into the Oval Office, I had more than a trillion-dollar deficit greeting me. And we know where it came from: two wars that were paid for on a credit card; two tax cuts that were not paid for; and a whole bunch of programs that were not paid for; and then a massive economic crisis.

And despite that, what we’ve said is, yes, we had to take some initial emergency measures to make sure we didn’t slip into a Great Depression, but what we’ve also said is, let’s make sure that we are cutting out those things that are not helping us grow.

So 77 government programs, everything from aircrafts that the Air Force had ordered but weren’t working very well, 18 government — 18 government programs for education that were well-intentioned, not weren’t helping kids learn, we went after medical fraud in Medicare and Medicaid very aggressively, more aggressively than ever before, and have saved tens of billions of dollars, $50 billion of waste taken out of the system.

And I worked with Democrats and Republicans to cut a trillion dollars out of our discretionary domestic budget. That’s the largest cut in the discretionary domestic budget since Dwight Eisenhower.

Now, we all know that we’ve got to do more. And so I’ve put forward a specific $4 trillion deficit reduction plan. It’s on a website. You can look at all the numbers, what cuts we make and what revenue we raise.

And the way we do it is $2.50 for every cut, we ask for $1 of additional revenue, paid for, as I indicated earlier, by asking those of us who have done very well in this country to contribute a little bit more to reduce the deficit. Governor Romney earlier mentioned the Bowles-Simpson commission. Well, that’s how the commission — bipartisan commission that talked about how we should move forward suggested we have to do it, in a balanced way with some revenue and some spending cuts. And this is a major difference that Governor Romney and I have.

Let — let me just finish their point, because you’re looking for contrast. You know, when Governor Romney stood on a stage with other Republican candidates for the nomination and he was asked, would you take $10 of spending cuts for just $1 of revenue? And he said no.

Now, if you take such an unbalanced approach, then that means you are going to be gutting our investments in schools and education. It means that Governor Romney…

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: … talked about Medicaid and how we could send it back to the states, but effectively this means a 30 percent cut in the primary program we help for seniors who are in nursing homes, for kids who are with disabilities.

LEHRER: Mr. President, I’m sorry.

OBAMA: And — and that is not a right strategy for us to move forward.

LEHRER: Way over the two minutes.

OBAMA: Sorry.

LEHRER: Governor, what about Simpson-Bowles? Do you support Simpson-Bowles?

ROMNEY: Simpson-Bowles, the president should have grabbed that.

LEHRER: No, I mean, do you support Simpson-Bowles?

ROMNEY: I have my own plan. It’s not the same as Simpson- Bowles. But in my view, the president should have grabbed it. If you wanted to make some adjustments to it, take it, go to Congress, fight for it.

OBAMA: That’s what we’ve done, made some adjustments to it, and we’re putting it forward before Congress right now, a $4 trillion plan…

ROMNEY: But you’ve been — but you’ve been president four years…

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: You’ve been president four years. You said you’d cut the deficit in half. It’s now four years later. We still have trillion-dollar deficits. The CBO says we’ll have a trillion-dollar deficit each of the next four years. If you’re re-elected, we’ll get to a trillion-dollar debt.

ROMNEY: I mean, you have said before you’d cut the deficit in half. And this — I love this idea of $4 trillion in cuts. You found $4 trillion of ways to reduce or to get closer to a balanced budget, except we still show trillion-dollar deficits every year. That doesn’t get the job done.

Let me come back and say, why is it that I don’t want to raise taxes? Why don’t I want to raise taxes on people? And actually, you said it back in 2010. You said, “Look, I’m going to extend the tax policies that we have now; I’m not going to raise taxes on anyone, because when the economy is growing slow like this, when we’re in recession, you shouldn’t raise taxes on anyone.”

Well, the economy is still growing slow. As a matter of fact, it’s growing much more slowly now than when you made that statement. And so if you believe the same thing, you just don’t want to raise taxes on people. And the reality is it’s not just wealthy people — you mentioned Donald Trump. It’s not just Donald Trump you’re taxing. It’s all those businesses that employ one-quarter of the workers in America; these small businesses that are taxed as individuals.

You raise taxes and you kill jobs. That’s why the National Federation of Independent Businesses said your plan will kill 700,000 jobs. I don’t want to kill jobs in this environment.

I’ll make one more point.

(CROSSTALK)

LEHRER: (inaudible) answer the taxes thing for a moment.

ROMNEY: OK.

LEHRER: Mr. President?

OBAMA: Well, we’ve had this discussion before.

LEHRER: About the idea that in order to reduce the deficit, there has to be revenue in addition to cuts.

OBAMA: There has to be revenue in addition to cuts. Now, Governor Romney has ruled out revenue. He’s ruled out revenue.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: Absolutely. (CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: Look, the revenue I get is by more people working, getting higher pay, paying more taxes. That’s how we get growth and how we balance the budget. But the idea of taxing people more, putting more people out of work, you’ll never get there. You’ll never balance the budget by raising taxes.

Spain — Spain spends 42 percent of their total economy on government. We’re now spending 42 percent of our economy on government. I don’t want to go down the path to Spain. I want to go down the path of growth that puts Americans to work with more money coming in because they’re working.

LEHRER: But — but Mr. President, you’re saying in order to — to get the job done, it’s got to be balanced. You’ve got to have…

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: If — if we’re serious, we’ve got to take a balanced, responsible approach. And by the way, this is not just when it comes to individual taxes. Let’s talk about corporate taxes.

Now, I’ve identified areas where we can, right away, make a change that I believe would actually help the economy.

The oil industry gets $4 billion a year in corporate welfare. Basically, they get deductions that those small businesses that Governor Romney refers to, they don’t get.

Now, does anybody think that ExxonMobil needs some extra money, when they’re making money every time you go to the pump? Why wouldn’t we want to eliminate that? Why wouldn’t we eliminate tax breaks for corporate jets? My attitude is, if you got a corporate jet, you can probably afford to pay full freight, not get a special break for it.

When it comes to corporate taxes, Governor Romney has said he wants to, in a revenue neutral way, close loopholes, deductions — he hasn’t identified which ones they are — but that thereby bring down the corporate rate.

Well, I want to do the same thing, but I’ve actually identified how we can do that. And part of the way to do it is to not give tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas.

Right now, you can actually take a deduction for moving a plant overseas. I think most Americans would say that doesn’t make sense. And all that raises revenue.

And so if we take a balanced approach, what that then allows us to do is also to help young people, the way we already have during my administration, make sure that they can afford to go to college.

OBAMA: It means that the teacher that I met in Las Vegas, a wonderful young lady, who describes to me — she’s got 42 kids in her class. The first two weeks she’s got them, some of them sitting on the floor until finally they get reassigned. They’re using text books that are 10 years old.

That is not a recipe for growth. That’s not how America was built. And so budgets reflect choices.

Ultimately, we’re going to have to make some decisions. And if we’re asking for no revenue, then that means that we’ve got to get rid of a whole bunch of stuff.

And the magnitude of the tax cuts that you’re talking about, Governor, would end up resulting in severe hardship for people, but more importantly, would not help us grow.

As I indicated before, when you talk about shifting Medicaid to states, we’re talking about potentially a 30 — a 30 percent cut in Medicaid over time.

Now, you know, that may not seem like a big deal when it just is, you know, numbers on a sheet of paper, but if we’re talking about a family who’s got an autistic kid and is depending on that Medicaid, that’s a big problem.

And governors are creative. There’s no doubt about it. But they’re not creative enough to make up for 30 percent of revenue on something like Medicaid. What ends up happening is some people end up not getting help.

ROMNEY: Jim, let’s — we’ve gone on a lot of topics there, and so it’s going to take a minute to go from Medicaid to schools…

LEHRER: Come back to…

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: … to oil, to tax breaks, then companies going overseas. So let’s go through them one by one.

First of all, the Department of Energy has said the tax break for oil companies is $2.8 billion a year. And it’s actually an accounting treatment, as you know, that’s been in place for a hundred years. Now…

OBAMA: It’s time to end it.

ROMNEY: And in one year, you provided $90 billion in breaks to the green energy world.

Now, I like green energy as well, but that’s about 50 years’ worth of what oil and gas receives. And you say Exxon and Mobil. Actually, this $2.8 billion goes largely to small companies, to drilling operators and so forth.

ROMNEY: But, you know, if we get that tax rate from 35 percent down to 25 percent, why that $2.8 billion is on the table. Of course it’s on the table. That’s probably not going to survive you get that rate down to 25 percent.

But don’t forget, you put $90 billion, like 50 years’ worth of breaks, into — into solar and wind, to Solyndra and Fisker and Tester and Ener1. I mean, I had a friend who said you don’t just pick the winners and losers, you pick the losers, all right? So this — this is not — this is not the kind of policy you want to have if you want to get America energy secure.

The second topic, which is you said you get a deduction for taking a plant overseas. Look, I’ve been in business for 25 years. I have no idea what you’re talking about. I maybe need to get a new accountant.

LEHRER: Let’s…

ROMNEY: But — but the idea that you get a break for shipping jobs overseas is simply not the case.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: What we do have right now is a setting where I’d like to bring money from overseas back to this country.

And, finally, Medicaid to states? I’m not quite sure where that came in, except this, which is, I would like to take the Medicaid dollars that go to states and say to a state, you’re going to get what you got last year, plus inflation, plus 1 percent, and then you’re going to manage your care for your poor in the way you think best.

And I remember, as a governor, when this idea was floated by Tommy Thompson, the governors — Republican and Democrats — said, please let us do that. We can care for our own poor in so much better and more effective a way than having the federal government tell us how to care for our poor.

So — so let’s state — one of the magnificent things about this country is the whole idea that states are the laboratories of democracy. Don’t have the federal government tell everybody what kind of training programs they have to have and what kind of Medicaid they have to have. Let states do this.

And, by the way, if a state gets in trouble, well, we can step in and see if we can find a way to help them.

LEHRER: Let’s go.

ROMNEY: But — but the right — the right approach is one which relies on the brilliance of our people and states, not the federal government.

LEHRER: (inaudible) and we’re going on — still on the economy, on another — but another part of it…

OBAMA: OK.

LEHRER: All right? All right. This is segment three, the economy. Entitlements. First — first answer goes to you, two minutes, Mr. President. Do you see a major difference between the two of you on Social Security?

OBAMA: You know, I suspect that, on Social Security, we’ve got a somewhat similar position. Social Security is structurally sound. It’s going to have to be tweaked the way it was by Ronald Reagan and Speaker — Democratic Speaker Tip O’Neill. But it is — the basic structure is sound.

But — but I want to talk about the values behind Social Security and Medicare, and then talk about Medicare, because that’s the big driver of our deficits right now.

You know, my grandmother — some of you know — helped to raise me. My grandparents did. My grandfather died a while back. My grandmother died three days before I was elected president. And she was fiercely independent. She worked her way up, only had a high school education, started as a secretary, ended up being the vice president of a local bank. And she ended up living alone by choice.

And the reason she could be independent was because of Social Security and Medicare. She had worked all her life, put in this money, and understood that there was a basic guarantee, a floor under which she could not go.

And that’s the perspective I bring when I think about what’s called entitlements. You know, the name itself implies some sense of dependency on the part of these folks. These are folks who’ve worked hard, like my grandmother, and there are millions of people out there who are counting on this.

OBAMA: So my approach is to say, how do we strengthen the system over the long term? And in Medicare, what we did was we said, we are going to have to bring down the costs if we’re going to deal with our long-term deficits, but to do that, let’s look where some of the money’s going.

$716 billion we were able to save from the Medicare program by no longer overpaying insurance companies by making sure that we weren’t overpaying providers. And using that money, we were actually able to lower prescription drug costs for seniors by an average of $600, and we were also able to make a — make a significant dent in providing them the kind of preventive care that will ultimately save money throughout the system.

So the way for us to deal…

(AUDIO GAP)

a better prescription program.

ROMNEY: That’s $1 — that’s $1 for every $15 you’ve cut. They’re smart enough to know that’s not a good trade.

I want to take that $716 billion you’ve cut and put it back into Medicare. By the way, we can include a prescription program if we need to improve it.

But the idea of cutting $716 billion from Medicare to be able to balance the additional cost of Obamacare is, in my opinion, a mistake.

And with regards to young people coming along, I’ve got proposals to make sure Medicare and Social Security are there for them without any question.

LEHRER: Mr. President?

OBAMA: First of all, I think it’s important for Governor Romney to present this plan that he says will only affect folks in the future.

And the essence of the plan is that you would turn Medicare into a voucher program. It’s called premium support, but it’s understood to be a voucher program. His running mate…

LEHRER: And you don’t support that?

OBAMA: I don’t. And let me explain why.

ROMNEY: Again, that’s for future…

OBAMA: I understand.

ROMNEY: … people, right, not for current retirees.

OBAMA: For — so if you’re — if you’re 54 or 55, you might want to listen ’cause this — this will affect you.

The idea, which was originally presented by Congressman Ryan, your running mate, is that we would give a voucher to seniors and they could go out in the private marketplace and buy their own health insurance.

The problem is that because the voucher wouldn’t necessarily keep up with health care inflation, it was estimated that this would cost the average senior about $6,000 a year.

Now, in fairness, what Governor Romney has now said is he’ll maintain traditional Medicare alongside it. But there’s still a problem, because what happens is, those insurance companies are pretty clever at figuring out who are the younger and healthier seniors. They recruit them, leaving the older, sicker seniors in Medicare. And every health care economist that looks at it says, over time, what’ll happen is the traditional Medicare system will collapse.

OBAMA: And then what you’ve got is folks like my grandmother at the mercy of the private insurance system precisely at the time when they are most in need of decent health care.

So, I don’t think vouchers are the right way to go. And this is not my own — only my opinion. AARP thinks that the — the savings that we obtained from Medicare bolster the system, lengthen the Medicare trust fund by eight years. Benefits were not affected at all. And ironically, if you repeal Obamacare, and I have become fond of this term, “Obamacare,” if you repeal it, what happens is those seniors right away are going to be paying $600 more in prescription care. They’re now going to have to be paying copays for basic checkups that can keep them healthier.

And the primary beneficiary of that repeal are insurance companies that are estimated to gain billions of dollars back when they aren’t making seniors any healthier. And I don’t think that’s the right approach when it comes to making sure that Medicare is stronger over the long term.

LEHRER: We’ll talk about — specifically about health care in a moment. But what — do you support the voucher system, Governor?

ROMNEY: What I support is no change for current retirees and near-retirees to Medicare. And the president supports taking $716 billion out of that program.

LEHRER: And what about the vouchers?

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: So that’s — that’s number one.

Number two is for people coming along that are young, what I do to make sure that we can keep Medicare in place for them is to allow them either to choose the current Medicare program or a private plan. Their choice.

They get to choose — and they’ll have at least two plans that will be entirely at no cost to them. So they don’t have to pay additional money, no additional $6,000. That’s not going to happen. They’ll have at least two plans.

ROMNEY: And by the way, if the government can be as efficient as the private sector and offer premiums that are as low as the private sector, people will be happy to get traditional Medicare or they’ll be able to get a private plan.

I know my own view is I’d rather have a private plan. I’d just assume not have the government telling me what kind of health care I get. I’d rather be able to have an insurance company. If I don’t like them, I can get rid of them and find a different insurance company. But people make their own choice.

The other thing we have to do to save Medicare? We have to have the benefits high for those that are low income, but for higher income people, we’re going to have to lower some of the benefits. We have to make sure this program is there for the long term. That’s the plan that I’ve put forward.

And, by the way the idea came not even from Paul Ryan or — or Senator Wyden, who’s the co-author of the bill with — with Paul Ryan in the Senate, but also it came from Bill — Bill Clinton’s chief of staff. This is an idea that’s been around a long time, which is saying, hey, let’s see if we can’t get competition into the Medicare world so that people can get the choice of different plans at lower cost, better quality. I believe in competition.

OBAMA: Jim, if I — if I can just respond very quickly, first of all, every study has shown that Medicare has lower administrative costs than private insurance does, which is why seniors are generally pretty happy with it.

And private insurers have to make a profit. Nothing wrong with that. That’s what they do. And so you’ve got higher administrative costs, plus profit on top of that. And if you are going to save any money through what Governor Romney’s proposing, what has to happen is, is that the money has to come from somewhere.

And when you move to a voucher system, you are putting seniors at the mercy of those insurance companies. And over time, if traditional Medicare has decayed or fallen apart, then they’re stuck.

And this is the reason why AARP has said that your plan would weaken Medicare substantially. And that’s why they were supportive of the approach that we took.

One last point I want to make. We do have to lower the cost of health care, not just in Medicare and Medicaid… LEHRER: Talk about that in a minute.

OBAMA: … but — but — but overall.

LEHRER: OK.

OBAMA: And so…

ROMNEY: That’s — that’s a big topic. Can we — can we stay on Medicare?

OBAMA: Is that a — is that a separate topic?

(CROSSTALK)

LEHRER: Yeah, we’re going to — yeah, I want to get to it.

OBAMA: I’m sorry.

LEHRER: But all I want to do is go very quickly…

ROMNEY: Let’s get back to Medicare.

LEHRER: … before we leave the economy…

ROMNEY: Let’s get back to Medicare.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: The president said that the government can provide the service at lower cost and without a profit.

LEHRER: All right.

ROMNEY: If that’s the case, then it will always be the best product that people can purchase.

LEHRER: Wait a minute, Governor.

ROMNEY: But my experience — my experience the private sector typically is able to provide a better product at a lower cost.

LEHRER: All right. Can we — can the two of you agree that the voters have a choice — a clear choice between the two…

ROMNEY: Absolutely.

LEHRER: … of you on Medicare?

ROMNEY: Absolutely.

OBAMA: Absolutely.

LEHRER: All right. So to finish quickly, briefly, on the economy, what is your view about the level of federal regulation of the economy right now? Is there too much? And in your case, Mr. President, is there — should there be more?

Beginning with you. This is not a new two-minute segment to start. And we’ll go for a few minutes, and then we’re going to go to health care, OK?

ROMNEY: Regulation is essential. You can’t have a free market work if you don’t have regulation. As a businessperson, I had to have — I need to know the regulations. I needed them there. You couldn’t have people opening up banks in their — in their garage and making loans. I mean, you have to have regulations so that you can have an economy work. Every free economy has good regulation. At the same time, regulation can become excessive.

LEHRER: Is it excessive now, do you think?

ROMNEY: In some places, yes. Other places, no.

LEHRER: Like where?

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: No, it can become out of date. And what’s happened with some of the legislation that’s been passed during the president’s term, you’ve seen regulation become excessive, and it’s hurt — it’s hurt the economy. Let me give you an example.

Dodd-Frank was passed. And it includes within it a number of provisions that I think has some unintended consequences that are harmful to the economy. One is it designates a number of banks as too big to fail, and they’re effectively guaranteed by the federal government. This is the biggest kiss that’s been given to — to New York banks I’ve ever seen. This is an enormous boon for them. There’ve been 122 community and small banks have closed since Dodd- Frank.

So there’s one example. Here’s another. In Dodd-Frank…

LEHRER: Do you want to repeal Dodd-Frank?

ROMNEY: Well, I would repeal and replace it. We’re not going to get rid of all regulation. You have to have regulation. And there are some parts of Dodd-Frank that make all the sense in the world. You need transparency, you need to have leverage limits for…

LEHRER: Well, here’s a specific…

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: But let’s — let’s mention — let me mention the other one. Let’s talk…

(CROSSTALK)

LEHRER: No, let’s not. Let’s let him respond — let’s let him respond to this specific on Dodd-Frank and what the governor just said.

OBAMA: I think this is a great example. The reason we have been in such a enormous economic crisis was prompted by reckless behavior across the board.

Now, it wasn’t just on Wall Street. You had loan officers were — that were giving loans and mortgages that really shouldn’t have been given, because the folks didn’t qualify. You had people who were borrowing money to buy a house that they couldn’t afford. You had credit agencies that were stamping these as A1 great investments when they weren’t.

But you also had banks making money hand over fist, churning out products that the bankers themselves didn’t even understand, in order to make big profits, but knowing that it made the entire system vulnerable.

So what did we do? We stepped in and had the toughest reforms on Wall Street since the 1930s. We said you’ve got — banks, you’ve got to raise your capital requirements. You can’t engage in some of this risky behavior that is putting Main Street at risk. We’ve going to make sure that you’ve got to have a living will so — so we can know how you’re going to wind things down if you make a bad bet so we don’t have other taxpayer bailouts.

OBAMA: In the meantime, by the way, we also made sure that all the help that we provided those banks was paid back every single dime, with interest.

Now, Governor Romney has said he wants to repeal Dodd-Frank.

And, you know, I appreciate and it appears we’ve got some agreement that a marketplace to work has to have some regulation. But in the past, Governor Romney has said he just want to repeal Dodd- Frank, roll it back.

And so the question is: Does anybody out there think that the big problem we had is that there was too much oversight and regulation of Wall Street? Because if you do, then Governor Romney is your candidate. But that’s not what I believe.

ROMNEY: Sorry, but that’s just not — that’s just not the facts. Look, we have to have regulation on Wall Street. That’s why I’d have regulation. But I wouldn’t designate five banks as too big to fail and give them a blank check. That’s one of the unintended consequences of Dodd-Frank. It wasn’t thought through properly. We need to get rid of that provision because it’s killing regional and small banks. They’re getting hurt.

Let me mention another regulation in Dodd-Frank. You say we were giving mortgages to people who weren’t qualified. That’s exactly right. It’s one of the reasons for the great financial calamity we had. And so Dodd-Frank correctly says we need to have qualified mortgages, and if you give a mortgage that’s not qualified, there are big penalties, except they didn’t ever go on and define what a qualified mortgage was.

It’s been two years. We don’t know what a qualified mortgage is yet. So banks are reluctant to make loans, mortgages. Try and get a mortgage these days. It’s hurt the housing market because Dodd-Frank didn’t anticipate putting in place the kinds of regulations you have to have. It’s not that Dodd-Frank always was wrong with too much regulation. Sometimes they didn’t come out with a clear regulation.

I will make sure we don’t hurt the functioning of our — of our marketplace and our business, because I want to bring back housing and get good jobs.

LEHRER: All right. I think we have another clear difference between the two of you. Now, let’s move to health care where I know there is a clear difference, and that has to do with the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. And it’s a two-minute new — new segment, and that means two minutes each. And you go first, Governor Romney.

LEHRER: You want it repealed. You want the Affordable Care Act repealed. Why?

ROMNEY: I sure do. Well, in part, it comes, again, from my experience. You know, I was in New Hampshire. A woman came to me and she said, look, I can’t afford insurance for myself or my son. I met a couple in Appleton, Wisconsin, and they said, we’re thinking of dropping our insurance, we can’t afford it.

And the number of small businesses I’ve gone to that are saying they’re dropping insurance because they can’t afford it, the cost of health care is just prohibitive. And — and we’ve got to deal with cost.

And, unfortunately, when — when — when you look at Obamacare, the Congressional Budget Office has said it will cost $2,500 a year more than traditional insurance. So it’s adding to cost. And as a matter of fact, when the president ran for office, he said that, by this year, he would have brought down the cost of insurance for each family by $2,500 a family. Instead, it’s gone up by that amount. So it’s expensive. Expensive things hurt families. So that’s one reason I don’t want it.

Second reason, it cuts $716 billion from Medicare to pay for it. I want to put that money back in Medicare for our seniors.

Number three, it puts in place an unelected board that’s going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have. I don’t like that idea.

Fourth, there was a survey done of small businesses across the country, said, what’s been the effect of Obamacare on your hiring plans? And three-quarters of them said it makes us less likely to hire people. I just don’t know how the president could have come into office, facing 23 million people out of work, rising unemployment, an economic crisis at the — at the kitchen table, and spend his energy and passion for two years fighting for Obamacare instead of fighting for jobs for the American people. It has killed jobs.

And the best course for health care is to do what we did in my state: craft a plan at the state level that fits the needs of the state. And then let’s focus on getting the costs down for people, rather than raising it with the $2,500 additional premium.

LEHRER: Mr. President, the argument against repeal? OBAMA: Well, four years ago, when I was running for office, I was traveling around and having those same conversations that Governor Romney talks about. And it wasn’t just that small businesses were seeing costs skyrocket and they couldn’t get affordable coverage even if they wanted to provide it to their employees. It wasn’t just that this was the biggest driver of our federal deficit, our overall health care costs, but it was families who were worried about going bankrupt if they got sick, millions of families, all across the country.

If they had a pre-existing condition, they might not be able to get coverage at all. If they did have coverage, insurance companies might impose an arbitrary limit. And so as a consequence, they’re paying their premiums, somebody gets really sick, lo and behold, they don’t have enough money to pay the bills, because the insurance companies say that they’ve hit the limit.

So we did work on this, alongside working on jobs, because this is part of making sure that middle-class families are secure in this country.

And let me tell you exactly what Obamacare did. Number one, if you’ve got health insurance, it doesn’t mean a government takeover. You keep your own insurance. You keep your own doctor. But it does say insurance companies can’t jerk you around. They can’t impose arbitrary lifetime limits. They have to let you keep your kid on their insurance — your insurance plan until you’re 26 years old. And it also says that you’re going to have to get rebates if insurance companies are spending more on administrative costs and profits than they are on actual care.

Number two, if you don’t have health insurance, we’re essentially setting up a group plan that allows you to benefit from group rates that are typically 18 percent lower than if you’re out there trying to get insurance on the individual market.

Now, the last point I’d make before…

LEHRER: Two minutes — two minutes is up, sir.

OBAMA: No, I think — I had five seconds before you interrupted me, was …

(LAUGHTER)

… the irony is that we’ve seen this model work really well in Massachusetts, because Governor Romney did a good thing, working with Democrats in the state to set up what is essentially the identical model and as a consequence people are covered there. It hasn’t destroyed jobs. And as a consequence, we now have a system in which we have the opportunity to start bringing down costs, as opposed to just leaving millions of people out in the cold.

LEHRER: Your five seconds went away a long time ago.

All right, Governor. Governor, tell — tell the president directly why you think what he just said is wrong about Obamacare?

ROMNEY: Well, I did with my first statement.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: First of all, I like the way we did it in Massachusetts. I like the fact that in my state, we had Republicans and Democrats come together and work together. What you did instead was to push through a plan without a single Republican vote. As a matter of fact, when Massachusetts did something quite extraordinary — elected a Republican senator to stop Obamacare, you pushed it through anyway.

So entirely on a partisan basis, instead of bringing America together and having a discussion on this important topic, you pushed through something that you and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid thought was the best answer and drove it through.

What we did in a legislature 87 percent Democrat, we worked together; 200 legislators in my legislature, only two voted against the plan by the time we were finished. What were some differences? We didn’t raise taxes. You’ve raised them by $1 trillion under Obamacare. We didn’t cut Medicare. Of course, we don’t have Medicare, but we didn’t cut Medicare by $716 billion.

ROMNEY: We didn’t put in place a board that can tell people ultimately what treatments they’re going to receive. We didn’t also do something that I think a number of people across this country recognize, which is put — put people in a position where they’re going to lose the insurance they had and they wanted.

Right now, the CBO says up to 20 million people will lose their insurance as Obamacare goes into effect next year. And likewise, a study by McKinsey and Company of American businesses said 30 percent of them are anticipating dropping people from coverage.

So for those reasons, for the tax, for Medicare, for this board, and for people losing their insurance, this is why the American people don’t want Medicare — don’t want Obamacare. It’s why Republicans said, do not do this, and the Republicans had — had the plan. They put a plan out. They put out a plan, a bipartisan plan. It was swept aside.

I think something this big, this important has to be done on a bipartisan basis. And we have to have a president who can reach across the aisle and fashion important legislation with the input from both parties.

OBAMA: Governor Romney said this has to be done on a bipartisan basis. This was a bipartisan idea. In fact, it was a Republican idea. And Governor Romney at the beginning of this debate wrote and said what we did in Massachusetts could be a model for the nation.

And I agree that the Democratic legislators in Massachusetts might have given some advice to Republicans in Congress about how to cooperate, but the fact of the matter is, we used the same advisers, and they say it’s the same plan.

It — when Governor Romney talks about this board, for example, unelected board that we’ve created, what this is, is a group of health care experts, doctors, et cetera, to figure out, how can we reduce the cost of care in the system overall?

Because there — there are two ways of dealing with our health care crisis. One is to simply leave a whole bunch of people uninsured and let them fend for themselves, to let businesses figure out how long they can continue to pay premiums until finally they just give up, and their workers are no longer getting insured, and that’s been the trend line.

Or, alternatively, we can figure out, how do we make the cost of care more effective? And there are ways of doing it.

So at Cleveland Clinic, one of the best health care systems in the world, they actually provide great care cheaper than average. And the reason they do is because they do some smart things. They — they say, if a patient’s coming in, let’s get all the doctors together at once, do one test instead of having the patient run around with 10 tests. Let’s make sure that we’re providing preventive care so we’re catching the onset of something like diabetes. Let’s — let’s pay providers on the basis of performance as opposed to on the basis of how many procedures they’ve — they’ve engaged in.

Now, so what this board does is basically identifies best practices and says, let’s use the purchasing power of Medicare and Medicaid to help to institutionalize all these good things that we do.

And the fact of the matter is that, when Obamacare is fully implemented, we’re going to be in a position to show that costs are going down. And over the last two years, health care premiums have gone up — it’s true — but they’ve gone up slower than any time in the last 50 years. So we’re already beginning to see progress. In the meantime, folks out there with insurance, you’re already getting a rebate.

Let me make one last point. Governor Romney says, we should replace it, I’m just going to repeal it, but — but we can replace it with something. But the problem is, he hasn’t described what exactly we’d replace it with, other than saying we’re going to leave it to the states.

OBAMA: But the fact of the matter is that some of the prescriptions that he’s offered, like letting you buy insurance across state lines, there’s no indication that that somehow is going to help somebody who’s got a pre-existing condition be able to finally buy insurance. In fact, it’s estimated that by repealing Obamacare, you’re looking at 50 million people losing health insurance…

LEHRER: Let’s…

OBAMA: … at a time when it’s vitally important.

LEHRER: Let’s let the governor explain what you would do…

ROMNEY: Well…

LEHRER: … if Obamacare is repealed. How would you replace it?

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: Well, actually it’s — it’s — it’s a lengthy description. But, number one, preexisting conditions are covered under my plan. Number two, young people are able to stay on their family plan. That’s already offered in the private marketplace. You don’t have to have the government mandate that for that to occur.

But let’s come back to something the president and I agree on, which is the key task we have in health care is to get the cost down so it’s more affordable for families. And then he has as a model for doing that a board of people at the government, an unelected board, appointed board, who are going to decide what kind of treatment you ought to have.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: In my opinion, the government is not effective in — in bringing down the cost of almost anything. As a matter of fact, free people and free enterprises trying to find ways to do things better are able to be more effective in bringing down the cost than the government will ever be.

Your example of the Cleveland Clinic is my case in point, along with several others I could describe.

This is the private market. These are small — these are enterprises competing with each other, learning how to do better and better jobs. I used to consult to businesses — excuse me, to hospitals and to health care providers. I was astonished at the creativity and innovation that exists in the American people.

In order to bring the cost of health care down, we don’t need to have a board of 15 people telling us what kinds of treatments we should have. We instead need to put insurance plans, providers, hospitals, doctors on target such that they have an incentive, as you say, performance pay, for doing an excellent job, for keeping costs down, and that’s happening. Innermountain Healthcare does it superbly well, Mayo Clinic is doing it superbly well, Cleveland Clinic, others.

ROMNEY: But the right answer is not to have the federal government take over health care and start mandating to the providers across America, telling a patient and a doctor what kind of treatment they can have.

That’s the wrong way to go. The private market and individual responsibility always work best.

OBAMA: Let me just point out first of all this board that we’re talking about can’t make decisions about what treatments are given. That’s explicitly prohibited in the law. But let’s go back to what Governor Romney indicated, that under his plan, he would be able to cover people with preexisting conditions.

Well, actually Governor, that isn’t what your plan does. What your plan does is to duplicate what’s already the law, which says if you are out of health insurance for three months, then you can end up getting continuous coverage and an insurance company can’t deny you if you’ve — if it’s been under 90 days.

But that’s already the law and that doesn’t help the millions of people out there with preexisting conditions. There’s a reason why Governor Romney set up the plan that he did in Massachusetts. It wasn’t a government takeover of health care. It was the largest expansion of private insurance. But what it does say is that “insurers, you’ve got to take everybody.”

Now, that also means that you’ve got more customers. But when — when Governor Romney says that he’ll replace it with something, but can’t detail how it will be in fact replaced and the reason he set up the system he did in Massachusetts was because there isn’t a better way of dealing with the preexisting conditions problem.

OBAMA: It just reminds me of, you know, he says that he’s going to close deductions and loopholes for his tax plan. That’s how it’s going to be paid for, but we don’t know the details. He says that he’s going to replace Dodd-Frank, Wall Street reform, but we don’t know exactly which ones. He won’t tell us. He now says he’s going to replace Obamacare and ensure that all the good things that are in it are going to be in there and you don’t have to worry.

And at some point, I think the American people have to ask themselves, is the reason that Governor Romney is keeping all these plans to replace secret because they’re too good? Is it — is it because that somehow middle-class families are going to benefit too much from them?

No. The reason is, is because, when we reform Wall Street, when we tackle the problem of pre-existing conditions, then, you know, these are tough problems and we’ve got to make choices. And the choices we’ve made have been ones that ultimately are benefiting middle-class families all across the country.

LEHRER: We’re going to move to…

ROMNEY: No. I — I have to respond to that.

LEHRER: No, but…

ROMNEY: Which is — which is my experience as a governor is if I come in and — and lay down a piece of legislation and say, “It’s my way or the highway,” I don’t get a lot done. What I do is the same way that Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan worked together some years ago. When Ronald Reagan ran for office, he laid out the principles that he was going to foster. He said he was going to lower tax rates. He said he was going to broaden the base. You’ve said the same thing, you’re going to simplify the tax code, broaden the base.

Those are my principles. I want to bring down the tax burden on middle-income families. And I’m going to work together with Congress to say, OK, what — what are the various ways we could bring down deductions, for instance? One way, for instance, would be to have a single number. Make up a number, $25,000, $50,000. Anybody can have deductions up to that amount. And then that number disappears for high-income people. That’s one way one could do it. One could follow Bowles-Simpson as a model and take deduction by deduction and make differences that way. There are alternatives to accomplish the objective I have, which is to bring down rates, broaden the base, simplify the code, and create incentives for growth. And with regards to health care, you had remarkable details with regards to my pre-existing condition plan. You obviously studied up on — on my plan. In fact, I do have a plan that deals with people with pre-existing conditions. That’s part of my health care plan. And what we did in Massachusetts is a model for the nation state by state. And I said that at that time.

The federal government taking over health care for the entire nation and whisking aside the 10th Amendment, which gives states the rights for these kinds of things, is not the course for America to have a stronger, more vibrant economy.

LEHRER: That is a terrific segue to our next segment, and is the role of government. And — and let’s see. Role of government. And it is — you are first on this, Mr. President. And the question is this. Do you believe, both of you — but you had the first two minutes on this, Mr. President — do you believe there’s a fundamental difference between the two of you as to how you view the mission of the federal government?

OBAMA: Well, I definitely think there are differences.

LEHRER: And do you — yeah.

OBAMA: The first role of the federal government is to keep the American people safe. That’s its most basic function. And as commander-in-chief, that is something that I’ve worked on and thought about every single day that I’ve been in the Oval Office.

But I also believe that government has the capacity, the federal government has the capacity to help open up opportunity and create ladders of opportunity and to create frameworks where the American people can succeed.

Look, the genius of America is the free enterprise system and freedom and the fact that people can go out there and start a business, work on an idea, make their own decisions.

OBAMA: But as Abraham Lincoln understood, there are also some things we do better together. So, in the middle of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln said, let’s help to finance the Transcontinental Railroad, let’s start the National Academy of Sciences, let’s start land grant colleges, because we want to give these gateways of opportunity for all Americans, because if all Americans are getting opportunity, we’re all going to be better off.

ROMNEY: That doesn’t restrict people’s freedom. That enhances it.

And so what I’ve tried to do as president is to apply those same principles.

And when it comes to education what I’ve said is we’ve got to reform schools that are not working. We use something called Race to the Top. Wasn’t a top-down approach, Governor. What we’ve said is to states, we’ll give you more money if you initiate reforms. And as a consequence, you had 46 states around the country who have made a real difference.

But what I’ve also said is let’s hire another 100,000 math and science teachers to make sure we maintain our technological lead and our people are skilled and able to succeed. And hard-pressed states right now can’t all do that. In fact we’ve seen layoffs of hundreds of thousands of teachers over the last several years, and Governor Romney doesn’t think we need more teachers. I do, because I think that that is the kind of investment where the federal government can help.

It can’t do it all, but it can make a difference. And as a consequence we’ll have a better trained workforce and that will create jobs because companies want to locate in places where we’ve got a skilled workforce.

LEHRER: Two minutes, Governor, on the role of government. Your view?

ROMNEY: Well, first, I love great schools. Massachusetts, our schools are ranked number one of all 50 states. And the key to great schools, great teachers.

So I reject the idea that I don’t believe in great teachers or more teachers. Every school district, every state should make that decision on their own. The role of government: Look behind us. The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. The role of government is to promote and protect the principles of those documents.

ROMNEY: First, life and liberty. We have a responsibility to protect the lives and liberties of our people, and that means a military second to none. I do not believe in cutting our military. I believe in maintaining the strength of America’s military.

Second, in that line that says we are endowed by our creator with our rights, I believe we must maintain our commitment to religious tolerance and freedom in this country. That statement also says that we are endowed by our creator with the right to pursue happiness as we choose. I interpret that as, one, making sure that those people who are less fortunate and can’t care for themselves are cared by — by one another.

We’re a nation that believes that we’re all children of the same god and we care for those that have difficulties, those that are elderly and have problems and challenges, those that are disabled. We care for them. And we — we look for discovery and innovation, all these things desired out of the American heart to provide the pursuit of happiness for our citizens.

But we also believe in maintaining for individuals the right to pursue their dreams and not to have the government substitute itself for the rights of free individuals. And what we’re seeing right now is, in my view, a — a trickle-down government approach, which has government thinking it can do a better job than free people pursuing their dreams. And it’s not working.

And the proof of that is 23 million people out of work. The proof of that is 1 out of 6 people in poverty. The proof of that is we’ve gone from 32 million on food stamps to 47 million on food stamps. The proof of that is that 50 percent of college graduates this year can’t find work.

LEHRER: All right.

ROMNEY: We know that the path we’re taking is not working. It’s time for a new path.

LEHRER: All right. Let’s go through some specifics in terms of what — how each of you views the role of government. How do — education. Does the federal government have a responsibility to improve the quality of public education in America?

ROMNEY: Well, the primary responsibility for education is — is, of course, at the state and local level. But the federal government also can play a very important role. And I — and I agree with Secretary Arne Duncan, he’s — some ideas he’s put forward on Race to the Top, not all of them, but some of them I agree with and — and congratulate him for pursuing that. The federal government can get local and — and state schools to do a better job.

My own view, by the way, is I’ve added to that. I happen to believe, I want the kids that are getting federal dollars from IDEA or Title I — these are disabled kids or — or — or poor kids or — or lower-income kids, rather, I want them to be able to go to the school of their choice.

So all federal funds, instead of going to the — to the state or to the school district, I’d have go, if you will, follow the child and let the parent and the child decide where to send their — their — their student.

LEHRER: How do you see the federal government’s responsibility to, as I say, to improve the quality of public education in this country?

OBAMA: Well, as I’ve indicated, I think that it has a significant role to play. Through our Race to the Top program, we’ve worked with Republican and Democratic governors to initiate major reforms, and they’re having an impact right now.

LEHRER: Do you think you have a difference with your views and — and those of Governor Romney on — about education and the federal government?

OBAMA: You know, this is where budgets matter, because budgets reflect choices. So when Governor Romney indicates that he wants to cut taxes and potentially benefit folks like me and him, and to pay for it we’re having to initiate significant cuts in federal support for education, that makes a difference.

You know, his — his running mate, Congressman Ryan, put forward a budget that reflects many of the principles that Governor Romney’s talked about. And it wasn’t very detailed. This seems to be a trend. But — but what it did do is to — if you extrapolated how much money we’re talking about, you’d look at cutting the education budget by up to 20 percent.

OBAMA: When it comes to community colleges, we are seeing great work done out there all over the country because we have the opportunity to train people for jobs that exist right now. And one of the things I suspect Governor Romney and I probably agree on is getting businesses to work with community colleges so that they’re setting up their training programs…

LEHRER: Do you — do you agree, Governor?

OBAMA: Let me just finish the point.

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: The — where they’re partnering so that they’re designing training programs. And people who are going through them know that there’s a job waiting for them if they complete it. That makes a big difference, but that requires some federal support.

Let me just say one final example. When it comes to making college affordable, whether it’s two-year or four-year, one of the things that I did as president was we were sending $60 billion to banks and lenders as middlemen for the student loan program, even though the loans were guaranteed. So there was no risk for the banks or the lenders, but they were taking billions out of the system.

And we said, “Why not cut out the middleman?” And as a consequence, what we’ve been able to do is to provide millions more students assistance, lower or keep low interest rates on student loans. And this is an example of where our priorities make a difference.

Governor Romney, I genuinely believe cares about education, but when he tells a student that, you know, “you should borrow money from your parents to go to college,” you know, that indicates the degree to which, you know, there may not be as much of a focus on the fact that folks like myself, folks like Michelle, kids probably who attend University of Denver, just don’t have that option.

And for us to be able to make sure that they’ve got that opportunity and they can walk through that door, that is vitally important not just to those kids. It’s how we’re going to grow this economy over the long term.

LEHRER: We’re running out of time, gentlemen.

(CROSSTALK) LEHRER: Governor?

ROMNEY: Mr. President, Mr. President, you’re entitled as the president to your own airplane and to your own house, but not to your own facts. All right, I’m not going to cut education funding. I don’t have any plan to cut education funding and — and grants that go to people going to college. I’m planning on (inaudible) to grow. So I’m not planning on making changes there.

But you make a very good point, which is that the place you put your money just makes a pretty clear indication of where your heart is. You put $90 billion into — into green jobs. And I — look, I’m all in favor of green energy. $90 billion, that would have — that would have hired 2 million teachers. $90 billion.

And these businesses, many of them have gone out of business, I think about half of them, of the ones have been invested in have gone out of business. A number of them happened to be owned by people who were contributors to your campaigns.

Look, the right course for America’s government, we were talking about the role of government, is not to become the economic player, picking winners and losers, telling people what kind of health treatment they can receive, taking over the health care system that has existed in this country for a long, long time and has produced the best health records in the world.

The right answer for government is say, How do we make the private sector become more efficient and more effective? How do we get schools to be more competitive? Let’s grade them. I propose we grade our schools so parents know which schools are succeeding and failing, so they can take their child to a — to a school that he’s being more successful.

I don’t want to cut our commitment to education. I wanted to make it more effective and efficient. And by the way, I’ve had that experience. I don’t just talk about it. I’ve been there. Massachusetts schools are ranked number one in the nation. This is not because I didn’t have commitment to education. It’s because I care about education for all of our kids.

LEHRER: All right, gentlemen…

(CROSSTALK)

LEHRER: Excuse me (inaudible). Excuse me, sir. We’ve got — we’ve got — barely have three minutes left. I’m not going to grade the two of you and say your answers have been too long or I’ve done a poor job.

OBAMA: You’ve done a great job.

LEHRER: Oh, well, no. But the fact is government — the role of government and governing, we’ve lost a pod in other words. So we only have three — three minutes left in the — in the debate before we go to your closing statements. And so I want to ask finally here, and remember, we’ve got three minutes total time here — and the question is this. Many of the legislative functions of the federal government right now are in a state of paralysis as a result of partisan gridlock. If elected, in your case, if re-elected, in your case, what would you do about that?

Governor?

ROMNEY: Jim, I had the great experience — it didn’t seem like it at the time — of being elected in a state where my legislature was 87 percent Democrat. And that meant I figured out from day one I had to get along and I had to work across the aisle to get anything done. We drove our schools to be number one in the nation. We cut taxes 19 times.

LEHRER: But what would you do as president?

ROMNEY: We — as president, I will sit on day one — actually, the day after I get elected — I’ll sit down with leaders — the Democratic leaders, as well as Republican leaders, and continue — as we did in my state — we met every Monday for a couple hours, talked about the issues and the challenges in the — in the — in our state in that case. We have to work on a collaborative basis, not because we’re going to compromise our principle, but because there’s common ground.

And the challenges America faces right now — look, the reason I’m in this race is there are people that are really hurting today in this country. And we face — this deficit could crush the future generations. What’s happening in the Middle East, there are developments around the world that are of real concern.

LEHRER: All right.

ROMNEY: And Republicans and Democrats both love America. But we need to have leadership — leadership in Washington that will actually bring people together and get the job done and could not care less if — if it’s a Republican or a Democrat. I’ve done it before. I’ll do it again.

LEHRER: Mr. President?

OBAMA: Well, first of all, I think Governor Romney’s going to have a busy first day, because he’s also going to repeal Obamacare, which will not be very popular among Democrats as you’re sitting down with them.

(LAUGHTER)

But, look, my philosophy has been, I will take ideas from anybody, Democrat or Republican, as long as they’re advancing the cause of making middle-class families stronger and giving ladders of opportunity to the middle class. That’s how we cut taxes for middle- class families and small businesses. That’s how we cut a trillion dollars of spending that wasn’t advancing that cause. That’s how we signed three trade deals into law that are helping us to double our exports and sell more American products around the world. That’s how we repealed “don’t ask/don’t tell.” That’s how we ended the war in Iraq, as I promised, and that’s how we’re going to wind down the war in Afghanistan. That’s how we went after Al Qaida and bin Laden.

So we’ve — we’ve seen progress even under Republican control of the House of Representatives. But, ultimately, part of being principled, part of being a leader is, A, being able to describe exactly what it is that you intend to do, not just saying, “I’ll sit down,” but you have to have a plan.

Number two, what’s important is occasionally you’ve got to say no, to — to — to folks both in your own party and in the other party. And, you know, yes, have we had some fights between me and the Republicans when — when they fought back against us reining in the excesses of Wall Street? Absolutely, because that was a fight that needed to be had.

When — when we were fighting about whether or not we were going to make sure that Americans had more security with their health insurance and they said no, yes, that was a fight that we needed to have.

LEHRER: All right

OBAMA: And so part of leadership and governing is both saying what it is that you are for, but also being willing to say no to some things. And I’ve got to tell you, Governor Romney, when it comes to his own party during the course of this campaign, has not displayed that willingness to say no to some of the more extreme parts of his party.

LEHRER: That brings us to closing statements. It was a coin toss. Governor Romney, you won the toss and you elected to go last, so you have a closing two minutes, Mr. President.

OBAMA: Well, Jim, I want to thank you, and I want to thank Governor Romney, because I think was a terrific debate, and I very much appreciate it. And I want to thank the University of Denver.

You know, four years ago, we were going through a major crisis. And yet my faith and confidence in the American future is undiminished. And the reason is because of its people, because of the woman I met in North Carolina who decided at 55 to go back to school because she wanted to inspire her daughter and now has a job from that new training that she’s gotten; because a company in Minnesota who was willing to give up salaries and perks for their executives to make sure that they didn’t lay off workers during a recession.

The auto workers that you meet in Toledo or Detroit take such pride in building the best cars in the world, not just because of a paycheck, but because it gives them that sense of pride, that they’re helping to build America. And so the question now is how do we build on those strengths. And everything that I’ve tried to do, and everything that I’m now proposing for the next four years in terms of improving our education system or developing American energy or making sure that we’re closing loopholes for companies that are shipping jobs overseas and focusing on small businesses and companies that are creating jobs here in the United States, or closing our deficit in a responsible, balanced way that allows us to invest in our future.

All those things are designed to make sure that the American people, their genius, their grit, their determination, is — is channeled and — and they have an opportunity to succeed. And everybody’s getting a fair shot. And everybody’s getting a fair share — everybody’s doing a fair share, and everybody’s playing by the same rules.

You know, four years ago, I said that I’m not a perfect man and I wouldn’t be a perfect president. And that’s probably a promise that Governor Romney thinks I’ve kept. But I also promised that I’d fight every single day on behalf of the American people, the middle class, and all those who were striving to get into the middle class. I’ve kept that promise and if you’ll vote for me, then I promise I’ll fight just as hard in a second term.

LEHRER: Governor Romney, your two-minute closing.

ROMNEY: Thank you, Jim, and Mr. President. And thank you for tuning in this evening.

This is a — this is an important election and I’m concerned about America. I’m concerned about the direction America has been taking over the last four years.

I — I know this is bigger than an election about the two of us as individuals. It’s bigger than our respective parties. It’s an election about the course of America. What kind of America do you want to have for yourself and for your children.

And there really are two very different paths that we began speaking about this evening, and over the course of this month we’re going to have two more presidential debates and a vice presidential debate. We’re talk about those two paths.

But they lead in very different directions. And it’s not just looking to our words that you have to take in evidence of where they go. You can look at the record.

There’s no question in my mind that if the president were to be reelected you’ll continue to see a middle-class squeeze with incomes going down and prices going up.

I’ll get incomes up again.

You’ll see chronic unemployment. We’ve had 43 straight months with unemployment above 8 percent.

If I’m president I will create — help create 12 million new jobs in this country with rising incomes.

If the president’s reelected, Obamacare will be fully installed. In my view that’s going to mean a whole different way of life for people who counted on the insurance plan they had in the past. Many will lose it. You’re going to see health premiums go up by some $2,500 per family.

If I’m elected we won’t have Obama. We’ll put in place the kind of principles that I put in place in my own state and allow each state to craft their own programs to get people insured and we’ll focus on getting the cost of health care down.

If the president were to be reelected you’re going to see a $716 billion cut to Medicare. You’ll have 4 million people who will lose Medicare Advantage. You’ll have hospital and providers that’ll no longer accept Medicare patients.

I’ll restore that $716 billion to Medicare.

And finally, military. The president’s reelected you’ll see dramatic cuts to our military. The secretary of defense has said these would be even devastating.

I will not cut our commitment to our military. I will keep America strong and get America’s middle class working again.

Thank you, Jim.

LEHRER: Thank you, Governor.

Thank you, Mr. President.

The next debate will be the vice presidential event on Thursday, October 11th at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. For now, from the University of Denver, I’m Jim Lehrer. Thank you, and good night.

(APPLAUSE)

END

Full Text Campaign Buzz October 3, 2012: First Presidential Debate Transcript — President Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney Debate in Denver, Colorado

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

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

Presidential Debate Transcript

Source: ABC News, 10-3-12

The full transcript of the Presidential Debate from Denver, Colo. below, updated every 15 minutes throughout the debate….READ MORE

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