Full Text December 31, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address on Working Together to Create Jobs & Grow the Economy in the New Year

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address President Barack Obama tapes the weekly address in Kailua, Hawaii, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 12/29/11

President Obama tells the American people that, by joining together, we can move past the tough debates and help to create jobs and grow the economy in the new year.

Weekly Address: Working Together in the New Year

Source: WH, 12-31-11
President Obama tells the American people that, by joining together, we can move past the tough debates and help to create jobs and grow the economy in the new year.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Working Together in the New Year to Move America Forward

In his weekly address, President Obama told the American people that although there will be tough debates to come in the new year, by joining together, we can continue to help grow the economy and create jobs across the country.  President Obama will keep working to ensure that everyone has a fair shot and does their fair share, and as we enter into 2012, all Americans should remind Washington of what is at stake for the middle class.  By adding their voices to the debate, Americans have already proven that they can make a difference, and in the new year, we can continue to work together to put the country first and help every American find the opportunities they deserve.

The audio of the address and video of the address will be available online at www.whitehouse.gov at 6:00 a.m. ET, Saturday, December 31, 2011.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Honolulu, HI
Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hello, everybody.  As 2011 comes to an end and we look ahead to 2012, I want to wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year.

The last year has been a time of great challenge and great progress for our country.  We ended one war and began to wind down another.  We dealt a crippling blow to al-Qaeda and made America more secure.  We stood by our friends and allies around the world through natural disasters and revolutions.  And we began to see signs of economic recovery here at home, even as too many Americans are still struggling to get ahead.

There’s no doubt that 2012 will bring even more change.  And as we head into the New Year, I’m hopeful that we have what it takes to face that change and come out even stronger – to grow our economy, create more jobs, and strengthen the middle class.

I’m hopeful because of what we saw right before Christmas, when Members of Congress came together to prevent a tax hike for 160 million Americans – saving a typical family about $40 in every paycheck.  They also made sure Americans looking for work won’t see their unemployment insurance cut off.  And I expect Congress to finish the job by extending these provisions through the end of 2012.

It was good to see Members of Congress do the right thing for millions of working Americans.  But it was only possible because you added your voices to the debate.  Through email and Twitter and over the phone, you let your representatives know what was at stake.  Your lives.  Your families.  Your well-being.  You had the courage to believe that your voices could make a difference.  And at the end of the day, they made all the difference.

More than anything else, you are the ones who make me hopeful about 2012.  Because we’ve got some difficult debates and some tough fights to come.  As I’ve said before, we are at a make-or-break moment for the middle class.  And in many ways, the actions we take in the months ahead will help determine what kind of country we want to be, and what kind of world we want our children and grandchildren to grow up in.

As President, I promise to do everything I can to make America a place where hard work and responsibility are rewarded – one where everyone has a fair shot and everyone does their fair share.  That’s the America I believe in.  That’s the America we’ve always known.  And I’m confident that if we work together, and if you keep reminding folks in Washington what’s at stake, then we will move this country forward and guarantee every American the opportunities they deserve.

Thanks for watching, and from Michelle, Malia, Sasha, Bo and myself, Happy New Year.

###

White House Recap December 30, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s 2011 Year in Review

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: 2011

West Wing Week

Source: WH, 12-30-11

Come take a look back at the President’s third year in office as we highlight behind-the-scenes footage and some of our favorite presidential moments. That’s January 1st to December 31st or, “Best of the West (Wing Week).”

Watch the Video

West Wing Week

Political Recap: 2011 Year in Review

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger to be published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

2011 was a year of lowlights in Washington politics

Source: National Post, 12-26-11

Let’s just W say it – 2011 was an ugly year in U.S. politics. It began in tragedy and ended in farce.

The assassination attempt on Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in January prompted a national discussion about political civility that began with good intentions but lasted, well, until the State of the Union Address.

After that, the divided government Americans voted for in 2010 became dysfunctional government. Here, in no particular order, the highlights and (mostly) lowlights of Washington’s annus horribilis…..

The ‘What Were You Thinking’ Award to a Member of Congress: Anthony Weiner, for tweeting photos of his genitals to a woman, then denying he did it, then admitting he did it, then resigning in disgrace.

Worst Use of Social Media by a Member of Congress: Anthony Weiner. See above.

Most (sadly) entertaining political event: The three-ring circus campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. Without Sarah Palin, Chris Christie or Jeb Bush in the race, GOP voters got a parade of flavourof-the-month front-runners. Mitt Romney is the most unloved potential GOP nominee since, um, John McCain.

Most Embarrassing GOP Candidate Blooper: When Rick ‘Oops’ Perry forgot which three federal departments he would eliminate.

Most Unlikely Rise of a Republican Presidential Candidate: Herman Cain/ Newt Gingrich.

Most Predictable Fall: Herman Cain/Newt Gingrich.

Most Incoherent Quote from a Member of Congress: Democrat Emanuel Cleaver, via Twitter, after the U.S. debt-ceiling agreement. “This deal is a sugar-coated Satan sandwich. If you lift the bun, you will not like what you see.”

Biggest Political Tease: Sarah Palin spent 10 months fuelling speculation about whether she was going to run for president before finally saying no in October. By then, no one was paying attention.

Gutsiest Obama Decision: The raid on Osama bin Laden’s Pakistani compound. If it goes wrong, there’s a lot of dead Navy Seals, and Obama looks like Jimmy Carter after the botched Iran hostage rescue attempt in April 1980. It didn’t.

Saddest Political Trend: Congressional paralysis. Congress brought the government to the brink of shutdown in April. Then, for a second act, lawmakers ignited a global market meltdown with a self-induced debt crisis. In December, small-minded bickering produced one of the worst pieces of kitchen-sink legislation – the two-month payroll tax cut/Keystone XL compromise – Washington has seen in years.

Year in Quotes: White House and Congress

Source: WoodTV, 12-22-11

‘The world is safer’

“It’s like lighting the match that could burn down the house.”–Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., describing a scenario in which a debt ceiling agreement was not met by May. April, 2011

“It’s not going to get easier, it’s going to get harder. So we might as well do it now. Pull off the Band-Aid. Eat our peas.”–President Obama, in a press conference urging House and Senate leadership to come together to pass a debt ceiling bill. July, 2011

“Get your ass in line. I can’t do this job unless you’re behind me.”–House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to fellow Republicans who were holding out against his debt ceiling deal for one with more spending cuts. July, 2011

“I strongly believe that crossing the aisle for the good of the American people is more important than party politics. I had to be here for this vote. I could not take the chance that my absence could crash our economy.” –Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., after returning to the House chamber to cast her vote for the debt ceiling bill. It was her first appearance to Congress since she was shot in the head in Jan. 8, 2011. August, 2011

“At a time when spending is out of control, giving the federal government more money would be like giving a cocaine addict more cocaine.” –Speaker Boehner, in response to the president’s proposed deficit reduction plan. September, 2011

“After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline.”–Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., co-chairs of the debt “supercommittee,” a congressional group tasked with identifying $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction. November, 2011

“The world is safer. It is a better place because of the death of Osama bin Laden.”–President Barack Obama, hours after U.S. forces killed the al-Qaida leader in the middle-of-the-night raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. May, 2011

“All I will say is that for three years the president has been harvesting the successes of the very strategy that he consistently dismissed as a failure. I imagine that this irony was not lost on a few of our troops at Fort Bragg today, most of whom deployed and fought as part of the surge.”–Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., after President Obama marked the end of the Iraq War at Fort Bragg, N.C. December, 2011

“I’m not sure I want to put national, federal resources into trying to figure out who posted a picture on Weiner’s website, uh, whatever. I’m not really sure it rises, no pun intended, to that level.”–Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., as a media storm continued to swirl surrounding a lewd photo sent from his Twitter account to a female college student in Seattle. June, 2011

“There isn’t anything that I can imagine doing after this that would be as demanding, as challenging or rewarding.”–Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, after indicating she would step down in 2012. March, 2011

A year of oops: five big political gaffes of 2011

Source: CS Monitor, 12-29-11

There’s nothing like a presidential campaign cycle to bring out big political gaffes – at times injecting doubt about candidates, but also offering some much-needed comic relief and glimpses of humanity. 2011 had some doozies, and some of the most memorable actually weren’t on the campaign trail.

GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, who said the “shot heard round the world” was fired in New Hampshire (correct answer: Massachusetts), nailed the politicians’ dilemma perfectly: “People can make mistakes, and I wish I could be perfect every time I say something, but I can’t.”

Here are five of the biggest political “uh-ohs” of 2011:

1. Anthony Weiner’s bizarre Twitter lesson

In the digital age, sexual missteps no longer even have to be in person, as former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D) of New York proved with “Weinergate” – the tale of a suggestive Twitter photo that led to revelations of other indiscretions….READ MORE

2. Rick Perry: cutting bureaucracy straight out of memory

Don’t you hate that tip-of-the-tongue moment, when that obvious thing you just meant to say vanishes from thought? Now imagine standing on a lit stage in front of millions of your potential voters, bloodthirsty journalists, and a group of people who have vowed to defeat you: This is Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s epic brain freeze at the GOP presidential debate on Nov. 9….READ MORE

3. How Joe Biden sums up the tea party

Vice President Joe Biden denied it to the nth degree, but Politico said it had five sources to confirm its story – that during an offline discussion with House Democrats on Aug. 1, the loquacious Mr. Biden not only agreed with a characterization of tea party voters as “terrorists,” but actually chimed in, saying, “They have acted like terrorists.”…READ MORE

4. Mitt Romney’s hefty bet

“Rick, I’ll tell you what – 10,000 bucks, $10,000 bet,” GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said to Texas Gov. Rick Perry during a Dec. 10 presidential debate. Mr. Romney was arguing that he most surely hadn’t supported an individual mandate as part of national health-care reform – and in the process he wagered enough money to buy a solid gold iPhone case….READ MORE

5. Herman Cain takes a twirl

Book tours, bigwig fundraisers, endless bus rides – when does a candidate just have time to let his mind rest? Preferably not while meeting with a group of newspaper editors who are peppering him with foreign-policy questions….READ MORE

Political Buzz December 20, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Hanukkah Statement & History of 2011 Hanukkah Party Menorah

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Hanukkah at the White House: History of the 2011 Menorah

Source: WH, 12-26-11
A  very special menorah was the centerpiece of this year’s Hanukkah celebration at the White House. It was created in a displaced persons’ camp after World War II and is dedicated to General Joseph T. McNarney, who served as the Commander in Chief of United States Forces in the European theatre from November 1945 to March 1947.

The Hebrew inscription on the lamp, “A great miracle happened there,” is found on the dreidls (or tops)  that children play with on Hanukkah and refers to the miracle of Hanukkah, but may in this instance also poignantly signify the liberation and salvation of the Jews in the displaced persons’ camp.

Related:
Watch how the White House “kosherized” the kitchen before the Hanukkah celebration
Menorah that survived Katrina is a source of inspiration

Statement by the President on Hanukkah

Source: WH, 12-20-11

Michelle and I send our warmest wishes to all those celebrating Hanukkah around the world.

This Hanukkah season we remember the powerful story of a band of believers who rose up and freed their people, only to discover that the oil left in their desecrated temple – which should have been enough for only one night – ended up lasting for eight.

It’s a timeless story of right over might and faith over doubt – one that has given hope to Jewish people everywhere for over 2,000 years.  And tonight, as families and friends come together to light the menorah, it is a story that reminds us to count our blessings, to honor the sacrifices of our ancestors, and to believe that through faith and determination, we can work together to build a brighter, better world for generations to come.

From our family to the Jewish Community around the world, Chag Sameach.

Full Text December 24, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address with First Lady Michelle Obama Thanking the Troops for their Services and Christmas & Holiday Greetings

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama tape a holiday message

The President and First Lady tape a holiday message in the Roosevelt Room, White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 12/16/11

Weekly Address: The President and First Lady Thank our Troops for their Service as we Celebrate the Holiday Season

Source: WH, 12-24-11
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama offer a special holiday tribute to some of the strongest, bravest, and most resilient members of our American family – the men and women who wear our country’s uniform and the families who support them:

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: The President and First Lady Thank our Troops for their Service as we Celebrate the Holiday Season

In this week’s address, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama came together to wish the American people a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, and thanked our troops, military families, and veterans for their service and sacrifice. President Obama and Michelle Obama encouraged everyone to visit JoiningForces.gov to find ways to give back to our brave men and women in uniform and their families during the holiday season as we work together in the spirit of service.

Remarks of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
December 24, 2011

THE PRESIDENT: Hi everyone. As you gather with family and friends this weekend, Michelle, Malia, Sasha and I – and of course Bo – want to wish you all Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

THE FIRST LADY:  This is such a wonderful time of year.

It’s a time to honor the story of love and redemption that began 2,000 years ago … a time to see the world through a child’s eyes and rediscover the magic all around us … and a time to give thanks for the gifts that bless us every single day.

This holiday season at the White House, we wanted to show our thanks with a special holiday tribute to some of the strongest, bravest, and most resilient members of our American family – the men and women who wear our country’s uniform and the families who support them.

THE PRESIDENT: For many military families, the best gift this year is a simple one – welcoming a loved one back for the holidays. You see, after nearly nine years, our war in Iraq is over.  Our troops are coming home.  And across America, military families are being reunited.

So let’s take a moment to give thanks for their service; for their families’ service; for our veterans’ service.  And let’s say a prayer for all our troops standing post all over the world, especially our brave men and women in Afghanistan who are serving, even as we speak, in harm’s way to protect the freedoms and security we hold dear.

THE FIRST LADY: Our veterans, troops, and military families sacrifice so much for us.

So this holiday season, let’s make sure that all of them know just how much we appreciate everything they do.

Let’s ask ourselves, “How can I give back? How can my family serve them as well as they’ve served us”

One way you can get started is to visit JoiningForces.gov to find out how you can get involved in your community.

THE PRESIDENT: Giving of ourselves; service to others – that’s what this season is all about. For my family and millions of Americans, that’s what Christmas is all about. It reminds us that part of what it means to love God is to love one another, to be our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper. But that belief is not just at the center of our Christian faith, it’s shared by Americans of all faiths and backgrounds. It’s why so many of us, every year, volunteer our time to help those most in need; especially our hungry and our homeless.

So whatever you believe, wherever you’re from, let’s remember the spirit of service that connects us all this season – as Americans.  Each of us can do our part to serve our communities and our country, not just today, but every day.

THE FIRST LADY: So from our family to yours, Merry Christmas.

THE PRESIDENT:  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everybody.

White House Recap December 17-23, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama, House, Senate & Passing 2 Month Payroll Tax Cut Extension

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: DECEMBER 17-23, 2011

12/23/11 or #40dollars

Source: WH, 12-23-11
With the holidays in full swing and the countdown clock ticking away, President Obama continued to press for the extension of the payroll tax cut for 160 million working Americans and unemployment insurance benefits for those looking for work. The President urged House Republicans to put aside their political games and pass a bill that garnered overwhelming, bipartisan support in the US Senate.

West Wing Week

Political Highlights: Best Political Quotes of 2011

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Year in Quotes: White House and Congress

Source: WoodTV, 12-22-11

‘The world is safer’

“It’s like lighting the match that could burn down the house.”–Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., describing a scenario in which a debt ceiling agreement was not met by May. April, 2011

“It’s not going to get easier, it’s going to get harder. So we might as well do it now. Pull off the Band-Aid. Eat our peas.”–President Obama, in a press conference urging House and Senate leadership to come together to pass a debt ceiling bill. July, 2011

“Get your ass in line. I can’t do this job unless you’re behind me.”–House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to fellow Republicans who were holding out against his debt ceiling deal for one with more spending cuts. July, 2011

“I strongly believe that crossing the aisle for the good of the American people is more important than party politics. I had to be here for this vote. I could not take the chance that my absence could crash our economy.” –Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., after returning to the House chamber to cast her vote for the debt ceiling bill. It was her first appearance to Congress since she was shot in the head in Jan. 8, 2011. August, 2011

“At a time when spending is out of control, giving the federal government more money would be like giving a cocaine addict more cocaine.” –Speaker Boehner, in response to the president’s proposed deficit reduction plan. September, 2011

“After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline.”–Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., co-chairs of the debt “supercommittee,” a congressional group tasked with identifying $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction. November, 2011

“The world is safer. It is a better place because of the death of Osama bin Laden.”–President Barack Obama, hours after U.S. forces killed the al-Qaida leader in the middle-of-the-night raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. May, 2011

“All I will say is that for three years the president has been harvesting the successes of the very strategy that he consistently dismissed as a failure. I imagine that this irony was not lost on a few of our troops at Fort Bragg today, most of whom deployed and fought as part of the surge.”–Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., after President Obama marked the end of the Iraq War at Fort Bragg, N.C. December, 2011

“I’m not sure I want to put national, federal resources into trying to figure out who posted a picture on Weiner’s website, uh, whatever. I’m not really sure it rises, no pun intended, to that level.”–Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., as a media storm continued to swirl surrounding a lewd photo sent from his Twitter account to a female college student in Seattle. June, 2011

“There isn’t anything that I can imagine doing after this that would be as demanding, as challenging or rewarding.”–Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, after indicating she would step down in 2012. March, 2011

Political Buzz December 22, 2011: Speaker John Boehner & House Leaders Agree to Senate Payroll Tax Cut Extension — President Obama Pleased at End of “Partisan Stalemate”

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger to be published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

John A. Boehner, the speaker of the House, announced on Thursday that Republicans had reached an agreement on the payroll tax cut.
Philip Scott Andrews/The New York Times

John A. Boehner, the speaker of the House, announced on Thursday that Republicans had reached an agreement on the payroll tax cut.

IN FOCUS: HOUSE LEADERS AGREE TO THE SENATE’S PAYROLL TAX EXTENSION PLAN

Deal reached on payroll tax cut extension, sources say: A tentative deal has been reached under which House Republicans would accept the Senate’s two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, Senate sources say.
A conference call of House members is scheduled Thursday evening to finalize the arrangement.

House Republican Leaders Agree to Payroll Tax Deal: Bowing under intense pressure from members of their own party to end the politically damaging impasse over a payroll tax holiday, House Republican leaders on Thursday agreed to accept a temporary extension of the tax cut, beating a a hasty retreat from a showdown that Republicans increasingly saw as a threat to their election opportunities next year.
Under a deal reached between House and Senate leaders — which Speaker John A. Boehner was presenting to the rank and file in an evening conference call — House members would accept the two-month extension of a payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits approved by the Senate last Saturday while the Senate would appoint members of a House-Senate conference committee to negotiate legislation to extend both benefits through 2012…. – NYT, 12-22-11

Statement by Speaker Boehner on Efforts to Enact a Full-Year Extension of Payroll Tax Relief — Washington (Dec 22)
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today issued the following statement:
“Senator Reid and I have reached an agreement that will ensure taxes do not increase for working families on January 1 while ensuring that a complex new reporting burden is not unintentionally imposed on small business job creators. Under the terms of our agreement, a new bill will be approved by the House that reflects the bipartisan agreement in the Senate along with new language that allows job creators to process and withhold payroll taxation under the same accounting structure that is currently in place. The Senate will join the House in immediately appointing conferees, with instructions to reach agreement in the weeks ahead on a full-year payroll tax extension. We will ask the House and Senate to approve this agreement by unanimous consent before Christmas. I thank our Members – particularly those who have remained here in the Capitol with the holidays approaching – for their efforts to enact a full-year extension of the payroll tax cut for working families.”

President Obama: “This is Good News”: For weeks, President Obama has pressed Congress to come to an agreement to extend the payroll tax cut into 2012. This afternoon, that’s exactly what happened.
In a statement, the President praised the good news:

For the past several weeks, I’ve stated consistently that it was critical that Congress not go home without preventing a tax increase on 160 million working Americans. Today, I congratulate members of Congress for ending the partisan stalemate by reaching an agreement that meets that test.
Because of this agreement, every working American will keep his or her tax cut – about $1,000 for the average family. That’s about $40 in every paycheck. Vital unemployment insurance will continue for millions of Americans who are looking for work. And when Congress returns, I urge them to keep working to reach an agreement that will extend this tax cut and unemployment insurance for all of 2012 without drama or delay.
This is good news, just in time for the holidays. This is the right thing to do to strengthen our families, grow our economy, and create new jobs. This is real money that will make a real difference in people’s lives. And I want to thank every American who raised your voice to remind folks in this town what this debate was all about. It was about you. And today, your voices made all the difference.

 

  • New payroll tax cut: Hard on the rich: The Senate’s revised version of the payroll tax cut prevents a handful of very high wage earners from potentially enjoying a huge windfall from the two-month tax break… – CS Monitor, 12-22-11
  • It’s over! Dueling statements from the speaker and the president: House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday announced an agreement with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid to extend the payroll tax cut for two months. Afterwards both Speaker Boehner and President Obama released statements. … – CNN, 12-22-11
  • Boehner: House leaders accept Senate tax terms: House Speaker John Boehner says he has reached agreement with the Senate to renew the payroll tax cut before it expires Dec. 31. The Ohio Republican said in a statement Thursday that he expects to pass a new bill by Christmas that … – AP, 12-22-11
  • House could be called back for vote on payroll tax deal: US House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday said he would call the vacationing House of Representatives back into session next week if he fails to get unanimous consent on Friday for a payroll tax cut deal with the Senate. … – Reuters, 12-22-11
  • Congressional Leaders Announce Payroll Tax Cut Deal: Congressional leaders announced Thursday that they’ve struck a deal to ensure the payroll tax rate does not rise at the beginning of next year, potentially ending a stalemate that had put House Speaker John Boehner in a politically uncomfortable … – Fox News
  • Obama welcomes payroll tax deal, congratulates Congress for ending ‘partisan stalemate’: President Barack Obama is welcoming a deal on extending a payroll tax cut and congratulating Congress for ending its “partisan stalemate.” The president issued a statement Thursday evening moments after House Speaker John Boehner announced … – WaPo, 12-22-11
  • Boehner announces deal on payroll tax cut: House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday announced an agreement with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid to extend the payroll tax cut for two months. The deal amounted to a reversal of the … – CNN, 12-22-11
  • Cornered, House GOP Nears Capitulation on Short-Term Payroll Tax Cut Extension: On the fifth day since rank-and-file Republicans bucked a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, the House GOP finally seemed to give way under pressure…. – TIME, 12-22-11
  • Lawmakers reach tentative deal on payroll tax cut; House action Friday: Congressional negotiators have reached a tentative deal to extend the payroll tax holiday for two months, with the House set to act on Friday. A subdued House Speaker John Boehner announced the accord … – LAT, 12-22-11McConnell urges House to pass short-term extension of payroll tax cut: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said for the first time Thursday that the GOP- held House should pass a short extension of the payroll tax cut while the Senate appoints negotiators to discuss how to pay for the tax cut for the full year, putting him at odds with House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) who has insisted negotiations must take first.

Full Text December 22, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech / Statement on the House & Senate Agreeing to a 2 Month Payroll Tax Cut & Unemployment Benefits Extension

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

IN FOCUS: HOUSE LEADERS AGREE TO THE SENATE’S PAYROLL TAX EXTENSION PLAN

Deal reached on payroll tax cut extension, sources say: A tentative deal has been reached under which House Republicans would accept the Senate’s two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, Senate sources say.
A conference call of House members is scheduled Thursday evening to finalize the arrangement.

House Republican Leaders Agree to Payroll Tax Deal: Bowing under intense pressure from members of their own party to end the politically damaging impasse over a payroll tax holiday, House Republican leaders on Thursday agreed to accept a temporary extension of the tax cut, beating a a hasty retreat from a showdown that Republicans increasingly saw as a threat to their election opportunities next year.
Under a deal reached between House and Senate leaders — which Speaker John A. Boehner was presenting to the rank and file in an evening conference call — House members would accept the two-month extension of a payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits approved by the Senate last Saturday while the Senate would appoint members of a House-Senate conference committee to negotiate legislation to extend both benefits through 2012…. – NYT, 12-22-11

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

President Obama: “This is Good News”

Source: WH, 12-22-11
For weeks, President Obama has pressed Congress to come to an agreement to extend the payroll tax cut into 2012. This afternoon, that’s exactly what happened.

In a statement, the President praised the good news:

For the past several weeks, I’ve stated consistently that it was critical that Congress not go home without preventing a tax increase on 160 million working Americans. Today, I congratulate members of Congress for ending the partisan stalemate by reaching an agreement that meets that test.

Because of this agreement, every working American will keep his or her tax cut – about $1,000 for the average family. That’s about $40 in every paycheck. Vital unemployment insurance will continue for millions of Americans who are looking for work.  And when Congress returns, I urge them to keep working to reach an agreement that will extend this tax cut and unemployment insurance for all of 2012 without drama or delay.

This is good news, just in time for the holidays. This is the right thing to do to strengthen our families, grow our economy, and create new jobs.  This is real money that will make a real difference in people’s lives. And I want to thank every American who raised your voice to remind folks in this town what this debate was all about. It was about you. And today, your voices made all the difference.

Full Text December 22, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech Discusses What The Payroll Tax Cut’s $40 Dollars Means for American Families Each Week

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Discusses What $40 Means for Americans Families

Source: WH, 12-22-11
20111222 President Obama Discusses the Payroll Tax Cut

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the impasse in Congress over the payroll tax cut extension during a statement in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Dec. 22, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Today, President Obama gave an update about the status of the payroll tax cut.

When the spoke, the people standing behind him were all Americans who would see their taxes increase if the House of Representatives doesn’t take action.

Each of them was at the White House because they wrote in to tell us what they would have to give up if they lost $40 with every paycheck.

The President said:

[On] Tuesday, we asked folks to tell us what would it be like to lose $40 out of your paycheck every week. And I have to tell you that the response has been overwhelming.  We haven’t seen anything like this before.  Over 30,000 people have written in so far — as many as 2,000 every hour. We’re still hearing from folks — and I want to encourage everybody who’s been paying attention to this to keep sending your stories to WhiteHouse.gov and share them on Twitter and share them on Facebook.

The responses we’ve gotten so far have come from Americans of all ages and Americans of all backgrounds, from every corner of the country. Some of the folks who responded are on stage with me here today, and they should remind every single member of Congress what’s at stake in this debate. Let me just give you a few samples.

Read the full statement here.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on the Payroll Tax Cut

South Court Auditorium

1:00 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)  Please have a seat.  Good afternoon to all of you.  Merry Christmas.  Happy holidays.

We’ve been doing everything we can over the last few weeks to make sure that 160 million working Americans aren’t hit with a holiday tax increase on January 1st.  We’ve also been doing everything we can to make sure that millions of people who are out there looking for work in a very tough environment don’t start losing their unemployment insurance on January 1st.

Now, on Saturday, we reached a bipartisan compromise that would do just that — make sure that people aren’t seeing a tax cut the first of the year; make sure that they still have unemployment insurance the first of the year.  Nearly every Democrat in the Senate voted for that compromise.  Nearly every Republican in the Senate voted for that compromise.  Democrats and even some Republicans in the House voted for that compromise. I am ready to sign that compromise into law the second it lands on my desk.

So far, the only reason it hasn’t landed on my desk — the only reason — is because a faction of House Republicans have refused to support this compromise.

Now, if you’re a family making about $50,000 a year, this is a tax cut that amounts to about $1,000 a year.  That’s about 40 bucks out of every paycheck.  It may be that there’s some folks in the House who refuse to vote for this compromise because they don’t think that 40 bucks is a lot of money.  But anyone who knows what it’s like to stretch a budget knows that at the end of the week, or the end of the month, $40 can make all the difference in the world.

And that’s why we thought we’d bring your voices into this debate.  So many of these debates in Washington end up being portrayed as which party is winning, which party is losing.  But what we have to remind ourselves of is this is about people.  This is about the American people and whether they win.  It’s not about a contest between politicians.

So on Tuesday, we asked folks to tell us what would it be like to lose $40 out of your paycheck every week.  And I have to tell you that the response has been overwhelming.  We haven’t seen anything like this before.  Over 30,000 people have written in so far — as many as 2,000 every hour.  We’re still hearing from folks — and I want to encourage everybody who’s been paying attention to this to keep sending your stories to WhiteHouse.gov and share them on Twitter and share them on Facebook.

The responses we’ve gotten so far have come from Americans of all ages and Americans of all backgrounds, from every corner of the country.  Some of the folks who responded are on stage with me here today, and they should remind every single member of Congress what’s at stake in this debate.  Let me just give you a few samples.

Joseph from New Jersey talked about how he would have to sacrifice the occasional pizza night with his daughters.  He said — and I’m quoting — “My 16-year-old twins will be out of the house soon.  I’ll miss this.”

Richard from Rhode Island wrote to tell us that having an extra $40 in his check buys enough heating oil to keep his family warm for three nights.  In his words — I’m quoting — “If someone doesn’t think that 12 gallons of heating oil is important, I invite them to spend three nights in an unheated home.  Or you can believe me when I say that it makes a difference.”

Pete from Wisconsin told us about driving more than 200 miles each week to keep his father-in-law company in a nursing home — $40 out of his paycheck would mean he’d only be able to make three trips instead of four.

We heard from a teacher named Claire from here in D.C. who goes to the thrift store every week and uses her own money to buy pencils and books for her fourth grade class.  Once in a while she splurges on science or art supplies.  Losing $40, she says, would mean she couldn’t do that anymore.

For others, $40 means dinner out with a child who’s home for Christmas, a new pair of shoes, a tank of gas, a charitable donation.  These are the things at stake for millions of Americans.  They matter to people.  A lot.

And keep in mind that those are just the individual stories. That doesn’t account for the overall impact that a failure to extend the payroll tax cut and a failure to extend unemployment insurance would have on the economy as a whole.  We’ve seen the economy do better over the last couple of months, but there’s still a lot of sources of uncertainty out there — what’s going on in Europe, what’s going on around the world.  And so this is insurance to make sure that our recovery continues.

So it’s time for the House to listen to the voices who are up here, the voices all across the country, and reconsider.  What’s happening right now is exactly why people just get so frustrated with Washington.  This is it; this is exactly why people get so frustrated with Washington.  This isn’t a typical Democratic-versus-Republican issue.  This is an issue where an overwhelming number of people in both parties agree.  How can we not get that done?  I mean, has this place become so dysfunctional that even when people agree to things we can’t do it?  (Applause.)  It doesn’t make any sense.

So, enough is enough.  The people standing with me today can’t afford any more games.  They can’t afford to lose $1,000 because of some ridiculous Washington standoff.  The House needs to pass a short-term version of this compromise, and then we should negotiate an agreement as quickly as possible to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance for the rest of 2012.  It’s the right thing to do for the economy, and it’s, most importantly, the right thing to do for American families all across the country.

This is not just my view.  Just a few hours ago, this is exactly what the Republican Leader of the Senate said we should do.  Democrats agree with the Republican Leader of the Senate.  We should go ahead and get this done.  This should not be hard.  We all agree it should happen.  I believe it’s going to happen sooner or later.  Why not make it sooner, rather than later?  Let’s give the American people — the people who sent us here — the kind of leadership they deserve.

Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)

END
1:08 P.M. EST

Political Buzz December 22, 2011: President Obama Goes Christmas Shopping with Bo

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Goes Christmas Shopping

Source: WH, 12-22-11

Just in time for the holiday, President Obama found a little time this week to get some Christmas shopping done. First Dog Bo went along for the ride — presumably to supervise the President’s stop at a PetSmart just outside Washington, where the two picked up a couple items and mingled with other shoppers, both human and canine.

President Obama and Bo go shoppingPresident Barack Obama reacts as Bo, the Obama family dog, meets a poodle named Cinnamon while shopping at a PetSmart store in Alexandria, Va., Dec. 21, 2011. (by Chuck Kennedy)

  • Obama goes Christmas shopping: Home alone at the White House, President Barack Obama headed on an impromptu Christmas shopping trip Wednesday with first dog Bo, searching for some holiday cheer despite the latest stalemate with Congress…. – AP, 12-21-11
  • Obama and Bo go Christmas shopping: President Barack Obama took a break from wrangling with House Republicans on Wednesday afternoon for a quick pre-Christmas shopping trip to buy gifts for his daughters and Bo the dog.
    After calling congressional leaders to reaffirm his support for the Senate-passed two-month extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance, Obama exited the Oval Office with Bo in tow and headed to a shopping strip in Alexandria, Va. — a man alone with his dog as his family vacations in Hawaii…. – Politico, 12-21-11

After leaving the pet store, President Obama continued on (companionless) to Best Buy to pick out some games and gift cards for his daughters before heading to a local restaurant for a few pizzas to take back to the White House.

Need more Bo? Watch this video about his role in this year’s White House Holiday decorations

Full Text December 20, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech / Remarks on the Republican Congress’ Vote on the Payroll Tax Cut Extension at Press Briefing with Jay Carney

Political Buzz December 20, 2011: Congress Votes Against 2 Month Payroll Tax Cut Extension – House Rejects Senate Passed Plan by a Vote of 229-193

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger to be published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

House Republicans, led by Speaker John A. Boehner, asked President Obama to call the Senate back to Washington after the House voted down a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut.

IN FOCUS: HOUSE REJECTS THE SENATE’S PAYROLL TAX EXTENSION PLAN BY A VOTE OF 229-193

House rejects Senate’s payroll tax plan: The House Tuesday rejected a bipartisan Senate compromise on extending a payroll tax holiday for two months along with extensions of unemployment benefits and Medicare payments to doctors.
In a 229-193 procedural vote that set aside the Senate bill and requested a formal conference with the Senate, House Republicans set up a showdown with the Democratic-controlled Senate and President Obama, who are demanding that the House approve the short-term plan now to avoid a tax hike on workers Jan. 1 and then negotiate a longer-term deal for the rest of 2012…. – WaPo, 12-20-11

  • Republicans in House Reject Deal Extending Payroll Tax Cut: House Republicans on Tuesday soundly rejected a bill approved by the Senate that would have extended the payroll tax cut for most Americans beyond the end of the year and allowed millions of unemployed people to continue receiving jobless … – NYT, 12-20-11
  • House GOP rejects 2-month payroll tax cut: Congress lurched toward Grinch-like gridlock on Tuesday as the Republican-controlled House rejected a two-month extension of Social Security tax cuts that President Barack Obama said was “the only viable way” to prevent a drop in take-home pay for 160 million workers on Jan. 1.
    “The clock is ticking, time is running out,” Obama said shortly after House voted 229-193 to request negotiations with the Senate on renewing the payroll tax cuts for a year.
    House Speaker John Boehner, told that Obama had sought his help, replied, “I need the president to help out.” … – AP, 12-20-11
  • Obama blasts GOP after House Republicans defeat two-month payroll tax cut: The House on Tuesday rejected a bipartisan Senate compromise to extend a payroll tax cut for two months, along with unemployment benefits, plunging Washington into uncertainty just days before Christmas about the fate of the tax cut enjoyed by 160 … – WaPo, 12-20-11
  • 11 House members miss vote that rejected two-month extension of payroll tax: Eleven lawmakers missed the House vote that rejected Senate legislation to extend a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits for two months. Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Ron Paul of Texas were campaigning Tuesday for the … – WaPo, 12-20-11
  • Obama blasts House GOP for blocking payroll tax cut extension: By Christi Parsons While members of Congress point fingers at each other for gumming up the payroll tax cut, President Obama is watching the bickering from the White House–where he is apparently happy to spend the holiday season until a deal gets done…. – LAT, 12-20-11
  • Boehner says Obama should tell Senate to bargain on payroll tax cuts, break impasse: House Speaker John Boehner says it’s time for President Barack Obama to help end Congress’ impasse over renewing the payroll tax cut and jobless benefits. The Ohio Republican said Tuesday that he wants Obama to call on the Democratic-led … – WaPo, 12-20-11
  • Obama: Republicans are forcing payroll tax hike: President Obama blasted House Republicans today for rejecting a Senate plan to extend the payroll tax cut for two months, saying that “a faction” of the GOP is forcing a tax hike on Americans next year. … – USA Today, 12-20-11
  • Obama directly calls out Boehner: Stop the games: This afternoon, after House Republicans voted to “disagree” with the Senate compromise extending the payroll tax cut, the brinksmanship took a sudden and dramatic turn. Obama made a surprise appearance before reporters and called out…. – WaPo, 12-20-11
  • House in session ‘as necessary’ over holidays as payroll tax fight remains unresolved: By Felicia Sonmez With the final battle of the 112th Congress still unresolved, the House adjourned on Tuesday and will meet “as necessary” over the holidays. The adjournment leaves in limbo the fate of a bipartisan package that would prevent… – WaPo, 12-20-11
  • Payroll tax cut extension in doubt amid House Republican uproar: The fate of a payroll tax cut extension backed by the White House and overwhelmingly passed by the Senate is uncertain after a restive House Republican conference expressed displeasure with the two-month deal…. – WaPo, 12-18-11
  • McCain: Payroll tax cut showdown ‘harming’ the GOP: Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said Tuesday the battle on Capitol Hill between Democrats and Republicans over extending the payroll tax cut was causing damage to the GOP. “It is harming the Republican Party,” McCain said on CNN…. – CNN, 12-20-11
  • Obama, Boehner square off in payroll tax fight: The congressional impasse over extending the payroll tax cut became a showdown Tuesday between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner. After the Republican-controlled House passed a measure calling for more … – CNN, 12-20-11
  • Obama, Boehner lock horns in payroll tax fight: President Barack Obama demanded on Tuesday that Republicans in the House of Representatives pass a short-term extension of a payroll tax cut, showing an unwillingness to back down in a fight … – Reuters Canada, 12-20-11
  • Payroll tax cut down to who blinks first: Just 11 days before 160 million Americans face a payroll tax increase, the fight has become a matter of which side blinks first.
    Congressional Democrats and President Barack Obama are betting Republicans concede out of fear they’ll get blamed for a middle class tax increase. Speaker John Boehner and his rowdy GOP conference are pressuring Democrats to come back to the negotiating table — but right now they’re negotiating alone. And Senate Republicans are surprisingly silent on the whole thing, having washed their hands of this year-end mess by backing the two-month payroll tax extension and jetting town…. – Politico, 12-20-11
  • House Vote Coming on Payroll Tax Cut Extension: NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: House Republicans are expected to vote down a two- month extension of the payroll tax cut just hours from now. House Speaker John Boehner saying it would only create more uncertainty for job creators…. – Fox News, 12-20-11
  • House GOP to reject two-month Senate payroll tax cut Tuesday in end-of-year: With the Senate adjourned for the holidays, House Republicans are moving to shelve a bipartisan two-month extension of the Social Security payroll tax cut that cleared the Senate over the weekend and are demanding instead that their fellow … – WaPo, 12-20-11
  • House speaker foresees extension of payroll tax cuts: House Speaker John Boehner told USA TODAY on Monday that he was optimistic that payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits would be extended — despite a congressional stalemate that could result in millions of … – USA Today, 12-20-11
  • House conservatives end year as they spent it, revolting over a bipartisan bill on taxes: Sen. Mitch McConnell does not high-five easily or often. But a deal to keep American workers’ taxes from rising on Jan. 1 was reason enough for the coolest negotiator in the Senate to lift a hand on camera and slap — or pat — some skin. … – WaPo, 12-20-11
  • House Republicans, in turmoil, delay vote on payroll tax cut: Tempers grow short as hard-line conservatives remain opposed to a two-month extension that easily passed the Senate. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) holds a news conference on the payroll tax vote with fellow House Republican freshmen at the US Capitol. … – LAT, 12-20-11
  • Boehner’s brinksmanship: The House speaker objects to the Senate payroll tax compromise, but his complaints about it ring hollow. Speaker of the House John Boehner answers reporters’ questions during a news conference on the payroll tax vote outside his office at the Capitol. … – LAT, 12-20-11
  • House Republicans intent on killing Senate payroll tax cut deal: House Republicans were gearing up to ditch a bipartisan Senate bill on Tuesday that would extend a federal payroll tax holiday for two months, charging that the deal represented the old ways of doing business that they were elected to change. … – WaPo, 12-20-11
  • Has Boehner lost control: First, John Boehner wanted the Senate to pass a payroll tax cut bill. Then, he wanted to make a show of killing it. Now, he won’t hold a House vote on it at all. In the last and biggest political test of a wild year — Boehner’s final exam for 2012 … – Politico, 12-20-11
  • House Set to Vote Down Payroll Tax Cut Extension: Under fire from senators in their own party, House Republicans on Tuesday prepared to reject a Senate measure to extend a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits for millions of Americans for two months, and demanded that the Senate … – NYT, 12-20-11
  • House Republicans Refuse to Budge on Payroll Tax Cut: Despite fire from senators in their own party, House Republicans pushed for talks on a long-term bill…. – NYT, 12-19-11
  • Payroll Tax Cut Rejected by House Republicans: The House Republican leader’s rejection of a short-term, bipartisan Senate measure to extend a payroll tax break set the stage for a bitter year-end Congressional collision…. – NYT, 12-18-11
  • Extension of Payroll Tax Cut Passes Senate: A two-month extension of the payroll-tax holiday — should it get through the House — adds to a series of 11th-hour Congressional deals that simply pushed the issues involved forward…. – NYT, 12-17-11

Campaign Buzz December 20, 2011: Sarah Palin on Fox Business: Not Too Late to Jump into Republican Presidential Race

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Sarah Palin: Not Too Late to Jump into Republican Race

Source: AP, 12-20-11

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin says it’s not too late for someone to jump into the Republican presidential race.

Asked by Fox Business Network’s “Follow the Money” about the likelihood that she’d become a candidate, the former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee said it’s not too late for “folks” to jump in.

Said Palin: “Who knows what will happen in the future.”

The full interview is scheduled for broadcast Monday night.

Palin told Fox News Channel over the weekend that she felt no enthusiasm for anyone in the current GOP field and that she needed to feel something before she would offer an endorsement.

Palin said in October that she wouldn’t seek the GOP nomination. She said she could be more effective helping others get elected.

Full Text December 19, 2011: President Barack Obama & First Lady Michelle Obama Answer Personal Questions on 20/20 with Barbara Walters

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

President Obama, First Lady Tackle 10 Personal Questions

Source: ABC News, 12-19-11

President Obama, First Lady Tackle 10 Personal Questions<br /><br /> (ABC News)
President Obama, First Lady Tackle 10 Personal Questions (ABC News)

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama in an exclusive pre-Christmas interview with ABC News’ Barbara Walters revealed personal insights about themselves and their relationship as they approach their 20th wedding anniversary next fall.

The full interview can be seen during a “20/20” holiday special on Friday, Dec. 23, 10 p.m. ET on ABC stations.

Walters’ questions were drawn from the late-nineteenth century Proust Questionnaire, a series of personality questions made famous by French author Marcel Proust. They are regularly put to celebrities in interviews featured on the back page of Vanity Fair magazine.

The Obamas’ responses that follow have been lightly edited for brevity.

What’s the trait you most deplore in yourself, and the trait you most deplore in others?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Laziness. Nothing frustrates me more than when people aren’t doing their jobs. The thing actually that I most dislike is cruelty. I can’t stand cruel people. And if I see people doing something mean to somebody else, just to make themselves feel important it really gets me mad. But, with myself, since I tend not to be a mean person, you know, if I get lazy, then I get mad at myself.

MICHELLE OBAMA: When people are unwilling to compromise. I just think that particularly in a society with big views, big differences, that, you know, the truth is often somewhere right in the middle. And, a lot of times, we don’t want to give up anything. And I don’t like it when I see that in myself.

On what occasion do you lie?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Usually, the only time I lie is very personal interactions with family members, who you say, “You look great,” and they don’t. “Wonderful dress…” Uh, not so much.

MICHELLE OBAMA: Things where the truth would hurt other people.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Right, the things where truth would hurt other people. Not too many big things. I said during the campaign that I’ll always tell you what I think, and I will, always tell you where I stand. I’m not perfect, but you’ll know what I believe.

MICHELLE OBAMA: I think the same thing. When it would hurt somebody else’s feelings. When the truth isn’t helpful.

What do you think is the most overrated virtue?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Security. People naturally resist change in our personal lives. … Malia, actually, was the one who brought it up because she says, ‘You know, one of the things that happens is sometimes transitions are hard, and I really enjoy my life, and I like how things are going.’ And I said, ‘Get in the habit of being able to embrace change, and what’s new. Because you don’t want to live your life where, you are held back because you’ve gotten too comfortable, and you are afraid of what might be out there around the corner.'”

MICHELLE OBAMA: I take his

. I agree with him.

What’s the biggest misconception about you?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Me being detached, or Spock-like, or very analytical. People who know me know that I am a softie. I mean, stuff can choke me up very easily. The challenge for me is that in this job I think a lot of times the press or how you come off on TV people want you to be very demonstrative in your emotions. And if you’re not sort of showing it in a very theatrical way, then somehow it doesn’t translate over the screen.

MICHELLE OBAMA: Someone said that there’s a perception out there that I feel confined or trapped in some way. To the extent that people have that perception, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I feel very blessed in this role.

What three words would you each use to describe the other?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Beautiful, smart and funny.

MICHELLE OBAMA: Smart, sportsman, and father.

Which historical figure do you most admire?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: [Abraham] Lincoln and [Mohandas] Gandhi are the two people, when I think about what they achieved, two very different men. … What I admire most about them is under huge pressure, monumental changes that they brought about but they never lost their moral bearings.

MICHELLE OBAMA: The first person that comes to mind is Coretta Scott King, because I think she’s somebody that I actually had a chance to meet as well, so she’s more real to me. Understanding the pressures, and the pain, and the ambiguity of the life she must have lived. And coming out on the other end of that, still hopeful and positive, and pushing for more for herself, for her family, for this nation. It’s impressive.

What is your biggest peeve about each other?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Oh, I don’t have one.

MICHELLE OBAMA: My list is too long.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: When I feel as if the people closest to me are happy and healthy and I’m connected with them, and when I feel as if I’m doing things that are making other people better and happy, then I feel real good. That’s when I’m at my peak.

MICHELLE OBAMA: Happiness is family — the health of family — just to keep it short. I could go on and on and on, but when my family’s good, I’m good.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

MICHELLE OBAMA: I’d be more patient. I think I’ve gotten more patient over the years. I’m constantly working on just being patient with myself and not letting my expectations get ahead of what’s happening now.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I deeply regret not having learned a musical instrument. And I regret not having focused more on Spanish when I was studying it in school. I would love to be able to speak Spanish fluently and play an instrument.

If you were to die and come back as a person as a thing, what would you want it to be?

MICHELLE OBAMA: I would want to be Bo. He’s got a great life. He’s got it good. Not a dog. But Bo.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, Barbara, I’m going to take a pass on this one.

Full Text December 17, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Honors Those Who Served in Iraq, as War Ends

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Weekly Address: Honoring Those Who Served in Iraq

Source: WH, 12-17-11

President Obama expresses the gratitude of the entire nation to the brave men and women who have served in the war in Iraq, and welcomes our troops home as we mark the official end to the war.

President Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Roosevelt Room of the White Hous

President Obama tapes the Weekly Address, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 12/16/11

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Honoring Those Who Served in Iraq, as the War Comes to An End

WASHINGTON— In this week’s address, President Obama expressed the gratitude of the entire nation to the brave men and women who have served in the war in Iraq, and welcomed our troops home as we mark the official end to the war.  This historic achievement would not be possible without the skill and dedication of the men and women of the United States Armed Forces.  They prove every day that when we come together, there is nothing we cannot do.  Now it’s time to follow their example, put aside partisanship, and rebuild our economy so that every American who wants to work can find a job, and everyone has the opportunity to make it if they try.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
December 17, 2011

This week marked an historic moment in the life of our country and our military.

For nearly nine years, our nation has been at war in Iraq.  More than 1.5 million Americans have served there with honor, skill, and bravery.  Tens of thousands have been wounded.  Military families have sacrificed greatly – none more so than the families of those nearly 4,500 Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice.  All of them – our troops, veterans, and their families – will always have the thanks of a grateful nation.

On Thursday, the colors our Armed Forces fought under in Iraq were formally cased in a ceremony in Baghdad before beginning their journey back home.  Our troops are now preparing to make their final march across the border and out of the country.  Iraq’s future will be in the hands of its own people.  Our war there will be over.  All of our troops will be out of Iraq.  And this holiday season, all of us can finally say: welcome home.

This is an extraordinary achievement – one made possible by the hard work and sacrifice of the men and women who had the courage to serve.  And there’s a lesson to learn from that – a lesson about our character as a nation.

See, there’s a reason our military is the most respected institution in America.  They don’t see themselves or each other as Democrats first or Republicans first.  They see themselves as Americans first.

For all our differences and disagreements, they remind us that we are all a part of something bigger; that we are one nation and one people.  And for all our challenges, they remind us that there is nothing we can’t do when we stick together.

They’re the finest our nation has to offer.  Many will remain in the military and go on to the next mission.  Others will take off the uniform and become veterans.  But their commitment to service doesn’t end when they take off the uniform – in fact, I’m confident the story of their service to America is just beginning.

After years of rebuilding Iraq, it is time to enlist our veterans and all our people in the work of rebuilding America.

Folks like my grandfather came back from World War II to form the backbone of the largest middle class in history.  And today’s generation of veterans – the 9/11 Generation of veterans – is armed with the skills, discipline, and leadership to attack the defining challenge of our time: rebuilding an economy where hard work pays off, where responsibility is rewarded, where anyone can make it if they try.

Now it is up to us to serve these brave men and women as well as they serve us.  Every day, they meet their responsibilities to their families and their country.  Now it’s time to meet ours – especially those of us who you sent to serve in Washington.  This cannot be a country where division and discord stand in the way of our progress.  This is a moment where we must come together to ensure that every American has the chance to work for a decent living, own their own home, send their kids to college, and secure a decent retirement.

This is a moment for us to build a country that lives up to the ideals that so many of our bravest Americans have fought and even died for.  That is our highest obligation as citizens.  That is the welcome home that our troops deserve.

Thank you.

White House Recap December 10-16, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Welcomes Home Troops at Fort Bragg — Marks the End of the War in Iraq

Full Text December 17, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Statement / Speech on Senate Passing Payroll Tax Extension

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Extending the Agreement to Extend the Payroll Tax Cut

Source: WH, 12-17-11

On Saturday afternoon President Obama took a moment to address reporters on the plan from Congress to extend the payroll tax cut. He said:

Today, Congress has finally agreed to extend this middle-class tax cut into next year.  And they’ve also agreed to another part of my jobs plan, extending unemployment insurance for millions of Americans who are out there trying as hard as they can to find a job.  This is spending money that also benefits families and businesses and the entire economy.  And it’s a lifeline that would have been lost for more than two and a half million people in the first two months of next year if Congress had not acted.

So I’m very pleased to see the work that the Senate has done.  While this agreement is for two months, it is my expectation — in fact it would be inexcusable for Congress not to further extend this middle-class tax cut for the rest of the year.  It should be a formality.  And hopefully it’s done with as little drama as possible when they get back in January.

Watch: Download Video: mp4 (33MB) | mp3 (3MB)

Full Text December 16, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the 71st General Assembly of the Union for Reform Judaism

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President at the 71st General Assembly of the Union for Reform Judaism

Source: WH, 12-16-11
Gaylord Hotel
National Harbor, Maryland

2:37 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you so much.  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you.  Please, please have a seat.  You’re making me blush.  (Laughter.)  Thank you, Eric, for that extraordinary introduction and for your many years of leadership in the Reform movement.  And even though it is a few hours early, I’d like to wish all of you Shabbat shalom.  (Applause.)

Now, there are a lot of familiar faces in the house:  David Saperstein.  (Applause.)  Alan Solow, Rick Jacobs.  (Applause.)  Howard Kohr.

I want to welcome Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.  (Applause.)  The cooperation between our militaries has never been stronger, and I want to thank Ehud for his leadership and his lifelong commitment to Israel’s security and the quest for a just and lasting peace.  (Applause.)

I also want to recognize Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, who’s with us here today.  (Applause.)

And finally, I want to give a shout-out to NFTY, I understand is in the house.  (Applause.)  Young people are going to lead the way, and they’re leading the way.  (Applause.)  There you go.  I’m fired up just listening to them.  (Laughter and applause.)

I am honored to be here because of the proud history and tradition of the Union for Reform Judaism, representing more than 900 congregations, around 1.5 million American Jews.

I want to congratulate all of you on the golden anniversary of the Religious Action Center.  (Applause.)   As Eric mentioned, When President Kennedy spoke to leaders from the RAC in 1961, I was three months old, so my memory is a bit hazy.  (Laughter.)  But I am very familiar with the work that you’ve done ever since, and so is the rest of America.

And that’s because you helped draft the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.  (Applause.)  You helped to liberate Soviet Jews.  (Applause.)  You have made a difference on so many of the defining issues of the last half-century.  And without these efforts, I probably wouldn’t be standing here today.  So thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  You have brought to life your faith and your values, and the world is a better place for it.

Now, since my daughter Malia has reached the age where it seems like there’s always a Bar or Bat Mitzvah — (laughter) — every weekend, and there is quite a bit of negotiations around the skirts that she wears at these Bat Mitzvahs — (laughter) — do you guys have these conversations as well?  (Laughter.)  All right.  I just wanted to be clear it wasn’t just me.  (Laughter.) What time you get home.

As a consequence, she’s become the family expert on Jewish tradition.  (Laughter.)  And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from her, it’s that it never hurts to begin a speech by discussing the Torah portion.  It doesn’t hurt.  (Laughter and applause.)

So this week — (applause) — congregations around the world will retell the story of Joseph.  (Applause.)  As any fan of Broadway musicals will tell you — (laughter) — there is a lot going on in this reading.  (Laughter.)  But many scholars have focused on a single word that Joseph uses when he replies to his father Jacob.

In Hebrew, that word is “hineni.”  It translates — (applause) — it translates to “Here I am.”  Hineni.  It’s the same word Abraham uses to reply to God before the binding of Isaac.  It’s the same word Moses uses when God summons him from the burning bush.  Hineni.  The text is telling us that while Joseph does not know what lies ahead, he is ready to answer the call.

In this case, “hineni” leads Joseph to Egypt.  It sets in motion a story of enslavement and exodus that would come to inspire leaders like Martin Luther King as they sought freedom.  It’s a story of persecution and perseverance that has repeated itself from Inquisition-era Spain to Tsarist Russia to Hitler’s Germany.

And in that often-tragic history, this place, America, stands out.  (Applause.)  Now, we can’t whitewash the past.  Like so many ethnic groups, Jews faced prejudice, and sometimes violence, as they sought their piece of the American Dream.  But here, Jews finally found a place where their faith was protected; where hard work and responsibility paid off; where no matter who you were or where you came from, you could make it if you tried.  Here in America, you really could build a better life for your children.

I know how much that story means to many of you, because I know how much that story means to me.  My father was from Kenya; my mother was from Kansas –- not places with a large Jewish community.  (Laughter.)  But when my Jewish friends tell me about their ancestors, I feel a connection.  I know what it’s like to think, “Only in America is my story even possible.”  (Applause.)

Now — I have to interrupt.  My friend Debbie Wasserman Schultz just got in the house.  (Applause.)  Now, the Jewish community has always understood that the dream we share is about more than just doing well for yourself.  From the moment our country was founded, American Jews have helped make our union more perfect.  Your parents, your grandparents, your great-grandparents, they remembered what it was like to be a stranger, and as a result treated strangers with compassion.  They pursued tikkun olam, the hard work of repairing the world.  (Applause.)

They fought bigotry because they had experienced bigotry.  They fought for freedom of religion because they understood what it meant to be persecuted for your religious beliefs.  Our country is a better place because they did.  The same values that bring you here today led Justice Brandeis to fight for an America that protects the least of these.  (Applause.)  Those same values led Jewish leaders to found RAC 50 years ago.  (Applause.)  They led Abraham Joshua Heschel to pray with his feet and march with Dr. King.  (Applause.)  And over the last three years, they have brought us together on the most important issues of our time.

When we began this journey, we knew we would have to take on powerful special interests.  We would have to take on a Washington culture where doing what’s politically convenient is often valued above doing what’s right; where the focus is too often on the next election instead of the next generation.  (Applause.)

And so time and time again, we’ve been reminded that change is never easy.  And a number of the rabbis who are here today, when I see them, they’d been saying a prayer.  They noticed my hair is grayer.  (Laughter.)  But we didn’t quit.  You didn’t quit.  And today, we’re beginning to see what change looks like.

And Eric mentioned what change looks like.  Change is the very first bill I signed, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which says in this country an equal day’s work gets an equal day’s pay.  That’s change.  (Applause.)

Change is finally doing something about our addiction to oil and raising fuel-efficiency standards for the first time in 30 years.  That’s good for our economy.  It’s good for our national security.  (Applause.)  And it’s good for our environment.

Change is confirming two Supreme Court justices who will defend our rights, including our First Amendment rights surrounding religion — happen to be two women, by the way.  That’s also a good thing.  (Applause.)

Change is repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” so that in the first time in history, you don’t have to hide who you love to serve the country that you love.  That’s change.  (Applause.)

Change is working with the Reform movement, and other faith-based groups, to reform the federal faith-based initiatives, improving the way we partner with organizations that serve people in need.  Change is health care reform that we passed after a century of trying, reform that will finally ensure that in the United States of America, nobody goes bankrupt just because they get sick.  That’s change.  (Applause.)

Change is the 2.5 million young people — maybe some of those NFTY folks who have already — (applause) — who have health insurance on their parents’ plans because of Affordable Care Act.  That’s change.  (Applause.)

It’s making family planning more accessible to millions of Americans.  (Applause.)  It’s insurance companies not being able to charge you more just because you’re a woman, or deny you coverage if you have breast cancer.  (Applause.)

Change is committing to real, persistent education reform, because every child in America deserves access to a good school and to higher education — every child.  (Applause.)

And change is keeping one of the first promises I made in 2008:  After nearly nine years, our war in Iraq is ending this month and our troops are coming home.  (Applause.)

That’s what change is.  And none of this would have happened without you.  That’s the kind of change we’ll keep fighting for in the months and years ahead.

And just last night, you took another step towards the change we need and voted for a set of principles of economic justice in a time of fiscal crisis.  (Applause.)  And I want to thank you for your courage.  That statement could not have come at a more important time.  For as you put it, we’re at a crossroads in American history.  Last Tuesday, I gave a speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, where I described that crossroads.  And I laid out a vision of our country where everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules.  (Applause.)  And these are not Democratic values or Republican values; they’re not Christian values or Jewish values or Hindu or Muslim values — they’re shared values, and we have to reclaim them.  We have to restore them to a central place in America’s political life.  (Applause.)

I said it last week, I’ll say it again:  This is not just a political debate.  This is a moral debate.  This is an ethical debate.  It’s a values debate.  It’s the defining issue of our time.  It is a make-or-break moment for the middle class and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class.  (Applause.)  And for those of us who remember parents or grandparents or great-grandparents who had to fight to get in the middle class, but they understood that the American Dream was available to them because we were all in it together — that’s what this is about.  (Applause.)  And last night, you reaffirmed the moral dimension of this debate.  (Applause.)

We have to decide who we are as a country.  Is this a place where everyone is left to fend for themselves?  The most powerful can play by their own rules?  Or do we come together to make sure that working people can earn enough to raise a family, send their kids to college, buy their own home, have a secure health care and a secure retirement?  That is the story that almost all of us here share, in one way or another.  This is a room full of folks who come from immigrants, and remember what it was like to scratch and claw and work.  You haven’t forgotten.  You know what it’s like to see those in your own family struggle.

Well, we have to apply those same values to the American family.  We’re not a country that says, you’re on your own.  When we see neighbors who can’t find work or pay for college or get the health care they need, we answer the call — we say, “Here I am.”  And we will do our part.  (Applause.)

That’s what you affirmed last night.  But more importantly, it’s what you affirm every day with your words and your actions.  And I promise you that as you pray with your feet, I will be right there with you every step of the way.  (Applause.)  I’ll be fighting to create jobs, and give small businesses a chance to succeed.  I’ll be fighting to invest in education and technology.  I will fight to strengthen programs like Medicare and Social Security.  (Applause.)  I will fight to put more money in the pockets of working families.  I won’t be afraid to ask the most well-off among us -– Americans like me –- to pay our fair share, to make sure that everybody has got a shot.  I will fight alongside you every inch of the way.  (Applause.)

And as all of you know, standing up for our values at home is only part of our work.  Around the world, we stand up for values that are universal — including the right of all people to live in peace and security and dignity.  (Applause.)  That’s why we’ve worked on the international stage to promote the rights of women — (applause) — to promote strategies to alleviate poverty — (applause) — to promote the dignity of all people, including gays and lesbians — (applause) — and people with disabilities — (applause) — to promote human rights and democracy.  And that’s why, as President, I have never wavered in pursuit of a just and lasting peace — two states for two peoples; an independent Palestine alongside a secure Jewish State of Israel.  (Applause.)  I have not wavered and will not waver.  That is our shared vision.  (Applause.)

Now, I know that many of you share my frustration sometimes, in terms of the state of the peace process.  There’s so much work to do.  But here’s what I know –- there’s no question about how lasting peace will be achieved.  Peace can’t be imposed from the outside.  Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them.  (Applause.)

And the fact that peace is hard can’t deter us from trying.  Because now more than ever, it’s clear that a just and lasting peace is in the long-term interests of Israel.  It is in the long-term interests of the Palestinian people.  It is in the interest of the region.  It is the interest of the United States, and it is in the interest of the world.  And I am not going to stop in pursuit of that vision.  It is the right thing to do.  (Applause.)

Now, that vision begins with a strong and secure State of Israel.  (Applause.)  And the special bonds between our nations are ones that all Americans hold dear because they’re bonds forged by common interests and shared values.  They’re bonds that transcend partisan politics — or at least they should.  (Applause.)

We stand with Israel as a Jewish democratic state because we know that Israel is born of firmly held values that we, as Americans, share:  a culture committed to justice, a land that welcomes the weary, a people devoted to tikkun olam.  (Applause.)

So America’s commitment — America’s commitment and my commitment to Israel and Israel’s security is unshakeable.  It is unshakeable.  (Applause.)

I said it in September at the United Nations.  I said it when I stood amid the homes in Sderot that had been struck by missiles:  No nation can tolerate terror.  And no nation can accept rockets targeting innocent men, women and children.  No nation can yield to suicide bombers.  (Applause.)

And as Ehud has said, it is hard to remember a time when the United States has given stronger support to Israel on its security.  In fact, I am proud to say that no U.S. administration has done more in support of Israel’s security than ours.  None.  Don’t let anybody else tell you otherwise.  It is a fact.  (Applause.)

I’m proud that even in these difficult times we’ve fought for and secured the most funding for Israel in history.  I’m proud that we helped Israel develop a missile defense system that’s already protecting civilians from rocket attacks.  (Applause.)

Another grave concern -– and a threat to the security of Israel, the United States and the world -– is Iran’s nuclear program.  And that’s why our policy has been absolutely clear:  We are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.  (Applause.)  And that’s why we’ve worked painstakingly from the moment I took office with allies and partners, and we have imposed the most comprehensive, the hardest-hitting sanctions that the Iranian regime has ever faced.  We haven’t just talked about it, we have done it.  And we’re going to keep up the pressure.  (Applause.)  And that’s why, rest assured, we will take no options off the table.  We have been clear.

We’re going to keep standing with our Israeli friends and allies, just as we’ve been doing when they’ve needed us most.  In September, when a mob threatened the Israeli embassy in Cairo, we worked to ensure that the men and women working there were able to get out safely.  (Applause.)  Last year, when raging fires threatened Haifa, we dispatched fire-fighting planes to help put out the blaze. (Applause.)

On my watch, the United States of America has led the way, from Durban to the United Nations, against attempts to use international forums to delegitimize Israel.  And we will continue to do so.  (Applause.)  That’s what friends and allies do for each other.  So don’t let anybody else tell a different story.  We have been there, and we will continue to be there.  Those are the facts.  (Applause.)

And when I look back on the last few years, I’m proud of the decisions I’ve made, and I’m proud of what we’ve done together.  But today isn’t about resting on our laurels.  As your tradition teaches, we’re not obligated to finish the work, but neither are we free to desist from it.  (Applause.)

We’ve got to keep going.  So today we look forward to the world not just as it is but as it could be.  And when we do, the truth is clear:  Our union is not yet perfect.  Our world is still in desperate need of repair.  And each of us still hears that call.

And the question is, how we will respond?  In this moment, every American, of every faith, every background has the opportunity to stand up and say:  Here I am.  Hineni.  Here I am.  I am ready to keep alive our country’s promise.  I am ready to speak up for our values at home and abroad.  I am ready to do what needs to be done.  The work may not be finished in a day, in a year, in a term, in a lifetime, but I’m ready to do my part.  (Applause.)

And I believe that with tradition as our guide, we will seize that opportunity.  And in the face of daunting odds, we will make the choices that are hard but are right.  That’s how we’ve overcome tougher times before.  That’s how we will overcome the challenges that we face today.  And together, we will rewrite the next chapter in America’s story and prove that our best days are still to come.

Thank you, God bless you, God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
3:08 P.M. EST

Full Text Campaign Buzz December 15, 2011: Fox News GOP Iowa Debate Transcript — Republican Presidential Candidates Debate in Sioux City Iowa — Last Debate of 2011 & Before Iowa Caucus

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

 

Eric Thayer for The New York Times

The seven Republican presidential candidates made their case to prospective voters in Sioux City, Iowa, on Thursday night in the last debate of the year. More Photos »

 

Republican Candidates Debate in Sioux City, Iowa December 15, 2011

PARTICIPANTS:
Representative Michele Bachmann (MN);
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (GA);
Former Governor Jon Huntsman (UT);
Representative Ron Paul (TX);
Governor Rick Perry (TX);
Former Governor Mitt Romney (MA); and
Former Senator Rick Santorum (PA)

MODERATOR:
Bret Baier (Fox News)

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich, since our last debate, your position in this race has changed dramatically. You are now physically at the center of the stage, which means you’re at the top of the polls, yet many Republicans seem conflicted about you. They say that you’re smart, that you’re a big thinker. At the same time, many of those same Republicans worry deeply about your electability in a general election, saying perhaps Governor Romney is a safer bet.

Can you put to rest once and for all the persistent doubts that you are, indeed, the right candidate on this stage to go up and beat President Obama?

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, let me just say to you and to all of our viewers, Merry Christmas. This is a great time for us to be here. And I hope that everybody across the country has a very joyous Christmas season.

I’ve been around long enough that I remember at this exact time in 1979 when Ronald Reagan was running 30 points behind Bill Clinton — behind Jimmy Carter. And if people had said, “Gosh, electability is the number-one issue,” they wouldn’t have nominated him.

What they said was: He believes what he’s talking about. He has big solutions. He can get the economy growing. He understands foreign policy, and he’s the person I want to have debate Jimmy Carter. He carried more states against Carter than FDR carried against Herbert Hoover in 1932.

I believe I can debate Barack Obama, and I think in seven three- hour debates, Barack Obama will not have a leg to stand on in trying to defend a record that is terrible and an ideology that is radical.

MODERATOR: Mr. Speaker, Governor Romney…[applause]

Governor Romney just yesterday said you’re an unreliable conservative. Now, obviously, he’s your opponent. He’s your opponent. But even Iowa Governor Terry Branstad said today he respects you greatly, but he openly questioned whether you had the discipline and focus to be president.

GINGRICH: Well, those are two different questions. The first — let me take them one by one, very quickly. I have a 90 percent American Conservative Union voting record for 20 years. I balanced the budget for four straight years, paid off $405 billion in debt. Pretty conservative. The first wealth entitlement reform of your lifetime, in fact, the only major entitlement reform until now was welfare. Two out of three people went back to work or went to school. Pretty conservative. First tax cut in 16 years, largest capital gains tax cut in American history, unemployment came down to 4.2 percent. Pretty conservative.

I think on the conservative thing, it’s sort of laughable to suggest that somebody who campaigned with Ronald Reagan and with Jack Kemp and has had a 30-year record of conservatism, is somehow not a conservative?

MODERATOR: And what about the concerns from Iowa governor Branstad?

GINGRICH: I think people have to watch my career and decide. I spent 16 years working to create the first Republican majority in 40 years. I spent years helping create the first balanced budgets. I am the longest serving teacher in the senior military, 23 years teaching one and two-star generals and admirals the art of war. I think it’s fair to say that my commitment to disciplined, systematic work is — is fairly obvious. You know, people just have to decide.

Part of the difference is, I do change things when conditions change. And part of the difference is I strive for very large changes and I’m prepared to really try to lead the American people to get this country back on the right track. And that’s a very large change.

MODERATOR: Now to my colleague, Megyn Kelly.

MODERATOR: A similar question to you, Congressman Paul. You have some bold ideas. Some very fervent supporters and probably the most organized ground campaign here in Iowa. But there are many Republicans inside and outside of this state who openly doubt whether you can be elected president. How can you convince them otherwise? And if you don’t wind up winning this nomination, will you pledge here tonight that you will support the ultimate nominee?

PAUL: Well, you know, fortunately for the Republican party this year, probably every — anybody up here could probably beat Obama, so. [laughter] [applause]

PAUL: So the challenge isn’t all that great on how we’re going to beat Obama. I think he’s beating himself. I think really the question is, is what do we have to offer? And I have something different to offer. I emphasize civil liberties. I emphasize a pro-American foreign policy, which is a lot different than policemen of the world. I emphasize, you know, monetary policy and these things that the other candidates don’t — don’t talk about. But I think the important thing is the philosophy I’m talking about is the Constitution and freedom.

And that brings people together. It brings independents into the fold and it brings Democrats over on some of these issues. So, therefore, I see this philosophy as being very electable, because it’s an America philosophy. It’s the rule of law. And it — it means that, you know, we ought to balance the budget. It opens up the door for saying — supporting my willingness to cut $1 trillion out of the budget the first year. [applause]

MODERATOR: Senator Santorum, no one has spent more time in Iowa than you. You have visited every county in the state. And yet while we have seen no fewer than four Republican candidates surge in the polls, sometimes in extraordinary ways, so far your campaign and you have failed to catch fire with the voters. Why?

SANTORUM: Well I’m counting on the people of Iowa to catch fire for me. That’s — that’s what this plan was all about from day one, is to go to all 99 counties and do already almost 350 town hall meetings here in Iowa. We’re organizing. We have a very clear message. That’s the thing that’s going to pay off for us in the end. And we present a clear contrast that really nobody else in this race does.

We present the contrast of someone who’s been a strong conviction conservative. You know where I stand. You can trust me because I’ve been there and I’ve done it. And I did it as a leader. When I was in the leadership, if you were a conservative and you had an issue that you wanted to get voted on or you wanted to get done in the United States Senate, you came to Rick Santorum. Because I was the guy fighting for the conservative cause when it was popular, and when it was unpopular.

The speaker had a conservative revolution against him when he was the speaker of the House. I had conservatives knocking down my door because I was the effective advocate for the principles that they believed in. That’s the contrast. We have — we need someone who’s strong in their political and personal life to go out and contrast themselves with the president and make him the issue in this campaign. And that’s why Iowans are beginning to respond. They like the accountability. They like the fact that I’ve been there and — and met with them and believe in them to lead this country.

MODERATOR: Chris Wallace? [applause]

MODERATOR: Thank you Brett. Governor Romney, I want to follow up on Brett’s line of questioning to the speaker. Because many of our viewers tell us that they are supporting Newt Gingrich because they think that he will be tougher than you in taking the fight to Barack Obama in next fall’s debates. Why would you be able to make the Republican case against the president more effectively than the speaker?

ROMNEY: Well lets step back and talk about what’s really happening in the country. What we’re finding across America is a lot of people are really hurting. 25 million people out of work, stopped looking for work or in part-time work that need full-time jobs. A lot of people in the middle-class who have seen incomes go down as the cost of their living has gone up and up and up. The American people care very deeply about having a president who’d get America right again.

And all of us on this stage have spoken over the last several debates about the fact that government doesn’t create jobs, but the private sector does. I spent my life, my career in the private sector. I understand, by the way from my successes and failures what it’s going to take to put Americans back to work with high-paying jobs.

I can debate President Obama based upon that understanding. And I’ll have credibility on the economy when he doesn’t. My successes include some businesses that were successful, like Staples and Bright Horizons Children’s Centers, and a steel mill in the middle of Indiana, some things I learned from.

And, by the way, some failures. I remember when founders of Jet Blue came to me and said, invest in us. I said, well, that will never work. Got it wrong. Now one of my favorite airlines.

I know what it takes to get this economy going. The president doesn’t. The proof is in his record. It’s terrible. My record shows that I can get America working again. [applause]

MODERATOR: Congresswoman Bachmann, no one questions your conservative credentials, but what about your appeal to independents who are so crucial in a general election? If you are fortunate enough to become the Republican nominee, how would you counter the efforts by the Barack Obama campaign to paint you as too conservative to moderate voters?

BACHMANN: Well, it’s very clear in the last five years I have won four elections as the first Republican woman ever to win out of the state of Minnesota. And I did that by attracting not only Republicans but also independents and Democrats as well.

Because people wanted to know, who could they trust? They knew that in me they may not always agree with me but they knew that I was a woman who said what she meant and meant what she said. And they respected that level of authenticity and sincerity.

And They also knew that I was an action person. That I wasn’t just going to sit on my hands. I was going to work and serve them. And that is what I’ve done. I have worked very hard in the United States Congress in the brief time that I have been there.

I’m 55 years old. I spent 50 years as a real person. And now five years going toe-to-toe with Barack Obama, taking him on, on every issue from Dodd-Frank to cap and trade to illegal immigration to “Obama-care.” And I will do that as president of the United States. That is my proven track record. [applause]

MODERATOR: Neil Cavuto?

MODERATOR: Thank you, Bret. Governor Perry, by your own admission, you are not a great debater. You have said as much, and downplayed debating skills in general. But if you were to become your party’s nominee, you would be going up against an accomplished debater in Barack Obama.

There are many in this audience tonight, sir, who fear that possibility. And don’t think you are up to the fight. Allay them of their concerns.

PERRY: Well, I want to share something with you. That as each one of these debates — I’m kind of getting where I like these debates. As a matter of fact, I hope Obama and I debate a lot. And I’ll get there early. And we will get it on and we will talk about our differences, which are great.

I’ll talk about what we have done in the state of Texas. I’ll talk about passing a balanced budget amendment to the United States Congress. I’ll talk about having the type of part-time Congress that I think Americans are ready for.

And, you know, there are a lot of people out there — I understand it, you know, there are a lot of folks that said Tim Tebow wasn’t going to be a very good NFL quarterback. There are people that stood up and said, well, he doesn’t have the right throwing mechanisms, or he doesn’t — you know, he is not playing the game right.

And, you know, he won two national championships. And that looked pretty good. We’re the national champions in job creation back in Texas. And so — but am I ready for the next level? Let me tell you, I hope I am the Tim Tebow of the Iowa Caucuses. [applause]

MODERATOR: Governor Huntsman, your campaign has been praised by moderates but many question your ability to galvanize Republicans, and energize the conservative base of the party. They are especially leery of your refusal to sign on to a no-tax-hike pledge. How can you reassure them tonight?

HUNTSMAN: I think people, Neil, are coming around to finding that I am the consistent conservative in this race. They are coming around to find that I am not going to pander. I am not going to contort myself into a pretzel to please any audience I’m in front of. And I’m not going to sign those silly pledges.

And you know what else? I’m not going to show up at a Donald Trump debate. [laughter] [applause]

HUNTSMAN: This nation has been downgraded. This nation is on the cusp of the third government shutdown. We have been kicked around as people. We are getting screwed as Americans. And I’m here to tell you, we are going to lead charge in doing what must be done in addressing the two deficits we have.

We have an economic deficit in this country, and is it going to shipwreck the next generation unless we can deal with it. And we have a trust deficit. People in this country don’t trust the institutions of power anymore.

We need to go to Congress and we need to say, you need term limits. We need to go to Congress and say, we need to close that revolving door that allows members of Congress to file on out and lobby.

And we need to go to Wall Street and say, no trust there either, because we have banks that are “too big to fail.” And I’m telling you, Neil, I’m the person who is going to leave the charge on all of the above and fix the economic deficit, but I’m going fix this country’s trust deficit, because we’re too good as people to be in the hole we’re in and we deserve better. [applause]

MODERATOR: As Governor Huntsman just mentioned, there is a real drama playing out real-time in Washington right now with the threat of yet another government shutdown, the possibility that millions of Americans could see their payroll taxes go up. If you’re president, as is the case now, and you are at lagerheads with one chamber of congress, how would you handle this situation?

30 seconds down the line. Start with Senator Santorum.

SANTORUM: Well, you do what leaders do. They go out and try to bring people together. They tell a narrative and remind Americans who we are and how we solve our problems. This country is a great country because we believe in free people.

In 2008, the American public were convinced by Barack Obama that they needed someone to believe in, that they could believe in. We now understand that what we need is some president who believes in them. That is the narrative. Go out and motivate the American public, have them talk to their representatives in Washington to pass solutions that believe in bottom up, how we built America, free markets, free people.

MODERATOR: Governor perry?

PERRY: After three years, you would think this president could learn how to work in Washington, D.C. If there has ever been a greater example of on-the-job training, this is it. Couldn’t have been at a worst time for America.

We need a president who has that governing, executive experience, someone who understands how to work with both sides of the aisle. Frankly, we should never have gotten this point at all.

The idea that he walked away from the work at hand and we had a supercommittee, that was put in place, that was going to fail on its face, that is the type of leadership that this president has been an absolute failure at and the type that I have been working at as the governor of Texas for the last 11 years.

MODERATOR: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: Bret, this is a question that ought to take longer than 30 seconds, even 60 seconds. This is the question of the presidency. What is leadership?

I had the disadvantage of some respects of becoming governor and a state with a legislature 85 percent Democrat. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. To get anything done, I had to learn how to get respect of the speaker of the house and the senate president and Democratic leaders. I found a way to do that, to find common ground from time to time. And when crisis arose, we were able to work together. That is what has to happen.

There are Democrats who love America as Republicans do, but we need to have a leader in the White House, that knows how to lead. I have had four leadership experiences in my life where I have lead enterprises. I want to use that experience to get America right again. And I will do it as president.

MODERATOR: We will have many more questions about gridlock in Washington and this topic overall. But Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: I want to start by reinforcing what Governor Romney just said. Leadership is the key. When you have a Sal Alinsky radical who is a campaigner in chief who doesn’t do the job of president, because he’s too busy trying to run for re-election, the constitution can’t work. I helped Ronald Reagan when Tip O’Neil was speaker to get enough votes to pass the Reagan program despite a Democratic majority.

As speaker, one reason some people aren’t happy with my leadership I worked things out with Bill Clinton to get welfare reform, a tax cut and four balanced budgets signed in a way that required bipartisanship, because you couldn’t get anything done otherwise. So leadership matters immensely in getting this done.

MODERATOR: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: The main problem we have is the government is too big and the debt is too big and you have to cut spending so you have to get people to come together. They have been coming together to increase spending for decades. We have to get them to come together to do the opposite.

But there are two factions up there, one wants welfare and the other want warfare around the world and policing the world. So you go to people who like warfare you say give me half of the cuts that have to be in the welfare. Go to welfare people and say give me the cuts to cut the oversea warfare spending and bring people together and live up to what they say.

MODERATOR: Congresswoman Bachmann?

BACHMANN: As president of the United States I would have called all 535 members of congress to come sit down in Washington last summer looking at the debt ceiling crisis. And what I would have done is said there are three principles we are going to follow, because the first one needs to be no new taxes. We’re taxed enough already.

The second principle needed to be that government can’t spend any more money than what it is taking in.

And the third principle had to be that we were going to follow the constitution of the United States. What that would have meant we would have looked at $15 trillion debt in the eye and said we are not going to add one more cent to it. We are going to prioritize our spending. And we’re going to put the reform in these long-term programs now, not wait eight months or five months. We are going to reform right now.

MODERATOR: Governor Huntsman.

HUNTSMAN: Leadership is action, not words. And I learned a very important lesson about this when I ran for governor in 2004. I promised the people of my state as governor that we would create the finest state in America for business. I ran on a flat-tax proposal. It took us two years; we got it delivered.

Flat — I hear a lot of people talking about tax reform and a flat — we actually got one done. The finest business in the United States, we delivered to our people. Health care reform without a mandate. The list went on and on and on.

I ran for re-election. I got almost 80 percent of the vote, not because I’m a great politician, but I learned some lessons in leadership, that people want to be told where you can take them, and then they want you to deliver.

MODERATOR: Thank you. We have many more interesting questions coming up. We have a new feature for you tonight, as well. How well are the candidates answering the questions? We’re asking you to weigh in on Twitter. Tweet the candidate’s last name and the hash-tag #answer if you think they’re tackling the question or the hash-tag #dodge if you think they’re avoiding the question. Then you can go to foxnews.com/debate to see those results.

Now, during the break, you can head there and check it out. And if you have a suggested question or a follow-up to something you’ve heard, tweet @bretbaier. We’ll be using some of those suggested questions tonight.

MODERATOR: After the break, the candidates on the increasingly sharp tone of this campaign, the economy, and a topic that has not been raised in any of the debates so far. Stay with us.

[commercial break]

[begin video clip]

STRAWN: Good evening from Sioux City in northwest Iowa. I’m Matt Strawn, chairman of the Iowa GOP. Four years after repelling Barack Obama to the White House, Iowa has seen a surge of new Republican voters as Iowa Republicans have posted 33 straight months of voter registration gains. And as those Republicans prepare to vote in just 19 days, we understand the responsibility that comes with the privilege of being first in the nation.

And because the fight to reclaim the White House extends far beyond Iowa’s borders, we want you to be the first to know. So text “Iowa” to 91919 to know the results and other updates. Thank you and now let’s return to the final debate before the January 3 Iowa Caucus.

[end video clip]

MODERATOR: Thank you Mr. Chairman and welcome back to Sioux City Iowa and the Republican presidential debate. For the next round of questions, I turn to my colleague, Chris Wallace.

MODERATOR: Thanks Brett. Candidates, I’m going to call this section, for lack of a better word, D.C. Culture. Governor Romney, I’m going to begin with you. Speaker Gingrich says that you should give back the millions of dollars you made, in his words, “bankrupting companies and laying off employees.” You respond that he has, in your words, “an extraordinary lack of understanding of how the economy works.”

But his comments dovetail with arguments you hear from Democrats that your belief in, what’s called, the creative destruction of capitalism, shows a hardheartedness. What do you think of what Speaker Gingrich had to say about you? And are you vulnerable to that kind of attack?

ROMNEY: I think it’s a great opportunity for us. Because I think the president is going to level the same attack. He’s going to go after me and say, you know, you — in businesses that you’ve invested in, they didn’t all succeed. Some failed. Some laid people off. And he’ll be absolutely right. But if you look at all the businesses we invested in, over 100 different businesses, they added tens of thousands of jobs.

In — in the real world that the president has not lived in, I — I actually think he doesn’t understand that not every business succeeds. That not every entrepreneur is lucky enough to do as well as the entrepreneurs that I described at Bright Horizons and Staples and that steel company and many, many others. I myself have had the chance of leading four different organizations. Each of those was highly successful, in part because of hard work and in part because of good luck.

In the real world, some things don’t make it. And I believe I’ve learned from my successes and my failures. The president I’ll look at and say, Mr. President, how — how did you do when you were running General Motors as the president, took it over? Gee, you closed down factories. You closed down dealerships. And he’ll say, well I did that to save the business. Same thing with us, Mr. President. We did our very best to make those businesses succeed. I’m — I’m pleased that they did and I’ve learned the lessons of how the economy works.

This president doesn’t know how the economy works. I believe to create jobs, it helps to have created jobs.

MODERATOR: Thank you. [applause]

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich, on the Freddie Mac website in 19 — in rather 2007 you said this, I like the GSE, or government sponsored enterprise like Freddy Mac model, making home ownership more affordable is a policy goal that I believe conservatives should embrace. Now in an earlier debate, a recent debate, you said that politicians like Barney Frank, who in your words, profited from the environment that led to the financial meltdown, should go to jail.

Now that it turns out that you were on the Freddie Mac payroll to the tune of more than $1.6 million, how do you answer critics who say that you’re being hypocritical.

GINGRICH: I think pretty straightforward. Barney Frank was in public office with direct power over Freddie Mac. He exploited that power just as Chris Dodd was in public office when he got special bargains from Countrywide, a firm that went broke. They were using power. I was a private citizen, engaged in a business like any other business. Now, if you read the whole thing that they posted, I said they need more regulations and I want to go back to my point about helping people buy houses.

I worked for years with Habitat for Humanity. I think it’s a good conservative principle to try to find ways to help families that are right at the margin learn how to budget, learn how to take care of a house, learn how to buy a house. And I — I’m not going to step back from the idea that in fact we should have as a goal, helping as many Americans as possible be capable of buying homes. And when you look for example at electric membership co-ops, and you look at credit unions, there are a lot of government sponsored enterprises that are awfully important and do an awfully good job.

MODERATOR: Congressman Paul you are — and having been in this town for what 48 hours now, you are all over Iowa TV these days with a negative ad about Speaker Gingrich. You accuse him of selling access and playing the corrupt revolving door game. What about the explanation that you just heard, that he’s in the private sector and this is free enterprise?

PAUL: Well he has a different definition of the private sector than I have. Because it’s a GSE, government sponsored enterprise. That’s completely different. It’s — it’s a government agency. They get the money and the sponsorship. They get mixed up. It’s — it’s the worst kind of economy.

You know, pure private enterprise, more closely probably to what Governor Romney is involved with, but if it’s government-sponsored, it’s a mixture of business and government. It’s very, very dangerous. Some people say, if it goes to extreme, it becomes fascism, because big business and big government get together.

So, yes, they get money. And I was talking about that for a long time, the line of credit, the excessive credit from the Federal Reserve, the Community Reinvestment Act for 10 years or so. The Austrian economists knew there was a bubble. And at this time, nobody was listening or doing anything in the Congress.

And then to go to work for them and get money from them, it literally is — it’s literally coming from the taxpayer. They went broke. We had to bail them out. So indirectly, that was money that he ended up getting. They’re still getting money from a government- sponsored enterprise. It’s not a free-market enterprise.

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich, 30 seconds to respond?

GINGRICH: Well, let me just go back to what I said a minute ago. The term government-sponsored enterprise has a very wide range of things that do a great deal of good. Go across this state and talk to people in the electric membership co-ops. Go across this state and talk to people in the credit unions. There are a lot of very good institutions that are government-sponsored.

And, frankly, the idea that anything which in any way has ever touched government could raise questions about doctors dealing with Medicare and Medicaid and a whole range of other government activities. There are many things governments do. I did no lobbying of any kind for any organization. And that was — that was a key part of every agreement we had.

MODERATOR: Well, let me pick up with that with you, Congresswoman Bachmann, because you accused Speaker Gingrich of peddling his influence with congressional Republicans to help the companies that paid him tens of millions of dollars since he’s left office. Given his denial over time and again tonight that he’s — denies ever having lobbied, what is your evidence, hard evidence that he engaged in influence-peddling?

BACHMANN: Well, it’s the fact that — that we know that he cashed paychecks from Freddie Mac. That’s the best evidence that you can have, over $1.6 million. And, frankly, I am shocked listening to the former speaker of the House, because he’s defending the continuing practice of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

There’s a big difference between a credit union and Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. And they were the epicenter of the mortgage financial meltdown. I was trying to see these two entities put into bankruptcy, because they, frankly, need to go away, when the speaker had his hand out and he was taking $1.6 million to influence senior Republicans to keep the scam going in Washington, D.C. That’s absolutely wrong. We can’t have as our nominee for the Republican Party someone who continues to stand for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. They need to be shut down, not built up. [applause]

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: Well, the easiest answer is, that’s just not true. What she just said is factually not true. I never lobbied under any circumstance. I never went in and suggested in any way that we do this.

In fact, I tried to help defeat the housing act when the Democrats were in charge of the House. And if you go back and talk to former Congressman Rick Lazio, he’ll tell you, when we were passing housing reform while I was speaker, I never at any time tried to slow down the reform effort. In fact, I helped him pass the reform bill. And I think some of those people ought to have facts before they make wild allegations.

BACHMANN: Let me — let me…

MODERATOR: Yes, go ahead. Congresswoman?

BACHMANN: Well, after the debates that we had last week, PolitiFact came out and said that everything that I said was true. And the evidence is that Speaker Gingrich took $1.6 million. You don’t need to be within the technical definition of being a lobbyist to still be influence-peddling with senior Republicans in Washington, D.C., to get them to do your bidding.

And the bidding was to keep this grandiose scam of Freddie Mac going. That’s — that is something that our nominee can’t stand for. We have to shut down these government enterprises. And we’ve got to end them. And I think that’s shocking that he’s saying that.

GINGRICH: And let me just say two things…

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich, quickly. [applause]

GINGRICH: OK, I want to say two things. First, my policy is to break up both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It is not anything like what she just described.

Second, I want to state unequivocally, for every person watching tonight, I have never once changed my positions because of any kind of payment. Because I — the truth is, I was a national figure who was doing just fine, doing a whole variety of things, including writing best-selling books, making speeches. And the fact is, I only chose to work with people whose values I shared and having people have a chance to buy a house is a value I believe still is important in America.

MODERATOR: Now to Neil Cavuto with questions about the economy.

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich, not to make you a target, but you…

GINGRICH: It goes with being right here.

MODERATOR: You just responded this morning, sir, tweeted originally and with follow-up statements as a major break through of this plan on the part of Republican congressman Paul Ryan working with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden to find a sort of updated way to keep Medicare solvent. This would involve a choice, those who like the program as it is can stick with it. They will be a private option, et cetera.

But earlier on, this might have confused Congressman Ryan and others for whom you had said was the initial Medicare fix that it was right wing social engineering. Later on you backed off that comment, said there was much you could find in Mr. Ryan’s plan to like.

Can you blame Governor Romney for saying you have a consistency problem on this issue?

GINGRICH: I’m not in the business of blaming Governor Romney. I’m in the business to try and understand what we can do as a policy. If you go back and look at the “Meet the Press” quote I didn’t want reference him. And I’ll come back and say it again, a free society should make very big decisions with the support of the people.

Now you can earn that support. You can win a communications argument. Reagan was very, very good at that. But the only point I was making on “Meet the Press” is when you are going to have a major change, you have to communicate with the American people in order to ensure that they are for you.

Now Governor Romney came up, frankly, with a very good variation on the Ryan plan which allowed the maintenance of the current system. Paul has adopted that. And I think did a very brave act by Senator Ron Wyden, you now have a Democrat willing to co-sponsor the bill. I’ve endorsed the concept today. I think it is a big step forward. And I think Governor Romney deserves some of the credit for having helped figure out a way to make this thing workable.

So, I think it’s a nice thing to actually have a bipartisan plan in Washington that we could actually look at in a positive way and hope would help save Medicare.

MODERATOR: Governor Romney do you want to respond to that compliment?

ROMNEY: Yeah. Thank you.

Yeah, I hope people understand just how big today is for this country. We all understand that the spending crisis is extraordinary with $15 trillion now in debt, with the president that’s racked up as much debt as all the other presidents combined.

But there is another problem we have, which is our national balance sheet. Which are the obligations that we have made, that we have no funding behind. And it adds up to $62 trillion.

And today Republicans and Democrats came together with Senator Wyden and Congressman Paul Ryan to say we have a solution to remove that $62 trillion. This is a big day for our kids and grand kids. It’s an enormous achievement. It means we finally have the prospect of dealing with somebody which has the potential of crushing our future generations and a good Democrat and a good Republican came together.

This is the impact of people on both sides of the aisle that care about America at a critical time. And I applaud him. It’s good news.

MODERATOR: Congressman Paul, as you have been warning, we are on the brink of another government shutdown because of the spending that you call out of control. But haven’t you contributed to that spending problem yourself, sir, supporting over the years earmarks that have benefited your district and your state?

Back in 2009, you explained this by saying if I can give my district any money back, I encourage that. I don’t think that the federal government should be doing it but if they are going to allot the money, I have a responsibility to represent my people.

Isn’t that what they call a mixed message, congressman?

PAUL: Well, it’s a mixed question is the problem, because the real message is you should include in your question also you have never voted once for an earmark.

No, it’s a principle that I deal with, because if the government takes money from you and you fill out your tax form, you take your deductions. I look at that the same way in our communities. They take our money, they take our highway funds. and we have every right to apply for them to come back.

As a matter of fact, it’s a bigger principle for me than that. I think this whole thing is out of control on the earmarks, because I think the congress has an obligation to earmark every penny, not to deliver that power to the executive branch. What happens when you don’t vote for the earmarks it goes in to the slush fund, the executive branch spends the money then you have to grovel to the executive branch and beg and plead and say oh, please return my highway funds to me.

So if this whole principle of budgeting that is messed up, but I never vote, I never voted for an earmark. But I do argue the case for my — the people I represent to try to get their money back if at all possible.

MODERATOR: But isn’t that the same thing of having your cake and eating it too? You can complain about earmarks but then if there are provisions there that help your district or your state that’s different? If 434 other members felt the same way, how would we ever fix the problem?

PAUL: Yes, but you’re missing the point. I don’t complain about earmarks, because it is the principle of the Congress meeting their obligation. But if everybody did what I did, there would be no earmarks. The budget would be balanced and we’d be cutting about 80 percent of the spending. So that would be the solution. [applause]

PAUL: But you also want to protect the process. You want to emphasize the responsibility of the Congress, and not delivering more power to the president. I would be a different kind of president. I wouldn’t be looking for more power.

Everybody wants to be a powerful executive and run things. I, as the president, wouldn’t want to run the world. I don’t want to police individual activities and their lifestyle. And I don’t want to run the economy.

So that is an entirely different philosophy, but it’s very, very much in our tradition and in a tradition of our Constitution. [applause]

MODERATOR: Governor Perry, you said the only way to stop our spending problem is to get Congress to stop spending. Quoting you, sir, you said: “I vetoed 82 bills in my first year as governor of Texas. I have a record of keeping spending under control.”

But as Texas agriculture commissioner, you oversaw a loan guarantee program that, as The Austin American-Statesman reported at the time, had so many defaults that the state had to stop guaranteeing bank loans to start-ups in the agribusiness, and eventually bailed out the program with the tax-payer money.

So aren’t you guilty of the same behavior you rail against as a presidential candidate?

PERRY: Well, two things. Number one, don’t believe everything you read in The Austin American-Statesman. And the second side of it is, we had that program put in place and the state did not bail out, those programs worked as they were supposed to work. Just like in any bank or any business, you are going to have some that fail.

But I want to go back and talk about just a second the issue of where we had a big back-and-forth about whether Newt was involved in untoward activity or not. And I’ll be real honest with you, the issue we ought to be talking about on this stage is how you really overhaul Washington, D.C.

And the idea that you can’t tell the difference between lobbying and consulting, the idea that we have Congress staying there as many days as they do and the salary that they have, that is the reason I have called for a part-time Congress.

Cut their pay in half. Cut their time in Washington in half. Cut their staff in half. Send them home. Let them get a job like everybody else back home has and live within the laws of which they passed. [applause]

PERRY: We do that and you pass a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution, and the conversations that we’ve been having up here will be minor.

MODERATOR: By the way, Governor, they worked 151 days last year. How much more would constitute part-time?

PERRY: I would suggest to you maybe 140 days every other year like we do in Texas. [laughter] [applause]

MODERATOR: Governor Huntsman, as you’re probable familiar, sir, the Chinese have just left huge tariffs of up to 22 percent on imports of some American sport utility vehicles, larger American cars.

Now as a former ambassador to China and one who has argued for an adult conversation with Beijing, how would you respond to what some are calling a childish move on the part of a country that routinely flouts international trade rules?

HUNTSMAN: Well, it’s a large and complicated relationship. It’s part trade, it’s part North Korea, it’s part Iran, part Pakistan, part Burma, part South China Sea, party military-to-military engagement. You move one end of the relationship, it impacts the other.

The best thing to do, invite a few dissidents who are seeking freedom and want to expand democracy in China to the United States embassy, the kind of thing that I used to do. That is what matters to the Chinese people who are looking for change and looking for reform these days.

That is the kind of thing that over time is going to create enough swell of change and reform in that country that is going to make the U.S.-China relationship successful longer term.

Because eventually, we need more than just a transactional relationship. We need shared values infused into this relationship. Let’s face it, the 21st Century will only have two relationships that matter: the United States and China.

For that to succeed, we need shared values. That is democracy. That is human rights. That is recognition of the role of the Internet in society. That is greater tolerance toward religion, and so much more.

As president of the United States, I would drive that home. And I would make it a relationship that worked.

MODERATOR: Senator Santorum, right now American companies have trillions parked overseas because of the very high tax rates here. Would you support a tax holiday to bring that money back, but only under, as some Democrats have suggested, the condition that these companies hire workers with that money?

SANTORUM: Yes, what I proposed in the “Made in the USA” plan is that if money has been made overseas, that it can come back at 5.5 percent rate, which is what we did back in 2004, and it did cause a lot of money to come back. But I put a special rate, zero, if they bring it back and invest it in plant and equipment in America.

We need to rebuild the manufacturing base of this country. When I traveled around to all of these counties in Iowa, I went to a lot of small towns, like Sidney and Hamburg down in Fremont County, and I was in — the other day in Newton, where they’ve lost jobs to overseas. Why? Because we’re not competitive.

We need to have our capital be competitive and — and come here free so they can invest it. We need to cut the corporate tax on manufacturers to zero. Why? Because there’s a 20 percent cost differential between America and our nine top trading partners. And we — and that’s excluding labor costs.

We need to get our taxes down. We need to repeal regulations. I promise to repeal every single Obamacare regulation. Every single Obama regulation that cost businesses over $100 million, I can repeal it. I can’t repeal laws, but as a president, you can repeal — excuse me, regulations. And I will repeal every single one of them so business can get going in this country. [applause]

MODERATOR: Thank you, Neil.

This question is from Twitter. And it is for you, Governor Romney. @LeonJamesPage tweets, “Over the next 10 years, in what sector or industries will most of the new jobs be created?”

ROMNEY: The great thing is, the free market will decide that. Government won’t. And we have in a president someone who, again, doesn’t understand how the economy works and thinks that, as a government, he can choose, for instance, which energy sector is going to be successful. So he invests as a venture capitalist in certain car companies that have electric battery power, not understanding that perhaps Toyota and G.M. could do a better job than Tesla and Fisker.

The president decides to go into Solyndra because he thinks that solar power is going to be the future. Look, let markets determine what the future course of our economy will be.

What do I happen to think will be the future? I think manufacturing is going to come back. I think manufacturing, for some of the reasons Rick just indicated, it’s going to come back to the U.S. I also think, of course, that high-tech is going to be an extraordinarily source — extraordinary source of growth for a long time in this country.

And energy. We have extraordinary energy resources in this country. Opening those up — our president holds them off, doesn’t give them the permits to start drilling and getting the natural gas and oil — those are some of the areas that are extraordinarily powerful. This economy has every potential to continue to lead the world. Our president thinks America is in decline. It is if he’s president. It’s not if I’m president. This is going to be an American century. [applause]

MODERATOR: Thank you, Governor Romney.

Now to Megyn Kelly with the next round of questions. And this is a new topic, the judiciary.

MODERATOR: This is something we have heard pressure little about in this election, but something that’s an important issue for a lot of voters.

Speaker Gingrich, let me start with you. You have proposed a plan to subpoena judges to testify before Congress about controversial decisions that they make. In certain cases, you advocate impeaching judges or abolishing courts altogether. Two conservative former attorneys general have criticized your plan, saying it alters the checks and balances of the three branches of government. And they used words like “dangerous,” “outrageous,” and “totally irresponsible.” Are they wrong?

GINGRICH: Well, the first half is right. It alters the balance, because the courts have become grotesquely dictatorial, far too powerful, and I think, frankly, arrogant in their misreading of the American people. [applause]

There’s an entire paper at newt.org — I’ve been working on this project since 2002, when the Ninth Circuit Court said that “one nation under God” is unconstitutional in the Pledge of Allegiance. And I decided, if you had judges who were so radically anti-American that they thought “one nation under God” was wrong, they shouldn’t be on the court. Now, we have… [applause]

I taught a short course in this at the University of Georgia Law School. I testified in front of sitting Supreme Court justices at Georgetown Law School. And I warned them: You keep attacking the core base of American exceptionalism, and you are going to find an uprising against you which will rebalance the judiciary.

We have a balance of three branches. We do not have a judicial dictatorship in this country. And that’s what the Federalist papers promised us. And I would — just like Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln and FDR — I would be prepared to take on the judiciary if, in fact, it did not restrict itself in what it was doing.

MODERATOR: What of the former attorney general? [applause]

These are conservative former attorneys generals who have criticized the plan, as I say, dangerous, ridiculous, outrageous, totally irresponsible.

GINGRICH: Sure. I’d ask, first of all, have they studied Jefferson, who in 1802 abolished 18 out of 35 federal judges? Eighteen out of 35 were abolished.

MODERATOR: Something that was highly criticized.

GINGRICH: Not by anybody in power in 1802. [laughter] [applause]

Jefferson himself was asked, is the Supreme Court supreme? And he said, that is absurd. That would be an oligarchy. Lincoln repudiates the Dred Scott decision in his first inaugural address in 1861 and says, no nine people can make law in this country. That would be the end of our freedom. So I would suggest to you, actually as a historian, I may understand this better than lawyers. And as lawyers those two attorneys general are behaving exactly like law schools, which have overly empowered lawyers to think that they can dictate to the rest of us. [applause]

MODERATOR: Congresswoman Bachmann. [applause]

MODERATOR: You heard Speaker Gingrich — you heard Speaker Gingrich reference the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and that is one of the courts that he has suggested abolishing. It is a left-leaning court and as he points out, as he has done before, he believes it’s an activist court because in part it was the court that — that issued a ruling striking down “under God” in the pledge years ago. A decision that was reversed by the Supreme Court leader.

Do you agree that the Ninth Circuit should be abolished? And if so, what would then happen if a Democratic president came into office and we had a democratically controlled Congress that later took aim at the right-leaning federal courts. Where would it end?

BACHMANN: Well where it needs to end is under the Constitution of the United States. That’s the real issue. Are the courts following the Constitution or aren’t they following the Constitution? It isn’t just Congress that gets it wrong, it’s the courts that get it wrong as well.

MODERATOR: But what do you do about it?

BACHMANN: Well what we need to do about it is have the — both the president and the United States Congress take their authority back and I would agree with Newt Gingrich that I think that the Congress and the president of the United States have failed to take their authority. Because now we’ve gotten to the point where we think the final arbitrator of law is the court system. It isn’t. The intention of the founders was that the courts would be the least powerful system of government.

And if we give to the courts, the right to make law, then the people will have lost their representation. They need to hold onto their representation. That’s why I commend Iowans, because they chose not to retain three judges that decided that marriage would be… [applause]

BACHMANN: …and Iowans decided to take their Constitution back. That’s what the American people need to do, take the Constitution back and as president of the United States, I would only appoint judges to the Supreme Court who believe in the original intent of the Constitution.

MODERATOR: Congressman Paul let me ask you, do you believe in — in what the two candidates have said? That it would potentially be OK to abolish courts like the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals entirely, or judges, impeach them if Congress and the president don’t decide — decide they don’t like their rulings?

PAUL: Well the Congress can get rid of these courts. If — if a judge misbehaves and is unethical and gets into trouble, the proper procedure is impeachment. But to subpoena judges before the Congress, I’d really question that. And if you get too careless about abolishing courts, that could open up a can of worms. Because it — you — there — there could be retaliation. So it should be a more serious — yes we get very frustrated with this. But the whole thing is, if you just say, well we’re going to — OK there are 10 courts, lets get rid of three this year because they ruled a — a way we didn’t like.

That — that to me is, I think opening up a can of worms for us and it would lead to trouble. But I really, really question this idea that the — the Congress could subpoena judges and bring them before us. That’s a real affront to the separation of the powers.

MODERATOR: Governor Romney, many people believe that the way to reign in, so-called activist judges is to be careful in appointing or nominating the judges in the first place. As governor of Massachusetts, you passed over Republicans for three quarters of the judicial vacancies you faced, instead nominating Democrats or Independents. With that track record, why should Republicans believe that you will appoint conservatives to the bench if you become president?

ROMNEY: Well I have to let you know that in Massachusetts, I actually don’t get to appoint the judges. I get to nominate them. They go before something known as the Governor’s Council. It consists of, I believe, seven members, all of whom are elected Democrats. And so to be able to get my appointments through, I had to have people of both parties. And the people I put forward, all were individuals who I vetted very carefully to make sure they would follow the rule of law.

These were largely people going into criminal courts. I chose overwhelmingly people who had been prosecutors in their prior experience. And so we had that kind of justice. Now, let — let me note that the key thing I think the president is going to do, is going to be with the longest legacy. It’s going to be appointing Supreme Court and justices throughout the judicial system. As many as half the justices in the next four years are going to be appointed by the next president.

This is a critical time to choose someone who believes in conservative principles. Now I — I don’t believe that it makes a lot of sense to have Congress overseeing justices. The — the — the only group that has less credibility than justices perhaps is Congress. So lets not have them be in charge of overseeing the — the justices. [applause]

ROMNEY: However — however, we don’t call it we the judges. We call it we, the people. And we do have the ability to remove justices that need to be impeached. We also have the ability to pass new amendments if we think a justice is taken the nation in the wrong direction. And where a statute has been misinterpreted, congress can write a statute that clarifies that point. We have ability to rein in excessive judges.

MODERATOR: All right. And I just want to go quickly down the line. With just a name, favorite Supreme Court justice. Senator Santorum — current.

SANTORUM: I have to say of these folks over here have been talking about taking on the courts. I have done it. I actually campaigned in Iowa against those justices and I was the only one on this panel that did it, number one.

Number two, when the partial birth abortion status struck down by the Supreme Court, George Bush got elected we actually went back and I worked with Henry Hyde and we passed another bill, told the Supreme Court they were wrong. Passed it, George Bush signed it and it was overturned.

We can talk about reform and doing something to confront the courts, or you can actually go out and make it happen. I made it happen. And it’s tops.

MODERATOR: And quickly down the line, favorite current Supreme Court justice.

PERRY: I’ll be as quickly as I can, but when I talk about overhauling Washington, D.C., one of the things I talk about besides a part-time congress is no longer having lifetime terms for the federal bench. I think that is one of the ways that you keep these unaccountable legislators from rogues to try to dictate to the rest of us. And I would say, you know, you pick Alito, Roberts, Thomas, pick one.

MODERATOR: All right. Would you pick one, please.

ROMNEY: Yes. Roberts, Thomas, Alito, and Scalia.

MODERATOR: All right. Speaker Gingrich.

GINGRICH: I think that is a pretty darned good list. And I would sign up for those guys. Scalia is probably the most intellectual of the four. They’re all four terrific judges.

I mean, if we had nine judges as good as those four we would be happy with the Supreme Court.

MODERATOR: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: From my point they’re all good and they’re all bad, because our country a long time ago split freedom up to two pieces — personal liberty and economic liberty. And the judges, as is congress and as is nation, think it’s two issues. It’s but one issue. So therefore, congress is on this issue as well as our judges.

MODERATOR: Last chance to say a name.

PAUL: No, I’m not going to — all of them are good and all of them are bad. How is that?

MODERATOR: Congresswoman Bachmann?

BACHMANN: Well, I do think that there are good justices. And I would put Antonin Scalia at the top of the list. I would also include Clarence Thomas and John Roberts and Alito. I think they are all marvelous. It could be easy to pick any one of them.

MODERATOR: Governor Huntsman?

HUNTSMAN: One of the reasons I’m optimistic about the future of this country is because we have rule of law. Let’s face it. One of the great things that this country has that very few other countries have. So the Judiciary is critically important.

It’s also important to note that governors actually some experience appointing judges. You got to make those hard decisions. And as I reflect on those who today serve I’ve got to say Justice Roberts and Justice Alito fit the bill very, very nicely.

MODERATOR: Thank you, all.

MODERATOR: That was a valiant effort.

MODERATOR: I tried. I tried.

MODERATOR: Coming up, there is a lot of ground to cover in this next hour. The threat from Iran and other foreign policy hot spots, up- and-down oil prices, immigration and border issues, and controversial social issues. Stay with us. Remember, tweet @bretbaier with a question or followup. We’ll be right back.

[commercial break]

MODERATOR: Welcome back to Sioux City, Iowa, and the Republican presidential debate. [applause]

Fired-up crowd, they’re ready for hour number two. And we begin hour number two with an important topic, foreign policy.

Congressman Paul, many Middle East experts now say Iran may be less than one year away from getting a nuclear weapon. Now, judging from your past statements, even if you had solid intelligence that Iran, in fact, was going to get a nuclear weapon, President Paul would remove the U.S. sanctions on Iran, included those added by the Obama administration. So, to be clear, GOP nominee Paul would be running left of President Obama on the issue of Iran?

PAUL: But I’d be running with the American people, because it would be a much better policy. For you to say that there is some scientific evidence and some people arguing that maybe in a year they might have a weapon, there’s a lot more saying they don’t have it.

There’s no U.N. evidence of that happening. Clapper at the — in our national security department, he says there is no evidence. It’s no different than it was in 2003. You know what I really fear about what’s happening here? It’s another Iraq coming. There’s war propaganda going on. [applause]

And we’re arguing — to me, the greatest danger is that we will have a president that will overreact and we will soon bomb Iran. And the sentiment is very mixed. It’s — it’s very mixed even in Israel. You know, there — the — a head of the security for Israel, who just recently retired, said that it wouldn’t make sense to do this, to take — to take them out, because they might be having a weapon. So I would say that the greatest danger is overreacting. There is no evidence that they have it. And it would make more sense — if we lived through the Cold War, which we did, with 30,000 missiles pointed at us, we ought to really sit back and think and not jump the gun and believe that we are going to be attacked. That’s how we got into that useless war in Iraq and lost so much in Iraq. [applause]

MODERATOR: Congressman Paul, the — the question was based on the premise that you had solid intelligence, you actually had solid intelligence as President Paul, and yet you still at that point would — would pull back U.S. sanctions and again, as a GOP nominee, would be running left of President Obama on this issue?

PAUL: Yes. All we’re doing is promoting their desire to have it. Ehud Barak, the defense minister for Israel, said that — that, if he were in — in Iran, he would probably want a nuclear weapon, too, because they’re surrounded, for geopolitical reasons. So that’s an understanding.

So the fact that they are surrounded, they have a desire. And how do we treat people when they have a nuclear weapon? With a lot more respect. What did we do with Libya? We talked to them. We talked them out of their nuclear weapon. And then we killed them.

So, it makes more sense to work with people. And the whole thing is that nuclear weapons are loaded over there. Pakistan, India, Israel has 300 of them. We have our ships there. We’ve got to get it in a proper context. We don’t need another war. [cheering and applause]

MODERATOR: Understood. And you make that point quite a lot. I’m going to — I’ll try one more time. Iran is reportedly running exercises on closing the Strait of Hormuz, a key passage, as you know, for global trade. Now what should the U.S. response be if Iran were to take that dramatic step?

PAUL: This is — the plans are on the book. All they talk about is, when are we, the West, going to bomb Iran? So why wouldn’t they talk about — they don’t have a weapon, they don’t have a nuclear weapon, why wouldn’t they try to send out some information there and say, you know, if you come and bomb us, we might close the Straits of Hormuz down.

So already the president, and I think he is wisely backing off on the sanctions, because it’s going to be an economic calamity if you take all the oil out of Europe. So I think that makes sense.

He knows these sanctions are overreaching. Sanctions are an act of war when you prevent goods and services from going into a country. We need to approach this a little differently. We have 12,000 diplomats in our services. We ought to use a little bit of diplomacy once in a while. [applause]

MODERATOR: OK. Just a reminder again, that little friendly beep is when you wrap up. Senator Santorum, you have a very different thought about the threat from Iran. For several years, according to the U.S. military leaders, Iran has provided training, funding, and lethal arms to jihadists killing American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Are those acts of war?

SANTORUM: They have been continually. They just tried to plan an attack here in this country, killing the Saudi ambassador. They have been at war with us since 1979. The IEDs that have killed so many soldiers, they are manufactured in Iran.

This is — Iran is not any other country. It is a country that is ruled by the equivalent of al Qaeda on top of this country. They are a radical theocracy. The principle virtue of the Islamic Republic of Iran, according to President Ahmadinejad, is not freedom, opportunity, it’s martyrdom.

The idea, Ron, that mutual assured destruction, like the policy during the Cold War with the Soviet Union would work on Iran when their principle virtue is martyrdom, is — mutual assured destruction with respect to Iran would not be any kind of, you know, idea of preventing a war. It would be an inducement to a war.

This is what their objective is. Their objective is to in fact create a calamity. This is what their theology teaches. They believe that it is their mission to take on the West. They don’t hate us because of what we do or the policies we have. They hate us because of who we are and what we believe in.

And we need to make sure that they do not have a nuclear weapon. And we should be working with the state of Israel right now. We should use covert activity. And we should be planning a strike against their facilities and say, if you do not open up those facilities and not close them down, we will close them down for you. [cheering and applause]

MODERATOR: Governor Romney, this week President Obama said the U.S. asked Iran to give our downed high-tech drone back. As you know, the Iranians have it on display. They claim they are extracting data from it and they have no intention of giving it back.

Yesterday you called the president’s response, quote, “extraordinarily weak and timid.” Now in your book you write, quote, “weakness invites challenges, acts of intimidation, acts of aggression, and sometimes war.”

So in this case, are President Obama’s actions inviting war?

ROMNEY: Absolutely. Does timidity and weakness invite aggression on the part of other people? Absolutely. A strong America, a strong America is the best ally peace has ever known. This is a president with — the spy drone being brought down, he says pretty please? A foreign policy based on pretty please? You have got to be kidding.

This is a president who fundamentally believes that this next century is the post-American century. Perhaps it’s going to be the Chinese century. He is wrong. It has to be the American century. America has to lead the free world. [applause]

ROMNEY: And the free world has to lead the entire world. The right course under President Obama’s plans is to shrink our military, thinking somehow if we appease or accommodate the tyrants of the world, that the world will be safer. He’s wrong.

The right course for America is to strengthen our economy, our values, our families, and our military. We need to rebuild our Navy and go from nine ships a year to 15. We need to modernize our Air Force. We need 100,000 new additional troops in our military. We need to take care of our veterans in the way they deserve.

It is time for us to recognize once again a strong military does not create war. A strong America prevents people from trying to test us around the world. [applause]

MODERATOR: Congresswoman Bachmann, today is the official end of the U.S. military operations in Iraq, and there is real concern, as you know, about growing Iranian influence inside Iraq. Also, the deputy prime minister there has expressed concerns about the country possibly slipping into civil war. Are there any circumstances as president where you would send U.S. troops back in to Iraq?

BACHMANN: Well, I think clearly the biggest mistake that President Obama has made — and there are many when it comes to foreign policy — has been the decision that he made regarding Iraq. He was essentially given on a silver platter victory in Iraq, and he’s choosing intentionally to lose the peace.

And we all know what’s going to happen. We know that Iran is going to be the hegemon and try to come into Iraq and have the dominant influence. And then Iraq will essentially have dominance from the Persian Gulf all the way to the Mediterranean through its ally, Syria.

And with all due respect to Ron Paul, I think I have never heard a more dangerous answer for American security than the one that we just heard from Ron Paul. And I’ll tell you the reason why. [applause]

And the reason — the reason — the reason why I would say that is because we know, without a shadow of a doubt, that Iran will take a nuclear weapon, they will use it to wipe our ally, Israel, off the face of the map, and they’ve stated they will use it against the United States of America.

Look no further than the Iranian constitution, which states unequivocally that their admission — their mission is to extend jihad across the world and eventually to set up a worldwide caliphate. We would be fools and knaves to ignore their purpose and their plan. [applause]

MODERATOR: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: Obviously, I would like to see a lot less nuclear weapons. I — I don’t want Iran to have a nuclear weapon. I would like to reduce them, because there would be less chance of war.

But to declare war on 1.2 billion Muslims and say all Muslims are the same, this is dangerous talk. Yeah, there are some radicals, but they don’t come here to kill us because we’re free and prosperous. Do they go to Switzerland and Sweden? I mean, that’s absurd.

If you think that is the reason, we have no chance of winning this. They come here and explicitly explain it to us. The CIA has explained it to us. It said they come here and they want to do us harm because we’re bombing them.

What is the whole world about the drone being in Iran? And we’re begging and pleading, and how are we going to start a war to get this drone back? Why were we flying the drone over Iran? Why do we have to bomb so many countries? Why are we in — have 900 bases, 130 countries, and we’re totally bankrupt? How are you going to rebuild the military when we have no money? How are we going to take care of the people? [applause]

So I think — I think this wild goal to have another war in the name of defense is the dangerous thing. The danger is really us overreacting. And we need a strong national defense. And we need to only go to war with a declaration of war, and just carelessly flouting it and starting these wars so often.

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich, is Congressman Paul…

[crosstalk]

BACHMANN: And the point would be — can I respond to that? Can I…

MODERATOR: Go ahead.

BACHMANN: Can I respond? And the problem would be the greatest under-reaction in world history if we have an avowed madman who uses that nuclear weapon to wipe nations off the face of the Earth. And we have an IAEA report that just recently came out that said, literally, Iran is within just months of being able to obtain that weapon. Nothing could be more dangerous than the comments that we just heard.

[crosstalk]

MODERATOR: All right, 30 seconds, Dr. Paul.

PAUL: There is no U.N. report that said that. It’s totally wrong on what — what you just said.

BACHMANN: It’s an IAEA report.

PAUL: That — that is not — that is not true. They — they produced information that led you to believe that, but they have no evidence. There’s no — been no enrichment of these bombs.

BACHMANN: And if we agree with that…[booing]… if we agree with that, the United States’ people could be at risk of our national security.

PAUL: OK. She took my time, so I’d like — I’d like to finish. If she thinks we live in a dangerous world, she ought to think back when I was drafted in the 1962 with nuclear missiles in Cuba. And Kennedy calls Khrushchev and talks to them, and talks them out of this so we don’t have a nuclear exchange.

And you’re trying to dramatize this, that we have to go and — and treat Iran like we’ve treated Iraq and kill a million Iraqis, and 8,000-some Americans have died since we’ve gone to war. You cannot solve these problems with war. You can solve the problems if we follow our constitution and go to war only when we declare the war, win them and get them over with instead of this endless fighting and this endless attitude that we have enemy all around the world.

BACHMANN: But as president, I stand on the side of…

MODERATOR: Thank you — we have been liberal with our friendly ding.

Mr. Speaker, you have been openly critical of the United Nations. For example on the topic of Palestinian efforts for statehood at the U.S. you said, quote, “we don’t need to fund a corrupt institution to beat up on our allies.”

In a Gingrich administration would the United States leave the UN?

GINGRICH: No, but we would dramatically reduce our reliance on it. And we’d confront certain realities. People talk about a peace process. 11 missiles were fired in Israel last month, last month. Over 200 missiles fired at Israel this year. You think if we had 11 missiles fired in the United States we — well, this president anyway would say gee, maybe we could communicate and you would like us more.

But I don’t think there is — you know, I think most of us, most Americans would say you know if you are firing missiles at me, that may not be a good gesture. OK? The United Nations camps that we have helped fund have been training grounds for terrorism.

As Congressman Bachmann pointed out the last time we debated, she was over there with textbooks that are clearly teaching terrorism that are indirectly funded by the United States through the UN.

We have no obligation to lie and every obligation to tell the truth about how bad the UN bureaucracy is and why it ought to be fixed or we ought to radically cut what we’re paying.

MODERATOR: Governor Huntsman, do you agree?

HUNTSMAN: I think the United Nations serves a useful purpose in the area of peacekeeping and some humanitarian work. Beyond that, I hate the anti-Americanism. I hate the anti-Israel sentiment.

But let me tell you what this nation needs and what it is going to get under a Huntsman administration. It needs a new foreign policy. We need to update it a little bit. We are still trapped a little bit in the Cold War, George Tenet mind set.

I want to make sure that first and foremost we have a foreign policy, and a the national security strategy that recognizes that we have to fix our core here at home. We are weak. This economy is broken. When we are strong, we project values of goodness that transform and change people like no military can — liberty, democracy, human rights and free markets.

We have got to fix this core first and foremost if we are going to be effective overseas. And that is what i want to focus on.

Second of all, I want to make sure that…

MODERATOR: Governor Huntsman, that is the time.

HUNTSMAN: Let me just get the second point.

Second of all, I want a foreign policy — I want a foreign policy that is driven by economics first. Let me just tell you, its used to break my heart sitting in embassy in Beijing the second largest embassy in the world looking at Afghanistan with 100,000 troops. We are securing the place, the Chinese go in and they win the mining concession. There is something wrong with that picture.

We need to change the way we’re doing business.

MODERATOR: OK. Two dings in that one.

Governor Perry, given the grim details of the recent United Nations report on the Syrian regime killing and torturing its own people, thousands of people said to be killed at the hands of the Assad regime. At what point should the U.S. consider military intervention there?

PERRY: Well, I have already called for a overfly zone — no fly zone over Syria already. They are Iran’s partner. They are attached at the hip. And we have to stand firm with our ally in that region, Israel. There needs to be no space between the United States and Israel. And this administration has absolutely bungled.

It is the most muddled foreign policy that I can ever remember in my lifetime whether it was in ’09 when we had the opportunity either covertly, overtly or other ways of helping the Iranian citizens as they were trying to overthrow that repressive regime, whether it was working with Mubarak, and trying to have a moderate to come in and replace him, whether it was leading from behind, as we have seen in Libya, and now we have seen this president, as Mitt and Newt have both talked about, asking the Iranians to give us back that drone.

What we should have done is one of two things — we either destroy it or we retrieve it. He took a third route, which was the worst and the weakest, and that is to do nothing.

MODERATOR: Now to my colleague Neil Cavuto — Neil?

MODERATOR: Candidates, I want to move on if we can to energy issues. And Speaker Gingrich, I would like to begin with you. As you know, the president, sir, has rejected any efforts to tie a payroll tax cut extension with the Keystone pipeline and to reopen it and to explore reopening it as well.

He says that any other way to connect the two would be akin to adding an extraneous issue. Given his opposition and — and the likelihood that the Keystone issue could be up in the air for a year or more, how do you recommend Republicans deal with this to force the issue?

GINGRICH: You know, Neil, I sometimes get accused of using language that’s too strong, so I’ve been standing here editing. [laughter]

I’m very concerned about not appearing to be zany. And…[laughter]

But — but I want to paint a picture for all of us. The Iranians are practicing closing the Straits of Hormuz. The Canadian prime minister has already said to the American president, if you don’t want to build this pipeline to bring — create 20,000 American jobs and bring oil through the United States to the largest refinery complex in the world, Houston, I want to put it straight west in Canada to Vancouver and ship the oil direct to China, so you’ll lose the jobs, you’ll lose the throughput, you’ll lose 30 or 40 years of work in Houston.

And the president of the United States cannot figure out that it is — I’m using mild words here — utterly irrational to say, I’m now going to veto a middle-class tax cut to protect left-wing environmental extremists in San Francisco, so that we’re going to kill American jobs, weaken American energy, make us more vulnerable to the Iranians, and do so in a way that makes no sense to any normal, rational American. [applause]

MODERATOR: No offense, sir, but you didn’t answer my question. [laughter]

What would — what would you do to try to move on this within a year?

GINGRICH: What — what should the congressional Republicans do? They should attach it to the middle-class tax cut, send it to president, force him to veto it, send it a second time. We had to send welfare reform to Bill Clinton three times. He vetoed it twice. By the third time, the popular outrage was so angry, 92 percent of the country wanted to have welfare reform, he decided to sign it. It happened to be an election year.

I’d say to the president, you want to look like you are totally out of touch with the American people? Be my guest, but I’m not backing down when we’re right and you are totally wrong. [applause]

MODERATOR: Governor Huntsman, on the same issue [inaubible] the delay, as you’ve pointed out, stands to threaten thousands of jobs, in a recent speech, you said potentially up to 100,000 jobs. But the president’s supporters say a rushed decision could cost the environment a great deal more. What I’d like to ask you, Governor, is there any condition under which a President Huntsman would say the need to protect our land trumps the need to provide more jobs?

HUNTSMAN: It’s always going to be a balancing act. We’ve got land that everybody respects and appreciates, but the job we’ve got to undertake as American people is to fuel our future.

We have no choice. I mean, our economy has hit the wall. I want to get rid of that heroin-like addiction we have based on imported oil. Three hundred billion dollars transfers every year from this country to a lot of unpredictable and relationships that are no more than transactional.

In order to get to where this country needs to be, we need a relationship with Canada from which we can draw raw materials. But I also want to make sure that I’m able as president to disrupt the oil monopoly. There’s a one-product monopoly in terms of product distribution in this country. If we’re going to achieve real energy independence, we’re going to have to be able to draw from a multiplicity of products like natural gas.

We wake up to the reality [inaubible] in this country that we have more natural gas than Saudi Arabia has oil, I say, how stupid are we? When are we going to get with the picture and start converting to transportation, converting to manufacturing, converting to electricity and power generation? It is completely within our grasp.

It’s going to require a president who understands that — that delicate balance and who’s going to be able to go out with an aggressive plan toward energy independence — independence that gets it done for this country. [applause]

MODERATOR: Congresswoman Bachmann, you — you were very critical, Congresswoman, of the extended shutdown after the BP oil spill that I believe lasted upwards of five, six months, in terms of a moratorium. I was wondering, though, Congresswoman, if you were president and there were such a disaster again, what would be an acceptable period for oil drilling to cease, for you to get to the bottom of a problem?

BACHMANN: Well, what we needed to do was find out what the true cause of the problem was. And the Obama administration wasn’t willing to have a true and thoughtful investigation to get to the bottom of it.

President Obama jumped to conclusions, and he put a moratorium on accessing American oil in the Gulf region that actually hurt the economy more than the original disaster. But I wanted to add something on Keystone. Keystone is extremely important, the pipeline.

This pipeline is one that would have brought at least 20,000 jobs, at least $6.5 billion worth of economic activity. And if I was president of the United States, I wouldn’t have taken the decision that President Obama did. His entire calculus was based upon his reelection effort. Because quite frankly, the radical environmentalists said to President Obama, you pass Keystone, we’re not going to do your volunteer door-to-door work.

That’s what Barack Obama has done to this country. He’s put his reelection over adding jobs and making the United States energy independent. I would have made the decision as president of the United States, we would put Keystone online immediately. [applause]

MODERATOR: Governor Perry, you — you have railed against the special treatment of Ford and Solyndra as have the other candidates here tonight. And particularly the tax code incentives for green technologies and allowances that have been made for this industry. But it’s nexus, governor you have afforded the same attention to the oil industry. Back in 2003, you signed a bill that reduced the tax paid by some natural gas companies that have helped them reap since, better than $7 billion in tax savings. So I — I guess what I’m saying is, are you guilty of the same behavior as governor, favoring an industry, that you claim this president has, favoring the green industry?

PERRY: Today is the 220th anniversary of the signing of the Bill of Rights. And one of those, the Tenth Amendment, I like a lot. And the reason is because that’s how our founding fathers saw this country set up. Where we had these laboratories of innovation. It — it should be in the purview and the decision making process of a state. If they want to put tax policies in place that helps make them be more competitive.

PERRY: We did it not only for the oil and gas industry, but we also did it for the alternative industry — alternative energy industry. And the wind industry. They came in droves, made Texas the number one wind energy producing state in the nation. But government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers from Washington, D.C. That’s the difference. If in the states — I’ll promise you Terry Branstad in this state, he knows how to put tax policy, regulatory policy in place to make his state be more competitive. And you need 50 states out there competing with each other and Washington out of their hair. [applause]

MODERATOR: Thank you Neil. And a reminder, go to Foxnews.com/debate to see how well the candidates are answering the questions with your votes. Coming up, we’ll ask about border issues, immigration and a topic that got a lot of attention on Twitter, plus some controversial social issues as well. Stay tuned. [applause]

[commercial break]

MODERATOR: Welcome back to Sioux City, Iowa. And our Republican presidential debate here in northwestern Iowa.

These people tend to like it I think so far. I think they do. You have to next round of questions on board issues and immigration.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Bret.

The question is for you, Governor Perry. This topic received traffic on Twitter. You have joined the 57 House Republicans who have called for the attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder, to resign in the wake of the failed federal gun tracking program Operation Fast and Furious.

So far, there is no clear proof that Mr. Holder knew about the controversial aspects of this operation. And he points out that he actually helped stop it when it came to his attention. Are you and other Republicans politicizing this issue as General Holder claims?

PERRY: If I’m the president of the United States, and I find out that there is an operation like Fast and Furious and my attorney general didn’t know about it, I would have him resign immediately. You cannot, the president of the United States comes to El Paso, Texas, earlier this year and proclaims that the border of Texas and Mexico, the U.S. border with Mexico is safer than it’s ever been.

Well, let me tell you, I’ve been dealing with this issue for 11 years. I’ve sent Texas Ranger recon teams there. Our law enforcement men and women face fire from across the border or in the U.S. side from these drug cartels. It is not safe there. Our country is at jeopardy.

If we are going to be able to defend America, from Iran, from Hezbollah, from Hamas, that are using Mexico as a border, as a way to penetrate in the southern part of the United States. Venezuela has the largest Iranian embassy in the world there. We know what is going on. It is time for this country to have a real conversation about a Monroe Doctrine again like we did against the Cubans in the 60s.

MODERATOR: Senator Santorum, what say you to the attorney general’s claim that the Republicans are politicizing this issue?

SANTORUM: I would agree with Governor Perry that if he was the attorney general under me, I would have him — I would fire him. I wouldn’t have him resign, I’d fire him. This is something he should have been aware of, something that should have been stopped, it shouldn’t have started in the first place.

I think Governor Perry is also right. And this is something I’ve been saying now for many years, which is we need to pay much more attention to what is going on in our own hemisphere, not only do they have the largest embassy in Venezuela, there are flights from Tehran, from Damascus to Caracas. And those flights stop at a military base before they come into the civilian base.

There are training camps, jihaddist training camps in Central and South America. They’re working with the drug cartels. And they are planning assaults on the United States. That is what we know is going on right now. And we are doing — this president has ignored that threat. Has insulted our allies like Honduras and Colombia, deliberately. Has embraced — as he has the other scoundrels in the Middle East, has embraced Chavez and Ortega and others in Central and South America, not promoting our values and interests.

We need a brand new initiative, an initiative that says that we will promote our values in this region and we will stop the spread of terrorism in Central and South America. [cheering and applause]

MODERATOR: Governor Romney, last week you said that the 11 million illegal immigrants now in this country must return to their countries of origin before they can apply for legal status.

You also said that we are not going to go around and round up the 11 million. Why would these illegal immigrants voluntarily leave America just to apply for a chance at legal status, especially when they have your assurance that if they stay put we are not going to round them up?

ROMNEY: Let me tell you how that works. We are going to have an identification card for people who come here legally. The last campaign, actually, Rudy Giuliani talked about this time and time again.

We would have a card, a little plastic card, bio-information on it. Individuals who come here legally have that card. And when they apply for a job, they are able to show that to the employer. The employer must then check it with E-Verify or a similar system.

Newt Gingrich points out, let Federal Express — or not Federal Express, American Express or MasterCard or Visa process that, immediately determine if the card is valid or not.

So people come here legally, they’ve got that card. If employers hire people without that card, the employer gets sanctioned just like they do for not paying taxes. Very serious sanctions.

So you say to people who are here illegally today, you are not going to be able to work here unless you register, unless — and we will give you transition period of time, and then ultimately you have got to go home, apply for permanent residency here or citizenship, if you want to try and do that, but get in line behind everyone else.

My view is, people who have come here illegally, we welcome you to apply but you must get at the back of the line, because there are millions of people who are in line right now that want to come here legally. I want those to come here legally. Those that are here illegally have to get in line with everybody else. [applause]

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich, is that realistic?

GINGRICH: Well, let me start and say that Congressman Steve King has just introduced the IDEA act, which would in fact reinforce this model. Because it would take away all tax deductibility for anyone who is employed illegally, and once you have something like E-Verify effectively working, you really build a big sanction.

We disagree some on what you do with very, very long-term people here. I think somebody who has been here 25 years and has family here and has local family supporting them ought to have some kind of civilian certification.

But let me say on this whole issue of immigration. On day one, I would drop all the lawsuits against Arizona, South Carolina, and Alabama. It is wrong for the government. [cheering and applause]

GINGRICH: I would propose — I would propose cutting off all federal aid to any sanctuary city that deliberately violated federal law. [cheering and applause]

GINGRICH: And I would begin the process of completing control of the border by January 1st, 2014. Those steps would begin to fundamentally change the entire way of behavior towards getting control of legality in the United States. [applause]

MODERATOR: Governor Huntsman, a recent FOX News poll showed that 66 percent of voters believe that the government should allow a pass to citizenship for the illegal immigrants who are already here in this country.

Nearly three-quarters of Latinos agree. Given these majorities and given the growing importance of the Latino vote in the general election, does the Republican presidential candidate need to take a more moderate approach on this issue if he hopes to defeat President Obama?

HUNTSMAN: Well, I think the Republican candidate has to speak based on our values, the values of the Republican Party. Limited government, pro-growth, these are the things that the Hispanic and the Latino populations are going to be looking for.

You don’t need to pander. You just need to be — we need to be who we are. But in terms of immigration, and illegal immigration, this president has so screwed up this economy, nobody is coming anymore. There is nothing to come for. I mean, there’s not a problem today. Just take a look at the numbers coming across.

I mean, the numbers, it was posted the other day, lowest in four decades. So I say, you know, we have got to secure the border, of course. We have got to deal with the 11, 12 million people who are here.

But let’s not lose sight of the fact that legal immigration is an engine of growth for this country. Half of the Fortune 500 companies in this country today were founded by immigrants.

We have lost probably — well, our market share of travel and tourism has gone from 7 percent to 12 percent because our visa system is so screwed up in this nation. So you’ve got to look at the Department of Homeland Security.

You’ve got to completely remake the way that people are moving back and forth, our H1-B visa system, how we are dealing with the movement of people, how we are dealing with immigration. This is an economic development opportunity and we are missing it. [applause]

MODERATOR: Chris Wallace has the next round of questions.

MODERATOR: Thanks, Bret. Governor Romney, you have changed your position in the last 10 years on abortion, on gay rights, on guns. You say keeping an open mind is a strength, but some of your critics say that every one of these moves has been to your political advantage. When you were running in Massachusetts, you took liberal positions. Running now as president, you take more conservative positions. Is that principle or is it just politics?

ROMNEY: Well, I’ll begin by taking exception with your list there. I did change my…

MODERATOR: Which — which one?

ROMNEY: Gay rights.

MODERATOR: Well…

ROMNEY: I’m firmly in support of people not being discriminated against based upon their sexual orientation. At the same time, I oppose same-sex marriage. That’s been my position from the beginning.

With regards to abortion, I changed my mind. With regards to abortion, I had the experience of coming in to office, running for governor, saying, you know, I’m going to keep the laws as they exist in the state. And they were pro-choice laws, so effectively I was pro-choice.

Then I had a bill come to my desk that didn’t just keep the laws as they were, but would have created new embryos for the purpose of destroying them. I studied it in some depth and concluded I simply could not sign on to take human life. I vetoed that bill. [applause]

I went to the — to the Boston Globe. I described for them why I am pro-life. Every decision I took as governor was taken on the side of life. I am firmly pro-life.

I’ve learned over time, like Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush and others, my experience in life over, what, 19 — 17, 18, 19 years has told me that sometimes I was wrong. Where I was wrong, I’ve tried to correct myself.

MODERATOR: If I may just pick up, you say the one issue which I was wrong on was gay rights. Correct, sir?

ROMNEY: Mm-hmm. What was the — what was the — I don’t recall the whole list, but I…

[crosstalk]

MODERATOR: It was abortion, gay rights, and guns.

ROMNEY: You know, I’ve always supported the Second Amendment. And — and we had a piece of legislation that came to our desk that would have — that provided an assault weapon ban. The gun lobby favored it because it also did things that the gun lobby wanted. Working with them, we decided to sign the bill. So you can say, well, I’ve changed my position on that, but I’ve been pro-gun and continue to be pro-gun.

MODERATOR: If I may, sir, in 1994, when you were running for the Senate, you wrote a letter to the Log Cabin Republicans in which you said, “I am more convinced than ever before that, as we seek full equality for America’s gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent,” who was Ted Kennedy.

In 1994, you also said you supported not only an assault weapons ban, but also a five-day waiting period. And in 2002, when you were running as governor, you said that you supported the tough gun control laws in Massachusetts. And then as you say in 2004, you also signed an assault weapons ban.

So you are still more of a champion of gay rights than Ted Kennedy was?

ROMNEY: I think — I think — I think you just said exactly what I said, which is this.

MODERATOR: I…

ROMNEY: Let me — let me go back and say that. I do not believe in discriminating against people based upon their sexual orientation. There are some people that do. I had a member of my administration, my cabinet who was — who was gay. I didn’t ask justices that I was looking to appoint — rather, people who are applicants for jobs — what their sexual orientation was.

I believe as a Republican, I had the potential to fight for antidiscrimination in a way that would be even better than Senator Kennedy, as a Democrat, was expected to do so.

At the same time, Chris, in 1994 — and throughout my career — I’ve said I oppose same-sex marriage. Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman. My view is — let me tell you — protects — protect the sanctity of marriage, protect the sanctity of life. That’s my view. I’ve had it for many years.

Thank you. [applause]

MODERATOR: Senator Santorum, you have campaigned on social issues as much or perhaps more than any other candidate on this stage. Are you persuaded that Governor Romney has made these changes or what he says in some cases are not changes, based on principle and not political expedience?

SANTORUM: Governor Romney, when he was governor of Massachusetts, was faced with a Supreme Court decision that said that same-sex — that traditional marriage was unconstitutional. In that court decision, the court said that they did not have the power to change the law in Massachusetts and rule same-sex marriage legal. Why? Because in the Massachusetts constitution, it states specifically that only the governor and the legislature can change marriage laws.

Governor Romney — the court then gave the legislature a certain amount of time to change the law. They did not. So Governor Romney was faced with a choice: Go along with the court, or go along with the constitution and the statute. He chose the court and ordered people to issue gay marriage licenses, and went beyond that. He personally as governor issued gay marriage licenses. I don’t think that is an accurate representation of his position of saying tolerance versus substantively changes in the laws.

I’ve had a strong, consistent track record of standing up for the values of this country, not discriminating. It had a no- discrimination policy in my office. But we’re not talking about discrimination. We’re talking about changing the basic values of our country.

MODERATOR: Governor Romney, 30 seconds to respond, sir. [applause]

ROMNEY: That is a very novel understanding of what our Supreme Court of Massachusetts did. I think everybody in Massachusetts and the legal profession in Massachusetts and my legal counsel indicated that the Supreme Court of Massachusetts determined that under our constitution, same-sex marriage was required. And the idea that somehow that was up to me to make a choice as to whether we had it or not is a little unusual. We got together with our legislature and I fought leading an effort to put in place a constitutional amendment in Massachusetts to overturn the court’s decision to make marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman.

This is something I battled in the year I had after their decision. I fought it every way I possibly could. I went to Washington, testifying in favor of a federal amendment to define marriage as a relationship between man and a woman.

Let me tell you, I want to make it very clear, I have been a champion of protecting traditional marriage that continues to be my view. If I somehow missed somewhere I’m happy to get corrected. But that is something I feel very deeply.

MODERATOR: All right. Congresswoman Bachmann, you say that Speaker Gingrich has a, quote, “inconsistent record on life” and you singled out comments he made recently that life begins with the implantation of a fertilized egg, not at conception. What is your concern?

BACHMANN: Well, my concern is the fact that the Republican Party can’t get the issue of life wrong. This is a basic part of our party. Just last night we gathered in Des Moines to talk about this issue, because it’s that crucial to our party. And one of the concerns that I had is that when Speaker Gingrich was Speaker of the House he had an opportunity to de-fund Planned Parenthood. And he chose not to take it. That is a big issue.

And also I think even more troubling when he was in Washington, D.C., he made an affirmative statement that he would not only support but he would campaign for Republicans who are in support of the barbaric procedure known as partial birth abortion. I could never do that.

And as a matter of fact, George Wilt asked the question of Speaker Gingrich. he said this: he said, “is it a virtue to tolerate infanticide?” This is a seminal issue and something we can’t get wrong. As president of the United States, I will be 100 percent pro- life from conception until natural death.

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: Sometimes Congressman Bachmann doesn’t get her facts very accurate. I had ad 98.5 percent right to life voting record in 20 years. The only …

MODERATOR: Go ahead. I’m…

GINGRICH: The only difference was that they didn’t like the initial welfare reform bill, which every other conservative group had said had nothing in it on abortion. Period. That’s the only one in 20 years.

I believe that life begins at conception. The conversation we’re having which is an ABC interview, I was frankly thinking about proposing a commission to look at fertility, because I think there is a challenge with what happens to embryos, who I think should be regarded as life because by definition they have been conceived. I am against any kind of experimentation on embryos. And I think my position on life actually has been very clear and very consistent.

MODERATOR: Let me just ask you — no. I want to ask you a direct question, if I may, speaker. That was your rebuttal to Congresswoman Bachmann.

BACHMANN: Can I rebuttal, because have a rebuttal for getting my facts wrong?

MODERATOR: Absolutely, congresswoman.

BACHMANN: Because this isn’t just once, I think it’s outrageous to continue to say over and over through the debate that I don’t have my facts right. When as a matter of fact, I do. I’m a serious candidate for president of the United States. And my facts are accurate.

Speaker Gingrich said that he would actively support and campaign for Republicans who got behind the barbaric practice of partial birth abortions. This is not a small issue. This is a big issue.

I think George Will was right when he asked that question. What virtue is there in tolerating infanticide?

MODERATOR: We are way over time. So I’m just going to ask you for 30 seconds to respond on the that specific issue.

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, what I said on that particular issue is I wouldn’t go out and try to purge Republicans. Now, I don’t see how you are going to govern the country if you are going to run around and decide who you are going to purge. The fact is, twice when I was speaker we moved the end of partial-birth abortion. Clinton vetoed it. We worked very hard. And Rick Santorum has been a leader on this issue.

I have consistently opposed partial birth abortion. I, in fact, would like to see us go much further than that and eliminate abortion as a choice. And I said as president I would de-fund Planned Parenthood and shift the money to pay for adoption services to give young women a choice of life rather than death.

MODERATOR: Thank you, speaker.

GINGRICH: Thank you, Chris. Candidates, Ronald Reagan famously espoused his 11th Commandment: Thou shall not…

PROTESTER: [off-mike]

MODERATOR: I’m sorry. Thank you. Thank you very much.

PROTESTER: [off-mike]

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Well — well, let me just finish this question. We’re running out of time.

Ronald Reagan famously espoused the 11th Commandment: Thou shall not speak ill of another Republican. Yet to varying degrees, during this campaign, you’ve all broken that one way or another, broken that vow. So I guess the question is, how do you balance on the one hand trying to win the nomination with on the other hand not weakening the eventual nominee to the point where he or she is less electable than President Obama?

Down the row, Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: We have a responsibility to vet the candidates. That’s what — look, I’ve been at 350 town hall meetings. I’ve been kicked pretty hard by a lot of Iowans about the positions I hold, and that’s what — that’s the process. The process is, let’s find out who can stand up. Let’s find out who has the best record, who’s the most — who’s the person that can have that — the consistency of — of going out there and finding for the principles that we believe in.

Because I — let me assure you, the other side’s going to kick very, very hard, and we have to have someone who can stand up for it, fight, and holds those convictions deep so they can fight the good fight in the fall and win this presidency.

MODERATOR: Governor Perry?

PERRY: Yeah, there’s a — there’s an — as a matter of fact, I think that was the Republican chairman, not Ronald Reagan, that actually said that.

MODERATOR: Well, he espoused it. That’s what I said.

PERRY: Right, indeed he did. But there’s an NFL player — his name doesn’t come to mind — but he said, if you don’t get your tail kicked every now and then, you’re not playing at a high enough level. And I just want to give all of you all credit for letting me play at a high enough level and for training me the way that you have. [laughter]

MODERATOR: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: Yeah, we can handle it. And — and there’s nothing — there’s nothing that’s been said by — by these folks on this stage about me that I’m not going to hear 100 times from — from President Obama. He’s going to have a — what, $1 billion to go after me or whoever our nominee is? We’re — we’re going to give each other what we need to for people to understand who we are.

But let’s not forget this. Let’s every day remember that, time and time again, this — it’s President Obama we’ve got to be talking about. He has unveiled himself as a president that’s not — not the right person to lead this country. [applause]

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: Well, I think it’s pretty clear, if you look at my ads, if you look at my website, if you look at what — how I’ve operated in the debates, that while I reserve the right to correct attacks against my — against me, overall I’ve tried very hard to talk about very big solutions to be — to go to the American people with the communication about, what do we need to do?

And I’ve said consistently, these are all friends of mine. Any of these folks would be better than Barack Obama in the White House. Any of them would be great in the next administration. [applause]

Our only opponent is Barack Obama. And we need to come out of this process remembering: Beating him is what we collectively have to do. [applause]

MODERATOR: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: You know, the media has a responsibility and we have a responsibility, and I think exposing our opponents to what they believe in and their flip-flop, I think the reason maybe that we had to do more this year is maybe the media is messing up and they haven’t asked enough questions, that we have to fill in and ask these questions and get this information out.

So, no, I think it’s a responsibility on us. I think there should be lines drawn. I think there are some things below the belt. I don’t think — but I don’t like the demagoguing, the distortion, and taking things out of context. I don’t like that. But when they disagree on an issue, important issues, then we should expose it.

MODERATOR: Congresswoman Bachmann? [applause]

BACHMANN: Ronald Reagan also brought clarity to the — his opponents that he had in his primaries, as well. And he famously asked the question, in 1980, are we better off today than we were four years under Jimmy Carter? And I think the republic is in far worse shape today under Barack Obama’s leadership.

That’s what we’re exposing now. Who will be — who will continue that legacy of Ronald Reagan? And who will take Barack Obama on toe to toe and hold him accountable? And I think that I’ll be the best one to do that on the stage.

MODERATOR: Governor Huntsman?

HUNTSMAN: I actually worked for Ronald Reagan. And I think he would have been the first to stand up and say: Debate is good. It must be respectful, and it must be rigorous.

A rigorous debate will lead to greater trust. And the one thing this nation needs desperately today is heightened trust, in our institutions, in our tax code, in our wars abroad, in Congress, toward Wall Street.

And I’m here to tell you that this kind of debate over time is going to elevate the trust level in whomever makes it out as the nominee. That will allow us to beat Barack Obama.

Thank you. [applause]

MODERATOR: Well, that is it for our debate tonight. Thank you all very much. Our thanks to the candidates, their staffs, the Iowa Republican Party, and to all the great people here in Sioux City, and, of course, in Iowa. They could not have been more hospitable.



Citation: Presidential Candidates Debates: “Republican Candidates Debate in Sioux City, Iowa,” December 15, 2011. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=97978.

Full Text December 16, 2011: First Lady Michelle Obama’s Speech at “Toys for Tots” Drive

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

First Lady Michelle Obama Delivers Toys for Tots Donations

First Lady at Toys for Tots EventFirst Lady Michelle Obama sorts toys after she delivers toys and gifts donated by White House staff to the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots Campaign at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

This afternoon, First Lady Michelle Obama visited Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling to deliver hundreds of toys that White House staff donated to Toys for Tots, an annual holiday toy drive organized by the Marines. She thanked volunteers and military families for their hard work and dedication to the 60-year old program.

This is hard work.  It takes people who take time out of their own families, time to come, shop, sort toys, make sure things get out.  I mean, this doesn’t happen automatically; it happens because people give up time, precious time with their families to make this happen.  So this wouldn’t be possible without all of the volunteers.  So I want to extend a very big thank you to all of you, especially all of our troops and all of our military families who have led this effort this year, and who lead it every year.

Mrs. Obama made military families a focus of this year’s White House holiday celebration, and today she thanked them for all they do for our nation–and still finding the time and energy to run programs like Toys for Tots.

At the White House, we’re paying tribute to our military this holiday season. All over the White House there are signs of your strength and your sacrifice and your courage. At the White House, we’re showcasing the stories and the pictures of our fallen heroes.  We’re giving guests an opportunity to send a thank-you note to troops overseas. And once again, we collected hundreds of toys from White House staff, which I’ve had the honor of bringing here today.

She also encouraged everyone to do their part, no matter how big or small.

You don’t have to live in the White House. You don’t have to spend a fortune. You don’t have to be an expert in military life to be a part of this effort and to lift families up. You just have to be willing to give just a little bit back to your community and to your country.

For more information:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

First Lady’s Remarks at “Toys for Tots” Drive

Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling

1:09 P.M. EST

MRS. OBAMA:  Thanks so much.  (Applause.)  Well, good afternoon, everyone.  And thank you, General Osman, for not just that very kind and generous introduction but for all that you do for “Toys for Tots” and for this country.

As he said, this is my third year doing this, and every year, truly, I look forward to coming by and seeing folks come together to make the holidays just a little bit brighter for their neighbors.

This is my last official visit.  This is a way to cap off my holiday season.  This is my last official visit before I get my kids out of here and we actually spend some time together as a family.  And this is a great way for me, personally, to end the season — being with all of you and doing what we can for kids who don’t have the fortune of — the good fortune of having people who can provide a wonderful Christmas.

But it’s also important for people to know what this tradition is and how it started.  It’s been going on for more than 60 years, and it started with a simple idea.  It was a Marine’s wife who fashioned a handmade doll, and then asked her husband to donate that doll to children in need for the holidays.  This was 60 years ago.  But that Marine couldn’t find a place to donate the doll, because no such organization existed.

So this couple decided to do something about it.  And that’s really what military families do.  I’ll share a story with you:  This morning, I was laying in bed with Malia, before they were getting ready for school, and she asked me what I was going to do today, and I said I’m doing “Toys for Tots,” and she said, that’s really a great program.  And she said, how did it start?  And I said, you know, Marines started it.  And most people don’t realize that, because “Toys for Tots” has become a national organization, a national brand; so many people adopt it, they forget that this is something that’s done by military families.  And Malia said, you know what?  It is so impressive that given all military families have to do anyway, that on top of what they do, they’re doing this as well.  And I’m like, look, if a 13-year-old can get it and understand that that’s who our military families are, then we all should get it as a country.  And it was a very powerful example of just how valuable and just how constant our military families — how selfless they are.

So soon enough, this toy drive turned into the national organization that we now know today as “Toys for Tots.”

So today, we’re here to continue that tradition.  And we couldn’t do it without all of the volunteers, all of the donors who work so hard during the holiday season.  This is hard work.  It takes people who take time out of their own families, time to come, shop, sort toys, make sure things get out.  I mean, this doesn’t happen automatically; it happens because people give up time, precious time with their families to make this happen.  So this wouldn’t be possible without all of the volunteers.  So I want to extend a very big thank you to all of you, especially all of our troops and all of our military families who have led this effort this year, and who lead it every year.  You all have given so much to our country, as Malia has recognized, and then you keep giving more to your neighbors and the broader community.  And it is truly inspiring.

“Toys for Tots,” my relationship that I’ve had with military families all across the country, folks like you is one of the reasons why Jill Biden and I started “Joining Forces,” which is our major campaign to rally all Americans to honor, recognize, and support our veterans and military families.  And we’ve had wonderful success with this program, and it hasn’t been difficult at all.  People have been stepping up in ways big and small — businesses making a point to hire veterans and military spouses; local schools partnering to reach out to military kids.

America is behind our families, and a lot of it is because of this kind of work that you do every single day.  And it has been a true honor and a gift for me to get to know many of these families and to be able to champion your work to the rest of the country.  And “Toys for Tots” is just another one of those examples, and that’s why it’s so important for me to be involved this year, and to make sure that the White House is involved.

And this year is no different.  At the White House, we’re paying tribute to our military this holiday season.  All over the White House there are signs of your strength and your sacrifice and your courage.  At the White House, we’re showcasing the stories and the pictures of our fallen heroes.  We’re giving guests an opportunity to send a thank-you note to troops overseas.  And once again, we collected hundreds of toys from White House staff, which I’ve had the honor of bringing here today.

We had a 27 percent increase from last year.  That’s good, but we can do more.  We will be doing more next year.  So hopefully we’re doing our part.

But one of the important mottos of “Joining Forces” is that everyone can do something.  That’s what Jill and I are saying.  You don’t have to live in the White House.  You don’t have to spend a fortune.  You don’t have to be an expert in military life to be a part of this effort and to lift families up.  You just have to be willing to give just a little bit back to your community and to your country.  And that’s the spirit that led the Marine and his wife to start “Toys for Tots” all those years ago, and it’s what will make this year’s drive successful once again.

Now before I go and we start getting to work, I just want to remind everyone out there who is watching this event that it is not too late to donate.  You can donate through the holiday season, and this year is like no other.  The demand increases even as giving increases.  There are more and more families that need support and help, so it is not too late.  So anybody who is watching this, any of our press who are writing about this, it is still important to nudge our neighbors; to say, give, give, give.  We need people to bring in toys like never before.

And I always point out that we always like to get those cute little gifts for the little kids — the stuffed animals, the little dolls, all the fun games.  But I always urge people to remember the older children, because these toys are going to families and there are kids from infants all the way into their teen years.  And we’re encouraging people to donate clothes, to get those fun games that you might think an average teen would get — think of somebody 11 to 14.  Many of you have kids; you know what these kids are into.  Those are the kind of toys that oftentimes we’re short on, so I urge people to keep the age spread in mind as they go out and pick up gifts.

And once you do that, you can still go to toysfortots.org to donate or to find a drop-off location.  So there is still time.  There is still a huge demand.  So anybody out there who has an extra toy — even wonderful, homemade gifts can be nice for some of these children.  So, again, it doesn’t take much.

But there are families — millions of families who are in need, millions of families who rely on this gift to make their holiday season special for their children, and there are so many of us who are blessed, who have the fortune, the good fortune to be doing well this holiday season.  And it’s up to us to dig deep and to make sure we take care of our neighbors out there who may be struggling.

So hopefully people will hear this message and they’ll go out and they’ll make this year’s drive the most successful ever.

I want to congratulate once again the Marines for their hard work.  I want to thank all the families once again for all that you do.  I hope you all get some rest, you get an opportunity to enjoy your holiday season.  We are so grateful and thankful to all of you.  God bless you all, and happy holidays.

And now I get to do a little work.  I’m going to do some toy sorting.  I assume I will get some instructions on what I’m to do, but we’re going to get to work.  So, you all, thank you so much.  (Applause.)

END
1:19 P.M. EST

Campaign Buzz December 15, 2011: Fox News GOP Iowa Debate — Republican Presidential Candidates Debate in Sioux City Iowa — Last Debate of 2011 & Before Iowa Caucus — Candidates Attack Gingrich

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger to be published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Eric Thayer for The New York Times

The seven Republican presidential candidates made their case to prospective voters in Sioux City, Iowa, on Thursday night in the last debate of the year. More Photos »

IN FOCUS: FOX NEWS GOP REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES DEBATE IN SIOUX CITY, IOWA — LAST DEBATE OF 2011

Live Blogging the Fox News Debate in Iowa: Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich were a focus of attention.
Seven candidates take the stage tonight in Sioux City, Iowa, for the final debate before the Jan. 3 caucuses…. – NYT, 12-15-11

Iowa Debate Fact Check: New York Times reporters examined candidates’ statements on Iran, immigration, the national debt and more, during the Republican presidential debate in Sioux City, Iowa…. – NYT, 12-15-11

Liveblogging the last Republican presidential debate of 2011Yahoo News, 12-15-11

“I’m ready for the next level. Let me tell you, I hope I am the Tim Tebow of the Iowa caucus.” — Texas Gov. Rick Perry

“I think it’s good conservative principle to find ways to help families that are right at the margins to learn how to budget, learn how to take care of a house, learn how to buy a house. I did no lobbying of any kind for any organization.” — Newt Gingrich

“If you have judges that are so radically anti-American that they thought ‘One Nation Under God’ was wrong, then they shouldn’t be on the court.” — Newt Gingrich

“I don’t want to run the world. I don’t want to police individual activities or people’s lifestyle, and I don’t want to run the economy.” — Texas Rep. Ron Paul,

“We have a president who, again, doesn’t understand how the economy works. Not every business succeeds. … In the real world, some things don’t make it.” — Mitt Romney

“We have been kicked around as a people. We’re getting screwed as Americans.” — Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman

“It’s outrageous to say over and over again during the debates to say that I don’t have my facts right. I’m a serious candidate for president of the United States, and my facts are accurate.” — Rep. Michele Bachmann

“You don’t need to be within the technical definition of being a lobbyist to still be influence-peddling.” — Rep. Michele Bachmann

“Where it needs to end is under the Constitution of the United States. If we give to the courts the right to make law, then the people will have lost their representation. They need hold to their representation, That’s why I commend Iowans, because they chose not to retain three judges.” — Rep. Michele Bachmann

  • Iowa Republican debate: The live blog!: If it’s a weekday, it’s time for another Republican presidential debate! Tonight’s debate, which will be in Sioux City, Iowa, will feature seven of the leading contenders for the GOP presidential nod gather on stage with just 19 days remaining before … – WaPo, 12-15-11
  • Washington Wire Live Blog of GOP Debate in Iowa: Tonight’s Republican presidential debate marks the last time the candidates will go after each other on stage before the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3, so the stakes are high to make a good impression — or bloody an opponent. … – WSJ, 12-15-11
  • Live: Gingrich tries to hold lead in last GOP debate: By Catalina Camia, USA TODAY Seven GOP presidential candidates are squaring off in a final, pivotal debate tonight before the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3…. – USA Today, 12-15-11
  • Iowa Debate: Republican Winners and Losers: Fox News and the Iowa Republican party sponsored the final debate Thursday night before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses. Here’s our take on the winners and losers from Sioux City, Iowa.
    WINNERS

    Newt Gingrich
    Mitt Romney
    Michele Bachmann
    Rick Perry
    Ron Paul

    LOSERS

    Rick Santorum
    Jon Huntsman

    CBS News, 12-16-11

  • Candidates Stake Iowa Debate on Electability, Leadership: As the candidates make their final pitch in a group forum before the first voters go to the polls in Iowa in less than three weeks, the GOP candidates have made their policy cases…. – Fox News, 12-15-11
  • FACT CHECK: Gingrich Off on His Budget History: Newt Gingrich overlooked a couple of years of red ink when he boldly claimed Thursday night that he balanced the budget for four years as House speaker. He also glossed over the fact he was not the only leader in town back in … – AP, Fox News, 12-15-11
  • Gingrich under attack at Iowa presidential debateReuters, 12-16-11
  • Gingrich Parries With Challengers in Final Debate Before Iowa Caucuses: The Republican presidential candidates began delivering their closing arguments at the final debate of the year here on Thursday night, with the rivals trying to whittle away at the credibility of … – NYT, 12-15-11
  • Iowa Republican debate: For the final time before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, the seven men and women running for the Republican presidential nomination faced off on a debate stage…. – WaPo, 12-15-11
  • Some key moments in Thursday’s GOP debate, from Tebow to ‘Pretty-Please’: PERRY TURNS TO TEBOW The gaffe-prone Rick Perry sought strength from an unlikely source Thursday night: Tim Tebow. The young Denver Broncos quarterback has captured the admiration of football fans across the country after a string of … – WaPo, 12-15-11
  • FACT CHECK: Some golden oldie missteps by Gingrich, Romney and more in last: Newt Gingrich overlooked a couple of years of red ink when he asserted Thursday night that he balanced the budget for four years as House speaker. And in claiming sole credit for the achievement, he glossed over the fact that budgets are … – WaPo, 12-15-11
  • Newt Gingrich under fire in final GOP debate before Iowa vote: In the final debate before voting starts in the 2012 presidential contest, front-running Newt Gingrich battled renewed criticism Thursday night from rivals over his activities outside of government. … – LAT, 12-15-11
  • Gingrich under fire as GOP rivals try to stall his momentum: Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, the latest front-runner in a roller-coaster Republican presidential race, was hammered Thursday in the final debate before the Iowa caucuses as rivals …… – USA Today, 12-15-11
  • Republicans Spar Over Their Credentials to Challenge Obama in Final DebateBloomberg, 12-15-11
  • Candidates Stake Iowa Debate on Electability, Leadership: It isn’t quite fourth and one with seconds on the clock, but for political conservatives, Thursday night’s final Republican presidential primary debate had all the markings of a close competition in a tight second half.
    With less than three weeks to go before Iowa Republicans caucus to pick their nominee in the 2012 presidential election season, the GOP hopefuls presented their late-game playbook at Fox News’ debate in Sioux City, Iowa.
    Having largely mapped out their policies and philosophies in more than a dozen pre-season debates, the candidates on Thursday night set out to prove that not only are they the best pick for primary-goers, but they are ready to be recruited for the first-string — a general election contest to defeat the current occupant of the White House. … – Fox News, 12-15-11
  • Takes from the Sioux City Squawker: AP: “Republican presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich clashed sharply with one rival, took pains to compliment another and said it was laughable for any of them to challenge his conservative credentials Thursday night in the last campaign debate … – Time, 12-15-11
  • At Iowa debate, Mitt Romney avoids tangling with Newt Gingrich: To the surprise of many, Mitt Romney, deep into the Fox News debate in Sioux City, Iowa, on Thursday had refrained from attacking front-runner Newt Gingrich a single time. But it’s clear that Romney’s attacks earlier this week had … – LAT, 12-15-11
  • Gingrich, Romney, Paul run thorugh debate gauntlet in Iowa: National Affairs Writer As seven Republican presidential contenders began their sprint toward the first- in-the-nation Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3, each of the top candidates ran through a gauntlet of challenges in their Thursday … – MSNBC, 12-15-11
  • Gingrich and Bachmann duke it out early in Republican debate: Michele Bachmann came out swinging at Newt Gingrich and his $1.6 million in earnings from Freddie Mac…. – CS Monitor, 12-15-11
  • Newt Gingrich invokes Reagan and Clinton at Iowa Republican debate: By Nia-Malika Henderson Newt Gingrich, ahead in the polls and facing withering criticism from his own party, compared himself to Ronald Reagan in the last debate among the GOP presidential contenders before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses…. – WaPo, 12-15-11
  • Newt Gingrich insists he did ‘no lobbying of any kind’ while working for Freddie Mac: At the last Republican debate before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, Gingrich defended his work for mortgage lender Freddie Mac, saying he was “a private citizen engaged in a business like any other business” when he earned $1.6 million for providing the … – WaPo, 12-15-11
  • Rick Perry compares himself to Tim Tebow at Iowa debate: Rick Perry needs a fourth-quarter comeback to win in Iowa. So at the GOP debate in Sioux City on Thursday night, he compared himself to Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, who has captured the attention of NFL fans by leading his … LAT, 12-15-11
  • Newt Gingrich, Under Fire, Plays Clumsy Defense in Fox News Iowa Debate: The Sioux City faceoff made clear that Gingrich is the man to beat in Iowa. But after a string of sure-footed performances, he didn’t help himself on Thursday night…. – Daily Beast, 12-15-11
  • Iowa Debate: Romney, Gingrich In Harmony on Medicare Proposal: Both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich gave high marks to the bipartisan proposal on to revamp Medicare released this week by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis…. – National Journal, 12-15-11
  • Iowa Debate: Candidates All Hawkish, Except for Paul: Thursday night’s debate reinforced the view that the Republican presidential field, split over foreign policy earlier in the campaign, has shifted decisively toward a hawkish consensus –- with the notable exception of Rep. Ron Paul…. – National Journal, 12-15-11
  • Candidates Engage Ahead of Debate: The lights won’t go on at tonight’s Fox News debate until 9 p.m. Eastern, but the Republican candidates have already spent the day in a rhetorical sparring match…. – NYT, 12-15-11
  • With Gingrich under pressure, contenders poised for Iowa debate: The seven Republican presidential contenders prepared for a final debate Thursday before the first-in-the- nation Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3. The event will be the 13 th time that the Republican contenders have … – MSNBC, 12-15-11

Political Headlines December 15, 2011: Congress Reaches Spending Deal, Averts Government Shutdown — Negotiating Two Month Payroll Tax Extension

POLITICAL HEADLINES

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

IN FOCUS: CONGRESS REACHES SPENDING DEAL, AVERTS GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN — NEGOTIATING TWO MONTH PAYROLL TAX EXTENSION

Congress reaches spending deal: Congressional negotiators signed off Thursday evening on a sweeping $1 trillion spending agreement for federal agencies, just 28 hours before a deadline that would have led to a government shutdown.
Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees gave final approval to a plan after a four-day standoff that became entangled in a separate issue related to the payroll tax holiday. That negotiation, according to lawmakers and aides, also could be headed toward an agreement…. – WaPo, 12-15-11

  • Lawmakers Agree on Spending Bill, Avoiding Shutdown: Congressional leaders said they had agreed on a spending measure to keep the government running for nine months, but agreement on the payroll tax cut was still elusive…. – NYT, 12-15-11
  • Congressional leaders reach spending deal to avoid government shutdown: Congressional negotiators signed off Thursday evening on a $1 trillion spending agreement for 2012 for federal agencies, barely 27 hours before a deadline that could have led to a government shutdown. After dropping minor policy prescriptions that … – WaPo, 12-15-11
  • Congressional negotiators preparing 2-month payroll tax cut, jobless benefits: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says congressional bargainers are preparing a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut and expiring jobless benefits as a fallback plan in case negotiations on a yearlong package don’t succeed. … – WaPo, 12-15-11
  • Lawmakers Agree on Budget, Consider Two-Month Tax Cut Extension: The US Senate’s top Democrat said his colleagues are considering a two-month extension of an expiring payroll tax cut and extended unemployment benefits if they are unable to strike a deal on a longer-term plan … – BusinessWeek, 12-16-11
  • Congressional negotiators agree on $1T spending measure to avert government shutdown: Republicans yielded on policy affecting communist Cuba and Democrats gave way on new energy standards for light bulbs to seal an agreement Thursday evening on a massive $1 trillion-plus year-end spending package in time avert a possible … – WaPo, 12-15-11
  • Congress reaches tentative deal to avoid government shutdown: The $1-trillion plan would last through September 2012. Republicans and Democrats are still struggling with how to extend a payroll tax break. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-Nev.) says that with a tentative deal on a government funding bill…. – LAT, 12-15-11
  • Congress Agrees on Spending Deal Likely to Avert Government Shutdown: Republicans and Democrats in Congress found a compromise way Thursday night out of a deeply partisan standoff that threatened millions of Americans with a big New Year’s tax increase, the unemployed with loss of government benefits and the whole federal government with a shutdown…. – Fox News, 12-15-11
  • Government shutdown? Congress suddenly uniting to avert it: Government shutdown looms because of the absence of spending legislation. But GOP, Democratic leaders are sounding bipartisan notes to resolve conflict over payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits and avert a government shutdown. … – CS Monitor, 12-15-11

Full Text December 15, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Minimum Wage and Overtime Protections for In-Home Care Workers

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Ensuring Fair Pay for Homecare Workers

Source: WH, 12-15-11

20111215 President Obama with Pauline BeckPresident Barack Obama delivers remarks on new minimum wage/overtime protections for in-home care workers at a “We Can’t Wait” event in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House, Dec. 15, 2011. Among the workers joining the President was Pauline Beck, right, a home care worker from California who, in 2007, was shadowed by then Senator Obama as part of an event called “Walk a Day in My Shoes.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Four years ago, President Obama spent the day with Pauline Beck, a home health care worker. He followed her throughout her day — as she got up at 5:00 in the morning to care for an 86-year-old amputee. He saw first-hand the demands of her work.

Their business is a growing industry — one of the fastest in America. As the population of this country gets older, more Americans are turning to people like Pauline Beck to help make sure they have the care they need. And as the President said this morning, “As the homecare business has changed over the years, the law hasn’t changed to keep up.” In the eyes of the law, homecare workers fall into the same category as a teenaged babysitter.

20111215 President Obama on Home Care Workers President Barack Obama delivers remarks on new minimum wage/overtime protections for in-home care workers at a “We Can’t Wait” event in Room 430 of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House, Dec. 15, 2011. Attendees include: Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Karen Kulp, President & CEO Home Care Associates; and home care workers: Pauline Beck, Thelma Reta, Iterra Blackshear, Tracy Dudzinski, Manuela Butler, Elma Wauneetta Phillips, Bertie Caraway, Margaret Glover, Elva Munoz, Michelle Wise, Olive Nanette Lyons, April Jones-Britt, Martha Cobos, and Gilda Brown; and home care employers: Sascha M. Bittner and Robin L. Shaffert. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

So today, the President did something to help homecare workers like Pauline Beck. He announced his support of a law to extend overtime pay protections and a guaranteed minimum wage to those who do this work:

We are going to make sure that over a million men and women in one of the fastest-growing professions in the country don’t slip through the cracks. We’re going to make sure that companies who do right by their workers aren’t undercut by companies who don’t. We’re going to do what’s fair, and we’re going to do what’s right.

Read the Transcript  |  Download Video: mp4 (73MB) | mp3 (7MB)

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on Minimum Wage and Overtime Protections for In-Home Care Workers

Eisenhower Executive Office Building

12:13 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody.  As I said in Kansas last week, the defining issue of our time is whether we can build an economy where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded.  It’s whether this is going to be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family and build a modest savings and own a home, secure their own retirement, look after their kids.  That’s the test of our time.

In some cases, building this kind of economy is going to require some action from Congress.  And right now, Congress needs to make sure that 160 million working Americans don’t see their taxes go up on January 1st.  None of the workers who’ve joined us here today can afford a $1,000 tax increase next year.  And it wouldn’t be good for the economy.  Every economist indicates that it’s important for us to extend the payroll tax cut and make sure that unemployment insurance is extended.  So this Congress cannot and should not leave for vacation until that — until they have made sure that that tax increase doesn’t happen.  Let me repeat that:  Congress should not and cannot go on vacation before they have made sure that working families aren’t seeing their taxes go up by $1,000 and those who are out there looking for work don’t see their unemployment insurance expire.

There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to extend these items — the payroll tax cut, UI — before the holidays.  There’s no reason the government should shut down over this.  And I expect all of us to do what’s necessary in order to do the people’s business and make sure that it’s done before the end of the year.

Now, only Congress can prevent the payroll tax from going up next year.  But there are also some things that we can do without Congress to help make sure that hard work pays off.  And that’s why we’re here today.

Right behind me here is my friend Pauline Beck.  One day, back in 2007, Pauline was my boss.  I was in California to take part in an event called “Walk a Day in My Shoes,” where you’d spend the day working the job of someone who was in the service industry.  And I was lucky enough to be paired up with Pauline, and I have tell you, it ended up being one of my favorite days of the entire campaign.

Pauline is a home health care worker.  When we met, she was getting up every day at 5:00 a.m. to go to work taking care of an 86-year-old amputee named “Mr. John.”  And each day, she’d dress Mr. John and help him into his wheelchair.  She’d make him breakfast.  She’d scrub his floors.  She’d clean his bathroom.  She was his connection to the outside world.  And when the workday was done, she would go home to take care of a grandnephew and two foster children who didn’t have families of their own.  Heroic work, and hard work.  That’s what Pauline was all about.

And one of the things I remember about Pauline was her patience.  She was patient with me even when I didn’t wring out the mop properly or didn’t shake out the sheets before putting them in the laundry bin.  But I also remember listening to her talk about the hardships in her life, and she did so without any self-pity.  She was glad to be working hard and she was glad to be helping someone.  All she wanted in return for a hard day’s work was enough to take care of those kids she was going home to, enough to save a little bit for retirement, maybe take a day off once in a while to rest her aching back.

Each of the folks who are here today has a story like Pauline’s.  They represent nearly 1.8 million homecare workers across the country — hardworking professionals, mostly women, who work around the clock so that folks who need help, including many of our family members, can live independently in their own home.  Right now, homecare is one of the fastest-growing industries in America, partly because we’re getting older as a society.  And as the baby boom generation heads into retirement, more and more Americans are going to need the services of these outstanding workers.

But here’s the thing:  As the homecare business has changed over the years, the law hasn’t changed to keep up.  So even though workers like Pauline do everything from bathing to cooking, they’re still lumped in the same category as teenage babysitters when it comes to how much they make.  That means employers are allowed to pay these workers less than minimum wage with no overtime.  That’s right — you can wake up at 5:00 in the morning, care for somebody every minute of the day, take the late bus home at night, and still make less than the minimum wage.  And this means that many homecare workers are forced to rely on things like food stamps just to make ends meet.

That’s just wrong.  In this country, it’s unexcusable.  I can tell you firsthand that these men and women, they work their tails off, and they don’t complain.  They deserve to be treated fairly.  They deserve to be paid fairly for a service that many older Americans couldn’t live without.  And companies who do pay fair wages to these women shouldn’t be put at a disadvantage.

Four years ago, a homecare worker named Evelyn Coke took her case all the way up to the Supreme Court.  And Evelyn was working up to 70 hours a week with no overtime pay.  But the Court ruled against her, saying that to change the law would require action from Congress or the Department of Labor.  I’m sure many of you won’t be surprised to know that Congress hasn’t acted on this issue so far.

Today, I will.  Today, we’re guaranteeing homecare workers minimum wage and overtime pay protection.  And that’s thanks to the hard work of my Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis.  We are going to make sure that over a million men and women in one of the fastest-growing professions in the country don’t slip through the cracks.  We’re going to make sure that companies who do right by their workers aren’t undercut by companies who don’t.  We’re going to do what’s fair, and we’re going to do what’s right.

Evelyn Coke didn’t live to see this day.  But the truth is, Americans like Evelyn and Pauline and the rest of the workers who are here today, they’re one of the reasons that I ran for President.  They work hard.  They play by the rules.  In exchange, they just want to see that their hard work and their responsibility is rewarded.  It’s that simple.  Americans all deserve a fair shake and a fair shot.  And as long as I have the honor of serving as President, I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that those very modest expectations are fulfilled.  I’m going to make sure that they are treated right.  I’m going to make sure that every American is treated fairly.

Thanks very much, everybody.  Thank you.

END
12:20 P.M. EST

Political Buzz December 15, 2011: First Look: New Obama Family Portrait

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

First Look: New Obama Family Portrait

Source: WH, 12-15-11

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters, Malia, left, and Sasha, right, sit for a family portrait in the Oval Office, Dec. 11, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The White House photo office today released a new official portrait of the First Family, which was taken by Pete Souza in the Oval Office on Sunday December 11, 2011 after the family returned to the White House after church services. The previous official portrait, below, was taken in the Green Room in 2009 by Annie Leibovitz.

First Family Official PortraitThe Official Portrait of the First Family. October 23, 2009. (by Annie Leibovitz)
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