Campaign Buzz March 6, 2012: Super Tuesday GOP / Republican Presidential Primaries Results — 10 States at Stake — Mitt Romney Wins 4, Rick Santorum wins 3, Newt Gingrich wins Georgia — Ohio too close to call between Romney & Santorum

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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 published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

IN FOCUS: SUPER TUESDAY GOP / REPUBLICAN PRIMARY RESULTS

Super Tuesday represents the biggest day in the race for the Republican nomination so far, with 419 total delegates at stake in 10 states — more delegates than have been awarded in all of the previous nominating contests combined. – CBS News

Super Tuesday results by state: Alaska | Georgia | Idaho | Massachusetts | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Tennessee | Vermont | Virginia

  • Updates on Super Tuesday Races: Mitt Romney picked up early victories in the Republicans’ Super Tuesday primary contests, but Rick Santorum won in Tennessee and Oklahoma and Newt Gingrich took his home state of Georgia…. – NYT, 3-6-12Live blog: Romney wins four Super Tuesday states — Santorum wins three states: We’re live-blogging results from Super Tuesday, where voters in 10 states cast ballots in the GOP presidential race… – USA Today, 3-6-12
  • Super Tuesday: Romney starts fast, Santorum hangs tough: Mitt Romney chalked up Super Tuesday wins in Virginia, Vermont and Massachusetts, seeking to fasten his grip on the GOP nomination by dominating the single biggest day of balloting in the hard-fought … – LAT, 3-6-12Super Tuesday: Washington Post covers Republican primary results: … tweeters, columnists and bloggers to help readers make sense of Super Tuesday – the biggest single day in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. More than a half dozen reporters have spread out across the key primary and caucus … – WaPo, 3-6-12
  • Ohio primary results: Too close to call: Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney are headed toward an extremely close finish in the race for the ultimate Super Tuesday battleground, Ohio, after the two candidates divided up Republican primary votes and traded victories in states across the nation…. – WaPo, 3-6-12Mitt Romney takes Idaho, his fourth win of night: Mitt Romney has won the Idaho caucuses, his fourth victory of the night, AP reports.
    Romney was considered the clear favorite, thanks to the state’s heavy Mormon population as well as to the goodwill he earned across the Rocky Mountain region from his work running the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
    The 32 delegates in the state are likely to be awarded winner-takes-all.
    As of 11:45, the only two states that hadn’t picked a winner were Alaska, which didn’t expect results until early morning, and Ohio, which remained locked in a fierce battle between Romney and Rick Santorum. WaPo, 3-6-12
    Santorum claims third win in North Dakota: Rick Santorum has earned his third victory of the night in the North Dakota caucuses, according to the AP.
    Ron Paul had hoped to post his first win in the Republican presidential race with a strong grass-roots effort in the state, but was trailing Santorum in early returns, with Mitt Romney in third place.
    No winner has been declared in Idaho, Alaska or the battleground state of Ohio, where Santorum and Romney were locked in a battle that was still too close to call…. – WaPo, 3-6-12

    Rick Santorum wins GOP primary in Oklahoma: Rick Santorum has won the Republican primary in Oklahoma, according to exit polls, his second victory of the night after Tennessee.
    Oklahoma is a key win over well-funded rival Mitt Romney, signaling that the GOP race is likely to extend long beyond this Super Tuesday. WaPo, 3-6-12

    Rick Santorum wins GOP primary in Tennessee: Rick Santorum has won the Tennessee Republican primary, according to the AP, his first victory of the night.
    The race in this Super Tuesday’s most important battleground state — Ohio — remains too close to call…. – WaPo, 3-6-12

    Mitt Romney wins Massachusetts GOP primary: Mitt Romney has won the Republican primary in Massachusetts, his third victory of this Super Tuesday in the state where he served as governor.
    Romney’s win in Massachusetts, where he has lived for 40 years, followed earlier victories in Virginia and Vermont.
    The only other candidate to win a state so far is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who won his own home state of Georgia. WaPo, 3-6-12

    Mitt Romney wins GOP primary in Vermont: Mitt Romney has won the Republican primary in Vermont, according to the AP.
    Vermont is the second win of the night for the former Massachusetts governor after he claimed victory in Virginia…. – WaPo, 3-6-12

    Mitt Romney wins GOP primary in Virginia: Mitt Romney has won the Republican primary in Virginia, according to the AP.
    Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul were the only candidates on the ballot…. – WaPo, 3-6-12

    Exit polls: Gingrich wins home state of Georgia: Newt Gingrich has won the Georgia primary, taking his home state and winning his second state in the 2012 presidential campaign, according to exit polls.
    Gingrich’s win ends a losing streak that lasted a month and a half. His last and only win came in South Carolina’s primary on Jan. 21…. – WaPo, 3-6-12

  • Santorum and Romney Split Victories: Mitt Romney extended his lead in delegates on Super Tuesday but voters failed to deliver a decisive victory that could have brought a swift end to the Republican presidential contest…. – WSJ, 3-6-12
  • Santorum: We’re winning across the nation: With at least two Super Tuesday victories under his belt, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum boasted of his campaign’s wide geographical appeal while taking sharp aim at his main GOP rival Mitt Romney.
    “We have won in the West, the Midwest and the South, and we’re ready to win across this country,” Santorum said from Steubenville, Ohio.
    In Tennessee, with 1,733 of 2,141 precincts reporting, Santorum carried 37 percent of the vote, while Romney had 28 percent and Newt Gingrich took 24 percent.
    And with 1,778 of 1,961 precincts reporting in Oklahoma, Santorum is leading with 34 percent while Romney takes 28 percent and Gingrich 27 percent. Later in the evening, Santorum was declared the winner in the North Dakota caucuses…. – CBS News, 3-6-12
  • Newt Gingrich wins Georgia, but will it help?: A resurgent Newt Gingrich, fresh off a resounding win in his home state, touted “the power of large solutions and big ideas” during a victory speech at his primary night headquarters…. – USA Today, 3-6-12
  • Super Tuesday: Newt Gingrich says he’s a survivor: Newt Gingrich, racking up a Super Tuesday win in the state where he launched his extraordinary political rise, predicted he would win the GOP nomination despite opposition from the nation’s elites because “people power” will trump … – LAT, 3-6-12
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Full Text Campaign Buzz March 6, 2012: Rick Santorum’s Super Tuesday Speech / Remarks after Winning in GOP / Republican Presidential Primaries Tennessee, Oklahoma, North Dakota

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Rick Santorum’s Super Tuesday speech (full transcript, video)

Source: WaPo, 3-6-12

Rick Santorum addressed supporters in Steubenville, Ohio, Tuesday night, where he was locked in a dead heat with Mitt Romney. Read the full transcript of Santorum’s speech below (text courtesy FDCH transcripts).

SANTORUM: Thank you!

(APPLAUSE) Well, thank you for coming out, Steubenville, Ohio. And God bless you. Thank you for being here.

(APPLAUSE)

For the folks listening at home, we’re in Steubenville, Ohio.

(APPLAUSE)

Not too many presidential candidates come to Steubenville, Ohio, much less hold their victory party here in Steubenville, Ohio.

(APPLAUSE)

We’re in a high school gymnasium. I just came from our war room, which doubles as the weight room for the high school, was pumping a little iron to get myself psyched for coming out here.

SANTORUM: And we just prepared our talk where many talks were prepared for this gym floor, in the coach’s room. This is our roots. Here behind me is, well, a part of our family, because this is the where we’re from. We’re from down here in the areas of southeastern Ohio, West Virginia, and southwestern Pennsylvania, where — where the folks who worked hard and built this country lived and worked for many, many decades here.

(APPLAUSE)

I’m particularly excited to be here with my family. When I say “my family,” I mean not just my family of our immediate family, but my — my — my mom, who’s right here. This is my mom, Kay (ph), 93…

(APPLAUSE)

… and Karen’s mother and father, Ken and Betty Lee (ph), right over there, Garber (ph), thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

I got my brother here and his family, and Karen has, well, several. Karen is one of 11 children, so you can imagine brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, we’ve a great crew back here, all behind us, all behind us, because this campaign is about the towns that have been left behind and the families that made those towns the greatest towns across this country.

(APPLAUSE)

This was a big night tonight, lots of states. We’re going to win a few, we’re going to lose a few, but as it looks right now, we’re going to get at least a couple of gold medals and a whole passel full of silver medals.

(APPLAUSE)

We can — we can add to Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, Colorado now Oklahoma and Tennessee. We have…

(APPLAUSE)

We have won in the West, the Midwest, and the South, and we’re ready to win across this country.

(APPLAUSE) I want to thank, again, my wife. I know that, you know, those who have seen her on the campaign trail, the common refrain is “More Karen, less Rick.” But I’m working on it. I’m trying to get as good as she is at this political stuff.

But she has been an amazing partner for — for me and my conscience, my — my biggest supporter, my most important, my most honest critic, and someone who has kept our family together and continues to do remarkable and incredible things every day for me and all of us, thank you very much, my love.

(APPLAUSE)

We have almost all the kids here. We have John, Sarah Maria — where are you — Patrick, Elizabeth, Peter, and Daniel. And they’re all wearing buttons for our little Bella. So we got everybody here.

(APPLAUSE)

We went up against enormous odds, not just here in the state of Ohio, where — who knows how much we were outspent — but in every state. There wasn’t a single state in the list that I just gave you where I spent more money than the people I was able to defeat to win that state. In every case, we overcame the odds.

Here in Ohio: still too close to call.

(APPLAUSE)

But just like the folks here in Steubenville and throughout the Ohio Valley and all the — all the valleys of this country that are the heart and soul of this country, they worked hard and they overcame odds. And that’s what — that’s what we’re here to talk about. And that’s why we came to Steubenville. That’s one of the reasons I’m so proud to have my mom and my father-in-law and mother-in-law up on stage with me. They’re a part of the greatest generation of America.

(APPLAUSE)

They preserved liberty by sacrificing immeasurably to keep this country free from despots. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a bit different battle that we’re engaged in today, but it’s no less a battle for the basic liberties that this country was founded upon.

We have a group of people in Washington and in other places around this country who believe that the elites in Washington are the ones who should be making the decisions for all of us, and they have systematically gone and grown the size and scale of government to beyond where it’s — well, it’s just unrecognizable. We are running deficits, where we’re borrowing 40 cents of every dollar.

And as you look at all of the young people here, the leaders in Washington are saying to you, on your tab, and you will pay for this, the rest of your life.

What right does the government have to do that to the next generation?

(BOOING)

We have people who believe that America’s best days are behind us. They believe that it’s no longer possible for free enterprise, a free economy, and free people to be able to build strong communities and families and be able to provide for themselves and their neighbors. No, we now need an increasingly powerful federal government to do this for us.

(BOOING)

The reason that Karen and I ultimately decided to get into this race was because of that issue, and in particular one issue. I’ve said it almost every stump speech I’ve given. If it wasn’t for one particular issue that to me breaks the camel’s back with respect to liberty in this country, and that is the issue of Obamacare.

(BOOING)

What we have — what we will go to in a very short period of time, the next two years, a little less than 50 percent of the people in this country depend on some form of federal payment, some form of government benefit to help provide for them. After Obamacare, it will not be less than 50 percent; it will be 100 percent.

Now, every single American will be looking to the federal government — not to their neighbor, not to their church, not to their business or to their employer, or to the community or nonprofit organization in their community — will be looking always to those in charge, to those who now say to you that they are the allocator and creator of rights in America.

(BOOING)

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the beginning of the end of freedom in America. Once the government has control of your life, then they got you. That’s why we decided to step out. As you look, I mean, Karen and I have seven children, ages 20…

(APPLAUSE)

… ages 20 to three, not exactly the best time to be out running for president of the United States. We’ve given up our — our jobs. We’re living off our savings. Yeah, we’re making a little sacrifice for a very, very big goal, and that is replacing this president on November of this year.

(APPLAUSE)

In order to make that happen, the Republican Party has to nominate somebody who can talk about the broad vision of what America is. As I talk about in every one of my speeches, I talk about how important it is that we remember who we are.

Ronald Reagan, in his farewell address to the American people, worried about whether America would remember what made us great, that we are not a great country because we have a great and powerful government. We are a great country because we believe that rights don’t come from the government, but as in our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, says, our rights come to us from our creator.

(APPLAUSE)

The government’s job and the Constitution of this country was intended to do one thing: protect those rights, so each and every one of you would have the opportunity to build their own life, to take your own path, to create a strong family, strong neighborhood, community, state and country. That’s what made America great.

We built a great country from the bottom up. And we need people to go up against President Obama and his vision of a top-down government control, of not just health care, but of energy and of manufacturing and of financial services, and who knows what else is next.

But this is a — this is a president who believes — who believes that he simply is better able to do this than you are, that he will be fairer than you are with your fellow man.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is an election about fundamental liberty. And the signature piece, the signature piece of legislation that points this out, where you have economic rights created by the government, and then the government using its heavy hand to force you to buy insurance, to force you to take policies that you don’t want, and, of course, to force you to take coverages that may even violate your faith convictions…

(BOOING)

… in this race, there is only one candidate who can go up on the most important issue of the day and make the case, because I’ve never been for an individual mandate at a state or federal level. I’ve never…

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: Rick! Rick! Rick! Rick! Rick! Rick! Rick! Rick! Rick! Rick! Rick!

SANTORUM: I’ve never passed a statewide government-run health care system when I was governor, because, well, I wasn’t governor, but Governor Romney did. And now we find out this week not only did he pass it in Massachusetts, he advocated for it to be passed in Washington, D.C., in the middle of the debate on health care.

(BOOING)

It’s one thing to defend a mandated top-down government-run health care program that you imposed on the people of your state. It’s another thing to recommend and encourage the president of the United States to impose the same thing on the American people. And it’s another thing yet to go out and tell the American public that you didn’t do it.

(BOOING)

We need a person running against President Obama who is right on the issues and truthful with the American public.

(APPLAUSE)

This race provides a great opportunity for a great contrast.

SANTORUM: Big things have to happen in this country to — to bring us back from the brink of insolvency. Big things have to happen so we can secure our freedom and, as I talked about this morning in front of AIPAC, that we have a president that stands with our allies and defends this country and does not apologize for America around the world.

(APPLAUSE)

We need a fighter. We need a fighter and someone who learned what America was about by growing up in communities just like this, understanding how America and neighborhoods and families work, and believing in them, understanding they’re under a lot of stress and strain right now, much of which is put upon them by the government, understanding that that’s the greatness of our country. My mom and my mother-in-law and father-in-law represent here on this stage the greatest generation. And…

(APPLAUSE)

Mom’s hamming it up a little bit over there. OK.

(LAUGHTER)

But the greatest generation was the greatest generation not because they had greater — greater character or courage or perseverance than those of us today. The greatest generation was great because, when freedom was at stake, they rose to meet the call to defend this country.

(APPLAUSE)

We’re at a time in this country when freedom is at stake and you are all blessed, as I am, to be here at a time when your country needs you, to be here at a time, like the original founders of this country, who signed that Declaration of Independence, to be here at a time when freedom was at stake and people were willing to go out and do heroic and courageous things to win that victory.

I want to thank all of you here in Ohio for overcoming enormous odds to make this a great night for us here in the Buckeye State.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to thank, in particular, up here on stage, Mike and Fran DeWine for all the help and support and standing up and fighting for me throughout the course of this time. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

Tonight, it’s clear. It’s clear. We’ve won races all over this country against the odds. When they thought, oh, OK, he’s finally finished, we keep coming back.

(APPLAUSE)

We are in this thing. We are in this thing not because I so badly want to be the most powerful man in this country. It’s because I want so badly to return the power to you in this country.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you, Steubenville! God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you.

END

Full Text Campaign Buzz March 6, 2012: Ron Paul’s Super Tuesday Speech / Remarks

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Ron Paul: Super Tuesday speech (Transcript, video)

Source: WaPo, 3-6-12

Ron Paul spoke in North Dakota on Tuesday night, March 6, as results were coming in from the Super Tuesday primaries.

Watch clips of his remarks here and read a transcript of his prepared remarks

REP. RON PAUL, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, DELIVERS REMARKS IN NORTH DAKOTA
[*]
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

PAUL: … next year the 100th anniversary of the Federal Reserve by repealing the Federal Reserve Act. (APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: End the Fed! End the Fed! End the Fed! End the Fed! End the Fed! End the Fed! End the Fed!

PAUL: But a lot has happened in the last four years. These problems have been going on for a long time. It’d be nice if we could blame one person or one administration, but it’s been going on a long time, so — so many young people here, I think you’re realizing you’re getting a bad rap for what you’re inheriting. You’d like a much better deal. And the deal — the better deal can be found in less government and only sending people to Washington who have actually read the Constitution and will obey the Constitution and take their oath of office seriously…

(APPLAUSE)

… which would be — which would do so many wonderful things for us. Take, for instance, if you’re tired of the wars — I hope you’re sick and tired of the wars that we’re involved in…

(APPLAUSE)

… what if we had the return to the Constitution. The founders made sure in the document in the Constitution that the wars would only occur not by the executive branch, but only by the people, through their representatives in Congress. That’s the way all wars should be declared. If necessary, they should be declared, won, and get them over with, and come home. That’s the way it was supposed to be done.

(APPLAUSE)

But since — since World War II, we have gone to war without a declaration. And for that reason, we essentially have not won one of those wars. It has added a lot of tragedy.

PAUL: Just in these past 10 years, these wars that we’re fighting in the Middle East, over 8,500 Americans have died, 44,000 have come back with serious injuries — and amputations and all kinds of problems — hundreds of thousands looking for help because of post- traumatic stress syndrome, at the same time, economically it’s been very damaging. It has added $4 trillion to our national debt. That is what you’re inheriting. This is the reason why it is so important, if you’re talking about peace and prosperity, you have to change the Constitution and have a lot less war and make a lot more sincere effort to promote the cause of peace.

(APPLAUSE)

But this has been going on for a long time, and both administrations have been doing this, and this is the reason that the message of liberty actually brings people together, because individuals see that the parties aren’t doing a very good job. You elect one party to cut the spending; they raise the debt and the spending, as well. Another party is supposed to do the job; they go in and nothing changes.

So if you look at the candidates today, there is very little difference, except for one.

(APPLAUSE)

The rest — the rest of the candidates support the status quo. Foreign policies never change. Monetary policy doesn’t change. There’s no challenge to the Federal Reserve system. And most of all, there’s no — no desire to protect personal liberty, personal privacy, protect us from the intrusiveness of the federal government, to protect your right to use — to use the Internet.

These are the kinds of things that are so important to so many people. And, unfortunately, that is not offered. I believe it is the offering up of a program that — that emphasizes personal liberty, the Constitution, sound monetary policy, and a sensible foreign policy is the reason the momentum is building and the reason why we’re getting such a great reception here in North Dakota.

Full Text Campaign Buzz March 6, 2012: Mitt Romney’s Speech / Remarks after Super Tuesday Victories in GOP / Republican Presidential Primaries

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Mitt Romney Delivers Remarks on Super Tuesday

romney-2012-blog-photo-supporter-victory-speech.jpg

Thank you!  What a great night!

And thank you, Massachusetts!  We are excited to be in the Bay State tonight celebrating with family and friends who have worked tirelessly on this campaign.  And, of course, it’s an honor to have so many of the citizens I served as governor join our cause.  Your support means everything to me, and I will not let you down.

Tonight, we are counting up the delegates for the convention – and counting down the days until November.  We’re going to take your vote and our victory all the way to the White House!

It’s been a long road to Super Tuesday.  My opponents have all worked very hard – and I’d like to congratulate Newt Gingrich on a good night in Georgia, Rick Santorum on his night, and Ron Paul for his steadfast commitment to our Constitution and his strong support in every state.

We started our campaign nine months ago on a New Hampshire farm not too far from here.  It was a beautiful spring day full of hope and promise, a day that made us all recognize once again how lucky we are to be Americans. What we launched that day was not just an effort to win more votes – or more delegates – it was the start of an effort to restore the promise of America, a promise we all know has been frayed by these difficult times.

We’ve sounded our clarion call across this country, from airport tarmacs to factory floors, from door to door, and heart to heart.  I’ve met with moms and dads, teachers and students, business owners and factory workers. I’ve listened and I’ve learned.  I hope I’m a better candidate for it. And I will be forever grateful for this greatest of experiences.

I’ve met people like Norm Byrne, who exemplify the innovative spirit that built this country.

Norm didn’t get to go to college.  He doesn’t have an engineering degree.  But he does have over 100 patents to his name.  He turned a small shop in his basement into a successful company that helped build an industry.  And it’s entrepreneurs like Norm who are going to get the American economy back on track.

I’ve met parents like David McArthur, whose children have served and suffered for their country in war.  David’s son was seriously injured in Afghanistan.  He returned from the front lines only to face a new fight to get the medical care he needs – and he has surely earned.  As I told David, I believe that to those who put everything on the line, we owe everything they need.

America’s veterans deserve a lot better than long lines and reduced benefits. And, as President, I’m going to make sure they get it.

As a candidate for President, I’ve had the privilege of meeting people like Norm and David.

Their stories are inspiring.  But I’ve also met people who are really hurting in this stagnant Obama Economy – and their stories are heart-breaking.

Some have lost their jobs, others work two jobs just to get by.  Some used to be middle class, but now they are struggling again, right back where they started.  The prices for gas and food and clothing keep going up, but their paycheck stays the same.

President Obama keeps telling these Americans that the recovery is here.  But, for them, the recession isn’t over.

From generation to generation, Americans have always known that the future would be brighter and better.  Americans have always believed in a tomorrow full of possibility and prosperity.

That deep confidence in a better tomorrow is the basic promise of America.  Today, that promise is being threatened by a faltering economy and a failed presidency.

To the millions of Americans who look around and can only see jobs they can’t get and bills they can’t pay, I have a message:  You have not failed.  This President has failed you.

President Obama said he would create jobs.  For 36 months, unemployment has been above 8%.

He said he would cut the deficit in half.  He’s doubled it.

Today, our debts are too high and our opportunities are too few.  And we’ve seen enough of this President over the last three years to know that we don’t need another five.

This President is out of ideas.  He’s running out of excuses.  And, in 2012, he’ll be out of office.

President Obama seems to believe he is unchecked by our Constitution.  He is unresponsive to the will of our people; he operates by command instead of by consensus.  In a second term, he would be unrestrained by the demands of re-election. And if there is one thing we can’t afford, it is four years of a Barack Obama with no one to answer to.

These days, the President and his team keep telling us that things are getting better.  24 million Americans are still struggling for work, and they are high-fiving each other in the West Wing.

But, my friends, the truth is this:  8% unemployment is not the best America can do; it’s just the best this administration can do.  When I am President, the American economy will not be lagging behind; it will be leading the world.

For this administration, the unemployment number is just another inconvenient statistic standing in the way of a second term.  But those numbers are more than data on a spreadsheet; they are worried families and anxious faces.  And tonight, I’d like to say to each of them:  You have not been forgotten. We will not leave you behind.  Our campaign is on the move.  And real change is finally on the way.

Times may be tough, but our citizens still believe in the promise of America.  And they deserve a President who believes in them.

That’s why our campaign is about more than just replacing a President.  It is about restoring America’s promise.

We won’t settle for this President’s “new normal.”  I am offering a real choice and a new beginning.  And I have a plan that will deliver more jobs, less debt, and smaller government.

President Obama raised the national debt.  I will cut, cap, and balance the budget.

He passed Obamacare.  I’ll repeal Obamacare.

He lost our AAA credit rating; I’ll restore it.

He rejected the Keystone Pipeline.  I’ll approve it.  He has stalled domestic energy production.  I will open up our lands for development, so we can finally get the energy we need at a price we can afford.

When it comes to the economy, my highest priority will be worrying about your job, not saving my own.  I have a pro-growth tax plan that will jumpstart the economy.

President Obama wants to raise your taxes.  I will cut them.  That starts with an across-the-board, 20% rate cut for every American.  I will repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax – and I will finally abolish the death tax.

He’s proposed raising taxes for job creators.  I will cut taxes for job creators.

He wants to raise taxes on savings and investment.  I will help middle class families save and invest tax-free.

President Obama doesn’t have a single serious proposal for saving Medicare or Social Security.  I have a plan that saves and strengthens both – and I have the courage to put it on the table.

As President, I will get our economy back on track – and get our citizens back to work.  And, unlike President Obama, I actually have the experience to deliver on that promise.

I spent 25 years in business.  I have been the steward of an Olympics and the leader of this great state.  I’ve cut taxes 19 times.  I’ve turned a budget shortfall into a surplus.  I know how government kills jobs – and, yes, how it can help create them.  I stand ready to lead our Party to victory – and our nation to prosperity.

I have said before – and I firmly believe – that this campaign is about saving the soul of America.  And it is driven by the unshakable optimism that lies within our American hearts.

We know that our future is brighter and better than these troubled times. We have been knocked down. We have been tested.  But we don’t accept an America of limits.  We know that America is a land of opportunity. We still get up each day and thank God that we’re Americans.  And we know that with hard work and strong leadership, our greatest days are ahead.

Tonight we’ve taken one more step toward restoring the promise of America.  Tomorrow we wake up and we start again.  And the next day we do the same.  And so it will go, day by day, step by step, door to door, heart to heart.

There will be good days and bad days, always long hours and never enough time.  But, on November 6th, we will stand united – not only having won an election, but having saved a future.

It is time we believe in ourselves. It is time to Believe in America.

I’m asking you to join our cause.  We need your energy and your conviction and your commitment.

I’m asking for you to pledge your support at mitt-romney-dot-com.  We need your voice and your vote in this campaign.

I’m asking you to join in the fight for our freedom – and ensure that tomorrow will be better than today.

Let’s go forward together and restore the promise of America!  Together, let’s fight for the country we love.

Thank you.  And God bless America.

Campaign Buzz March 6, 2012: Sarah Palin votes for Newt Gingrich at Alaska caucus — Will not rule out Presidential run “Anything is possible”

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Sarah Palin casts vote for Gingrich at Alaska caucus

Source: CBS News, 3-6-12

After declining to tell a CNN reporter who she voted for in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Sarah Palin told Fox Business Network Tuesday evening that she had cast a ballot for Newt Gingrich at her caucus site in Wasilla, Alaska.  “I have appreciated what he has stood for, stood boldly for,” she said. “He has been the underdog in many of these primary races and these caucuses and I’ve respected what he has stood for…my preference tonight was for the cheerful one.” (Gingrich chose “cheerful” when asked to describe himself in one word at a recent presidential debate.)…  Palin also said in the interview that while she will support Romney if he is the nominee, “To be brutally honest…he’s not garnering a lot of that enthusiasm right now” because Republicans are worried he is only winning because he has more money than his rivals.

Stopped after voting by a CNN reporter earlier in the day, Palin would say only that she wanted “to see the process continue.” “I do believe that competition makes all of our candidates better,” she told the cable network. “Remember, there are five men running for president, and I think Barack Obama is the worst choice, is the last choice. So the four in front of him, as they duke it out in the arena of ideas and solutions to propose, the more of that, the better.” The former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee also declined to rule out a presidential run in 2016, first telling CNN that “anything in this life, in this world is possible.” “Anything is possible for an American,” she told CNN. “And I don’t discount any idea or plan that at this point isn’t in my control.” Pressed on whether she would seriously consider a run, she said she would “seriously consider whatever I can do to help our country to put things back on the right track.” “Anything that I can do to help, I will be willing to help,” said Palin. Later, when asked if she would enter the 2012 race if there is a contested Republican presidential convention, she replied: “As I say, anything is possible.” “And I don’t close any doors that perhaps would be open out there,” she said. “So, no, I wouldn’t close that door. And my plan is to be at that convention.”…

“It is tough for me to spin out of a question like that when it comes from a Fox reporter,” she said. “If it comes from another reporter, I can spin out of it. Since it came from you, I will tell you, I won’t sound like a politician and I will tell you who I voted for tonight.”

Full Text Campaign Buzz March 6, 2012: Newt Gingrich’s Super Tuesday Speech / Remarks after Winning in GOP / Republican Presidential Primary in Georgia

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Newt Gingrich’s Super Tuesday speech (full transcript, video)

Source: WaPo, 3-6-12

Newt Gingrich greeted cheering supporters in Atlanta, Ga., after picking up a primary win in his home state. Read the full text of Gingrich’s speech below (text courtesy FDCH transcripts):

GINGRICH: You know, this is amazing.

(LAUGHTER) I hope the analysts in Washington and New York, who spent June and July explaining our campaign was dead…

(LAUGHTER)

… will watch this tonight and learn a little bit from this crowd and from this place.

(APPLAUSE)

We survived the national elite’s effort to kill us in the summer because of you, because people who said, we are not going to allow the elite to decide who we are allowed to nominate. And so, with your help, thousands and thousands of people came to newt.org. And with your help, we survived the two most difficult months of a career which goes back to August of 1958.

And June and July were really hard, and it was precisely because the national elite — especially in the Republican Party — had decided that a Gingrich presidency was so frightening that they had to kill it early. But, you, you wouldn’t let them do it.

(APPLAUSE)

So with your help and the power of large solutions and big ideas and clear communications in the debates, by December, according to Gallup, I was the frontrunner by 15 points, and according to Rasmussen, I was the frontrunner by 21 points, because you believed in the power of ideas, you believed that people can make a difference, that, in fact, Wall Street money can be beaten by Main Street work.

(APPLAUSE)

And, of course, at that point, Wall Street money decided that only a relentlessly negative $5 million campaign in Iowa would work, and they did reduce my support from 36 percent to 14 percent in three weeks of unrelenting negativity.

GINGRICH: And, once again, the media said, oh, I guess this is over, finally. But you all said no.

AUDIENCE: No!

GINGRICH: And at the very depths of the establishment rejecting it, thousands of more people came to newt.org and signed up. And the result was, by South Carolina, we won a historic victory, carried 43 out of 46 counties. And it was extraordinary.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: And I’m pretty sure that tonight we have a number of the South Carolinians who helped us win who are here who came over to help celebrate this great victory.

(APPLAUSE)

And at that point, the forces of Wall Street figured out they were in real trouble. And as the New York Times reported later, they held a meeting on Sunday morning after a Saturday night primary, and they said, “We have to destroy Gingrich.” One of them was even quoted in the New York Times as saying, “We have to eviscerate him,” which I thought was a fairly strong word in a Republican primary.

(LAUGHTER)

I would expect Obama’s people to do that. But I thought it was a tad much, having spent my entire career building the Republican Party.

And so they piled on $20 million in three weeks of negativity in Florida, and we were still standing. We carried all of north Florida. And, interestingly, everywhere we were, when we won, the vote went up. When Wall Street won, the vote went down, which I think’s a pretty bad sign for this fall, if we end up with a Wall Street candidate.

At that point, once again, they began to say, well, maybe he’s gone. And then, frankly, Senator Santorum did something very clever. He went to three states nobody else was in, and he won them.

(LAUGHTER)

And the news media, once again desperate to prove Gingrich was gone, suddenly said, ah, now we have the person who’s going to be the non-Romney. Now, Callista and I looked at each other, Jackie and Jimmy and Kathy and Paul, my two debate coaches, Maggie and Robert… (LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

By the way, I would say, for the performance they get out of me, the most underpaid debate coaches in America.

(LAUGHTER)

Although they’ll probably talk to me about that later on. I shouldn’t have said that.

(LAUGHTER)

But in any event, we looked at each other and we thought, you know, remember when it was Tim Pawlenty who was going to crowd me out? And remember then when it was Michele Bachmann? And then it was our good friend, Herman Cain the first time? And then, for a brief moment, it was Donald Trump almost.

(LAUGHTER)

And then it was our good friend, Rick Perry, then it was Herman Cain the second time, and now it’s Santorum. And you just can’t quite get across to them: It’s all right. There are lots of bunny rabbits that run through. I am the tortoise. I just take one step at a time.

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: Newt! Newt! Newt! Newt! Newt!

GINGRICH: And I have always tried to be very candid. Sometimes it gets me in trouble, but on balance I think it’s how I want to live and how I want to do things. And so I said — I said, at the very peak of, you know, the Santorum surge and all this stuff, if I can’t carry my home state, where people know me, I would have no credibility. And I knew the basic Wall Street technique, which was to come in and spend lots of — how many of you have noticed negative ads?

How many of you have noticed the — the Reagan negative ad that is a total lie, OK? I mean, that’s — that’s what we’re up against. It’s one thing to have lots of money; it’s another thing to lie with the money.

And so I looked around, I thought, you know, let’s go home, and let’s test it out. I’ll go home. Callista and I crisscrossed the state. Kathy and Jackie were a great help. And I have to say, Governor Deal did a tremendous job and worked very hard.

(APPLAUSE)

Herman Cain stepped up to the plate and worked very, very hard.

(APPLAUSE) Todd Palin made phone calls and really helped communicate that there was a candidate who ought to be helped. The fact is, in Tennessee, Fred Thompson was just tremendously helpful. And in Oklahoma, J.C. Watts was extraordinary.

(APPLAUSE)

And so we basically put people power up against money power. And as you saw, the very first race they called tonight about 15 seconds after the polls closed.

(APPLAUSE)

And so I’m here, first of all, to say thank you to each and every one of you, because you are the reason we survived every effort of the establishment to stop us.

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: Newt! Newt! Newt! Newt! Newt! Newt! Newt! Newt! Newt! Newt! Newt! Newt! Newt! Newt!

GINGRICH: Now, being here at the Waverly brings back many memories. In 1994, this is where we learned that, for the first time in 40 years, there would be a Republican speaker of the House.

(APPLAUSE)

And, you know, for that entire campaign, all of the elites thought we were crazy. First of all, we ran a positive campaign. We had a Contract with America. They just thought that was weird. Why — why would you go to all that trouble? You have all these ideas.

(LAUGHTER)

We didn’t spend our time on lots and lots of negative ads. We spent our time communicating hope to the American people. The result was the largest one-party increase in an off-year in American history, because the American people want a chance to have hope again.

(APPLAUSE)

So, as Callista said, tomorrow will bring another chapter in the race for the nomination, but it’s more than a chapter in the race for the nomination. It’s a chapter in a fight for the soul of the Republican Party. It’s a chapter in the fight for the very nature of America. It’s a chapter defining who we are as a people.

And let me be very clear. I believe that I am the one candidate who has the ability to debate Barack Obama decisively…

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: Newt! Newt! Newt! Newt! Newt! Newt! Newt! Newt! Newt!

GINGRICH: And — and let me be straight. I — I don’t believe the Romney technique of outspending your opponent four- or five-to-one with negative ads will work against Barack Obama, because there is no possibility that any Republican is going to out-raise the incumbent president of the United States. Therefore, you can’t follow that strategy.

What you have to have is somebody who knows what they believe, understands how to articulate it so it cuts through all the media, offsets the bias of the elite media who are desperate to re-elect the president and has the guts to take the president head-on every single time he’s wrong.

(APPLAUSE)

(UNKNOWN): No TelePrompTer!

(LAUGHTER)

GINGRICH: Well, we run a very frugal campaign, and we couldn’t afford one.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

But I’ve — I’ve already promised that if the president will agree to seven three-hour debates in the Lincoln-Douglas tradition, he can use a TelePrompTer if he wants to.

(APPLAUSE)

And I’ll get to that in just a second. But I want you to know that, in the morning, we are going on to Alabama.

(APPLAUSE)

We’re going on to Mississippi.

(APPLAUSE)

We’re going on to Kansas.

(APPLAUSE)

And that’s just this week. I was actually in Huntsville this afternoon, starting off our Alabama effort. And I want to say to all of you, any of you who have friends anywhere in the country, if you can e-mail them, if you can post on Facebook something as simple as, “Newt equals $2.50-a-gallon gasoline,” if you can go to Twitter and put in #250gas, I mean, we run a very inexpensive, very straightforward, reach-every-single-person campaign.

Now, I just want to give you one example of how profoundly different we are both from the other candidates and from the president, one that I would love to debate this president about. And that’s the one that a number of you are holding signs for. I want us to have an American energy policy so no president will ever again bow to a Saudi king.

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: Newt! Newt! Newt! Newt! Newt! Newt! Newt! Newt!

GINGRICH: Now, I want you to imagine the debate this fall. The president was right the other day. He’s so nervous about gasoline prices and energy that he’s done two major speeches. And I thought today, in one of the most shallow and self-serving comments by a president that I’ve heard in a long time, he was candid in his press conference. He said, “You know, I’m really worried about higher gas prices because it will make it harder for me to get re-elected.”

(BOOING)

I did not make this up. It was just nice to know that the president once again has managed to take the pain of the American people and turn it into his own personal problem.

(LAUGHTER)

Now, the fact is, I’d love to debate this president, because when you read these speeches, they are so deliciously incoherent.

(LAUGHTER)

They — they are the perfect case study of liberalism run amok. The president says, the Republicans have three strategies. Strategy number one is drilling; strategy number two is drilling; strategy number three is drilling.

(APPLAUSE)

And I want to say to him, Mr. President, this is one of the rare occasions when I can say: You are right.

(APPLAUSE)

But the president had an alternative to drilling. And this is why debating him would be just one of those moments where you could almost sell tickets for charity.

(LAUGHTER)

The president said, we have to be practical; drilling won’t solve it. And then he offered his practical solution. Anybody here remember what it was?

AUDIENCE: Algae!

GINGRICH: Algae.

(LAUGHTER) Algae. I mean, I think this summer, as gas prices keep going up, one of our campaign techniques should be have people go to gas stations with a jar of algae…

(LAUGHTER)

… and say to people, would you rather have the Gingrich solution of drilling and having more oil? Or would you like to try to put this in your gas tank?

(LAUGHTER)

I mean, you can’t — I’m amazed that “Saturday Night Live” hasn’t taken that speech and turned it into a skit. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up.

(LAUGHTER)

What made it really intellectually totally incoherent was the president — literally two pages after he explains that drilling doesn’t work — the president explains that we’ve had this great breakthrough in natural gas, that we now have, thanks to new technology, over 100 years’ supply of natural gas, that, in fact, we’re going to create 600,000 new jobs in the next decade out of natural gas.

GINGRICH: And I am still waiting for one of the reporters at the White House to come out of their comatose “Re-elect Obama” stance and ask the following question: How does the president think we discovered the natural gas? Because, of course, the answer is…

AUDIENCE: Drilling!

GINGRICH: Right? Now, I — I came up with a specific proposal to — to make vivid that there could be a better future in practical terms. So I proposed $2.50 a gallon as our goal.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, I have to say, my daughter, Jackie, was off campaigning with Herman Cain, and after two days of campaigning with Herman, she came back to me, and she said, you know, maybe we should change that. Maybe it should be $2.4999.

(LAUGHTER)

And to his credit, Herman said, no, that will not work as a marketing device. Stick with 2-5-0, which — which he’s very good at. So I picked $2.50. And I actually picked it by asking the oil experts, what’s a price at which you would have continuous exploration? Because my goal is to have energy independence so we are free of the Middle East.

(APPLAUSE)

When the Iranians practice closing the Straits of Hormuz through which one out of every five barrels of oil in the world flow, the short-term answer is the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force. And the ultimatum: that closing the straits would be an act of war and their government would cease to exist.

(APPLAUSE)

But the long-term solution is to create American energy independence so we could say to China, India, and Europe: You have a problem in the Straits of Hormuz. We hope you can solve it, but we’re not in charge of it.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, the fact is that $2.50 is attainable. Governor Romney came to town the other day and said I was pandering by picking it up. And I just want to explain to the governor, no, this is called leading.

(APPLAUSE)

Leaders create large goals. Leaders create a vision of a better future. Leaders arouse the American people to go out and do great things. Leaders believe the American people could easily achieve energy independence if the government got out of the way.

(APPLAUSE)

So if your friends ask you why we are emphasizing $2.50 and is it practical, first of all, you can tell them to go to newt.org. We have there an entire 30-minute speech which outlines why it is doable and it’s practical. I wrote a book called “Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less” back in 2008. Callista and I did a movie called “We Have the Power.” I mean, this is clearly doable.

But in addition, point out three numbers to them. The price of gasoline when I was speaker was $1.13. The price of gasoline when Barack Obama became president was $1.89. All of this gigantic increase came from his policies.

Finally, if you remember the natural gas story the president’s so proud of, we have now developed so much natural gas that — that supply is outrunning demand and the price has fallen from $7.97 to around $2.86. Now, translate that as a percentage decline — and this is, by the way, with an 11 percent increase in production. They haven’t — they haven’t doubled it. They haven’t gotten even to 25 percent yet. But an 11 percent increase in production suddenly changed the whole equation of supply and demand.

Now, if you had the same experience with oil, you would end up at $1.13, what it was when I was a speaker. So $2.50 is a long way from a radical number; $2.50 is a practical, cautious, doable number. And my goal over the next few weeks is to drive home to every American, we don’t have to be trapped in a Department of Anti-Energy. We don’t have to be trapped with an EPA which destroys jobs. We don’t have to be trapped with a president who refuses to build the Keystone pipeline, refuses to reopen the gulf, refuses to develop Alaska.

(APPLAUSE)

With — with your help — with your help, we’re going to get enough people to come to newt.org and sign up. We have 173,000 donors already; 95 percent of them give less than $250. We have a place where you can actually come in and give one Newt gallon. That’s $2.50.

(LAUGHTER)

If you get excited, you can give 10 Newt gallons. That’s $25.

With your help, we’re going to go on to Tampa and win the nomination.

(APPLAUSE) Thank you. Good luck, and God bless you.

(APPLAUSE)

END

Full Text Obama Presidency March 6, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Press Conference on Housing Mortgage Refinancing Plan & Potential Military Action Against Iran

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Live Blog: President Obama’s News Conference

Source: NYT, 3-6-12
 
President Obama held a news conference in the White House briefing room on Tuesday.Doug Mills/The New York TimesPresident Obama held a news conference in the White House briefing room on Tuesday.

President Obama held his first news conference of the year on Tuesday. We carried the play-by-play.

Topically, it ranged over a turbulent landscape: Super Tuesday politics, saber-rattling over Iran, gasoline prices, the war in Afghanistan, the economic recovery and contraception. With so much weighty matter before him, the White House chose to use the event to highlight, of all things, some relatively narrow housing policy actions: a recent settlement with banks that will help some veterans recoup their losses on mortgage foreclosures, and a tweak to the refinancing charges on some federally insured loans….READ MORE

Obama Challenges Republicans on Iran

Source: NYT, 3-6-12

President Obama responding to questions from reporters at a news conference in Washington.Doug Mills/The New York TimesPresident Obama responding to questions from reporters at a news conference in Washington.

President Obama challenged his Republican critics to make a case to the American people for a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities if they really believe that is the right course to follow, throwing down an election-year challenge to the men who are vying to succeed him and who say that his Iran policy has been too weak.

“This is not a game,” Mr. Obama said during a news conference at the White House timed to coincide with Super Tuesday voting in the Republican primaries in a number of crucial states. Mr. Obama gave a staunch defense of his administration’s actions to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions and said that tough sanctions put in place by the United States and Europe were starting to work and were part of the reason Iran had returned to the negotiation table.

“The one thing we have not done is we have not launched a war,” Mr. Obama said. “If some of these folks think we should launch a war, let them say so, and explain to the American people.”…READ MORE

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

President Barack Obama holds a press conference (March 6, 2012)President Barack Obama holds a press conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, March 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Press Conference by the President

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:15 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Now, I understand there are some political contests going on tonight, but I thought I’d start the day off by taking a few questions, which I’m sure will not be political in nature.  (Laughter.)  Before I do, I want to make a few announcements about some steps we’re taking to help responsible homeowners who’ve been struggling through this housing crisis.

We’ve clearly seen some positive economic news over the last few months.  Businesses have created about 3.7 million new jobs over the last two years.  Manufacturers are hiring for the first time since the 1990s.  The auto industry is back and hiring more than 200,000 people over the last few years.  Confidence is up. And the economy is getting stronger.

But there are still millions of Americans who can’t find a job.  There are millions more who are having a tough time making the rent or the mortgage, paying for gas or groceries.  So our job in Washington isn’t to sit back and do nothing.  And it’s certainly not to stand in the way of this recovery.  Right now we’ve got to do everything we can to speed it up.

Now, Congress did the right thing when they passed part of my jobs plan and prevented a tax hike on 160 million working Americans this year.  And that was a good first step.  But it’s not enough.  They can’t just stop there and wait for the next election to come around.  There are a few things they can do right now that could make a real difference in people’s lives.

This Congress should, once and for all, end tax breaks for companies that are shipping jobs overseas, and use that money to reward companies that are creating jobs here in the United States.  I’ve put forward a proposal that does just that, and there’s no reason why Congress can’t come together and start acting on it.

This Congress could hold a vote on the Buffett Rule so that we don’t have billionaires paying a lower tax rate than their secretaries.  That’s just common sense.  The vast majority of Americans believe it’s common sense.  And if we’re serious about paying down our deficit, it’s as good a place to start as any.

And finally, this Congress should pass my proposal to give every responsible homeowner a chance to save an average of $3,000 a year by refinancing their mortgage at historically low rates. No red tape.  No runaround from the banks.  If you’ve been on time on your payments, if you’ve done the right thing, if you’ve acted responsibly, you should have a chance to save that money on your home — perhaps to build up your equity, or just to have more money in your pocket that you can spend on businesses in your community.  That would make a huge difference for millions of American families.

Now, if Congress refuses to act, I’ve said that I’ll continue to do everything in my power to act without them.  Last fall, we announced an initiative that allows millions of responsible homeowners to refinance at low interest rates.  Today we’re taking it a step further — we are cutting by more than half the refinancing fees that families pay for loans ensured by the Federal Housing Administration.  That’s going to save the typical family in that situation an extra $1,000 a year, on top of the savings that they’d also receive from refinancing.  That would make refinancing even more attractive to more families.  It’s like another tax cut that will put more money in people’s pockets.  We’re going to do this on our own.  We don’t need congressional authorization to do it.

We’re also taking a series of steps to help homeowners who have served our country.  It is unconscionable that members of our armed forces and their families have been some of those who have been most susceptible to losing their homes due to the actions of unscrupulous banks and mortgage lenders.  Over the last few years that happened — a lot.

So as part of the landmark settlement we reached with some of the nation’s largest banks a few weeks ago, here’s what we’re going to do:  If you are a member of the armed forces whose home was wrongfully foreclosed, you will be substantially compensated for what the bank did to you and your family.  If you are a member of the armed forces with a high interest rate who was wrongfully denied the chance to lower it while you were in active serve, which banks are required to do by law, the banks will refund you the money you would have saved along with a significant penalty.

The settlement will make sure that you aren’t forced into foreclosure just because you have a permanent change in station but can’t sell your home because you owe more than it’s worth.  Some of the money will also go into a fund that guarantees loans on favorable terms to our veterans, and there will be more foreclosure protections for every man and woman who is currently serving this country in harm’s way.

As I’ve said before, no amount of money is going to be enough to make it right for a family who has had their piece of the American Dream wrongfully taken away from them, and no action — no matter how meaningful — will entirely heal our housing market on its own.  This is not something the government by itself can solve.  But I’m not one of those people who believe that we should just sit by and wait for the housing market to hit bottom.  There are real things that we can do right now that would make a substantial difference in the lives of innocent, responsible homeowners.  That’s true in housing, and that’s true in any number of different areas when it comes to ensuring that this recovery touches as many lives as possible.  That’s going to be my top priority as long as I hold this office, and I will do everything I can to make that progress.

So with that I’m going to take some questions, and I will start with Mike Viqueira.

Q    Yes, sir.  On the Middle East and as it relates to American politics, a little less than a year ago Moammar Qaddafi gave a speech, and he said he was going to send his forces to Benghazi, he was going to rout opponents from their bedrooms and he was going to shoot them.  You frequently cited that speech as a justification for NATO, the no-fly zone and military action against Libya.  In Syria, Bashar al Assad is killing people.  There’s a massacre underway.  And your critics here in the United States, including, most notably, John McCain, said you should start air strikes now.

And on Iran, Mitt Romney, on Sunday, went so far as to say that if you are re-elected, Iran will get a bomb and the world will change.  How do you respond to those criticisms?

THE PRESIDENT:  All right, Mike, you’ve asked a couple of questions there, so let me — let’s start with the Iran situation since that’s been the topic in the news for the last few days.

When I came into office, Iran was unified, on the move, had made substantial progress on its nuclear program, and the world was divided in terms of how to deal with it.  What we’ve been able to do over the last three years is mobilize unprecedented, crippling sanctions on Iran.  Iran is feeling the bite of these sanctions in a substantial way.  The world is unified; Iran is politically isolated.

And what I have said is, is that we will not countenance Iran getting a nuclear weapon.  My policy is not containment; my policy is to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon — because if they get a nuclear weapon that could trigger an arms race in the region, it would undermine our non-proliferation goals, it could potentially fall into the hands of terrorists.  And we’ve been in close consultation with all our allies, including Israel, in moving this strategy forward.

At this stage, it is my belief that we have a window of opportunity where this can still be resolved diplomatically.  That’s not just my view.  That’s the view of our top intelligence officials; it’s the view of top Israeli intelligence officials.  And, as a consequence, we are going to continue to apply the pressure even as we provide a door for the Iranian regime to walk through where they could rejoin the community of nations by giving assurances to the international community that they’re meeting their obligations and they are not pursuing a nuclear weapon.

That’s my track record.  Now, what’s said on the campaign trail — those folks don’t have a lot of responsibilities.  They’re not Commander-in-Chief.  And when I see the casualness with which some of these folks talk about war, I’m reminded of the costs involved in war.  I’m reminded that the decision that I have to make in terms of sending our young men and women into battle, and the impacts that has on their lives, the impact it has on our national security, the impact it has on our economy.

This is not a game.  There’s nothing casual about it.  And when I see some of these folks who have a lot of bluster and a lot of big talk, but when you actually ask them specifically what they would do, it turns out they repeat the things that we’ve been doing over the last three years, it indicates to me that that’s more about politics than actually trying to solve a difficult problem.

Now, the one thing that we have not done is we haven’t launched a war.  If some of these folks think that it’s time to launch a war, they should say so.  And they should explain to the American people exactly why they would do that and what the consequences would be.  Everything else is just talk.

Q    That goes to Syria as well?

THE PRESIDENT:  With respect to Syria, what’s happening in Syria is heartbreaking and outrageous, and what you’ve seen is the international community mobilize against the Assad regime.  And it’s not a question of when Assad leaves — or if Assad leaves — it’s a question of when.  He has lost the legitimacy of his people.  And the actions that he’s now taking against his own people is inexcusable, and the world community has said so in a more or less unified voice.

On the other hand, for us to take military action unilaterally, as some have suggested, or to think that somehow there is some simple solution, I think is a mistake.  What happened in Libya was we mobilized the international community, had a U.N. Security Council mandate, had the full cooperation of the region, Arab states, and we knew that we could execute very effectively in a relatively short period of time.  This is a much more complicated situation.

So what we’ve done is to work with key Arab states, key international partners — Hillary Clinton was in Tunisia — to come together and to mobilize and plan how do we support the opposition; how do we provide humanitarian assistance; how do we continue the political isolation; how do we continue the economic isolation.  And we are going to continue to work on this project with other countries.  And it is my belief that, ultimately, this dictator will fall, as dictators in the past have fallen.

But the notion that the way to solve every one of these problems is to deploy our military, that hasn’t been true in the past and it won’t be true now.  We’ve got to think through what we do through the lens of what’s going to be effective, but also what’s critical for U.S. security interests.

Jake Tapper.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  What kind of assurances did you give Prime Minister Netanyahu about the role that the U.S. would play if diplomacy and economic sanctions fail to work to convince Iran’s leaders to change their behavior, and Israel goes ahead and prepares to strike a nuclear facility?  What kind of assurances did you tell him?  And shouldn’t we — I recognize the difference between debate and bluster — but shouldn’t we be having in this country a vigorous debate about what could happen in the case of a Middle East war in a way that, sadly, we did not do before going into Iraq?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think there’s no doubt that those who are suggesting, or proposing, or beating the drums of war should explain clearly to the American people what they think the costs and benefits would be.

I’m not one of those people — because what I’ve said is, is that we have a window through which we can resolve this issue peacefully.  We have put forward an international framework that is applying unprecedented pressure.  The Iranians just stated that they are willing to return to the negotiating table.  And we’ve got the opportunity, even as we maintain that pressure, to see how it plays out.

I’m not going to go into the details of my conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu.  But what I said publicly doesn’t differ greatly from what I said privately.  Israel is a sovereign nation that has to make its own decisions about how best to preserve its security.  And as I said over the last several days, I am deeply mindful of the historical precedents that weigh on any Prime Minister of Israel when they think about the potential threats to Israel and the Jewish homeland.

What I’ve also said is that because sanctions are starting to have significant effect inside of Iran — and that’s not just my assessment, that’s, I think, a uniform assessment — because the sanctions are going to be even tougher in the coming months, because they’re now starting to affect their oil industry, their central bank, and because we’re now seeing noises about them returning to the negotiating table, that it is deeply in everybody’s interests — the United States, Israel and the world’s — to see if this can be resolved in a peaceful fashion.

And so this notion that somehow we have a choice to make in the next week or two weeks, or month or two months, is not borne out by the facts.  And the argument that we’ve made to the Israelis is that we have made an unprecedented commitment to their security.  There is an unbreakable bond between our two countries, but one of the functions of friends is to make sure that we provide honest and unvarnished advice in terms of what is the best approach to achieve a common goal — particularly one in which we have a stake.  This is not just an issue of Israeli interest; this is an issue of U.S. interests.  It’s also not just an issue of consequences for Israel if action is taken prematurely.  There are consequences to the United States as well.

And so I do think that any time we consider military action that the American people understand there’s going to be a price to pay.  Sometimes it’s necessary.  But we don’t do it casually.

When I visit Walter Reed, when I sign letters to families that haven’t — whose loved ones have not come home, I am reminded that there is a cost.  Sometimes we bear that cost.  But we think it through.  We don’t play politics with it.  When we have in the past — when we haven’t thought it through and it gets wrapped up in politics, we make mistakes.  And typically, it’s not the folks who are popping off who pay the price.  It’s these incredible men and women in uniform and their families who pay the price.

And as a consequence, I think it’s very important for us to take a careful, thoughtful, sober approach to what is a real problem.  And that’s what we’ve been doing over the last three years.  That’s what I intend to keep doing.

Q    Sir, I’m sorry, if I could just quickly follow up — you didn’t —

THE PRESIDENT:  Jake —

Q    You might not be beating the drums of war, but you did very publicly say, we’ve got Israel’s back.  What does that mean?

THE PRESIDENT:  What it means is, is that, historically, we have always cooperated with Israel with respect to the defense of Israel, just like we do with a whole range of other allies — just like we do with Great Britain, just like we do with Japan.  And that broad statement I think is confirmed when you look at what we’ve done over the last three years on things like Iron Dome that prevents missiles from raining down on their small towns along border regions of Israel, that potentially land on schools or children or families.  And we’re going to continue that unprecedented security — security commitment.

It was not a military doctrine that we were laying out for any particular military action.  It was a restatement of our consistent position that the security of Israel is something I deeply care about, and that the deeds of my administration over the last three years confirms how deeply we care about it.  That’s a commitment we’ve made.

Jackie.  Where’s Jackie?  There you are.

Q    With the news this morning that the U.S. and its allies are returning to the table, are taking up Iran’s offer to talk again, more than a year after those talks broke up in frustration, is this Israel’s — Iran’s last chance to negotiate an end to this nuclear question?

And you said three years ago — nearly three years ago, in a similar one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, that the time for talk — by the end of that year, 2009, you would be considering whether Iran was negotiating in good faith.  And you said at that time that “we’re not going to have talks forever.”  So here we are nearly three years later.  Is this it?  And did you think you would be here three years after those first talks?

THE PRESIDENT:  You know, there is no doubt that over the last three years when Iran has engaged in negotiations there has been hemming and hawing and stalling and avoiding the issues in ways that the international community has concluded were not serious.  And my expectations, given the consequences of inaction for them, the severe sanctions that are now being applied, the huge toll it’s taking on their economy, the degree of isolation that they’re feeling right now — which is unprecedented — they understand that the world community means business.

To resolve this issue will require Iran to come to the table and discuss in a clear and forthright way how to prove to the international community that the intentions of their nuclear program are peaceful.  They know how to do that.  This is not a mystery.  And so it’s going to be very important to make sure that, on an issue like this — there are complexities; it obviously has to be methodical.  I don’t expect a breakthrough in a first meeting, but I think we will have a pretty good sense fairly quickly as to how serious they are about resolving the issue.

And there are steps that they can take that would send a signal to the international community and that are verifiable, that would allow them to be in compliance with international norms, in compliance with international mandates, abiding by the non-proliferation treaty, and provide the world an assurance that they’re not pursuing a nuclear weapon.  They know how to do it, and the question is going to be whether in these discussions they show themselves moving clearly in that direction.

Ed Henry.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  I wanted to follow up on Israel and Iran because you have said repeatedly you have Israel’s back.  And so I wonder why, three years in office, you have not visited Israel as President.  And related to Iran and Israel, you have expressed concern about this loose talk of war, as you call it, driving up gas prices further.  Your critics will say on Capitol Hill that you want gas prices to go higher because you have said before, that will wean the American people off fossil fuels, onto renewable fuels.  How do you respond to that?

THE PRESIDENT:  Ed, just from a political perspective, do you think the President of the United States going into reelection wants gas prices to go up higher?  (Laughter.)  Is that — is there anybody here who thinks that makes a lot of sense?

Look, here’s the bottom line with respect to gas prices.  I want gas prices lower because they hurt families; because I meet folks every day who have to drive a long way to get to work and them filling up this gas tank gets more and more painful, and it’s a tax out of their pocketbooks, out of their paychecks, and a lot of folks are already operating on the margins right now.

And it’s not good for the overall economy, because when gas prices go up, consumer spending oftentimes pulls back.  And we’re in the midst right now of a recovery that is starting to build up steam, and we don’t want to reverse it.

What I have also said about gas prices is that there is no silver bullet and the only way we’re going to solve this problem over the medium and long term is with an all-of-the-above strategy that says we’re going to increase production — which has happened; we are going to make sure that we are conserving energy — that’s why we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars, which will save consumers about $1.7 trillion and take about 12 billion barrels of oil offline, which will help to reduce prices — and we’re going develop clean energy technologies that allow us to continue to use less oil.

And we’ve made progress.  I mean, the good news is, 2010, first time in a decade that our oil imports were actually below 50 percent, and they have kept on going down.  And we’re going to keep on looking at every strategy we can to, yes, reduce the amount of oil that we use, while maintaining our living standards and maintaining our productivity and maintaining our economic growth, and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that consumers aren’t hurt by it.

Now, there are some short-term steps that we’re looking at with respect to — for example, there are certain potential bottlenecks in refineries around the country that we’ve been concerned about.  We’re concerned about what’s happening in terms of production around the world.  It’s not just what’s happening in the Gulf.  You’ve had, for example, in Sudan, some oil that’s been taken offline that’s helping to restrict supply.

So we’re going to look at a whole range of measures — including, by the way, making sure that my Attorney General is paying attention to potential speculation in the oil markets.  I’ve asked him to reconstitute a task force that’s examining that.

But we go through this every year.  We’ve gone through this for 30 years.  And if we are going to be competitive, successful, and make sure families are protected over the long term, then we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got a set of options that reduce our overall dependence on oil.

And with respect to Israel, I am not the first President who has been unable, because of a whole range of issues, not to visit Israel as President in their first term.  I visited Israel twice as senator, once right before I became President.  The measure of my commitment to Israel is not measured by a single visit.  The measure of my commitment to Israel is seen in the actions that I’ve taken as President of the United States.  And it is indisputable that I’ve had Israel’s back over the last three years.

Aamer Madhani.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Do you believe Rush Limbaugh’s apology to the Georgetown law student was sufficient and heartfelt?  Do you agree with the decision of the growing number of sponsors that have decided to drop his show or stop supporting his show?  And has there been a double standard on this issue?  Liberal commentators have made similarly provocative or distasteful statements and there hasn’t been such an outrage.

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m not going to comment on what sponsors decide to do.  I’m not going to comment on either the economics or the politics of it.  I don’t know what’s in Rush Limbaugh’s heart, so I’m not going to comment on the sincerity of his apology.  What I can comment on is the fact that all decent folks can agree that the remarks that were made don’t have any place in the public discourse.

And the reason I called Ms. Fluke is because I thought about Malia and Sasha, and one of the things I want them to do as they get older is to engage in issues they care about, even ones I may not agree with them on.  I want them to be able to speak their mind in a civil and thoughtful way.  And I don’t want them attacked or called horrible names because they’re being good citizens.  And I wanted Sandra to know that I thought her parents should be proud of her, and that we want to send a message to all our young people that being part of a democracy involves argument and disagreements and debate, and we want you to be engaged, and there’s a way to do it that doesn’t involve you being demeaned and insulted, particularly when you’re a private citizen.

Jessica Yellin.

Q    Bill Mahr apologized for what he said about — (inaudible) — should apologize for what they said about that?

THE PRESIDENT:  Jessica.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

Q    Top Democrats have said that Republicans on a similar issue are engaged in a war on women.  Some top Republicans say it’s more like Democrats are engaged in a war for the women’s vote.  As you talk about loose talk of war in another arena and women are — this could raise concerns among women, do you agree with the chair of your Democratic National Committee that there is a war on women?
THE PRESIDENT:  Here is what I think.  Women are going to make up their own mind in this election about who is advancing the issues that they care most deeply about.  And one of the things I’ve learned being married to Michelle is I don’t need to tell her what it is that she thinks is important.

And there are millions of strong women around the country who are going to make their own determination about a whole range of issues.  It’s not going to be narrowly focused just on contraception.  It’s not going to be driven by one statement by one radio announcer.  It is going to be driven by their view of what’s most likely to make sure they can help support their families, make their mortgage payments; who’s got a plan to ensure that middle-class families are secure over the long term; what’s most likely to result in their kids being able to get the education they need to compete.

And I believe that Democrats have a better story to tell to women about how we’re going to solidify the middle class and grow this economy, make sure everybody has a fair shot, everybody is doing their fair share, and we got a fair set of rules of the road that everybody has to follow.

So I’m not somebody who believes that women are going to be single-issue voters.  They never have been.  But I do think that we’ve got a strong story to tell when it comes to women.

Q    Would you prefer this language be changed?

THE PRESIDENT:  Jessica, as you know, if I start being in the business of arbitrating —

Q    You talk about civility.

THE PRESIDENT:  And what I do is I practice it.  And so I’m going to try to lead by example in this situation, as opposed to commenting on every single comment that’s made by either politicians or pundits.  I would be very busy.  I would not have time to do my job.  That’s your job, to comment on what’s said by politicians and pundits.

All right.  Lori Montenegro.

Q    Mr. President, thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  There you go.

Q    Mr. President, polls are showing that Latino voters seem to be favoring your reelection over a Republican alternative.  Yet some of them are still disappointed, others have said, about a promise that you’ve made on immigration reform that has yet to come to pass.  If you are reelected, what would be your strategy, what would you do different to get immigration reform passed through the Congress, especially if both houses continue as they are right now, which is split?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, just substantively, every American should want immigration reform.  We’ve got a system that’s broken.  We’ve got a system in which you have millions of families here in this country who are living in the shadows, worried about deportation.  You’ve got American workers that are being undercut because those undocumented workers can be hired and the minimum wage laws may not be observed, overtime laws may not be observed.

You’ve got incredibly talented people who want to start businesses in this country or to work in this country, and we should want those folks here in the United States.  But right now, the legal immigration system is so tangled up that it becomes very difficult for them to put down roots here.

So we can be a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.  And it is not just a Hispanic issue — this is an issue for everybody.  This is an American issue that we need to fix.

Now, when I came into office I said I am going to push to get this done.  We didn’t get it done.  And the reason we haven’t gotten it done is because what used to be a bipartisan agreement that we should fix this ended up becoming a partisan issue.

I give a lot of credit to my predecessor, George Bush, and his political advisors who said this should not be just something the Democrats support; the Republican Party is invested in this as well.  That was good advice then; it would be good advice now.

And my hope is, is that after this election, the Latino community will have sent a strong message that they want a bipartisan effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform that involves making sure we’ve got tough border security — and this administration has done more for border security than just about anybody — that we are making sure that companies aren’t able to take advantage of undocumented workers; that we’ve got strong laws in place; and that we’ve got a path so that all those folks whose kids often are U.S. citizens, who are working with us, living with us and in our communities, and not breaking the law, and trying to do their best to raise their families, that they’ve got a chance to be a fuller part of our community.

So, what do I think will change?

Q    What would you do differently?

THE PRESIDENT:  What I will do — look, we’re going to be putting forward, as we’ve done before, a framework, a proposal, legislation that can move it — move the ball forward and actually get this thing done.

But ultimately, I can’t vote for Republicans.  They’re going to have to come to the conclusion that this is good for the country and that this is something that they themselves think is important.  And depending on how Congress turns out, we’ll see how many Republican votes we need to get it done.

Norah O’Donnell.  How are you?

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Today is Super Tuesday, so I wonder if you might weigh in on some of your potential Republican opponents.  Mitt Romney has criticized you on Iran and said, “Hope is not a foreign policy.”  He also said that you are “America’s most feckless President since Carter.”  What would you like to say to Mr. Romney?

THE PRESIDENT:  Good luck tonight.  (Laughter.)

Q    No, really.

THE PRESIDENT:  Really.  (Laughter.)

Lynn, since you’ve been hollering and you’re from my hometown, make it a good one.

Q    My question is about the switch of the G8 summit from Chicago to Camp David.  A reason given from the White House is that now you wanted a more intimate summit.  People of Chicago would like to know what do you know now that you did not know when you booked hometown Chicago for the G8 that led to the switch?  And what role did security threats possibly play in the decision?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, keep in mind, Lynn, we’re still going to be showing up with a whole bunch of world leaders.  We’ve got this NATO summit.  Typically what’s happened is, is that we try to attach the G8 summit to the NATO summit so that the leaders in the G8 summit don’t have to travel twice to whatever location.  So last year, in France, we combined a G8 with a NATO summit.  We’ll do so again.

I have to say, this was an idea that was brought to me after the initial organizing of the NATO summit.  Somebody pointed out that I hadn’t had any of my counterparts, who I’ve worked with now for three years, up to Camp David.  G8 tends to be a more informal setting in which we talk about a wide range of issues in a pretty intimate way.  And the thinking was that people would enjoy being in a more casual backdrop.  I think the weather should be good that time of year.  It will give me a chance to spend time with Mr. Putin, the new Russian President.  And from there, we will then fly to Chicago.

I always have confidence in Chicago being able to handle security issues.  Whether it’s Taste of Chicago or Lollapalooza  — (laughter) — or Bull’s championships, we know how to deal with a crowd.  And I’m sure that your new mayor will be quite attentive to detail in making sure that everything goes off well.

All right?  Okay.  Go ahead, last one, last question.

Q    Thank you.  Mr. President, just to continue on that — when the NATO leaders gather in Chicago in May, do you expect that they’ll be able to agree on a transition strategy?  And are you concerned at all that the Koran burning and the episodes that have followed since then threaten your ability to negotiate with partners?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, keep in mind that the transition policy was in place and established at Lisbon, and we’ve been following that strategy that calls for us turning over increasing responsibility to Afghans and a full transition so that our combat role is over by the end of 2014.  And our coalition partners have agreed to it.  They are sticking with it.  That continues to be the plan.

What we are now going to be doing over the next — at this NATO meeting and planning for the next two years, is to make sure that that transition is not a cliff, but that there are benchmarks and steps that are taken along the way, in the same way that we reduced our role in Iraq so that it is gradual, Afghan capacity is built, the partnering with Afghan security forces is effective, that we are putting in place the kinds of support structures that are needed in order for the overall strategy to be effective.

Now, yes, the situation with the Koran burning concerns me. I think that it is an indication of the challenges in that environment, and it’s an indication that now is the time for us to transition.

Obviously, the violence directed at our people is unacceptable.  And President Karzai acknowledged that.  But what is also true is President Karzai I think is eager for more responsibility on the Afghan side.  We’re going to be able to find a mechanism whereby Afghans understand their sovereignty is being respected and that they’re going to be taking a greater and greater role in their own security.  That I think is in the interest of Afghans.  It’s also in our interests.  And I’m confident we can execute, but it’s not going to be a smooth path. There are going to be bumps along the road just as there were in Iraq.

Q    Well, are these bumps along the road, or are you seeing a deterioration in the relationship, based on the Koran burning itself, the violence that has followed, that inhibits your ability to work out things like how to hand off the detention center?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I — none of this stuff is easy, and it never has been.  And obviously, the most recent riots or protests against the Koran burning were tragic, but remember, this happened a while back when a pastor in Florida threatened to burn a Koran.  In Iraq, as we were making this transition, there were constant crises that would pop up and tragic events that would take place and there would be occasional setbacks.

But what I’ve tried to do is to set a course, make sure that up and down the chain of command everybody knows what our broader strategy is.  And one of the incredible things about our military is that when they know what our objective is, what our goal is, regardless of the obstacles that they meet along the way, they get the job done.

And I think that President Karzai understands that we are interested in a strategic partnership with the Afghan people and the Afghan government.  We are not interested in staying there any longer than is necessary to assure that al Qaeda is not operating there, and that there is sufficient stability that it doesn’t end up being a free-for-all after ISAF has left.

And so we share interests here.  It will require negotiations, and there will be time where things don’t look as smooth as I’d like.  That’s kind of the deal internationally on a whole range of these issues.

All right?  Thank you guys.

Oh, can I just make one other comment?  I want to publicly express condolences to the family of Donald Payne, Congressman from New Jersey — a wonderful man; did great work, both domestically and internationally.  He was a friend of mine.  And so my heart goes out to his family and to his colleagues.

All right.

END
1:59 P.M. EST

 

What You Need to Know About Today’s Housing Announcement

Source: WH, 3-6-12

In the State of the Union, President Obama introduced a basic principle: Every homeowner who is current on his or her payments ought to have a chance to refinance their mortgage at today’s historically low rates.

To make that idea a reality for everyone, Congress must take action.

But today, the President is taking another step to make refinancing easier for millions of Americans who have government-sponsored mortgages. He’s cutting fees — to help families save money and make refinancing more attractive.

And at a press conference that just wrapped up, President Obama announced a series of steps aimed at helping homeowners who have served in the Armed Forces.

When the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers reached a settlement with the federal government and 49 state attorneys general, they agreed to provide substantial relief to the nation’s veterans who were victims of wrongful foreclosures or who were otherwise disadvantaged in the mortgage process because of the obligations of their service.

Here’s how veterans and their families will benefit because of the settlement:

  • Any service member who saw their home wrongfully foreclosed will be substantially compensated for what the bank did;
  • Any member of Armed Forces who was wrongfully denied the chance to refinance and reduce their mortgage payments through lower interest rates will receive a refund from their bank equal to the money he or she would have saved;
  • Many service members who lost money because they were forced due to sell their homes due to Permanent Change of Station orders will also receive relief; and
  • Finally, under the settlement, the banks will also pay $10 million into the Veterans Housing Benefit Program Fund, which guarantees loans on favorable terms for service members.

To learn more, check out the full video from the press conference or read the transcript.

Full Text Campaign Buzz March 6, 2012: Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney’s Speech / Remarks to AIPAC American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s Policy Conference 2012 — Transcript

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Mitt Romney Delivers Remarks to AIPAC Policy Conference

Source: Mitt Romney, 3-6-12

romney-2012-blog-photo-mitt-speech-podium.jpg
Thank you for the opportunity to address the AIPAC Policy Conference. And thanks to Teddy and Ed, who have been great friends, supporters, and teachers over the years.
I regret that my Super Tuesday travel schedule prevents me from being with you in person. But while I can’t be with you, I stand with you. I share your commitment to a strong and secure Israel. And I salute your tireless work to strengthen our alliance.
This year, we are gathering at a dangerous time for Israel and for America. Not since the dark days of 1967 and 1973 has the Middle East faced peril as it does today. This is a critical moment. America must not – and, if I am President, it will not – fail this defining test of history.
The current administration has distanced itself from Israel and visibly warmed to the Palestinian cause. It has emboldened the Palestinians. They are convinced that they can do better at the UN – and better with America – than they can at the bargaining table with Israel.
As President, I will treat our allies and friends like friends and allies.
In recent days and weeks, we’ve heard a lot of words from the administration. Its clear message has been to warn Israel to consider the costs of military action against Iran. I do not believe that we should be issuing public warnings that create distance between the United States and Israel. Israel does not need public lectures about how to weigh decisions of war and peace. It needs our support.
Israel’s democratically elected leaders will always be welcomed and respected by my administration. Israel’s current prime minister is not just a friend; he’s an old friend. We worked together over 30 years ago at the Boston Consulting Group. He is a leader whose intellect and courage I admire – and whose family’s sacrifice I profoundly respect. In a Romney administration, there will be no gap between our nations or between our leaders.
I have seen Israel by land and by air. I have seen its narrow waist, and its vulnerability to positions on the Golan Heights. I have spent time with families in Sderot who have been terrorized by rocket barrages from Gaza. I have walked the streets of Jerusalem, seen schools pocked by rifle rounds fired from the foreboding hills that nearly surround it. I would never call for a return to the ’67 lines because I understand that in Israel, geography is security.
I have studied the writings and speeches of the jihadists. They argue for a one-state solution—one all-dominating radical Islamist state, that is. Their objective is not freedom, not prosperity, not a Palestinian state, but the destruction of Israel. And negotiating and placating such jihadists will never, ever yield peace in the Middle East.
I recognize in the ayatollahs of Iran the zealot refrain of dominion. Their passion for the martyrdom of Arab youth is matched only by their cowardice in avoiding it for themselves. Nuclear ambition is pursued by Iran to dominate, to subjugate, and to obliterate. A nuclear Iran is not only a problem for Israel; it is also a problem for America and the world.
We may not know when Iran will secure sufficient fissile material to threaten the world, but the IAEA warns that that the hour is fast approaching.
In the Gulf, Iran prepares to close the Strait of Hormuz, to hold hostage 20 percent of the world’s oil. In their nuclear laboratories, they prepare the means to hold hostage the entire planet.
Iran has long engaged in terrorism around the world, most recently in Georgia and in Thailand. In Washington, DC, Iran plotted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador by bombing a Georgetown restaurant. Iran has deployed Hezbollah and Hamas and armed the insurgents of Iraq and Afghanistan, killing our sons and daughters. They war against America.
Yet, the current administration has promoted a policy of engagement with Iran. The President offered to sit down with Ahmadinejad during his first year in office without preconditions. He sat silent as Iranian dissidents took to the streets of Tehran, not wanting to disrupt the potential opportunity for dialogue with Iran’s fanatical tyrants. This President not only dawdled in imposing crippling sanctions, he has opposed them.
Hope is not a foreign policy. The only thing respected by thugs and tyrants is our resolve, backed by our power and our readiness to use it.
Of course, the administration’s naïve outreach to Iran gave the ayatollahs exactly what they wanted most. It gave them time. Whatever sanctions they may now belatedly impose, Iran has already gained three invaluable years.
There are some in this administration who argue that Iran’s leaders are “rational,” and that we can do business with them. The President speaks of common interests. Let me be clear: we do not have common interests with a terrorist regime. Their interest is in the destruction of Israel and the domination of the Middle East. It is profoundly irrational to suggest that the ayatollahs think the way we do or share our values. They do not.
I will bring the current policy of procrastination toward Iran to an end. I will not delay in imposing further crippling sanctions, and I will not hesitate to fully implement the ones we currently have. I will make sure Iran knows of the very real peril that awaits if it becomes nuclear. I will engage Iran’s neighbors. I will station multiple carriers and warships at Iran’s door. I will stand with the Syrian people who are being mercilessly slaughtered. I know that the fall of Assad would not only be an important victory for liberty, but also a strategic blow to Tehran.
As President, I will be ready to engage in diplomacy. But I will be just as ready to engage our military might. Israel will know that America stands at its side, in all conditions and in all consequence.
Of course, American strength abroad depends upon our strength at home. My economic plans will buttress our capacity to project power. And as President, I will repair and strengthen our military. President Obama wants to shrink our Navy, our Air Force, and our contingent of fighting men and women. I will expand them. A military in retreat invites adventurism by the world’s worst actors, just as we are seeing today. A strong and superior military is the best ally peace has ever known. I do not seek military superiority solely for the purpose of winning wars. I seek it to prevent wars.
As President, peace will be my solemn goal. A peace based not on empty assurances, but on true security and defensible borders. This will require American strength, and a demonstration of our resolve. That’s why, as President, my first foreign trip will not be to Cairo or Riyadh or Ankara. It will be to Jerusalem.
We will make clear to the world that Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish state is a vital national interest of the United States.
I believe the right course is what Ronald Reagan called “peace through strength.” There is a reason why the Iranians released the hostages on the same day and at the same hour that Reagan was sworn into office. As President, I will offer that kind of clarity, strength, and resolve.
In a Romney administration, the world will know that the bond between Israel and America is unbreakable – and that our opposition to a nuclear Iran is absolute. We must not allow Iran to have the bomb or the capacity to make a bomb. Our enemies should never doubt our resolve and our allies should never doubt our commitment.
This is a critical time, and AIPAC has a vital voice. Together, let’s achieve peace for the region and ensure a secure future for Israel – and America.
God bless America, and God bless our friendship with Israel.

Full Text Campaign Buzz March 6, 2012: Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum’s Speech / Remarks to AIPAC American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s Policy Conference 2012 — Transcript Excerpts

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Rick Santorum delivers remarks at the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference (AFP, Karen Bleier)

Santorum at AIPAC: “If Iran Doesn’t Get Rid of Nuclear Facilities, We’ll Tear Them Down Ourselves”

Source: Rick Santorum, 3-6-12

On this all-important Super Tuesday, Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum stepped away from the campaign trail to personally address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington, DC regarding the vital national security threat facing both the United States and Israel.

In his speech, Santorum said:

“This is a somewhat important day in my life today, but I wanted to come off the campaign trail to come here, because one of the reasons that I decided to run for president is because of the grave concern I have about the security of our country.”

“A nuclear Iran with a nuclear shield to project terror around the world is a nightmare for all freedom-loving people in the world.

“If Iran doesn’t get rid of nuclear facilities, we will tear down them ourselves.”

“This is not bellicosity and warmongering, this is preventing the most radical regime in the world from having a weapon that could fundamentally change the security posture” of “all freedom-loving people in the world.”

“Under a Santorum Administration, we would find no gap between Israel and the United States because our interests are united.”

“I’ve seen a president who has been reticent, he says he has Israel’s back. From everything I’ve seen from the conduct of this administration, he has turned his back on the people of Israel.”

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