Full Text Political Transcripts March 15, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Speech at Make America Great Again Rally

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Make America Great Again Rally

Source: WH, 3-15-17

Nashville Municipal Auditorium
Nashville, Tennessee

7:06 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much, everybody.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  So we’re just going to let the other folks come in, fill it up.  This is some crowd.  You have to see what’s outside, you wouldn’t even believe it.  (Applause.)  Unbelievable.

So I’m thrilled to be here in Nashville, Tennessee, the home — (applause) — of country music, Southern hospitality, and the great President Andrew Jackson.  (Applause.)  I just came from a tour of Andrew Jackson’s home to mark the 250th anniversary of his birth.  Jackson’s life was devoted to one very crucial principle — he understood that real leadership means putting America first.  (Applause.)

Before becoming President, Andrew Jackson served your state from the House of Representatives and in the United States Senate, and he also served as commander of the Tennessee militia.  Tough cookie.  Tough cookie.  (Applause.)

So let’s begin tonight by thanking all of the incredible men and women of the United States military and all of our wonderful veterans.  The veterans.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!

THE PRESIDENT:  Amazing.  There’s no place I’d rather be than with all of you here tonight, with the wonderful, hardworking citizens of our country.  (Applause.)  I would much rather spend time with you than any of the pundits, consultants, or special interests, certainly — or reporters from Washington, D.C.  (Applause.)

It’s patriotic Americans like you who make this country run, and run well.  You pay your taxes, follow our laws, support your communities, raise your children, love your country, and send your bravest to fight in our wars.  (Applause.)  All you want is a government that shows you the same loyalty in return.  It’s time that Washington heard your voice — and believe me, on November 8th, they heard your voice.  (Applause.)  The forgotten men and women of our country will never be forgotten again, believe me.  (Applause.)

I want to thank so many of your state leaders — State Party Chairman Scott Golden; Congressman Scott DesJarlais; Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn; Congresswoman Diane Black; Congressman Jimmy Duncan — right from the beginning.  (Applause.)  Governor Bill Haslam.  (Applause.)  A great friend of mine, Senator Bob Corker.  (Applause.)  An incredible guy, respected by all — Senator Lamar Alexander.  (Applause.)  And so many more.  Thank you all for being here.

We’re going to be working closely together to deliver for you, the citizens of Tennessee, like you’ve never been delivered for before.  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  We’re going to reduce your taxes — big league.  Big.  (Applause.)  Big.  I want to start that process so quickly.  Got to get the healthcare done.  We got to start the tax reductions.  (Applause.)

We are going to enforce our trade rules and bring back our jobs, which are scattered all over the world.  They’re coming back to our country.  (Applause.)  We’re going to support the amazing — absolutely amazing men and women of law enforcement.  (Applause.)  Protect your freedoms, and defend the Second Amendment.  (Applause.)  And we are going to restore respect for our country and for its great and very beautiful flag.  (Applause.)

It’s been a little over 50 days since my inauguration, and we’ve been putting our America First agenda very much into action.  You see what’s happening.  We’re keeping our promises.  In fact, they have signs — “He’s Kept His Promise.”  They’re all over the place.  I have.  (Applause.)  We have done far more — I think maybe more than anybody’s done in this office in 50 days, that I could tell you.  (Applause.)

And we have just gotten started.  Wait until you see what’s coming, folks.  We’ve appointed a Supreme Court justice to replace the late, great Antonin Scalia.  His name is Judge Neil Gorsuch.  (Applause.)  He will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.  We are proposing a budget that will shrink the bloated federal bureaucracy — and I mean bloated — while protecting our national security.  You see what we’re doing with our military — bigger, better, stronger than ever before.  You see what’s happening.  (Applause.)  And you’re already seeing the results.  Our budget calls for one of the single largest increases in defense spending history in this country.  (Applause.)

We believe — especially the people in Tennessee, I know you people so well — (applause) — in peace through strength.  That’s what we’re going to have.  And we are taking steps to make sure that our allies pay their fair share.  They have to pay.  (Applause.)  We’ve begun a dramatic effort to eliminate job-killing federal regulations like nobody has ever seen before — slash, slash.  We’re going to protect the environment, we’re going to protect people’s safeties, but, let me tell you, the regulation business has become a terrible business, and we’re going to bring it down to where it should be.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  USA! USA! USA!

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, let’s go.  One person — and they’ll be the story tomorrow — did you hear there was a protestor?  (Applause.)

We’re going to put our miners back to work.  We’re going to put our auto industry back to work.  Already because of this new business climate, we are creating jobs that are starting to pour back into our country like we haven’t seen in many, many decades.  (Applause.)

In the first two job reports since I took the oath of office, we’ve already added nearly half a million new jobs, and believe me, it’s just beginning.  (Applause.)  I’ve already authorized the construction of the long-stalled and delayed Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines.  (Applause.)  A lot of jobs.

I’ve also directed that new pipelines must be constructed with American steel.  (Applause.)  They want to build them here, they use our steel.  We believe in two simple rules:  Buy American and Hire American.  (Applause.)

On trade, I’ve kept my promise to the American people, and withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership disaster. (Applause.)  Tennessee has lost one third of its manufacturing jobs since the institution of NAFTA, one of the worst trade deals ever in history.  Our nation has lost over 60,000 factories since China joined the World Trade Organization — 60,000.  Think of that.  More than that.

We’re not going to let it happen anymore.  From now on, we are going to defend the American worker and our great American companies.  (Applause.)  And if America does what it says, and if your President does what I’ve been telling you, there is nobody anywhere in the world that can even come close to us, folks.  Not even close.  (Applause.)

If a company wants to leave America, fire their workers, and then ship their new products back into our country, there will be consequences.  (Applause.)  That’s what we have borders for.  And by the way, aren’t our borders getting extremely strong?  (Applause.)  Very strong.

AUDIENCE:  USA! USA! USA!

THE PRESIDENT:  Don’t even think about it.  We will build the wall.  Don’t even think about it.  (Applause.)  In fact, as you probably read, we went out to bid.  We had hundreds of bidders.  Everybody wants to build our wall.  (Applause.)  Usually, that means we’re going to get a good price.  We’re going to get a good price, believe me.  (Applause.)  We’re going to build the wall.

Some of the fake news said, I don’t think Donald Trump wants to build the wall.  Can you imagine if I said we’re not going to build a wall?  Fake news.  Fake, fake news.  Fake news, folks.  A lot of fake.

No, the wall is way ahead of schedule in terms of where we are.  It’s under design, and you’re going to see some very good things happening.  But the border by itself right now is doing very well.  It’s becoming very strong.  General Kelly has done a great job — General Kelly.

My administration is also following through on our promise to secure, protect, and defend that border within our United States.  Our southern border will be protected always.  It will have the wall.  Drugs will stop pouring in and poisoning our youth, and that will happen very, very soon.  You’re already seeing what’s going on.  The drugs are pouring into our country, folks.  They are poisoning our youth and plenty of others, and we’re going to stop it.  We’re not going to playing games.  Not going to be playing games.  (Applause.)  Following my executive action — and don’t forget, we’ve only been here for like — what? — 50 days — we’ve already experienced an unprecedented 40-percent reduction in illegal immigration on our Southern border; 61 percent since Inauguration Day — 61 percent.  Think about it.

And now people are saying, we’re not going to go there anymore because we can’t get in.  So it’s going to get better and better.  We got to stop those drugs, though.  We got to stop those drugs.

During the campaign, as I traveled all across this country, I met with many American families whose loved ones were viciously and violently killed by illegal immigrants because our government refused to enforce our already existing laws.  These American victims were ignored by the media.  They were ignored by Washington.  But they were not ignored by me, and they’re not ignored by you, and they never will be ignored certainly any longer.  Not going to happen.  (Applause.)

As we speak, we are finding the drug dealers, the robbers, thieves, gang members, killers and criminals preying on our citizens.  One by one — you’re reading about it, right?  They’re being thrown out of our country.  They’re being thrown into prisons.  And we will not let them back in.  (Applause.)

We’re also working, night and day, to keep our nation safe from terrorism.  (Applause.)  We have seen the devastation from 9/11 to Boston to San Bernardino — hundreds upon hundreds of people from outside our country have been convicted of terrorism-related offenses in the United States courts.  Right now we have investigations going on all over — hundreds of refugees are under federal investigation for terrorism and related reasons.  We have entire regions of the world destabilized by terrorism and ISIS.  For this reason, I issued an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration from places where it cannot safely occur.  (Applause.)

But let me give you the bad news.  We don’t like bad news, right?  I don’t want to hear — and I’ll turn it into good.  But let me give you the bad, the sad news.  Moments ago, I learned that a district judge in Hawaii — part of the much overturned 9th Circuit Court — and I have to be nice; otherwise I’ll get criticized for speaking poorly about our courts.  I’ll be criticized by these people, among the most dishonest people in the world — I will be criticized — I’ll be criticized by them for speaking harshly about our courts.  I would never want to do that.  A judge has just blocked our executive order on travel and refugees coming into our country from certain countries.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  The order he blocked was a watered-version of the first order that was also blocked by another judge and should have never been blocked to start with.  This new order was tailored to the dictates of the 9th Circuit’s — in my opinion — flawed ruling.  This is, the opinion of many, an unprecedented judicial overreach.  The law and the Constitution give the President the power to suspend immigration when he deems — or she — or she.  Fortunately, it will not be Hillary she.  (Applause.)  When he or she deems it to be in the national interest of our country.

So we have a lot of lawyers here.  We also have a lot of smart people here.  Let me read to you directly from the federal statute, 212F, of the immigration — and you know what I’m talking about, right?  Can I read this to you?  Listen to this.  Now, we’re all smart people.  We’re all good students — some are bad students, but even if you’re a bad student this is a real easy one, let me tell you.  Ready?

So here’s the statute — which they don’t even want to quote when they overrule it.  And it was put here for the security of our country.  And this goes beyond me, because there will be other Presidents, and we need this.  And sometimes we need it very badly for security — security of our country.

It says — now, listen how easy this is.  “Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or any class of aliens would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may, by proclamation, and for such period as he — see, it wasn’t politically correct, because it should say he or she.  You know, today they’d say that.  Actually, that’s the only mistake they made.  “as he shall deem necessary, suspending entry of all aliens, or any class of aliens, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or pose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deems to be appropriate.”  In other words, if he thinks there’s danger out there, he or she — whoever is President — can say, I’m sorry, folks, not now, please.  We’ve got enough problems.  (Applause.)

We’re talking about the safety of our nation, the safety and security of our people.  (Applause.)  Now, I know you people aren’t skeptical people because nobody would be that way in Tennessee.  Right?  Nobody — not Tennessee.  You don’t think this was done by a judge for political reasons, do you?  No.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  This ruling makes us look weak — which, by the way, we no longer are, believe me.  (Applause.)  Just look at our borders.  We’re going to fight this terrible ruling.  We’re going to take our case as far as it needs to go, including all the way up to the Supreme Court.  (Applause.)  We’re going to win.  We’re going to keep our citizens safe.  And regardless, we’re going to keep our citizens safe, believe me.  (Applause.)  Even liberal Democratic lawyer, Alan Dershowitz —- good lawyer — just said that we would win this case before the Supreme Court of the United States.  (Applause.)

Remember this, I wasn’t thrilled, but the lawyers all said, let’s tailor it.  This is a watered–down version of the first one.  This is a watered–down version.  And let me tell you something, I think we ought to go back to the first one and go all the way, which is what I wanted to do in the first one.  (Applause.)

The danger is clear, the law is clear, the need for my executive order is clear.  I was elected to change our broken and dangerous system and thinking in government that has weakened and endangered our country and left our people defenseless.  (Applause.)  And I will not stop fighting for the safety of you and your families, believe me.  Not today, not ever.  We’re going to win it.  We’re going to win it.  (Applause.)

We’re going to apply common sense.  We’re going to apply intelligence.  And we’re never quitting, and we’re never going away, and we’re never, ever giving up.  The best way to keep foreign terrorists — or, as some people would say in certain instances, radical Islamic terrorists — from attacking our country is to stop them from entering our country in the first place.  (Applause.)

We’ll take it, but these are the problems we have.  People are screaming, break up the 9th Circuit.  And I’ll tell you what, that 9th Circuit — you have to see.  Take a look at how many times they have been overturned with their terrible decisions.  Take a look.  And this is what we have to live with.

Finally, I want to get to taxes.  I want to cut the hell out of taxes, but — (applause) — but before I can do that — I would have loved to have put it first, I’ll be honest — there is one more very important thing that we have to do, and we are going to repeal and replace horrible, disastrous Obamacare.  (Applause.)

If we leave Obamacare in place, millions and millions of people will be forced off their plans, and your senators just told me that in your state you’re down to practically no insurers.  You’re going to have nobody.  You’re going to have nobody.  And this is true all over.  The insurers are fleeing.  The insurers are fleeing.  It’s a catastrophic situation, and there’s nothing to compare anything to because Obamacare won’t be around for a year or two.  It’s gone.  So it’s not like, oh, gee, they have this.  Obamacare is gone.

Premiums will continue to soar double digits and even triple digits in many cases.  It will drain our budget and destroy our jobs.  Remember all of the broken promises?  You can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan.  Remember the wise guy — remember the wise guy that essentially said the American people — the so–called architect — the American people are stupid because they approved it?  We’re going to show them.

Those in Congress who made these promises have no credibility whatsoever on healthcare.   (Applause.)  And remember this — remember this:  If we took, because there’s such divisiveness — and I’m not just talking now, with me.  There was with Obama.  There was with Bush.  The level of hatred and divisiveness with the politicians.  I remember years ago, I’d go to Washington — I* was always very politically active — and Republicans and Democrats, they’d fight during the day and they go to dinner at night.  Today, there’s a level that nobody has seen before.

Just remember this:  If we submitted the Democrats’ plan, drawn everything perfect for the Democrats, we wouldn’t get one vote from the Democrats.  That’s the way it is.  That’s how much divisiveness and other things there are.  So it’s a problem.  But we’re going to get it by.

So, I’ve met with so many victims of Obamacare —- the people who have been so horribly hurt by this horrible legislation.  At the very core of Obamacare was a fatal flaw — the government forcing people to buy a government–approved product.  There are very few people — very few people.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  By the way — watch what happens.  Now you just booed Obamacare.  They will say, Trump got booed when he mentioned — they’re bad people, folks.  They’re bad people.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  Tonight, I’ll go home, I’ll turn on, I’ll say — listen, I’ll turn on that television.  My wife will say, darling, it’s too bad you got booed.  I said, I didn’t get booed.  This was a — I said, no, no, they were booing Obamacare.  Watch, a couple of them will actually do it, almost guaranteed.  But when we call them out, it makes it harder for them to do it.  So we’ll see.  It’s the fake, fake media.  We want Americans to be able to purchase the health insurance plans they want, not the plans forced on them by our government.  (Applause.)

The House has put forward a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare based on the principles I outlined in my joint address, but let me tell you, we’re going to arbitrate, we’re going to all get together and we’re going to get something done.  Remember this — if we didn’t do it the way we’re doing it, we need 60 votes so we have to get the Democrats involved.  They won’t vote, no matter what we do, they’re not going to vote.  So we’re doing it a different way, a complex way.  It’s fine.  The end result is when you have phase one, phase two, phase three — it’s going to be great.  It’s going to be great.

And then, we get on to tax reductions, which I like.  (Applause.)  The House legislation does so much for you.  It gives the states Medicaid flexibility.  And some of the states will take over their healthcare.  Governor Rick Scott in Florida said, just send me the money — they run a great plan.  We have states that are doing great.  It gives great flexibility.

Thank you, folks.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  It repeals hundreds of billions of dollars in Obamacare taxes.  It provides tax credits to purchase the care that is rightfully theirs.  The bill that I will ultimately sign — and that will be a bill where everybody is going to get into the room and we’re going to get it done — we’ll get rid of Obamacare and make healthcare better for you and for your family.  (Applause.)

And once this is done, and a step further, we are going to try and put it in phase three — I’m going to work on bringing down the cost of medicine by having a fair and competitive bidding process.  (Applause.)

We welcome this healthcare debate and its negotiation, and we’re going to carry it out, and have been carrying it out, in the full light of day — unlike the way Obamacare was passed.  Remember, folks, if we don’t do anything, Obamacare is gone.  It’s not like, oh, gee, it’s going to be wonderful in three years.  It’s gone.  It’s gone.  It’s gone.  Not working.  It’s gone.  What we cannot do is to be intimidated by the dishonest attacks from Democratic leaders in Congress who broke the system in the first place and who don’t believe you should be able to make your own healthcare decisions.  (Applause.)

I am very confident that if we empower the American people we will accomplish incredible things for our country — not just on healthcare, but all across our government.  We will unlock new frontiers in science and in medicine.  We will give our children the right to attend the school of their choice, one where they will be taught to love this country and its values.  (Applause.)  We will create millions and millions of new jobs by lowering taxes on our businesses, and very importantly for our workers, we’re going to lower taxes.  (Applause.)

And we will fight for the right of every American child to grow up in a safe neighborhood, attend a great school, and to graduate with access to a high-paying job that they love doing.  (Applause.)

No matter our background, no matter our income, no matter our geography, we all share the same home.  We all salute the same flag.  And we all are made by the same God.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!

THE PRESIDENT:  It’s time to embrace our glorious American destiny.  Anything we can dream for our country we can achieve for our country.  All we have to do is tap into that American pride that is swelling our hearts and stirring our souls.  And we found that out very recently in our last election — a lot of pride.  (Applause.)  We are all Americans, and the future truly belongs to us.  The future belongs to all of you.  This is your moment.  This is your time.  This is the hour when history is made.  All we have to do is put our own citizens first, and together we will make America strong again.  (Applause.)  We will make America wealthy again.  We will make America proud again.  We will make America safe again.  And we will make America great again.  (Applause.)

Thank you.  God bless you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  God bless you, everybody.  (Applause.)

END
7:43 P.M. CDT

 

 

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Full Text Political Transcripts March 10, 2017: President Trump’s First 50 Days of Action

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

President Trump’s First 50 Days of Action: Achieving Results for the American People

Source: WH,  3-10-17

President Trump's First 50 Days of Action

JUMPSTARTING JOB CREATION: President Donald J. Trump is looking out for the American workers who Washington has left behind.

  • President Trump has worked with the private sector to deliver tens of thousands of new jobs for Americans.
  • President Trump ordered the United States to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and negotiations.
  • President Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum to clear roadblocks to construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
  • President Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum declaring that the Dakota Access Pipeline serves the national interest and initiating the process to complete its construction.
  • President Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum to help ensure that new pipeline construction and repair work use materials and equipment from the United States.

CUTTING GOVERNMENT RED TAPE: President Trump has quickly taken steps to get the Government out of the way of job creation.

  • President Trump directed each agency to establish a Regulatory Reform Task Force to identify costly and unnecessary regulations in need of modification or repeal.
  • President Trump has required that for every new Federal regulation, two existing regulations be eliminated.
  • President Trump directed the Department of Commerce to streamline Federal permitting processes for domestic manufacturing and to reduce regulatory burdens on domestic manufacturers.
  • President Trump signed legislation, House Joint Resolution 38, to prevent the burdensome “Stream Protection Rule” from causing further harm to the coal industry.
  • President Trump ordered the review of the “Clean Water Rule: Definition of Waters of the United States,” known as the WOTUS rule, to evaluate whether it is stifling economic growth or job creation.

REFORMING WASHINGTON: President Trump has taken actions to reform the old Washington way of doing business and to ensure that his entire Administration are working for the American people.

  • President Trump put in place a hiring freeze for Federal civilian employees to stop the further expansion of an already bloated government.
  • President Trump signed an Executive Order establishing new ethics commitments for all Executive branch appointees, putting in place a five-year lobbying ban and a permanent ban on lobbying for foreign governments, so that appointees serve the American people instead of their own interests.

PUTTING PATIENT HEALTHCARE FIRST: After years of false promises, rising costs, and shrinking accessibility, President Trump is championing reforms to put patients first.

  • President Trump has supported efforts by Republicans in Congress to repeal the worst parts of Obamacare and replace them with the American Health Care Act.
  • President Trump acted on his first day in office to instruct Federal agencies to minimize the burden of Obamacare on Americans.

PRIORITIZING AMERICAN NATIONAL SECURITY: President Trump has taken action to ensure the safety and security of the United States homeland, its borders, and its people.

  • Under President Trump’s leadership, the Department of the Treasury sanctioned 25 entities and individuals involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program.
  • President Trump implemented new protections against foreign terrorists entering our country.
  • President Trump has proposed increasing the military’s budget by $54 billion so that it can begin to rebuild.
  • As a result of a Presidential Memorandum President Trump signed on January 28, he has received a plan to defeat ISIS designed by the Secretary of Defense and other members of his Cabinet.
  • President Trump ordered a review of military readiness and made it the policy of the United States to rebuild the United States’ Armed Forces.
  • President Trump has negotiated to bring down the price of the F-35, saving millions of dollars.

DELIVERING ON IMMIGRATION REFORM: President Trump has made enforcing the Nation’s immigration laws a priority of his Administration.

  • President Trump signed an Executive Order to start work on a southern border wall.
  • President Trump signed an Executive Order to enhance the public safety of Americans through enforcement of immigration laws.
  • President Trump signed an Executive Order to halt funding to jurisdictions in the United States that do not comply with Federal immigration rules.
  • President Trump signed an Executive Order to begin the removal of illegal immigrants who have committed certain crimes.
  • Following through on President Trump’s direction, the Department of Homeland Security will hire 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and agents and 5,000 border patrol agents.

RESTORING PUBLIC SAFETY TO AMERICAN COMMUNITIES: President Trump is following through on his promise to restore public safety for all Americans.

  • President Trump signed an Executive Order directing the Attorney General to develop a strategy to more effectively prosecute people who engage in crimes against law enforcement officers.
  • President Trump signed an Executive Order to establish a task force, led by the Attorney General, to reduce crime and restore public safety in communities across America.
  • President Trump signed an Executive Order re-focusing the Federal Government’s energy and resources on dismantling transnational criminal organizations, such as drug cartels.

HELPING WOMEN AND MINORITIES SUCCEED: President Trump knows the country cannot reach its potential unless every American has a chance to prosper.

  • President Trump signed an Executive Order strengthening and repositioning the Historically Black Colleges and Universities initiatives within the White House to foster better opportunities in higher education.
  • President Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau launched the United States-Canada Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders.
  • President Trump signed into law the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act to encourage the National Science Foundation’s entrepreneurial programs to recruit and support women to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and into the commercial world.
  • President Trump signed into law the Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act to encourage women to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), pursue careers in aerospace, and further advance the nation’s space science and exploration efforts.

KEEPING HIS PROMISE TO DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION: President Trump promised a U.S. Supreme Court justice in the mold of late Justice Antonin Scalia selected from his previously announced list of 20 judges

  • President Trump nominated Judge Neil M. Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court because of his consistent record defending the Constitution.

Full Text Political Transcripts February 28, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Address to Joint Session of Congress

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump in Joint Address to Congress

Source: WH, 2-28-17

U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C.

9:09 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States — (applause) — and citizens of America:

Tonight, as we mark the conclusion of our celebration of Black History Month, we are reminded of our nation’s path towards civil rights and the work that still remains to be done.  (Applause.)  Recent threats targeting Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms.  (Applause.)

Each American generation passes the torch of truth, liberty and justice in an unbroken chain all the way down to the present.  That torch is now in our hands.  And we will use it to light up the world.  I am here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength, and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart.  A new chapter — (applause) — of American Greatness is now beginning.  A new national pride is sweeping across our nation.  And a new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp.

What we are witnessing today is the renewal of the American spirit.  Our allies will find that America is once again ready to lead.  (Applause.)  All the nations of the world — friend or foe — will find that America is strong, America is proud, and America is free.

In nine years, the United States will celebrate the 250th anniversary of our founding — 250 years since the day we declared our independence.  It will be one of the great milestones in the history of the world.  But what will America look like as we reach our 250th year?  What kind of country will we leave for our children?

I will not allow the mistakes of recent decades past to define the course of our future.  For too long, we’ve watched our middle class shrink as we’ve exported our jobs and wealth to foreign countries.  We’ve financed and built one global project after another, but ignored the fates of our children in the inner cities of Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit, and so many other places throughout our land.

We’ve defended the borders of other nations while leaving our own borders wide open for anyone to cross and for drugs to pour in at a now unprecedented rate.  And we’ve spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas, while our infrastructure at home has so badly crumbled.

Then, in 2016, the Earth shifted beneath our feet.  The rebellion started as a quiet protest, spoken by families of all colors and creeds — families who just wanted a fair shot for their children and a fair hearing for their concerns.

But then the quiet voices became a loud chorus as thousands of citizens now spoke out together, from cities small and large, all across our country.  Finally, the chorus became an earthquake, and the people turned out by the tens of millions, and they were all united by one very simple, but crucial demand: that America must put its own citizens first.  Because only then can we truly make America great again.  (Applause.)

Dying industries will come roaring back to life.  Heroic veterans will get the care they so desperately need.  Our military will be given the resources its brave warriors so richly deserve.  Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and railways gleaming across our very, very beautiful land.  Our terrible drug epidemic will slow down and, ultimately, stop.  And our neglected inner cities will see a rebirth of hope, safety and opportunity.  Above all else, we will keep our promises to the American people.  (Applause.)

It’s been a little over a month since my inauguration, and I want to take this moment to update the nation on the progress I’ve made in keeping those promises.

Since my election, Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, General Motors, Sprint, Softbank, Lockheed, Intel, Walmart and many others have announced that they will invest billions and billions of dollars in the United States, and will create tens of thousands of new American jobs.  (Applause.)

The stock market has gained almost $3 trillion in value since the election on November 8th, a record.  We’ve saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by bringing down the price of a fantastic — and it is a fantastic — new F-35 jet fighter, and we’ll be saving billions more on contracts all across our government.  We have placed a hiring freeze on non-military and non-essential federal workers.

We have begun to drain the swamp of government corruption by imposing a five-year ban on lobbying by executive branch officials and a lifetime ban — (applause) — thank you — and a lifetime ban on becoming lobbyists for a foreign government.

We have undertaken a historic effort to massively reduce job-crushing regulations, creating a deregulation task force inside of every government agency.  (Applause.)  And we’re imposing a new rule which mandates that for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated.  (Applause.)  We’re going to stop the regulations that threaten the future and livelihood of our great coal miners.  (Applause.)

We have cleared the way for the construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines — (applause) — thereby creating tens of thousands of jobs.  And I’ve issued a new directive that new American pipelines be made with American steel.  (Applause.)

We have withdrawn the United States from the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership.  (Applause.)  And with the help of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, we have formed a council with our neighbors in Canada to help ensure that women entrepreneurs have access to the networks, markets and capital they need to start a business and live out their financial dreams.  (Applause.)

To protect our citizens, I have directed the Department of Justice to form a Task Force on Reducing Violent Crime.  I have further ordered the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, along with the Department of State and the Director of National Intelligence, to coordinate an aggressive strategy to dismantle the criminal cartels that have spread all across our nation.  (Applause.)  We will stop the drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth, and we will expand treatment for those who have become so badly addicted.  (Applause.)

At the same time, my administration has answered the pleas of the American people for immigration enforcement and border security.  (Applause.)  By finally enforcing our immigration laws, we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions and billions of dollars, and make our communities safer for everyone.  (Applause.)  We want all Americans to succeed, but that can’t happen in an environment of lawless chaos.  We must restore integrity and the rule of law at our borders.  (Applause.)

For that reason, we will soon begin the construction of a great, great wall along our southern border.  (Applause.)  As we speak tonight, we are removing gang members, drug dealers, and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our very innocent citizens.  Bad ones are going out as I speak, and as I promised throughout the campaign.

To any in Congress who do not believe we should enforce our laws, I would ask you this one question:  What would you say to the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or their loved one because America refused to uphold its laws and defend its borders?  (Applause.)

Our obligation is to serve, protect, and defend the citizens of the United States.  We are also taking strong measures to protect our nation from radical Islamic terrorism.  (Applause.)  According to data provided by the Department of Justice, the vast majority of individuals convicted of terrorism and terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country.  We have seen the attacks at home — from Boston to San Bernardino to the Pentagon, and, yes, even the World Trade Center.

We have seen the attacks in France, in Belgium, in Germany, and all over the world.  It is not compassionate, but reckless to allow uncontrolled entry from places where proper vetting cannot occur.  (Applause.)  Those given the high honor of admission to the United States should support this country and love its people and its values.  We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside America.  We cannot allow our nation to become a sanctuary for extremists.  (Applause.)

That is why my administration has been working on improved vetting procedures, and we will shortly take new steps to keep our nation safe and to keep out those out who will do us harm.  (Applause.)

As promised, I directed the Department of Defense to develop a plan to demolish and destroy ISIS — a network of lawless savages that have slaughtered Muslims and Christians, and men, and women, and children of all faiths and all beliefs.  We will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet.  (Applause.)

I have also imposed new sanctions on entities and individuals who support Iran’s ballistic missile program, and reaffirmed our unbreakable alliance with the State of Israel.  (Applause.)

Finally, I have kept my promise to appoint a justice to the United States Supreme Court, from my list of 20 judges, who will defend our Constitution.  (Applause.)

I am greatly honored to have Maureen Scalia with us in the gallery tonight.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Maureen.  Her late, great husband, Antonin Scalia, will forever be a symbol of American justice.  To fill his seat, we have chosen Judge Neil Gorsuch, a man of incredible skill and deep devotion to the law.  He was confirmed unanimously by the Court of Appeals, and I am asking the Senate to swiftly approve his nomination.  (Applause.)

Tonight, as I outline the next steps we must take as a country, we must honestly acknowledge the circumstances we inherited.  Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force.  Over 43 million people are now living in poverty, and over 43 million Americans are on food stamps.  More than one in five people in their prime working years are not working.  We have the worst financial recovery in 65 years.  In the last eight years, the past administration has put on more new debt than nearly all of the other Presidents combined.

We’ve lost more than one-fourth of our manufacturing jobs since NAFTA was approved, and we’ve lost 60,000 factories since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.  Our trade deficit in goods with the world last year was nearly $800 billion dollars.  And overseas we have inherited a series of tragic foreign policy disasters.

Solving these and so many other pressing problems will require us to work past the differences of party.  It will require us to tap into the American spirit that has overcome every challenge throughout our long and storied history.  But to accomplish our goals at home and abroad, we must restart the engine of the American economy — making it easier for companies to do business in the United States, and much, much harder for companies to leave our country.  (Applause.)

Right now, American companies are taxed at one of the highest rates anywhere in the world.  My economic team is developing historic tax reform that will reduce the tax rate on our companies so they can compete and thrive anywhere and with anyone.  (Applause.)  It will be a big, big cut.

At the same time, we will provide massive tax relief for the middle class.  We must create a level playing field for American companies and our workers.  We have to do it.  (Applause.)  Currently, when we ship products out of America, many other countries make us pay very high tariffs and taxes.  But when foreign companies ship their products into America, we charge them nothing, or almost nothing.

I just met with officials and workers from a great American company, Harley-Davidson.  In fact, they proudly displayed five of their magnificent motorcycles, made in the USA, on the front lawn of the White House.  ((Laughter and applause.)  And they wanted me to ride one and I said, “No, thank you.”  (Laughter.)

At our meeting, I asked them, how are you doing, how is business?  They said that it’s good.  I asked them further, how are you doing with other countries, mainly international sales?  They told me — without even complaining, because they have been so mistreated for so long that they’ve become used to it — that it’s very hard to do business with other countries because they tax our goods at such a high rate.  They said that in the case of another country, they taxed their motorcycles at 100 percent.  They weren’t even asking for a change.  But I am.  (Applause.)

I believe strongly in free trade but it also has to be fair trade.  It’s been a long time since we had fair trade.  The first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, warned that the “abandonment of the protective policy by the American government… will produce want and ruin among our people.”  Lincoln was right — and it’s time we heeded his advice and his words.  (Applause.)  I am not going to let America and its great companies and workers be taken advantage of us any longer.  They have taken advantage of our country.  No longer.  (Applause.)

I am going to bring back millions of jobs.  Protecting our workers also means reforming our system of legal immigration.  (Applause.)  The current, outdated system depresses wages for our poorest workers, and puts great pressure on taxpayers.  Nations around the world, like Canada, Australia and many others, have a merit-based immigration system.  (Applause.)  It’s a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially.  Yet, in America, we do not enforce this rule, straining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely upon.  According to the National Academy of Sciences, our current immigration system costs American taxpayers many billions of dollars a year.

Switching away from this current system of lower-skilled immigration, and instead adopting a merit-based system, we will have so many more benefits.  It will save countless dollars, raise workers’ wages, and help struggling families — including immigrant families — enter the middle class.  And they will do it quickly, and they will be very, very happy, indeed.  (Applause.)

I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals:  To improve jobs and wages for Americans; to strengthen our nation’s security; and to restore respect for our laws.  If we are guided by the wellbeing of American citizens, then I believe Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades.  (Applause.)

Another Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, initiated the last truly great national infrastructure program — the building of the Interstate Highway System.  The time has come for a new program of national rebuilding.  (Applause.)America has spent approximately $6 trillion in the Middle East — all the while our infrastructure at home is crumbling.  With this $6 trillion, we could have rebuilt our country twice, and maybe even three times if we had people who had the ability to negotiate.  (Applause.)

To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure of the United States — financed through both public and private capital — creating millions of new jobs.  (Applause.)  This effort will be guided by two core principles:  buy American and hire American.  (Applause.)

Tonight, I am also calling on this Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare — (applause) — with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and, at the same time, provide better healthcare.  (Applause.)

Mandating every American to buy government-approved health insurance was never the right solution for our country.  (Applause.)  The way to make health insurance available to everyone is to lower the cost of health insurance, and that is what we are going do.  (Applause.)

Obamacare premiums nationwide have increased by double and triple digits.  As an example, Arizona went up 116 percent last year alone.  Governor Matt Bevin of Kentucky just said Obamacare is failing in his state — the state of Kentucky — and it’s unsustainable and collapsing.

One-third of counties have only one insurer, and they are losing them fast.  They are losing them so fast.  They are leaving, and many Americans have no choice at all.  There’s no choice left.  Remember when you were told that you could keep your doctor and keep your plan?  We now know that all of those promises have been totally broken.   Obamacare is collapsing, and we must act decisively to protect all Americans.  (Applause.)

Action is not a choice, it is a necessity.  So I am calling on all Democrats and Republicans in Congress to work with us to save Americans from this imploding Obamacare disaster.  (Applause.)

Here are the principles that should guide the Congress as we move to create a better healthcare system for all Americans:

First, we should ensure that Americans with preexisting conditions have access to coverage, and that we have a stable transition for Americans currently enrolled in the healthcare exchanges.  (Applause.)

Secondly, we should help Americans purchase their own coverage through the use of tax credits and expanded Health Savings Accounts — but it must be the plan they want, not the plan forced on them by our government.  (Applause.)

Thirdly, we should give our great state governors the resources and flexibility they need with Medicaid to make sure no one is left out.  (Applause.)

Fourth, we should implement legal reforms that protect patients and doctors from unnecessary costs that drive up the price of insurance, and work to bring down the artificially high price of drugs, and bring them down immediately.  (Applause.)

And finally, the time has come to give Americans the freedom to purchase health insurance across state lines — (applause) — which will create a truly competitive national marketplace that will bring costs way down and provide far better care.  So important.

Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed.  Every problem can be solved.  And every hurting family can find healing and hope.

Our citizens deserve this, and so much more — so why not join forces and finally get the job done, and get it done right?  (Applause.)  On this and so many other things, Democrats and Republicans should get together and unite for the good of our country and for the good of the American people.  (Applause.)

My administration wants to work with members of both parties to make childcare accessible and affordable, to help ensure new parents that they have paid family leave — (applause) — to invest in women’s health, and to promote clean air and clean water, and to rebuild our military and our infrastructure.  (Applause.)

True love for our people requires us to find common ground, to advance the common good, and to cooperate on behalf of every American child who deserves a much brighter future.

An incredible young woman is with us this evening, who should serve as an inspiration to us all.  Today is Rare Disease Day, and joining us in the gallery is a rare disease survivor, Megan Crowley.  (Applause.)

Megan was diagnosed with Pompe disease, a rare and serious illness, when she was 15 months old.  She was not expected to live past five.  On receiving this news, Megan’s dad, John, fought with everything he had to save the life of his precious child.  He founded a company to look for a cure, and helped develop the drug that saved Megan’s life.  Today she is 20 years old and a sophomore at Notre Dame.  (Applause.)

Megan’s story is about the unbounded power of a father’s love for a daughter.  But our slow and burdensome approval process at the Food and Drug Administration keeps too many advances, like the one that saved Megan’s life, from reaching those in need.  If we slash the restraints, not just at the FDA but across our government, then we will be blessed with far more miracles just like Megan.  (Applause.)  In fact, our children will grow up in a nation of miracles.

But to achieve this future, we must enrich the mind and the souls of every American child.  Education is the civil rights issue of our time.  (Applause.)  I am calling upon members of both parties to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African American and Latino children.  (Applause.)  These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious, or home school that is right for them.  (Applause.)

Joining us tonight in the gallery is a remarkable woman, Denisha Merriweather.  As a young girl, Denisha struggled in school and failed third grade twice.  But then she was able to enroll in a private center for learning — a great learning center — with the help of a tax credit and a scholarship program.

Today, she is the first in her family to graduate, not just from high school, but from college.  Later this year she will get her master’s degree in social work.  We want all children to be able to break the cycle of poverty just like Denisha.  (Applause.)

But to break the cycle of poverty, we must also break the cycle of violence.  The murder rate in 2015 experienced its largest single-year increase in nearly half a century.  In Chicago, more than 4,000 people were shot last year alone, and the murder rate so far this year has been even higher.  This is not acceptable in our society.  (Applause.)

Every American child should be able to grow up in a safe community, to attend a great school, and to have access to a high-paying job.  (Applause.)  But to create this future, we must work with, not against — not against — the men and women of law enforcement.  (Applause.)  We must build bridges of cooperation and trust — not drive the wedge of disunity and, really, it’s what it is, division.  It’s pure, unadulterated division.  We have to unify.

Police and sheriffs are members of our community.  They’re friends and neighbors, they’re mothers and fathers, sons and daughters — and they leave behind loved ones every day who worry about whether or not they’ll come home safe and sound.  We must support the incredible men and women of law enforcement.  (Applause.)

And we must support the victims of crime.  I have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to serve American victims.  The office is called VOICE — Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement.  We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media and silenced by special interests.  (Applause.)  Joining us in the audience tonight are four very brave Americans whose government failed them.  Their names are Jamiel Shaw, Susan Oliver, Jenna Oliver, and Jessica Davis.

Jamiel’s 17-year-old son was viciously murdered by an illegal immigrant gang member who had just been released from prison.  Jamiel Shaw, Jr. was an incredible young man, with unlimited potential who was getting ready to go to college where he would have excelled as a great college quarterback.  But he never got the chance.  His father, who is in the audience tonight, has become a very good friend of mine.  Jamiel, thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

Also with us are Susan Oliver and Jessica Davis.  Their husbands, Deputy Sheriff Danny Oliver and Detective Michael Davis, were slain in the line of duty in California.  They were pillars of their community.  These brave men were viciously gunned down by an illegal immigrant with a criminal record and two prior deportations.  Should have never been in our country.

Sitting with Susan is her daughter, Jenna.  Jenna, I want you to know that your father was a hero, and that tonight you have the love of an entire country supporting you and praying for you.  (Applause.)

To Jamiel, Jenna, Susan and Jessica, I want you to know that we will never stop fighting for justice.  Your loved ones will never, ever be forgotten.  We will always honor their memory.  (Applause.)

Finally, to keep America safe, we must provide the men and women of the United States military with the tools they need to prevent war — if they must — they have to fight and they only have to win.  (Applause.)

I am sending Congress a budget that rebuilds the military, eliminates the defense sequester — (applause) — and calls for one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history.  My budget will also increase funding for our veterans.  Our veterans have delivered for this nation, and now we must deliver for them.  (Applause.)

The challenges we face as a nation are great, but our people are even greater.  And none are greater or braver than those who fight for America in uniform.  (Applause.)

We are blessed to be joined tonight by Carryn Owens, the widow of a U.S. Navy Special Operator, Senior Chief William “Ryan” Owens.  Ryan died as he lived:  a warrior and a hero, battling against terrorism and securing our nation.  (Applause.)  I just spoke to our great General Mattis, just now, who reconfirmed that — and I quote — “Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemies.”  Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  And Ryan is looking down, right now — you know that — and he is very happy because I think he just broke a record.  (Laughter and applause.)

For as the Bible teaches us, “There is no greater act of love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  Ryan laid down his life for his friends, for his country, and for our freedom.  And we will never forget Ryan.  (Applause.)

To those allies who wonder what kind of a friend America will be, look no further than the heroes who wear our uniform.  Our foreign policy calls for a direct, robust and meaningful engagement with the world.  It is American leadership based on vital security interests that we share with our allies all across the globe.

We strongly support NATO, an alliance forged through the bonds of two world wars that dethroned fascism, and a Cold War, and defeated communism.  (Applause.)

But our partners must meet their financial obligations.  And now, based on our very strong and frank discussions, they are beginning to do just that.  In fact, I can tell you, the money is pouring in.  Very nice.  (Applause.)  We expect our partners — whether in NATO, the Middle East, or in the Pacific — to take a direct and meaningful role in both strategic and military operations, and pay their fair share of the cost.  Have to do that.

We will respect historic institutions, but we will respect the foreign rights of all nations, and they have to respect our rights as a nation also.  (Applause.)  Free nations are the best vehicle for expressing the will of the people, and America respects the right of all nations to chart their own path.  My job is not to represent the world.  My job is to represent the United States of America. (Applause.)

But we know that America is better off when there is less conflict, not more.  We must learn from the mistakes of the past.  We have seen the war and the destruction that have ravaged and raged throughout the world — all across the world.  The only long-term solution for these humanitarian disasters, in many cases, is to create the conditions where displaced persons can safely return home and begin the long, long process of rebuilding.  (Applause.)

America is willing to find new friends, and to forge new partnerships, where shared interests align.  We want harmony and stability, not war and conflict.  We want peace, wherever peace can be found.

America is friends today with former enemies.  Some of our closest allies, decades ago, fought on the opposite side of these terrible, terrible wars.  This history should give us all faith in the possibilities for a better world.  Hopefully, the 250th year for America will see a world that is more peaceful, more just, and more free.

On our 100th anniversary, in 1876, citizens from across our nation came to Philadelphia to celebrate America’s centennial.  At that celebration, the country’s builders and artists and inventors showed off their wonderful creations.  Alexander Graham Bell displayed his telephone for the first time.  Remington unveiled the first typewriter.  An early attempt was made at electric light.  Thomas Edison showed an automatic telegraph and an electric pen.  Imagine the wonders our country could know in America’s 250th year.  (Applause.)

Think of the marvels we can achieve if we simply set free the dreams of our people.  Cures to the illnesses that have always plagued us are not too much to hope.  American footprints on distant worlds are not too big a dream.  Millions lifted from welfare to work is not too much to expect.  And streets where mothers are safe from fear, schools where children learn in peace, and jobs where Americans prosper and grow are not too much to ask.  (Applause.)

When we have all of this, we will have made America greater than ever before — for all Americans.  This is our vision.  This is our mission.  But we can only get there together.  We are one people, with one destiny.  We all bleed the same blood.  We all salute the same great American flag.  And we all are made by the same God.  (Applause.)

When we fulfill this vision, when we celebrate our 250 years of glorious freedom, we will look back on tonight as when this new chapter of American Greatness began.  The time for small thinking is over.  The time for trivial fights is behind us.  We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts, the bravery to express the hopes that stir our souls, and the confidence to turn those hopes and those dreams into action.

From now on, America will be empowered by our aspirations, not burdened by our fears; inspired by the future, not bound by the failures of the past; and guided by our vision, not blinded by our doubts.

I am asking all citizens to embrace this renewal of the American spirit.  I am asking all members of Congress to join me in dreaming big, and bold, and daring things for our country.  I am asking everyone watching tonight to seize this moment.  Believe in yourselves, believe in your future, and believe, once more, in America.

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

END
10:09 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts February 21, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Remarks at Press Conference

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump in Press Conference

Source: WH, 2-16-17

East Room

12:55 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  I just wanted to begin by mentioning that the nominee for Secretary of the Department of Labor will be Mr. Alex Acosta.  He has a law degree from Harvard Law School, was a great student.  Former clerk for Justice Samuel Alito.  And he has had a tremendous career.  He’s a member, and has been a member, of the National Labor Relations Board, and has been through Senate confirmation three times, confirmed — did very, very well.  And so Alex, I’ve wished him the best.  We just spoke.  And he’s going to be — I think he’ll be a tremendous Secretary of Labor.

And also, as you probably heard just a little while ago, Mick Mulvaney, former congressman, has just been approved — weeks late, I have to say that.  Weeks, weeks late.  Office of Management and Budget.  And he will be, I think, a fantastic addition.  Paul Singer has just left.  As you know, Paul was very much involved with the anti-Trump, or, as they say, “Never Trump.”  And Paul just left and he’s given us his total support.  And it’s all about unification.  We’re unifying the party, and hopefully we’re going to be able to unify the country.  It’s very important to me.  I’ve been talking about that for a long time, but it’s very, very important to me.  So I want to thank Paul Singer for being here and for coming up to the office.  He was a very strong opponent, and now he’s a very strong ally.  And I appreciate that.

I think I’ll say a few words, and then we’ll take some questions.  And I had this time — we’ve been negotiating a lot of different transactions to save money on contracts that were terrible, including airplane contracts that were out of control and late and terrible.  Just absolutely catastrophic in terms of what was happening.  And we’ve done some really good work.  We’re very proud of that.

And then right after that, you prepare yourselves and we’ll do some questions — unless you have no questions.  That’s always a possibility.

I’m here today to update the American people on the incredible progress that has been made in the last four weeks since my inauguration.  We have made incredible progress.  I don’t think there’s ever been a President elected who, in this short period of time, has done what we’ve done.

A new Rasmussen poll, in fact — because the people get it; much of the media doesn’t get it.  They actually get it, but they don’t write it — let’s put it that way.  But a new Rasmussen poll just came out just a very short while ago, and it has our approval rating at 55 percent and going up.  The stock market has hit record numbers, as you know.  And there has been a tremendous surge of optimism in the business world, which is — to me means something much different than it used to.  It used to mean, oh, that’s good.  Now it means that’s good for jobs.  Very different.  Plants and factories are already starting to move back into the United States and big league — Ford, General Motors, so many of them.

I’m making this presentation directly to the American people with the media present, which is an honor to have you this morning, because many of our nation’s reporters and folks will not tell you the truth and will not treat the wonderful people of our country with the respect that they deserve.  And I hope going forward we can be a little bit different, and maybe get along a little bit better, if that’s possible.  Maybe it’s not, and that’s okay too.

Unfortunately, much of the media in Washington, D.C., along with New York, Los Angeles, in particular, speaks not for the people but for the special interests and for those profiting off a very, very obviously broken system.  The press has become so dishonest that if we don’t talk about it, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people — tremendous disservice.  We have to talk about it to find out what’s going on, because the press honestly is out of control.  The level of dishonesty is out of control.

I ran for President to represent the citizens of our country.  I am here to change the broken system so it serves their families and their communities well.  I am talking, and really talking, on this very entrenched power structure, and what we’re doing is we’re talking about the power structure, we’re talking about its entrenchment.  As a result, the media is going through what they have to go through to oftentimes distort — not all the time — and some of the media is fantastic, I have to say; they’re honest and fantastic.  But much of it is not — the distortion.  And we’ll talk about it, and you’ll be able to ask me questions about it.

But we’re not going to let it happen, because I’m here again to take my message straight to the people.  As you know, our administration inherited many problems across government and across the economy.  To be honest, I inherited a mess — it’s a mess — at home and abroad.  A mess.  Jobs are pouring out of the country.  You see what’s going on with all of the companies leaving our country, going to Mexico and other places — low-pay, low-wages.  Mass instability overseas, no matter where you look.  The Middle East, a disaster.  North Korea — we’ll take care of it, folks.  We’re going to take care of it all.  I just want to let you know I inherited a mess.

Beginning on day one, our administration went to work to tackle these challenges.  On foreign affairs, we’ve already begun enormously productive talks with many foreign leaders — much of it you’ve covered — to move forward toward stability, security, and peace in the most troubled regions of the world, which there are many.

We’ve had great conversations with the United Kingdom — and meetings — Israel, Mexico, Japan, China, and Canada.  Really, really productive conversations.  I would say far more productive than you would understand.  We’ve even developed a new council with Canada to promote women’s business leaders and entrepreneurs.  It’s very important to me, very important to my daughter Ivanka.

I have directed our defense community, headed by our great general, now Secretary Mattis — he’s over there now, working very hard — to submit a plan for the defeat of ISIS, a group that celebrates the murder and torture of innocent people in large sections of the world.  It used to be a small group, and now it’s in large sections of the world.  They’ve spread like cancer.  ISIS has spread like cancer.  Another mess I inherited.

And we have imposed new sanctions on the nation of Iran, who’s totally taken advantage of our previous administration.  And they’re the world’s top sponsor of terrorism.  And we’re not going to stop until that problem is properly solved.  And it’s not properly solved now.  It’s one of the worst agreements I’ve ever seen drawn by anybody.

I’ve ordered plans to begin for the massive rebuilding of the United States military.  I’ve had great support from the Senate.  I’ve had great support from Congress generally.  We’ve pursued this rebuilding in the hopes that we will never have to use this military.  And I will tell you that is my — I would be so happy if we never had to use it.  But our country will never have had a military like the military we’re about to build and rebuild.  We have the greatest people on Earth in our military, but they don’t have the right equipment.  And their equipment is old.  I used it, I talked about it at every stop.  Depleted — it’s depleted.  It won’t be depleted for long.

And I think one of the reasons I’m standing here instead of other people is that, frankly, I talked about we have to have a strong military.  We have to have strong law enforcement also.  So we do not go abroad in the search of war.  We really are searching for peace, but it’s peace through strength.

At home, we have begun the monumental task of returning the government back to the people on a scale not seen in many, many years.  In each of these actions, I’m keeping my promises to the American people.  These are campaign promises.  Some people are so surprised that we’re having strong borders.  Well, that’s what I’ve been talking about for a year and a half — strong borders.  They’re so surprised — “oh, you’re having strong borders.”  Well, that’s what I’ve been talking about to the press and to everybody else.

One promise after another after years of politicians lying to you to get elected.  They lie to the American people in order to get elected.  Some of the things I’m doing probably aren’t popular, but they’re necessary for security and for other reasons.  And then coming to Washington and pursuing their own interests, which is more important to many politicians.

I’m here following through on what I pledged to do.  That’s all I’m doing.  I put it out before the American people.  Got 306 Electoral College votes.  I wasn’t supposed to get 222.  They said there’s no way to get 222; 230 is impossible.  Two hundred and seventy, which you need, that was laughable.  We got 306 because people came out and voted like they’ve never seen before.  So that’s the way it goes.  I guess it was the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan.

In other words, the media is trying to attack our administration because they know we are following through on pledges that we made, and they’re not happy about it for whatever reason.  But a lot of people are happy about it.  In fact, I’ll be in Melbourne, Florida, five o’clock on Saturday, and I heard — just heard that the crowds are massive that want to be there.

I turn on the TV, open the newspapers, and I see stories of chaos.  Chaos!  Yet, it is the exact opposite.  This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine, despite the fact that I can’t get my Cabinet approved, and they’re outstanding people.  Like Senator Dan Coates whose there — one of the most respected men of the Senate — he can’t get approved.  How do you not approve him?  He’s been a colleague, highly respected — brilliant guy, great guy, everybody knows it — but waiting for approval.

So we have a wonderful group of people that’s working very hard, that’s being very much misrepresented about, and we can’t let that happen.  So if the Democrats, who have — all you have to do is look at where they are right now — the only thing they can do is delay, because they’ve screwed things up royally, believe me.

Let me list to you some of the things that we’ve done in just a short period of time.  I just got here.  I got here with no Cabinet.  Again, each of these actions is a promise I made to the American people.  So we’ll go over just some of them, and we have a lot happening next week and in the weeks coming.  We’ve withdrawn from the job-killing disaster known as Trans-Pacific Partnership.  We’re going to make trade deals, but we’re going to have one-on-one deals — bilateral.  We’re going to have one-on-one deals.

We’ve directed the elimination of regulations that undermine manufacturing, and called for expedited approval of the permits needed for America and American infrastructure, and that means plants, equipment, roads, bridges, factories.  People take 10, 15, 20 years to get disapproved for a factory.  They go in for a permit — it’s many, many years.  And then at the end of the process — they spend tens of millions of dollars on nonsense — and at the end of the process, they get rejected.  Now, they may be rejected with me, but it’s going to be a quick rejection.  It’s not going to take years.  But mostly, it’s going to be an acceptance.  We want plants built, and we want factories built, and we want the jobs.  We don’t want the jobs going to other countries.

We’ve imposed a hiring freeze on nonessential federal workers.  We’ve imposed a temporary moratorium on new federal regulations.  We’ve issued a game-changing new rule that says for each one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated.  Makes sense.  Nobody has ever seen regulations like we have.  If you go to other countries and you look at industries they have, and you say, let me see your regulations, and they’re a fraction, just a tiny fraction of what we have.  And I want regulations because I want safety, I want all environmental situations to be taken properly care of.  It’s very important to me.  But you don’t need four or five or six regulations to take care of the same thing.

We’ve stood up for the men and women of law enforcement, directing federal agencies to ensure they are protected from crimes of violence.  We’ve directed the creation of a task force for reducing violent crime in America, including the horrendous situation — take a look at Chicago and others — taking place right now in our inner cities.  Horrible.  We’ve ordered the Department of Homeland Security and Justice to coordinate on a plan to destroy criminal cartels coming into the United States with drugs.  We’re becoming a drug-infested nation.  Drugs are becoming cheaper than candy bars, and we’re not going to let it happen any longer.

We’ve undertaken the most substantial border security measures in a generation to keep our nation and our tax dollars safe, and are now in the process of beginning to build a promised wall on the southern border.  Met with General, now Secretary, Kelly yesterday and we’re starting that process.  And the wall is going to be a great wall, and it’s going to be a wall negotiated by me.  The price is going to come down, just like it has on everything else I’ve negotiated for the government.  And we’re going to have a wall that works.  We’re not going to have a wall like they have now, which is either nonexistent or a joke.

We’ve ordered a crackdown on sanctuary cities that refuse to comply with federal law and that harbor criminal aliens, and we’ve ordered an end to the policy of catch and release on the border.  No more release, no matter who you are — release.  We’ve begun a nationwide effort to remove criminal aliens, gang members, drug dealers, and others who pose a threat to public safety.  We are saving American lives every single day.  The court system has not made it easy for us.  And we’ve even created a new office in Homeland Security dedicated to the forgotten American victims of illegal immigrant violence, of which there are many.

We’ve taken decisive action to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of our country.  Though parts of our necessary and constitutional actions were blocked by a judge’s, in my opinion, incorrect and unsafe ruling, our administration is working night and day to keep you safe — including reporters safe — and is vigorously defending this lawful order.  I will not back down from defending our country.  I got elected on defense of our country.  And I keep my campaign promises.  And our citizens will be very happy when they see the result.  They already are.  I can tell you that.

Extreme vetting will be put in place, and it already is in place in many places.  In fact, we had to go quicker than we thought because of the bad decision we received from a circuit that has been overturned at a record number.  I’ve heard 80 percent — I find that hard to believe; that’s just a number I heard — that they’re overturned 80 percent of the time.  I think that circuit is in chaos and that circuit is, frankly, in turmoil.  But we are appealing that and we are going further.

We’re issuing a new executive action next week that will comprehensively protect our country, so we’ll be going along the one path and hopefully winning that.  At the same time, we will be issuing a new and very comprehensive order to protect our people, and that will be done some time next week, toward the beginning or middle at the latest part.

We’ve also taken steps to begin construction of the Keystone Pipeline and Dakota Access Pipelines — thousands and thousands of jobs — and put new “Buy American” measures in place to require American steel for American pipelines.  In other words, they build a pipeline in this country and we use the powers of government to make that pipeline happen.  We want them to use American steel.  And they’re willing to do that, but nobody ever asked before I came along.  Even this order was drawn and they didn’t say that.  And I’m reading the order, I’m saying, why aren’t we using American steel?  And they said, that’s a good idea.  We put it in.

To drain the swamp of corruption in Washington, D.C. I’ve started by imposing a five-year lobbying ban on White House officials and a lifetime ban on lobbying for a foreign government.  We’ve begun preparing to repeal and replace Obamacare.  Obamacare is a disaster, folks.  It’s a disaster.  You can say, oh, Obamacare — I mean, they fill up our alleys with people that you wonder how they get there, but they’re not the Republican people that our representatives are representing.  So we’ve begun preparing to repeal and replace Obamacare and are deep in the midst of negotiations on a very historic tax reform to bring our jobs back.  We’re bringing our jobs back to this country big league.  It’s already happening, but big league.

I’ve also worked to install a Cabinet over the delays and obstruction of Senate Democrats.  You’ve seen what they’ve done over the last long number of years.  That will be one of the great Cabinets ever assembled in American history.  You look at Rex Tillerson — he’s out there negotiating right now.  General Mattis I mentioned before, General Kelly.  We have great, great people.  Mick is with us now.  We have great people.

Among their responsibilities will be ending the bleeding of jobs from our country and negotiating fair trade deals for our citizens.  Now, look, fair trade — not free — fair.  If a country is taking advantage of us, we’re not going to let that happen anymore.  Every country takes advantage of us, almost.  I may be able to find a couple that don’t.  But for the most part, that would be a very tough job for me to do.

Jobs have already started to surge.  Since my election, Ford announced it will abandon its plans to build a new factory in Mexico and will instead invest $700 million in Michigan, creating many, many jobs.  Fiat-Chrysler announced it will invest $1 billion in Ohio and Michigan, creating 2,000 new American jobs.  They were with me a week ago.  You know — you were here.  General Motors, likewise, committed to invest billions of dollars in its American manufacturing operation, keeping many jobs here that were going to leave.  And if I didn’t get elected, believe me, they would have left.  And these jobs and these things that I’m announcing would never have come here.

Intel just announced that it will move ahead with a new plant in Arizona that probably was never going to move ahead with.  And that will result in at least 10,000 American jobs.  Walmart announced it will create 10,000 jobs in the United States just this year because of our various plans and initiatives.  There will be many, many more.  Many more.  These are a few that we’re naming.

Other countries have been taking advantage of us for decades — decades and decades and decades, folks.  And we’re not going to let that happen anymore.  Not going to let it happen.

And one more thing.  I have kept my promise to the American people by nominating a justice of the United States Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, who is from my list of 20, and who will be a true defender of our laws and our Constitution — highly respected, should get the votes from the Democrats — you may not see that, but he’ll get there one way or the other.  But he should get there the old-fashioned way, and he should get those votes.

This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country.  Again, I say it — there has never been a presidency that’s done so much in such a short period of time.  And we haven’t even started the big work that starts early next week.  Some very big things are going to be announced next week.

So we’re just getting started.  We will be giving a speech, as I said, in Melbourne, Florida, at 5:00 p.m.  I hope to see you there.  And with that, I’d just say, God bless America, and let’s take some questions.

Mara.  Mara, go ahead.  You were cut off pretty violently at our last news conference.

Q    Did you fire Mike Flynn?

THE PRESIDENT:  Mike Flynn is a fine person, and I asked for his resignation.  He respectfully gave it.  He is a man who — there was a certain amount of information given to Vice President Pence, who is with us today.  And I was not happy with the way that information was given.

He didn’t have to do that, because what he did wasn’t wrong, what he did in terms of the information he saw.  What was wrong was the way that other people, including yourselves in this room, were given that information, because that was classified information that was given illegally.  That’s the real problem.  And you can talk all you want about Russia, which was all a fake news, fabricated deal to try and make up for the loss of the Democrats, and the press plays right into it.  In fact, I saw a couple of the people that were supposedly involved with all of this — they know nothing about it.  They weren’t in Russia, they never made a phone call to Russia, they never received a phone call.  It’s all fake news.  It’s all fake news.

The nice thing is I see it starting to turn, where people are now looking at the illegal, Mara — and I think it’s very important — the illegal giving out classified information.  And let me just tell you, it was given out, like, so much.  I’ll give you an example.  I called, as you know, Mexico.  It was a very confidential, classified call, but I called Mexico.  And in calling Mexico, I figured, oh, well, that’s — I spoke to the President of Mexico, had a good call.  All of a sudden it’s out for the world to see.  It’s supposed to be secret.  It’s supposed to be either confidential or classified in that case.  Same thing with Australia.  All of a sudden people are finding out exactly what took place.

The same thing happened with respect to General Flynn.  Everybody saw this, and I’m saying — the first thing I thought of when I heard about it is, how does the press get this information that’s classified?  How do they do it?  You know why?  Because it’s an illegal process, and the press should be ashamed of themselves.  But, more importantly, the people that gave out the information to the press should be ashamed of themselves.  Really ashamed.

Yes, go ahead.

Q    Why did you keep your Vice President in the dark for almost two weeks?

THE PRESIDENT:  Because when I looked at the information, I said, I don’t think he did anything wrong.  If anything, he did something right.  He was coming into office, he looked at the information.  He said, huh, that’s fine, that’s what they’re supposed to do.  They’re supposed to be — and he didn’t just call Russia.  He called and spoke to, both ways — I think there were 30-some-odd countries.  He’s doing the job.

You know, he was just doing his job.  The thing is he didn’t tell our Vice President properly, and then he said he didn’t remember.  So either way, it wasn’t very satisfactory to me.  And I have somebody that I think will be outstanding for the position, and that also helps, I think, in the making of my decision.

But he didn’t tell the Vice President of the United States the facts, and then he didn’t remember.  And that just wasn’t acceptable to me.

Yes.

Q    President Trump, since you brought up Russia, I’m looking for some clarification here.  During the campaign, did anyone from your team communicate with members of the Russian government or Russian intelligence?  And if so, what was the nature of those conversations?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, the failing New York Times wrote a big, long front-page story yesterday.  And it was very much discredited, as you know.  It was — it’s a joke.  And the people mentioned in the story — I notice they were on television today saying they never even spoke to Russia.  They weren’t even a part, really — I mean, they were such a minor part — I hadn’t spoken to them.  I think the one person, I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to him.  I don’t think I’ve ever met him.  And he actually said he was a very low-level member of, I think, a committee for a short period of time.  I don’t think I ever met him.  Now, it’s possible that I walked into a room and he was sitting there, but I don’t think I ever met him.  I didn’t talk to him, ever.  And he thought it was a joke.

The other person said he never spoke to Russia, never received a call.  Look at his phone records, et cetera, et cetera.  And the other person, people knew that he’d represented various countries, but I don’t think he represented Russia — but knew that he represented various countries.  That’s what he does.  I mean, people know that.  That’s Mr. Manafort, who’s, by the way — who’s, by the way, a respected man.  He’s a respected man.  But I think he represented the Ukraine, or Ukraine government, or somebody.  But everybody — people knew that.  Everybody knew that.  So these people — and he said that he has absolutely nothing to do and never has with Russia.  And he said that very forcefully.  I saw his statement.  He said it very forcefully.  Most of the papers don’t print it because that’s not good for their stories.

So the three people that they talked about all totally deny it.  And I can tell you, speaking for myself, I own nothing in Russia.  I have no loans in Russia.  I don’t have any deals in Russia.  President Putin called me up very nicely to congratulate me on the win of the election.  He then called me up extremely nicely to congratulate me on the inauguration, which was terrific.  But so did many other leaders — almost all other leaders from almost all other countries.  So that’s the extent.

Russia is fake news.  Russia — this is fake news put out by the media.  The real news is the fact that people, probably from the Obama administration because they’re there — because we have our new people going in place right now.  As you know, Mike Pompeo is now taking control of the CIA.  James Comey at FBI.  Dan Coats is waiting to be approved.  I mean, he is a senator, and a highly respected one.  And he’s still waiting to be approved.  But our new people are going in.

And just while you’re at, because you mentioned this, Wall Street Journal did a story today that was almost as disgraceful as the failing New Times’s story yesterday.  And it talked about — you saw it, front page.  So, Director of National Intelligence just put out — acting — a statement:  “Any suggestion that the United States intelligence community” — this was just given to us — “is withholding information and not providing the best possible intelligence to the President and his national security team is not true.”

So they took this front-page story out of The Wall Street Journal — top — and they just wrote the story is not true.  And I’ll tell you something, I’ll be honest — because I sort of enjoy this back and forth, and I guess I have all my life, but I’ve never seen more dishonest media than, frankly, the political media.  I thought the financial media was much better, much more honest.  But I will say that I never get phone calls from the media.  How do they write a story like that in The Wall Street Journal without asking me?  Or how do they write a story in The New York Times, put it on front page?  That was like that story they wrote about the women and me — front page.  Big massive story.  And it was nasty.

And then they called.  They said, “We never said that.  We like Mr. Trump.”  They called up my office — we like Mr. Trump; we never said that.  And it was totally — they totally misrepresented those very wonderful women, I have to tell you — totally misrepresented.  I said, give us a retraction.  They never gave us a retraction.  And, frankly, I then went on to other things.

Go ahead.

Q    Mr. President —

THE PRESIDENT:  You okay?

Q    I am.  Just wanted to get untangled.  Very simply, you said today that you had the biggest electoral margins since Ronald Reagan with 304 or 306 electoral votes.  In fact, President Obama got 365 in 2008.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I’m talking about Republican.  Yes.

Q    President Obama, 332.  George H.W. Bush, 426 when he won as President.  So why should Americans trust —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, no, I was told — I was given that information.  I don’t know.  I was just given.  We had a very, very big margin.

Q    I guess my question is, why should Americans trust you when you have accused the information they receive of being fake when you’re providing information that’s fake?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I don’t know.  I was given that information.  I was given — actually, I’ve seen that information around.  But it was a very substantial victory.  Do you agree with that?

Q    You’re the President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, thank you.  That’s a good answer.  Yes.

Q    Mr. President, thank you so much.  Can you tell us in determining that Lieutenant General Flynn — there was no wrongdoing in your mind, what evidence was weighed?  Did you have the transcripts of these telephone intercepts with Russian officials, particularly Ambassador Kislyak, who he was communicating with?  What evidence did you weigh to determine there was no wrong doing?

And further than that, sir, you’ve said on a couple of occasions this morning that you were going to aggressively pursue the sources of these leaks.

THE PRESIDENT:  We are.

Q    Can we ask what you’re doing to do?  And also, we’ve heard about a review of the intelligence community headed by Stephen Feinberg.  What can you tell us about that?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, about that, we now have Dan Coats, hopefully soon Mike Pompeo and James Comey, and they’re in position.  So I hope that we’ll be able to straighten that out without using anybody else.  The gentleman you mentioned is a very talented man, very successful man.  And he has offered his services, and it’s something we may take advantage of.  But I don’t think we’ll need that at all because of the fact that I think that we’re going to be able to straighten it out very easily on its own.

As far as the general is concerned, when I first heard about it, I said, huh, that doesn’t sound wrong.  My counsel came — Don McGahn, White House Counsel — and he told me, and I asked him, and he can speak very well for himself.  He said he doesn’t think anything is wrong.  He really didn’t think — it was really what happened after that, but he didn’t think anything was done wrong.  I didn’t either, because I waited a period of time and I started to think about it.  I said, well, I don’t see — to me, he was doing the job.

The information was provided by — who I don’t know — Sally Yates — and I was a little surprised because I said, doesn’t sound like he did anything wrong there.  But he did something wrong with respect to the Vice President, and I thought that was not acceptable.  As far as the actual making the call — in fact, I’ve watched various programs and I’ve read various articles where he was just doing his job.  That was very normal.  At first, everybody got excited because they thought he did something wrong.  After they thought about it, it turned out he was just doing his job.

So — and I do — and, by the way, with all of that being said, I do think he’s a fine man.

Yes, Jon.

Q    On the leaks, sir —

THE PRESIDENT:  Go ahead, finish off, then I’ll get you, Jon.

Q    Sorry, what will you do on the leaks?  You have said twice today —

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, we’re looking at it very, very seriously.  I’ve gone to all of the folks in charge of the various agencies, and we’re — I’ve actually called the Justice Department to look into the leaks.  Those are criminal leaks.  They’re put out by people either in agencies.  I think you’ll see it stopping because now we have our people in.  You know, again, we don’t have our people in because we can’t get them approved by the Senate.  We just had Jeff Sessions approved in Justice, as an example.  So we are looking into that very seriously.  It’s a criminal act.

You know what I say — when I was called out on Mexico, I was shocked.  Because all this equipment, all this incredible phone equipment.  When I was called out on Mexico, I was — honestly, I was really, really surprised.  But I said, you know, it doesn’t make sense, that won’t happen.  But that wasn’t that important to call, it was fine.  I could show it to the world and he could show it to the world — the President who is a very fine man, by the way.  Same thing with Australia.  I said, that’s terrible that it was leaked but it wasn’t that important.  But then I said, what happens when I’m dealing with the problem of North Korea?  What happens when I’m dealing with the problems in the Middle East?  Are you folks going to be reporting all of that very, very confidential information — very important, very — I mean, at the highest level, are you going to be reporting about that too?

So I don’t want classified information getting out to the public.  And in a way, that was almost a test.  So I’m dealing with Mexico.  I’m dealing with Argentina.  We were dealing on this case with Mike Flynn.  All this information gets put into the Washington Post and gets put into the New York Times.  And I’m saying, what’s going to happen when I’m dealing on the Middle East?  What’s going to happen when I’m dealing with really, really important subjects like North Korea?  We’ve got to stop it.  That’s why it’s a criminal penalty.

Yes, Jon.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  I just want to get you to clarify just a very important point.  Can you say definitively that nobody on your campaign had any contacts with the Russians during the campaign?  And, on the leaks, is it fake news or are these real leaks?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, the leaks are real.  You’re the one that wrote about them and reported them.  I mean, the leaks are real.  You know what they said — you saw it.  And the leaks are absolutely real.  The news is fake because so much of the news is fake.

So one thing that I felt it was very important to do — and I hope we can correct it, because there is nobody I have more respect for — well, maybe a little bit — than reporters, than good reporters.  It’s very important to me, and especially in this position.  It’s very important.  I don’t mind bad stories.  I can handle a bad story better than anybody as long as it’s true.  And over a course of time, I’ll make mistakes and you’ll write badly and I’m okay with that.  But I’m not okay when it is fake.  I mean, I watch CNN — it’s so much anger and hatred and just the hatred.  I don’t watch it anymore because it’s very good — he’s saying no.  It’s okay, Jim.  It’s okay, Jim.  You’ll have your chance.  But I watch others too.  You’re not the only one, so don’t feel badly.

But I think it should be straight.  I think it should be — I think it would be, frankly, more interesting.  I know how good everybody’s ratings are right now, but I think that actually would be — I think that it would actually be better.

People — I mean, you have a lower approval rate than Congress.  I think that’s right.  I don’t know, Peter, is that one right?  Because you know, I think they have lower — I heard, lower than Congress.

But honestly, the public would appreciate it.  I’d appreciate it.  Again, I don’t mind bad stories when it’s true.  But we have an administration where the Democrats are making it very difficult.  I think we’re setting a record, or close to a record in the time of approval of a Cabinet.  I mean, the numbers are crazy.  When I’m looking — some of them had them approved immediately.  I’m going forever, and I still have a lot of people that we’re waiting for.

And that’s all they’re doing, is delaying.  And you look at Schumer and the mess that he’s got over there, and they have nothing going.  The only thing they can do is delay.  And you know, I think they’d be better served by approving and making sure that they’re happy and everybody is good.  And sometimes, I mean — I know President Obama lost three or four, and you lose them on the way.  And that’s okay.  That’s fine.

But I think they would be much better served, Jon, if they just went through the process quickly.  This is pure delay tactics.  And they say it, and everybody understands it.

Yeah, go ahead, Jim.

Q    The first part of my question on contacts.  Do you definitively say that nobody —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I had nothing to do with it.  I have nothing to do with Russia.  I told you, I have no deals there.  I have no anything.

Now, when WikiLeaks, which I had nothing to do with, comes out and happens to give — they’re not giving classified information.  They’re giving stuff — what was said at an office about Hillary cheating on the debates — which, by the way, nobody mentions.  Nobody mentions that Hillary received the questions to the debates.

Can you imagine — seriously, can you imagine if I received the questions?  It would be the electric chair, okay?  “He should be put in the electric chair.”  You would even call for the reinstitution of the death penalty, okay?  Maybe not you, Jon.

Yes, we’ll do you next, Jim.  I’ll do you next.  Yes?

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  I just want to clarify one other thing.

THE PRESIDENT:  Sure.

Q    Did you direct Mike Flynn to discuss the sanctions with the Russian ambassador?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I didn’t.  No, I didn’t.

Q    (Inaudible.)  (Off mic.)

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I didn’t.

Q    Did you fire him because (inaudible) —

THE PRESIDENT:  Excuse me — no, I fired him because of what he said to Mike Pence, very simple.  Mike was doing his job.  He was calling countries and his counterparts.  So it certainly would have been okay with me if he did it.  I would have directed him to do it if I thought he wasn’t doing it.  I didn’t direct him but I would have directed him because that’s his job.

And it came out that way — and, in all fairness, I watched Dr. Charles Krauthammer the other night say he was doing his job.  And I agreed with him.  And since then I’ve watched many other people say that.

No, I didn’t direct him, but I would have directed him if he didn’t do it, okay?

Jim.

Q    Mr. President, thank you very much.  And just for the record, we don’t hate you, I don’t hate you.  If you could pass that along.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  Well, ask Jeff Zucker how he got his job, okay?

Q    If I may follow up on some of the questions that have taken place so far, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, not too many.  We do have other people.  You do have other people, and your ratings aren’t as good as some of the other people that are waiting.

Q    They’re pretty good right now, actually.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  Go ahead, Jim.

Q    If I may ask, sir, you said earlier that WikiLeaks was revealing information about the Hillary Clinton campaign during the election cycle.  You welcomed that at one point.

THE PRESIDENT:  I was okay with it.

Q    You said you loved WikiLeaks.  At another campaign press conference you called on the Russians to find the missing 30,000 emails.  I’m wondering, sir, if you —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, she was actually missing 33,000, and then that got extended with a whole pile after that, but that’s okay.

Q    Maybe my numbers are off a little bit too.

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no, but I did say 30,000, but it was actually higher than that.

Q    If I may ask you, sir, it sounds as though you do not have much credibility here when it comes to leaking if that is something that you encouraged in the campaign.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, fair question.  Ready?

Q    So if I may ask you that — if I may ask a follow-up —

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no, but are you — let me do one at a time.  Do you mind?

Q    Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  All right.  So in one case you’re talking about highly classified information.  In the other case you’re talking about John Podesta saying bad things about the boss.  I will say this:  If John Podesta said that about me and he was working for me, I would have fired him so fast your head would have spun.  He said terrible things about her.  But it wasn’t classified information.

But in one case you’re talking about classified.  Regardless, if you look at the RNC, we had a very strong — at my suggestion — and I give Reince great credit for this — at my suggestion, because I know something about this world, I said I want a very strong defensive mechanism.  I don’t want to be hacked.  And we did that, and you have seen that they tried to hack us and they failed.

The DNC did not do that.  And if they did it, they could not have been hacked.  But they were hacked, and terrible things came.  And the only thing that I do think is unfair is some of the things were so — they were — when I heard some of those things, I said — I picked up the papers the next morning, I said, oh, this is going to front page.  It wasn’t even in the papers.

Again, if I had that happen to me, it would be the biggest story in the history of publishing or the head of newspapers.  I would have been the headline in every newspaper.

I mean, think of it.  They gave her the questions for the debate, and she should have reported herself.  Why didn’t Hillary Clinton announce that, “I’m sorry, but I have been given the questions to a debate or a town hall, and I feel that it’s inappropriate, and I want to turn in CNN for not doing a good job”?

Q    And if I may follow up on that, just something that Jonathan Karl was asking you about — you said that the leaks are real, but the news is fake.  I guess I don’t understand.  It seems that there is a disconnect there.  If the information coming from those leaks is real, then how can the stories be fake?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, the reporting is fake.  Look, look —

Q    And if I may ask — I just want to ask one other question.

THE PRESIDENT:  Jim, you know what it is?  Here’s the thing.  The public isn’t — they read newspapers, they see television, they watch.  They don’t know if it’s true or false because they’re not involved.  I’m involved.  I’ve been involved with this stuff all my life.  But I’m involved.  So I know when you’re telling the truth or when you’re not.

I just see many, many untruthful things.  And I tell you what else I see.  I see tone.  You know the word “tone.”  The tone is such hatred.  I’m really not a bad person, by the way.  No, but the tone is such — I do get good ratings, you have to admit that.  The tone is such hatred.

I watched this morning a couple of the networks, and I have to say “Fox & Friends” in the morning, they’re very honorable people.  They’re very — not because they’re good, because they hit me also when I do something wrong.  But they have the most honest morning show.  That’s all I can say.  It’s the most honest.  But the tone, Jim.  If you look — the hatred.  I mean, sometimes — sometimes somebody gets —

Q    (Off mic.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, you look at your show that goes on at 10 o’clock in the evening.  You just take a look at that show.  That is a constant hit.  The panel is almost always exclusive anti-Trump.  The good news is he doesn’t have good ratings.  But the panel is almost exclusive anti-Trump.  And the hatred and venom coming from his mouth, the hatred coming from other people on your network.

Now, I will say this.  I watch it.  I see it.  I’m amazed by it.  And I just think you’d be a lot better off — I honestly do.  The public gets it, you know.  Look, when I go to rallies, they turn around, they start screaming at CNN.  They want to throw their placards at CNN.

I think you would do much better by being different.  But you just take a look.  Take a look at some of your shows in the morning and the evening.  If a guest comes out and says something positive about me, it’s brutal.

Now, they’ll take this news conference.  I’m actually having a very good time, okay?  But they’ll take this news conference — don’t forget that’s the way I won.  Remember, I used to give you a news conference every time I made a speech, which was like every day.

Q    (Off mic.)

THE PRESIDENT:  No, that’s how I won.  I won with news conferences and probably speeches.  I certainly didn’t win by people listening to you people, that’s for sure.

But I am having a good time.  Tomorrow they will say, Donald Trump rants and raves at the press.  I’m not ranting and raving.  I’m just telling you, you’re dishonest people.  But — but I’m not ranting and raving.  I love this.  I’m having a good time doing it.  But tomorrow the headlines are going to be:  Donald Trump Rants and Raves.  I’m not ranting and raving.

Q    If I may just —

THE PRESIDENT:  Go ahead.

Q    One more follow-up because —

THE PRESIDENT:  Should I let him have a little bit more?  What do you think, Peter?

Q    Just because of this —

THE PRESIDENT:  Peter, should I have let him have a little bit more?  Sit down.  Sit down.

Q    Just because of the attack —

THE PRESIDENT:  We’ll get it.

Q    Just because of the attack of fake news and attacking our network, I just want to ask you, sir —

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m changing it from fake news, though.

Q    Doesn’t that undermine —

THE PRESIDENT:  Very fake news now.  (Laughter.)

Q    But aren’t you —

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, go ahead.

Q    Real news, Mr. President.  Real news.

THE PRESIDENT:  And you’re not related to our new —

Q    I am not related, sir, no.  (Laughter.)  I do like the sound of Secretary Acosta, I must say.

THE PRESIDENT:  I looked — you know, I looked at that name.  I said, wait a minute, is there any relation there?  Alex Acosta.

Q    I’m sure you checked that out, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I checked it.  I said — they said, no, sir.  I said, do me a favor, go back and check the family tree.

Q    But aren’t you concerned, sir, that you are undermining the people’s faith in the First Amendment freedom of the press, the press in this country when you call stories you don’t like “fake news”?  Why not just say it’s a story I don’t like?

THE PRESIDENT:  I do that.

Q    When you call it fake news, you’re undermining confidence —

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I do that.  No, no, I do that.

Q    — in our news media.

THE PRESIDENT:  Here’s the thing.

Q    Isn’t that important?

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, I understand — and you’re right about that except this.  See, I know when I should get good and when I should get bad.  And sometimes I’ll say, wow, that’s going to be a great story, and I’ll get killed.  I know what’s good and bad.  I’d be a pretty good reporter — not as good as you.  But I know what’s good.  I know what’s bad.

And when they change it and make it really bad — something that should be positive.  Sometimes something that should be very positive, they’ll make okay.  They’ll even make it negative.  So I understand it because I’m there.  I know what was said.  I know who is saying it.  I’m there.  So it’s very important to me.

Look, I want to see an honest press.  When I started off today by saying that it’s so important to the public to get an honest press.  The press — the public doesn’t believe you people anymore.  Now, maybe I had something to do with that, I don’t know.  But they don’t believe you.

If you were straight and really told it like it is, as Howard Cosell used to say, right?  Of course, he had some questions also.  But if you were straight, I would be your biggest booster, I would be your biggest fan in the world — including bad stories about me.  But if you go — as an example, you’re CNN — I mean, it’s story after story after story is bad.  I won.  I won.  And the other thing:  Chaos.  There’s zero chaos.  We are running — this is a fine-tuned machine.  And Reince happens to be doing a good job.  But half of his job is putting out lies by the press.

I said to him yesterday, this whole Russia scam that you guys are building so that you don’t talk about the real subject, which is illegal leaks.  But I watched him yesterday working so hard to try and get that story proper.  And I’m saying, here’s my Chief of Staff, a really good guy, did a phenomenal job at RNC.  I mean, we won the election, right?  We won the presidency.  We got some senators.  We got some — all over the country, you take a look, he’s done a great job.

And I said to myself, you know — and I said to somebody that was in the room — I said, you take a look at Reince, he’s working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires.  They’re fake.  They’re not true.  And isn’t that a shame, because he’d rather be working on health care.  He’d rather be working on tax reform, Jim.  I mean that.  I would be your biggest fan in the world if you treated me right.  I sort of understand there’s a certain bias, maybe by Jeff or somebody — for whatever reason.  And I understand that.  But you’ve got to be at least a little bit fair.  And that’s why the public sees it — they see it.  They see it’s not fair.  You take a look at some of your shows and you see the bias and the hatred.  And the public is smart.  They understand it.

Okay, yeah, go ahead.

Q    We have no doubt that your latest story is (inaudible).  But for those who believe that there is something to it, is there anything that you have learned over these last few weeks that you might be able to reveal that might ease their concerns that this isn’t fake news?  And secondly —

THE PRESIDENT:  I think they don’t believe it.  I don’t think the public would.  That’s why the Rasmussen poll just has me through the roof.  I don’t think they believe it.  Well, I guess one of the reasons I’m here today is to tell you the whole Russian thing — that’s a ruse.  That’s a ruse.  And, by the way, it would be great if we could get along with Russia, just so you understand that.  Now, tomorrow you’ll say, Donald Trump wants to get along with Russia, this is terrible.  It’s not terrible — it’s good.

We had Hillary Clinton try and do a reset.  We had Hillary Clinton give Russia 20 percent of the uranium in our country.  You know what uranium is, right?  It’s this thing called nuclear weapons and other things.  Like, lots of things are done with uranium, including some bad things.  Nobody talks about that.  I didn’t do anything for Russia.  I’ve done nothing for Russia.  Hillary Clinton gave them 20 percent of our uranium.  Hillary Clinton did a reset, remember, with the stupid plastic button that made us all look like a bunch of jerks?  Here, take a look.  He looked at her like, what the hell is she doing with that cheap plastic button?  Hillary Clinton — that was a reset.  Remember?  It said “reset.”

Now, if I do that, oh, I’m a bad guy.  If we could get along with Russia, that’s a positive thing.  We have a very talented man, Rex Tillerson, who is going to be meeting with them shortly.  And I told him, I said, I know politically it’s probably not good for me.  Hey, the greatest thing I could do is shoot that ship that’s 30 miles offshore right out of the water.  Everyone in this country is going to say, oh, it’s so great.  That’s not great.  That’s not great.  I would love to be able to get along with Russia.

Now, you’ve had a lot of Presidents that haven’t taken that tact.  Look where we are now.  Look where we are now.  So, if I can — now, I love to negotiate things.  I do it really well and all that stuff, but it’s possible I won’t be able to get along with Putin.  Maybe it is.  But I want to just tell you, the false reporting by the media, by you people — the false, horrible, fake reporting makes it much harder to make a deal with Russia.  And probably Putin said, you know — he’s sitting behind his desk and he’s saying, you know, I see what’s going on in the United States, I follow it closely; it’s got to be impossible for President Trump to ever get along with Russia because of all the pressure he’s got with this fake story.  Okay?  And that’s a shame.  Because if we could get along with Russia — and, by the way, China and Japan and everyone — if we could get along, it would be a positive thing, not a negative thing.

Q    Tax reform —

Q    Mr. President, since you —

THE PRESIDENT:  Tax reform is going to happen fairly quickly.  We’re doing Obamacare — we’re in final stages.  We should be submitting the initial plan in March, early March, I would say.  And we have to, as you know, statutorily and for reasons of budget, we have to go first.  It’s not like — frankly, the tax would be easier, in my opinion, but for statutory reasons and for budgetary reasons, we have to submit the health care sooner.  So we’ll be submitting health care sometime in early March, mid-March.  And after that, we’re going to come up — and we’re doing very well on tax reform.

Yes.

Q    Mr. President, you mentioned Russia.  Let’s talk about some serious issues that have come up in the last week that you have had to deal with as President of the United States.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.

Q    You mentioned the vessel, the spy vessel, off the coast of the United States.

THE PRESIDENT:  Not good.

Q    There was a ballistic missile test that many interpreted as a violation —

THE PRESIDENT:  Not good.

Q    — of the agreement between the two countries.  And a Russian plane buzzed a U.S. destroyer.

THE PRESIDENT:  Not good.

Q    I listened to you during the campaign —

THE PRESIDENT:  Excuse me, excuse me, when did it happen?  It happened when — if you were Putin right now, you would say, hey, we’re back to the old games with the United States.  There’s no way Trump can ever do a deal with us because the — you have to understand, if I was just brutal on Russia right now, just brutal, people would say, you would say, oh, isn’t that wonderful.  But I know you well enough.  Then you would say, oh, he was too tough, he shouldn’t have done that.  Look, of all —

Q    I’m just trying to find out your orientation to those —

THE PRESIDENT:  Wait a minute.  Wait, wait.  Excuse me just one second.

Q    I’m just trying to find out what you’re doing to do about them, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  All of those things that you mentioned are very recent, because probably Putin assumes that he’s not going to be able to make a deal with me because it’s politically not popular for me to make a deal.  So Hillary Clinton tries to reset, it failed.  They all tried.  But I’m different than those people.

Go ahead.

Q    How are you interpreting those moves?  And what do you intend to do about them?

THE PRESIDENT:  Just the way I said it.

Q    Have you given Rex Tillerson any advice or counsel on how to deal?

THE PRESIDENT:  I have.  I have.  And I’m so beautifully represented.  I’m so honored that the Senate approved him.  He’s going to be fantastic.

Yes, I think that I’ve already —

Q    Is Putin testing you, do you believe, sir?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I don’t think so.  I think Putin probably assumes that he can’t make a deal with me anymore because politically it would be unpopular for a politician to make a deal.  I can’t believe I’m saying I’m a politician, but I guess that’s what I am now.  Because, look, it would be much easier for me to be tough on Russia, but then we’re not going to make a deal.

Now, I don’t know that we’re going to make a deal.  I don’t know.  We might, we might not.  But it would be much easier for me to be so tough — the tougher I am on Russia, the better.  But you know what, I want to do the right thing for the American people.  And to be honest, secondarily, I want to do the right thing for the world.

If Russia and the United States actually got together and got along — and don’t forget, we’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are they.  There’s no upside.  We’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are they.  I’ve been briefed.  And I can tell you, one thing about a briefing that we’re allowed to say because anybody that ever read the most basic book can say it:  Nuclear holocaust would be like no other.  They’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are we.

If we have a good relationship with Russia, believe me, that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.

Q    So when you say they’re not good, do you mean that they are —

THE PRESIDENT:  Who did I say is not good?

Q    No, when I read off the three things that have recently happened and each one of them you said they’re not good.

THE PRESIDENT:  No, it’s not good, but they happened.

Q    But do they damage the relationship?  Do they undermine this country’s ability to work with Russia?

THE PRESIDENT:  They all happened recently, and I understand what they’re doing, because they’re doing the same thing.  Now, again, maybe I’m not going to be able to do a deal with Russia, but at least I will have tried.  And if I don’t, does anybody really think that Hillary Clinton would be tougher on Russia than Donald Trump?  Does anybody in this room really believe that?  Okay.

But I tell you one thing:  She tried to make a deal.  She had the reset.  She gave all the valuable uranium away.  She did other things.  You know, they say I’m close to Russia.  Hillary Clinton gave away 20 percent of the uranium in the United States.  She’s close to Russia.  I gave — you know what I gave to Russia?  You know what I gave?  Nothing.

Q    Can we conclude there will be no response to these particular provocations?

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m not going to tell you anything about what response I do.  I don’t talk about military response.  I don’t say I’m going into Mosul in four months.  “We are going to attack Mosul in four months.”  Then three months later:  “We are going to attack Mosul in one month.”  “Next week, we are going to attack Mosul.”  In the meantime, Mosul is very, very difficult.  Do you know why?  Because I don’t talk about military, and I don’t talk about certain other things.  You’re going to be surprised to hear that.  And, by the way, my whole campaign, I’d say that.  So I don’t have to tell you —

Q    There will be a response?

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t want to be one of these guys that say, “Yes, here’s what we’re going to do.”  I don’t have to do that.

Q    There will be a — in other words, there will be a response, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t have to tell you what I’m going to do in North Korea.  Wait a minute.  I don’t have to tell you what I’m going to do in North Korea.  And I don’t have to tell you what I’m going to do with Iran.  You know why?  Because they shouldn’t know.  And eventually you guys are going to get tired of asking that question.  So when you ask me, what am I going to do with the ship — the Russian ship, as an example — I’m not going to tell you.  But hopefully, I won’t have to do anything.  But I’m not going to tell you.  Okay.

Q    Thanks.

Q    Can I just ask you — thank you very much, Mr. President — the Trump —

THE PRESIDENT:  Where are you from?

Q    BBC.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  Here’s another beauty.

Q    That’s a good line.  Impartial, free, and fair.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, sure.

Q    Mr. President —

THE PRESIDENT:  Just like CNN, right?

Q    Mr. President, on the travel ban — we could banter back and forth.  On the travel ban, would you accept that that was a good example of the smooth running of government, that fine-tuned —

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, I do.  I do.   And let me tell you about the travel —

Q    Were there any mistakes in that?

THE PRESIDENT:  Wait, wait, wait.  I know who you are.  Just wait.  Let me tell you about the travel ban.  We had a very smooth rollout of the travel ban, but we had a bad court.  We got a bad decision.  We had a court that’s been overturned — again, maybe wrong, but I think it’s 80 percent of the time.  A lot.  We had a bad decision.  We’re going to keep going with that decision.  We’re going to put in a new executive order next week sometime.  But we had a bad decision.  That’s the only thing that was wrong with the travel ban.

You had Delta with a massive problem with their computer system at the airports.  You had some people that were put out there, brought by very nice buses, and they were put out at various locations.  Despite that, the only problem that we had is we had a bad court.  We had a court that gave us what I consider to be, with great respect, a very bad decision.  Very bad for the safety and security of our country.  The rollout was perfect.

Now, what I wanted to do was do the exact same executive order but said one thing — and I said this to my people:  Give them a one-month period of time.  But General Kelly, now Secretary Kelly, said, if you do that, all these people will come in, in the month — the bad ones.  You do agree, there are bad people out there, right?  They’re not everybody that’s like you.  You have some bad people out there.

So Kelly said, you can’t do that.  And he was right.  As soon as he said it, I said, wow, never thought of it.  I said, how about one week?  He said, no good.  You got to do it immediately, because if you do it immediately, they don’t have time to come in.  Now, nobody ever reports that, but that’s why we did it quickly.

Now, if would have done it a month, everything would have been perfect.  The problems is we would have wasted a lot of time, and maybe a lot of lives, because a lot of bad people would have come into our country.

Now, in the meantime, we’ve vetting very, very strongly.  Very, very strongly.  But we need help, and we need help by getting that executive order passed.

Q    Just a brief follow-up.  And if it’s so urgent, why not introduce —

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, go ahead.

Q    Thank you.  I just was hoping that we could get a yes- or-no answer on one of these questions involving Russia.  Can you say whether you are aware that anyone who advised your campaign had contacts with Russia during the course of the election?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I told you, General Flynn obviously was dealing.  So that’s one person.  But he was dealing — as he should have been —

Q    During the election?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no, nobody that I know of.

Q    So you’re not aware of any contacts during the course of the election?

THE PRESIDENT:  Look, look, how many times do I have to answer this question?

Q    Can you just say yes or no on it?

THE PRESIDENT:  Russia is a ruse.  Yeah, I know you have to get up and ask a question, so important.  Russia is a ruse.  I have nothing to do with Russia, haven’t made a phone call to Russia in years.  Don’t speak to people from Russia.  Not that I wouldn’t, I just have nobody to speak to.  I spoke to Putin twice.  He called me on the election — I told you this — and he called me on the inauguration, and a few days ago.  We had a very good talk, especially the second one — lasted for a pretty long period of time.  I’m sure you probably get it because it was classified, so I’m sure everybody in this room perhaps has it.  But we had a very, very good talk.  I have nothing to do with Russia.  To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does.

Now, Manafort has totally denied it.  He denied it.  Now, people knew that he was a consultant over in that part of the world for a while, but not for Russia.  I think he represented Ukraine or people having to do with Ukraine, or people that — whoever.  But people knew that.  Everybody knew that.

Q    But in his capacity as your campaign manager, was he in touch with Russian officials during the election?

THE PRESIDENT:  I have — you know what, he said no.  I can only tell you what he — now, he was replaced long before the election.  You know that, right?  He was replaced long before the election.  When all of this stuff started coming out, it came out during the election.  But Paul Manafort, who’s a good man also, by the way — Paul Manafort was replaced long before the election took place.  He was only there for a short period of time.

How much longer should we stay here, folks?  Five more minutes, is that okay?  Five?

Q    Mr. President, on national security —

THE PRESIDENT:  Wait, let’s see, who’s — I want to find a friendly reporter.  Are you a friendly reporter?  Watch how friendly he is.  Wait, wait — watch how friendly he is.  Go ahead.  Go ahead.

Q    So, first of all, my name is (inaudible) from (inaudible) Magazine.  And (inaudible).  I haven’t seen anybody in my community accuse either yourself or any of the — anyone on your staff of being anti-Semitic.  We have an understanding of (inaudible).

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

Q    However, what we are concerned about, and what we haven’t really heard be addressed is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it.  There have been reports out that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers all across the country in the last couple of weeks.  There are people who are committing anti-Semitic acts or threatening to —

THE PRESIDENT:  You see, he said he was going to ask a very simple, easy question.  And it’s not.  It’s not.  Not a simple question, not a fair question.  Okay, sit down.  I understand the rest of your question.

So here’s the story, folks.  Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life.  Number two, racism — the least racist person.  In fact, we did very well relative to other people running as a Republican.

Q    (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Quiet, quiet, quiet.  See, he lied about — he was going to get up and ask a very straight, simple question.  So you know, welcome to the world of the media.  But let me just tell you something — that I hate the charge.  I find it repulsive.  I hate even the question because people that know me — and you heard the Prime Minister, you heard Netanyahu yesterday — did you hear him, Bibi?  He said, I’ve known Donald Trump for a long time, and then he said, forget it.

So you should take that, instead of having to get up and ask a very insulting question like that.

Yeah, go ahead.  Go ahead.

Q    Thank you.  I’m Lisa from the PBS —

THE PRESIDENT:  See, it just shows you about the press, but that’s the way the press is.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Lisa Desjardins from the PBS Newshour.

THE PRESIDENT:  Good.

Q    On national security and immigration, can you give us more details on the executive order you planned for next week, even its broad outlines?  Will it be focused on specific countries?

THE PRESIDENT:  It’s a very fair question.

Q    And in addition, on the DACA program for immigration, what is your plan?  Do you plan to continue that program or to end it?

THE PRESIDENT:  We’re going to show great heart.  DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me, I will tell you.  To me, it’s one of the most difficult subjects I have, because you have these incredible kids, in many cases — not in all cases.  In some of the cases they’re having DACA and they’re gang members and they’re drug dealers too.  But you have some absolutely incredible kids — I would say mostly — they were brought here in such a way — it’s a very, very tough subject.

We are going to deal with DACA with heart.  I have to deal with a lot of politicians, don’t forget, and I have to convince them that what I’m saying is right.  And I appreciate your understanding on that.

But the DACA situation is a very, very — it’s a very difficult thing for me.  Because, you know, I love these kids.  I love kids.  I have kids and grandkids.  And I find it very, very hard doing what the law says exactly to do.  And you know, the law is rough.  I’m not talking about new laws.  I’m talking the existing law is very rough.  It’s very, very rough.

As far as the new order, the new order is going to be very much tailored to what I consider to be a very bad decision, but we can tailor the order to that decision and get just about everything, in some ways more.  But we’re tailoring it now to the decision.  We have some of the best lawyers in the country working on it.  And the new executive order is being tailored to the decision we got down from the court.  Okay?

Q    Mr. President, Melania Trump announced the reopening of the White House Visitors Office.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.

Q    And she does a lot of great work for the country as well.  Can you tell us a little bit about what First Lady Melania Trump does for the country?  And there is a unique level of interest in your administration, so by opening the White House Visitors Office, what does that mean to you?

THE PRESIDENT:  Now, that’s what I call a nice question.  That is very nice.  Who are you with?

Q    (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Good.  I’m going to start watching.  Thank you very much.

Melania is terrific.  She was here last night.  We had dinner with Senator Rubio and his wife, who is, by the way, lovely.  And we had a really good discussion about Cuba because we have very similar views on Cuba.  And Cuba was very good to me in the Florida election as you know, the Cuban people, Americans.  And I think that Melania is going to be outstanding.  That’s right, she just opened up the Visitors Center — in other words, touring of the White House.

She, like others that she’s working with, feels very, very strongly about women’s issues, women’s difficulties, very, very strongly.  And she’s a very, very strong advocate.  I think she’s a great representative for this country.  And a funny thing happens because she gets so unfairly maligned.  The things they say — I’ve known her for a long time.  She was a very successful person.  She was a very successful model.  She did really well.  She would go home at night and didn’t even want to go out with people.  She was a very private person.  She was always the highest quality that you’ll ever find.  And the things they say — and I’ve known her for a long time — the things they say are so unfair.  And actually, she’s been apologized to, as you know, by various media because they said things that were lies.

I’d just tell you this:  I think she’s going to be a fantastic First Lady.  She’s going to be a tremendous representative of women and of the people.  And helping her and working with her will be Ivanka, who is a fabulous person and a fabulous, fabulous woman.  And they’re not doing this for money.  They’re not doing this for pay.  They’re doing this because they feel it, both of them.  And Melania goes back and forth, and after Barron finishes school — because it’s hard to take a child out of school with a few months left — she and Barron will be moving over to the White House.  Thank you.  That’s a very nice question.

Go ahead.

Q    Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.  Oh, this is going to be a bad question but that’s okay.

Q    No, it’s not going to be a bad question.

THE PRESIDENT:  Good, because I enjoy watching you on television.

Q    Well, thank you so much.  Mr. President, I need to find out from you — you said something as it relates to inner cities.  That was one of your platforms during your campaign.

THE PRESIDENT:  Fix the inner cities, yes.

Q    Fixing the inner cities.  What will be that fix and your urban agenda, as well as your HBCU executive order that’s coming out this afternoon?  See, it wasn’t bad, was it?

THE PRESIDENT:  That was very professional and very good.

Q    I’m very professional.

THE PRESIDENT:  We’ll be announcing the order in a little while, and I’d rather let the order speak for itself.  But it will be something I think that will be very good for everybody concerned.  But we’ll talk to you about that after we do the announcement.

As far as the inner cities, as you know, I was very strong on the inner cities during the campaign.  I think it’s probably what got me a much higher percentage of the African American vote than a lot of people thought I was going to get.  We did much higher than people thought I was going to get and I was honored by that, including the Hispanic vote, which was also much higher.  And, by the way, if I might add, including the women’s vote, which was much higher than people thought I was going to get.

So we are going to be working very hard on the inner cities having to do with education, having to do with crime.  We’re going to try and fix as quickly as possible — you know it takes a long time.  It’s taken 100 years or more for some of these places to evolve, and they evolved many of them very badly.

But we’re going to be working very hard on health and health care; very, very hard on education.  And also, we’re going to working in a stringent way, and a very good way, on crime.  You go to some of these inner city places, and it’s so sad when you look at the crime.  You have people — and I’ve seen this, and I’ve sort of witnessed it.  In fact, in two cases, I have actually witnessed it.  They lock themselves into apartments, petrified to even leave, in the middle of the day.  They’re living in hell.  We can’t let that happen.  So we’re going to be very, very strong.

It’s a great question, and it’s a very difficult situation, because it’s been many, many years.  It’s been festering for many, many years.  But we have places in this country that we have to fix.  We have to help African American people that, for the most part are stuck there — Hispanic American people.  We have Hispanic American people that are in the inner cities, and they’re living in hell.

I mean, you look at the numbers in Chicago.  There are two Chicagos, as you know.  There’s one Chicago that’s incredible, luxurious and all, and safe.  There’s another Chicago that’s worse than almost any of the places in the Middle East that we talk about, and that you talk about every night on the newscasts.  So we’re going to do a lot of work on the inner cities.  I have great people lined up to help with the inner cities.

Q    Well, when you say — when you say the inner cities, are you going to include the CBC, Mr. President, in your conversations with your urban agenda, your inner city agenda, as well as your —

THE PRESIDENT:  Am I going include who?

Q    Are you going to include the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, as well as —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I would.  I tell you what, do you want to set up the meeting?  Do you want to set up the meeting?

Q    No, no, no.

THE PRESIDENT:  Are they friends of yours?

Q    I’m just a reporter.

THE PRESIDENT:  No, go ahead, set up the meeting.

Q    I know some of them, but I’m sure they’re watching right now.

THE PRESIDENT:  Let’s go set up a meeting.  I would love to meet with the Black Caucus.  I think it’s great — the Congressional Black Caucus.  I think it’s great.  I actually thought I had a meeting with Congressman Cummings, and he was all excited, and then he said, oh, I can’t move, it might be bad for me politically, I can’t have that meeting.  I was all set to have the meeting.  You know, we called him and called him, and he was all set.  I spoke to him on the phone.  Very nice guy.

Q    I hear he wanted that meeting with you as well.

THE PRESIDENT:  He wanted it.  But we called, called, called, called — they can’t make a meeting with him.  Every day, I walked in, I said, I would like to meet with him.  Because I do want to solve the problem.  But he probably was told by Schumer or somebody like that — some other lightweight — he was probably told — he was probably told, don’t meet with Trump, it’s bad politics.  And that’s part of the problem of this country.

Okay, one more.  Go ahead.

Q    Yes, Mr. President, two questions —

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no.  One question.  Two, we can’t handle.  This room can’t handle two.  Go ahead, give me the better of your two.

Q    (Inaudible) it’s not about your personality or your beliefs.  We’re talking about (inaudible) around the country, some of it by supporters in your name.  What do you —

THE PRESIDENT:  And some of it — and can I be honest with you?  And this has to do with racism and horrible things that are put up.  Some of it written by our opponents.  You do know that.  Do you understand that?  You don’t think anybody would do a thing like that.  Some of the signs you’ll see are not put up by the people that love or like Donald Trump, they’re put up by the other side, and you think it’s like playing it straight.  No.  But you have some of those signs, and some of that anger is caused by the other side.  They’ll do signs and they’ll do drawings that are inappropriate.  It won’t be my people.  It will be the people on the other side to anger people like you.  Okay.

Go ahead.

Q    You are the President now.  What are you going to do about it?

THE PRESIDENT:  Who is that?  Where is that?  Oh, stand up.  You can —

Q    What are you going to do about the tensions that have been discussed?

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, I’m working on it.  No, I’m working on it very hard.

Q    Are you going to give a speech?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no, look.  Hey, just so you understand, we had a totally divided country for eight years, and long before that, in all fairness to President Obama.  Long before President Obama, we have had a very divided.  I didn’t come along and divide this country.  This country was seriously divided before I got here.

We’re going to work on it very hard.  One of the questions that was asked — I thought it was a very good question — was about the inner cities.  I mean, that’s part of it.  But we’re going to work on education.  We’re going to work on lack — you know, we’re going to stop — we’re going to try and stop the crime.  We have great law enforcement officials.  We’re going to try and stop crime.  We’re not going to try and stop, we’re going to stop crime.

But it’s very important to me.  But this isn’t Donald Trump that divided a nation.  We went eight years with President Obama, and we went many years before President Obama.  We lived in a divided nation.  And I am going to try — I will do everything within my power to fix that.

I want to thank everybody very much.  It’s a great honor to be with you.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
2:13 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts February 4, 2017: President Trump’s Second Week of Action

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

President Trump’s Second Week of Action

Source: WH, 2-4-17

PRESIDENT TRUMP’S SECOND WEEK OF ACTION

  • 7: Presidential Actions to Make America Great Again
  • 4: Diplomatic conversations with foreign leaders to promote an America First foreign policy.
  • 4: Meetings to get input from workers and business leaders on jumpstarting job creation.
  • 2: Events for the nomination of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court
  • 2: Events to commemorate African American History Month
  • 2: Members of President Trump’s Cabinet sworn in.
  • 1: Bill signed into law
  • 1: Meeting with cyber security experts
  • 1: Commemoration of American Heart Month
  • 1: Speech at the National Prayer Breakfast
  • 1: Letter of Recognition for National Catholic Schools Week

Following Through On His Promise To The American People, President Trump Nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch To The Supreme Court

  • On Tuesday, President Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to become Associate Justice on the Supreme Court, filling the seat left behind by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
  • The next day, President Trump met with various stakeholders to thank them for their input in making such an important decision.

President Trump Continued To Drain The Washington Swamp And Further Protect All Americans

PROTECTING AMERICANS: President Trump signed two executive memoranda to protect Americans and sanctioned the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism in Iran.

  • On Friday, the Trump administration sanctioned twenty-five individuals and entities that provide support to Iran’s ballistic missile program and to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force.
  • Last Saturday, President Trump ordered a 30-day review and development of a new plan to defeat ISIS.
  • Last Saturday, to better get advice and information needed to ensure the safety and security of the American people, President Trump signed an executive order that modernized the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council.

DRAINING THE SWAMP: President Trump used the power of his office to promote government transparency, preventing lobbying influence, and limiting regulatory overreach.

  • Last Saturday, President Trump signed an executive order establishing new ethics commitments for all Executive branch appointees to limit the influence of lobbyists and Washington insiders.
  • On Monday, President Trump signed an executive order to reduce government regulations by requiring two existing regulations to be ended if a new one is approved.
  • On Tuesday, President Trump signed into law the “GAO Access And Oversight Act Of 2017” (H.R.72) allowing the Government Accountability Office to gather records from all federal agencies so it can be more responsive to civil action.

President Trump Continued To Put Jobs Front And Center Through Two Executive Actions And Holding Four Stakeholder Meetings With Labor And Business Leaders

FREEING UP THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM: President Trump made two Presidential actions to better enable the financial system to promote job creation and serve all Americans

  • On Friday, President Trump signed an executive order to regulate the financial system in a way that protects consumers while promoting economic growth and job creation.
  • On Friday, President Trump issued a memorandum to prevent the unintended consequences of financial fiduciary rules from limiting economic opportunity and American’s investments.

HEARING FROM STAKEHOLDERS: Throughout the week, President Trump met with labor and business leaders to get input on how best to jumpstart job creation for all Americans.

  • On Monday, President Trump met with small business owners to get input on how to spur job creation and help businesses like theirs succeed.
  • On Tuesday, President Trump met with leaders in the pharmaceutical industry to discuss how jobs can be brought back to America and reduce prices so all Americans can afford quality healthcare.
  • On Thursday, President Trump met with the executives of Harley-Davidson and union representatives to encourage American manufacturing.
  • On Friday, President Trump met with his economic advisory council to discuss ways to deliver jobs to all Americans.

To Start African American History Month, President Trump Honored The History Of The African American Community And Their Vast Contribution To American Society

  • On Wednesday, President Trump met with African American community leaders to honor their contribution and listen to their input on what can be done to improve the lives of all Americans.
  • The same day, President Trump signed a proclamation honoring February 2017 as Black History Month.

Despite Historic Democratic Obstructionism, President Trump Continued To Get His Cabinet Nominees Confirmed By Congress

  • On Tuesday, Elaine Chao was sworn in as President Trump’s Secretary of Transportation.
  • On Wednesday, Rex Tillerson was sworn in as President Trump’s Secretary of State.

President Trump Held Three Conversations With Foreign Leaders To Promote American Interests Around The Globe

  • On Sunday, President Trump spoke with King Salman bin Abd Al-Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia on creating safe zones in Syria and Yemen to help refugees and strict enforcement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran.
  • On Sunday, President Trump spoke with the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayid Al Nuhayyan of the United Arab Emirates to reaffirm the strong partnership between both countries and combating radical Islamic terrorism.
  • On Sunday, President Trump spoke with Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn of the Republic of Korea on the important of the their mutual alliance and defending against North Korea.
  • On Thursday, President Trump met with King Abdullah II of Jordan where he conveyed the U.S.’s commitment to Jordan’s stability and defeating ISIS.

To Further Protect America’s Cyber Security, President Trump Met With Experts

  • On Tuesday, President Trump held a listening session with cyber security experts to help fulfill his campaign promise of securing America against cyber threats.

President Trump Spoke At The National Prayer Breakfast

  • On Thursday, President Trump continued to champion repealing the Johnson Amendment to allow representatives of faith to speak freely and without retribution.

President Trump Commemorated American Heart Month

  • On Friday, President Trump proclaimed February 2017 as American Heart Month.

President Trump Recognized National Catholic Schools Week

  • On Friday, President Trump issued a letter recognizing National Catholic Schools week.

In Two Weeks Of Action, The President Has Been Relentless In This Effort To Make America Great Again

  • 21 Presidential Actions
  • 16 Meetings With Foreign Leaders
  • 10 Stakeholder Meetings
  • 6 Cabinet Members Sworn-In
  • 4 National Proclamations
  • 3 Agency Visits
  • 2 Speeches
  • 1 Legislation signed into law
  • 1 Supreme Court Nomination
  • 1 Manufacturing Initiative Launch
  • 1 Thank-You Reception
  • 1 Letter Of Recognition

Full Text Political Transcripts January 28, 2017: President Donald Trump’s First Week of Action

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

President Trump’s First Week of Action

Source: WH, 1-28-17

PRESIDENT TRUMP’S FIRST WEEK OF ACTION

  • 15: Presidential Actions to begin fulfilling his promises to Make America Great Again.
  • 11: Diplomatic conversations with foreign leaders to promote an America First foreign policy.
  • 4: Members of President Trump’s cabinet sworn into office.
  • 3: Stakeholder meetings to get input from both workers and business leaders on jumpstarting job creation.
  • 3: Engagements with members of Congress to discuss his agenda.
  • 3: Visits to federal agencies committed to protecting our homeland and ensuring our national security.
  • 1: Official White House visit by a foreign head of state.
  • 1: Reception to honor law enforcement and first responders.
  • 1: Proclamation supporting National School Choice week.
  • The President’s team followed through on his commitment to action, by:
    • collaborating with 28 federal agencies and departments on a near daily basis.
    • discussing legislative items with at least 75 House members or their staffs and 35 Senators or their staffs.
    • making initial contact with governors in each state and territory, and having in-depth discussions with 32 governors or their staff.
    • discussing issues with 22 state attorneys general.
    • beginning outreach to our nation’s largest municipalities and tribes.

President Trump Used The Power Of His Office To Follow Through On His Promises To The American People

WITHIN HOURS OF HIS INAUGURATION: President Trump moved to protect Americans from ObamaCare, government regulations, and future bailouts.

  • On the evening of his Inauguration, President Trump sought relief for Americans from the cost burdens of ObamaCare.
  • Through a memorandum issued by the Chief of Staff, all new regulations were frozen to protect job creators from the crush of new government rules on their businesses.
  • President Trump put a stop to a reckless action that would have reduced funding for the Federal Housing Authority after it was bailed out by the taxpayers as recently as 2013.

MONDAY: President Trump fulfilled his promise to immediately address trade and jobs by withdrawing from the harmful Trans-Pacific Partnership, put in place a hiring freeze, and protected taxpayer money from funding abortions overseas.

  • President Trump protected American workers by withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  • To stem the tide of an ever growing government, President Trump put in place a hiring freeze on federal civilian employees.
  • After years of taxpayer money being spent to promote abortions abroad, President Trump reinstated the “Mexico City Policy” to ban such usage.

TUESDAY: President Trump promoted job creation by jumpstarting the construction of two new energy pipelines, requiring the use of American-made materials and equipment in building those pipelines, and reduced the regulatory burden on America’s manufacturing and construction industry.

  • President Trump began the process to finish construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline after a series of delays.
  • After years of delays, President Trump signed a presidential memorandum to revive the Keystone XL pipeline.
  • To make sure Americans benefit from infrastructure projects, the President signed an executive memorandum requiring all new construction and repair of pipelines to use American materials and equipment.
  • President Trump ordered the Commerce Department to streamline and reduce regulations affecting U.S. manufacturing to help bring factories back to America.
  • To jumpstart much needed infrastructure projects, President Trump signed an executive order to speed up the environmental impact review of projects.

WEDNESDAY: President Trump followed through on his pledge to protect America’s borders and end the lack of compliance with immigration laws.

  • Following through on his commitment to protecting the American people, President Trump signed an executive order to improve border security, particularly through the construction of a physical barrier on the southern border.
  • President Trump signed an executive order to ensure that immigration laws are enforced throughout the United States, including halting federal funding for sanctuary cities.

FRIDAY: President Trump followed through on his top priority to keep America safe.

  • President Trump signed an executive order protecting the United States from foreign nationals entering from countries compromised by terrorism, and ensuring a more rigorous vetting process.
  • President Trump issued a presidential memorandum to direct the Secretary of Defense to review our readiness and create plans to rebuild the U.S. military.

President Trump Has Held or Scheduled 11 Conversations With Foreign Leaders To Promote American Interests Around The Globe

  • On Saturday, President Trump spoke with President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico and discussed respect for the sovereignty of both nations.
  • On Saturday, President Trump also spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the importance of strong U.S.-Canada ties.
  • On Sunday, President Trump spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to discuss opportunities to strengthen relations.
  • On Monday, President Trump spoke with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sissi of Egypt, expressing his commitment for a new push in bilateral relations.
  • On Tuesday, President Trump spoke with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India to strengthen relations and cooperation.
  • Today, President Trump spoke again with President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico to discuss bilateral relations, border security and trade.
  • Tomorrow, President Trump is scheduled to speak Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of with Japan
  • Tomorrow, President Trump is scheduled to speak with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.
  • Tomorrow, President Trump is scheduled to speak with President Vladimir Putin of Russia.
  • Tomorrow, President Trump is scheduled to speak with President François Hollande of France.
  • Tomorrow, President Trump is scheduled to speak with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia.

Four Of President Trump’s Nominees Were Confirmed By The Senate And Sworn Into Office

  • Last Friday, retired General John Kelly was sworn in as Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • Also last Friday, retired General James Mattis was sworn in as Secretary of Defense.
  • On Monday, former Congressman Mike Pompeo was sworn in as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
  • On Wednesday, former Governor Nikki Haley was sworn in as Ambassador to the United Nations.

Following Through On His Commitment To Job Creation, President Trump Held Stakeholder Meetings With Business And Labor Leaders

  • On Monday, President Trump met with labor leaders to discuss his plans to renegotiate trade deals and put Americans back to work.
  • Later on Monday, President Trump met with manufacturing leaders to discuss how to bring factories and manufacturing jobs back to America.
  • On Tuesday, President Trump met with key industry leaders to discuss how the auto industry can bring back American jobs.

President Trump Held Meetings Or Spoke With Congressional Leaders To Discuss His Agenda

  • On Monday, President Trump hosted Republican and Democrat congressional leaders and chiefs of staff at the White House to discuss the upcoming legislative agenda.
  • On Tuesday, President Trump met with key Senate leaders to discuss his upcoming choice to fill the Supreme Court vacancy.
  • On Thursday, President Trump spoke at the Republican congressional retreat in Philadelphia.

President Trump Spoke At The Headquarters Of The CIA, The Department Of Homeland Security, And The Department Of Defense

  • On Saturday, President Trump spoke at CIA headquarters and told a raucous crowd that he’d have their back as he thanked them for their service to the country.
  • On Wednesday, President Trump visited the Department of Homeland Security to reinforce his strong belief in protecting America’s borders.
  • On Wednesday, President Trump visited the Department of Defense to highlight his commitment to rebuild our military.

President Trump Hosted U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May

  • In hosting his first foreign head of state at the White House, President Trump welcomed Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May.

As One Of His First Actions After Inauguration Day, President Trump Thanked American Law Enforcement And First Responders

  • On Sunday, President Trump held a White House Reception to honor and thank law enforcement and first responders who helped make his Inauguration safe and successful.

President Trump Proclaimed National School Choice Week

  • On Thursday, President Trump renewed his commitment to expand school choice for Americans by proclaiming January 22 through January 28, 2017, as National School Choice Week.

The President’s Team Is Following Through On His Commitment To Action

President Trump’s team has worked to ensure his team is in place at various departments and agencies and working to implement his agenda:

  • The White House Office of Cabinet Affairs made 140 calls to 28 separate federal departments and agencies to collaborate on various issues.
  • Cabinet Affairs personally met with 10 Cabinet nominees.
  • Cabinet Affairs coordinated the swearing in of four cabinet members this week by the Vice President.

President Trump’s team has worked to ensure his legislative agenda is well-received in Congress:

  • The White House Office of Legislative Affairs met or spoke with 110 congressional offices or elected representatives in 75 House and 35 Senate offices.
  • Vice President Pence had several in-person meetings this week on Capitol Hill.

President Trump’s team began outreach to our nation’s states, municipalities, and tribes:

  • The White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs made initial contact with the governor’s offices in all of the states and territories.
  • Intergovernmental Affairs held detailed discussions with the governors or their staff in 32 separate states.
  • Intergovernmental Affairs made initial contact with 22 of the 50 state attorneys general.
  • Intergovernmental Affairs has begun outreach to America’s largest municipalities, such as Los Angeles County and met with the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
  • Intergovernmental Affairs made contact with the largest tribes in the country and has begun outreach with many leaders.

Political Musings January 21, 2015: Obama defiant in least viewed State of the Union Address in recent history

POLITICAL MUSINGS

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/pol_musings.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Obama defiant in least viewed State of the Union Address in recent history

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The state of the State of the Union Address is not good; President Obama delivered the address to the smallest audience of viewers in recent history. Only 31.7 million Americans viewed the address on television; the State of…READ MORE

Full Text Political Transcripts January 20, 2015: Iowa Senator Joni Ernst Delivers Official GOP Republican State of the Union Response

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

GOP Responds to Obama’s State of the Union Address: Full Text

“Good evening.

“I’m Joni Ernst. As a mother, a soldier, and a newly elected senator from the great State of Iowa, I am proud to speak with you tonight.

“A few moments ago, we heard the President lay out his vision for the year to come. Even if we may not always agree, it’s important to hear different points of view in this great country. We appreciate the President sharing his.

“Tonight though, rather than respond to a speech, I’d like to talk about your priorities. I’d like to have a conversation about the new Republican Congress you just elected, and how we plan to make Washington focus on your concerns again.

“We heard the message you sent in November — loud and clear. And now we’re getting to work to change the direction Washington has been taking our country.

“The new Republican Congress also understands how difficult these past six years have been. For many of us, the sting of the economy and the frustration with Washington’s dysfunction weren’t things we had to read about. We felt them every day.

“We felt them in Red Oak — the little town in southwestern Iowa where I grew up, and am still proud to call home today.

“As a young girl, I plowed the fields of our family farm. I worked construction with my dad. To save for college, I worked the morning biscuit line at Hardees.

“We were raised to live simply, not to waste. It was a lesson my mother taught me every rainy morning.
“You see, growing up, I had only one good pair of shoes. So on rainy school days, my mom would slip plastic bread bags over them to keep them dry.

“But I was never embarrassed. Because the school bus would be filled with rows and rows of young Iowans with bread bags slipped over their feet.

“Our parents may not have had much, but they worked hard for what they did have.

“These days though, many families feel like they’re working harder and harder, with less and less to show for it.

“Not just in Red Oak, but across the country.

“We see our neighbors agonize over stagnant wages and lost jobs. We see the hurt caused by canceled healthcare plans and higher monthly insurance bills. We see too many moms and dads put their own dreams on hold while growing more fearful about the kind of future they’ll be able to leave to their children.

“Americans have been hurting, but when we demanded solutions, too often Washington responded with the same stale mindset that led to failed policies like Obamacare. It’s a mindset that gave us political talking points, not serious solutions.

“That’s why the new Republican majority you elected started by reforming Congress to make it function again. And now, we’re working hard to pass the kind of serious job-creation ideas you deserve.

“One you’ve probably heard about is the Keystone jobs bill. President Obama has been delaying this bipartisan infrastructure project for years, even though many members of his party, unions, and a strong majority of Americans support it. The President’s own State Department has said Keystone’s construction could support thousands of jobs and pump billions into our economy, and do it with minimal environmental impact.

“We worked with Democrats to pass this bill through the House. We’re doing the same now in the Senate.

“President Obama will soon have a decision to make: will he sign the bill, or block good American jobs?

“There’s a lot we can achieve if we work together.

“Let’s tear down trade barriers in places like Europe and the Pacific. Let’s sell more of what we make and grow in America over there so we can boost manufacturing, wages, and jobs right here, at home.

“Let’s simplify America’s outdated and loophole-ridden tax code. Republicans think tax filing should be easier for you, not just the well-connected. So let’s iron out loopholes to lower rates — and create jobs, not pay for more government spending.

“The President has already expressed some support for these kinds of ideas. We’re calling on him now to cooperate to pass them.

“You’ll see a lot of serious work in this new Congress.

“Some of it will occur where I stand tonight, in the Armed Services Committee room. This is where I’ll join committee colleagues — Republicans and Democrats — to discuss ways to support our exceptional military and its mission. This is where we’ll debate strategies to confront terrorism and the threats posed by Al Qaeda, ISIL, and those radicalized by them.

“We know threats like these can’t just be wished away. We’ve been reminded of terrorism’s reach both at home and abroad; most recently in France and Nigeria, but also in places like Canada and Australia. Our hearts go out to all the innocent victims of terrorism and their loved ones. We can only imagine the depth of their grief.

“For two decades, I’ve proudly worn our nation’s uniform: today, as a Lt. Colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard. While deployed overseas with some of America’s finest men and women, I’ve seen just how dangerous these kinds of threats can be.

“The forces of violence and oppression don’t care about the innocent. We need a comprehensive plan to defeat them.

“We must also honor America’s veterans. These men and women have sacrificed so much in defense of our freedoms, and our way of life. They deserve nothing less than the benefits they were promised and a quality of care we can be all be proud of.

“These are important issues the new Congress plans to address.

“We’ll also keep fighting to repeal and replace a health care law that’s hurt so many hardworking families.

“We’ll work to correct executive overreach.

“We’ll propose ideas that aim to cut wasteful spending and balance the budget — with meaningful reforms, not higher taxes like the President has proposed.

“We’ll advance solutions to prevent the kind of cyberattacks we’ve seen recently.

“We’ll work to confront Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“And we’ll defend life, because protecting our most vulnerable is an important measure of any society.

“Congress is back to work on your behalf, ready to make Washington focus on your concerns again.

“We know America faces big challenges. But history has shown there’s nothing our nation, and our people, can’t accomplish.

“Just look at my parents and grandparents.

“They had very little to call their own except the sweat on their brow and the dirt on their hands. But they worked, they sacrificed, and they dreamed big dreams for their children and grandchildren.

“And because they did, an ordinary Iowan like me has had some truly extraordinary opportunities — because they showed me that you don’t need to come from wealth or privilege to make a difference. You just need the freedom to dream big, and a whole lot of hard work.

“The new Republican Congress you elected is working to make Washington understand that too. And with a little cooperation from the President, we can get Washington working again.

“Thank you for allowing me to speak with you tonight.

“May God bless this great country of ours, the brave Americans serving in uniform on our behalf, and you, the hardworking men and women who make the United States of America the greatest nation the world has ever known.”

Read On ABC News Radio: http://abcnewsradioonline.com/politics-news/gop-responds-to-obamas-state-of-the-union-address-full-text-1.html#ixzz3PW3xtGoc

Full Text Obama Presidency January 20, 2015: President Barack Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Address — Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery State of the Union Address

Source: WH, 1-20-15

The White House is making the full text of the State of the Union widely available on its Medium page. The text, as prepared for delivery, is now online HERE, along with tools that allow people to follow along with the speech as they watch in real time, to view charts and infographics on key areas, to tweet their favorite lines, and to leave notes to provide feedback.

The full text of the State of the Union Address, as prepared for delivery, is posted now on Medium and can be viewed here: http://go.wh.gov/SOTUMedium

There is a ritual on State of the Union night in Washington. A little before the address, the White House sends out an embargoed copy of the President’s speech to the press (embargoed means that the press can see the speech, but they can’t report on it until a designated time). The reporters then start sending it around town to folks on Capitol Hill to get their reaction, then those people send it to all their friends, and eventually everyone in Washington can read along, but the public remains in the dark.

This year we change that.

For the first time, the White House is making the full text of the speech available to citizens around the country online. On Medium, you can follow along with the speech as you watch in real time, view charts and infographics on key areas, tweet favorite lines, and leave notes. By making the text available to the public in advance, the White House is continuing efforts to reach a wide online audience and give people a range of ways to consume the speech.


Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans:

We are fifteen years into this new century.  Fifteen years that dawned with terror touching our shores; that unfolded with a new generation fighting two long and costly wars; that saw a vicious recession spread across our nation and the world.  It has been, and still is, a hard time for many.

But tonight, we turn the page.

Tonight, after a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999.  Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis.  More of our kids are graduating than ever before; more of our people are insured than ever before; we are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we’ve been in almost 30 years.

Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over.  Six years ago, nearly 180,000 American troops served in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Today, fewer than 15,000 remain.  And we salute the courage and sacrifice of every man and woman in this 9/11 Generation who has served to keep us safe.  We are humbled and grateful for your service.

America, for all that we’ve endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this:

The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.

At this moment – with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production – we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth.  It’s now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next fifteen years, and for decades to come.

Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well?  Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?

Will we approach the world fearful and reactive, dragged into costly conflicts that strain our military and set back our standing?  Or will we lead wisely, using all elements of our power to defeat new threats and protect our planet?

Will we allow ourselves to be sorted into factions and turned against one another – or will we recapture the sense of common purpose that has always propelled America forward?

In two weeks, I will send this Congress a budget filled with ideas that are practical, not partisan.  And in the months ahead, I’ll crisscross the country making a case for those ideas.

So tonight, I want to focus less on a checklist of proposals, and focus more on the values at stake in the choices before us.

It begins with our economy.

Seven years ago, Rebekah and Ben Erler of Minneapolis were newlyweds.  She waited tables.  He worked construction.  Their first child, Jack, was on the way.

They were young and in love in America, and it doesn’t get much better than that.

“If only we had known,” Rebekah wrote to me last spring, “what was about to happen to the housing and construction market.”

As the crisis worsened, Ben’s business dried up, so he took what jobs he could find, even if they kept him on the road for long stretches of time.  Rebekah took out student loans, enrolled in community college, and retrained for a new career.  They sacrificed for each other.  And slowly, it paid off.  They bought their first home.  They had a second son, Henry.  Rebekah got a better job, and then a raise.  Ben is back in construction – and home for dinner every night.

“It is amazing,” Rebekah wrote, “what you can bounce back from when you have to…we are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.”

We are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.

America, Rebekah and Ben’s story is our story.  They represent the millions who have worked hard, and scrimped, and sacrificed, and retooled.  You are the reason I ran for this office.  You’re the people I was thinking of six years ago today, in the darkest months of the crisis, when I stood on the steps of this Capitol and promised we would rebuild our economy on a new foundation.  And it’s been your effort and resilience that has made it possible for our country to emerge stronger.

We believed we could reverse the tide of outsourcing, and draw new jobs to our shores.  And over the past five years, our businesses have created more than 11 million new jobs.

We believed we could reduce our dependence on foreign oil and protect our planet.  And today, America is number one in oil and gas.  America is number one in wind power.  Every three weeks, we bring online as much solar power as we did in all of 2008.  And thanks to lower gas prices and higher fuel standards, the typical family this year should save $750 at the pump.

We believed we could prepare our kids for a more competitive world.  And today, our younger students have earned the highest math and reading scores on record.  Our high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high.  And more Americans finish college than ever before.

We believed that sensible regulations could prevent another crisis, shield families from ruin, and encourage fair competition.  Today, we have new tools to stop taxpayer-funded bailouts, and a new consumer watchdog to protect us from predatory lending and abusive credit card practices.  And in the past year alone, about ten million uninsured Americans finally gained the security of health coverage.

At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious; that we would crush jobs and explode deficits.  Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health care inflation at its lowest rate in fifty years.

So the verdict is clear.  Middle-class economics works.  Expanding opportunity works.  And these policies will continue to work, as long as politics don’t get in the way.  We can’t slow down businesses or put our economy at risk with government shutdowns or fiscal showdowns.  We can’t put the security of families at risk by taking away their health insurance, or unraveling the new rules on Wall Street, or refighting past battles on immigration when we’ve got a system to fix.  And if a bill comes to my desk that tries to do any of these things, it will earn my veto.

Today, thanks to a growing economy, the recovery is touching more and more lives.  Wages are finally starting to rise again.  We know that more small business owners plan to raise their employees’ pay than at any time since 2007.  But here’s the thing – those of us here tonight, we need to set our sights higher than just making sure government doesn’t halt the progress we’re making.  We need to do more than just do no harm.  Tonight, together, let’s do more to restore the link between hard work and growing opportunity for every American.

Because families like Rebekah’s still need our help.  She and Ben are working as hard as ever, but have to forego vacations and a new car so they can pay off student loans and save for retirement.  Basic childcare for Jack and Henry costs more than their mortgage, and almost as much as a year at the University of Minnesota.  Like millions of hardworking Americans, Rebekah isn’t asking for a handout, but she is asking that we look for more ways to help families get ahead.

In fact, at every moment of economic change throughout our history, this country has taken bold action to adapt to new circumstances, and to make sure everyone gets a fair shot.  We set up worker protections, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to protect ourselves from the harshest adversity.  We gave our citizens schools and colleges, infrastructure and the internet – tools they needed to go as far as their effort will take them.

That’s what middle-class economics is – the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.  We don’t just want everyone to share in America’s success – we want everyone to contribute to our success.

So what does middle-class economics require in our time?

First – middle-class economics means helping working families feel more secure in a world of constant change.  That means helping folks afford childcare, college, health care, a home, retirement – and my budget will address each of these issues, lowering the taxes of working families and putting thousands of dollars back into their pockets each year.

Here’s one example.  During World War II, when men like my grandfather went off to war, having women like my grandmother in the workforce was a national security priority – so this country provided universal childcare.  In today’s economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever.  It’s not a nice-to-have – it’s a must-have.  It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us.  And that’s why my plan will make quality childcare more available, and more affordable, for every middle-class and low-income family with young children in America – by creating more slots and a new tax cut of up to $3,000 per child, per year.

Here’s another example.  Today, we’re the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers.  Forty-three million workers have no paid sick leave.  Forty-three million.  Think about that.  And that forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home.  So I’ll be taking new action to help states adopt paid leave laws of their own.  And since paid sick leave won where it was on the ballot last November, let’s put it to a vote right here in Washington.  Send me a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave.  It’s the right thing to do.

Of course, nothing helps families make ends meet like higher wages.  That’s why this Congress still needs to pass a law that makes sure a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work.  Really.  It’s 2015.  It’s time.  We still need to make sure employees get the overtime they’ve earned.  And to everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this:  If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it.  If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise.

These ideas won’t make everybody rich, or relieve every hardship.  That’s not the job of government.  To give working families a fair shot, we’ll still need more employers to see beyond next quarter’s earnings and recognize that investing in their workforce is in their company’s long-term interest.  We still need laws that strengthen rather than weaken unions, and give American workers a voice.  But things like child care and sick leave and equal pay; things like lower mortgage premiums and a higher minimum wage – these ideas will make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of families.  That is a fact.  And that’s what all of us – Republicans and Democrats alike – were sent here to do.

Second, to make sure folks keep earning higher wages down the road, we have to do more to help Americans upgrade their skills.

America thrived in the 20th century because we made high school free, sent a generation of GIs to college, and trained the best workforce in the world.  But in a 21st century economy that rewards knowledge like never before, we need to do more.

By the end of this decade, two in three job openings will require some higher education.  Two in three.  And yet, we still live in a country where too many bright, striving Americans are priced out of the education they need.  It’s not fair to them, and it’s not smart for our future.

That’s why I am sending this Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college – to zero.

Forty percent of our college students choose community college.  Some are young and starting out.  Some are older and looking for a better job.  Some are veterans and single parents trying to transition back into the job market.  Whoever you are, this plan is your chance to graduate ready for the new economy, without a load of debt.  Understand, you’ve got to earn it – you’ve got to keep your grades up and graduate on time.  Tennessee, a state with Republican leadership, and Chicago, a city with Democratic leadership, are showing that free community college is possible.  I want to spread that idea all across America, so that two years of college becomes as free and universal in America as high school is today.  And I want to work with this Congress, to make sure Americans already burdened with student loans can reduce their monthly payments, so that student debt doesn’t derail anyone’s dreams.

Thanks to Vice President Biden’s great work to update our job training system, we’re connecting community colleges with local employers to train workers to fill high-paying jobs like coding, and nursing, and robotics.  Tonight, I’m also asking more businesses to follow the lead of companies like CVS and UPS, and offer more educational benefits and paid apprenticeships – opportunities that give workers the chance to earn higher-paying jobs even if they don’t have a higher education.

And as a new generation of veterans comes home, we owe them every opportunity to live the American Dream they helped defend.  Already, we’ve made strides towards ensuring that every veteran has access to the highest quality care.  We’re slashing the backlog that had too many veterans waiting years to get the benefits they need, and we’re making it easier for vets to translate their training and experience into civilian jobs.  Joining Forces, the national campaign launched by Michelle and Jill Biden, has helped nearly 700,000 veterans and military spouses get new jobs.  So to every CEO in America, let me repeat:  If you want somebody who’s going to get the job done, hire a veteran.

Finally, as we better train our workers, we need the new economy to keep churning out high-wage jobs for our workers to fill.

Since 2010, America has put more people back to work than Europe, Japan, and all advanced economies combined.  Our manufacturers have added almost 800,000 new jobs.  Some of our bedrock sectors, like our auto industry, are booming.  But there are also millions of Americans who work in jobs that didn’t even exist ten or twenty years ago – jobs at companies like Google, and eBay, and Tesla.

So no one knows for certain which industries will generate the jobs of the future.  But we do know we want them here in America.  That’s why the third part of middle-class economics is about building the most competitive economy anywhere, the place where businesses want to locate and hire.

21st century businesses need 21st century infrastructure – modern ports, stronger bridges, faster trains and the fastest internet.  Democrats and Republicans used to agree on this.  So let’s set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline.  Let’s pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could create more than thirty times as many jobs per year, and make this country stronger for decades to come.

21st century businesses, including small businesses, need to sell more American products overseas.  Today, our businesses export more than ever, and exporters tend to pay their workers higher wages.  But as we speak, China wants to write the rules for the world’s fastest-growing region.  That would put our workers and businesses at a disadvantage.  Why would we let that happen?  We should write those rules.  We should level the playing field.  That’s why I’m asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but fair.

Look, I’m the first one to admit that past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype, and that’s why we’ve gone after countries that break the rules at our expense.  But ninety-five percent of the world’s customers live outside our borders, and we can’t close ourselves off from those opportunities.  More than half of manufacturing executives have said they’re actively looking at bringing jobs back from China.  Let’s give them one more reason to get it done.

21st century businesses will rely on American science, technology, research and development.  I want the country that eliminated polio and mapped the human genome to lead a new era of medicine – one that delivers the right treatment at the right time.  In some patients with cystic fibrosis, this approach has reversed a disease once thought unstoppable.  Tonight, I’m launching a new Precision Medicine Initiative to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes – and to give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier.

I intend to protect a free and open internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world.

I want Americans to win the race for the kinds of discoveries that unleash new jobs – converting sunlight into liquid fuel; creating revolutionary prosthetics, so that a veteran who gave his arms for his country can play catch with his kid; pushing out into the Solar System not just to visit, but to stay.  Last month, we launched a new spacecraft as part of a re-energized space program that will send American astronauts to Mars.  In two months, to prepare us for those missions, Scott Kelly will begin a year-long stay in space.  Good luck, Captain – and make sure to Instagram it.

Now, the truth is, when it comes to issues like infrastructure and basic research, I know there’s bipartisan support in this chamber.  Members of both parties have told me so.  Where we too often run onto the rocks is how to pay for these investments.  As Americans, we don’t mind paying our fair share of taxes, as long as everybody else does, too.  But for far too long, lobbyists have rigged the tax code with loopholes that let some corporations pay nothing while others pay full freight.  They’ve riddled it with giveaways the superrich don’t need, denying a break to middle class families who do.

This year, we have an opportunity to change that.  Let’s close loopholes so we stop rewarding companies that keep profits abroad, and reward those that invest in America.  Let’s use those savings to rebuild our infrastructure and make it more attractive for companies to bring jobs home.  Let’s simplify the system and let a small business owner file based on her actual bank statement, instead of the number of accountants she can afford.  And let’s close the loopholes that lead to inequality by allowing the top one percent to avoid paying taxes on their accumulated wealth.  We can use that money to help more families pay for childcare and send their kids to college.  We need a tax code that truly helps working Americans trying to get a leg up in the new economy, and we can achieve that together.

Helping hardworking families make ends meet. Giving them the tools they need for good-paying jobs in this new economy.  Maintaining the conditions for growth and competitiveness.  This is where America needs to go.  I believe it’s where the American people want to go.  It will make our economy stronger a year from now, fifteen years from now, and deep into the century ahead.

Of course, if there’s one thing this new century has taught us, it’s that we cannot separate our work at home from challenges beyond our shores.

My first duty as Commander-in-Chief is to defend the United States of America.  In doing so, the question is not whether America leads in the world, but how.  When we make rash decisions, reacting to the headlines instead of using our heads; when the first response to a challenge is to send in our military – then we risk getting drawn into unnecessary conflicts, and neglect the broader strategy we need for a safer, more prosperous world.  That’s what our enemies want us to do.

I believe in a smarter kind of American leadership.  We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalition building; when we don’t let our fears blind us to the opportunities that this new century presents.  That’s exactly what we’re doing right now – and around the globe, it is making a difference.

First, we stand united with people around the world who’ve been targeted by terrorists – from a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris.  We will continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks, and we reserve the right to act unilaterally, as we’ve done relentlessly since I took office to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to us and our allies.

At the same time, we’ve learned some costly lessons over the last thirteen years.

Instead of Americans patrolling the valleys of Afghanistan, we’ve trained their security forces, who’ve now taken the lead, and we’ve honored our troops’ sacrifice by supporting that country’s first democratic transition.  Instead of sending large ground forces overseas, we’re partnering with nations from South Asia to North Africa to deny safe haven to terrorists who threaten America.  In Iraq and Syria, American leadership – including our military power – is stopping ISIL’s advance.  Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group.  We’re also supporting a moderate opposition in Syria that can help us in this effort, and assisting people everywhere who stand up to the bankrupt ideology of violent extremism.  This effort will take time.  It will require focus.  But we will succeed.  And tonight, I call on this Congress to show the world that we are united in this mission by passing a resolution to authorize the use of force against ISIL.

Second, we are demonstrating the power of American strength and diplomacy.  We’re upholding the principle that bigger nations can’t bully the small – by opposing Russian aggression, supporting Ukraine’s democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies.  Last year, as we were doing the hard work of imposing sanctions along with our allies, some suggested that Mr. Putin’s aggression was a masterful display of strategy and strength.  Well, today, it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated, with its economy in tatters.

That’s how America leads – not with bluster, but with persistent, steady resolve.

In Cuba, we are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date.  When what you’re doing doesn’t work for fifty years, it’s time to try something new.  Our shift in Cuba policy has the potential to end a legacy of mistrust in our hemisphere; removes a phony excuse for restrictions in Cuba; stands up for democratic values; and extends the hand of friendship to the Cuban people.  And this year, Congress should begin the work of ending the embargo.  As His Holiness, Pope Francis, has said, diplomacy is the work of “small steps.”  These small steps have added up to new hope for the future in Cuba.  And after years in prison, we’re overjoyed that Alan Gross is back where he belongs.  Welcome home, Alan.

Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material.  Between now and this spring, we have a chance to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran; secures America and our allies – including Israel; while avoiding yet another Middle East conflict.  There are no guarantees that negotiations will succeed, and I keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran.  But new sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails – alienating America from its allies; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again.  It doesn’t make sense.  That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress.  The American people expect us to only go to war as a last resort, and I intend to stay true to that wisdom.

Third, we’re looking beyond the issues that have consumed us in the past to shape the coming century.

No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids.  We are making sure our government integrates intelligence to combat cyber threats, just as we have done to combat terrorism.  And tonight, I urge this Congress to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information.  If we don’t act, we’ll leave our nation and our economy vulnerable.  If we do, we can continue to protect the technologies that have unleashed untold opportunities for people around the globe.

In West Africa, our troops, our scientists, our doctors, our nurses and healthcare workers are rolling back Ebola – saving countless lives and stopping the spread of disease.  I couldn’t be prouder of them, and I thank this Congress for your bipartisan support of their efforts.  But the job is not yet done – and the world needs to use this lesson to build a more effective global effort to prevent the spread of future pandemics, invest in smart development, and eradicate extreme poverty.

In the Asia Pacific, we are modernizing alliances while making sure that other nations play by the rules – in how they trade, how they resolve maritime disputes, and how they participate in meeting common international challenges like nonproliferation and disaster relief.  And no challenge – no challenge – poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.

2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record.  Now, one year doesn’t make a trend, but this does – 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century.

I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists; that we don’t have enough information to act.  Well, I’m not a scientist, either.  But you know what – I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities.  The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we do not act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe.  The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security.  We should act like it.

That’s why, over the past six years, we’ve done more than ever before to combat climate change, from the way we produce energy, to the way we use it.  That’s why we’ve set aside more public lands and waters than any administration in history.  And that’s why I will not let this Congress endanger the health of our children by turning back the clock on our efforts.  I am determined to make sure American leadership drives international action.  In Beijing, we made an historic announcement – the United States will double the pace at which we cut carbon pollution, and China committed, for the first time, to limiting their emissions.  And because the world’s two largest economies came together, other nations are now stepping up, and offering hope that, this year, the world will finally reach an agreement to protect the one planet we’ve got.

There’s one last pillar to our leadership – and that’s the example of our values.

As Americans, we respect human dignity, even when we’re threatened, which is why I’ve prohibited torture, and worked to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained.  It’s why we speak out against the deplorable anti-Semitism that has resurfaced in certain parts of the world.  It’s why we continue to reject offensive stereotypes of Muslims – the vast majority of whom share our commitment to peace.  That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.  We do these things not only because they’re right, but because they make us safer.

As Americans, we have a profound commitment to justice – so it makes no sense to spend three million dollars per prisoner to keep open a prison that the world condemns and terrorists use to recruit.  Since I’ve been President, we’ve worked responsibly to cut the population of GTMO in half.  Now it’s time to finish the job.  And I will not relent in my determination to shut it down.  It’s not who we are.

As Americans, we cherish our civil liberties – and we need to uphold that commitment if we want maximum cooperation from other countries and industry in our fight against terrorist networks.  So while some have moved on from the debates over our surveillance programs, I haven’t.  As promised, our intelligence agencies have worked hard, with the recommendations of privacy advocates, to increase transparency and build more safeguards against potential abuse.  And next month, we’ll issue a report on how we’re keeping our promise to keep our country safe while strengthening privacy.

Looking to the future instead of the past.  Making sure we match our power with diplomacy, and use force wisely.  Building coalitions to meet new challenges and opportunities.  Leading – always – with the example of our values.  That’s what makes us exceptional.  That’s what keeps us strong.  And that’s why we must keep striving to hold ourselves to the highest of standards – our own.

You know, just over a decade ago, I gave a speech in Boston where I said there wasn’t a liberal America, or a conservative America; a black America or a white America – but a United States of America.  I said this because I had seen it in my own life, in a nation that gave someone like me a chance; because I grew up in Hawaii, a melting pot of races and customs; because I made Illinois my home – a state of small towns, rich farmland, and one of the world’s great cities; a microcosm of the country where Democrats and Republicans and Independents, good people of every ethnicity and every faith, share certain bedrock values.

Over the past six years, the pundits have pointed out more than once that my presidency hasn’t delivered on this vision.  How ironic, they say, that our politics seems more divided than ever.  It’s held up as proof not just of my own flaws – of which there are many – but also as proof that the vision itself is misguided, and naïve, and that there are too many people in this town who actually benefit from partisanship and gridlock for us to ever do anything about it.

I know how tempting such cynicism may be.  But I still think the cynics are wrong.

I still believe that we are one people.  I still believe that together, we can do great things, even when the odds are long.  I believe this because over and over in my six years in office, I have seen America at its best.  I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates from New York to California; and our newest officers at West Point, Annapolis, Colorado Springs, and New London.  I’ve mourned with grieving families in Tucson and Newtown; in Boston, West, Texas, and West Virginia.  I’ve watched Americans beat back adversity from the Gulf Coast to the Great Plains; from Midwest assembly lines to the Mid-Atlantic seaboard.  I’ve seen something like gay marriage go from a wedge issue used to drive us apart to a story of freedom across our country, a civil right now legal in states that seven in ten Americans call home.

So I know the good, and optimistic, and big-hearted generosity of the American people who, every day, live the idea that we are our brother’s keeper, and our sister’s keeper.  And I know they expect those of us who serve here to set a better example.

So the question for those of us here tonight is how we, all of us, can better reflect America’s hopes.  I’ve served in Congress with many of you.  I know many of you well.  There are a lot of good people here, on both sides of the aisle.  And many of you have told me that this isn’t what you signed up for – arguing past each other on cable shows, the constant fundraising, always looking over your shoulder at how the base will react to every decision.

Imagine if we broke out of these tired old patterns.  Imagine if we did something different.

Understand – a better politics isn’t one where Democrats abandon their agenda or Republicans simply embrace mine.

A better politics is one where we appeal to each other’s basic decency instead of our basest fears.

A better politics is one where we debate without demonizing each other; where we talk issues, and values, and principles, and facts, rather than “gotcha” moments, or trivial gaffes, or fake controversies that have nothing to do with people’s daily lives.

A better politics is one where we spend less time drowning in dark money for ads that pull us into the gutter, and spend more time lifting young people up, with a sense of purpose and possibility, and asking them to join in the great mission of building America.

If we’re going to have arguments, let’s have arguments – but let’s make them debates worthy of this body and worthy of this country.

We still may not agree on a woman’s right to choose, but surely we can agree it’s a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows, and that every woman should have access to the health care she needs.

Yes, passions still fly on immigration, but surely we can all see something of ourselves in the striving young student, and agree that no one benefits when a hardworking mom is taken from her child, and that it’s possible to shape a law that upholds our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.

We may go at it in campaign season, but surely we can agree that the right to vote is sacred; that it’s being denied to too many; and that, on this 50th anniversary of the great march from Selma to Montgomery and the passage of the Voting Rights Act, we can come together, Democrats and Republicans, to make voting easier for every single American.

We may have different takes on the events of Ferguson and New York.  But surely we can understand a father who fears his son can’t walk home without being harassed.  Surely we can understand the wife who won’t rest until the police officer she married walks through the front door at the end of his shift.  Surely we can agree it’s a good thing that for the first time in 40 years, the crime rate and the incarceration rate have come down together, and use that as a starting point for Democrats and Republicans, community leaders and law enforcement, to reform America’s criminal justice system so that it protects and serves us all.

That’s a better politics.  That’s how we start rebuilding trust.  That’s how we move this country forward.  That’s what the American people want.  That’s what they deserve.

I have no more campaigns to run.  My only agenda for the next two years is the same as the one I’ve had since the day I swore an oath on the steps of this Capitol – to do what I believe is best for America.  If you share the broad vision I outlined tonight, join me in the work at hand.  If you disagree with parts of it, I hope you’ll at least work with me where you do agree.  And I commit to every Republican here tonight that I will not only seek out your ideas, I will seek to work with you to make this country stronger.

Because I want this chamber, this city, to reflect the truth – that for all our blind spots and shortcomings, we are a people with the strength and generosity of spirit to bridge divides, to unite in common effort, and help our neighbors, whether down the street or on the other side of the world.

I want our actions to tell every child, in every neighborhood:  your life matters, and we are as committed to improving your life chances as we are for our own kids.

I want future generations to know that we are a people who see our differences as a great gift, that we are a people who value the dignity and worth of every citizen – man and woman, young and old, black and white, Latino and Asian, immigrant and Native American, gay and straight, Americans with mental illness or physical disability.

I want them to grow up in a country that shows the world what we still know to be true:  that we are still more than a collection of red states and blue states; that we are the United States of America.

I want them to grow up in a country where a young mom like Rebekah can sit down and write a letter to her President with a story to sum up these past six years:

“It is amazing what you can bounce back from when you have to…we are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.”

My fellow Americans, we too are a strong, tight-knit family.  We, too, have made it through some hard times.  Fifteen years into this new century, we have picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and begun again the work of remaking America.  We’ve laid a new foundation.  A brighter future is ours to write.  Let’s begin this new chapter – together – and let’s start the work right now.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless this country we love.

Full Text Obama Presidency November 16, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Press Conference at the End of the G20 Summit in Brisbane Australia — Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama at G20 Press Conference | November 16, 2014

Source: WH, 11-16-14 

Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Center
Brisbane, Australia

4:19 P.M. AEST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:Thank you, everybody.Please have a seat.Good afternoon.I want to begin by thanking Prime Minister Abbott, the people of Brisbane, and the people of Australia for being such extraordinary hosts for the G20.All the arrangements were terrific and, as always, the people of Australia could not have been friendlier and better organized.So I very much appreciate everything that you have done.

We had a lot of good discussions during the course of the G20, but as our Australian friends say, this wasn’t just a “good old chinwag.”I really love that expression.(Laughter.)It was a productive summit.And so I want to thank Tony for his leadership, and the people of Brizzy truly did shine throughout this process with their hospitality.

This is the final day of a trip that has taken me across the Asia Pacific — a visit that comes against the backdrop of America’s renewed economic strength.The United States is in the longest stretch of uninterrupted private sector job growth in its history.Over the last few years, we’ve put more people back to work than all the other advanced economies combined.And this growing economic strength at home set the stage for the progress that we have made on this trip.It’s been a good week for American leadership and for American workers.

We made important progress in our efforts to open markets to U.S. goods and to boost the exports that support American jobs.We continue to make progress toward the Trans-Pacific Partnership.Our agreement with China to extend visas for business people, tourists and students is going to boost tourism, grow our two economies and create jobs for Americans and Chinese alike.We also agreed with China to pursue a bilateral investment treaty, as well as agreeing on an approach to the Information Technology Agreement that is estimated would support some 60,000 American jobs.And here at the G20, China committed to greater transparency on its economic data, including its foreign exchange reserves.And this is a step toward the market-driven exchange rate that we’ve been pushing for because it would promote a level playing field for American businesses and American workers.

Here in Brisbane, all the G20 countries announced strategies to increase growth and put people back to work, including a new initiative to support jobs by building infrastructure.Our nations made commitments that could bring another 100 million women into our collective workforce.We took new steps toward strengthening our banks, closing tax loopholes for multinational companies, and stopping tax evaders and criminals from hiding behind shell companies.And these were all very specific provisions.These were not just goals that were set without any substance behind them.We have made very concrete progress during the course of the last several G20 sessions in preventing companies from avoiding the taxes that they owe in their home countries, including the United States, and making sure that we’ve got a financial system that’s more stable and that can allow a bank to fail without taxpayers having to bail them out.

Meanwhile, the breakthrough the United States achieved with India this week allows for a resumption of talks on a global trade deal that would mean more growth and prosperity for all of us.

This week, we also took historic steps in the fight against climate change.The ambitious new goal that I announced in Beijing will double the pace at which America reduces its carbon pollution while growing our economy and creating jobs, strengthening our energy security, and putting us on the path to a low carbon future.Combined with China’s commitment — China for the first time committed to slowing and then peaking and then reversing the course of its emissions — we’re showing that there’s no excuse for other nations to come together, both developed and developing, to achieve a strong global climate agreement next year.

The $3 billion contribution to the Green Climate Fund that I announced yesterday will help developing nations deal with climate change, reduce their carbon pollution and invest in clean energy.I want to commend, by the way, Prime Minister Abe and Japan for their $1.5 billion pledge to the Fund.And following the steps we’ve taken in the United States, many of the G20 countries agreed to work to improve the efficiency of heavy-duty vehicles, which would be another major step in reducing emissions.

And finally, I’m pleased that more nations are stepping up and joining the United States in the effort to end the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.Coming on the heels of our Global Health Security Agenda in the United States, the G20 countries committed to helping nations like those in West Africa to build their capacity to prevent, detect and respond to future outbreaks before they become epidemics.

So from trade to climate change to the fight against Ebola, this was a strong week for American leadership.And the results will be more jobs for the American people; historic steps towards a cleaner and healthier planet; and progress towards saving lives not just in West Africa, but eventually in other places.If you ask me, I’d say that’s a pretty good week.The American people can be proud of the progress that we’ve made.I intend to build on that momentum when I return home tomorrow.

And with that, I am going to take a few questions.I’ve got my cheat-sheet here.And we’re going to start with Matt Spetalnick of Reuters.

Q Thank you, Mr. President.Some of your fellow G20 leaders took an in-your-face approach with President Putin.You had conversations —

PRESIDENT OBAMA:I’m sorry, with President —

Q With President Putin.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:Oh, I see.

Q Took a kind of confrontational approach to him.You had brief discussions with him at APEC.How confrontational or not were those encounters?Did you have any further exchanges with him here?What, if any, progress did you make with him on the Ukraine issue?And, of course, you’ve now just met with EU leaders.Did you agree on further sanctions?

One other question, sir, on a domestic subject.Are you prepared to state unequivocally that if Congress does pass a Keystone pipeline bill, that you would veto it if it comes to your desk?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:I had naturally several interactions with President Putin during the course of the APEC Summit and then here at G20.I would characterize them as typical of our interactions, which are businesslike and blunt.And my communications to him was no different than what I’ve said publicly as well as what I’ve said to him privately over the course of this crisis in Ukraine, and that is Russia has the opportunity to take a different path, to resolve the issue of Ukraine in a way that respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and is consistent with international law.That is our preference, and if it does so then I will be the first to suggest that we roll back the sanctions that are, frankly, having a devastating effect on the Russian economy.

If he continues down the path that he is on — violating international law; providing heavy arms to the separatists in Ukraine; violating an agreement that he agreed to just a few weeks ago, the Minsk Agreement, that would have lowered the temperature and the killing in the disputed areas and make providing us a pathway for a diplomatic resolution — then the isolation that Russia is currently experiencing will continue.

And in my meeting with European leaders, they confirmed their view that so far Russia has not abided by either the spirit or the letter of the agreement that Mr. Putin signed — or agreed to, and that as a consequence we are going to continue to maintain the economic isolation while maintaining the possibility of a diplomatic solution.

It is not our preference to see Russia isolated the way it is.We would prefer a Russia that is fully integrated with the global economy; that is thriving on behalf of its people; that can once again engage with us in cooperative efforts around global challenges.But we’re also very firm on the need to uphold core international principles.And one of those principles is, is that you don’t invade other countries or finance proxies and support them in ways that break up a country that has mechanisms for democratic elections.

Q Did you discuss or agree with them on further sanctions?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:At this point, the sanctions that we have in place are biting plenty good.We retain the capabilities, and we have our teams constantly looking at mechanisms in which to turn up additional pressure as necessary.

With respect to Keystone, I’ve said consistently — and I think I repeated in Burma, but I guess I’ve got to answer it one more — we’re going to let the process play itself out.And the determination will be made in the first instance by the Secretary of State.But I won’t hide my opinion about this, which is that one major determinant of whether we should approve a pipeline shipping Canadian oil to world markets, not to the United States, is does it contribute to the greenhouse gases that are causing climate change.

Q What were your comments on the pipeline —

PRESIDENT OBAMA:Matt, I got to move on, man.Everybody wants to go home.All right?Other people have questions.Jim Acosta, CNN.

Q Thank you, Mr. President.I wanted to ask you about the climate deal that you agreed to with Chinese President Xi, and on that front but also adding in your expected executive action on immigration, that you’re taking executive actions on a multitude of fronts.And I wanted to ask you, sir, what is stopping a future Republican President, or even a Democratic President, from reversing your executive orders?And are you expanding the powers of the presidency in ways that could potentially backfire on your agenda down the road?

And on the battle against ISIS — your Joint Chiefs Chairman, Martin Dempsey, is in Iraq right now, but at a congressional hearing last week he said he could envision a scenario in which ground forces could be engaged in combat in Iraq alongside Iraqi security forces.I know you’ve ruled out the possibility of having ground forces — U.S. ground forces engaged in combat going house to house and so forth.Has your thinking on that changed somewhat, and might General Dempsey be able to convince you otherwise?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:Okay.With respect to the climate agreement, the goal that we’ve set — a 26 to 28 percent reduction by 2025 — we shaped that target based on existing authorities rather than the need for additional congressional action.

And I want to be clear here, Jim, that that’s based not on particular executive actions that I’m taking, but based on the authority that’s been upheld repeatedly by this Supreme Court for the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, to be able to shape rules to regulate the emission of greenhouse gases.

Obviously it’s supplemented by a bunch of stuff that we’re doing that nobody suggests isn’t within our authority.For example, the doubling of fuel-efficiency standards on cars is something that we negotiated with the car companies and with labor groups, and is working really well and we’re selling a lot of American cars domestically as well as internationally.And they are more fuel-efficient cars and, as a consequence, more popular cars.

With respect to executive actions generally, the record will show that I have actually taken fewer executive actions than my predecessors.Nobody disputes that.What I think has changed is the reaction of some of my friends in Congress to exercising what are normal and, frankly, fairly typical exercises of presidential authority.

You are absolutely right that the very nature of an executive action means that a future President could reverse those actions.But that’s always been true.That was true when I came into office; if President Bush had a bunch of executive actions that he had signed, it was part of my authority to reverse them.That’s why, for example, on immigration reform it continues to be my great preference to see Congress pass comprehensive legislation, because that is not reversed by a future President, it would have to be reversed by a future Congress.That’s part of the reason why I’ve argued consistently that we’re better off if we can get a comprehensive deal through Congress.That’s why I showed extraordinary patience with Congress in trying to work a bipartisan deal. That’s why I was so encouraged when the Senate produced a bipartisan immigration deal and why I waited for over a year for Speaker Boehner to call that bipartisan bill in the House.

But as I’ve said before, I can’t wait in perpetuity when I have authorities that, at least for the next two years, can improve the system, can allow us to shift more resources to the border rather than separating families; improve the legal immigration system.I would be derelict in my duties if I did not try to improve the system that everybody acknowledges is broken.

With respect to Syria, Chairman Dempsey I think has consistently said in all his testimony, and I would expect him to always do this, to give me his best military advice and to not be constrained by politics.And he has not advised me that I should be sending U.S. troops to fight.What he said in testimony, and what I suspect he’ll always say, is that, yes, there are circumstances in which he could envision the deployment of U.S. troops.That’s true everywhere, by the way.That’s his job, is to think about various contingencies.And, yes, there are always circumstances in which the United States might need to deploy U.S. ground troops.

If we discovered that ISIL had gotten possession of a nuclear weapon, and we had to run an operation to get it out of their hands, then, yes, you can anticipate that not only would Chairman Dempsey recommend me sending U.S. ground troops to get that weapon out of their hands, but I would order it.So the question just ends up being, what are those circumstances.I’m not going speculate on those.Right now we’re moving forward in conjunction with outstanding allies like Australia in training Iraqi security forces to do their job on the ground.

Q — your thinking on that has not changed?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:My thinking has not changed currently.

Ed Henry of Fox.

Q Thank you.One question, I promise.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:That’s great.(Laughter.)

Q At your Burma town hall a couple days ago you tried to inspire young leaders by saying governments need to be held accountable and be responsive to the people.I wonder how you square that with your former advisor, Jonathan Gruber, claiming you were not transparent about the health law?Because in his words, the American people, the voters are stupid.Did you mislead Americans about the taxes, about keeping your plan, in order to get the bill passed?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:No, I did not.I just heard about this.I get well briefed before I come out here.The fact that some advisor who never worked on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters, is no reflection on the actual process that was run.

We had a year-long debate, Ed.I mean, go back and look at your stories.The one thing we can’t say is that we did not have a lengthy debate about health care in the United States of America, or that it was not adequately covered.I mean, I would just advise all of — every press outlet here:Go back and pull up every clip, every story, and I think it’s fair to say that there was not a provision in the health care law that was not extensively debated and was fully transparent.

Now, there were folks who disagreed with some of these various positions.It was a tough debate.But the good news is — and I know this wasn’t part of your question — but since some folks back home who don’t have health insurance may be watching, open enrollment just started, which means that those who did not take advantage of the marketplaces the first time around, they’ve got another chance to sign up for affordable health care; they may be eligible for a tax credit.

So far, there were over half a million successful logins on the first day.Healthcare.gov works really well now — 1.2 million people using the window-shopping function since Sunday.There were 23,000 applications completed in just the first eight hours, and tens of thousands more throughout the day.

Health care is working.More than 10 million people have already gotten health insurance; millions more are eligible.And contrary to some of the predictions of the naysayers, not only is the program working, but we’ve actually seen health care inflation lower than it’s been in 50 years, which is contributing to us reducing the deficit, and has the effect of making premiums for families lower that they otherwise would have been if they have health insurance.

All right?Kristen Welker.

Q Thank you, Mr. President.I’d like to ask you again about Syria.When you were recently asked about the U.S. campaign against ISIS, you said, “It’s too early to say whether we are winning.”You went on to say, “This is going to be a long-term plan.”There are now reports that you have ordered a review of your entire Syria policy.So I’d like to put the question to you today:Are you currently recalibrating your policy in Syria?And does that include plans to remove President Bashar al-Assad?And was it a miscalculation not to focus on the removal of Assad initially?Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:We have a weekly meeting with my CENTCOM Commander, with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, with all our diplomatic personnel related to the region, as well as my national security team, and Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense, intelligence teams, to assess what kind of progress are we making both in Iraq and in Syria with respect to ISIL.And I will be having weekly meetings as long as this campaign lasts, because I think it’s very important for us to get it right.

We have not had a comprehensive review of Syria.We’ve had a comprehensive review of what are we doing each and every week — what’s working, what’s not.Some of it is very detailed at the tactical level.Some of it is conceptual.We continue to learn about ISIL — where its weaknesses are; how we can more effectively put pressure on them.And so nothing extraordinary, nothing formal of the sort that you describe has taken place.

Certainly no changes have taken place with respect to our attitude towards Bashar al-Assad.And I’ve said this before, but let me reiterate:Assad has ruthlessly murdered hundreds of thousands of his citizens, and as a consequence has completely lost legitimacy with the majority of the country.For us to then make common cause with him against ISIL would only turn more Sunnis in Syria in the direction of supporting ISIL, and would weaken our coalition that sends a message around the region this is not a fight against Sunni Islam, this is a fight against extremists of any stripe who are willing to behead innocent people or kill children, or mow down political prisoners with the kind of wanton cruelty that I think we’ve very rarely seen in the modern age.

And so we have communicated to the Syrian regime that when we operate going after ISIL in their air space, that they would be well-advised not to take us on.But beyond that, there’s no expectation that we are going to in some ways enter an alliance with Assad.He is not credible in that country.
Now, we are looking for a political solution eventually within Syria that is inclusive of all the groups who live there — the Alawite, the Sunni, Christians.And at some point, the people of Syria and the various players involved, as well as the regional players — Turkey, Iran, Assad’s patrons like Russia — are going to have to engage in a political conversation.

And it’s the nature of diplomacy in any time, certainly in this situation, where you end up having diplomatic conversations potentially with people that you don’t like and regimes that you don’t like.But we’re not even close to being at that stage yet.

Q But just to put a fine point on it — are you actively discussing ways to remove him as a part of that political transition?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:No.

Major Garrett.

Q Thank you, Mr. President.As you well know, the continuing resolution expires on December 11th.Many things you’ve talked about on this trip are related to that:funding for coalition operations in Iraq and Syria, the Ebola outbreak, not to mention day-to-day government operations.What are the odds the country will see itself in a shutdown scenario?How much do you fear the government will shut down?And to what degree does your anxiety about this or your team’s anxiety about this influence the timing of your decision on immigration and executive action?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:I take Mitch McConnell at his word when he says that the government is not going to shut down.There is no reason for it to shut down.We traveled down that path before.It was bad for the country, it was bad for every elected official in Washington.And at the end of the day, it was resolved in the same way that it would have been resolved if we hadn’t shut the government down.So that’s not going to be productive, and I think that Leader McConnell and Speaker Boehner understand that.

But this goes to a broader point that I’ve made previously and I’ll just reiterate:It is in the nature of democracy that the parties are going to disagree on certain issues.And in our system, because we don’t have a parliamentary system, it means that you can have a Congress of one party and a President of another, and they disagree on some really fundamental issues.And the question then is, how do you deal with that?Well, the sensible way to deal with it is to say here are the issues we don’t agree on, and we’ll fight like heck for our position and then we’ll work together on the issues that we do agree on.And that’s how it’s always been; that’s how it was with Ronald Reagan when he was dealing with a Democratic Congress.There was no — at no point did the Democrats say, well, because we don’t agree with Ronald Reagan on X,Y,Z issue, then we can’t work with him on Social Security reform or tax reform or other issues.He said, okay, we’ll fight on that, we’ll join together on that, and as a consequence the co
ntry will make progress.

And I would expect that same attitude in this instance.I understand that there are members of the Republican Party who deeply disagree with me and law enforcement and the evangelical community and a number of their own Republican colleagues about the need for immigration reform, I get that.And they’ve made their views clear and there’s nothing wrong with them arguing their position and opposing legislation.But why they would then decide we’re going to shut down the government makes about as much sense as my decision to shut down the government if they decide to take a vote to repeal health care reform for the — is it 53rd or 55th time?I mean, I understand that there’s a difference there, but let’s keep on doing the people’s business.

Q Does the shutdown anxiety in any way affect your timing at all on immigration action?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:No, I think the main concern I have is making sure that we get it right, and that’s what we’re focused on at this point, because any executive action that I take is going to require some adjustments to how DHS, the Department of Homeland Security, operates where it’s deploying resources, et cetera; how are folks processed; what priorities are set up.And so I want to make sure that we’ve crossed all our T’s and dotted all our I’s — that that’s my main priority.

And we are going to close with Jim Avila.

Q Thank you, Mr. President.Following up on immigration — in 2010, when asked by immigration reform advocates to stop deportations and act alone on providing legal status for the undocumented, you said, “I’m President, I’m not king.I can’t do these things just by myself.”In 2013, you said, “I’m not the emperor of the United States.My job is to execute laws that are passed.”Mr. President, what has changed since then?And since you’ve now had a chance to talk since July with your legal advisors, what do you now believe are your limits so that you can continue to act as President and not as emperor or king?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:Well, actually, my position hasn’t changed.When I was talking to the advocates, their interest was in me, through executive action, duplicating the legislation that was stalled in Congress.And getting a comprehensive deal of the sort that is in the Senate legislation, for example, does extend beyond my legal authorities.There are certain things I cannot do.There are certain limits to what falls within the realm of prosecutorial discretion in terms of how we apply existing immigration laws.

And what we’ve continued to do is to talk to Office of Legal Counsel that’s responsible for telling us what the rules are, what the scope of our operations are, and determining where it is appropriate for us to say we’re not going to deport 11 million people.On the other hand, we’ve got severe resource constraints right now at the border not in apprehending people, but in processing and having enough immigration judges and so forth.And so what’s within our authority to do in reallocating resources and reprioritizing since we can’t do everything.And it’s on that basis that I’ll be making a decision about any executive actions that I might take.

I will repeat what I have said before:There is a very simple solution to this perception that somehow I’m exercising too much executive authority.Pass a bill I can sign on this issue.If Congress passes a law that solves our border problems, improves our legal immigration system, and provides a pathway for the 11 million people who are here working in our kitchens, working in farms, making beds in hotels, everybody knows they’re there, we’re not going to deport all of them.We’d like to see them being able, out in the open, to pay their taxes, pay a penalty, get right with the law.Give me a bill that addresses those issues — I’ll be the first one to sign it and, metaphorically, I’ll crumple up whatever executive actions that we take and we’ll toss them in the wastebasket, because we will now have a law that addresses these issues.

Q But in those five months, sir, since you said you were going to act, have you received the legal advice from the Attorney General about what limits you have -–

PRESIDENT OBAMA:Yes.

Q — and what you can do?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:Yes.

Q And would you tell us what those are?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:No.(Laughter.)I will tell them when I make the announcement.But it’s a good try, though.That was a good angle.(Laughter.)Jim and I go way back, although he was famous, I was not.He used to be a broadcaster in Chicago, so I used to watch him on TV.You’ve aged a little better than I have.(Laughter.)

All right.The people of Australia, thank you again for your wonderful hospitality.(Applause.)

END
4:51 P.M. AEST

Campaign Headlines October 4, 2012: Obama Heads to Wisconsin, Romney Looks to Build on Momentum

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Heads to Wisconsin, Romney Looks to Build on Momentum

Source: ABC News Radio, 10-4-12

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

Following last night’s first presidential debate of the 2012 voting season, President Obama headlines a rally Thursday in Madison, Wis., while Republican candidate Mitt Romney heads to Virginia.

This morning, the Republican National Committee seized on the president’s body language during the first showdown between the two candidates, releasing a web video called, “Smirk,” a compendium of the president’s facial contortions during the debate….READ MORE

Campaign Buzz October 3, 2012: Mitt Romney Wins First Presidential Debate Against President Barack Obama in Denver, Colorado — Romney Comes Out Swinging in First Presidential Debate

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

IN FOCUS: FIRST PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

STATS

IN THE NEWS

Obama and Romney Clash in First Debate

Source: ABC News Radio, 10-3-12

SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages

Mitt Romney came out swinging in the first presidential debate, challenging President Obama over his health care reforms, treatment of the economy, taxes and even funding for Sesame Street’s Big Bird.

Romney jabbed the president, calling his approach “trickle-down government” and accusing him of spending his time in office concentrating on passing his health care plan at the expense of creating jobs.

“Under the president’s policies, middle-income Americans have been buried. They’re just being crushed,” Romney said….READ MORE

Obama and Romney, in First Debate, Spar Over Fixing the Economy

Source: NYT, 10-3-12


Doug Mills/The New York Times
Mitt Romney and President Obama shook hands at the beginning of the first presidential debate in Denver. More Photos »

Mitt Romney on Wednesday accused President Obama of failing to lead the country out of the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression, using the first presidential debate to invigorate his candidacy by presenting himself as an equal who can solve problems Mr. Obama has been unable to.

The president implored Americans to be patient and argued that his policies needed more time to work, warning that changing course would wipe away the economic progress the country is steadily making. The two quarreled aggressively over tax policy, the budget deficit and the role of government, with each man accusing the other of being evasive and misleading voters.

But for all of the anticipation, and with less than five weeks remaining until Election Day, the 90-minute debate unfolded much like a seminar by a business consultant and a college professor. Both men argued that their policies would improve the lives of the middle class, but their discussion often dipped deep into the weeds, and they talked over each other without connecting their ideas to voters….READ MORE

QUOTES

[READ THE TRANSCRIPT from Wednesday night’s presidential debate]

FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY

On Obama’s economic plan:

“I’m concerned that we’re on the path that’s just been unsuccessful. The president has a view very similar to the one he had when he ran for office four years ago, that spending more, taxing more, regulating more – if you will, trickle-down government – would work. That’s not the right answer for America.”

On the federal deficit:

“I think it’s frankly not moral for my generation to keep spending massively more than we take in knowing that the burden is going to be passed on to the next generation and they’re going to be paying the interest and principal all their lives.”

On regulation:

“Regulation is essential. You can’t have a free market work without regulation… You have to have regulation so that you can have the economy work. Every free economy has regulation. At the same time regulation can become excessive, it can become out of date. And what’s happened with some of the legislation that’s been passed under President Obama’s term is you’ve seen some of the regulation become excessive and it has hurt the economy.”

On education and role of government:

“The right course for America’s government, we’re talking about the role of government, is not to become the economic player, picking winners and losers… The right answer for the government is to say, how do we make the private sector become more efficient and more effective? How do we get schools to be more competitive? Let’s grade them. I propose we grade our schools.”

On taxes:

“I’m not looking to cut massive taxes and reduce the revenues going to the government. My number one principle is there will be no tax cut that adds to the deficit. But I do want to reduce the burden being paid by middle-income Americans. And to do that, that also means I cannot reduce the burden paid by high-income people.”

On healthcare:

“The answer is not to have the federal government take over healthcare and start mandating to the providers across America and telling a patient and a doctor what kind of treatment they can have. That’s the wrong way to go. The private market and individual responsibility always work best.”

On the middle class, echoing controversial comments by Obama’s Vice President Joe Biden:

“The people who are having a hard time right now are middle- income Americans. Under the president’s politics middle-income Americans have been buried. Middle-income families are being crushed.”

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

On the middle class, attacking Romney on lack of detailed plans:

“I think the American people have to ask themselves, is the reason that Governor Romney is keeping all these plans to replace (my policies) secret because they’re too good? Or is it because that somehow the middle-class families are going to benefit too much form them? No.”

In response to Romney’s tax plan:

“If you think by closing loopholes and deductions for the well-to-do somehow you will not end up picking up the tab, then Governor Romney’s plan may work for you. But I think math, common sense, and our history, shows us that’s not a recipe for job growth.”

“If you’re lowering the rates as you describe, governor, it is not possible to come up with enough deductions and loopholes that only affect high-income individuals or burdening the middle class. It’s math, it’s arithmetic.”

On small business:

“We do have a difference when it comes to definitions of small business… Under Governor Romney’s definition there are a bunch of millionaires and billionaires who are small businesses. Donald Trump is a small business. And I know Donald Trump doesn’t like to think of himself as small anything but that’s how you define small business if you’re getting business income.”

On regulation:

“The reason we have been in such an enormous economic crisis was prompted by reckless behavior across the board… The question is does anybody out there think that the big problem we had is that there was too much oversight and regulation of Wall Street? Because if you do, then Governor Romney is your candidate. But that’s not what I believe.”

On education:

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

On similarities between his and Romney’s healthcare plans:

“We used the same advisers and they said it’s the same plan… The reason (Romney) set up the system in Massachusetts is there isn’t a better way of dealing with a pre-existing condition problem.”

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS COMMENTS

 Jerry Shuster, political communication, University of Pittsburgh

“He was comfortable, relaxed. It wasn’t a knockout punch, but Romney clearly held his own and showed that he could compete on an even field with the president…. I think people just assumed Obama would be a lot more skilled, a lot more dynamic than Romney, which wasn’t really the case.”

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics

“My guess is Obama’s advisers said, ‘Don’t attack. Not presidential.”

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, political communications professor, University of Pennsylvania

“This debate was substantive and informative. The differences between the candidates were clear. It focused a lot of attention on a limited number of areas; learning will be high from this debate.”

Romney had “benefited dramatically from the evening….. There weren’t nasty little asides to score points,” she said. “It was an extremely respectful and polite evening.”

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

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Presidential Debate Transcript

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

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

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

OCTOBER 3, 2012

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

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

JIM LEHRER, MODERATOR

JANET BROWN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COMMISSION ON PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES,

FRANK FAHRENKOPF, CO-CHAIRMAN, COMMISSION ON PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES

MIKE MCCURRY, CO-CHAIRMAN, COMMISSION ON PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES

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

(APPLAUSE)

Go, Pioneers.

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

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

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

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

(LAUGHTER)

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

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

Mike, it’s all yours, buddy.

MCCURRY: Thanks.

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

(LAUGHTER)

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

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

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

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

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

(LAUGHTER)

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

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

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

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

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

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

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

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

(LAUGHTER)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LEHRER: All right.

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

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

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

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

(CROSSTALK)

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

(CROSSTALK)

LEHRER: What is the difference…

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

LEHRER: All right.

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

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

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

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

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

(CROSSTALK)

LEHRER: That’s where we started. Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LEHRER: All right.

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

LEHRER: Just for the — just for record…

(CROSSTALK)

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

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

ROMNEY: It’s fun, isn’t it?

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

OK, but go ahead, sir.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(CROSSTALK)

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

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

(CROSSTALK)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OBAMA: I like it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

LEHRER: Mr. President, two minutes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(CROSSTALK)

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

LEHRER: Mr. President, I’m sorry.

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

LEHRER: Way over the two minutes.

OBAMA: Sorry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

(CROSSTALK)

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll make one more point.

(CROSSTALK)

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

ROMNEY: OK.

LEHRER: Mr. President?

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

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

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

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: Absolutely. (CROSSTALK)

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

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

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

(CROSSTALK)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LEHRER: Come back to…

(CROSSTALK)

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

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

OBAMA: It’s time to end it.

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

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

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

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

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

LEHRER: Let’s…

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

(CROSSTALK)

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

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

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

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

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

LEHRER: Let’s go.

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

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

OBAMA: OK.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So the way for us to deal…

(AUDIO GAP)

a better prescription program.

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

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

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

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

LEHRER: Mr. President?

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

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

LEHRER: And you don’t support that?

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

ROMNEY: Again, that’s for future…

OBAMA: I understand.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LEHRER: And what about the vouchers?

(CROSSTALK)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OBAMA: … but — but — but overall.

LEHRER: OK.

OBAMA: And so…

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

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

(CROSSTALK)

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

OBAMA: I’m sorry.

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

ROMNEY: Let’s get back to Medicare.

LEHRER: … before we leave the economy…

ROMNEY: Let’s get back to Medicare.

(CROSSTALK)

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

LEHRER: All right.

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

LEHRER: Wait a minute, Governor.

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

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

ROMNEY: Absolutely.

LEHRER: … of you on Medicare?

ROMNEY: Absolutely.

OBAMA: Absolutely.

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

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

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

LEHRER: Is it excessive now, do you think?

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

LEHRER: Like where?

(CROSSTALK)

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

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

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

LEHRER: Do you want to repeal Dodd-Frank?

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

LEHRER: Well, here’s a specific…

(CROSSTALK)

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

(CROSSTALK)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, the last point I’d make before…

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

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

(LAUGHTER)

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

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

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

ROMNEY: Well, I did with my first statement.

(CROSSTALK)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LEHRER: Let’s…

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

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

ROMNEY: Well…

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

(CROSSTALK)

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

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

(CROSSTALK)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LEHRER: We’re going to move to…

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

LEHRER: No, but…

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

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

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

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

OBAMA: Well, I definitely think there are differences.

LEHRER: And do you — yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LEHRER: All right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LEHRER: Do you — do you agree, Governor?

OBAMA: Let me just finish the point.

(CROSSTALK)

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

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

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

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

And for us to be able to make sure that they’ve got that opportunity and they can walk through that door, that is vitally important not just to those kids. It’s how we’re going to grow this economy over the long term.

LEHRER: We’re running out of time, gentlemen.

(CROSSTALK) LEHRER: Governor?

ROMNEY: Mr. President, Mr. President, you’re entitled as the president to your own airplane and to your own house, but not to your own facts. All right, I’m not going to cut education funding. I don’t have any plan to cut education funding and — and grants that go to people going to college. I’m planning on (inaudible) to grow. So I’m not planning on making changes there.

But you make a very good point, which is that the place you put your money just makes a pretty clear indication of where your heart is. You put $90 billion into — into green jobs. And I — look, I’m all in favor of green energy. $90 billion, that would have — that would have hired 2 million teachers. $90 billion.

And these businesses, many of them have gone out of business, I think about half of them, of the ones have been invested in have gone out of business. A number of them happened to be owned by people who were contributors to your campaigns.

Look, the right course for America’s government, we were talking about the role of government, is not to become the economic player, picking winners and losers, telling people what kind of health treatment they can receive, taking over the health care system that has existed in this country for a long, long time and has produced the best health records in the world.

The right answer for government is say, How do we make the private sector become more efficient and more effective? How do we get schools to be more competitive? Let’s grade them. I propose we grade our schools so parents know which schools are succeeding and failing, so they can take their child to a — to a school that he’s being more successful.

I don’t want to cut our commitment to education. I wanted to make it more effective and efficient. And by the way, I’ve had that experience. I don’t just talk about it. I’ve been there. Massachusetts schools are ranked number one in the nation. This is not because I didn’t have commitment to education. It’s because I care about education for all of our kids.

LEHRER: All right, gentlemen…

(CROSSTALK)

LEHRER: Excuse me (inaudible). Excuse me, sir. We’ve got — we’ve got — barely have three minutes left. I’m not going to grade the two of you and say your answers have been too long or I’ve done a poor job.

OBAMA: You’ve done a great job.

LEHRER: Oh, well, no. But the fact is government — the role of government and governing, we’ve lost a pod in other words. So we only have three — three minutes left in the — in the debate before we go to your closing statements. And so I want to ask finally here, and remember, we’ve got three minutes total time here — and the question is this. Many of the legislative functions of the federal government right now are in a state of paralysis as a result of partisan gridlock. If elected, in your case, if re-elected, in your case, what would you do about that?

Governor?

ROMNEY: Jim, I had the great experience — it didn’t seem like it at the time — of being elected in a state where my legislature was 87 percent Democrat. And that meant I figured out from day one I had to get along and I had to work across the aisle to get anything done. We drove our schools to be number one in the nation. We cut taxes 19 times.

LEHRER: But what would you do as president?

ROMNEY: We — as president, I will sit on day one — actually, the day after I get elected — I’ll sit down with leaders — the Democratic leaders, as well as Republican leaders, and continue — as we did in my state — we met every Monday for a couple hours, talked about the issues and the challenges in the — in the — in our state in that case. We have to work on a collaborative basis, not because we’re going to compromise our principle, but because there’s common ground.

And the challenges America faces right now — look, the reason I’m in this race is there are people that are really hurting today in this country. And we face — this deficit could crush the future generations. What’s happening in the Middle East, there are developments around the world that are of real concern.

LEHRER: All right.

ROMNEY: And Republicans and Democrats both love America. But we need to have leadership — leadership in Washington that will actually bring people together and get the job done and could not care less if — if it’s a Republican or a Democrat. I’ve done it before. I’ll do it again.

LEHRER: Mr. President?

OBAMA: Well, first of all, I think Governor Romney’s going to have a busy first day, because he’s also going to repeal Obamacare, which will not be very popular among Democrats as you’re sitting down with them.

(LAUGHTER)

But, look, my philosophy has been, I will take ideas from anybody, Democrat or Republican, as long as they’re advancing the cause of making middle-class families stronger and giving ladders of opportunity to the middle class. That’s how we cut taxes for middle- class families and small businesses. That’s how we cut a trillion dollars of spending that wasn’t advancing that cause. That’s how we signed three trade deals into law that are helping us to double our exports and sell more American products around the world. That’s how we repealed “don’t ask/don’t tell.” That’s how we ended the war in Iraq, as I promised, and that’s how we’re going to wind down the war in Afghanistan. That’s how we went after Al Qaida and bin Laden.

So we’ve — we’ve seen progress even under Republican control of the House of Representatives. But, ultimately, part of being principled, part of being a leader is, A, being able to describe exactly what it is that you intend to do, not just saying, “I’ll sit down,” but you have to have a plan.

Number two, what’s important is occasionally you’ve got to say no, to — to — to folks both in your own party and in the other party. And, you know, yes, have we had some fights between me and the Republicans when — when they fought back against us reining in the excesses of Wall Street? Absolutely, because that was a fight that needed to be had.

When — when we were fighting about whether or not we were going to make sure that Americans had more security with their health insurance and they said no, yes, that was a fight that we needed to have.

LEHRER: All right

OBAMA: And so part of leadership and governing is both saying what it is that you are for, but also being willing to say no to some things. And I’ve got to tell you, Governor Romney, when it comes to his own party during the course of this campaign, has not displayed that willingness to say no to some of the more extreme parts of his party.

LEHRER: That brings us to closing statements. It was a coin toss. Governor Romney, you won the toss and you elected to go last, so you have a closing two minutes, Mr. President.

OBAMA: Well, Jim, I want to thank you, and I want to thank Governor Romney, because I think was a terrific debate, and I very much appreciate it. And I want to thank the University of Denver.

You know, four years ago, we were going through a major crisis. And yet my faith and confidence in the American future is undiminished. And the reason is because of its people, because of the woman I met in North Carolina who decided at 55 to go back to school because she wanted to inspire her daughter and now has a job from that new training that she’s gotten; because a company in Minnesota who was willing to give up salaries and perks for their executives to make sure that they didn’t lay off workers during a recession.

The auto workers that you meet in Toledo or Detroit take such pride in building the best cars in the world, not just because of a paycheck, but because it gives them that sense of pride, that they’re helping to build America. And so the question now is how do we build on those strengths. And everything that I’ve tried to do, and everything that I’m now proposing for the next four years in terms of improving our education system or developing American energy or making sure that we’re closing loopholes for companies that are shipping jobs overseas and focusing on small businesses and companies that are creating jobs here in the United States, or closing our deficit in a responsible, balanced way that allows us to invest in our future.

All those things are designed to make sure that the American people, their genius, their grit, their determination, is — is channeled and — and they have an opportunity to succeed. And everybody’s getting a fair shot. And everybody’s getting a fair share — everybody’s doing a fair share, and everybody’s playing by the same rules.

You know, four years ago, I said that I’m not a perfect man and I wouldn’t be a perfect president. And that’s probably a promise that Governor Romney thinks I’ve kept. But I also promised that I’d fight every single day on behalf of the American people, the middle class, and all those who were striving to get into the middle class. I’ve kept that promise and if you’ll vote for me, then I promise I’ll fight just as hard in a second term.

LEHRER: Governor Romney, your two-minute closing.

ROMNEY: Thank you, Jim, and Mr. President. And thank you for tuning in this evening.

This is a — this is an important election and I’m concerned about America. I’m concerned about the direction America has been taking over the last four years.

I — I know this is bigger than an election about the two of us as individuals. It’s bigger than our respective parties. It’s an election about the course of America. What kind of America do you want to have for yourself and for your children.

And there really are two very different paths that we began speaking about this evening, and over the course of this month we’re going to have two more presidential debates and a vice presidential debate. We’re talk about those two paths.

But they lead in very different directions. And it’s not just looking to our words that you have to take in evidence of where they go. You can look at the record.

There’s no question in my mind that if the president were to be reelected you’ll continue to see a middle-class squeeze with incomes going down and prices going up.

I’ll get incomes up again.

You’ll see chronic unemployment. We’ve had 43 straight months with unemployment above 8 percent.

If I’m president I will create — help create 12 million new jobs in this country with rising incomes.

If the president’s reelected, Obamacare will be fully installed. In my view that’s going to mean a whole different way of life for people who counted on the insurance plan they had in the past. Many will lose it. You’re going to see health premiums go up by some $2,500 per family.

If I’m elected we won’t have Obama. We’ll put in place the kind of principles that I put in place in my own state and allow each state to craft their own programs to get people insured and we’ll focus on getting the cost of health care down.

If the president were to be reelected you’re going to see a $716 billion cut to Medicare. You’ll have 4 million people who will lose Medicare Advantage. You’ll have hospital and providers that’ll no longer accept Medicare patients.

I’ll restore that $716 billion to Medicare.

And finally, military. The president’s reelected you’ll see dramatic cuts to our military. The secretary of defense has said these would be even devastating.

I will not cut our commitment to our military. I will keep America strong and get America’s middle class working again.

Thank you, Jim.

LEHRER: Thank you, Governor.

Thank you, Mr. President.

The next debate will be the vice presidential event on Thursday, October 11th at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. For now, from the University of Denver, I’m Jim Lehrer. Thank you, and good night.

(APPLAUSE)

END

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

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

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

Presidential Debate Transcript

Source: ABC News, 10-3-12

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

Campaign Headlines October 3, 2012: First Presidential Debate Live Blog — President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney Debate in Denver, Colorado

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

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

First Presidential Debate Live Blog

Source: NYT, 10-3-12

President Obama and Mitt Romney square off on Wednesday night in Denver in the first of three presidential debates. Live coverage begins at 8 p.m. eastern….READ MORE

Live stream: Watch the first Obama-Romney presidential debate

Source: LAT, 10-3-12

After months of speeches, advertisements and long-distance pot shots, President Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney square off face-to-face Wednesday night at 6 pm PDT for the first of three presidential debates….READ MORE

WATCH LIVE: President Obama and Mitt Romney Debate in Denver

Source: ABC News Radio 10-3-12

(DENVER)SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages

President Obama and Mitt Romney face off Wednesday night for their first presidential debate in Denver, Colo.

Watch the debate LIVE

Campaign Headlines October 3, 2012: What You Need to Know Before Wednesday Night’s Presidential Debate

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

What You Need to Know Before Wednesday Night’s Debate

Source: ABC News Radio, 10-3-12

President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney will face off Wednesday night in the first presidential debate of the 2012 election.

The forum will focus exclusively on domestic policy.  Half of the debate will be on the economy, the other half will ask the candidates to address health care, their view of the role of government and their vision for governing.

Here’s what you need to know about Wednesday night’s big campaign moment….READ MORE

Campaign Headlines: 2012 Presidential Debate Schedule

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

2012 Presidential Debate Schedule

TV Channels – Each debate will be broadcast live on C-SPAN, ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC, as well as all cable news channels including CNN, Fox News and MSNBC among others.

Live Stream – Each debate will be streamed live online.

October 3, 2012
President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney
Topic: Domestic policy
Air Time: 9:00-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: University of Denver in Denver, Colorado (Tickets)
Sponsor: Commission on Presidential Debates
Participants: President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney
Moderator: Jim Lehrer (Host of NewsHour on PBS)
The debate will focus on domestic policy and be divided into six time segments of approximately 15 minutes each on topics to be selected by the moderator and announced several weeks before the debate.The moderator will open each segment with a question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a discussion of the topic.
October 11, 2012
Vice Presidential
Vice President Joe Biden and Representative Paul Ryan
Topic: Foreign and domestic policy
Air Time: 9:00-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Centre College in Danville, Kentucky (Tickets)
Sponsor: Commission on Presidential Debates
Participants: Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan
Moderator: Martha Raddatz (ABC News Chief Foreign Correspondent)
The debate will cover both foreign and domestic topics and be divided into nine time segments of approximately 10 minutes each. The moderator will ask an opening question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a discussion of the question.
October 16, 2012
President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney
Topic: Town meeting format including foreign and domestic policy
Air Time: 9:00-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York (Tickets)
Sponsor: Commission on Presidential Debates
Participants: President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney
Moderator: Candy Crowley (CNN Chief Political Correspondent)
The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which citizens will ask questions of the candidates on foreign and domestic issues. Candidates each will have two minutes to respond, and an additional minute for the moderator to facilitate a discussion. The town meeting participants will be undecided voters selected by the Gallup Organization.
October 22, 2012
President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney
Topic: Foreign policy
Air Time: 9:00-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida (Tickets)
Sponsor: Commission on Presidential Debates
Participants: President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney
Moderator: Bob Schieffer (Host of Face the Nation on CBS)
The format for the debate will be identical to the first presidential debate and will focus on foreign policy.
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