Full Text Political Transcripts December 16, 2016: President-elect Donald Trump Thank You Rally in Orlando, Florida



President-elect Donald Trump Thank You Rally in Orlando, Florida

Full Text Political Transcripts October 20, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Speech Defending the Affordable Care Act Obamacare



Remarks by the President on the Affordable Care Act

Source: WH, 10-20-16

Miami Dade College
Miami, Florida

1:51 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Miami!  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Well, everybody have a seat.  Have a seat.  It is good to see all of you!  It’s good to be back at Miami-Dade!  (Applause.) One of my favorite institutions!  (Applause.)  Love this school.

I want to thank your longtime president and great friend, Eduardo J. Padrón.  (Applause.)  And to all the faculty and staff, and of course, most importantly, the students, for hosting me — I want to say how grateful I am.  I want to thank the wonderful elected officials who are here today.  I’m going to just point out two outstanding members of Congress — Debbie Wasserman Schultz — (applause) — and Ted Deutch.  (Applause.)

So this is one of my last visits here as President.  Now, once I’m not President —


THE PRESIDENT:  No, no, the good news is, once I’m no longer President I can come more often.  (Applause.)  Right now, usually I can only come to Florida when I’m working.  But when I’m out of office, I can come here for fun.  (Laughter.)

But the first thing I want to say is thank you for your support, and thank you for the opportunity and the privilege you’ve given me to serve these past eight years.  I remember standing just a few blocks north of here in the closing days of the 2008 campaign.  And at that point, we were already realizing that we were in the midst of the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes.  We didn’t know where the bottom would be.  We were still in the middle of two wars.  Over 150,000 of our troops were overseas.  But thanks to the hard work and the determination of the American people, when I come here today the story is different.

Working together, we’ve cut the unemployment rate in Florida by more than half.  Across the country, we turned years of job losses into the longest streak of job creation on record.  We slashed our dependence on foreign oil, doubled our production of renewable energy.  Incomes are rising again — they rose more last year than any time ever recorded.  Poverty is falling — fell more last year than any time since 1968.  Our graduation rates from high school are at record highs.  College enrollment is significantly higher than it was when we came into office.  Marriage equality is a reality in all 50 states.  (Applause.)

So we’ve been busy.  This is why I’ve got gray hair.  (Laughter.)  But we did one other thing.  We fought to make sure that in America, health care is not just a privilege, but a right for every single American.  And that’s what I want to talk about today.  (Applause.)  That’s what I want to talk about here today.

You’ve heard a lot about Obamacare, as it’s come to be known.  You heard a lot about it in the six and a half years since I signed it into law.  And some of the things you heard might even be true.  But one thing I want to start with is just reminding people why it is that we fought for health reform in the first place.  Because it was one of the key motivators in my campaign.

And it wasn’t just because rising health costs were eating into workers’ paychecks and straining budgets for businesses and for governments.  It wasn’t just because, before the law was passed, insurance companies could just drop your coverage because you got sick, right at the time you needed insurance most.

It was because of you.  It was because of the stories that I was hearing all around the country, and right here in Florida — hearing from people who had been forced to fight a broken health care system at the same time as they were fighting to get well.

It was about children like Zoe Lihn, who needed heart surgery when she was just 15 hours old — just a baby, just a infant.  And she was halfway to hitting her lifetime insurance cap before she was old enough to walk.  Her parents had no idea how they could possibly make sure that she continued to make progress.  And today, because of the Affordable Care Act, Zoe is in first grade and she’s loving martial arts.  And she’s got a bright future ahead of her.  (Applause.)

We fought so hard for health reform because of women like Amanda Heidel, who lives here in South Florida.  As a girl, she was diagnosed with diabetes — and that’s a disease with costs that can add up quickly if you don’t have insurance, can eat away at your dreams.  But thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Amanda got to stay on her parents’ plan after college.  When she turned 26, Amanda went online, she shopped for an affordable health insurance plan that covered her medications.  Today, she’s pursuing a doctorate in psychology.  And Amanda said that the Affordable Care Act “has given me the security and freedom to choose how I live my life.”  The freedom and security to choose how I live my life.  That’s what this was all about.

Zoe and Amanda, the people who I get letters from every single day describing what it meant not to fear that if they got sick, or a member of their family got sick, if they, heaven forbid, were in an accident, that somehow they could lose everything.

So because of this law, because of Obamacare, another 20 million Americans now know the financial security of health insurance.  So do another 3 million children, thanks in large part to the Affordable Care Act and the improvements, the enhancements that we made to the Children’s Health Insurance Program.  And the net result is that never in American history has the uninsured rate been lower than it is today.  Never.  (Applause.)  And that’s true across the board.  It’s dropped among women.  It’s dropped among Latinos and African Americans, every other demographic group.  It’s worked.

Now, that doesn’t mean that it’s perfect.  No law is.  And it’s true that a lot of the noise around the health care debate, ever since we tried to pass this law, has been nothing more than politics.  But we’ve also always known — and I have always said — that for all the good that the Affordable Care Act is doing right now — for as big a step forward as it was — it’s still just a first step.  It’s like building a starter home — or buying a starter home.  It’s a lot better than not having a home, but you hope that over time you make some improvements.

And in fact, since we first signed the law, we’ve already taken a number of steps to improve it.  And we can do even more  — but only if we put aside all the politics rhetoric, all the partisanship, and just be honest about what’s working, what needs fixing and how we fix it.

So that’s what I want to do today.  This isn’t kind of a rah-rah speech.  I might get into the details.  I hope you don’t mind.  (Laughter.)

So let’s start with a basic fact.  The majority of Americans do not — let me repeat — do not get health care through the Affordable Care Act.  Eighty percent or so of Americans get health care on the job, through their employer, or they get health care through Medicaid, or they get health care through Medicare.  And so for most Americans, the Affordable Care Act, Obama, has not affected your coverage — except to make it stronger.

Because of the law, you now have free preventive care.  Insurance companies have to offer that in whatever policy they sell.  Because of the law, you now have free checkups for women. Because of the law, you get free mammograms.  (Applause.)  Because of the law, it is harder for insurance companies to discriminate against you because you’re a woman when you get health insurance.  (Applause.)  Because of the law, doctors are finding better ways to perform heart surgeries and delivering healthier babies, and treating chronic disease, and reducing the number of people that, once they’re in the hospital, end up having to return to the hospital.

So you’re getting better quality even though you don’t know that Obamacare is doing it.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Thanks, Obama.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thanks, Obama.  (Laughter and applause.)

Because of the law, your annual out-of-pocket spending is capped.  Seniors get discounts on their prescription drugs because of the law.  Young people can stay on their parents’ plan — just like Amanda did — because of the law.  (Applause.)  And Amanda was able to stay on her parents’ plan and then get insurance after she aged out, even though she has what used to be called a preexisting condition — because we made it illegal to discriminate against people with preexisting conditions.  (Applause.)

By the way, before this law, before Obamacare, health insurance rates for everybody — whether you got your insurance on the job, or you were buying it on your own — health insurance rates generally were going up really fast.  This law has actually slowed down the pace of health care inflation.  So, every year premiums have gone up, but they’ve gone up the slowest in 50 years since Obamacare was passed.  In fact, if your family gets insurance through your job, your family is paying, on average, about $3,600 less per year than you would be if the cost trends that had existed before the law were passed had continued.  Think about that.  That’s money in your pocket.

Now, some people may say, well, I’ve seen my copays go up, or my networks have changed.  But these are decisions that are made by your employers.  It’s not because of Obamacare.  They’re not determined by the Affordable Care Act.

So if the Affordable Care Act, if Obamacare hasn’t changed the coverage of the 80 percent of Americans who already had insurance, except to make it a better value, except to make it more reliable, how has the law impacted the other 15 or 20 percent of Americans who didn’t have health insurance through their job, or didn’t qualify for Medicaid, or didn’t qualify for Medicare?

Well, before the Affordable Care Act, frankly, you were probably out of luck.  Either you had to buy health insurance on your own, because you weren’t getting it through the job, and it was wildly expensive, and your premiums were going up all the time, and if you happened to get sick and use the insurance, the insurer the next year could drop you.  And if you had had an illness like cancer or diabetes, or some other chronic disease, you couldn’t buy new insurance because the insurance company’s attitude was, you know what, this is just going to cost us money, we don’t want to insure you.

So if you were trying to buy health insurance on your own, it was either hugely expensive or didn’t provide very effective coverage.  You might buy a policy thinking that it was going to cover you.  It was sort of like when I was young and I bought my first car, I had to buy car insurance.  And I won’t name the insurance company, but I bought the insurance because it was the law, and I got the cheapest one I could get, because I didn’t have any money — and it was a really beat-up car.  (Laughter.)  And I remember somebody rear-ends me, and I call up the insurance company, thinking maybe I can get some help, and they laughed at me.  They’re all like, what, are you kidding?  (Laughter.)  It didn’t provide any coverage other than essentially allowing me to drive.  (Laughter.)

Well, that’s what it was like for a lot of people who didn’t have health insurance on the job.  So that meant that a lot of people just didn’t bother getting health insurance at all.  And when they got sick, they’d have to go to the emergency room.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, that’s true, too.

And so you’re relying on the emergency room, but the emergency room is the most expensive place to get care.  And because you weren’t insured, the hospital would have to give you the care for free, and they would have to then make up for those costs by charging everybody else more money.  So it wasn’t good for anybody.

So what the Affordable Care Act is designed to do is to help those people who were previously either uninsured or underinsured.  And it worked to help those people in two ways.

First, we gave states funding to expand Medicaid to cover more people.  In D.C. and the 31 states that took us up on that, more than 4 million people have coverage who didn’t have it before.  They now have health insurance.

Second, for people who made too much to qualify for Medicaid even after we expanded it, we set up what we call marketplaces on HealthCare.gov, so you could shop for a plan that fits your needs, and then we would give you tax credits to help you buy it.  And most people today can find a plan for less than $75 a month at the HealthCare.gov marketplace when you include the tax credits that government is giving you.  That means it’s less than your cellphone bill — because I know you guys are tweeting a lot — (laughter) — and texting and selfies.  (Laughter.)  And the good news is, is that most people who end up buying their coverage through the marketplaces, using these tax credits, are satisfied with their plans.

So not only did Obamacare do a lot of good for the 80-plus percent of Americans who already had health care, but now it gave a new affordable option to a lot of folks who never had options before.  All told, about another 10 percent of the country now have coverage.

The Affordable Care Act has done what it was designed to do: It gave us affordable health care.

So what’s the problem?  Why is there still such a fuss?  Well, part of the problem is the fact that a Democratic President named Barack Obama passed the law.  (Applause.)  And that’s just the truth.  (Laughter.)  I mean, I worked really, really hard to engage Republicans; took Republican ideas that originally they had praised; said, let’s work together to get this done.  And when they just refused to do anything, we said, all right, we’re going to have to do it with Democrats.  And that’s what we did.

And early on, Republicans just decided to oppose it.  And then they tried to scare people with all kinds of predictions — that it would be a job-killer; that it would force everyone into government-run insurance; that it would lead to rationing; that it would lead to death panels; that it would bankrupt the federal government.  You remember all this.  And despite the fact that all the bad things they predicted have not actually happened — despite the fact that we’ve created more jobs since the bill passed in consecutive months than any time on record — (applause) — despite the fact that the uninsured rate has gone down to its lowest levels ever, despite that fact that it’s actually cost less than anybody anticipated and has shown to be much less disruptive on existing plans that people get through their employers, despite the fact that it saved Medicare over $150 billion — which makes that program more secure — despite all this, it’s been hard, if not impossible, for any Republican to admit it.

They just can’t admit that a lot of good things have happened and the bad things they predicted didn’t happen.  So they just keep on repeating, we’re going to repeal it.  We’re going to repeal it, and we’re going to replace it with something better — even though, six and a half years later, they haven’t  — they still haven’t shown us what it is that they would do that would be better.

But — and this is actually the main reason I’m here — just because a lot of the Republican criticism has proven to be false and politically motivated doesn’t mean that there aren’t some legitimate concerns about how the law is working now.  And the main issue has to do with the folks who still aren’t getting enough help.  Remember, I said 80 percent of people, even before the law passed, already had health insurance.  And then we expanded Medicaid, and we set up the marketplaces, and another 10 percent of people got health insurance.  Well, but that still leaves that last 10 percent.  And the fact that that last 10 percent still has difficulties is something that we’ve got to do something about.

Now, part of the reason for this is, as I already mentioned to you, not every state expanded Medicaid to its citizens, which means that some of the most vulnerable working families that the law was designed to help still haven’t gotten insurance.  As you may have heard, Florida is one of those states.  If your governor could put politics aside —


THE PRESIDENT:  Don’t boo — vote.  (Applause.)

If your governor would just put politics aside and do what’s right, then more than 700,000 Floridians would suddenly have access to coverage.  And, by the way, that would hold down costs for the rest of you, because there would be less uncompensated care in hospitals.  And it means that people who did sign up for the marketplace, who oftentimes may be sicker, qualify for Medicaid and so they’re not raising costs in the marketplace.

In fact, if the 19 states who so far have not expanded Medicaid would just do so, another 4 million people would have coverage right now all across the country.

So that’s step number one.  And that’s, by the way, just completely in the control of these governors.  They could be doing it — right now.  They could do it tomorrow.

Now, the second issue has to do with the marketplaces.  Although the marketplaces are working well in most of the states, there are some states where there’s still not enough competition between insurers.  So if you only have one insurer, they may decide we’re going to jack up rates because we can, because nobody else is offering a better price.

In those states where the governor or legislature is hostile to the ACA, it makes it harder to enroll people because the state is not actively participating in outreach.  And so, as a consequence, in those states enrollment in the plan — especially enrollment of young people — has lagged.

And what that means is that the insurance pool is smaller and it gets a higher percentage of older and sicker people who are signing up — because if you’re sick or you’re old, you’re more likely to say, well, I’m going to sign up, no matter what, because I know I’m going to need it; if you’re young and healthy like you guys, you say, eh, I’m fine, life is good — so you have more older and sicker people signing up, fewer younger and healthier people signing up, and that drives rates up, because the people who use health care most end up being in the insurance pool; people who use it least are not.

And then, in some cases, insurers just set their prices too low at the outset because they didn’t know what the insurance pool was going to look like, and then they started losing money.  And so now they’ve decided to significantly increase premiums in some states.

Now, it’s these premium increases in some of the states in the marketplace that sometimes attracts negative headlines.  Remember, these premium increases won’t impact most of the people who are buying insurance through the marketplace, because even when premiums go up, the tax credits go up to offset the increases.  So people who qualify for tax credits, they may not even notice their premiums went up because the tax credit is covered.

And keep in mind that these premium increases that some of you may have read about have no effect at all if you’re getting health insurance on the job, or through Medicaid or Medicare.  So for the 80 [percent]-plus people who already had health insurance, if your premium is going up, it’s not because of Obamacare.  It’s because of your employer or your insurer — even though sometimes they try to blame Obamacare for why the rates go up.  It’s not because of any policy of the Affordable Care Act that the rates are going up.

But if you are one of the people who doesn’t get health care on the job, doesn’t qualify for Medicaid, doesn’t qualify for Medicare — doesn’t qualify for a tax credit to help you buy insurance,  because maybe you made just a little bit too much money under the law — these premium increases do make insurance less affordable.  And in some states, the premium increases are manageable.  Some are 2 percent or 8 percent, some 20 percent.  But we know there are some states that may see premiums go up by 50 percent or more.

And an extreme example is Arizona, where we expect benchmark premiums will more than double.  Part of this is because Arizona is one of those states that had really low average premiums — among the lowest in the country — so now insurance companies basically are trying to catch up, and they also don’t have a lot of competition there.  And meanwhile, in states like Florida, the failure to expand Medicaid contributes to higher marketplace premiums.  And then there are some other states that just because of the nature of their health care systems, or the fact that they’re rural and people are dispersed, so it’s harder to provide health care, more expensive — they have a tougher time controlling costs generally.

Again, the tax credits in the ACA will protect most consumers from the brunt of these premium increases.  And with the ability to shop around on HealthCare.gov — which works really well now — most people can find plans for prices even lower than this year’s prices.  But there are going to be people who are hurt by premium increases or a lack of competition and choice.  And I don’t want to see anybody left out without health insurance.  I don’t want to see any family having to choose between health insurance now or saving for retirement, or saving for their kids’ college education, or just paying their own bills.

So the question we should be asking is, what do we do about these growing pains in the Affordable Care Act, and how do we get the last 9 percent of Americans covered?  How do we reach those last 9 percent?  And how do we make sure that premiums are more stable going forward, and the marketplace insurance pools are more stable going forward?

Well, I can tell you what will not work.  Repealing the Affordable Care Act will not work.  (Applause.)  That’s a bad idea.  That will not solve the problem.  Because right off the bat, repeal would take away health care from 20 million people.  We’d go back where 80 percent of people had health insurance instead of 90 percent — right off the bat.  And all the reforms that everybody benefits from that I talked about — like young Americans being able to stay on their parents’ plans, or the rules that prevent insurance companies from discriminating against people because of a preexisting condition like diabetes or cancer, or the rule now that you can’t charge somebody more just because they’re a woman — all those reforms would go away for everybody, because that’s part of Obamacare.

All the progress that we’ve made in controlling costs and improving how health care is delivered, progress that’s helped hold growth in the price of health care to the slowest rate in 50 years — all that goes away.  That’s what repeal means.  It would be bad for everybody.  And the majority of Americans, even if they don’t know that they’re benefitting from Obamacare, don’t want to see these benefits and protections taken away from their families now that they have them.  I guarantee you there are people who right now think they hate Obamacare.  And if somebody told them, all right, we’re repealing it, but now your kid who is on your plan is no longer on your plan, or now you’ve got a preexisting condition and you can’t buy health insurance — they’d be shocked.  They’d be — what do you mean?

So repeal is not the answer.  Here is what we can do instead to actually make the Affordable Care Act work even better than it’s working right now.  And I’ve already mentioned one.

Florida and every state should expand Medicaid.  (Applause.)  Cover more people.  It’s easy to do, and it could be done right now.  You’d cover 4 million more Americans, help drive down premiums for folks who buy insurance through the marketplace.  And, by the way, because the federal government pays for almost all of this expansion, you can’t use as an excuse that, well, the state can’t afford it — because the federal government is paying it.  States like Louisiana that just expanded Medicaid — you had a Republican governor replaced by a Democratic governor.  He said, I want that money.  Expanded Medicaid, and found not only does it insure more people, but it’s actually saved the state big money and makes people less dependent on expensive emergency room care.  So that’s step number one.

Step number two.  Since overall health care costs have turned out to be significantly lower than everyone expected since we passed Obamacare, since that’s saved the federal government billions of dollars, we should use some of that money, some of those savings to now provide more tax credits for more middle-income families, for more young adults to help them buy insurance.  It will make their premiums more affordable.  And that’s not just good for them — it’s good for everybody.  Because when more people are in the marketplace, everybody will benefit from lower premiums.  Healthier people, younger people start joining the pool; premiums generally go down.  That would be number two.

The third thing we should do is add what’s called a public plan fallback — (applause) — to give folks more options in those places where there are just not enough insurers to compete.  And that’s especially important in some rural communities and rural states and counties.  If you live in L.A. right now, then it’s working fine.  There are a lot of insurers because it’s a big market, there are a lot of providers.  But if you’re in some remote areas, or you’re near some small towns, it may be that the economics of it just don’t work unless the government is providing an option to make it affordable.  And, by the way, this is not complicated.  Basically, you would just wait and see — if the private insurers are competing for business, then you don’t have to trigger a public option.  But if no private insurers are providing affordable insurance in an area, then the government would step in with a quality plan that people can afford.

And, by the way, this is not a radical idea.  This idea is modeled on something that Republicans championed under George Bush for the Medicare Part D drug benefit program.  It was fine when it was their idea.  The fact that they’re now opposed to it as some socialist scheme is not being consistent, it’s being partisan.

And finally, we should continue to encourage innovation by the states.  What the Affordable Care Act says is, here’s how we propose you insure your populations, but you, the state, can figure out a different way to accomplish the same goal — providing affordable, comprehensive coverage for the same number of residents at the same cost — then go right ahead.  There may be more than one way to skin a cat.  Maybe you’ve got an idea we haven’t thought of.  Just show us, don’t talk about it.  Show us what the plan looks like.

Republicans who claim to care about your health insurance choices and your premiums, but then offer nothing and block common-sense solutions like the ones that I propose to improve them — that’s not right.  And my message to them has been and will continue to be:  Work with us.  Make the system better.  Help the people you serve.  We’re open to good ideas, but they’ve got to be real ideas — not just slogans, not just votes to repeal.  And they’ve got to pass basic muster.  You can’t say, well, if we just do — if we just plant some magic beans — (laughter) — then everybody will have health insurance.  No, we’ve got to have health care economists and experts look at it and see if the thing would actually work.

So that’s where we are.  Number one, Obamacare is helping millions of people right now.  The uninsured rate has never been lower.  It’s helping everybody who already has health insurance, because it makes their policies better.  Number two, there are still too many hardworking people who are not being reached by the law.  Number three, if we tweak the program to reach those people who are not currently benefitting from the law, it will be good for them and it will be good for the country.  Number four, if we repeal this law wholesale that will hurt the people who don’t have coverage right now.  It will hurt the 20 million who are already getting help through the law.  And it will hurt the country as a whole.

So this should be an easy choice.  All it does — all it requires is putting aside ideology, and in good faith trying to implement the law of the land.  And what we’ve learned, by the way, is that when governors and state legislators expand Medicaid for their citizens and they hold insurance companies accountable, and they’re honest with uninsured people about their options, and they’re working with us on outreach, then the marketplace works the way it’s supposed to.  And when they don’t, the marketplaces tend to have more problems.  And that shouldn’t be surprising.  If state leaders purposely try to make something not work, then it’s not going to run as smoothly as if they were trying to make it work.  Common sense.  You don’t even have to go to Miami Dade to figure that out.  (Laughter.)

The point is, now is not the time to move backwards on health care reform.  Now is the time to move forward.  The problems that may have arisen from the Affordable Care Act is not because government is too involved in the process.  The problem is, is that we have not reached everybody and pulled them in.  And think about it.  When one of these companies comes out with a new smartphone and it had a few bugs, what do they do?  They fix it.  They upgrade — unless it catches fire, and they just — (laughter) — then they pull it off the market.  But you don’t go back to using a rotary phone.  (Laughter.)  You don’t say, well, we’re repealing smartphones — we’re just going to do the dial-up thing.  (Laughter.)  That’s not what you do.

Well, the same basic principle applies here.  We’re not going to go back to discriminating against Americans with preexisting conditions.  We’re not going to go back to a time when people’s coverage was dropped when they got sick.  We’re not going to go back to a situation where we’re reinstating lifetime limits in the fine print so that you think you have insurance, and then you get really sick or you kid gets really sick, and you hit the limit that the insurance company set, and next thing you know they’re not covering you anymore, and you got to figure out how you come up with another $100,000 or $200,000 to make sure that your child lives.  We’re not going to go back to that.

I hear Republicans in Congress object, and they’ll say, no, no, no, no, we’ll keep those parts of Obamacare that are popular; we’ll just repeal everything else.  Well, it turns out that the sum of those parts that are popular in Obamacare is Obamacare.  (Applause.)  It’s just people don’t always know it.  And repealing it would make the majority of Americans worse off when it comes to health care.

And as I said, part of this is just — you know, health care is complicated.  Think about this speech — it’s been pretty long, and you’re just — you’re thinking, wow, I just want to take a picture with the President or something.  (Laughter.)  So it’s hard to get people focused on the facts.  And even reporters who have covered this stuff — and they do a good job; they’re trying to follow all the debate.  But a lot of times they just report, “Premium increases.”  And everybody thinks, wow, my insurance rates are going up, it must be Obama’s fault — even though you don’t get health insurance through Obamacare, you get it through your job, and even though your increases have gone up a lot slower.  Or suddenly you’re paying a bigger copay, and, ah, thanks Obama.  (Laughter.)  Well, no, I had nothing to do with that.

So part of it is this is complicated, the way it gets reported.  There’s a lot of hysteria around anything that happens.  And what we need to do is just focus on this very specific problem — how do we make sure that more people are getting coverage, and folks right now who are not getting tax credits, aren’t getting Medicaid, how do we help them, how do we reach them.  And we can do it.

Instead of repealing the law, I believe the next President and the next Congress should take what we’ve learned over the past six years and in a serious way analyze it, figure out what it is that needs to get done, and make the Affordable Care Act better and cover even more people.  But understand, no President can do it alone.  We will need Republicans in Congress and in state governments to act responsibly and put politics aside.  Because I want to remind you, a lot of the Affordable Care Act is built on Republican ideas.

In fact, Bernie Sanders is still mad at me because we didn’t get single-payer passed.  Now, we couldn’t get single-payer passed, and I wanted to make sure that we helped as many people as possible, given the political constraints.  And so we adopted a system that Republicans should like; it’s based on a competitive, market-based system in which people have to a responsibility for themselves by buy insurance.

And maybe now that I’m leaving office, maybe Republicans can stop with the 60-something repeal votes they’ve taken, and stop pretending that they have a serious alternative, and stop pretending that all the terrible things they said would happen have actually happened, when they have not, and just work with the next President to smooth out the kinks.

Because it turns out, no major social innovation in America has ever worked perfectly at the start.  Social Security didn’t. Its benefits were stingy at first.  It left out a whole lot of Americans.  The same was true for Medicare.  The same was true for Medicaid.  The same was true for the prescription drug law.  But what happened was, every year, people of goodwill from both parties tried to make it better.  And that’s what we need to do right now.

And I promise, if Republicans have good ideas to provide more coverage for folks like Amanda, I will be all for it.  I don’t care whose idea it is, I just want it to work.  They can even change the name of the law to ReaganCare.  (Laughter.) Or they can call it Paul Ryan Care.  I don’t care — (laughter) — about credit, I just want it to work because I care about the American people and making sure they’ve got health insurance.

But that brings me to my final point, and that is change does not typically come from the top down, it always comes from the bottom up.  The Affordable Care Act was passed because the American people mobilized, not just to get me elected, but to keep the pressure on me to actually do something about health care and to put pressure on members of Congress to do something about it.  And that’s how change happens in America.  It doesn’t happen on its own.  It doesn’t happen from on high.  It happens from the bottom up.  And breaking gridlock will come only when the American people demand it.

So that’s why I’m here.  Only you can break this stalemate, but educating the public on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, and then pressing your elected officials to do the right this and supporting elected officials who are doing the right things.

And this is one of the reasons why I’m so proud of what Miami-Dade College is doing, because it’s making sure that students and faculty, and people throughout this community know about the law, know about how to sign up for health care, and then actually helps people sign up.  And I’m incredibly proud of the leadership Joe Peña and the entire team in encouraging people to sign up.

Thanks to them, Miami-Dade has been hosting enrollment office hours and workshops, even on nights and weekends.  Right here on the Wolfson campus, and on all the Miami-Dade campuses, you can go for a free one-on-one session where a trained expert can walk you through the process and answer any questions you have — and then help you sign up for health care right there and then.  Joe says he doesn’t have a conversation without making sure people know how to get covered.  The more young and healthy people like you who do the smart thing and sign up, then the better it’s going to work for everybody.

And the good news is, in a few days, you can do just that because Open enrollment, the time when you can start signing up, begins on November 1.  And you just need to go to HealthCare.gov, which works really well now.  (Laughter.)

And campuses will be competing to come up with the most creative ways to reach people and get them signed up — and I’m pretty sure that Miami-Dade can set the standard for the rest of the country.  ‘Cause that’s how you do.  (Applause.)  That’s how you do.

So much has changed since I campaigned here in Miami eight Octobers ago.  But one thing has not: this is more than just about health care.  It’s about the character of our country.  It’s about whether we look out for one another.  It’s about whether the wealthiest nation on earth is going to make sure that nobody suffers.  Nobody loses everything they have saved, everything they have worked for because they’re sick.  You stood up for the idea that no American should have to go without the health care they need.

And it’s still true today.  And we’ve proven together that people who love this country can change it — 20 million people out there will testify.  I get letters every day, just saying thank you because it’s made a difference in their lives.  And what true then is true now.  We still need you.  Our work to expand opportunity to all and make our union more perfect is never finished — but the more we work, and organize, and advocate, and fight, the closer we get.

So I hope you are going to be busy this November signing folks up.  But more importantly, I hope, for all the young people here, you never stop working for a better America.  And even though I won’t be President, I’ll keep working right alongside you.

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

2:40 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency March 7, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Education, College Opportunity and Federal Student Aid



A World-Class Education for Every Student in America

Source: WH, 3-7-14
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama talks with students in a classroom at Coral Reef Senior High School, Florida, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama talks with students in a classroom at Coral Reef Senior High School, Fla., March 7, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Today, President Obama and the First Lady visited Coral Reef High School in Miami to discuss the President’s plan to equip all Americans with the education they need to compete in the 21st century economy….READ MORE

Remarks by the President on Preparing for College

Source: WH, 3-7-14

Watch the Video

President Obama Speaks on College Opportunity
March 07, 2014 5:36 PM

President Obama Speaks on College Opportunity

Coral Reef Senior High School
Miami, Florida

3:05 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Miami!  (Applause.)  Hello, Cuda Nation!  (Applause.)  Hello!  It is good to be here at Coral Reef Senior High.  (Applause.)  You guys are just happy because it’s warm down here all the time.  (Laughter.)  I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but the rest of the country is cold.  (Laughter.)  Listen, Michelle and I are so grateful for the warm welcome.  It is great to be here.  I want to thank some people who are doing outstanding work.

First of all, your superintendent, Superintendent Carvalho, is doing great work.  We’re really proud of him.  (Applause.)  Your principal, Principal Leal, is doing great work.  (Applause.)  All the Coral Reef teachers and staff, you guys are all doing a great job.  (Applause.)  And you’re doing what is necessary to help young people get ready for college and careers.  So that’s why we’re here.  We are proud of what’s being done at this school.

I want to mention a few other folks who are here who are fighting on behalf of the people of South Florida every day.  We’ve got Congressman Joe Garcia is here.  (Applause.)  We’ve got Congresswoman Frederica Wilson here.  (Applause.)  We’ve got Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.  Your former Governor Charlie Crist is here.  (Applause.)

And most of all, I want to thank the people that Michelle and I came all the down here to see, and that is the students of Coral Reef.  (Applause.)  We had heard great things about your school.  We had heard great things about the students.  We wanted to come down here and just see what was going on.  (Applause.)  And Michelle and I just had a chance to visit with some of your classmates who are going through some of the scholarship applications, and we had a chance to talk to them and hear what their plans were.  And first of all, Michelle and I looked and we said, these must be actors playing students, because they were all smart and good-looking and organized.  (Laughter.)  And I asked them, what are you going to do?  And they’re — well, I’m going to be applying to business school, and then I’m going to start a company, and then I — when I was your age, I didn’t know what I was doing.  I was lucky if I had gotten out of bed on time.  (Laughter.)  So you guys are ahead of the game.

And we’re here to tell you that you’ve got to keep up the good work, because by working hard every single day, every single night, you are making the best investment there is in your future.  And we want to make sure you’ve got everything, all the tools you need to succeed.  We want every young person to have the kinds of teachers and the kind of classes and the kind of learning experiences that are available to you here at Coral Reef.  (Applause.)  Because that’s the best investment we can make in America’s future.  (Applause.)

Now, keep in mind, Michelle and I, we’re only here today because of the kind of education that we got.  That was our ticket to success.  We grew up a lot like many of you.  I was raised by a single mom; she was a teenager when I was born.  We moved around a lot, we did not have a lot of money, but the one thing she was determined to see was that my sister and I would get the best education possible.

And she would press me.  Sometimes she’d make me wake up, do my lessons before I even went to school.  She was not going to let me off the hook.  And at the time, I wasn’t happy about it, but now I’m glad she pressed me like that.  Because, thanks to my mother and my grandparents, and then great teachers and great counselors who encouraged me, and a country that made it possible for me to afford a higher education, I was able to go to college and law school.

And then when I met Michelle, I saw that — (applause) –there were a couple of things I noticed.  I noticed she was smart.  (Applause.)  I noticed she was funny — she’s funny, she’s funnier than I am.  (Laughter.)  Obviously, I noticed she was cute, yes.  (Applause.)  But one of the things I also realized was, even though we had grown up in very different places, her story was a lot like mine.  Her dad worked at a city water plant.  He didn’t go to college.  He was a blue-collar worker.  Michelle’s mom — my mother-in-law, who I love to death — she was a secretary.  No one in her family had gone to college.  But because she had worked hard and her parents understood the value of education, and she had great teachers and great opportunities, and because the country was willing to invest to make sure that she was able to pay for college, she ended up going to some of the best universities in the country.  (Applause.)

So the point is she and I have been able to achieve things that our parents, our grandparents would have never dreamed of.  And that’s the chance this country should give every young person.  That’s the idea at the heart of America.  (Applause.)

What makes this country great, what makes it special when you look around, and Miami is a great example of it, you’ve got people coming from everywhere, every background, every race, every faith.  But what binds us together is this idea that if you work hard, you can make it — that there’s opportunity for all.  The belief that no matter who you are, no matter where you come from, no matter what your last name is, if you are responsible and put in the effort, you can succeed.  There’s no limit to what you can do.  That’s what America is all about.  (Applause.)

Opportunity is what drew many of your parents and grandparents to America.  And we’ve got to restore that idea for your generation, so that everybody has the same chance Michelle and I did.  That’s why we’re working on what we call an opportunity agenda to create more jobs and train more workers with new skills; to make sure hard work is rewarded with a paycheck that supports a family; to make sure that everybody can get health care when they need it, so that nobody has to get into financial trouble because somebody in the family gets sick.  (Applause.)

And for the students here, a lot of you, you may not think about these issues all the time.  You’re spending a lot of time on homework and sports, and this and that.  But you also oftentimes see your own family struggling and you worry about it.  And one of the single-most important parts of our opportunity agenda is making sure that every young person in America has access to a world-class education — a world-class education.  (Applause.)  So that’s why we are here.

I believe we should start teaching our kids at the earliest ages.  So we’re trying to help more states make high-quality preschool and other early learning programs available to the youngest kids.  (Applause.)  I believe that our K-12 system should be the best in the world.  So we started a competition called Race to the Top, to encourage more states like Florida to raise expectations for students like you, because when we set high expectations, every single one of you can meet them.  (Applause.)  You’re recruiting and preparing the best teachers.  You are turning around low-performing schools.  You’re expanding high-performing ones.  You’re making sure every student is prepared for college or a career.

I believe that every student should have the best technology.  So we launched something we called ConnectED to connect our schools to high-speed Internet.  And I want to congratulate Miami-Dade and your superintendent, because you have achieved your goal of installing wi-fi in every single one of your schools.  (Applause.)

So the good news is, in part because of some of these reforms we’ve initiated, when you add it all up our nation’s high school graduation rate is the highest on record.  The drop-out rate has been dropping, and among Latino students has been cut in half since 2000.  (Applause.)  Miami-Dade’s graduation rate is higher than it’s ever been.  That’s all because of the efforts of so many people, including the parents and students who have been putting in the effort.  It’s because of the teachers and administrators and staff who are doing such a great job.  You should be proud.  We’re making progress — we’re making progress.  (Applause.)

Yes, you guys — by the way, you can all sit down.  I didn’t realize everybody was still standing up.  Sit down.  Take a load off.  You guys can’t sit down though, because you don’t have chairs, although bend your knees so you don’t faint.  (Laughter.)

But here’s the key thing, Coral Reef:  We still have more work to do, all of us — elected officials, principals, teachers, parents, students.  Because, as Michelle says, education is a two-way street.  Folks like us have to work hard to give you the best schools and support that you need.  But then, you’ve got to hold up your end of the bargain by committing to your education.  That means you’ve got to stretch your minds.  You’ve got to push through subjects that aren’t always easy.  And it means continuing your education past high school, whether that’s a two-year or a four-year college degree or getting some professional training.

So I want to talk about an easy step that high school students like you can take to make college a reality.  And it’s something you already know here at Coral Reef, but I’m speaking to all the young people out there who may be watching.  It’s called FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

It is a simple form.  It used to be complicated; we made it simple.  It doesn’t cost anything — that’s why the word “free” is right there in the name.  (Laughter.)  It does not take a long time to fill out.  Once you do, you’re putting yourself in the running for all kinds of financial support for college — scholarships, grants, loans, work-study jobs.

For the past five years, we’ve been working to make college more affordable.  We took on a college loan system that gave billions of dollars of taxpayer money to big banks to manage the student loan system.  We said, we don’t need the banks, let’s give the money directly to students, we can help more students.  (Applause.)  We can help more students that way.  So we expanded the grants that help millions of students from low-income backgrounds pay for college.  We’re offering millions of people the chance to cap their student loan payments at 10 percent of their incomes once they graduate.

Today, more young people are earning college degrees than ever before.  That’s a great thing.  (Applause.)  That is a great thing.  But we still need to do more to help rein in the rising cost of tuition.  We need to do more to help Americans who feel trapped by student loan debt — because no striving, hardworking, ambitious, young American should ever be denied a college education just because they can’t afford it — nobody.  (Applause.)

Unfortunately, there are still a lot of young people all across the country who say the cost of college is holding them back.  Some of you may have sat around the kitchen table with your parents wondering about whether you’ll be able to afford it.  So FAFSA is by far the easiest way to answer that question.  And I know the Barracudas know all about FAFSA.  (Applause.)  Last year, you had the second-highest completion rate of any large high school in the state.  (Applause.)  You should be proud of that.  Your teachers and parents should be proud of that.

But last year, almost half of high school graduates in Florida didn’t fill out the FAFSA form.


THE PRESIDENT:  That ain’t right.  (Laughter.)  Not only is it not right, but it also ain’t right.  (Laughter.)  And as a result, they lost out on over $100 million in Pell grants.  Think about that — $100 million that could have helped Florida students help pay for college was just left on the table.  That’s just in Florida.  Nationwide, over one million high school students did not fill out the FAFSA form.  That happens every year.

So my challenge today to every high school student in America:  Fill out the form.  Even if you think you might not qualify for financial aid, fill out the form.  You might qualify.

And we’re making it easier than ever.  We put the FAFSA form online.  We made it shorter.  It takes about half an hour to fill out.  And it could change the rest of your life.  We’ve updated it to save your parents a lot of hassle as well.  And today, I’m announcing another improvement.

Today, I’m directing the Department of Education to tell every governor that, starting today, they can, if they choose, confidentially let high school administrators know which students have filled out the FAFSA form and which haven’t.  So that way, if Principal Leal wants to check in with the seniors —


THE PRESIDENT:  I know, everybody is like, wow.  (Laughter.)  I know she’s already on top of stuff, but this way, she could check and seniors who had not filled it out, she could then help them answer the questions and figure out what’s holding her back — what’s holding them back.

Anybody will be able to go online and find out the number of students who have filled out the form at each high school, so we can track it.  So if you want to have a friendly competition with Palmetto High or Miami Killian — (applause) — to see who can get a higher completion rate on your FAFSA, you can do that.  (Applause.)  You achieved the second-highest rate in the state, but I mean if you want to settle for number two, that’s okay —  you might be able to get number one.  (Applause.)  Huh?  I’m just saying you could go for number one.  (Applause.)

So these are things I can do on my own, but I’m here to also tell you I need — I could use some help from folks in Washington.  There are some things I don’t need Congress’s permission for, and in this year of action, whenever I see a way to act to help expand opportunity for young people I’m just going to go ahead and take it.  I’m just going to go ahead and do it.  (Applause.)

So earlier this year, Michelle and I hosted a College Opportunity Summit, where over 150 colleges and universities and nonprofits made commitments to help more low-income students get to college and graduate from college.  (Applause.)  But I’m also willing to work with anybody in Congress — Democrat, Republican, don’t matter — to make sure young people like you have a shot to success.

So a few days ago, I sent my budget to Congress.  And budgets are pretty boring — but the stuff inside the budgets are pretty important.  And my budget focuses on things like preschool for all; like redesigning high schools so students like you can learn real-world skills that businesses want — (applause) — like preparing more young people for careers in some of the fields of the future — in science and technology and engineering and math to discover new planets and invent robots and cure diseases — all the cool stuff that we adults haven’t figured out yet.  (Laughter.)

These are not just the right investments for our schools; they’re the right priorities for our country.  You are our priority.  We’ve got to make sure we have budgets that reflect that you are the most important thing to this country’s success. If you don’t succeed, we don’t succeed.  (Applause.)

We’ve got to make sure all of you are prepared for the new century, and we’ve got to keep growing our economy in other ways:  attracting new high-tech jobs, reforming our immigration system — something Congressman Garcia is fighting for.  (Applause.)   And the rest of Congress needs to stop doing nothing, do right by America’s students, America’s teachers, America’s workers.  Let’s get to work.  Let’s get busy.  (Applause.)  We’ve got work to do. All of us have work to do — teachers, school counselors, principals, superintendents, parents, grandparents.

We all have work to do, because we want to see you succeed, because we’re counting on you, Barracudas.  (Applause.)  And if you keep reaching for success — and I know you will, just based on the small sampling we saw of students here — if you keep working as hard as you can and learning as much as you can, and if you’ve got big ambitions and big dreams, if you don’t let anybody tell you something is out of your reach, if you are convinced that you can do something and apply effort and energy and determination and persistence to that vision, then not only will you be great but this country will be great.  (Applause.)  Our schools will be great.  (Applause.)

I want us to have the best-educated workforce in America.  And I want it to be the most diverse workforce in the world.  That’s what I’m fighting for.  That’s what your superintendent and your principal are fighting for, and I hope that’s what you fight for yourselves.  (Applause.)  Because when I meet the students here at Coral Reef, I am optimistic about the future.  Michelle and I walked out of that classroom, and we said, you know what, we’re going to be in good hands, we’re going to do okay.  (Applause.)  Because these young people are coming, and nobody is going to stop them.

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

3:25 P.M EST

Political Headlines February 20, 2013: Pew Research Center Poll: Public’s View of Marco Rubio Mixed, Poll Shows





Public’s View of Marco Rubio Mixed, Poll Shows

Source: ABC News Radio, 2-20-13

A Pew Research Center poll released Wednesday shows 26 percent of those polled viewed Rubio favorably, while 29 percent held an unfavorable opinion of the Florida senator. Forty-six percent said they were unable to offer a rating for Rubio….READ MORE

Political Headlines February 17, 2013: President Barack Obama, Tiger Woods Play Golf Together





President Obama, Tiger Woods Play Golf Together

Source: ABC News Radio, 2-17-13


President Obama is in the middle of spending a three-day weekend at a posh Florida golf and yacht club. And if taking private training lessons on the links from Tiger Woods’ old coach Saturday wasn’t enough, on Sunday the Tiger himself joined Obama on the links. The meeting on the green is their first.

A White House official confirmed to the press that the president was playing with Woods, although media have not been allowed on the resort since the president’s Friday arrival to view any activity….READ MORE

Election 2012 November 10, 2012: Four Days After Election, President Barack Obama Wins in Florida





Four Days After Election, Obama Wins in Florida

Source: ABC News Radio, 11-10-12

Kevin Winter/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

Four days have passed since President Barack Obama took enough of the electoral college to secure a second term and Florida has still not quite counted 100 percent of its ballots. But with the last absentee votes from overseas trickling in and precincts firming up, Florida’s Secretary of State on Saturday finally announced Obama would walk away with its 29 electoral votes.

President Obama took the state by a paper-thin margin over challenger Mitt Romney at 50 percent to 49.1, or roughly 74,000 votes — barely over the half a percent margin that would have mandated a recount….READ MORE

Full Text Campaign Buzz November 5, 2012: Mitt Romney’s Speech in Sanford, Florida on last day of 2012 presidential campaign




Mitt Romney’s remarks in Florida on last day of 2012 presidential campaign (Full transcript)

Source: WaPo, 11-5-12

Here is a complete transcript of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s remarks at a campaign event in Sanford, Fla., on the last day of the presidential campaign, Nov. 5, 2012.

MITT ROMNEY: That is quite an Orlando welcome. Thank you so very much. What a way to start a day. This is fabulous; what a way to start an election. (APPLAUSE)

And I am — I am so looking forward to getting the chance to work with Senator Connie Mack, you’ve got to make that happen.


And I also appreciate the — the great leadership of Jeb Bush — Governor Jeb Bush, one of the best this country’s ever known.


Thank you to Governor Scott for welcoming us here and Lieutenant Governor Carroll.

Thank you also to Jeff Atwater. As you know, Jeff is the Chief Financial Officer of the state, but he’s been the Co-Chair of my effort here along with Adam Putnam, who as you know, is the Commissioner of Agriculture. I appreciate their work.

Will Weatherford, the Speaker of the House has addressed you and I appreciate his support.

Senator Mel Martinez and I appreciate Mel being here.


I think I’ve — oh, I didn’t mention Congressman John Mica. Where’s John hanging out here?


He’s over here, hi there.

It’s quite a gathering today.


This is — it’s quite a welcome that you provided me. You’re — you’re…


… you’re voices — your voices are not just heard in this hanger, they’re being heard all over the nation.


And even though — even though Ann is at a different city this morning, they are being felt your voices in both of our hearts and I — I want you to know how much we appreciate all that you’ve done, all the doors you’ve knocked on, all the phone calls you’ve made and the fact that you voted early. I saw how many hands went up when you were asked. That was very good.

(APPLAUSE) And some of you put signs in your yard.


Some you have put signs in your neighbor’s yard.


And — and I just — I — I know — I know how many as well have talked to coworkers and tried to convince people to vote for Paul Ryan and me.

Look, we — we have one job left and that’s to make sure that on Election Day, we get — make certain that everybody who’s qualified to vote gets out to vote. We need every single vote in Florida.


Now what makes this rally and your work so inspiring, is that you’re here because you care about America.


This is — this is a campaign about America and about the future we’re going to leave our children. We thank you, we ask you to stay at it all the way — all the way to victory on Tuesday night.


Tomorrow, we begin a new tomorrow. Tomorrow we begin a better tomorrow. This nation is going to begin to change for the better tomorrow. Your work is making a difference, the people of the world are watching, the people of America are watching. We can begin a better tomorrow tomorrow and with the help of the people in Florida, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.


Now there may be some of your friends and family members who haven’t made up their mind yet who they’re going to vote for. So I’d ask them to look beyond the speeches and beyond the attacks and even beyond all the ads, look to the record. You see talk is cheap, but a record, that’s real and it’s earned with real effort.

And so…


I mean the president promised a lot of change but change can’t be measured in speeches. It has to be measured in achievements and four years ago, candidate Obama promised to do oh so very much but he’s fallen also very short.

I mean you know some of these things. I mean he said he’d said he’d be a post-partisan president, but he’s been most partisan, attacking, dividing, blaming, it’s not only Republicans he’s refused to listen to, he’s also refused to listen to Independent voices.

He was going to focus on creating jobs, instead he focused on Obamacare and that killed jobs.

He was going to cut the federal deficit in half, instead he doubled it.

He said that by now, unemployment would be at 5.2 percent and last Friday, we learned that it’s 7.9 percent.

Now that’s…


… that’s — that’s — that’s nine million jobs short of what he promised. Unemployment today is higher than when Barack Obama was elected president. Think of that.

He promised that he would propose a plan to save Social Security and Medicare. He didn’t, never even proposed a plan. Instead, he took $716 billion out of Medicare and used it to pay for Obamacare, that we didn’t want.


He also said he would lower the health insurance premiums of the average family in America this year, we’d be down $2,500 a year. Anybody see that yet?


ROMNEY: Actually, they’re up $3,000 a year. Think of what impact that has on a middle-income family in America.

And of course the average American family now pays about $2,000 a year more for gasoline than they did when the president was elected.


One more thing, let me mention, he said he would reach across the aisle on the most important issues that the country faced. Do you realize he has not met on the economy or on the budget, sequestration or on jobs with either the Republican leader or the Republican — of the House or the Republican leader of the Senate since July. That is not working across the aisle. That’s not bridging the divide, it’s making the divide wider.

So now we’ve had a lot of debates in this country and not as Republican or as Democrats, but as Americans that look at the — the issues that are before them and you’ve watched what’s happened in the country over the last four years with a — with an independent voice.

You hoped that President Obama would live up to his promise to bring people together and to solve problems. He hasn’t; I will.

(APPLAUSE) And you know why he fell so short — you know why he fell so short of what he promised. He cared more — he cared more about a liberal agenda than about repairing the economy.

Did Obamacare create new jobs?


ROMNEY: Did his war on coal and gas and oil put new jobs in the — in the marketplace?


ROMNEY: Did the Dodd-Frank regulations help banks make more loans to people?


ROMNEY: Does raising taxes create more jobs?


ROMNEY: Does an avalanche of new regulations help small business build new jobs?


ROMNEY: You passed the test.


I mean I’ll…


Look, I’m — I’m happy to sit down and discuss this with anybody who likes you but almost every measure the president took made it harder for the economy to recover and it hurt our fellow Americans.

And — and we’re not just talking about a handful of people. We’re talking 23 million Americans are struggling to find a good job. One in six Americans are poor and the middle class, even those that have jobs, the middle class is being squeezed with lower incomes every year and higher prices from everything to health insurance to gasoline and electricity bills. It’s been tough for middle-income Americans, even those that are employed.

This — this weekend, I spoke with a wife of a 60-year-old man; he — he’s worked as a welder for 40 years but he just got laid off. And she said, what’s he going to do? She asked what I could do to help them and she made it very clear, they’re not looking for a government check, he wants a job.

The president thinks — the president thinks more government is the answer. No, Mr. President, more jobs, that’s that answer for America. (APPLAUSE)

I mean the question of this election — the question of this election really comes down to this, do the people of America want four more years like the last four years or…


ROMNEY: … or do you want real change, finally?


Now I think you know that the president promised change, but he couldn’t deliver change. I not only promise change, I have a record of achieving it, I actually…


I actually built a business, I helped turn around another business, I helped get the Olympics back on track. And then with a Democrat legislature, 85 percent Democrat, I helped turn my state from deficit to surplus, from job losses to job growth and from lower take- home pay to higher take-home pay. That’s…


… that’s why I’m running for president. I know how to change the course the nation is on. I know how to get us to a balanced budget and how to build jobs and — and make rising take-home pay happen again.

See, accomplishing real change is not just something I talk about, it is something I have done and it is something I will do as the president of the United States.


If you believe we can do better, if you believe America should be on a better course, if you’re tired of being tired, then I ask you to vote for real change; Paul Ryan and I will bring real change to America from day one.

When I’m elected, of course, the economy and the American job market will continue to be stagnant, but I won’t waste any time complaining about my predecessor.


And I won’t spend my effort trying to pass partisan legislation unrelated to jobs and growth.

From day one, I’m going to go to work to help Americans get back to work.

(APPLAUSE) And, you know, people all over the country are responding to Paul Ryan and my five part plan to create more jobs and rising take-home pay.

Part one of that is taking full advantages of our energy resources, our oil, our coal, our gas, our nuclear, renewables…


On day one — on day one, I’ll act to increase the number of leases and permits to drill on federal lands.


And I’ll act to speed the approval of the Keystone Pipeline from Canada.


Number two, I will move to boost trade, particularly with Latin America. It’s an enormous opportunity for us. We need to take advantage of it.


And I will finally designate China as a currency manipulator, we all have to play by the same rules.


Now third, I’m going to send to Congress a retraining reform act to make sure every worker can get the skills they need for a good job.

And number four, I’m going to tackle out of control spending. I’m going to send Congress the first of several fundamental reforms. This first one will be called the Down Payment on Fiscal Sanity Act.


And it is going to do something that’s been spoken of but never done and that is we’re not going to — just — just going to slow down the rate of federal spending, we’re actually going to cut federal spending and get ourselves on track to a balanced budget.


I’m not just going to take office on January 20, I’m going to take responsibility for that office as well.


And number five, I’m going act to boost small business and all business by the way. I’m going to issue Executive Orders aimed at straightening out the problems that are holding the economy back.

The first is going to grant waivers from Obamacare to help begin its repeal.


The second, we’ll launch a sweeping review of all Obama era regulations with an eye to eliminating or repairing those that are killing jobs.


And by the way, for the first time — for the first time in four years, every entrepreneur, every small business person, every job creator is going to know that the president of the United States and our government likes them and likes the jobs they help bring to America’s…


See, Paul Ryan and I believe in limiting government instead of limiting the dreams of our fellow Americans.


Now our choice tomorrow is going to lead to one of two very different outcomes and people across the country, I think have the information they need to — to know where those outcomes would be. They can judge what kind of America we’ll have based upon who they vote for.

If for instance, they were able to reelect President Obama, he will still be unable to work with Congress and the people there, because he’s ignored them in the past, he’s attacked them, he’s blamed them. The debt ceiling that comes up from time to time, it’s going to come up again. There’ll be threats of shutdown and default and of course, that scares the heck out of the economy, freezes job growth.

I think the president was right the other day when he said he can’t change Washington from the inside, only from the outside. We’re going to give him that chance.


That’s his way. My way is quite different. When I’m elected, I’m going to work with Republicans and Democrats in Congress. I’m going to meet regularly with leaders in both parties and I’m going to endeavor to find good men and good women on both sides of the aisle that care more about the country than they do about politics and they’re there and we can make that happen.


Now, there’s no question, but you know that regardless of what he says, if the president gets reelected, he’s going to continue his war on coal and oil and natural gas.

I have a very different path. When I’m elected, we’re going to change course on energy to build jobs, to help with the price at the pump. We’re going to achieve North American energy independence in eight years.


If the president were to be reelected, I’m convinced he will continue to crush small business with his plan to raise taxes on them, to force employees to join unions whether they want to or not, to expand regulations and to impose Obamacare, which also kills jobs.

I care about small business. I see it as a means for people to fulfill their dreams.

Last week, I met a — a woman in Richmond, Virginia named Rhoda Elliott (ph). She — she’s been running her family restaurant for a number of years, Bill’s Barbecue, a business that’s been in her family for some 82 years. At the high point, she had 200 employees. She just closed it down and she told me that it was the Obama era taxes and regulation, Obamacare and the Obama era economy that put her out of business.

And she teared up as she was talking about it. This wasn’t about money, this is about the future for her family and the future for the families of the employees that worked there.

I want to help the hundreds of thousands of dreamers like Rhoda and I will.


You know that if the president were to be reelected, he’s going to say he’s going to improve our schools, but he’ll do what his largest campaign supporters, the public sector unions insist on. And your kids will have the same schools with the same results.

When I’m president, having learned lessons from Jeb Bush in the experience of Florida…


… I’m going to be the voice of the children and the parents across the nation because there’s no union for the PTA.


I want to make sure the kids of the nation get what your kids here get. I want to make sure they — they receive the information about the school their kids are going to to know whether it’s succeeding or failing and I want every child to have the choice they need to pick the school where their child can succeed.


Now I’m proud of the fact that in my state, we took our schools to the top of the nation, number one of all 50 states. But we did that by working together, Republicans and Democrats, by listening to the good advice of our best teachers who’ve dedicated their lives to helping others; listened to parents and always putting the students and their education first and I’ll do the same thing as president.

Now these last — these last few months of the campaign, you’ve noted that we’ve gathered strength. It’s become a movement across the country.


You see it — you see it, not just in the — in the size of the crowds that gather and the energy and passion, but also in the — the shared conviction we have. It’s made me strive even more to be worthy of your support and to campaign as I was governor to speak for the aspirations of — of all Americans.

I learned that as governor of Massachusetts, that the best achievements are shared achievements. I learned that respect and good will go a long way and are usually returned in kind. That’s how I’ll conduct myself as your president.

I’ll bring people together, I won’t just represent one party, I’ll represent one nation.


Throughout the campaign, using every argument he can think of, President Obama has tried to convince you that the last four years have been a success.


And so his plan for the next four years is take all the ideas from his first four years, you know the stimulus, the tax increase, the borrowing, Obamacare, and do them all over again.


He calls this plan “Forward,” I call it forewarned.


That same path means $20 trillion in debt. It means continuing crippling unemployment. It means depressed home values, stagnant take-home pay and a deficit in military.

Unless we change course, we may be looking at another recession as well.

And his closing argument, did you hear this? Just the other day, President Obama asked his supporters to vote for revenge.


For revenge. Instead I ask the American people to vote for love of country.

(APPLAUSE) We have — we have got to lead America back to a better place. Our — our motto, united we stand, this is — this is — this is — out of one many — excuse me — out of many one, this — this unity is a — is a fundamental principle of America. We’ve got to restore it.

And so we’re one day way from a fresh start.


One day away for the first day of a new beginning. My conviction is that better days are ahead and it’s not based on — it’s not based on promises or rhetoric, but it’s based on solid plans and proven results and an unshakable faith in the American people.


Now if there’s anybody — if there’s anybody who’s worried that the last four years are the best we can do or if there’s anyone who’s fearing that the American Dream is fading away or if there’s anyone who wonders whether better jobs and better paychecks are things of the past, I have a clear and unequivocal message. With the right leadership, America is about to come roaring back.


We’re Americans, we can do anything. The only thing that stands between us and some of the best years we’ve — we’ve ever imagined is lack of leadership and that’s why we have elections.

Tomorrow is a moment to look into the future and imagine what we can do to put the past four years behind us and start building a new future.

And you saw the differences when President Obama and I were side by side at the debates.


He says it has to be this way. I say it can’t stay this way. He’s offering excuses, I’ve got a plan. I can’t wait to get started. He’s hoping we’ll settle. But Americans don’t settle, we build, we aspire, we listen to the voice inside that says we can do better — a better job, a better life, a bigger, better country. That is what’s in store with new leadership.


That better life is out there. It’s waiting for us. Our destiny, it’s in your hands. Tomorrow we get to work rebuilding our country. Tomorrow we restore our confidence and renew our conviction. Tomorrow that confidence that we’re on a solid path to steady improvement begins. Confidence in college grads will be able to find a good a good job at the end of four years.


Confidence that moms and dads that are working two jobs will have a shot at a better job.

Tomorrow on November 6, we come together for a better future and on November 7, we’ll get to work.


Now I’d like you to reach across the street to that neighbor with the other campaign’s yard sign and we’ll reach across the aisle in Washington to people of good faith in the other party.

This — this is such a critical time. It’s so much more than just our moment, it’s America’s moment of renewal and purpose and optimism. We’ve journeyed far and wide in this campaign. And now we’re almost home. One final push is going to get us there.

We’ve known — we’ve known many long days and some short nights and now we’re close. The door to a brighter future is open. It’s waiting for us. I need your vote. I need your help. Walk with me. Tomorrow we begin a new tomorrow.


God bless you all. God bless Florida. God bless Orlando. We’re going to take back this country and make it strong and proud and prosperous.

Thank you so very much. Thanks you guys. Thank you.


Campaign Headlines November 5, 2012: Mitt Romney Urges Every Eligible Voter to Head to Polls in Final Florida Rally




Romney Urges Every Eligible Voter to Head to Polls in Final Florida Rally

Source: ABC News Radio, 11-5-12


Mitt Romney began his final day of campaigning in the Sunshine State by telling voters in Sanford, Fla., that Tuesday will be a turning point in U.S. history and urging them to head to the polls.
“Tomorrow, we begin a new tomorrow,” Romney said, speaking at his first of five rallies Monday.  “Tomorrow, we begin a better tomorrow.  This nation is going to begin to change for the better tomorrow.  Your work is making a difference.  The people of the world are watching.”

“The people of America are watching.  We can begin a better tomorrow tomorrow, and with the help of the people in Florida, that’s exactly what’s going to happen,” he said….READ MORE

Full Text Campaign Buzz October 31, 2012: Mitt Romney’s Speech at a Campaign Event in Coral Gables, Florida — Romney Trades Barbs for Optimism in First Speech Since Sandy




Romney Trades Barbs for Optimism in First Speech Since Sandy

Source: ABC News Radio, 10-31-12

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

As President Obama headed to storm-ravaged New Jersey for a tour with Gov. Chris Christie, Mitt Romney was back on the stump in Florida Wednesday for his first full day of campaigning since Hurricane Sandy devastated areas of the East Coast.

Romney maintained a more subdued tone in Tampa, Fla., trading harsh attacks on Obama’s tenure for a more positive set of remarks then one might be expect just days before election day.

“We come together in times like this and we want to make sure that they have a speedy and quick recovery from their financial and in many cases, personal loss,” said Romney, opening his remarks in Tampa by encouraging Red Cross donations for storm relief efforts.  Romney was joined by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio, who also made mention of Sandy and encouraged donations…..READ MORE

Mitt Romney: “It’s Time To Take A New Path Of Bold, Aggressive Change”


Boston, MA

United States

Coral Gables, Florida

October 31, 2012

Click Here To Watch Mitt Romney

MITT ROMNEY: “We also have other challenges. We have some 23 million Americans that are struggling to get a good job. We also have 1 out of 6 Americans living in poverty. We have 47 million Americans on food stamps. That’s what’s happening here at home. Then around the world, we face challenges as well, as Iran speeds along its course to become nuclear, as we also face competition for jobs from China and other nations. We face some real challenges. And as a result of that, it is my view that we should not continue along the same path but it’s time to take a new path of bold, aggressive change because the road we’re on is not doing so well. Now, you probably know, as I think about what we need to do, I actually have a plan with five key steps to get this economy going and to make sure that when you graduate there’ll be a job there and to get those 23 million people working and to make sure that we help people get off of food stamps because they got good jobs and good incomes. And for that to happen these five steps will create 12 million jobs. And because of those jobs, you’ll see more take-home pay.”

Full Text Campaign Buzz October 23, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at a Campaign Event in Delray Beach, Florida — Presses Post-Debate Attack on ‘Romnesia’

Obama Presses Post-Debate Attack on ‘Romnesia’


Emboldened by a strong final debate performance, President Obama began a sprint to Election Day with a scathing rhetorical assault on Republican rival Mitt Romney as a shifty, untrustworthy candidate who will “say anything to get elected.”

Obama wasted little time continuing the line of attack he launched Tuesday night, calling Romney’s foreign policy “wrong and reckless” and “all over the map.”…READ MORE

Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event in Delray Beach, Florida

Source: WH, 10-23-12 

Delray Tennis Center
Delray Beach, Florida

10:27 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Florida!  (Applause.)  Are you fired up?  (Applause.)  Are you ready to go?  (Applause.)  I fired up right now!  (Applause.)  It is good to be in Florida.

Give it up for Congressman Ted Deutch, who’s here.  (Applause.)  Your Mayor, Nelson McDuffie, is here.  (Applause.)  State Senator Maria Sachs.  (Applause.)  A great candidate for Congress, Lois Frankel.  (Applause.)  And my friend and your former governor, Charlie Crist, is here.  (Applause.)

And I want everybody to give a huge round of applause to Scott for that introduction.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  Four more years!  Four more years!  Four more years!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  You guys really are fired up!  (Applause.)

Now, I was mentioning Scott.  Every time I need a pick-me-up I try to see Scott.  (Laughter.)  In addition to some outstanding pizza.  And Scott and Charlie Crist, they remind us that the values we’re fighting for, they’re not Democratic values, they’re not Republican values, they are American values.  And that’s what this election is all about.  (Applause.)

Now, two weeks from today, Americans in all 50 states will step into the voting booth.  But here in Florida, you get to start voting on Saturday.  (Applause.)  And as Scott just told you, if you need to know where to vote, you go to Vote.BarackObama.com.   But I need you to vote because you’ve got a very big choice to make.  It’s not just a choice between two candidates or two parties.  It is a choice between two very different visions for this country that we love.  (Applause.)

Now, last night we had our third and last debate.  (Applause.)  And I hope that during the debate I made those differences very clear.  (Applause.)  Because the greatest responsibility I have as President is to keep the American people safe.  That’s why I ended the war in Iraq, so we could go after the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11.  (Applause.)  That’s why we decimated al Qaeda’s core leadership and brought Osama bin Laden the justice he deserved.  (Applause.)  That’s why we’re ending the war in Afghanistan, because after a decade of war, it’s time to do some nation-building here at home.  (Applause.)

In a world of new threats and profound challenges, America needs leadership that is strong and is steady.  Governor Romney’s foreign policy has been wrong and reckless.  Last night he was all over the map.  Did you notice that?  During the debate he said he didn’t want more troops in Iraq, but he was caught on video saying it was unthinkable not to leave 20,000 troops in Iraq, troops that would still be there today.

Last night he claimed to support my plan to end the war in Afghanistan.  I’m glad he supports it.  But he’s opposed a timeline that would actually bring our troops home.  Early in this campaign he said he’d do the opposite of whatever I did in Israel, but last night I reminded him that cooperation with Israel has never been stronger.  (Applause.)

Last night he said he always supported taking out Osama bin Laden, but in 2007, he said it wasn’t worth moving heaven and earth to catch one man.

Now, we’ve come up with a name for this condition.  It’s called Romnesia.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  Romnesia!  Romnesia!  Romnesia!

THE PRESIDENT:  We had a severe outbreak last night.  (Applause.)  It was at least stage three Romnesia.  (Laughter and applause.)  And I just want to go over with you some of the symptoms, Delray, because I want to make sure nobody in the surrounding area catches it.  (Laughter.)  If you say that you love American cars during a debate, but you wrote an article titled, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” you might have Romnesia.  (Applause.)

If you talk about how much you love teachers during a debate — (applause) — but said just a few weeks ago that we shouldn’t hire any more because they won’t grow the economy, what do you have?

AUDIENCE:  Romnesia!

THE PRESIDENT:  I’ll bet you’ve got some Romnesia.  (Applause.)  If you say you love Medicare — and by the way, there’s a theme here — he keeps on loving stuff and then wants to end it or cut it or not help it.  But if you say that you love Medicare, but your plan turns it into a voucher that ends the guaranteed benefit of Medicare, you definitely have Romnesia.  (Laughter and applause.)

So, I mean, we’re breaking down the symptoms here.  If you’ve come down with a case of Romnesia, if you can’t seem to remember the policies on your website, or the promises that you’ve been making over the six years that you’ve been running for President, if you can’t even remember what you said last week — (applause) — don’t worry, Obamacare covers preexisting conditions.  (Applause.)  We can fix you up.  We can cure this disease.  (Applause.)  There’s a cure!

Listen, let me just say this.  In all seriousness, I mean, we’re accustomed to seeing politicians change their positions from four years ago.  We are not accustomed to seeing politicians change their position from four days ago.  (Laughter.)

And we joke about Romnesia, but you know what — this is actually something important — this is about trust.  There’s no more serious issue in a presidential campaign than trust.  (Applause.)  The person who leads this country, you’ve got to have some confidence that he or she means what he or she says — (applause) — that if they tell you they’re going to do something or that this is what they believe, that they’re going to actually try to do it.

It doesn’t mean that every candidate is going to get everything done all at once perfectly, but you want somebody to be able to look you in the eye and say, here’s what I believe.   Here’s what I stand for.  Here’s what I’ll fight for.  (Applause.)  Here’s what I care about.  Here’s who I’m going to be looking out for in the debates in Washington.

But part of the reason I think this is hard for Governor Romney to do is his job plan doesn’t really create jobs.  His deficit plan doesn’t reduce the deficit; it adds to it.  His foreign policy is from the 1980s.  His social policy is from the 1950s.  His economic policies are from the 1920s.  So everything he’s doing right now is to hide his real positions and try to win this election.

He wants to just spend all his time and focus on telling people what he thinks is wrong with America.  I mean, if you notice, in his debates, in his speeches, he is really excellent at listing all the things that are wrong.  He can just go over it verbatim, just boom, boom, boom, boom — PowerPoint presentation. (Laughter.)  But you know what — that’s not leadership you can trust.

And, Florida, you know me.  (Applause.)  You can trust that I say what I mean, and I mean what I say.  (Applause.)  And, yes, we’ve been through tough times.  But you’ve never seen me quit.


THE PRESIDENT:  And there’s no quit in America.


THE PRESIDENT:  So for over the last four years, we’ve been making real progress, fighting our way back from these policies that failed America.  Our businesses have now added more than 5 million new jobs over the past two and a half years.  (Applause.) Unemployment has fallen to its lowest level since I took office. Home values are rising.  The stock market has nearly doubled.  Our assembly lines are getting back to work.  And our heroes are coming home.  (Applause.)

I promised to cut taxes for middle-class families — (applause) — and I did, by $3,600.  I promised to cut taxes for small business owners like Scott — and we have, 18 times.  (Applause.)  I promised we would fix the financial situation that was broken when I came into office, but we got back every single dime, with interest, that we used to rescue the banks.  (Applause.)  We passed a law to end taxpayer-funded Wall Street bailouts for good.

We repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell” — (applause) — so that nobody is ever kicked out of the military because of who they love.

When the heartbeat of American manufacturing was flat-lining, we said thanks, Governor, I know you’ve got all this private sector experience, but your advice isn’t going to work this time.  And today, the American auto industry’s engines are roaring at full throttle again.  (Applause.)

I said that I would make sure that nobody in America goes bankrupt when they get sick — and we delivered on that promise. (Applause.)  I said I’d make college more affordable for our young people — and we delivered on that promise.  (Applause.)  I do what I say.  You’ve seen me.  (Applause.)

We’re not yet where we need to be, but we’ve made real progress.  And now we need to build on that progress.  And, Florida, that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States of America.  (Applause.)   That’s why I’m running.

AUDIENCE:  Four more years!  Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT:  Now, in this campaign, I’ve laid out a plan for jobs and middle-class security.  And unlike Mitt Romney, I’m actually proud to talk about what’s in it -– (laughter) — because my plan actually will move America forward.  And, by the way, the math in my plan adds up.  (Laughter.)  If we’ve got any math teachers out there, you can go ahead and look in this plan  — (applause) — and you’ll see that the numbers work.  I won’t be running the okeydoke on you.  (Laughter.)

If you want to take a look at it, you check it out at BarackObama.com/plans.  Share it with your friends.  Share is with your neighbors.  Share it with your coworkers.  Folks who are still not convinced, they can look right here and find out what it is I intend to do in a second term.  There are still people out there who are trying to make up their minds.  Some of you here may still be trying to make up your minds.  Maybe you just thought —

AUDIENCE:  No!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  No?  Some people here might have thought it was a concert going on or something and wandered in by mistake.  (Laughter.)  Thought Scott was giving away free pizza.  (Applause.)  So for those of you who are still making up your minds — or your friends, or your family — I ask folks, compare my plan to Governor Romney’s.  See which plan is better for you and for America’s future.

Now, let me just summarize it real quick.  First, my plan builds on our manufacturing growth by ending tax breaks for companies that are shipping jobs overseas.  I want to reward small businesses and manufacturers who are creating jobs right here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)

Second, my plan will cut our oil imports in half by 2020 so we control more of our own energy here in America.  (Applause.)  And by the way, today we are less dependent on foreign oil than any time in 20 years.  And one reason is because we increased fuel-efficiency standards on cars and trucks so that they will go twice as far on a gallon of gas.  And we need to build on that progress — not just by producing more oil and gas, but by investing in clean energy technology that’s creating jobs here in Florida and all across America.  (Applause.)

Number three —


THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back.  But I got this plan I want to talk about, so — (applause) — I do.

Number three, my plan will make it a national mission to educate our kids and train our workers so that they can compete better than anybody in the world.  I want to recruit 100,000 new math and science teachers over the next decade.  (Applause.)  I want to train 2 million workers at our community colleges with the skills that businesses are looking for right now.  I want to work with colleges and universities to keep down the growth in tuition costs because I want every young person to be able to get the higher education that they’re willing to work for.  (Applause.)

Number four, my plan is going to cut the deficit by $4 trillion — remember I said the numbers actually add up.  (Laughter.)  We’re going to do it in a balanced way by cutting spending we don’t need, but by also asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little bit more — (applause) — so we can invest in research, invest in technology, those things that keep new jobs and businesses coming to America.  (Applause.)

And I will not, in our pursuit of reducing the deficit, turn Medicare into a voucher because no American should spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies.  That’s not what Medicare is about.  (Applause.)

And finally, my plan will use the savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to put our people back to work doing some nation-building here at home, repairing roads, fixing bridges, building schools all across America.  And when our veterans come home, we will serve them as well as they’ve served us and make sure that they are out there getting the jobs that are going to help build America.  (Applause.)

By the way, I just want to point out, in the same way that Governor Romney didn’t mention the Afghan war or our troops in his convention speech, Governor Romney didn’t even mention our veterans last night.


THE PRESIDENT:  Don’t boo — vote.

He didn’t say a word about it.  Now, he may write off half the country as victims behind closed doors, but the men and women and their families who have served this country so bravely, they deserve better from somebody who’s applying to be Commander-in-Chief.  (Applause.)  It is my greatest honor serving as their Commander-in-Chief, and I will fight for our troops and our veterans every single day.  (Applause.)

So that’s the plan we need, Florida.  That’s how you build a strong, sustainable economy that has good middle-class jobs to offer.  That’s how you make sure that you’ve got increased take-home pay.  That’s how you make sure that businesses are taking root all across Florida and all across America.

And now it’s up to you to choose the path we take from here. Starting on Saturday, Florida, you can choose the top-down policies that got us into this mess, or you can choose the policies we’re using to get us out of this mess.  (Applause.)  You can choose a foreign policy that’s reckless and wrong, or you can choose one that is steady and strong.  (Applause.)  You can choose to turn back the clock 50 years for immigrants and gays and women or, in this election, you can decide we will remain an inclusive, generous country where no matter who you are, or what you look like, or where you come from, or who you love, you can make it if you try.  You’ve got a place in the American family.  That’s what’s at stake right now.  (Applause.)

We can go back, or we can choose to move forward, to focus on the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century; to work together as one nation, as one people, to make it another American Century.

That’s the kind of President I’ve been, Florida.  That’s the kind of President I intend to be.  I’m asking for your vote.  I’m asking for your help.  I believe in you, and I’m asking you to believe in me.  And if you stand with me, and work with me, and knock on some doors with me, and make some phone calls with me, if you do that, we will win Palm Beach County again.  We’ll win Florida again.  (Applause.)  We’ll finish what we started.  We will win this election.  And we’ll remind the world why the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)

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

10:48 A.M. EDT

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




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

CNN Poll: Who won the debate?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poll: Obama wins final presidential debate

Source: CBS News, 10-22-12

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

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

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




TRANSCRIPT: Presidential debate on foreign policy at Lynn University

Source: NYT, 10-22-12

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Number two, better education.

Number three, gender equality.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Here — here is — here is —

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


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

I thought it should have been 5,000 troops.


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

PRESIDENT OBAMA: This is just a few weeks ago.

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

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

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

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You made a major speech.

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

MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor —

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

MR. SCHIEFFER: All right.

MR. ROMNEY: — by the leadership role.

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t anticipate that in the future.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MR. SCHIEFFER: All right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MR. ROMNEY: Well —

MR. SCHIEFFER: Can I just get back —

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


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

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

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Ten years earlier —

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

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

MR. ROMNEY: And we — absolutely.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Gentlemen —

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

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

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

MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor —

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

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

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

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

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

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

MR. SCHIEFFER: Can he do that?


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


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

MR. ROMNEY: But the military —


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

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

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

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You should have answered the first question.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MR. SCHIEFFER: All right.

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

MR. SCHIEFFER: About 30 seconds.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MR. SCHIEFFER: All right.

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

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

Mr. President.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MR. SCHIEFFER: Two minutes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MR. SCHIEFFER: All right.

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

MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MR. ROMNEY: I’m — that’s — that’s —

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

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

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

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

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


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

MR. SCHIEFFER (?): All right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

MR. SCHIEFFER: All right.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

MR. SCHIEFFER: We’ll catch you up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MR. SCHIEFFER: All right.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And fortunately the president picked —

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

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

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Governor, you did not —

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

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

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

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Let’s check the record.

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

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

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

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

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

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

MR. ROMNEY: I’m still speaking.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well — (chuckles) —

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


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

PRESIDENT OBAMA: All right, Governor —

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MR. ROMNEY: You’re wrong.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I am not wrong. And —

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

PRESIDENT OBAMA: People will look it up.


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

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

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

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

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

MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor —

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor.

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

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

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

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

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

PRESIDENT OBAMA: That’s great.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Good night.


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




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

Source:  ABC News Radio, 10-22-12

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

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

Watch the debate LIVE

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

Final Presidential Debate Fact-Checks and Updates

Source: NYT, 10-22-12

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

Presidential Debate: Live Blog and Fact Check

Source: ABC News, 10-22-12

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

Live blog: Final presidential debate

Source: CNN, 10-22-12

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

Live blog of third debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney

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

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




Foreign Policy Takes Center Stage in Final Presidential Debate

Source: ABC News Radio, 10-22-12


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

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

Campaign Headlines October 21, 2012: Mitt Romney Attends Final Fundraiser of Campaign in Palm Beach, Florida




Romney Attends Final Fundraiser of Campaign

Source: ABC News Radio, 10-21-12

Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

After more than a year of attending finance events across the country, from California to Texas to New York, Saturday night marked Mitt Romney’s final campaign fundraiser.

The final event came on the same day that the candidate’s FEC filings were made public for October, showing that Romney raised $77.7 million in September and has more than $63 million in cash on hand.

To date, Romney has raised more than $361 million for his campaign compared with the President’s $567 million, according to Bloomberg News….READ MORE

Full Text Campaign Buzz October 11, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at a Campaign Event in Miami, Florida




Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event in Miami, FL

Source: WH, 10-11-12 

JW Marriott Marquis
Miami, Florida

7:17 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Everybody, please have a seat.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  It’s good to be in Florida.  (Applause.)  It’s good to be in Miami.  Thank you so much, everybody.  Thank you.


THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back.  (Applause.)  I do.

Can everybody please give Lidia a big round of applause for the wonderful introduction.  (Applause.)  Give it up for Sheila E.  (Applause.)  I was backstage.  I want to thank an extraordinary Congresswoman and somebody who is just fighting on behalf of families not just here in Florida but all across the country every single day — my friend, Debbie Wasserman Schultz — give her a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

To one of my campaign co-chairs who is — she’s putting in a lot of miles, and could not be a more passionate advocate on behalf of the things that we work for — Eva Longoria.  (Applause.)  We’re thrilled to have her here.

I want to thank Kirk Wagar for all the great work here in Florida — Kirk.  (Applause.)  And finally, I want to thank your former governor, somebody who’s been a great friend, Charlie Crist in the house.  (Applause.)  Charlie reminds all of us that the values we’re fighting for, they’re not Democratic values or Republican values — they are American values.  And that’s why we’re here.

I want to thank everybody for the incredible support.  It is going to make a difference.  But I want everybody to understand we’ve got some work to do.  We’ve got an election to win.  In just over two weeks, on October 27th, Florida gets to start voting early.  And I assume everybody is registered here.  (Applause.)  If you’re not, we’ll sign you up right now.  (Laughter.)  Or actually, I think the registration deadline was yesterday, so you better have gotten it done.  (Laughter.)  But I’m assuming they wouldn’t have let you in if you hadn’t registered.  (Laughter.)

Everything that we fought for in 2008 is on the line in 2012.  So we are going to have to be fired up, and we’re going to have to be ready to go.  And I’m going to need your help to finish what we started.  (Applause.)

And it’s useful to remember what we’ve done.  Four years ago, I told you we’d end the war in Iraq — and we did.  (Applause.)  I said that we’d end the war in Afghanistan — and we are.  I said that we’d refocus on the people who actually attacked us on 9/11 — and today, al Qaeda is on its heels and Osama bin Laden is dead.  (Applause.)

Four years ago, I promised to cut taxes for middle-class families — and we have, by $3,600.  I promised to cut taxes for small business owners — and we have, 18 times.  We got back every dime we used to rescue the financial system, but we also passed a historic law to end taxpayer-funded Wall Street bailouts for good.

We passed health care reform so that your insurance companies can’t jerk you around anymore, or tell you that being a woman is somehow a preexisting condition.  (Applause.)

We repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell,” so that nobody is ever kicked out of the military because of who they are or who they love.  (Applause.)

And when Governor Romney said let’s “let Detroit go bankrupt,” we declined his business advice and we reinvented a dying auto industry that is now back on top of the world.  (Applause.)  And that’s not just critical to economies in the Midwest, it’s vital to our economy — something every American should be proud of.

Today, four years after the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, we’re moving forward again.  People don’t remember the month I was sworn into office, we lost 800,000 jobs.  Our businesses have now added more than 5 million new jobs over the last two and a half years.  (Applause.)  Unemployment has fallen from a peak of 10 percent down to 7.8 percent — the lowest level since I took office.  More Americans are getting jobs.  Manufacturing is coming back to America.  We signed three trade deals that’s helping to open up markets all over the world, including the Latin American market, which is absolutely vital to the economy and Florida and southern Florida.

Even in the most hard-pressed states like Florida, we’re starting to see home values finally start picking up again.  (Applause.)  So, look, we are not yet where we need to be.  We’ve got a lot more work to do.  And obviously, in a state like Florida that was so hard hit when the housing bubble burst, we’ve got too many friends and neighbors who are looking for work.  We’ve got too many families who are still struggling to pay the bills.  Too many homes are still underwater.  Too many young people are burdened by debt after they graduate from college.

But if there’s one thing I know, it is this — and that is we have come too far to turn back now.  (Applause.)  The American people have worked too hard to get to this point.  And after all that we have been through together, after all that we have fought for together, why would we go backwards?  Why would we go back to the very same policies that led us to this mess in the first place?

That is not an option.  I won’t allow that to happen.  You can’t allow it to happen.  And that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States — because we will not let it happen.  We’re moving forward.  We’re not going backwards.  (Applause.)

I have seen too much pain and too much struggle to let this country go back to the economic policies that don’t work, and that are at the heart of what Governor Romney is offering.  The centerpiece of his economic plan — a $5 trillion tax cut that favors those of us who’ve been extraordinarily successful in this country.  And he’s been pitching this plan for a whole year now; stood up on stage in primary debates and proudly promised that his new tax cut would reduce the tax burden for everybody, including the top 1 percent.

Now, of course, you wouldn’t know that from listening to the latest version of Mitt Romney.  (Laughter.)  I was telling folks — I spoke at Miami University, and I was saying that after a year in which he was calling himself “severely conservative,” he’s now trying to convince us that he was severely kidding about everything.  (Laughter and applause.) These days, whatever you’re for, he’s for.  (Laughter.)  Loves the middle class; loves Medicare; loves teachers.  (Laughter.)  He even said that he loves the most important parts of Obamacare — loves them.  (Laughter and applause.)

And when it comes to all the things that he’s actually promised to do as President, suddenly he’s got a case of amnesia.  (Laughter.)  Tax breaks for outsourcers?  I’ve never heard of it.  Saying we should cut back on teachers?  Doesn’t ring your bell.  (Laughter.)  Kicking 200,000 young Floridians off their parent’s insurance plan?  Who, me?  (Laughter.)

When he’s asked about the cost of his tax plan, he pretends just it doesn’t exist.  What $5 trillion?  I don’t know anything about a $5 trillion tax cut.  Don’t pay any attention to the $5 trillion tax cut on my website.  (Laughter.)  It’s still there.  (Laughter and applause.)

But this has been — this is not unique to him.  This has been the strategy of the other side for the entire four years that I’ve been in office.  They expect that you’ve forgotten what happened — that we lost 9 million jobs in the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes as a consequence of misguided policies.  And they think that we haven’t been paying attention now to Governor Romney for the last year and a half.  And he will say whatever it takes to try to close the deal.  He’s counting on the fact that you won’t remember that what he’s selling is exactly what led us to this crisis in the first place.

And so, Florida, part of our task over the next four weeks is to let him know we remember.  We know full well that if he gets a chance, Governor Romney will rubber-stamp the top-down economic policies that have been promoted by his congressional allies, including his running mate — who will be debating tonight.  And we can’t afford that kind of future.  His plan will not create jobs.  It will not help the middle class.  It will not speed up the recovery — in fact, it will slow down the recovery.

And we can’t afford that.  We cannot go back to what we were doing.  Not now.  Not when we’ve come so far.  We’ve got to keep moving forward.  And that’s why I’m running for a second term — because I see a vision for the future in which everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same rules.

I know that jobs and prosperity don’t trickle down from the top.  They grow from a strong, thriving middle class and creating ladders of opportunity into that middle class for everybody who is willing to work hard.

I know that more tax breaks for people who are shipping jobs overseas won’t create jobs.  What does is supporting small businesses, manufacturers who are making products right here in Florida, products stamped with those proud words:  “Made in America.”  Instead of providing tax breaks for outsourcing, we have to reward those companies that are investing in creating jobs right here.  And we can do it.  That’s the choice that you face in this election.

We can create more jobs by controlling our own energy.  There are thousands of Floridians right now who are making a great living promoting solar energy and wind energy and clean energy, all across this state.  (Applause.)  We doubled our investment in clean energy, which is creating jobs and is good for our environment.  And we also raised fuel standards so that by the next — middle of the next decade, your cars and trucks will go twice as far on a gallon of gas.  (Applause.)

And today, the United States of America is less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in the past two decades.  (Applause.)  So we need to build on that progress, not go backwards.  My plan would continue to cut our oil imports in half by investing in the clean energy that’s creating jobs right here — wind and solar, fuel-efficient cars, long-lasting batteries.

And we can do so by — and we can pay for it by no longer giving $4 billion a year in taxpayer subsidies to oil companies that are doing just fine.  We’ll help produce more oil, but we don’t need to give them $4 billion to do it.  Let’s make sure that we don’t lose the race for clean energy to China or other countries.  We need to develop that technology right here in the United States.  (Applause.)

And it will be good for our environment.  It will do something about carbon in our atmosphere — and that is not a joke.  That is not a hoax.  That’s our children’s future.  And folks here in Miami understand that better than anybody, because the impact of climate change will be significant on our kids and our grandkids unless we take those steps.  We can’t just deny our way out of these things.  It’s a threat to our children’s future.

I believe that we’ve got to have the best education system in the world.  That is economic development.  That’s not something separate and apart.  (Applause.)  If our kids have the skills they need to compete, then our economy will grow.  And I’m only here because of the education that I got.  I wasn’t born into wealth or fame.  You hadn’t heard of the Obama name before I ran.  (Laughter.)  Had you?  No.  (Laughter.)  Let’s face it.  First time you heard it, you probably thought the guy might be Japanese — I don’t know.  (Laughter.)  Italian?  Who knows?


THE PRESIDENT:  Latino.  (Laughter and applause.)  Right.  The Obama family from Jalisco.  (Laughter.)

But education is what gave me opportunity.  It’s what gave so many of you opportunity.  It’s the gateway into a middle-class life.  (Applause.)  So when I hear Governor Romney say hiring more teachers won’t grow the economy over the next four years, I have to say, no, actually it will.  But more importantly, what about our kids over the next 40 years?  What about our economy over the next 40 years?

We can get education to pay for tax breaks we don’t need, or we can recruit 100,000 new math and science teachers.  We can provide better early childhood education.  We can train 2 million more workers at community colleges.  (Applause.)  We can lower the cost of tuition for our young people.  That’s an agenda for growth.  That’s what creates opportunity.  That’s what we can do together.  And that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States.  (Applause.)  Four more.

AUDIENCE:  Four more years!  Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT:  I mentioned that we ended the war in Iraq, that we’re ending the war in Afghanistan.  I want to use that money to pay down our deficit, put our people back to work rebuilding roads and bridges and schools all across America.  Right here in Florida, we’ve got huge projects that are going up all over the state that will build the infrastructure to facilitate more trade, move more goods more efficiently, help businesses grow.  And we have the resources to do it if we make good decisions.

But Governor Romney said it was “tragic” to end the war in Iraq.  He repeated this last week, said we should still have troops on the ground in Iraq.  And I fundamentally disagree with that.  I think bringing troops home was the right thing to do.  (Applause.)

And every brave American who wears our country’s uniform should know we will make sure as long as I’m Commander-in-Chief we’ve got the strongest military in the world.  And when our troops come home and take off their uniform, we will serve them as well as they’ve served us — because if you fought for this country, you shouldn’t have to fight for a job or a roof over your heard when you come home.  (Applause.)

And finally, we’ll cut the deficit by $4 trillion, but we’re going to do it in a sensible way.  We’ve already cut a trillion, working with Democrats and Republicans.  So we can cut more spending.  But we’re not going to be able to reduce our deficit in a serious way unless the wealthiest households are willing to go back, for incomes over $250,000, to the same rate that we were paying under Bill Clinton — when the economy created nearly 23 million new jobs, we went from deficit to surplus, and businesses and investors did very well — because the economy grows best that way, when it’s broad-based and everybody has a stake in how the economy grows.

And I understand Governor Romney disagrees with this.  He did an interview and he says he thinks it’s fair that he pays a lower tax rate making $20 million a year than the teacher who’s makes $50,000.  I just think that’s wrong.  And if we’re going to be serious — (applause) — if we’re going to be serious about reducing the deficit then we’ve got to make choices.

And the choice I make is not asking middle-class families to give up their home mortgage deduction or tax credits they get for raising their kids just to pay for a tax cut for me.  I’m not going to ask students to pay more for college, or kick kids off of Head Start programs, or eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans who are poor or elderly or disabled just so I can get a tax break.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Thank you.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  You’re welcome.  (Applause.)

And by the way, the math still doesn’t add up in terms of their plan, because when Governor Romney says he can cut taxes, increase military spending, close the deficit — all by getting rid of Planned Parenthood and Big Bird — (laughter) — he needs a calculator because there’s something wrong with his math.  He says, don’t worry, new tax cuts will pay for themselves.  That is what we heard exactly from President Bush back in 2000, 2001.  And it didn’t work.  And we know our plan does.

So this is the choice that we face.  This is what the election comes down to.  And I said at the convention, over and over again, we’re told by our opponents that since government can’t do everything, it should do almost nothing.  It’s sort of a “you’re on your own” philosophy.  If you don’t have health insurance, hope you don’t get sick.  (Laughter.)  If you can’t afford to start a business or go to college, borrow money from your parents.  (Laughter.)

That is not who we are.  That’s not how America became great.  We believe in individual initiative and we don’t believe in helping people who aren’t willing to help themselves, but we also understand there are some things we do better together.  We understand that in America it’s not just about what can be done for us, but what is done by us, together as one nation, as one people.

And that’s what 2008 was about.  We fought some fierce battles over the last four years, but everything we’ve gotten done, it happened, ultimately, because the American people came together — black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, able, disabled — people came together.  (Applause.)

You’re the reason Florida seniors are paying $600 less on their prescription drugs because of Obamacare.  You did that.  You’re the reason that a working family in this state was able to save their home from foreclosure.

There was somebody in the audience today, while we were taking a picture, who talked about their mom — 90 years old, because of the mortgage modification program we put into place, saved her home, lives with her sister — 90 and 95.  You did that, though.  You did that.  (Applause.)

That’s what’s at stake.  You made that happen.  The kids at Gainesville, or Tallahassee, or here in Miami who are getting an education — maybe the first in their family, the veterans who are going to college on the New GI Bill — that’s what we were fighting for.  (Applause.)

You’re the reason that there are young immigrants all across this state who grew up here and went to school here and pledged allegiance to our flag, and they don’t have to fear now that they’re going to be deported from the only country they call home.  (Applause.)  You made that happen.

You ended “don’t ask, don’t tell.”  You allowed us to bring our troops home so their families could greet them and say” “Welcome home.”  (Applause.)  You did that.

And so you can’t afford to turn away now.  You can’t.  I know that sometimes in politics folks are excited and they have fun, you have nice events like this and everybody gets dressed up — and you guys are looking very good.  (Laughter.)  But then sometimes when it gets tougher, people get discouraged and they’re wondering, well, I don’t know, is change really possible?  And we get cynical and we get doubtful.  It happens to everybody; there’s nothing wrong with that.  It happens in our lives; it happens in our politics.  It happens in everything that we do.  But you can’t succumb to that.

And the reason is that when we don’t get involved, when we don’t insert ourselves into the process, when your voices aren’t heard, then somebody else fills the void — the folks who are writing $10 million checks to try to buy this election; the folks who are trying to make it harder for Floridians to vote; the politicians in Washington who are trying to tell women that they shouldn’t make their own decisions when it comes to their health care.  (Applause.)  So you’re the ones who have to make sure that doesn’t happen.

That sign there, “Forward,” that’s a message to me, but it’s also a message to you.  You’ve got that power, that capacity.  And so when you think about the next 26 days, I would implore you to ask yourselves, is there something else I can do?  Is there some little bit of difference that I can make?

Here in Florida, last time in 2008, if you go precinct by precinct, it’s a difference of a couple of hundred votes.  It may be just that little bit of extra effort is what makes a difference.  And you will see me working harder than I’ve ever worked in my life, because every time I meet somebody who tells me that their mom was on the verge of losing their home, or their mom was on the verge of not being able to get treatment for a potentially deadly disease; every time I meet a young person who says I can go to college now because that change you made in the student loan program made it possible; every time I meet one of these Dreamer kids who explains how they feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off their shoulders; every time I think about all the people who are working so hard in this country and aren’t asking for much, just asking for a shot — every time I think of them and knowing that they’ve got to have somebody in Washington who’s fighting for them and who’s thinking about them every single day — (applause) — that’s going to make me work as hard as I know how over the next 26 days and over the next four years.  And I hope you have that same feeling.  (Applause.)

We cannot let up now.  We cannot let up.  I need you focused.  I need you ready to fight.  And if we do, we’re going to win Florida.  And when we win Florida, we’re going to win this election.  We’re going to finish what we started, and remind the world why the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)

Thank you, everybody.  God bless you.  Let’s go get this done.  (Applause.)

7:46 P.M. EDT

Full Text Campaign Buzz September 20, 2012: Mitt Romney’s Speech at a Campaign Event in Sarasota, Florida — “I Will Change Washington”




Mitt Romney: “I Will Change Washington”

Source: Mitt Romney Press, 9-20-12

“[President Obama] can’t do it. His slogan was ‘Yes, we can.’ His slogan now is ‘No, I can’t.’ This is time for a new president.” – Mitt Romney

Sarasota, FL

September 20, 2012

Click Here To Watch Mitt Romney

MITT ROMNEY: “Now the country faces major challenges, you know that we face massive debt, trillion-dollar deficits. We face a Washington that’s broken – that can’t get the job done. The President today threw in the white flag of surrender again. He said he can’t change Washington from inside. He can only change it from outside. Well, we’re going to give him that chance in November. He’s going outside. I can change Washington. I will change Washington. We’ll get the job done from the inside – Republicans and Democrats will come together. He can’t do it. His slogan was ‘Yes, we can.’ His slogan now is ‘No, I can’t.’ This is time for a new president.”

Full Text Campaign Buzz September 20, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Univision Town Hall with Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas




Remarks by the President at Univision Town Hall with Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas

Source: WH, 9-20-12 

University of Miami
Miami, Florida

2:15 P.M. EDT

Q Please welcome the President of the United States. (Applause.)


Q Welcome. Thank you for being here with us.

THE PRESIDENT: Muchas gracias.

Q Before we start, before talking about education and its future, we would like to talk about something that is happening right now in recent news. As we know, at the present time, 1,000 people are trying to get into the embassy in Pakistan, and we have seen protests, anti-American protests in thousands of countries.

We know in Libya, four Americans were killed. We know now that Ambassador Chris Stevens warned about security days before he was killed. Many people want to know whether — if you expected so much anti-American sentiment in the Islamic world. And why wasn’t your administration better prepared with more security at our embassies on September 11?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, obviously we mourn the loss of the Americans who were killed in Benghazi. But I think it’s important to understand that that’s not representative of the attitudes of the Libyan people towards America, because they understand because of the incredible work that our diplomats did as well as our men and women in uniform, we liberated that country from a dictator who had terrorized them for 40 years. And Chris Stevens, the ambassador there, was one of the leaders of that process. So when he was killed, there were vigils in Libya but also in front of the White House expressing the deep sorrow that the Libyan people felt towards them.

What we’ve seen over the last week, week and a half, is something that actually we’ve seen in the past, where there is an offensive video or cartoon directed at the prophet Muhammad. And this is obviously something that then is used as an excuse by some to carry out inexcusable violent acts directed at Westerners or Americans.

And my number-one priority is always to keep our diplomats safe and to keep our embassies safe. And so when the initial events happened in Cairo and all across the region, we worked with Secretary Clinton to redouble our security and to send a message to the leaders of these countries, essentially saying, although we had nothing to do with the video, we find it offensive, it’s not representative of America’s views, how we treat each other with respect when it comes to their religious beliefs, but we will not tolerate violence.

And our goal now is not only to make sure that our embassies and our diplomats are safe, but also to make sure that we bring those who carried out these events to justice.

There is a larger issue, and that is what’s going to be happening in the Arab Spring as these countries transition from dictatorship to democracy. And we cannot replace the tyranny of a dictator with the tyranny of a mob. And so my message to the Presidents of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and these other countries is, we want to be a partner with you, we will work with you, and we stand on the side of democracy, but democracy is not just an election; it’s also, are you looking out for minority rights, are you respecting freedom of speech, are you treating women fairly.

All these issues are ones that the region is going to wrestle with. The one thing we can’t do is withdraw from the region, because the United States continues to be the one indispensable nation. And even countries where the United States is criticized, they still want our leadership and they still look to us to make sure that we’re providing opportunity and peace. And so we’re going to continue to work in these regions.

Q We have reports that the White House said today that the attacks in Libya were a terrorist attack. Do you have information indicating that it was Iran, or al Qaeda was behind organizing the protests?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’re still doing an investigation, and there are going to be different circumstances in different countries. And so I don’t want to speak to something until we have all the information. What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests —

Q Al Qaeda?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we don’t know yet. And so we’re going to continue to investigate this. We’ve insisted on and have received so far full cooperation from countries like Egypt and Libya and Tunisia in not only protecting our diplomatic posts, but also to make sure that we discover who, in fact, is trying to take advantage of this.

But this is part of the reason why we have to remain vigilant. Look, when I came into office I said I would end the war in Iraq — and I did. I said that we would begin transitioning in Afghanistan so that over time Afghans can take responsibility for their own security. But what I also said was we’re going to have to focus narrowly and forcefully on groups like al Qaeda, the ones that carried out the 9/11 attacks and the ones that still threaten U.S. interests.

And those forces have not gone away. We’ve decimated al Qaeda’s top leadership in the border regions around Pakistan, but in Yemen, in Libya, in other of these places — increasingly in places like Syria — what you see is these elements that don’t have the same capacity that a bin Laden or core al Qaeda had, but can still cause a lot of damage, and we’ve got to make sure that we remain vigilant and are focused on preventing them from doing us any harm.

Q Mr. President, I want to ask you something that is known as the “Obama promise,” and you knew that I was going to ask you about that. On May 28th, 2008, we had a conversation in Denver, Colorado, and you told me the following — and I’m going to quote you: “But I can guarantee that we will have, in the first year, an immigration bill that I strongly support.”

I want to emphasize “the first year.” At the beginning of your governing, you had control of both chambers of Congress, and yet you did not introduce immigration reform. And before I continue, I want for you to acknowledge that you did not keep your promise.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me first of all, Jorge, make a point that when we talked about immigration reform in the first year, that’s before the economy was on the verge of collapse — Lehman Brothers had collapsed, the stock market was collapsing. And so my first priority was making sure that we prevented us from going into a Great Depression.

And I think everybody here remembers where we were four years ago. We lost 800,000 jobs the month that I took office. Small businesses and big businesses couldn’t get financing. People had seen their 401(k)s evaporate. People were losing homes left and right.

And so we had to take a whole series of emergency actions to make sure that we put people back to work, cutting taxes for middle-class families and small businesses so that they could stay open or pay the bills, making sure that states got assistance so they didn’t have to lay off teachers and firefighters and police officers, saving an auto industry that was on the brink of collapse.

And so that took up a huge amount of time in the first year. But even in that first year, one of my first acts was to invite every single member of Congress who had previously been supportive of comprehensive immigration reform, and to say to them, we need to get this done. This is something I believe in deeply because we are a nation of laws and we’re a nation of immigrants. And I am willing to work with anybody to strengthen our border security and to crack down on employers who are taking advantage of undocumented workers, but what we also have to do is provide a pathway for all those millions of hardworking people who are simply here looking after their families, and oftentimes they’ve put deep roots in this country.

And what I confess I did not expect — and so I’m happy to take responsibility for being naive here — is that Republicans who had previously supported comprehensive immigration reform — my opponent in 2008, who had been a champion of it and who attended these meetings — suddenly would walk away. That’s what I did not anticipate.

And as you know, Jorge, even though we controlled the House of Representatives, even though we had a majority in the Senate, the way the Senate operates was if you couldn’t get 60 votes you couldn’t get something moving. So we initiated the meetings, had a series of meetings. And what we could not get was a single Republican, including the 20 who had previously voted for comprehensive immigration reform, to step up and say, we will work with you to make this happen.

Q It was a promise, Mr. President. And I don’t want to — because this is very important, I don’t want to get you off the explanation. You promised that. And a promise is a promise. And with all due respect, you didn’t keep that promise.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, here is what I would say, Jorge, is that — and we’ve had this conversation before. There’s the thinking that the President is somebody who is all powerful and can get everything done. In our branch of — in our system of government, I am the head of the executive branch. I’m not the head of the legislature; I’m not the head of the judiciary. We have to have cooperation from all these sources in order to get something done. And so I am happy to take responsibility for the fact that we didn’t get it done, but I did not make a promise that I would get everything done, 100 percent, when I was elected as President.

What I promised was that I would work every single day as hard as I can to make sure that everybody in this country, regardless of who they are, what they look like, where they come from, that they would have a fair shot at the American Dream. And I have — that promise I’ve kept.

And what I’ve also — I think is relevant for today’s session is the fact that I have never wavered in my support of comprehensive immigration reform. We did put forward a DREAM Act that was passed in the House, got the overwhelming majority of support from Democrats in the Senate, and was blocked by the Republican Party.

We now are confronted with a choice between two candidates in which the candidate sitting here with you today is committed to comprehensive immigration reform, is committed to the DREAM Act, has taken administrative actions to prevent young people from being deported. And that stands in contrast with the other candidate who has said he would veto the DREAM Act, that he is uncertain about what his plan for immigration reform would be, and who considers the Arizona law a model for the nation and has suggested that the main solution for immigration is self-deportation.

So the issue here for voters — whose vision best represents the aspirations not just of the Latino community but of all Americans who believe that we are a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants? And that candidate, I believe, is talking to you right now. (Applause.)

Q I’m going to ask you some questions — you promised that on Facebook — and we have received this question: If you are reelected, do you think you’ll be able to have immigration reform even though there’s a majority of Republican representatives? How can you promise the same thing if you’re not going to be able to do that?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I’m not going to concede that Republicans necessarily are controlling the Congress. That’s why we have elections. (Applause.)

But let’s assume that the Republicans do retain the House, let’s say. What I can — what I’m absolutely certain of is if the Latino community and the American community that cares about this issue turns out to vote, they can send a message that this is not something to use as a political football, that people’s lives are at stake, that this is a problem that we can solve and historically has had bipartisan support.

And I actually think the mindset within the Republican Party can change — because when you think about it, not only was it fairly recently that we had some Republican support, but even now you have voices like the former governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, who has said that the Republican Party has taken an extreme view, a wrong approach when it comes to immigration reform.

So my hope is, is that after the election — when the number-one goal is no longer beating me, but hopefully the number-one goal is solving the country’s problems — if they have seen that people who care about this issue have turned out in strong numbers, that they will rethink it, if not because it’s the right thing to do, at least because it’s in their political interest to do so.

Q Mr. President, you have been the President who has made the largest number of deportations in history — more than 1.5 million so far. You’ve separated many families. There are more than 5,000 children who are American citizens in foster care and in the adoption process. Would you just — since you’ve granted deferred action, would you like to do something — consider doing something similar to other groups of non-criminal illegal immigrants such as the parents of U.S.-born children?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me describe sort of how we’ve tried to approach this given that we haven’t gotten comprehensive immigration reform done yet. My instructions to the Department of Homeland Security has been that we have to focus our attention, our enforcement, on people who genuinely pose a threat to our communities, not to hardworking families who are minding their own business and oftentimes have members of their family who are U.S. citizens — because that’s a — that’s a priority in terms of limited enforcement resources. We don’t have the capacity to enforce across the board when you’re talking about millions of people. And we’ve done that.

So more than half of our enforcement now is directed at people with criminal records. Of the remaining half, about two-thirds are actually people who are typically apprehended close to the border, so these are not people who have longstanding roots in our community. And what we’ve tried to do then is focus our attention on real threats, and make sure that families of the sort that you describe are not the targets of DHS resources.

Now, what I’ve always said is, as the head of the executive branch, there’s a limit to what I can do. Part of the reason that deportations went up was Congress put a whole lot of money into it, and when you have a lot of resources and a lot more agents involved, then there are going to be higher numbers. What we’ve said is, let’s make sure that you’re not misdirecting those resources. But we’re still going to, ultimately, have to change the laws in order to avoid some of the heartbreaking stories that you see coming up occasionally. And that’s why this continues to be a top priority of mine.

The steps we’ve taken with the DREAM Act kids, one of the great things about it is to see that the country as a whole has actually agreed with us on this. There are voices in the Republican Party have been very critical, but the good news is, is that the majority of Americans have said, you know what, if somebody lives here, has gone to school here, pledges allegiance to our flag, this is the only country they’ve known, they shouldn’t be sent away. We should embrace them and say we want you to help build this country.

So we’ve got public opinion on our side on that issue. And we will continue to make sure that how we enforce is done as fairly and justly as possible. But until we have a law in place that provides a pathway for legalization and/or citizenship for the folks in question, we’re going to be — continue to be bound by the law. And that’s a challenge.

Q Mr. President, the fact that you mentioned deferred action was granted months before the election has led some of your critics to say that it was just only to win the Hispanic vote. Why didn’t you do that earlier during your presidency?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think if you take a look at the polls, I was winning the Latino vote before we took that action — partly because the other side had completely abandoned their commitment to things like comprehensive immigration reform.

But I did this because I met young people all across the country — wonderful kids who sometimes were valedictorians, would participate in the community, has aspirations to go to college, some who were serving in our military — and if you heard their stories, there’s no way that you would think it was fair or just for us to have them suffering under a cloud of deportation.

And so part of the challenge as President is constantly saying, what authorities do I have. What we wanted to do was first make sure that we were directing our enforcement resources towards criminals and we’ve done that. And after we put that system in place we said, you know what, we’re still hearing stories of young people being scared about being deported; it’s time to see if we can take even further action. And that’s what we’ve done.

Q Thank you. Mr. President, now we are going to talk about education.

Q One out of 10 Hispanics — only one out of 10 graduates from college. And you know that one out of three, not even 25 percent, finishes high school.

And this is the question: First of all, I want to say, Mr. President, it’s an honor for me to be here. I’m a candidate for a doctorate in special education studies at the university level. So I would like to know, what do you attribute the dropout rate among Hispanics in the United States — 15 percent — and what plans do you have to change that?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, one of my most important plans is to make sure that people like you can continue your studies and help solve the problem. And that’s why we’ve put such a big emphasis on making sure that college is affordable.

And some of the work that we’ve done over the last four years to make sure that the student loan interest rate stays low, expanding Pell grants for millions of students, including millions of Latino students, so that we are seeing the highest college enrollment rate among Latino students in history — all that is going to help to contribute to us being able to deal with the problem of secondary and high school educations because you’re going to be inspiring a whole lot of students to say, I can do that, too; I can achieve that dream.

Now, one of the things we know is going to make a big difference is early childhood education. So we’ve put enormous effort not only in providing additional funding for early childhood education, but also to improve the quality of early childhood education — because not all programs work perfectly.

We’ve also been very proud to be able to initiate reform in 46 states around the country — almost every state has initiated reforms — because what we’ve said is we’ll give you more money if you initiate reforms that focus on dropout rates, that focus on some of the hardest-to-reach students, that focus on getting great teachers in the classroom and holding yourself to high standards and accountability.

So we’ve seen already gains in math and science in many of these schools. We’ve given additional dollars to some schools, predominantly Latino and African American, where the dropout rate is sky-high. And we’ve said, in some cases, you may just have to rework the school entirely. Get a great principal in there, hire wonderful teachers, and we will provide you additional help.

Now, for those of you who care deeply about education — because education was a gateway of opportunity for me, for Michelle, and for many of the people sitting here — this should be a vital decision that guides you in this upcoming election. Because even as we’ve done all this work to make sure that college is more affordable, that we’re reforming our schools, what you’ve seen on the other side and what’s been proposed by my opponent is a budget that would cut 20 percent of education funding, that would roll back tax credits that we’re providing middle-class families to help them send their kids to college, that would put billions of dollars back into the hands of banks as middlemen for the student loan program, which would then eliminate or reduce funding for Pell grants for millions of students around the country.

So, across the board, what you’ll hear from my opponent and from some of his allies in Congress is, we care deeply about education, but they don’t put their money where their mouth is. Their budget doesn’t reflect those values.

And I’m a firm believer that money alone can’t solve the problem. Parents, we have to make sure that we’re turning off the TV and providing a quiet space for our kids to do their homework. Teachers have to inspire. Principals have to lead. But ultimately, along with reform efforts, we also have to make sure that we don’t have overcrowded classrooms and textbooks that are outdated.

I was in Las Vegas talking to some wonderful teachers in a predominantly Latino district, and the teachers were telling me, at the start of school we’ve got 42 kids in the classroom. Some kids are sitting on the floor until they eventually get reassigned. They lose two weeks of instruction time just because the classrooms are so overcrowded. There are schools, particular in Latino communities, all across this country where kids are still studying in trailers. They don’t have regular classrooms, textbooks that are decades old.

Now, if we truly believe that education is the key not only for opportunity but also for making sure we can compete in this 21st century economy that is not a tolerable situation. And I put forward specific plans, with the budget behind it, to deal with these issues. And my opponent would actually roll back the process that we’ve already made.

Q Mr. President, we have time, but we have many more questions. We’re going to take a break and then we’ll be right back with many of those most important questions that Hispanics want to ask of the President, Barack Obama. (Applause.)

* * *

Q We’ll continue with this special program right here because the debate commission didn’t want to have any Hispanic or African American journalists. So we decided to have our own meeting.

THE PRESIDENT: We’re thrilled to be here. (Applause.)

Q We have an education question. I think that it’s something that reminded problems our country has was the recent strike of 29,000 teachers who left 350,000 students out of school, and we have a question about that. This is a Facebook question: What is your plan to solve the present education crisis? What happened in Chicago could also happen in California and other states very soon. Are you concerned about that?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, obviously what happened in Chicago was of concern, and we’re glad that it finally got resolved. But you’re going to see school districts all across the country dealing with this issue because part of what has happened over the last four years is a lot of teacher layoffs.

Now, when I first came into office, one of the most important things that we had to do was to help states and local communities not lay off teachers. And that was part of what the Recovery Act was all about — was providing states with help. Because we can’t afford to be laying off teachers when other countries are hiring teachers.

Unfortunately, though, we’ve still seen a lot of school districts lay off teachers. That has an impact on the students themselves because when you have larger classes, it’s harder to provide the individualized attention on those kids, especially at the younger grades.

This is, again, why the difference between the two candidates in this election is so important. If Governor Romney’s and Congressman Ryan’s budgets were introduced, you would see even less — by a magnitude of 20 percent — even less resources from the federal government to the states, and you could see potentially even more teachers being laid off, working conditions for teachers becoming worse, potentially more strikes.

And what we say to school districts all across the country is, we will provide you more help as long as you’re being held accountable. And as far as teachers go, I think they work as hard as anybody, but we also want to make sure that they are having high standards of performance, especially in math and science. So one of the plans that I presented at the convention was I want to hire 100,000 new math and science teachers, because that’s how teachers do better, students do better, the likelihood of strikes become lower.

Q Mr. President, I had the opportunity to watch our conversation with Mitt Romney yesterday, but previously in a video he has said that he was not concerned about the 47 percent of the population in the United States. But yesterday he said that he wanted to be the President of 100 percent of Americans. For you, which is the two is the true Mitt Romney? (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Well, here’s what I would say. First of all, I’ve been President now for almost four years. But the day I was elected, that night in Grant Park where I spoke to the country, I said, 47 percent of the people didn’t vote for me, but I’ve heard your voices and I’m going to work just as hard for you as I did for those who did vote for me. That’s how you have to operate as a President. I truly believe that. (Applause.)

I think your question, Jorge, about what’s the real Mitt Romney is better directed to Mr. Romney. But I will say this. When you express an attitude that half the country considers itself victims, that somehow they want to be dependent on government, my thinking is maybe you haven’t gotten around a lot, because I travel around the country all the time and the American people are the hardest working there are. (Applause.)

And their problem is not that they’re not working hard enough, or they don’t want to work, or they’re being taxed too little, or they just want to loaf around and gather government checks. We’ve gone through a challenging time. People want a hand up, not a handout.

Are there people who abuse the system? Yes, both at the bottom and at the top — because there are a whole bunch of millionaires who aren’t paying taxes at all either. (Applause.) But when you look — last point I’d make — when you look statistically, it turns out that even if people aren’t paying income taxes, they’re paying payroll taxes. They’re paying gas taxes. They’re paying sales taxes. They’re paying state and local taxes.

So the fact of the matter is that the few people who are not paying — the people who are not paying income taxes are either paying a lot of taxes because they’re working every day but they just don’t make enough money overall to pay income tax; or alternatively, they’re senior citizens; or they’re students who — I know these guys aren’t making a lot of money, even with some work-study program. (Laughter.) Or they’re disabled; or, in some cases, they’re veterans or soldiers who are fighting for us right now overseas — they don’t pay an income tax.

And so I just think it’s very important for us to understand Americans work hard, and if they’re not working right now, I promise you they want to get to work. And that’s what my economic plan is designed to do, to get more people back to work, and to lift up the middle class and people who want to work to get into the middle class. (Applause.)

Q Mr. President, I am a student at the journalism school at UM. This is my question to you. What would you recommend to Latina women such as me in order to be successful in my search for employment in the United States?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, you’ve got great role models here in journalism, particularly Maria Elena Salinas. (Laughter.)

Q Thank you. Because I ask you the tough questions.

THE PRESIDENT: But, look, the economy has been very tough for the last four years, and so there are a lot of young people out there who’ve graduated, have a great education, but have still had trouble getting work. The good news is over the last 30 months we’ve seen job growth every single month — 4.5 million new jobs.

The most important thing you can do, the best investment you can make to make sure you have a good job is to get a college education. So what you’re doing now cuts in half the likelihood that you end up unemployed.

The most important message, I guess I would tell you, though, is what I tell my daughters, which is that America remains a country where if you work hard and you don’t give up and you are persistent, you can succeed. And the good news is that because of some of the battles that were fought before you were born and, in some cases, before I was born, opportunity is opening up for more and more people — for women, for Latinas, Latinos, for African Americans. So you can go as far as your dreams will take you.

The big concern that I have is making sure that as you’re paying for your education, you don’t get burdened with tons of debt. And that’s why we focus so much on taking billions of dollars that were going to banks and making sure that we cut out the middlemen, provide some of these loans directly to students, or grants directly to students. And now we’re working with colleges and universities to keep tuition lower in order to make sure that when you get that first job, it may not pay everything you want — my first job, by the way, I made $10,000 a year.

So there’s nothing wrong with taking a job that doesn’t pay a lot if it’s what you’re interested in, as long as you don’t have these huge debt burdens that so many young people have now. And that’s a big contrast in this election. (Applause.)

Q Mr. President, we have a question that is very important for us and also our neighbors in Mexico. You have supported the President Calderón policy against drug trafficking. Now, there’s a new President who will be taking office at the same time if you were to win. So do you think that after 65,000 deaths it’s time to change the strategy? Can you consider the 65,000 a failure and the policy should change?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, obviously, there has been an extraordinary battle within Mexico to try to gain control over territories that, in some cases, have been just terrorized by these drug cartels. And I commend President Calderón for his courage in standing up to these cartels, and we have worked very closely and cooperatively with them in dealing with this issue.

Now, what I will be saying to the new President of Mexico when he takes office is that we want to continue that cooperation, and we recognize this is a threat on both sides of the border. We make a mistake if we just say this is Mexico’s problem because we obviously generate a lot of demand for drugs in this country, and guns and cash flow south at the same time as drugs flow north. That’s why —

Q How many more people have to die before this issue —

THE PRESIDENT: Well, what we need to do is to weaken the grip of these drug cartels, and there are a couple of things we can do. Number one, the United States can focus on drug treatment and prevention, and helping people deal with addiction, making sure that young people are not getting hooked on drugs. If we can reduce demand, that means less cash flowing into these drug cartels. And we have actually beefed up our investment and support of prevention, because we have to treat this as a public health problem here in the United States, not just a law enforcement problem.

The other thing that we try to do is to work much more aggressively in preventing the flow of guns and cash down into Mexico. And so interdiction has to work both ways.

But ultimately, Mexico is also going to have to come to terms with the fact that in some communities and in some cities, law enforcement has been outgunned or compromised by the strength of these drug cartels. And we want to help them, but they’re going to also have to take action to continue to keep pressure on these drugs cartels. And that includes not just police, by the way, it also means the judiciary, their prosecutors — that if they capture drug kingpins that they actually stay in jail.

There’s a whole series of issues involved in law enforcement, and we’re proving them advice, but ultimately they’re a sovereign country and they’re going to have to take some of those steps as well. But we want to be partners with them throughout this process.

Q Mr. President, you told me during an interview that you — Eric Holder or you did not authorize the Fast and Furious operation that allowed 2,000 weapons from the United States to Mexico, and they were in drug-trafficking hands. I think that up to 100 Mexicans might have died, and also American agent, Brian Terry. There’s a report that 14 agents were responsible for the operation. But shouldn’t Attorney General Eric Holder — he should have known about that. And if he didn’t, should you fire him?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I think it’s important for us to understand that the Fast and Furious program was a field-initiated program begun under the previous administration. When Eric Holder found out about it, he discontinued it. We assigned an inspector general to do a thorough report that was just issued, confirming that, in fact, Eric Holder did not know about this, that he took prompt action and the people who did initiate this were held accountable.

But what I think is most important is recognizing that we’ve got a challenge in terms of weapons flowing south. And the strategy that was pursued, obviously, out of Arizona, was completely wrongheaded. Those folks who were responsible have been held accountable. The question now is how do we move forward with a strategy that will actually work.

And we are going to have to work with Mexican law enforcement to accomplish this. But I will tell you that Eric Holder has my complete confidence because he has shown himself to be willing to hold accountable those who took these actions and is passionate about making sure that we’re preventing guns from getting into the wrong hands.

Q But if you have nothing to hide then why are you not releasing papers to this?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, actually, the truth is we’ve released thousands of papers —

Q But not all of them.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’ve released almost all of them. The ones that we don’t release typically relate to internal communications that were not related to the actual Fast and Furious operation.

And so the challenge that we have is that at any given moment in the federal government, there may be people who do dumb things. And I’ve seen it, I promise. (Laughter.) And ultimately, I’m responsible, and my key managers, including the Attorney General, are responsible, for holding those people accountable, for making sure that they are fired if they do dumb things, and then fixing the system to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. And I’m very confident that you will not see any kind of actions like this in the future.

But what I don’t like to see is these kinds of issues becoming political circuses or ways to score political points in Congress — partly because it becomes a distraction from us doing the business that we need to do for the American people.

Q Very briefly, talking about the same question — you know we have just one minute left. Why don’t just have an independent investigation? Because at the end of the day, it was just the Justice Department investigating its boss and saying that he’s not at fault. Why don’t we have — very briefly — independent investigation that is not from the Justice Department?

THE PRESIDENT: Maria Elena, understand that not only have we had multiple hearings in Congress, but the inspector general is put in place specifically to be independent from the Attorney General. And this Attorney General’s report was not a whitewash in any way. I mean, it was tough on the Justice Department. And it indicated that potentially more supervision was needed; people should have known in some cases, even if they didn’t actually know. So it was, I think, independent, honest. It was a clear assessment of what had gone wrong in that situation.

And we are happy to continue to provide the information that is relevant to this. But one of the things that happens in Washington is, very quickly these issues become political distractions as opposed to us actually solving the problems that we need to solve. And this issue of guns flowing south is a hard issue to solve. Because this country respects the Second Amendment; we want to protect the rights of gun owners and those who are seeking to purchase firearms. But oftentimes that’s exploited as well. And so we’ve got to make sure that we’re properly balancing the rights of U.S. citizens, but making sure that we’re also interdicting those arms that would get into the hands of criminals.

Q Mr. President, thank you so much. We’re going to have a last break and then we’re going to continue with a President Barack Obama. Thank you so much. (Applause.)

* * *

Q Something different, something personal. I don’t know what you’re reading before going to sleep right now. I don’t know if you have already read the book “No Easy Day,” in which a Navy SEAL tells the story of how Osama bin Laden was killed. According to many, his death was your biggest achievement. What is your biggest failure?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, Jorge, as you remind me, my biggest failure so far is we haven’t gotten comprehensive immigration reform done. (Laughter.) So we’re going to be continuing to work on that. (Applause.) But it’s not for lack of trying or desire, and I’m confident we’re going to accomplish that.

Obviously the fact that we haven’t been able to change the tone in Washington is disappointing. We know now that as soon as I came into office you already had meetings among some of our Republican colleagues saying, how do we figure out how to beat the President. And I think that I’ve learned some lessons over the last four years, and the most important lesson I’ve learned is that you can’t change Washington from the inside. You can only change it from the outside. That’s how I got elected, and that’s how the big accomplishments like health care got done, was because we mobilized the American people to speak out. That’s how we were able to cut taxes for middle-class families.

So something that I’d really like to concentrate on in my second term is being in a much more constant conversation with the American people so that they can put pressure on Congress to help move some of these issues forward. (Applause.)

Q Yes, as you said, that’s your biggest failure and Jorge asked you do you consider that you broke your promise. So I think the answer is, yes, with many excuses, but you actually broke your promise.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, what I will say this — what I’ll say is that — that I haven’t gotten everything done that I wanted to get done. And that’s why I’m running for a second term — because we’ve still got more work to do. (Applause.)

The good news is I think that we can build on the progress that we’ve made. The actions we took in terms of deferred action give us the basis now to get something done for the DREAMers, to get comprehensive immigration reform done.

The progress that we’ve made in helping young people finance their college educations serves as a basis for us to continue to try to bring tuition down and college graduation rates up. The 4.5 million jobs that we’ve already created gives us the basis for us now doubling down on manufacturing, and making sure that community colleges are training people for the jobs that are out there right now. The opportunities that we have in implementing health care — which is going to be providing millions of Americans, including millions of Latinos, for the first time, who’ve worked so hard, the peace of mind of knowing that they have affordable health care.

All those issues are ones that we’re very proud of, but we know we’re not done yet. And that’s exactly why this election is going to be so important.

Q Mr. President, thank you so much for spending this hour with us. And as we said yesterday, we did the same with Mitt Romney, and we want to give you the opportunity for you to talk to our audience on camera. So you can talk to Hispanics to try to convince them, for them to vote for you.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it is my pleasure. Thank you so much for the time that you’ve given me and for this audience. And the U of Miami, thank you. We appreciate you. (Applause.)

I truly believe this is the most important election of our lifetimes. We’ve gone through some very tough times together over these last four years. But now we’ve got a choice about how we move forward.

My opponents, they think that if we provide tax cuts to folks at the very top, that somehow that’s going to result in jobs and opportunity for everybody. I’ve got a different philosophy. What I believe is, is that our economy grows best when it grows from the middle out and the bottom up; when everybody has got a fair shot and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same rules.

And so the plan that I put forward in terms of making sure that we are creating a million manufacturing jobs, that we’re providing tax breaks to companies that are investing and hiring here in the United States as opposed to shipping jobs overseas, the plan to make sure that we continue to expand opportunities for young people, making college affordable, hiring 100,000 new math and science teachers, an energy strategy that says, yes, we’re going to increase production of oil and gas and continue to cut our oil imports but also we’re developing wind power and solar power that will create new jobs and help to clean our environment, and the plan to reduce our deficit in a way that’s balanced so that we’re not providing tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires that result in massive cuts in education or that would somehow turn Medicare into a voucher — those plans that I’ve put forward I’m confident can work, but they can only work with you.

So one thing that I saw in 2008 is that when the American people come together and decide that they are going to fight for the values and ideals that made this country great, we can’t be stopped. And I would urge everybody who is watching to look at my plan, look at Mr. Romney’s plan — compare who has got a better answer for middle-class families and everybody who is striving to get into the middle class.

And for the Latino community, I would say that the work that we’ve done on education, on immigration, on housing, on putting people back to work, on making sure that small businesses have access to financing — those are all issues that are representative of what you care about, your values. But you’ve got to get out there and you’ve got to make sure that you express that with your ballot.

So I would urge you to vote and I would ask you to vote for me and Democrats up and down the ticket. I think it will deliver for you in the future.

Thank you so much. (Applause.)

2:11 P.M. EDT

Full Text Campaign Buzz August 8-9, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speeches at Campaign Events on Florida Swing State Bus Tour




Obama Kicks Off Florida Bus Tour

Source: ABC News Radio, 9-8-12


Mocking his opponents’ economic agenda, President Obama says Republicans are pushing tax cuts as the prescription to cure the ailing economy, “help you lose a few extra pounds,” and even “help your love life.”

The president unveiled the new quip Friday, but on Saturday he got a unique response as he kicked off his two-day campaign tour through Florida….READ MORE


Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event — West Palm Beach, 9-9-12

Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event — Melbourne, Florida, 9-9-12

Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event — Kissimmee, Florida, 9-8-12

Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event — Seminole, FL, 9-8-12

Full Text Campaign Buzz August 29, 2012: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s Speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention




Condoleezza Rice RNC speech (text, video)

Source: Politico, 8-29-12

Remarks by Condoleezza Rice at the Republican National Convention as prepared for delivery.

Good evening.  Distinguished delegates, fellow Republicans, fellow Americans…

We gather here at a time of significance and challenge.   This young century has been a difficult one.  I will never forget the bright September day, standing at my desk in the White House, when my young assistant said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center – and then a second one – and a third, the Pentagon.  And then the news of a fourth, driven into the ground by brave citizens that died so that many others would live.  From that day on our sense of vulnerability and our understanding of security would be altered forever.

Then in 2008 the global financial and economic crisis stunned us and still reverberates as unemployment, economic uncertainty and failed policies cast a pall over the American recovery so desperately needed at home and abroad.

And we have seen once again that the desire for freedom is universal – as men and women in the Middle East demand it.  Yet, the promise of the Arab Spring is engulfed in uncertainty; internal strife and hostile neighbors are challenging the fragile democracy in Iraq; dictators in Iran and Syria butcher their own people and threaten the security of the region; China and Russia prevent a response; and all wonder,  “Where does America stand?”

Indeed that is the question of the moment- “Where does America stand?”  When our friends and our foes, alike, do not know the answer to that question – clearly and unambiguously — the world is a chaotic and dangerous place.  The U.S. has since the end of World War II had an answer – we stand for free peoples and free markets, we are willing to support and defend them – we will sustain a balance of power that favors freedom.

To be sure, the burdens of leadership have been heavy.  I, like you, know the sacrifices that Americans have made – yes including the ultimate sacrifice of many of our bravest.  Yet our armed forces remain the sure foundation of liberty.  We are fortunate to have men and women who volunteer – they volunteer to defend us on the front lines of freedom.  And we owe them our eternal gratitude.

I know too that it has not always been easy – though it has been rewarding – to speak up for those who would otherwise be without a voice – the religious dissident in China; the democracy advocate in Venezuela; the political prisoner in Iran.

It has been hard to muster the resources to support fledgling democracies– or to help the world’s most desperate— the AIDs orphan in Uganda, the refugee fleeing Zimbabwe, the young woman who has been trafficked into the sex trade in Southeast Asia; the world’s poorest in Haiti.   Yet this assistance – together with the compassionate works of private charities – people of conscience and people of faith— has shown the soul of our country.

And I know too that there is weariness – a sense that we have carried these burdens long enough.  But if we are not inspired to lead again, one of two things will happen – no one will lead and that will foster chaos —- or others who do not share our values will fill the vacuum.  My fellow Americans, we do not have a choice.  We cannot be reluctant to lead – and one cannot lead from behind.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan understand this reality — that our leadership abroad and our well being at home are inextricably linked.   They know what needs to be done.

Our friends and allies must be able to trust us. From Israel to Poland to the Philippines to Colombia and across the world — they must know that we are reliable and consistent and determined.  And our adversaries must have no reason to doubt our resolve — because peace really does come through strength.  Our military capability and technological advantage will be safe in Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s hands.

We must work for an open global economy and pursue free and fair trade – to grow our exports and our influence abroad.  In the last years, the United States has ratified three trade agreements, all negotiated in the Bush Administration.  If you are concerned about China’s rise – consider this fact – China has signed 15 Free Trade Agreements and is negotiating 20 more.  Sadly we are abandoning the playing field of free trade – and it will come back to haunt us.

We must not allow the chance to attain energy independence to slip from our grasp.  We have a great gift of oil and gas reserves here in North America that must be and can be developed while protecting our environment.  And we have the ingenuity in the private sector to tap alternative sources of energy.

And most importantly, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will rebuild the foundation of American strength – our economy – stimulating private sector led growth and small business entrepreneurship.  When the world looks at us today they see an American government that cannot live within its means.  They see a government that continues to borrow money, mortgaging the future of generations to come.  The world knows that when a nation loses control of its finances, it eventually loses control of its destiny.  That is not the America that has inspired others to follow our lead.

After all, when the world looks to America, they look to us because we are the most successful political and economic experiment in human history.  That is the true basis of “American Exceptionalism.”   The essence of America – that which really unites us — is not ethnicity, or nationality or religion – it is an idea — and what an idea it is:  That you can come from humble circumstances and do great things.  That it doesn’t matter where you came from but where you are going.

Ours has never been a narrative of grievance and entitlement.  We have not believed that I am doing poorly because you are doing well.  We have not been envious of one another and jealous of each other’s success. Ours has been a belief in opportunity and a constant battle – long and hard — to extend the benefits of the American dream to all – without regard to circumstances of birth.

But the American ideal is indeed endangered today.   There is no country, no not even a rising China, that can do more harm to us than we can do to ourselves if we fail to accomplish the tasks before us here at home.

More than at any other time in history –the ability to mobilize the creativity and ambition of human beings forms the foundation of greatness.  We have always done that better than any country in the world.  People have come here from all over because they believed in our creed – of opportunity and limitless horizons.   They have come from the world’s most impoverished nations to make five dollars not fifty cents– and they have come from the world’s advanced societies – as engineers and scientists — to help fuel the knowledge based revolution in the Silicon Valley of California; the research triangle of North Carolina; in Austin, Texas; along Route 128 in Massachusetts – and across our country.

We must continue to welcome the world’s most ambitious people to be a part of us.  In that way we stay perpetually young and optimistic and determined.  We need immigration laws that protect our borders; meet our economic needs; and yet show that we are a compassionate people.

We have been successful too because Americans have known that one’s status at birth was not a permanent station in life.  You might not be able to control your circumstances but you could control your response to your circumstances.  And your greatest ally in doing so was a quality education.

Let me ask you, though, today, when I can look at your zip code and can tell whether you are going to get a good education – can I really say that it doesn’t matter where you came from – it matters where you are going.  The crisis in K-12 education is a grave threat to who we are.

My mom was a teacher – I have the greatest respect for the profession – we need great teachers – not poor or mediocre ones.  We need to have high standards for our students – self-esteem comes from achievement not from lax standards and false praise.  And we need to give parents greater choice – particularly poor parents whose kids – most often minorities — are trapped in failing neighborhood schools.  This is the civil rights struggle of our day.

If we do anything less, we will condemn generations to joblessness, hopelessness and dependence on the government dole.  To do anything less is to endanger our global economic competitiveness.  To do anything less is to tear apart the fabric of who we are and cement a turn toward grievance and entitlement.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will rebuild us at home and inspire us to lead abroad.  They will provide an answer to the question, “Where does America stand?”

The challenge is real and these are tough times.  But America has met and overcome difficult circumstances before.  Whenever you find yourself doubting us – just think of all the times that we have made the impossible seem inevitable in retrospect.

America’s victorious revolutionary founding – against the greatest military power of the time; a Civil War – hundreds of thousands dead in a brutal conflict – but emerging a stronger union; a second founding – as impatient patriots fought to overcome the birth defect of slavery and the scourge of segregation; a long struggle against communism – that ended with the death of the Soviet Union and the emergence of Europe, whole free and at peace; the will to make difficult decisions, heart-wrenching choices in the aftermath of 9/11 that secured us and prevented the follow-on attacks that seemed preordained at the time.

And on a personal note– a little girl grows up in Jim Crow Birmingham – the most segregated big city in America – her parents can’t take her to a movie theater or a restaurant – but they make her believe that even though she can’t have a hamburger at the Woolworth’s lunch counter – she can be President of the United States and she becomes the Secretary of State.

Yes, America has a way of making the impossible seem inevitable in retrospect.  But of course it has never been inevitable – it has taken leadership, courage and an unwavering faith in our values.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have the experience and the integrity and the vision to lead us – they know who we are, what we want to be and what we offer the world.

That is why this is a moment – an election – of consequence.  Because it just has to be – that the most compassionate and freest country on the face of the earth – will continue to be the most powerful!

May God Bless You – and May God continue to bless this extraordinary, exceptional country – the United States of America.

Full Text Campaign Buzz August 28, 2012: Speaker of the House John Boehner’s Speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention




Remarks by Speaker of the House John Boehner at the Republican National Convention

Source: Politico, 8-28-12

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012.

Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

John Boehner’s remarks Tuesday night at the Republican National Convention, as prepared for delivery.

Delegates and alternates, ladies and gentlemen, the convention will be in order.

We begin tonight with a fundamental question: Can we do better?

The answer, in my view, is obvious: You bet we can.

The American people are still asking “where are the jobs,” but President Obama only offers excuses instead of answers. His record is a shadow of his rhetoric. Yet he has the nerve to say that he’s moving us forward, and the audacity to hope that we’ll believe him.

Allow me to illustrate.

I’m what you’d call a regular guy with a big job. I’ve got 11 brothers and sisters. My dad and my uncles owned a bar outside of Cincinnati. I worked there growing up, mopping floors, waiting tables.

Believe me when I say I learned how to deal with every character who walked in the door.

So let’s say right now, a guy walked into our bar – full of guys looking for work, having a tough go of it – and said, “THE PRIVATE SECTOR IS DOING FINE.”

Well, do you know what we’d do?

That’s right: We’d throw him out.

If a guy walked into our bar – full of people paying more for health care, more for gas, more for everything – and said, “WE’RE BETTER OFF THAN WE WOULD HAVE BEEN.”

Do you know what we’d do? Throw him out.

If a guy walked into our bar – full of folks who couldn’t tell you the last time they got a raise or their house was above water – and said, “WE TRIED OUR ECONOMIC PLAN – AND IT WORKED.”

Do you know what we’d do? Throw him out.

Now let’s say a guy walked into our bar and before he could say anything he overheard a regular telling his story. Turns out this man runs a small business. Got involved with it while he was still working his way through school. Then, out of nowhere, his business partner died. They had just one customer at the time. So he fought like hell, through sleepless nights and close calls. They made it, thank God, paid their dues, proud of what they managed to do.

Now if a guy walked into our bar, heard all that, and said, “IF YOU’VE GOT A BUSINESS, YOU DIDN’T BUILD THAT.”

You know what we’d do. Throw him out.

By the way, that small business guy at the bar: That was my story. That was our business. We did build that.

It could just as easily have been the story of anyone who’s built something from nothing. No guarantees. No government there to hold your hand. Just a dream and the desire to do better. President Obama just doesn’t get this. He can’t fix the economy because he doesn’t know how it was built.

So in 70 days when the American people walk into the voting booth, what should we do? Throw him out.

Because we can do better. We can do a lot better. It starts with throwing out the politician who doesn’t get it, and electing a new president who does.

Mitt Romney comes from a family of builders. His father built houses, built businesses, built industry. George Romney was a can-do kind of guy. He was fond of the old saying that when things are at their worst, “that’s just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

Delegates, this is that time and this is that place. We’re here to preserve this country the same way we built it: by exercising our God-given right to set a new course.

Who better to turn this tide than a man who has dedicated his career to doing just that – for states, for businesses, for the Olympic Games.

President Romney – boy, I like the sound of that – President Romney will keep his word and his courage, too. He’ll keep faith with the idea that government exists to serve the people, and the people build the economy.

Mitt’s jobs plan will build a stronger middle class through energy independence; schools where our kids – not the teachers unions – come first; free trade, the path to a balanced budget; and an end to the uncertainty – and the tax hikes – that threaten small businesses.

It’s a big job, so we’re fortunate that Mitt has chosen as his running mate a leader who is second to none when it comes to rooting out and fixing Washington’s worst habits.

When I met Paul Ryan 22 years ago, he was a student at Miami of Ohio volunteering on my campaign. Soon, he will be our party’s nominee for vice president of the United States. Who says this isn’t the greatest country on Earth?

They call this “America’s comeback team.” Well, any good comeback needs some true believers.

So if you believe we can do better, if you want to leave our children a stronger, more prosperous America, then Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan need your help. Because we can turn this tide, but only if all of us are all in, all the way to the 6th of November.

It starts here with a convention that will lead to victory for our party – and more importantly, victory for our people and the great cause of freedom.

Full Text Campaign Buzz August 28, 2012: Rep. Artur Davis’ Speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention




Remarks by Artur Davis at the Republican National Convention

Source: Politico, 8-28-12

Former Representative Artur Davis addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

J. Scott Applewhite, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Enlarge photo»

Artur Davis’s remarks Tuesday night at the Republican National Convention as prepared for delivery.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you.

Some of you may know, the last time I spoke at a convention, it turned out I was in the wrong place.

So, Tampa, my fellow Republicans, thank you for welcoming me where I belong.

We have a country to turn around. This week you will nominate the most experienced executive to seek the presidency in 60 years in Mitt Romney.

He has no illusions about what makes America great, and he doesn’t confuse the presidency with celebrity, or loftiness with leadership.

What a difference four years makes.

The Democrats’ ads convince me that Governor Romney can’t sing, but his record convinces me he knows how to lead, and I think you know which skill we need more.

Now, America is a land of second chances, and I gather you have room for the estimated 6 million of us who know we got it wrong in 2008 and who want to fix it.

Maybe we should have known that night in Denver that things that begin with plywood Greek columns and artificial smoke typically don’t end well.

Maybe the Hollywood stars and the glamour blinded us a little: you thought it was the glare, some of us thought it was a halo.

But in all seriousness, do you know why so many of us believed? We led with our hearts and our dreams that we could be more inclusive than America had ever been, and no candidate had ever spoken so beautifully.

But dreams meet daybreak: the jobless know what I mean, so do the families who wonder how this Administration could wreck a recovery for three years and counting.

So many of those high-flown words have faded.

Remember the President saying of negative politics and untrue ads, “not this time?”

Who knew “not this time” just meant “not unless the economy is still stuck and we can’t run on our record?”

Remember, too, when he said, “this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal?”

Who knew the plain English version of it was, “middle America, get ready to shell out 60 bucks to fill up your car?”

And in terms of their crown jewel legislative achievement: who knew that when asked, “will government impose a new federal mandate requiring middle class Americans to buy health insurance whether they can afford it or not?”

The answer would be “Yes we can!”

So, this time, in the name of 23 million of our children and parents and brothers and sisters who are officially unemployed, underemployed, or who have stopped looking for work, let’s put the poetry aside, let’s suspend the hype, let’s come down to earth and start creating jobs again.

This time, instead of moving oceans and healing planets, let’s get our bills in order and pay down the debt so we control our own future.

And of course, we know that opportunity lies outside the reach of some of our people.

We don’t need flowery words about inequality to tell us that, and we don’t need a party that has led while poverty and hunger rose to record levels to give us lectures about suffering.

Ladies and gentlemen, there are Americans who are listening to this speech tonight who haven’t always been with you, and I want you to let me talk — just to them – for a moment.

I know how loaded up our politics is with anger and animosity, but I have to believe we can still make a case over the raised voices.

There are Americans who voted for the president, but who are searching right now, because they know that their votes didn’t build the country they wanted.

To those Democrats and independents whose minds are open to argument: listen closely to the Democratic Party that will gather in Charlotte and ask yourself if you ever hear your voice in the clamor.

Ask yourself if these Democrats still speak for you.

When they say we have a duty to grow government even when we can’t afford it, does it sound like compassion to you — or recklessness?

When you hear the party that glorified Occupy Wall Street blast success; when you hear them minimize the genius of the men and women who make jobs out of nothing, is that what you teach your children about work?

When they tell you America is this unequal place where the powerful trample on the powerless, does that sound like the country your children or your spouse risked their lives for in Iraq or Afghanistan?

Do you even recognize the America they are talking about?  And what can we say about a house that doesn’t honor the pictures on its walls?

John F. Kennedy asked us what we could do for America.  This Democratic Party asks what can government give you.  Don’t worry about paying the bill, it’s on your kids and grandkids.

Bill Clinton took on his base and made welfare a thing you had to work for; this current crowd guts the welfare work requirement in the dead of night.

Bill Clinton, Jack Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson reached out across the aisle and said meet me in the middle; but their party rammed through a healthcare bill that took over one-sixth of our economy, without accepting a single Republican idea, without winning a single vote in either house from a party whose constituents make up about 50 percent of the country.

You know, the Democrats used to have a night when they presented a film of their presidential legends: if they do it in Charlotte, the theme song should be this year’s hit, “Somebody That I Used to Know.”

My fellow Americans, when great athletes falter, their coaches sometimes whisper to them “remember who you are.” It’s a call to their greatness at a moment when their bodies and spirit are too sapped to remember their strength.

This sweet, blessed, God-inspired place called America is a champion that has absorbed some blows.

But while we bend, we don’t break.

This is no dark hour; this is the dawn before we remember who we are.

May it be said of this time in our history: 2008 to 2011: lesson learned.

2012: mistake corrected.

God bless you, God bless America. Thank you.

Full Text Campaign Buzz August 28, 2012: Sen. Rick Santorum’s Speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention




Remarks by Rick Santorum at the Republican National Convention

Source: Politico, 8-28-12

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Rick Santorum’s remarks Tuesday night at the Republican National Convention as prepared for delivery.

It’s an honor to be here tonight with the love of my life, Karen, my 93-year-old mother and some of our kids.

You think it’s crowded in here, good thing I didn’t bring all my kids.

I am a first-generation American.

At age seven, my dad came to Johnstown, Pennsylvania from the mountains of northern Italy, on a ship named Providence.

How providential that one day his son would announce for President just down the road from the deep mines where his father — my grandfather — mined coal ’til he was 72 years old.

When my grandfather died, I remember as a kid kneeling at his casket and not being able to take my eyes off his thick strong hands — hands that dug his path in life — and gave his family a chance — at living the American Dream.

Working the mines may not have been the dream he dreamed – I never dared to ask him – but I think his answer would have been that America gave him more than he had ever hoped.

America believed in him, that’s why he believed in America.

My grandfather, like millions of other immigrants, didn’t come here for some government guarantee of income equality or government benefits to take care of his family.

In 1923 there were no government benefits for immigrants except one: Freedom!

Under President Obama, the dream of freedom and opportunity has become a nightmare of dependency with almost half of America receiving some government benefit.

It is no surprise fewer and fewer Americans are achieving their dreams and more and more parents are concerned their children won’t realize theirs.

President Obama spent four years and borrowed five trillion dollars, trying to convince you that he could make things better for you —— to put your trust in him and the government to take care of every problem.

The result — massive debt, anemic growth and millions more unemployed. The President’s plan didn’t work for America, because that’s not how America works.

In America we believe in freedom and the responsibility that comes with it to work hard to make that dream of reaching our God-given potential come true.

We believe it because it still works.

Even today.

Graduate from high school, work hard, and get married before you have children and the chance you will ever be in poverty is just two percent.

Yet if you don’t do these three things you’re 38 times more likely to end up in poverty!

We understand many Americans don’t succeed because the family that should be there to guide them, and serve as the first rung on the ladder of success, isn’t there or is badly broken.

The fact is that marriage is disappearing in places where government dependency is highest. Most single mothers do heroic work and an amazing job raising their children, but if America is going to succeed, we must stop the assault on marriage and the family.

From lowering taxes to reforming social programs, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are dedicated to restoring the home where married moms and dads are pillars of strong communities raising good citizens.

A solid education should be the second rung on the ladder to success, but the system is failing.

President Obama’s solution has been to deny parents choice, attack private schools and nationalize curriculum and student loans.

Mitt Romney believes that parents and the local community must be put in charge — not the Department of Education.

We all know there is one key to success that has helped people overcome even the greatest of obstacles – hard work. That’s why work was the centerpiece of the bipartisan welfare reform law.

Requiring work as a condition for receiving welfare succeeded — and not just because the welfare rolls were cut in half — but because employment went way up, poverty went down and dreams were realized.

It’s a sturdy ladder to success that is built with healthy families, education and hard work.

But President Obama’s policies undermine the traditional family, weaken the education system.

And this summer he showed us once again he believes in government handouts and dependency by waiving the work requirement for welfare.

I helped write welfare reform; we made the law crystal clear – no president can waive the work requirement. But as with his refusal to enforce our immigration laws, President Obama rules like he is above the law.

America take heed, when a president can simply give a speech or write a memo and change the law to do what the law says he can’t, we weaken our republic.

Yet as my family and I crisscrossed America, something became so obvious to us.

America is still the greatest country in the world – and with God’s help and good leadership we can restore the American Dream.


I held its hand. I shook the hand of the American Dream. And it has a strong grip.

I shook hands of farmers and ranchers who made America the bread basket of the world. Hands weathered and worn. And proud of it.

I grasped dirty hands with scars that come from years of labor in the oil and gas fields, mines and mills. Hands that power and build America and are stewards of the abundant resources that God has given us.

I gripped hands that work in restaurants and hotels, in hospitals, banks, and grocery stores. Hands that serve and care for all of us.

I clasped hands of men and women in uniform and their families. Hands that sacrifice and risk all to protect and keep us free. And hands that pray for their safe return home.

I held hands that are in want. Hands looking for the dignity of a good job, hands growing weary of not finding one but refusing to give up hope.

And finally, I cradled the little, broken hands of the disabled. Hands that struggle and bring pain, hands that ennoble us and bring great joy.

They came to see us – oh did they come — when they found out Karen and I are blessed with caring for someone very special too, our Bella.

Four and a half years ago I stood over a hospital isolette staring at the tiny hands of our newborn daughter who we hoped was perfectly healthy. But Bella’s hands were just a little different – and I knew different wasn’t good news.

The doctors later told us Bella was incompatible with life and to prepare to let go. They said, even if she did survive, her disabilities would be so severe that Bella would not have a life worth living.

We didn’t let go and today Bella is full of life and she has made our lives and countless others much more worth living.

I thank God that America still has one party that reaches out their hands in love to lift up all of God’s children – born and unborn – and says that each of us has dignity and all of us have the right to live the American Dream.

And without you America is not keeping faith with that dream.

We are stewards of a great inheritance. In November we have a chance to vote for life and liberty, not dependency. A vote for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will put our country back in the hands of leaders who understand what America can and, for the sake of our children, must be to keep the dream alive.

Full Text Campaign Buzz August 13, 2012: Mitt Romney’s Speech in St. Augustine, Florida — President Obama Has Failed To Deliver The Jobs Americans Need




Mitt Romney opens bus tour in Florida singing praises of Paul Ryan

Source: MiamiHerald.com, 8-13-12

Continuing his swing-state bus tour, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney visited this historic city Monday singing the praises of his newly announced running mate and continuing his attacks on the policies of President Obama….READ MORE

Mitt Romney: President Obama Has Failed To Deliver The Jobs Americans Need

Source: Mitt Romney Press, 8-13-12
“Number one was being able to create jobs, but I hope he understands that he hasn’t done that … It’s a moral failure for a country as successful as ours not to have created these jobs. Mr. President, by your own measure you’ve failed to deliver the jobs Americans need.” – Mitt Romney

St. Augustine, FL

August 13, 2012

Click Here To Watch Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney: “The President’s idea, for instance, for Medicare was to cut it by $700 billion. That’s not the right answer. We want to make sure that we preserve and protect Medicare. The President’s plan for our budget deficit was to make it worse. And Paul Ryan and I are going to get America to cut our spending and to finally get us to a balanced budget. Now, as you know, about four years ago candidate Obama was speaking in Denver to the Democratic Convention, and he got up there and made a lot of promises. And he did it in front of those Greek columns. I don’t think he’ll be standing in front of Greek columns at this year’s convention. He won’t want to remind people of Greece because that’s where he’s taking our country if we don’t get off the road we’re on. He said that he would be able to measure progress and measure success by a whole series of his own standards. Number one was being able to create jobs, but I hope he understands that he hasn’t done that—23 million Americans out of work or stopped looking for work and can’t find the jobs they need to put food on the table for their families. It’s unacceptable. It’s a moral failure for a country as successful as ours not to have created these jobs. Mr. President, by your own measure you’ve failed to deliver the jobs Americans need.”

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