Full Text Political Transcripts August 11, 2017: President Donald Trump Delivers a Statement Following a National Security Briefing

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

President Trump Delivers a Statement Following a National Security Briefing

Source: WH, 8-11-17

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Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 September 7, 2016: GOP Nominee Donald Trump’s speech on National Security to the Union League of Philadelphia Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:

Donald Trump’s speech on National Security to the Union League of Philadelphia

Source: The Hill, 9-7-16

Today, I am here to talk about three crucial words that should be at the center of our foreign policy: Peace Through Strength.

We want to achieve a stable, peaceful world with less conflict and more common ground.

I am proposing a new foreign policy focused on advancing America’s core national interests, promoting regional stability, and producing an easing of tensions in the world. This will require rethinking the failed policies of the past.

We can make new friends, rebuild old alliances, and bring new allies into the fold.

I’m proud to have the support of warfighting generals, active duty military, and the top experts who know both how to win – and how to avoid the endless wars we are caught in now. Just yesterday, 88 top Generals and Admirals endorsed my campaign.

In a Trump Administration, our actions in the Middle East will be tempered by realism. The current strategy of toppling regimes, with no plan for what to do the day after, only produces power vacuums that are filled by terrorists.

Gradual reform, not sudden and radical change, should be our guiding objective in that region.

We should work with any country that shares our goal of destroying ISIS and defeating Radical Islamic terrorism, and form new friendships and partnerships based on this mission. We now have an Administration, and a former Secretary of State, who refuse to say Radical Islamic Terrorism.

Immediately after taking office, I will ask my generals to present to me a plan within 30 days to defeat and destroy ISIS.

This will require military warfare, but also cyber warfare, financial warfare, and ideological warfare – as I laid out in my speech on defeating Radical Islamic terrorism several weeks ago.

Instead of an apology tour, I will proudly promote our system of government and our way of life as the best in the world – just like we did in our campaign against communism during the Cold War.

We will show the whole world how proud we are to be American.

At the same time, immigration security is a vital part of our national security.

We only want to admit people to our country who will support our values and love our people.

These are the pillars of a sound national security strategy.

Unlike my opponent, my foreign policy will emphasize diplomacy, not destruction. Hillary Clinton’s legacy in Iraq, Libya, and Syria has produced only turmoil and suffering. Her destructive policies have displaced millions of people, then she has invited the refugees into the West with no plan to screen them.

Including Veteran healthcare costs, the price of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could total $6 trillion, according to a report in the Washington Examiner. Yet, after all this money spent and lives lost, Clinton’s policies as Secretary of State have left the Middle East in more disarray than ever before.

Meanwhile, China has grown more aggressive, and North Korea more dangerous and belligerent. Russia has defied this Administration at every turn. Putin has no respect for President Obama or Hillary Clinton.

Sometimes it has seemed like there wasn’t a country in the Middle East that Hillary Clinton didn’t want to invade, intervene or topple. She is trigger-happy and unstable when it comes to war.

Hillary Clinton is just reckless – so reckless, in fact, she put her emails on an illegal server that our enemies could easily hack. Then Clinton’s team used a technology called bleachbit to acid wash her emails. They even took a hammer to some of her 13 phones, to cover her tracks and obstruct justice. These email records were destroyed after she received a subpoena to turn them over.

In the FBI report, she claimed she couldn’t recall important information on 39 occasions.

She can’t even remember whether she was trained in classified information, and said she didn’t even know the letter “C” means confidential.

If she can’t remember such crucial events and information, she is unfit to be Commander-in-Chief.

Her conduct is simply disqualifying.

She talks about her experience, but Hillary Clinton’s only foreign policy experience is “failure.” Everywhere she got involved, things got worse.

Let’s look back at the Middle East at the very beginning of 2009, before Hillary Clinton was sworn-in.

Libya was stable.

Syria was under control.

Egypt was ruled by a secular President and an ally of the United States.

Iraq was experiencing a reduction in violence. The group that would become what we now call ISIS was close to being extinguished.

Iran was being choked off by economic sanctions.

Fast-forward to today. What have the decisions of Obama-Clinton produced?

Libya is in ruins, our ambassador and three other brave Americans are dead, and ISIS has gained a new base of operations.

Syria is in the midst of a disastrous civil war. ISIS controls large portions of territory. A refugee crisis now threatens Europe and the United States. And hundreds of thousands are dead.

In Egypt, terrorists have gained a foothold in the Sinai desert, near the Suez Canal, one of the most essential waterways in the world.

Iraq is in chaos, and ISIS is on the loose.

ISIS has spread across the Middle East, and into the West.

Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, is now flush with $150 billion dollars in cash released by the United States – plus another $1.7 billion dollars in cash ransom payments. In other words, our country was blackmailed and extorted into paying this unheard-of amount of money.

Worst of all, the Nuclear deal puts Iran, the number one state sponsor of Radical Islamic terrorism, on a path to nuclear weapons.

This is Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy legacy.

But that’s not all. President Obama and Hillary Clinton have also overseen deep cuts in our military, which only invite more aggression from our adversaries.

History shows that when America is not prepared is when the danger is greatest. We want to deter, avoid and prevent conflict through our unquestioned military strength.

Under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, defense spending is on track to fall to its lowest level as a share of the economy since the end of World War II. We currently have the smallest Army since 1940. The Navy is among the smallest it has been since 1915. And the Air Force is the smallest it has been since 1947.

When Ronald Reagan left office, our Navy had 592 ships. When Barack Obama took office, it had 285 ships. Today, the Navy has just 276 ships.

The average Air Force aircraft is 27 years-old. We have 2nd generation B-52 bombers – their fathers flew the same plane.

Our Army has been shrinking rapidly, from 553,000 soldiers in 2009 to just 479,000 today.

In 2009, our Marine Corps had 202,000 active Marines. Today, it’s just 182,000.

Our ship count is below the minimum of 308 that the Navy says is needed to execute its current missions. President Obama plans to reduce the Army to 450,000 troops—which would hamstring our ability to defend the United States.

It takes 22 years on average to field a major new weapons system.

In 2010, the US spent $554 billion on non-war base defense spending.

In the current year, we are spending $548 billion – a cut of 10% in real inflation-adjusted dollars. This reduction was done through what is known as the sequester, or automatic defense budget cuts. Under the budget agreement, defense took half of the cuts – even though it makes up only one-sixth of the budget.

As soon as I take office, I will ask Congress to fully eliminate the defense sequester and will submit a new budget to rebuild our military.

This will increase certainty in the defense community as to funding, and will allow military leaders to plan for our future defense needs.

As part of removing the defense sequester, I will ask Congress to fully offset the costs of increased military spending. In the process, we will make government leaner and more responsive to the public.

I will ask that savings be accomplished through common sense reforms that eliminate government waste and budget gimmicks – and that protect hard-earned benefits for Americans.

Government-wide, improper government payments are estimated to exceed $135 billion per year, and the amount of unpaid taxes is estimated to be as high as $385 billion.

We can also reduce the size of the federal bureaucracy through responsible workforce attrition – that is, when employees retire, they can be replaced by a smaller number of new employees.

We can also stop funding programs that are not authorized in law. Congress spent $320 billion last year on 256 expired laws. Removing just 5 percent of that will reduce spending by almost $200 billion over 10 years.

The military will not be exempt either – the military bureaucracy will have to be trimmed as well.

Early in my term, I will also be requesting that all NATO nations promptly pay their bills, which many are not doing right now. Only 5 NATO countries, including the United States, are currently meeting the minimum requirement to spend 2% of GDP on defense.

Additionally, I will be respectfully asking countries such as Germany, Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia to pay more for the tremendous security we provide them.

Finally, we will have at our disposal additional revenues from unleashing American energy. The Institute for Energy Research cites a “short-run” figure of as much as $36 billion annually from increased energy production.

Using these new funds, I will ask my Secretary of Defense to propose a new defense budget to meet the following long-term goals:

We will build an active Army of around 540,000, as the Army’s chief of staff has said he needs. We now have only 31 Brigade Combat Teams, or 490,000 troops, and only one-third of combat teams are considered combat-ready.

We will build a Marine Corps based on 36 battalions, which the Heritage Foundation notes is the minimum needed to deal with major contingencies – we have 23 now.

We will build a Navy of 350 surface ships and submarines, as recommended by the bipartisan National Defense Panel – we have 276 ships now.

And we will build an Air Force of at least 1,200 fighter aircraft, which the Heritage Foundation has shown to be needed to execute current missions – we have 1,113 now.

We will also seek to develop a state of the art missile defense system.

Under Obama-Clinton, our ballistic missile defense capability has been degraded at the very moment the US and its allies are facing a heightened missile threat from states like Iran and North Korea. As these potential adversaries grow their missile programs, US military facilities in Asia and the Middle East, as well as our allies, are increasingly in range, with the United States homeland also potentially threatened.

We propose to rebuild the key tools of missile defense, starting with the Navy cruisers that are the foundation of our missile defense capabilities in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The Obama-Clinton administration tried repeatedly to remove our cruisers from service, then refused to modernize these aging ships.

We will start by modernizing our cruisers to provide the Ballistic Missile Defense capability our nation needs; this will cost around $220 million per modernization as we seek to modernize a significant portion of these 22 ships.

As we expand our Navy toward the goal of 350 ships, we will also procure additional modern destroyers that are designed to handle the missile defense mission in the coming years.

Accomplishing this military rebuild will be a fifty-state effort —every state in the union will be able to take part in rebuilding our military and developing the technologies oftomorrow.

In addition, we will improve the Department of Defense’s cyber capabilities. Hillary Clinton has taught us all how vulnerable we are to cyber hacking.

Which is why one of the first things we must do is to enforce all classification rules, and enforce all laws relating to the handling of classified information.

Hillary Clinton put her emails on a secret server to cover-up her pay-for-play scandals at the State Department. Nothing threatens the integrity of our Democracy more than when government officials put their public office up for sale.

We will also make it a priority to develop defensive and offensive cyber capabilities at our U.S. Cyber Command, and recruit the best and brightest Americans.

One of my first directives after taking office will be asking the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and all relevant federal departments, to conduct a thorough review of United States cyber defenses and identify all vulnerabilities – in our power grid, our communications systems, and all vital infrastructure. I will then ask for a plan to immediately protect those vulnerabilities. At the same time, we will invest heavily in offensive cyber capabilities to disrupt our enemies, including terrorists who rely heavily on internet communications.

These new investments in cybersecurity, and the modernization of our military, will spur substantial new job creation in the private sector and help create the jobs and technologies of tomorrow.

America must be the world’s dominant technological powerhouse of the 21st century, and young Americans – including in our inner cities – should get these new jobs.

We must also ensure that we have the best medical care, education and support for our military service members and their families – both when they serve, and when they return to civilian life.

Our debt to our men and women in uniform is eternal.

To all those who have served this nation, I say: I will never let you down.

We will protect those who protect us.

And we will follow their example of unity. We will work across all racial and income lines to create One American Nation.

Together, we will have one great American future.

We will be one people, under one God, saluting one American flag.

America will be a prosperous, generous and inclusive society.

We will discard the failed policies and division of the past, and embrace true American change to rebuild our economy, rebuild our inner cities, and rebuild our country.

We Will Bring Back Our Jobs.

We Will Make America Strong Again.

We Will Make America Safe Again.

And We Will Make America Great Again.

Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 June 13, 2016: Hillary Clinton’s Speech About the Orlando Shooting Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:

Hillary Clinton’s Speech About the Orlando Shooting

Source: Time, 6-13-16

Thank you. (APPLAUSE)

Thank you all very much.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. Thank you all.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. Thank you. I am — I’m absolutely — I’m absolutely delighted to be back in Cleveland and to be here at the Industrial Innovation Center. I’ve had a chance to learn about the great work you do here. I especially want to applaud Team Wendy for everything you do to protect our troops, first responders.

(APPLAUSE)

And others from traumatic brain injury. It is so important that we continue to support those who protect us.

AUDIENCE: We want Hillary!

CLINTON: Thank you.

AUDIENCE: We want Hillary!

CLINTON: Thank you all.

AUDIENCE: We want Hillary!

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: It is good to be back in Cleveland, I can tell you that.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to thank — I wan to thank your extraordinary senator, Sherrod Brown, for his leadership, for that very kind and generous introduction. You are very fortunate to — to have him representing you. I want to thank your congresswoman, Marcia Fudge…

(APPLAUSE)

Who is both indomitable and indefatigable. She is such a tenacious advocate for the people she represents. I want to acknowledge the mayor, Mayor Jackson, who was here, County Executive Budish (ph). And I particularly want to recognize the passing of George Voinovich, and he devoted his life to serving the people of Ohio as mayor of Cleveland, as governor and senator. And we send our prayers and sympathy to his family.

I also want to thank Dan Moore, the owner and founder of this company and Team Wendy for his belief in Cleveland, for his commitment to create jobs. I can’t wait to work with him to do more of what he has accomplished here.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, originally, I had intended to come to Cleveland under very different circumstances. We are heading into a general election that could be the most consequential of our lifetimes. But today is not a day for politics.

On Sunday, Americans woke up to a nightmare that’s become mind numbingly familiar. Another act of terrorism in a place no one expected. A madman filled with hate, with guns in his hands, and just a horrible sense of vengeance and vindictiveness in his heart, apparently consumed by rage against LGBT Americans, and by extension, the openness and diversity that defines our American way of life.

We will learn more about the killer in the days to come. We know that he pledged allegiance to ISIS, that they are now taking credit and that part of their strategy is to radicalize individuals and encourage attacks against the United States, even if they are not coordinated with ISIS leadership. But there’s a lot we still don’t know, including what other mix of motives drove him to kill.

The more we learn about what happened, the better we’ll be able to protect our people going forward. In the days ahead, we will also learn more about the many lives he viciously cut short, many of them young people, just starting out in their lives. They were travel agents and pharmacy techs, college students and amusement park workers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and they had one thing in common. They all had a lot more to give.

CLINTON: We should take a moment today amid our busy lives to think about them, to pray for everyone who was killed, for the wounded, those who are fighting to regain their lives and futures, for our first responders who walked into danger one more time. As a mother, I can’t imagine what those families are going through.

But let’s also remember the other scenes we saw on Sunday. We saw the faces of some of those first responders who rushed into danger and tried to save as many people as they could. We saw survivors like Chris Hansen who risked their lives to help others.

People gathering outside hospitals to comfort anxious family members, waiting for news of their loved ones and waiting, too, to learn more about what they could do to make sure this never happened again.

Religion leaders condemning hate and appealing for peace. People lining up to donate blood. Americans refusing to be intimidated or divided.

Yesterday I called Mayor Dyer of Orlando and offered my support and my appreciation for the leadership that he and the other officials have shown. This is a moment when all Americans need to stand together.

No matter how many times we endure attacks like this, the horror never fades. The murder of innocent people breaks our hearts, tears at our sense of security and makes us furious.

Now we have to steal our resolve to respond. And that’s what I want to talk to you about. How we respond.

The Orlando terrorist may be dead, but the virus that poisoned his mind remains very much alive. And we must attack it with clear eyes, steady hands, unwavering determination and pride in our country and our values.

(APPLAUSE)

I have no doubt — I have no doubt we can meet this challenge if we meet it together. Whatever we learn about this killer, his motives in the days ahead, we know already the barbarity that we face from radical jihadists is profound.

In the Middle East, ISIS is attempting a genocide of religious and ethnic minorities. They are slaughtering Muslims who refuse to accept their medieval ways. They are beheading civilians, including executing LGBT people. They are murdering Americans and Europeans, enslaving, torturing and raping women and girls.

In speeches like this one, after Paris, Brussels and San Bernardino, I have laid out a plan to defeat ISIS and the other radical jihadist groups in the region and beyond.

The attack in Orlando makes it even more clear, we cannot contain this threat. We must defeat it. And the good news is that the coalition effort in Syria and Iraq has made recent gains in the last months.

So we should keep the pressure on ramping up the air campaign, accelerating support for our friends fighting to take and hold ground and pushing our partners in the region to do even more.

We also need continued American leadership to help resolve the political conflicts that fuel ISIS recruitment efforts.

But as ISIS loses actual ground in Iraq and Syria, it will seek to stage more attacks and gain stronger footholds wherever it can, from Afghanistan, to Libya, to Europe.

The threat is metastasizing. We saw this in Paris. And we saw it in Brussels. We face a twisted ideology and poisoned psychology that inspires the so-called lone wolves, radicalized individuals who may or may not have contact and direction from any formal organization.

CLINTON: So, yes, efforts to defeat ISIS on the battlefield must succeed. But it will take more than that.

(APPLAUSE)

We have to be just as adaptable and versatile as our enemies. As president, I will make identifying and stopping lone wolves a top priority.

(APPLAUSE)

I will put a team together from across our government, the entire government, as well as the private sector and communities to get on top of this urgent challenge. And I will make sure our law enforcement and intelligence professionals have all the resources they need to get the job done.

As we do this, there are three areas that demand attention. First, we and our allies must work hand-in-hand to dismantle the networks that move money, and propaganda, and arms and fighters around the world.

(APPLAUSE)

We have to flow — we have to stem the flow of jihadists from Europe and Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and then back again. The only way to do this is by working closely with our partners, strengthening our alliances, not weakening them or walking away from them.

Second, here at home, we must harden our own defenses. We have to do more to support our first responders, law enforcement and intelligence officers who do incredible work every day at great personal risk to keep our country safe.

(APPLAUSE)

I have seen firsthand how hard their job is, and how well they do it.

In Orlando, at least one police officer was shot in the head. Thankfully, his life was saved by a Kevlar helmet, something folks here at Team Wendy know a lot about.

(APPLAUSE)

It has often been said that our law enforcement, our intelligence agencies, our first responders have to be right 100 percent of the time, but terrorists only have to be right once.

What a heavy responsibility. These men and women deserve both our respect and gratitude. And they deserve the right tools, and resources and training. Too often, state and local officials can’t get access to intelligence from the federal government that would help them do their jobs.

We need to change that. We also need to work…

(APPLAUSE)

We also need to work with local law enforcement and business owners on ways to protect vulnerable, so-called soft targets, like nightclubs and shopping malls and hotels and movie theaters and schools and houses of worship.

Now, I know a lot of Americans are asking how it was possible that someone already on the FBI’s radar could have still been able to commit an attack like the one in Orlando, and what more we can do to stop this kind of thing from happening again.

Well, we have to see what the investigation uncovers. If there are things that can and should be done to improve our ability to prevent, we must do them. We already know we need more resources for this fight. The professionals who keep us safe would be the first to say we need better intelligence to discover and disrupt terrorist plots before they can be carried out.

That’s why I have proposed an intelligence surge to bolster our capabilities across the board with appropriate safeguards here at home.

Even as we make sure our security officials get the tools they need to prevent attacks, it’s essential that we stop terrorists from getting the tools they need to carry out the attack.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: And that is especially true when it comes to assault weapons like those used in Orlando and San Bernardino.

(APPLAUSE)

I believe weapons of war have no place on our streets and we may have our disagreements about gun safety regulations, but we should all be able to agree on a few essential things.

If the FBI is watching you for a suspected terrorist link, you shouldn’t be able to just go buy a gun with no questions asked.

And you shouldn’t be able to exploit loopholes and evade criminal background checks by buying online or at a gun show.

And yes, if you’re too dangerous to get on a plane, you are too dangerous to buy a gun in America.

Now, I know some will say that assault weapons and background checks are totally separate issues having nothing to do with terrorism. Well, in Orlando and San Bernardino terrorists used assault weapons, the AR-15. And they used it to kill Americans. That was the same assault weapon used to kill those little children in Sandy Hook.

We have to make it harder for people who should not have those weapons of war. And that may not stop every shooting or every terrorist attack, but it will stop some and it will save lives and it will protect our first responders.

And I want you to know, I’m not going to stop fighting for these kinds of provisions.

Now, the third area that demands attention is preventing radicalization and countering efforts by ISIS and other international terrorist networks to recruit in the United States and Europe.

For starters, it is long past time for the Saudis, the Qataris and the Kuwaitis and others to stop their citizens from funding extremist organizations. And they should stop supporting radical schools and mosques around the world that have set too many young people on a path towards extremism.

We also have to use all our capabilities to counter jihadist propaganda online. This is something that I spend a lot of time on at the State Department.

As president, I will work with our great tech companies from Silicon Valley to Boston to step up our game. We have to a better job intercepting ISIS’ communications, tracking and analyzing social media posts and mapping jihadist networks, as well as promoting credible voices who can provide alternatives to radicalization.

And there is more to do offline as well.

CLINTON: Since 9/11, law enforcement agencies have worked hard to build relationships with Muslim American communities. Millions of peace-loving Muslims live, work and raise their families across America. And they are the most likely to recognize the insidious effects of radicalization before it’s too late, and the best positioned to help us block it. So we should be intensifying contacts in those communities, not scapegoating or isolating them.

(APPLAUSE)

Last year, I visited a pilot program in Minneapolis that helps parents, teachers, imams, mental health professionals and others recognize signs of radicalization in young people and work with law enforcement to intervene before it’s too late.

I’ve also met with local leaders pursuing innovative approaches in Los Angeles and other places. And we need more efforts like that in more cities across America. And as the director of the FBI has pointed out, we should avoid eroding trust in that community, which will only make law enforcement’s job more difficult.

Inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric and threatening to ban the families and friends of Muslim Americans as well as millions of Muslim business people and tourists from entering our country hurts the vast majority of Muslims who love freedom and hate terror.

(APPLAUSE)

So does saying that we have to start special surveillance on our fellow Americans because of their religion. It’s no coincidence that hate crimes against American Muslims and mosques have tripled after Paris and San Bernardino. That’s wrong. And it’s also dangerous. It plays right into the terrorists’ hands.

Still, as I have said before, none of us can close our eyes to the fact that we do face enemies who use their distorted version of Islam to justify slaughtering $ innocent people. They’d take us all back to the Stone Age if they could, just as they have in parts of Iraq and Syria.

The terrorist in Orlando targeted LGBT Americans out of hatred and bigotry. And an attack on any American is an attack on all Americans.

(APPLAUSE) And I want to say this to all the LGBT people grieving today in Florida and across our country. You have millions of allies who will always have your back.

(APPLAUSE)

And I am one of them.

(APPLAUSE)

From Stonewall to Laramie, and now Orlando, we’ve seen too many examples of how the struggle to live freely, openly and without fear has been met by violence. We have to stand together, be proud together. There is no better rebuke to the terrorists and all those who hate.

Our open, diverse society is an asset in the struggle against terrorism, not a liability. It makes us stronger and more resistant to radicalization. And this raises a larger point about the future of our country.

America is strongest when we all believe that we have a stake in our country and our future.

CLINTON: This vision has sustained us from the beginning. The belief that, yes, we are all created equal and the journey we have made to turn that into reality over the course of our history, that we are not a land of winners and losers, that we should all have the opportunity to live up to our God-given potential. And we have a responsibility to help others do so as well.

(APPLAUSE)

As I look at American history, I see that this has always been a country of “we” not “me.” We stand together because we are stronger together. E pluribus unum. One — out of many, one — has seen us through the darkest chapters of our history. Ever since 13 squabbling colonies put aside their disagreements and united because they realized they were going to rise together or fall separately, generation after generation has fought and marched and organized to widen the circle of dignity and opportunity. Ending slavery. Securing and expanding the right to vote. Throwing open the doors of education. Building the greatest middle class the world has ever seen.

And we are stronger when more people can participate in our democracy.

(APPLAUSE)

And we are stronger when everyone can share in the rewards of our economy and contribute to our communities, when we bridge our divides and lift each other up instead of tearing each other down. Now we have overcome a lot together and we will overcome the threats of terror and radicalization and all of our other challenges. Here in Ohio and across America, I’ve listened to people talk about the problems that keep you up at night.

The bonds that hold us together as communities, as one national community, are strained by an economy with too much inequality and too little upward mobility. By social and political divisions that have diminished our trust in each other and our confidence in our shared future. I have heard that, and I want you to know as your president I will work every day to break down all the barriers holding you back and keeping us apart. We’re gonna get an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top, we’re gonna forge a new sense of connection and shared responsibility to each other and our nation.

And finally,

(APPLAUSE) finally let me remind us all, I remember, I remember how it felt, on the day after 9/11, and I bet many of you do as well. Americans from all walks of life rallied together with a sense of common purpose on September the 12th and in the days and weeks and months that followed. We had each others’ backs. I was a senator from New York. There was a Republican president, a Republican governor, and a Republican mayor. We did not attack each other. We worked with each other to protect our country and to rebuild our city (ph).

(APPLAUSE)

President Bush went to a Muslim community center just six days after the attacks to send a message of unity and solidarity. To anyone who wanted to take out their anger on our Muslim neighbors and fellow citizens, he said, “That should not, and that will not, stand in America.” It is time to get back to the spirit of those days, spirit of 9/12. Let’s make sure we keep looking to the best of our country, to the best within each of us. Democratic and Republican presidents have risen to the occasion in the face of tragedy. That is what we are called to do my friends and I am so confident and optimistic that is exactly what we will do.

Thank you all so much.

 

Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 June 13, 2016: Donald Trump’s Speech on the Orlando Shooting and National Security Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:

Donald Trump’s Speech on the Orlando Shooting and National Security

Source: Time, 6-13-16

TRUMP: (OFF-MIKE) This was going to be a speech on Hillary Clinton and all of the bad things and we all know what’s going on, and especially how poor she’d do as president in these very, very troubled times of radical Islamic terrorism.

TRUMP: Even her former Secret Service agent, who’s seen her under pressure and in times of stress, has stated that she lacks the temperament and integrity to be our president. There will be plenty of opportunity to discuss these important issues at a later time, and I will deliver that speech very, very soon.

But today, there’s only one thing to discuss, the growing threat of terrorism inside of our borders. The attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, was the worst terror strike on our soil since September 11th, and the worst mass shooting in our country’s history.

So many people — it’s just hard to believe, but just so many people dead, so many people gravely injured, so much carnage, such a disgrace. The horror is beyond description. The families of these wonderful people are totally devastated, and they will be forever. Likewise, our whole nation and indeed the whole world is devastated.

We express our deepest sympathies to the victims, the wounded, and their families. We mourn as one people for our nation’s loss, and pledge our support to any and all who need it. I would like to ask now that we all observe a moment of silence for the victims of this attack.

Thank you. Our nation stands together in solidarity with the members of Orlando’s LGBT community. They have been through something that nobody could ever experience. This is a very dark moment in America’s history. A radical Islamic terrorist targeted the nightclub, not only because he wanted to kill Americans, but in order to execute gay and lesbian citizens, because of their sexual orientation.

It’s a strike at the heart and soul of who we are as a nation. It’s an assault on the ability of free people to live their lives, love who they want, and express their identity. It’s an attack on the right of every single American to live in peace and safety in their own country.

We need to respond to this attack on America as one united people, with force, purpose, and determination. But the current politically correct response cripples our ability to talk and to think and act clearly. We’re not acting clearly, we’re not talking clearly, we’ve got problems.

If we don’t get tough, and if we don’t get smart, and fast, we’re not going to have our country anymore. There will be nothing, absolutely nothing, left. The killer, whose name I will not use, or ever say, was born in Afghan, of Afghan parents, who immigrated to the United States.

His father published support for the Afghan Taliban, a regime which murders those who don’t share its radical views, and they murdered plenty. The father even said he was running for president of Afghanistan. The bottom line is that the only reason the killer was in America in the first place, was because we allowed his family to come here.

That is a fact, and it’s a fact we need to talk about. We have a dysfunctional immigration system, which does not permit us to know who we let into our country, and it does not permit us to protect our citizens properly. We have an incompetent administration.

And if I’m elected president, that will not change, I will tell you, that will not change over the next four years. We have an administration that will not change. But if I get in there, it’s going to change, and it’s going to change quickly. We’re going from totally incompetent to just the opposite, believe me.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Thank you.

With 50 people dead and perhaps more ultimately and dozens more wounded, we cannot afford to talk around issues anymore. We have to address these issues head-on. I called for a ban after San Bernardino and was met with great scorn and anger but now many years and I have to say many years but many are saying that I was right to do so. And although the pause is temporary we must find out what is going on. We have to do it.

It will be lifted — this ban — when and as a nation we’re in a position to properly and perfectly screen these people coming into our country. They’re pouring in and we don’t know what we’re doing. The immigration laws of the United States give the president powers to suspend entry into the country of any class of persons. Now, any class — it really is determined and to be determined by the president for the interests of the United States. And it’s as he or she deems appropriate. Hopefully it’s he in this case.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. I will use this power to protect the American people. When I’m elected I will suspend immigration from areas of the world where there’s a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies until we fully understand how to end these threats. After a full …

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

And by the way we have no choice. After a full and partial and long — really long overdue security assessment we will develop a responsible immigration policy that serves the interests and values of America.

(APPLAUSE)

We cannot continue to allow thousands upon thousands of people to pour into our country many of whom have the same thought process as this savage killer. Many of the principles of radical Islam are incompatible with Western values and institutions.

(APPLAUSE) Remember this, radical Islam is anti-woman, anti-gay and anti- American.

(APPLAUSE)

I refuse to allow America to become a place where gay people, Christian people, Jewish people are targets of persecution and intimation by radical Islamic preachers of hate and violence.

(APPLAUSE)

This is not just a national security issue. It’s a quality of life issue. If we want to protect the quality of life for all Americans — women and children, gay and straight, Jews and Christians and all people then we need to tell the truth about radical Islam and we need to do it now.

(APPLAUSE)

We need to tell the truth also about how radical Islam is coming to our shores. And it’s coming …

(APPLAUSE)

With these people, folks, it’s coming. We’re importing radical Islamic terrorism into the West through a failed immigration system and through an intelligence community held back by our president. Even our own FBI director has admitted that we cannot effectively check the backgrounds of people we’re letting into America. All of the September 11th hijackists were issued visas. Large numbers of Somali refugees in Minnesota have tried to join ISIS.

The Boston bombers came here through political asylum. The male shooter in San Bernardino again whose name I will not mention was the child of immigrants from Pakistan and he brought his wife, the other terrorist from Saudi Arabia through another one of our easily exploited visa programs.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Immigration from Afghanistan into the United States has increased nearly five fold — five fold in just one year. According to Pew Research, 99 percent of the people in Afghanistan support oppressive sharia law. We admit many more, and that’s just the way it is. We admit many more from other countries in the region.

And I’ll tell you what: They share these oppressive views and values. We want to remain a free and open society. Then, and if we do, then we have to control our borders. We have to control, and we have to control them now, not later. Right now.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

Yet Hillary Clinton, for months, and despite so many attacks, repeatedly refused to even say the words radical Islam until I challenged her yesterday. And, guess what, she will probably say them. She sort of has said them, but let’s see what happens. She really has no choice, but she doesn’t want to.

However, she’s really been forced, and she has been forced to say these words. She supports, and the reason is, she supports so much of what is wrong, and what is wrong with this country, and what’s going wrong with our country and our borders. She has no clue, in my opinion, what radical Islam is and she won’t speak honestly about it if she does, in fact, know. She’s in total denial, and her continuing reluctance to ever name the enemy broadcasts weakness across the entire world — true weakness.

I don’t know if you know this, but just a few weeks before San Bernardino, the slaughter, that’s all it was was a slaughter, Hillary Clinton explained her refusal to say the words “radical Islam.” Here is what she said, exact quote, “Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people, and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.” That is Hillary Clinton.

So, she says the solution is to ban guns. They tried that in France which has among the toughest gun laws anywhere in the world, and 130 people were brutally murdered by Islamic terrorists in cold blood. Her plan is to disarm law abiding Americans, abolishing the Second Amendment, and leaving only the bad guys and terrorists with guns. No good. Not going to happen, folks. Not going to happen. Not going to happen. (APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

She wants to take away American’s guns and then admit the very people who want to slaughter us. Let them come into the country, we don’t have guns. Let them come in, let them have all the fun they want.

I will be meeting with the NRA, which has given me their earliest endorsement in a presidential race, to discuss how to ensure Americans have the means to protect themselves in this age of terror. I will be always defending the Second Amendment.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. Thank you.

The bottom line is that Hillary supports policies that bring the threat of radical Islam into American and allow it to grow oversees, and it is growing. In fact, Hillary Clinton’s catastrophic immigration plan will bring vastly more radical Islamic immigration into this country, threatening not only our society but our entire way of life. When it comes to radical Islamic terrorism, ignorance is not bliss. It’s deadly — totally deadly.

The Obama administration, with the support of Hillary Clinton and others, has also damaged our security by restraining our intelligence gathering and we have, just, no intelligence gathering information. We need this information so badly, and he stopped it. We don’t have the support. We don’t have the support of the law enforcement system because Obama is not letting them do their job. They are not being allowed to do their job. And, they can do it well — better than anybody.

We need a new leader. We need a new leader fast.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Thank you.

They have put political correctness above common sense, above your safety, and above all else. I refuse to be politically correct.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to do the right thing. I want to straighten things out and I want to make America great again.

(APPLAUSE)

The days of deadly ignorance will end, and they will end soon if I’m elected. As president I will give our intelligence community, law enforcement and military the tools they need to prevent terrorist attacks. They don’t have those tools now.

(APPLAUSE)

We need an intelligence gathering system second to none. Second to none. That includes better cooperation between state, local and federal officials, and with our allies, very importantly. I will have an Attorney General, a Director of National Intelligence and a Secretary of Defense who’ll know how to fight a war on radical Islamic terrorism.

(APPLAUSE)

And they will have the support that they need to get the job done right, not like it is right now. It’s not right.

(APPLAUSE)

We also must ensure the American people are provided the information they need to understand the threat. The Senate subcommittee on Immigration has already identified hundreds of immigrants charged with terrorist activities inside the United States since September 11th. Nearly a year ago, the Senate Subcommittee asked President Obama’s Department of Justice, State and Homeland Security to provide the immigration history of all terrorists inside the United States. These Departments refused to comply. Nobody even knows why. They refused to comply.

President Obama must release the full and complete immigration histories of all individuals implicated in terrorist activities of any kind since September 11th. So important. The public has a right to know how these people got here, how they came on to this great land, why are they here?

(APPLAUSE)

We have to screen applicants to know whether they are affiliated with or supporting radical groups and beliefs, very simple. We have to control the amount of future immigration into this country and we have to prevent large pockets of radicalization from forming inside America. Not complicated.

(APPLAUSE)

Every – and just think of this. Take a look. Every single event, even a single individual can be devastating, and all you have to do is take a look at what happened in Orlando and what happened in other cases. Just a single event. And just one person. Can you imagine what they’ll do in large groups, which we’re allowing now to come here.

Truly our President doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s failed us and he’s failed us badly. Under his leadership this situation will not get any better, it will only get worse. And I’ve been saying that for a long time. Each year the United States permanently admits 100,000 immigrants from the Middle East and many more from Muslim countries outside of the Middle East. Our government has been admitting ever- growing numbers, year after year, without any effective plan for our own security.

In fact, Clinton’s State Department was in charge of admissions and the admissions process for people applying to enter from overseas. Having learned nothing from these attacks, she now plans to massively increase admissions without a screening plan including a 500 percent increase in Syrian refugees coming into our country. Tell me, tell me – how stupid is that?

This could be a better, bigger, more horrible version than the legendary Trojan Horse ever was. Altogether, under the Clinton plan, you’d be admitting hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East with no system to vet them, or to prevent the radicalization of the children and their children. Not only their children, by the way, they’re trying to take over our children and convince them how wonderful ISIS is and how wonderful Islam is and we don’t know what’s happening.

TRUMP: The burden is on Hillary Clinton to tell us why she believes immigration from these dangerous countries should be increased without any effective system to really to screen. We’re not screening people.

So why don’t we have an effective screening system? We don’t. We’re being laughed at all over the world. The burden is on Hillary Clinton to tell us why we should admit anyone into our country who supports violence of any kind against gay and lesbian Americans. The burden is on Hillary Clinton to tell us how she will pay for it, her plan will cost hundreds of billions of dollars long term.

Wouldn’t this be money better spent rebuilding America for our current population including the many poor people already living here. We have cities, we have inner cities…

(APPLAUSE)

We have poverty all over and this is how we’re spending billions of dollars. We have to stop the tremendous flow of Syrian refugees into the United States. We don’t know who they are, they have no documentation and we don’t know what they’re planning and we won’t unless we have proper supervisor and proper leadership in which case they’re out of here. What I want…

(APPLAUSE)

What I want is common sense. I want a mainstream immigration policy that promotes American values. That’s a choice I put before the American people. A mainstream immigration policy designed to benefit America or Hillary Clinton’s radical immigration policy designed to benefit politically correct special interests. That’s all it is. We’ve got to get smart and tough and vigilant and we’ve got to do it now because later is too late — going to be too late for our country.

The media talks about home grown terrorism but Islamic radicalism and that’s a very, very important term — a term that the president refuses to use and the networks that nurture it are imports from overseas whether you like it or whether you don’t like it. Yes, there are many radicalized people already inside our country as a result of poor policies of the past.

But the whole point is that we will be much, much and it will be easier to deal with our current problem if we don’t keep on bringing people who add to the problem. And that’s what they’re doing. We’re letting all of these people — hundreds of thousands of people come in and all they’re doing is adding to this incredible problem we have.

For instance, the controversial mosque attended by the Boston bombers had at its founder and as its founder an immigrant from overseas charged in an assassination plot. This shooter and amazingly in Orlando was the child of an immigrant father who supported one of the most repressive regimes on earth. Why would we admit people who support violent hatred?

Hillary Clinton can never claim to be a friend of the gay community as long as she continues to support immigration policies that bring Islamic extremists to our country and who suppress women, gays and anyone who doesn’t share their views or values.

(APPLAUSE)

She can’t have it both ways. She can’t claim to be supportive of these communities while trying to increase the number of people coming in who want to oppress these same communities. How does this kind of immigration make our lives better? How does this kind of immigration make our country better? Why does Hillary Clinton want to bring people in in vast numbers who reject our values? Why? Explain.

Ask yourself who is really the friend of women and the LGBT community, Donald Trump with actions or Hillary Clinton with her words?

TRUMP: I will tell you who the better friend is and some day I believe that will be proven out bigly (ph).

(APPLAUSE)

And by the way the LGBT community is just — what’s happened to them is just so sad and to be thinking about where their policies are currently with this administration is a disgrace to that community, I will tell you right now.

Clinton wants to allow radical Islamic terrorists to pour into our country. They enslave women, and they murder gays. I don’t want them in our country.

(APPLAUSE)

Immigration is a privilege, and we should not let anyone into this country who doesn’t support our communities. All of our communities, every single one of them. Americans already admitted four times more immigrants than any country on Earth, anybody in the world. Four times more. At least, because we don’t even know who’s coming in. And we continue to admit millions more with no real checks or scrutiny.

Not surprisingly, wages for our workers haven’t budged. In almost 20 years. You wonder why we get the crowds, you wonder why we get this tremendous support, you wonder why I’ve gotten more votes than any Republican in any primary in the history of the Republican Party? Take a look at that. Take a look at your security, take a look at the wages. For 18 years they’ve been stagnant, they’ve even gone down.

So whether it’s a matter of national security, or financial security, we can’t afford to keep on going like this. Cannot afford it. We owe $19 trillion in debt. And no longer have any options. Our communities from all backgrounds are ready for some relief. This is not an act of offense against anyone. It’s really an act of defense. I want us all, all of us, to work together. We have to form a partnership, with our Muslim communities. We have Muslim communities in this country that are great, and we have to form that partnership.

Now, the Muslim community, so important. They have to work with us. They have to cooperate with law enforcement and turn in the people who they know are bad. They know it. And they have to do it, and they have to do it forthwith. I want to fix our schools. I want to fix our bridges. And our jobs market, we’re going to have it rocket again, we’re going to make great trade deals. But I want every American to succeed including Muslims.

But the Muslims have to work with us. They have to work with us. They know what’s going on. They know that he was bad. They knew the people in San Bernardino were bad. But you know what? They didn’t turn them in. And you know what? We had death, and destruction.

Hillary Clinton wants to empty out the Treasury to bring people into the country that include individuals who preach hate against our citizens. I want to protect our citizens, all of our citizens. The terrorist attack on Pulse nightclub demands a full and complete investigation into every single aspect of the assault. In San Bernardino, as an example, people who knew what was going on, they knew exactly, but they used the excuse of racial profiling for not reporting it. They said oh, “We thought so but we didn’t want to use racial profiling.” Which was probably an excuse given to them by their lawyer, so they don’t get in trouble.

We need to know what the killer discussed with his relatives, parents, friends and associates. We need to know if he was affiliated with any radical mosques or radical activists and what, if any, is their immigration status. We have to know, and we have to know fast. We need to know if he traveled anywhere and who he traveled with. We need to know, and we need to make sure, every single last person involved in this plan, including anyone who knew something but didn’t tell us, is brought to justice, so when people know what’s going on and they don’t tell us, and we have an attack, and people die, these people have to have consequences. Big consequences.

(APPLAUSE)

America must do more — much more — to protect its citizens, especially people who are potential victims of crimes based on their backgrounds or sexual orientation, as you just saw in Orlando.

TRUMP: It also means we must change our foreign policy. The decision to overthrow the regime in Libya, then pushing for the overthrow of the regime in Syria, among other things, without plans for the day after, have created space for ISIS to expand and grow like nobody has ever seen before.

These actions, along with our disastrous Iran deal, have also reduced our ability to work in partnership with our Muslim allies in the region. That is why our new goal must be to defeat Islamic terrorism not nation building. No more nation building. It’s never going to work.

And by the way we’ve spent almost $5 trillion over the years on trying to nation build in the Middle East and it has been complete and total disaster. We’re further away now than we were 15 years ago. For instance, the last major NATO mission was Hillary Clinton’s war in Libya. That mission helped to unleash ISIS on a new continent.

I’ve said NATO need to change its focus and stop terrorism. We have to focus on terrorism and we have to stop terrorism. Since I’ve raised that criticism and it’s OK. I’ve gotten no credit for it but these are minor details — NATO has since announced a new initiative — front page of the Wall Street Journal four days ago focused on just that. America must unite the whole civilized world in the fight against Islamic terrorism.

(APPLAUSE)

Pretty much like we did with communism during the Cold War. We tried it President Obama’s way, doesn’t work. He gave the world his apology tour. We got ISIS and many other problems in return. That’s what we got. Remember the famous apology tour. We’re sorry for everything.

I’d like to conclude my remarks today by again expressing our solitarily with the people of Orlando who have come under this horrific attack. When I’m president I pledge to protect and defend all Americans who live inside our borders. Wherever they come from, wherever they were born, I don’t care. All Americans living here and following our laws not other laws will be protected.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. Thank you. We’re going to be tough and we’re going to be smart and we’re going to do it right. America will be a tolerant and open society. America will also be a safe society. We will protect our borders at home. We will defeat ISIS overseas. We have no choice. We will ensure every parent can raise their children in peace and safety. We will make America rich again. We will make America safe again. We will make America great again. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. Thank you very much, everybody. Appreciate it. Thank you.

Full Text Political Transcripts June 2, 2016: Hillary Clinton’s Speech on Donald Trump and National Security

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:

Hillary Clinton’s Speech on Donald Trump and National Security

Source: Time, 6-2-16

HILLARY CLINTON: Thank you, thank you so much. Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you San Diego for that warm, warm welcome and thanks to Ellen for those moving words, her introduction, and for reminding us it’s not only our men and women in uniform that serve our country, it’s their families, their spouses, their children, and we are grateful to each and every one of them. I want to recognize and thank Congressman Scott Peters for being here, thank you very much.

[Applause]

And all of the other electeds and service members, active duty and retired National Guard and Reservists, veterans, military spouses, family members, all who are with us today.

On Monday, we observed Memorial Day – a day that means a great deal to San Diego, home of so many active-duty and former military and their families. We honor the sacrifice of those who died for our country in many ways – by living our values, by making this a stronger and fairer nation, and by carrying out a smart and principled foreign policy.

That’s what I want to speak about today – the challenges we face in protecting our country, and the choice at stake in this election.

It’s a choice between a fearful America that’s less secure and less engaged with the world, and a strong, confident America that leads to keep our country safe and our economy growing.

[Applause]

As Secretary of State, Senator and First Lady, I had the honor of representing America abroad and helping shape our foreign policy at home. As a candidate for President, there’s nothing I take more seriously than our national security. I’ve offered clear strategies for how to defeat ISIS, strengthen our alliances, and make sure Iran never gets a nuclear weapon. And I’m going to keep America’s security at the heart of my campaign.

[Applause]

Because as you know so well, Americans aren’t just electing a President in November. We’re choosing our next commander-in-chief – the person we count on to decide questions of war and peace, life and death.

And like many across our country and around the world, I believe the person the Republicans have nominated for President cannot do the job.

[Applause]

Donald Trump’s ideas aren’t just different – they are dangerously incoherent. They’re not even really ideas – just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds, and outright lies.

[Applause]

He is not just unprepared – he is temperamentally unfit to hold an office that requires knowledge, stability and immense responsibility.

[Applause]

This is not someone who should ever have the nuclear codes – because it’s not hard to imagine Donald Trump leading us into a war just because somebody got under his very thin skin.

[Applause]

We cannot put the security of our children and grandchildren in Donald Trump’s hands. We cannot let him roll the dice with America.

This is a man who said that more countries should have nuclear weapons, including Saudi Arabia.

This is someone who has threatened to abandon our allies in NATO – the countries that work with us to root out terrorists abroad before they strike us at home.

He believes we can treat the U.S. economy like one of his casinos and default on our debts to the rest of the world, which would cause an economic catastrophe far worse than anything we experienced in 2008.

[Applause]

He has said that he would order our military to carry out torture and the murder of civilians who are related to suspected terrorists – even though those are war crimes.

He says he doesn’t have to listen to our generals or our admirals, our ambassadors and other high officials, because he has – quote – “a very good brain.”

[Laughter]

He also said, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.” You know what? I don’t believe him.

[Applause]

He says climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese, and he has the gall to say that prisoners of war like John McCain aren’t heroes.

Exactly.

He praises dictators like Vladimir Putin and picks fights with our friends – including the British prime minister, the mayor of London, the German chancellor, the president of Mexico and the Pope.

[Applause]

He says he has foreign policy experience because he ran the Miss Universe pageant in Russia.

And to top it off, he believes America is weak. An embarrassment. He called our military a disaster. He said we are – and I quote – a “third-world country.” And he’s been saying things like that for decades.

Those are the words my friends of someone who doesn’t understand America or the world.

And they’re the words of someone who would lead us in the wrong direction. Because if you really believe America is weak – with our military, our values, our capabilities that no other country comes close to matching – then you don’t know America.

[Applause]

And you certainly don’t deserve to lead it.

That’s why – even if I weren’t in this race – I’d be doing everything I could to make sure Donald Trump never becomes President – because I believe he will take our country down a truly dangerous path.

Unlike him, I have some experience with the tough calls and the hard work of statecraft. I wrestled with the Chinese over a climate deal in Copenhagen, brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, negotiated the reduction of nuclear weapons with Russia, twisted arms to bring the world together in global sanctions against Iran, and stood up for the rights of women, religious minorities and LGBT people around the world.

[Applause]

And I have, I have sat in the Situation Room and advised the President on some of the toughest choices he faced.

So I’m not new to this work. And I’m proud to run on my record, because I think the choice before the American people in this election is clear.

I believe in strong alliances; clarity in dealing with our rivals; and a rock-solid commitment to the values that have always made America great. And I believe with all my heart that America is an exceptional country – that we’re still, in Lincoln’s words, the last, best hope of earth. We are not a country that cowers behind walls. We lead with purpose, and we prevail.

And if America doesn’t lead, we leave a vacuum – and that will either cause chaos, or other countries will rush in to fill the void. Then they’ll be the ones making the decisions about your lives and jobs and safety – and trust me, the choices they make will not be to our benefit.

That is not an outcome we can live with.

As I see it, there are some important things our next President must do to secure American leadership and keep us safe and our economy growing in the years ahead. These are all areas in which Donald Trump and I profoundly disagree. And they are all critical to our future.

First, we need to be strong at home.

That means investing in our infrastructure, education and innovation – the fundamentals of a strong economy. We need to reduce income inequality, because our country can’t lead effectively when so many are struggling to provide the basics for their families. And we need to break down the barriers that hold Americans back, including barriers of bigotry and discrimination.

[Applause]

Compare that with what Trump wants to do. His economic plans would add more than $30 trillion – that’s trillion with a “t” – $30 trillion to our national debt over the next 20 years. He has no ideas on education. No ideas on innovation. He has a lot of ideas about who to blame, but no clue about what to do.

None of what Donald Trump is offering will make America stronger at home. And that would make us weaker in the world.

Second, we need to stick with our allies.

America’s network of allies is part of what makes us exceptional. And our allies deliver for us every day.

[Applause]

Our armed forces fight terrorists together; our diplomats work side by side. Allies provide staging areas for our military, so we can respond quickly to events on the other side of the world. And they share intelligence that helps us identify and defuse potential threats.

Take the threat posed by North Korea – perhaps the most repressive regime on the planet, run by a sadistic dictator who wants to develop long-range missiles that could carry a nuclear weapon to the United States.

When I was Secretary of State, we worked closely with our allies Japan and South Korea to respond to this threat, including by creating a missile defense system that stands ready to shoot down a North Korean warhead, should its leaders ever be reckless enough to launch one at us. The technology is ours. Key parts of it are located on Japanese ships. All three countries contributed to it. And this month, all three of our militaries will run a joint drill to test it.

That’s the power of allies.

[Applause]

And it’s the legacy of American troops who fought and died to secure those bonds, because they knew we were safer with friends and partners.

Now Moscow and Beijing are deeply envious of our alliances around the world, because they have nothing to match them. They’d love for us to elect a President who would jeopardize that source of strength. If Donald gets his way, they’ll be celebrating in the Kremlin. We cannot let that happen.

[Applause]

That’s why it is no small thing when he talks about leaving NATO, or says he’ll stay neutral on Israel’s security.

It’s no small thing when he calls Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers. We’re lucky to have two friendly neighbors on our land borders. Why would he want to make one of them an enemy?

[Applause]

And it’s no small thing when he suggests that America should withdraw our military support for Japan, encourage them to get nuclear weapons, and said this about a war between Japan and North Korea – and I quote – “If they do, they do. Good luck, enjoy yourself, folks.”

I wonder if he even realizes he’s talking about nuclear war.

Yes, our friends need to contribute their fair share. I made that point long before Donald Trump came onto the scene – and a number of them have increased their defense spending. The real debate here is whether we keep these alliances strong or cut them off. What he says would weaken our country.

Third, we need to embrace all the tools of American power, especially diplomacy and development, to be on the frontlines solving problems before they threaten us at home.

Diplomacy is often the only way to avoid a conflict that could end up exacting a much greater cost. It takes patience, persistence and an eye on the long game – but it’s worth it.

Take the nuclear agreement with Iran. When President Obama took office, Iran was racing toward a nuclear bomb. Some called for military action. But that could have ignited a broader war that could have mired our troops in another Middle Eastern conflict.

President Obama chose a different path. And I got to work leading the effort to impose crippling global sanctions. We brought Iran to the table. We began talks. And eventually, we reached an agreement that should block every path for Iran to get a nuclear weapon.

Now we must enforce that deal vigorously. And as I’ve said many times before, our approach must be “distrust and verify.” The world must understand that the United States will act decisively if necessary, including with military action, to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. In particular, Israel’s security is non-negotiable. They’re our closest ally in the region, and we have a moral obligation to defend them.

[Applause]

But there is no question that the world and the United States, we are safer now than we were before this agreement. And we accomplished it without firing a single shot, dropping a single bomb or putting a single American soldier in harm’s way.

[Applause]

Donald Trump says we shouldn’t have done the deal. We should have walked away. But that would have meant no more global sanctions, and Iran resuming their nuclear program and the world blaming us. So then what? War? Telling the world, good luck, you deal with Iran?

Of course Trump doesn’t have answers to those questions. Donald Trump doesn’t know the first thing about Iran or its nuclear program. Ask him. It’ll become very clear, very quickly.

There’s no risk of people losing their lives if you blow up a golf-course deal.

[Laughter]

But it doesn’t work like that in world affairs. Just like being interviewed on the same episode of “60 Minutes” as Putin was, is not the same thing as actually dealing with Putin.

So the stakes in global statecraft are infinitely higher and more complex than in the world of luxury hotels. We all know the tools Donald Trump brings to the table – bragging, mocking, composing nasty tweets – I’m willing to bet he’s writing a few right now.

[Applause]

But those tools won’t do the trick. Rather than solving global crises, he would create new ones.

He has no sense of what it takes to deal with multiple countries with competing interests and reaching a solution that everyone can get behind. In fact, he is downright contemptuous of that work. And that means he’s much more likely to end up leading us into conflict.

Fourth, we need to be firm but wise with our rivals.

Countries like Russia and China often work against us. Beijing dumps cheap steel in our markets. That hurts American workers. Moscow has taken aggressive military action in Ukraine, right on NATO’s doorstep. Now I’ve gone toe-to-toe with Russia and China, and many other different leaders around the world. So I know we have to be able to both stand our ground when we must, and find common ground when we can.

That’s how I could work with Russia to conclude the New START treaty to reduce nuclear stockpiles, and with China to increase pressure on North Korea. It’s how our diplomats negotiated the landmark agreement on climate change, which Trump now wants to rip up.

[Applause]

The key was never forgetting who we were dealing with – not friends or allies, but countries that share some common interests with us amid many disagreements.

Donald doesn’t see the complexity. He wants to start a trade war with China. And I understand a lot of Americans have concerns about our trade agreements – I do too. But a trade war is something very different. We went down that road in the 1930s. It made the Great Depression longer and more painful. Combine that with his comments about defaulting on our debt, and it’s not hard to see how a Trump presidency could lead to a global economic crisis.

And I have to say, I don’t understand Donald’s bizarre fascination with dictators and strongmen who have no love for America. He praised China for the Tiananmen Square massacre; he said it showed strength. He said, “You’ve got to give Kim Jong Un credit” for taking over North Korea – something he did by murdering everyone he saw as a threat, including his own uncle, which Donald described gleefully, like he was recapping an action movie. And he said if he were grading Vladimir Putin as a leader, he’d give him an A.

Now, I’ll leave it to the psychiatrists to explain his affection for tyrants.

[Applause]

I just wonder how anyone could be so wrong about who America’s real friends are. Because it matters. If you don’t know exactly who you’re dealing with, men like Putin will eat your lunch.

Fifth, we need a real plan for confronting terrorists.

As we saw six months ago in San Bernardino, the threat is real and urgent. Over the past year, I’ve laid out my plans for defeating ISIS.

We need to take out their strongholds in Iraq and Syria by intensifying the air campaign and stepping up our support for Arab and Kurdish forces on the ground. We need to keep pursuing diplomacy to end Syria’s civil war and close Iraq’s sectarian divide, because those conflicts are keeping ISIS alive. We need to lash up with our allies, and ensure our intelligence services are working hand-in-hand to dismantle the global network that supplies money, arms, propaganda and fighters to the terrorists. We need to win the battle in cyberspace.

[Applause]

And of course we need to strengthen our defenses here at home.

That – in a nutshell – is my plan for defeating ISIS.

What’s Trump’s? Well he won’t say. He is literally keeping it a secret. The secret, of course, is he has no idea what he’d do to stop ISIS.

Just look at the few things he’s actually said on the subject.

He’s actually said – and I quote – “maybe Syria should be a free zone for ISIS.” Oh, okay – let a terrorist group have control of a major country in the Middle East.

Then he said we should send tens of thousands of American ground troops to the Middle East to fight ISIS.

He also refused to rule out using nuclear weapons against ISIS, which would mean mass civilian casualties.

It’s clear he doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about. So we can’t be certain which of these things he would do. But we can be certain that he’s capable of doing any or all of them. Letting ISIS run wild. Launching a nuclear attack. Starting a ground war. These are all distinct possibilities with Donald Trump in charge.

And through all his loose talk, there’s one constant theme: demonizing Muslims and playing right into the hands of ISIS’. His proposal to ban 1.5 billion Muslims from even coming to our country doesn’t just violate the religious freedom our country was founded on. It’s also a huge propaganda victory for ISIS. And it alienates the very countries we need to actually help us in this fight.

A Trump Presidency would embolden ISIS. We cannot take that risk.

This isn’t reality television – this is actual reality.

[Applause]

And defeating global terrorist networks and protecting the homeland takes more than empty talk and a handful of slogans. It takes a real plan, real experience and real leadership. Donald Trump lacks all three.

And one more thing. A President has a sacred responsibility to send our troops into battle only if we absolutely must, and only with a clear and well-thought-out strategy. Our troops give their all. They deserve a commander-in-chief who knows that.

I’ve worked side-by-side with admirals and generals, and visited our troops in theaters of war. I’ve fought for better health care for our National Guard, better services for our veterans, and more support for our Gold Star families. We cannot put the lives of our young men and women in uniform in Donald Trump’s hands.

Sixth, we need to stay true to our values.

Trump says over and over again, “The world is laughing at us.” He’s been saying this for decades, he didn’t just start this year. He bought full-page ads in newspapers across the country back in 1987, when Ronald Reagan was President, saying that America lacked a backbone and the world was – you guessed it – laughing at us. He was wrong then, and he’s wrong now – and you’ve got to wonder why somebody who fundamentally has so little confidence in America, and has felt that way for at least 30 years, wants to be our President.

The truth is, there’s not a country in the world that can rival us. It’s not just that we have the greatest military, or that our economy is larger, more durable, more entrepreneurial than any in the world. It’s also that Americans work harder, dream bigger – and we never, ever stop trying to make our country and world a better place.

[Applause]

So it really matters that Donald Trump says things that go against our deepest-held values. It matters when he says he’ll order our military to murder the families of suspected terrorists. During the raid to kill bin Laden, when every second counted, our SEALs took the time to move the women and children in the compound to safety. Donald Trump may not get it, but that’s what honor looks like.

[Applause]

And it also matters when he makes fun of disabled people, calls women pigs, proposes banning an entire religion from our country, or plays coy with white supremacists. America stands up to countries that treat women like animals, or people of different races, religions or ethnicities as less human.

[Applause]

What happens to the moral example we set – for the world and for our own children – if our President engages in bigotry?

And by the way, Mr. Trump – every time you insult American Muslims or Mexican immigrants, remember that plenty of Muslims and immigrants serve and fight in our armed forces.

[Applause]

Donald Trump, Donald Trump could learn something from them.

That brings me to the final point I want to make today – the temperament it takes to be Commander-in-Chief.

Every President faces hard choices every day, with imperfect information and conflicting imperatives. That’s the job.

A revolution threatens to topple a government in a key region, an adversary reaches out for the first time in years – what do you do?

Making the right call takes a cool head and respect for the facts. It takes a willingness to listen to other people’s points of view with a truly open mind. It also takes humility – knowing you don’t know everything – because if you’re convinced you’re always right, you’ll never ask yourself the hard questions.

I remember being in the Situation Room with President Obama, debating the potential Bin Laden operation. The President’s advisors were divided. The intelligence was compelling but far from definitive. The risks of failure were daunting. The stakes were significant for our battle against al Qaeda and our relationship with Pakistan. Most of all, the lives of those brave SEALs and helicopter pilots hung in the balance.

It was a decision only the President could make. And when he did, it was as crisp and courageous a display of leadership as I’ve ever seen.

Now imagine Donald Trump sitting in the Situation Room, making life-or-death decisions on behalf of the United States. Imagine him deciding whether to send your spouses or children into battle. Imagine if he had not just his Twitter account at his disposal when he’s angry, but America’s entire arsenal.

Do we want him making those calls – someone thin-skinned and quick to anger, who lashes out at the smallest criticism? Do we want his finger anywhere near the button?

I have a lot of faith that the American people will make the right decision. This is a country with a deep reservoir of common sense and national pride. We’re all counting on that.

[Applause]

Because making Donald Trump our commander-in-chief would be a historic mistake. It would undo so much of the work that Republicans and Democrats alike have done over many decades to make America stronger and more secure. It would set back our standing in the world more than anything in recent memory. And it would fuel an ugly narrative about who we are – that we’re fearful, not confident; that we want to let others determine our future for us, instead of shaping our own destiny.

That’s not the America I know and love.

So yes, we have a lot of work to do to keep our country secure. And we need to do better by American families and American workers – and we will. But don’t let anyone tell you that America isn’t great. Donald Trump’s got America all wrong. We are a big-hearted, fair-minded country.

[Applause]

There is no challenge we can’t meet, no goal we can’t achieve when we each do our part and come together as one nation.

Every lesson from our history teaches us that we are stronger together. We remember that every Memorial Day.

This election is a choice between two very different visions of America.

One that’s angry, afraid, and based on the idea that America is fundamentally weak and in decline.

The other is hopeful, generous, and confident in the knowledge that America is great – just like we always have been.

[Applause]

Let’s resolve that we can be greater still. That is what I believe in my heart.

I went to 112 countries as your Secretary of State. And I never lost my sense of pride at seeing our blue-and-white plane lit up on some far-off runway, with “The United States of America” emblazoned on the side. That plane – those words – our country represents something special, not just to us, to the world. It represents freedom and hope and opportunity.

I love this country and I know you do too. It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve America and I’m going to do everything I can to protect our nation, and make sure we don’t lose sight of how strong we really are.

Thank you all very much.

History Buzz June 13, 2013: Robert Dallek: Presidential Historian Says President Barack Obama Puts Security Above Privacy with NSA Data Collection Program

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Obama Puts Security Above Privacy

Source: US News, 6-13-13

Civil libertarians and some political liberals are up in arms.

“It’s not surprising,” according to Robert Dallek presidential historian.”This is what presidents do.”…

Domestic politics also plays a role, Dallek says. Presidents believe that their top job is to “keep the country safe,” and to fail in that mission would look “negligent,” a reputation that no president wants, the historian notes….READ MORE

Political Headlines May 1, 2013: President Barack Obama Ramps Up Support for Syrian Opposition

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Ramps Up Support for Syrian Opposition

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-1-13

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Obama has directed his national security team to identify ways to significantly increase U.S. support of the opposition forces battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad…

The first step will likely be a dramatic expansion of non-lethal aid to opposition fighters….READ MORE

Political Headlines January 12, 2013: White House Declines Death Star Undertaking, Cites Budget Constraints

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

White House Declines Death Star Undertaking, Cites Budget Constraints

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-12-13

Last month an online petition to the White House site We the People that called for the construction of the Death Star from the Star Wars movies surpassed the 25,000 signature threshold required to initiate an official response. Citing national security and the number of jobs the initiative would create, the petition gained 34,000 signatures.

On Friday Paul Shawcross of the Office of Management and Budget, showed he was up for satire and responded in kind, issuing a tongue-in-cheek address to the demand for a space station capable of obliterating entire planets.

“The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850 quadrillion. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it,” OMB’s science and technology officer wrote, using figures drawn from Lehigh University business students….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency November 14, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Press Conference in East Room, White House Transcript

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Transcript of President Obama’s Press Conference

Source: NYT, 11-14-12

President Obama’s Press Conference: In his first news conference since June, President Obama faced questions on David H. Petraeus, Libya and taxes.

The following is the complete transcript of President Obama’s press conference on Wednesday in Washington. (Transcript courtesy of Federal News Service.)

Related

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Good afternoon, everybody. Please have a seat.

I hear you have some questions for me — (laughter) — but let — let me just make a few remarks at the top and then I’ll open it up.

First of all, I want to reiterate what I said on Friday. Right now our economy is still recovering from a very deep and damaging crisis, so our top priority has to be jobs and growth. We’ve got to build on the progress that we’ve made because this nation succeeds when we’ve got a growing, thriving middle class. And that’s the idea at the core of the plan that I talked about on the campaign trail over the last year — rewarding manufacturers and small businesses that create jobs here, not overseas; providing more Americans the chance to earn (sic) the skills that businesses are looking for right now; keeping this country at the forefront of research, technology and clean energy; putting people back to work rebuilding our roads, our bridges and our schools; and reducing our deficit in a balanced and responsible way.

Now, on this last item, we face a very clear deadline that requires us to make some big decisions on jobs, taxes and deficits by the end of the year. Both parties voted to set this deadline and I believe that both parties can work together to make these decisions in a balanced and responsible way.

Yesterday I had a chance to meet with labor and civic leaders for their input. Today I’m meeting with CEOs of some of America’s largest companies. And I’ll meet with leaders of both parties of Congress before the week is out because there’s only one way to solve these challenges, and that is to do it together.

As I’ve said before, I’m open to compromise and I’m open to new ideas. And I’ve been encouraged over the past week to hear Republican after Republican agree for the need for more revenue from the wealthiest Americans as part of our arithmetic if we’re going to be serious about reducing the deficit because when it comes to taxes, there are two pathways available.

Option one, if Congress fails to act by the end of this year, everybody’s taxes will automatically go up, including the 98 percent of Americans who make less than $250,000 a year and the 97 percent of small businesses who earn less than $250,000 a year. That doesn’t make sense. Our economy can’t afford that right now. Certainly no middle-class family can afford that right now.

And nobody in either party says that they want it to happen. The other option is to pass a law right now that would prevent any tax hike whatsoever on the first $250,000 of everybody’s income. And by the way, that means every American, including the wealthiest Americans, get a tax cut. It means that 98 percent of all Americans and 97 percent of all small businesses won’t see their taxes go up a single dime.

The Senate has already passed a law like this. Democrats in the House are ready to pass a law like this. And I hope Republicans in the House come on board too. We should not hold the middle class hostage while we debate tax cuts for the wealthy. We should at least do what we agree on, and that’s to keep middle-class taxes lower. And I’ll bring everyone in to sign it right away so we can give folks some certainty before the holiday season.

I won’t pretend that figuring out everything else will be easy, but I’m confident we can do it and I know we have to. I know that that’s what the American people want us to do. That was a very clear message from the election last week. And that was the message of a letter that I received over the weekend. It came from a man in Tennessee who began by writing that he didn’t vote for me, which is OK.

But what he said was even though he didn’t give me his vote, he’s giving me his support to move this country forward. And he said the same to his Republican representatives in Washington. He said that he’ll back each of us, regardless of party, as long as we work together to make life better for all of us. And he made it clear that if we don’t make enough progress, he’ll be back in touch.

So my hope, he wrote, is that we can make progress in light of personal and party principles, special interest groups and years of business as usual. We’ve got to work together and put our differences aside. I couldn’t say it better myself. That’s precisely what I intend to do. And with that, let me open it up for your questions.

And I’m going to start off with Ben Feller of AP.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. Can you assure the American people that there have been no breaches of national security or classified information in the scandal involving Generals Petraeus and Allen? And do you think that you, as commander in chief, and the American people should have been told that the CIA chief was under investigation before the election?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I have no evidence at this point, from what I’ve seen, that classified information was disclosed that in any way would have had a negative impact on our national security. Obviously, there’s an ongoing investigation. I don’t want to comment on the specifics of the investigation. The FBI has its own protocols in terms of how they proceed. And you know, I’m going to let Director Mueller and others examine those protocols and make some statements to the public generally.

I do want to emphasize what I’ve said before. General Petraeus had an extraordinary career.

He served this country with great distinction in Iraq, in Afghanistan and as head of the CIA.

By his own assessment, he did not meet the standards that he felt were necessary as the director of CIA with respect to this personal matter that he is now dealing with with his family and with his wife. And it’s on that basis that he tendered his resignation, and it’s on that basis that I accepted it. But I want to emphasize that, from my perspective at least, he has provided this country an extraordinary service. We are safer because of the work that Dave Petraeus has done. And my main hope right now is — is that he and his family are able to move on and that this ends up being a single side note on what has otherwise been an extraordinary career.

Q: What about voters? Do they deserve to know?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, again, I think you’re going to have to talk to the FBI in terms of what their general protocols are when it comes to what started off as a potential criminal investigation. And one of the challenges here is — is that we’re not supposed to meddle in, you know, criminal investigations. And that’s been our practice. And you know, I think that there are certain procedures that both the FBI follow or DOJ follow when they’re involved in these investigations. That’s traditionally been how we view things, in part because people are innocent until proven guilty. And we want to make sure that we don’t prejudge these kinds of situations. And so my expectation is — is that they followed protocols that they already established.

(Inaudible) — Jessica Yellin. Where’s Jessica? Right there.

Q: Mr. President, on the fiscal cliff — two years ago, sir, you said that you wouldn’t extend the Bush-era tax cuts, but at the end of the day, you did. So respectfully, sir, why should the American people and the Republicans believe that you won’t cave again this time?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, two years ago the economy was in a different situation. We were still very much in the early parts of recovering from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. And ultimately, we came together, not only toe extend the Bush tax cuts, but also a wide range of policies that were going to be good for the economy at the point — unemployment insurance extensions, payroll tax extension — all of which made a difference, and is a part of the reason why what we’ve seen now is 32 consecutive months of job growth, and over 5 1/2 million jobs created, and the unemployment rate coming down.

But what I said at the time is what I meant, which is this was a one-time proposition. And you know, what I have told leaders privately as well as publicly is that we cannot afford to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. What we can do is make sure that middle-class taxes don’t go up.

And so the most important step we can take right now, and, I think, the foundation for a deal that helps the economy, creates jobs, gives consumers certainty, which means gives businesses confidence that they’re going to have consumers during the holiday season, is if we right away say 98 percent of Americans are not going to see their taxes go up; 97 percent of small businesses are not going to see their taxes go up.

If we get that in place, we are actually removing half of the fiscal cliff. Half of the danger to our economy is removed by that single step.

And what we can then do is shape a process whereby we look at tax reform, which I’m very eager to do. I think we can simplify our tax system. I think we can make it more efficient. We can eliminate loopholes and deductions that have a distorting effect on our economy.

I believe that we have to continue to take a serious look at how we reform our entitlements, because health care costs continue to be the biggest driver of our deficits.

So there is a package to be shaped, and I’m confident that parties — folks of good will in both parties can make that happen. But what I’m not going to do is to extend Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent that we can’t afford and, according to economists, will have the least positive impact on our economy.

Q: You’ve said that the wealthiest must pay more. Would closing loopholes instead of raising rates for them satisfy you?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think that there are loopholes that can be closed, and we should look at how we can make the process of deductions, the filing process easier, simpler.

But when it comes to the top 2 percent, what I’m not going to do is to extend further a tax cut for folks who don’t need it, which would cost close to a trillion dollars. And it’s very difficult to see how you make up that trillion dollars, if we’re serious about deficit reduction, just by closing loopholes in deductions. You know, the math tends not to work.

And I think it’s important to establish a basic principle that was debated extensively during the course of this campaign.

I mean, this shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. This was — if there was one thing that everybody understood was a big difference between myself and Mr. Romney, it was, when it comes to how we reduce our deficit, I argued for a balanced, responsible approach, and part of that included making sure that the wealthiest Americans pay a little bit more.

I think every voter out there understood that that was an important debate, and the majority of voters agreed with me, not — by the way, more voters agreed with me on this issue than voted for me.

So we’ve got a clear majority of the American people who recognize if we’re going to be serious about deficit reduction, we’ve got to do it in a balanced way.

The only question now is, are we going to hold the middle class hostage in order to go ahead and let that happen? Or can we all step back and say, here’s something we agree on. We don’t want middle- class taxes to go up. Let’s go ahead and lock that in. That will be good for the economy. It will be good for consumers. It will be good for businesses. It takes the edge off the fiscal cliff. And let’s also then commit ourselves to the broader package of deficit reduction that includes entitlement changes and it includes, potentially, tax reform, as well as I’m willing to look at additional work that we can do on the discretionary spending side.

So I want a — a big deal. I want a comprehensive deal. I want to see if we can, you know, at least for the foreseeable future provide certainty to businesses and the American people, so that we can focus on job growth, so that we’re also investing in the things that we need.

But right now what I want to make sure of is, is that taxes on middle-class families don’t go up, and there’s a very easy way to do that. We could get that done by next week.

OK. Lori Montenegro, Telemundo.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. On immigration reform, the criticism in the past has been that you did not put forth legislation with specific ideas and send it up to the Hill. This time around, you have said again that this will be one of the top priorities for a second term. Will you then send legislation to the Hill. And exactly what do you envision is broad immigration reform? Does that include a legalization program? And also, what lessons, if any, did Democrats learn from this last election and the Latino vote?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think what was incredibly encouraging was to see a significant increase in Latino turnout. This is the fastest-growing group in the country. And you know, historically what you’ve seen is Latino vote — vote at lower rates than the broader population. And that’s beginning to change. You’re starting to see a sense of empowerment and civic participation that I think is going to be powerful and good for the country.

And it is why I am very confident that we can get immigration reform done. You know, I — before the election, I had given a couple of interviews where I had predicted that the Latino vote was going to be strong and that that would cause some reflection on the part of Republicans about their position on immigration reform. I think we’re starting to see that already. I think that’s a positive sign.

This has not historically been a partisan issue. We’ve had President Bush, John McCain and others who have supported comprehensive immigration reform in the past. So we need to seize the moment.

And my expectation is is that we get a bill introduced and we begin the process in Congress very soon after my inauguration. And in fact, some conversations, I think, are already beginning to take place among senators and congressmen and my staff about what would this look like.

And when I say comprehensive immigration reform and — is very similar to the outlines of previous efforts at comprehensive immigration reform; I think it should include a continuation of the strong border security measures that we’ve taken, because we have to secure our borders. I think it should contain serious penalties for companies that are purposely hiring undocumented workers and taking advantage of them. And I do think that there should be a pathway for legal status for those who are living in this country, are not engaged in criminal activity, are here simply to work. It’s important for them to pay back taxes, it’s important for them to learn English, it’s important for them to potentially pay a fine, but to give them the avenue whereby they can resolve their legal status here in this country, I think is very important.

Obviously, making sure that we put into law what — the first step that we’ve taken administratively dealing with the DREAM Act kids is very important as well. One thing that I’m — I’m very clear about is that young people who are brought here through no fault of their own, who have gone to school here, pledged allegiance to our flag, who want to serve in our military, who want to go to school and contribute to our society, that they shouldn’t be under the cloud of deportation, that we should give them every opportunity to earn their citizenship.

And so, you know, there are other components to it, obviously. The business community continues to be concerned about getting enough high-skill workers. And I am a believer that if you’ve got a Ph.D. in physics or computer science, who wants to stay here and start a business here, we shouldn’t make it harder for him to stay here. We should try to encourage him to contribute to this society.

I think that the agricultural sector obviously has very specific concerns about making sure that they’ve got a workforce that helps deliver food to our tables.

So there are going to be a bunch of components to it, but I think whatever process we have needs to make sure border security is strong, needs to deal with employers effectively, needs to provide a pathway for the undocumented here, needs to deal with the Dream Act kids. And I think that’s something that we can get done.

Chuck Todd. Where’s Chuck?

Q: Mr. President, I just want to follow up on a — both Ben’s question and Jessica’s question. On — having to do with Ben’s question, are you —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: How about Lori’s question? Do you want to follow up on that one too? (Laughter.)

Q: I — you know, no, you — I feel like you answered that one completely. (Laughter.)

Are you withholding judgment on whether you should have known sooner that there was a potential — that there was an investigation into whether your CIA director — potentially there was a national security breach with your CIA director? Do you believe you should have known sooner, or are you withholding judgment until the investigation is complete on that front?

And then the follow-up to Jessica’s question: tax rates. Are you — is there no deal at the end of the year if tax rates for the top 2 percent aren’t the Clinton tax rates, period, no if, ands or buts? Any room in negotiating on that specific aspect of the fiscal cliff?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I am — I am withholding judgment with respect to how the entire process surrounding General Petraeus came up. You know, we don’t have all the information yet. But I want to say that I have a lot of confidence generally in the FBI, and they’ve got a difficult job. And so I’m going to wait and see to see if there’s any other —

Q: (Off mic) — though that you should have known? Do you think in hindsight — (inaudible) — have known?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I mean, Chuck, what I’ll — what I’ll say is that if — it is also possible that had we been told, then you’d be sitting here asking a question about, why were you interfering in a criminal investigation? So, you know, I think it’s best right now for us to just see how this whole process unfolded.

With respect to the tax rates, I — I just want to emphasize: I am open to new ideas. If the Republican counterparts or some Democrats have a great idea for us to raise revenue, maintain progressivity, make sure the middle class isn’t getting hit, reduces our deficit, encourages growth, I’m not going to just slam the door in their face. I want to hear — I — I want to — I want to hear ideas from everybody.

Q: (Off mic.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well — look, I believe this is solvable. I think that fair-minded people can come to an agreement that does not cause the economy to go back into recession, that protects middle- class families, that focuses on jobs and growth and reduces our deficit. I’m confident it can be done.

My budget, frankly, does it. I understand that — I don’t expect the Republicans simply to adopt my budget. That’s not realistic. So I recognize that we’re going to have to compromise. And as I said on election night, compromise is hard. And not everybody gets a hundred percent of what they want, and not everybody’s going to be perfectly happy.

But what I will not do is to have a process that is vague, that says we’re going to sort of, kind of raise revenue through dynamic scoring or closing loopholes that have not been identified.

And the reason I won’t do that is because I don’t want to find ourselves in a position six months from now or a year from now where, lo and behold, the only way to close the deficit is to sock it to middle-class families or to burden families that have disabled kids or, you know, have a parent in a nursing home, or suddenly we’ve got to cut more out of our basic research budget that is the key to growing the economy in the long term.

So that’s my concern. I’m less concerned about red lines per se. What I’m concerned about is not finding ourselves in a situation where the wealthy aren’t paying more or aren’t paying as much they should; middle-class families, one way or another, are making up the difference. That’s the kind of status quo that has been going on here too long, and that’s exactly what I argued against during this campaign. And if there’s — one thing that I’m pretty confident about is the American people understood what they were getting when they gave me this incredible privilege of being in office for another four years. They want compromise. They wanted action. But they also want to make sure that middle-class folks aren’t bearing the entire burden and sacrifice when it comes to some of these big challenges. They expect that folks at the top are doing their fair share as well, and that’s going to be my guiding principle during these negotiations but, more importantly, during the next four years of my administration.

Nancy Cordes.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yeah.

Q: Mr. President, on election night you said that you were looking forward to speaking with Governor Romney, sitting down in the coming weeks to discuss ways that you could work together on this nation’s problems. Have you extended that invitation? Has he accepted? And in what ways do you think you can work together?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, we haven’t scheduled something yet. I think everybody forgets that the election was only a week ago. And I know I’ve forgotten. (Laughter.) I forgot on Wednesday. (Chuckles, laughter.) So you know — (chuckles) — I think everybody needs to catch their breath. I — I’m sure that Governor Romney is spending some time with his family. And my hope is, before the end of the year, though, that we have a chance to — to sit down and talk.

You know, there — there are certain aspects of Governor Romney’s record and his ideas that I think could be very helpful. And well, to give you one example, I do think he did a terrific job running the Olympics. And you know, that skill set of trying to figure out how do we make something work better applies to the federal government. There are a lot of ideas that I don’t think are partisan ideas but are just smart ideas about how can we make the federal government more customer-friendly? How can we make sure that, you know, we’re consolidating programs that are duplicative? You know, how can we eliminate additional waste?

He — he presented some ideas during the course of the campaign that I actually agree with. And so it’d be interesting to talk to him about something like that. There may be ideas that he has with respect to jobs and growth that can help middle-class families that I want to hear. So you know, I’m not — I’m not either prejudging what he’s interested in doing, nor am I suggesting I’ve got some specific assignment. But I — what I want to do is to — is to get ideas from him and see if — see if there are some ways that we can potentially work together.

Q: But when it comes to your relationships with Congress, one of the most frequent criticisms we’ve heard over the past few years from members on both sides is that you haven’t done enough to reach out and build relationships. Are there concrete ways that you plan to approach your relationships with Congress in the second term?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Look, I think there’s no doubt that I can always do better. And so I will, you know, examine ways that I can make sure to communicate my desire to work with everybody, so long as its advancing the cause of strengthening our middle class and improving our economy.

You know, I’ve got a lot of good relationships with folks both in the House and the Senate. I have a lot of relationships on both sides of the aisle. It hasn’t always manifested itself in the kind of agreements that I’d like to see between Democrats and Republicans, and so I think all of us have responsibilities to see if there are things that we can improve on. And I don’t exempt myself from needing to, you know, do some self-reflection and see if I can improve our working relationship.

There are probably going to be still some very sharp differences. And as I said during the campaign, there are going to be times where there are fights. And I think those are fights that need to be had. But what I think the American people don’t want to see is a focus on the next election instead of a focus on them. And I don’t have another election.

And you know, Michelle and I were talking last night about, you know, what an incredible honor and privilege it is to be put in this position. And there are people all across this country, millions of folks who’ve worked so hard to help us get elected. But there are also millions of people who may not have voted for us but are also counting on us.

And you know, we take that responsibility very seriously. I take that responsibility very seriously. And I hope and intend to be an even better president in the second term than I was in the first.

Jonathan Karl.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. Senator John McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham both said today that they want to have Watergate-style hearings on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and said that if you nominate Susan Rice to be secretary of state, they will do everything in their power to block her nomination. As Senator Graham said, he simply doesn’t trust Ambassador Rice after what she said about Benghazi. I’d like your reaction to that. And would those threats deter you from making a nomination like that?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, I’m not going to comment at this point on various nominations that I’ll put forward to fill out my Cabinet for the second term. Those are things that are still being discussed.

But let me say specifically about Susan Rice, she has done exemplary work. She has represented the United States and our interests in the United Nations with skill and professionalism and toughness and grace. As I’ve said before, she made an appearance at the request of the White House in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her. If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. And I’m happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.

And you know, we’re after an election now. I think it is important for us to find out exactly what happened in Benghazi, and I’m happy to cooperate in any ways that Congress wants. We have provided every bit of information that we have, and we will continue to provide information. And we’ve got a full-blown investigation, and all that information will be disgorged to Congress.

And I don’t think there’s any debate in this country that when you have four Americans killed, that’s a problem. And we’ve got to get to the bottom of it, and there needs to be accountability. We’ve got to bring those who carried it out to justice. They won’t get any debate from me on that.

But when they go after the U.N. ambassador, apparently because they think she’s an easy target, then they’ve got a problem with me. And should I choose — if I think that she would be the best person to serve America in the capacity — the State Department, then I will nominate her. That’s not a determination that I’ve made yet.

Yeah. Ed Henry.

Q: I want to take Chuck’s lead and just ask a very small follow- up, which is whether you feel you have a mandate, not just on taxes, but on a range of issues, because of your decisive victory. But I want to stay on Benghazi, based on what John (sp) asked, because you said, if they want to come after me, come after me. I wanted to ask about the families of these four Americans who were killed. Sean Smith’s father, Ray, said he believes his so basically called 911 for help, and they didn’t get it. And I know you’ve said you grieve for these four Americans, that it’s being investigated. But the families have been waiting for more than two months. So I would like to — for you to address the families, if you can: On 9/11, as commander in chief, did you issue any orders to try to protect their lives?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Ed, you know, I’ll address the families not through the press. I’ll address the families directly, as I already have. And we will provide all the information that is available about what happened on that day. That’s what the investigation is for. But as I said repeatedly, if people don’t think that we did everything we can to make sure that we saved the lives of folks who I sent there, and who were carrying out missions on behalf of the United States, then you don’t know how our Defense Department thinks or our State Department thinks or our CIA thinks. Their number one priority is obviously to protect American lives. That’s what our job is.

Now —

Q: (Off mic.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Ed, what — I’ll put forward — I will put forward every bit of information that we have. I can tell you that immediately upon finding out that our folks were in danger, that my orders to my National Security team were do whatever we need to do to make sure they’re safe. And that’s the same order that I would give anytime that I see Americans are in danger, whether they’re civilian or military, because that’s our number one priority.

With respect to the issue of mandate, I’ve got one mandate. I’ve got a mandate to help middle-class families and families that are working hard to try to get into the middle class. That’s my mandate. That’s what the American people said. They said, work really hard to help us.

Don’t worry about the politics of it. Don’t worry about the party interests. Don’t worry about the special interests. Just work really hard to see if you can help us get ahead, because we’re working really hard out here and we’re still struggling, a lot of us. That’s my mandate.

I don’t presume that because I won an election, that everybody suddenly agrees with me on any — everything. I’m more than familiar with all the literature about presidential overreach in second terms. We are very cautious about that.

On the other hand, I didn’t get re-elected just to bask in re- election. I got elected to do work on behalf of American families and small businesses all across the country who are still recovering from a really bad recession but are hopeful about the future. And — and I am too.

The one thing that, you know, I said during the campaign that maybe sounds like a bunch of campaign rhetoric but now that the campaign’s over I’m going to repeat it, and hopefully you guys will really believe me — when you travel around the country, you are inspired by the grit and resilience and hard work and decency of the American people. And it just makes you want to work harder. You know, you meet families who are — you know, have overcome really tough odds and somehow are making it and sending their kids to college. And you — you meet young people who are doing incredible work in disadvantaged communities because they believe in, you know, the American ideal and it should be available for everybody. And yeah, you meet farmers who are helping each other’s — during times of drought, and you know, you meet businesses that kept their doors open during the recession even though the owner didn’t have to take a salary.

And you — when you talk to these folks, you say to yourself, man, they deserve a better government than they’ve been getting. They — they deserve all of us here in Washington to be thinking every single day, how can I make things a little better for them? Which isn’t to say that everything we do is going to be perfect or that there aren’t just going to be some big, tough challenges that we have to grapple with.

But I do know the federal government can make a difference. We — we’re seeing it right now on the Jersey coast and in New York. People are still going through a really tough time. The response hasn’t been perfect. But it’s been aggressive and strong and fast and robust. And a lot of people have been helped because of it. And that’s a pretty good metaphor for how I want the federal government to operate generally, and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure it does.

Christi Parsons. Hey.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President, and congratulations, by the way.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thanks.

Q: One quick follow-up —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Christi was there in — when I was running for state Senate, so —

Q: That’s right. I was.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: — Christi and I go back a ways.

Q: I’ve never seen you lose.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (Inaudible) — that’s —

Q: I wasn’t looking that one time.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: There you go. (Laughter.)

Q: One quick follow-up, and then I want to ask you about Iran. I just want to make sure I understood what you said. Can you envision any scenario in which we do go off the fiscal cliff at the end of the year?

And on Iran, are you preparing a final diplomatic push here to resolve the nuclear program issue, and are we headed toward one-one- one talks?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, obviously we can all imagine a scenario where we go off the fiscal — fiscal cliff. If — if despite the election, if despite the dangers of going over the fiscal cliff and — and what that means for our economy, that there’s too much stubbornness in Congress that we can’t even agree on giving middle- class families a tax cut, then middle-class families are all going to end up having a big tax hike.

And that’s going to be a pretty rude shock for them and I suspect will have a big impact on the holiday shopping season, which in turn will have an impact on business planning and hiring, and we can go back into a recession. It would be a bad thing. It is not necessary.

So I want to repeat, step number one that we can take in the next couple of weeks: Provide certainty to middle-class families — 98 percent of families who make less than $250,000 a year, 97 percent of small businesses — that their taxes will not go up a single dime next year. Give them that certainty right now. We can get that done. We can then set up a structure whereby we are dealing with tax reform, closing deductions, closing loopholes, simplifying, dealing with entitlements. And I’m ready to — and — and willing to make big commitments to make sure that we’re locking in the kind of deficit reductions that stabilize our deficit, start bringing it down, start bringing down our debt. I’m confident we can do it.

It’s — and look, I’ve been living with this for a couple of years now. I know the math pretty well. And it — it — it’s — it really is arithmetic; it’s not calculus. There are some tough things that have to be done, but there’s a way of doing this that does not hurt middle-class families, that does not hurt our seniors, doesn’t hurt families with disabled kids, allows us to continue to invest in those things that make us grow like basic research and education, helping young people afford going to college.

As we’ve already heard from some Republican commentators, a modest tax increase on the wealthy is not going to break their backs. They’ll still be wealthy. And it will not impinge on business investment. So — so we know how to do this. This is just a matter of — of whether or not we come together and go ahead and say, Democrats and Republicans, we’re both going to hold hands and do what’s right for the American people. And I hope that’s what happens.

With respect to Iran, I very much want to see a diplomatic resolution to the problem. I was very clear before the campaign, I was clear during the campaign and I’m now clear after the campaign — we’re not going to let Iran get a nuclear weapon. But I think there is still a window of time for us to resolve this diplomatically. We’ve imposed the toughest sanctions in history. It is having an impact on Iran’s economy.

There should be a way in which they can enjoy peaceful nuclear power while still meeting their international obligations and providing clear assurances to the international community that they’re not pursuing a nuclear weapon. And so yes, I will try to make a push in the coming months to see if we can open up a dialogue between Iran and not just us but the international community, to see if we can get this thing resolved. I can’t promise that Iran will walk through the door that they need to walk though, but that would be very much the preferable option.

Q: And the — (inaudible) — conversation picked up?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I won’t talk about the details of negotiations, but I think it’s fair to say that we want to get this resolved and we’re not going to be constrained by diplomatic niceties or protocols. If Iran is serious about wanting to resolve this, they’ll be in a position to resolve it.

Q: At one point just prior to the election, there was talk that talks might be imminent —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: That was — that was not true, and it’s not — it’s not true as — as of today, OK?

Just going to knock through a couple of others. Mark Landler? Where’s Mark? There he is, right in front of me.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. In his endorsement of you a few weeks ago, Mayor Bloomberg said he was motivated by the belief that you would do more to confront the threat of climate change than your opponent. Tomorrow you’re going up to New York City, where you’re going to, I assume, see people who are still suffering the effects of Hurricane Sandy, which many people say is further evidence of how a warming globe is changing our weather. What specifically do you plan to do in a second term to tackle the issue of climate change? And do you think the political will exists in Washington to pass legislation that could include some kind of a tax on carbon?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, as you know, Mark (sp), we can’t attribute any particular weather event to climate change. What we do know is the temperature around the globe is increasing faster than was predicted even 10 years ago. We do know that the Arctic ice cap is melting faster than was predicted even five years ago. We do know that there have been extraordinarily — there have been an extraordinarily large number of severe weather events here in North America, but also around the globe.

And I am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behavior and carbon emissions. And as a consequence, I think we’ve got an obligation to future generations to do something about it.

Now, in my first term, we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars and trucks. That will have an impact. That will a lot of carbon out of the atmosphere. We doubled the production of clean energy, which promises to reduce the utilization of fossil fuels for power generation. And we continue to invest in potential breakthrough technologies that could further remove carbon from our atmosphere.

But we haven’t done as much as we need to. So what I’m going to be doing over the next several weeks, next several months, is having a conversation, a wide-ranging conversation with scientists, engineers and elected officials to find out what can — what more can we do to make short-term progress in reducing carbons, and then working through an education process that I think is necessary, a discussion, the conversation across the country about, you know, what realistically can we do long term to make sure that this is not something we’re passing on to future generations that’s going to be very expensive and very painful to deal with.

I don’t know what — what either Democrats or Republicans are prepared to do at this point, because, you know, this is one of those issues that’s not just a partisan issue. I also think there’s — there are regional differences. There’s no doubt that for us to take on climate change in a serious way would involve making some tough political choices, and you know, understandably, I think the American people right now have been so focused and will continue to be focused on our economy and jobs and growth that, you know, if the message is somehow we’re going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don’t think anybody’s going to go for that.

I won’t go for that.

If, on the other hand, we can shape an agenda that says we can create jobs, advance growth and make a serious dent in climate change and be an international leader, I think that’s something that the American people would support.

So you know, you can expect that you’ll hear more from me in the coming months and years about how we can shape an agenda that garners bipartisan support and helps move this — moves this agenda forward.

Q: It sounds like you’re saying, though — (off mic) — probably still short of a consensus on some kind of — (off mic).

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I — that I’m pretty certain of. And look, we’re — we’re still trying to debate whether we can just make sure that middle-class families don’t get a tax hike. Let’s see if we can resolve that. That should be easy. This one’s hard. But it’s important because, you know, one of the things that we don’t always factor in are the costs involved in these natural disasters. We’d — we just put them off as — as something that’s unconnected to our behavior right now, and I think what, based on the evidence, we’re seeing is — is that what we do now is going to have an impact and a cost down the road if — if — if we don’t do something about it.

All right. Last question, Mark Felsenthal. Where’s Mark?

Q: Thank you. Mr. President, the Assad regime is engaged in a brutal crackdown on its people. France has recognized the opposition coalition.What would it take for the United States to do the same, and is there any point at which the United States would consider arming the rebels?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, I was one of the first leaders, I think, around the world to say Assad had to go in response to the incredible brutality that his government displayed in the face of what were initially peaceful protests.

Obviously the situation in Syria’s deteriorated since then. We have been extensively engaged with the international community as well as regional powers to help the opposition. You know, we’ve committed hundreds of millions of dollars of humanitarian aid to help folks both inside of Syria and outside of Syria. We are constantly consulting with the opposition on how they can get organized so that they’re not splintered and divided in the face of the onslaught from the Assad regime.

We are in — in very close contact with countries like Turkey and Jordan that immediately border Syria and have an impact, and obviously Israel, which is having already grave concerns as we do about, for example, movements of chemical weapons that might occur in such a chaotic atmosphere and that could have an impact not just within Syria but on the region as a whole.

I’m encouraged to see that the Syrian opposition created an umbrella group that may have more cohesion than they’ve had in the past. We’re going to be talking to them. My envoys are going to be traveling to, you know, various meetings that are going to be taking place with the international community and the opposition.

We consider them a legitimate representative of the aspirations of the Syrian people. We’re not yet prepared to recognize them as some sort of government in exile.

But we do think that it is a broad-based, representative group. One of the questions that we’re going to continue to press is making sure that that opposition is committed to a democratic Syria, an inclusive Syria, a moderate Syria.

We have seen extremist elements insinuate themselves into the opposition. And you know, one of the things that we have to be on guard about, particularly when we start talking about arming opposition figures, is that we’re not indirectly putting arms in the hands of folks who would do Americans harm or do Israelis harm or otherwise engage in — in actions that are detrimental to our national security. So we — we’re constantly probing and working on that issue. The more engaged we are, the more we’ll be in a position to make sure that — that we are encouraging the most moderate, thoughtful elements of the opposition that are committed to inclusion, observance of human rights and working cooperatively with us over the long term. All right?

Q: (Off mic.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you very much.

Q: (Off mic) — on the spending side — (off mic) — on the taxing side. On the — on the spending, the 1.2 trillion (dollar) figure — is that something that you could see having a short-term postponement? Or — because earlier today you said — (off mic).

PRESIDENT OBAMA: That was a great question, but it would be a horrible precedent for me to answer your question just because you yelled it out. (Laughter.) So thank you very much, guys.

Political Headlines November 14, 2012: President Barack Obama: ‘No Evidence’ National Security Imperiled in David Petraeus Scandal

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama: ‘No Evidence’ National Security Imperiled in Petraeus Scandal

Source: ABC News Radio, 11-14-12

ABC News

President Obama on Wednesday said he has seen “no evidence” yet that U.S. national security was jeopardized in the unfolding scandal between disgraced former CIA director David Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell.

“I have no evidence at this point from what I’ve seen that classified information was disclosed that in any way would have had a negative impact on our national security,” Obama told reporters at his first news conference since winning re-election….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency November 14, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Press Conference in East Room, White House — Answers Questions on National Security, David Petraeus, Susan Rice, Tax Cuts & Fiscal Cliff — Transcript

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Transcript of President Obama’s Press Conference

Source: NYT, 11-14-12

President Obama’s Press Conference: In his first news conference since June, President Obama faced questions on David H. Petraeus, Libya and taxes.

The following is the complete transcript of President Obama’s press conference on Wednesday in Washington. (Transcript courtesy of Federal News Service.)

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PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Good afternoon, everybody. Please have a seat.

I hear you have some questions for me — (laughter) — but let — let me just make a few remarks at the top and then I’ll open it up.

First of all, I want to reiterate what I said on Friday. Right now our economy is still recovering from a very deep and damaging crisis, so our top priority has to be jobs and growth. We’ve got to build on the progress that we’ve made because this nation succeeds when we’ve got a growing, thriving middle class. And that’s the idea at the core of the plan that I talked about on the campaign trail over the last year — rewarding manufacturers and small businesses that create jobs here, not overseas; providing more Americans the chance to earn (sic) the skills that businesses are looking for right now; keeping this country at the forefront of research, technology and clean energy; putting people back to work rebuilding our roads, our bridges and our schools; and reducing our deficit in a balanced and responsible way.

Now, on this last item, we face a very clear deadline that requires us to make some big decisions on jobs, taxes and deficits by the end of the year. Both parties voted to set this deadline and I believe that both parties can work together to make these decisions in a balanced and responsible way.

Yesterday I had a chance to meet with labor and civic leaders for their input. Today I’m meeting with CEOs of some of America’s largest companies. And I’ll meet with leaders of both parties of Congress before the week is out because there’s only one way to solve these challenges, and that is to do it together.

As I’ve said before, I’m open to compromise and I’m open to new ideas. And I’ve been encouraged over the past week to hear Republican after Republican agree for the need for more revenue from the wealthiest Americans as part of our arithmetic if we’re going to be serious about reducing the deficit because when it comes to taxes, there are two pathways available.

Option one, if Congress fails to act by the end of this year, everybody’s taxes will automatically go up, including the 98 percent of Americans who make less than $250,000 a year and the 97 percent of small businesses who earn less than $250,000 a year. That doesn’t make sense. Our economy can’t afford that right now. Certainly no middle-class family can afford that right now.

And nobody in either party says that they want it to happen. The other option is to pass a law right now that would prevent any tax hike whatsoever on the first $250,000 of everybody’s income. And by the way, that means every American, including the wealthiest Americans, get a tax cut. It means that 98 percent of all Americans and 97 percent of all small businesses won’t see their taxes go up a single dime.

The Senate has already passed a law like this. Democrats in the House are ready to pass a law like this. And I hope Republicans in the House come on board too. We should not hold the middle class hostage while we debate tax cuts for the wealthy. We should at least do what we agree on, and that’s to keep middle-class taxes lower. And I’ll bring everyone in to sign it right away so we can give folks some certainty before the holiday season.

I won’t pretend that figuring out everything else will be easy, but I’m confident we can do it and I know we have to. I know that that’s what the American people want us to do. That was a very clear message from the election last week. And that was the message of a letter that I received over the weekend. It came from a man in Tennessee who began by writing that he didn’t vote for me, which is OK.

But what he said was even though he didn’t give me his vote, he’s giving me his support to move this country forward. And he said the same to his Republican representatives in Washington. He said that he’ll back each of us, regardless of party, as long as we work together to make life better for all of us. And he made it clear that if we don’t make enough progress, he’ll be back in touch.

So my hope, he wrote, is that we can make progress in light of personal and party principles, special interest groups and years of business as usual. We’ve got to work together and put our differences aside. I couldn’t say it better myself. That’s precisely what I intend to do. And with that, let me open it up for your questions.

And I’m going to start off with Ben Feller of AP.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. Can you assure the American people that there have been no breaches of national security or classified information in the scandal involving Generals Petraeus and Allen? And do you think that you, as commander in chief, and the American people should have been told that the CIA chief was under investigation before the election?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I have no evidence at this point, from what I’ve seen, that classified information was disclosed that in any way would have had a negative impact on our national security. Obviously, there’s an ongoing investigation. I don’t want to comment on the specifics of the investigation. The FBI has its own protocols in terms of how they proceed. And you know, I’m going to let Director Mueller and others examine those protocols and make some statements to the public generally.

I do want to emphasize what I’ve said before. General Petraeus had an extraordinary career.

He served this country with great distinction in Iraq, in Afghanistan and as head of the CIA.

By his own assessment, he did not meet the standards that he felt were necessary as the director of CIA with respect to this personal matter that he is now dealing with with his family and with his wife. And it’s on that basis that he tendered his resignation, and it’s on that basis that I accepted it. But I want to emphasize that, from my perspective at least, he has provided this country an extraordinary service. We are safer because of the work that Dave Petraeus has done. And my main hope right now is — is that he and his family are able to move on and that this ends up being a single side note on what has otherwise been an extraordinary career.

Q: What about voters? Do they deserve to know?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, again, I think you’re going to have to talk to the FBI in terms of what their general protocols are when it comes to what started off as a potential criminal investigation. And one of the challenges here is — is that we’re not supposed to meddle in, you know, criminal investigations. And that’s been our practice. And you know, I think that there are certain procedures that both the FBI follow or DOJ follow when they’re involved in these investigations. That’s traditionally been how we view things, in part because people are innocent until proven guilty. And we want to make sure that we don’t prejudge these kinds of situations. And so my expectation is — is that they followed protocols that they already established.

(Inaudible) — Jessica Yellin. Where’s Jessica? Right there.

Q: Mr. President, on the fiscal cliff — two years ago, sir, you said that you wouldn’t extend the Bush-era tax cuts, but at the end of the day, you did. So respectfully, sir, why should the American people and the Republicans believe that you won’t cave again this time?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, two years ago the economy was in a different situation. We were still very much in the early parts of recovering from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. And ultimately, we came together, not only toe extend the Bush tax cuts, but also a wide range of policies that were going to be good for the economy at the point — unemployment insurance extensions, payroll tax extension — all of which made a difference, and is a part of the reason why what we’ve seen now is 32 consecutive months of job growth, and over 5 1/2 million jobs created, and the unemployment rate coming down.

But what I said at the time is what I meant, which is this was a one-time proposition. And you know, what I have told leaders privately as well as publicly is that we cannot afford to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. What we can do is make sure that middle-class taxes don’t go up.

And so the most important step we can take right now, and, I think, the foundation for a deal that helps the economy, creates jobs, gives consumers certainty, which means gives businesses confidence that they’re going to have consumers during the holiday season, is if we right away say 98 percent of Americans are not going to see their taxes go up; 97 percent of small businesses are not going to see their taxes go up.

If we get that in place, we are actually removing half of the fiscal cliff. Half of the danger to our economy is removed by that single step.

And what we can then do is shape a process whereby we look at tax reform, which I’m very eager to do. I think we can simplify our tax system. I think we can make it more efficient. We can eliminate loopholes and deductions that have a distorting effect on our economy.

I believe that we have to continue to take a serious look at how we reform our entitlements, because health care costs continue to be the biggest driver of our deficits.

So there is a package to be shaped, and I’m confident that parties — folks of good will in both parties can make that happen. But what I’m not going to do is to extend Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent that we can’t afford and, according to economists, will have the least positive impact on our economy.

Q: You’ve said that the wealthiest must pay more. Would closing loopholes instead of raising rates for them satisfy you?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think that there are loopholes that can be closed, and we should look at how we can make the process of deductions, the filing process easier, simpler.

But when it comes to the top 2 percent, what I’m not going to do is to extend further a tax cut for folks who don’t need it, which would cost close to a trillion dollars. And it’s very difficult to see how you make up that trillion dollars, if we’re serious about deficit reduction, just by closing loopholes in deductions. You know, the math tends not to work.

And I think it’s important to establish a basic principle that was debated extensively during the course of this campaign.

I mean, this shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. This was — if there was one thing that everybody understood was a big difference between myself and Mr. Romney, it was, when it comes to how we reduce our deficit, I argued for a balanced, responsible approach, and part of that included making sure that the wealthiest Americans pay a little bit more.

I think every voter out there understood that that was an important debate, and the majority of voters agreed with me, not — by the way, more voters agreed with me on this issue than voted for me.

So we’ve got a clear majority of the American people who recognize if we’re going to be serious about deficit reduction, we’ve got to do it in a balanced way.

The only question now is, are we going to hold the middle class hostage in order to go ahead and let that happen? Or can we all step back and say, here’s something we agree on. We don’t want middle- class taxes to go up. Let’s go ahead and lock that in. That will be good for the economy. It will be good for consumers. It will be good for businesses. It takes the edge off the fiscal cliff. And let’s also then commit ourselves to the broader package of deficit reduction that includes entitlement changes and it includes, potentially, tax reform, as well as I’m willing to look at additional work that we can do on the discretionary spending side.

So I want a — a big deal. I want a comprehensive deal. I want to see if we can, you know, at least for the foreseeable future provide certainty to businesses and the American people, so that we can focus on job growth, so that we’re also investing in the things that we need.

But right now what I want to make sure of is, is that taxes on middle-class families don’t go up, and there’s a very easy way to do that. We could get that done by next week.

OK. Lori Montenegro, Telemundo.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. On immigration reform, the criticism in the past has been that you did not put forth legislation with specific ideas and send it up to the Hill. This time around, you have said again that this will be one of the top priorities for a second term. Will you then send legislation to the Hill. And exactly what do you envision is broad immigration reform? Does that include a legalization program? And also, what lessons, if any, did Democrats learn from this last election and the Latino vote?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think what was incredibly encouraging was to see a significant increase in Latino turnout. This is the fastest-growing group in the country. And you know, historically what you’ve seen is Latino vote — vote at lower rates than the broader population. And that’s beginning to change. You’re starting to see a sense of empowerment and civic participation that I think is going to be powerful and good for the country.

And it is why I am very confident that we can get immigration reform done. You know, I — before the election, I had given a couple of interviews where I had predicted that the Latino vote was going to be strong and that that would cause some reflection on the part of Republicans about their position on immigration reform. I think we’re starting to see that already. I think that’s a positive sign.

This has not historically been a partisan issue. We’ve had President Bush, John McCain and others who have supported comprehensive immigration reform in the past. So we need to seize the moment.

And my expectation is is that we get a bill introduced and we begin the process in Congress very soon after my inauguration. And in fact, some conversations, I think, are already beginning to take place among senators and congressmen and my staff about what would this look like.

And when I say comprehensive immigration reform and — is very similar to the outlines of previous efforts at comprehensive immigration reform; I think it should include a continuation of the strong border security measures that we’ve taken, because we have to secure our borders. I think it should contain serious penalties for companies that are purposely hiring undocumented workers and taking advantage of them. And I do think that there should be a pathway for legal status for those who are living in this country, are not engaged in criminal activity, are here simply to work. It’s important for them to pay back taxes, it’s important for them to learn English, it’s important for them to potentially pay a fine, but to give them the avenue whereby they can resolve their legal status here in this country, I think is very important.

Obviously, making sure that we put into law what — the first step that we’ve taken administratively dealing with the DREAM Act kids is very important as well. One thing that I’m — I’m very clear about is that young people who are brought here through no fault of their own, who have gone to school here, pledged allegiance to our flag, who want to serve in our military, who want to go to school and contribute to our society, that they shouldn’t be under the cloud of deportation, that we should give them every opportunity to earn their citizenship.

And so, you know, there are other components to it, obviously. The business community continues to be concerned about getting enough high-skill workers. And I am a believer that if you’ve got a Ph.D. in physics or computer science, who wants to stay here and start a business here, we shouldn’t make it harder for him to stay here. We should try to encourage him to contribute to this society.

I think that the agricultural sector obviously has very specific concerns about making sure that they’ve got a workforce that helps deliver food to our tables.

So there are going to be a bunch of components to it, but I think whatever process we have needs to make sure border security is strong, needs to deal with employers effectively, needs to provide a pathway for the undocumented here, needs to deal with the Dream Act kids. And I think that’s something that we can get done.

Chuck Todd. Where’s Chuck?

Q: Mr. President, I just want to follow up on a — both Ben’s question and Jessica’s question. On — having to do with Ben’s question, are you —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: How about Lori’s question? Do you want to follow up on that one too? (Laughter.)

Q: I — you know, no, you — I feel like you answered that one completely. (Laughter.)

Are you withholding judgment on whether you should have known sooner that there was a potential — that there was an investigation into whether your CIA director — potentially there was a national security breach with your CIA director? Do you believe you should have known sooner, or are you withholding judgment until the investigation is complete on that front?

And then the follow-up to Jessica’s question: tax rates. Are you — is there no deal at the end of the year if tax rates for the top 2 percent aren’t the Clinton tax rates, period, no if, ands or buts? Any room in negotiating on that specific aspect of the fiscal cliff?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I am — I am withholding judgment with respect to how the entire process surrounding General Petraeus came up. You know, we don’t have all the information yet. But I want to say that I have a lot of confidence generally in the FBI, and they’ve got a difficult job. And so I’m going to wait and see to see if there’s any other —

Q: (Off mic) — though that you should have known? Do you think in hindsight — (inaudible) — have known?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I mean, Chuck, what I’ll — what I’ll say is that if — it is also possible that had we been told, then you’d be sitting here asking a question about, why were you interfering in a criminal investigation? So, you know, I think it’s best right now for us to just see how this whole process unfolded.

With respect to the tax rates, I — I just want to emphasize: I am open to new ideas. If the Republican counterparts or some Democrats have a great idea for us to raise revenue, maintain progressivity, make sure the middle class isn’t getting hit, reduces our deficit, encourages growth, I’m not going to just slam the door in their face. I want to hear — I — I want to — I want to hear ideas from everybody.

Q: (Off mic.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well — look, I believe this is solvable. I think that fair-minded people can come to an agreement that does not cause the economy to go back into recession, that protects middle- class families, that focuses on jobs and growth and reduces our deficit. I’m confident it can be done.

My budget, frankly, does it. I understand that — I don’t expect the Republicans simply to adopt my budget. That’s not realistic. So I recognize that we’re going to have to compromise. And as I said on election night, compromise is hard. And not everybody gets a hundred percent of what they want, and not everybody’s going to be perfectly happy.

But what I will not do is to have a process that is vague, that says we’re going to sort of, kind of raise revenue through dynamic scoring or closing loopholes that have not been identified.

And the reason I won’t do that is because I don’t want to find ourselves in a position six months from now or a year from now where, lo and behold, the only way to close the deficit is to sock it to middle-class families or to burden families that have disabled kids or, you know, have a parent in a nursing home, or suddenly we’ve got to cut more out of our basic research budget that is the key to growing the economy in the long term.

So that’s my concern. I’m less concerned about red lines per se. What I’m concerned about is not finding ourselves in a situation where the wealthy aren’t paying more or aren’t paying as much they should; middle-class families, one way or another, are making up the difference. That’s the kind of status quo that has been going on here too long, and that’s exactly what I argued against during this campaign. And if there’s — one thing that I’m pretty confident about is the American people understood what they were getting when they gave me this incredible privilege of being in office for another four years. They want compromise. They wanted action. But they also want to make sure that middle-class folks aren’t bearing the entire burden and sacrifice when it comes to some of these big challenges. They expect that folks at the top are doing their fair share as well, and that’s going to be my guiding principle during these negotiations but, more importantly, during the next four years of my administration.

Nancy Cordes.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yeah.

Q: Mr. President, on election night you said that you were looking forward to speaking with Governor Romney, sitting down in the coming weeks to discuss ways that you could work together on this nation’s problems. Have you extended that invitation? Has he accepted? And in what ways do you think you can work together?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, we haven’t scheduled something yet. I think everybody forgets that the election was only a week ago. And I know I’ve forgotten. (Laughter.) I forgot on Wednesday. (Chuckles, laughter.) So you know — (chuckles) — I think everybody needs to catch their breath. I — I’m sure that Governor Romney is spending some time with his family. And my hope is, before the end of the year, though, that we have a chance to — to sit down and talk.

You know, there — there are certain aspects of Governor Romney’s record and his ideas that I think could be very helpful. And well, to give you one example, I do think he did a terrific job running the Olympics. And you know, that skill set of trying to figure out how do we make something work better applies to the federal government. There are a lot of ideas that I don’t think are partisan ideas but are just smart ideas about how can we make the federal government more customer-friendly? How can we make sure that, you know, we’re consolidating programs that are duplicative? You know, how can we eliminate additional waste?

He — he presented some ideas during the course of the campaign that I actually agree with. And so it’d be interesting to talk to him about something like that. There may be ideas that he has with respect to jobs and growth that can help middle-class families that I want to hear. So you know, I’m not — I’m not either prejudging what he’s interested in doing, nor am I suggesting I’ve got some specific assignment. But I — what I want to do is to — is to get ideas from him and see if — see if there are some ways that we can potentially work together.

Q: But when it comes to your relationships with Congress, one of the most frequent criticisms we’ve heard over the past few years from members on both sides is that you haven’t done enough to reach out and build relationships. Are there concrete ways that you plan to approach your relationships with Congress in the second term?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Look, I think there’s no doubt that I can always do better. And so I will, you know, examine ways that I can make sure to communicate my desire to work with everybody, so long as its advancing the cause of strengthening our middle class and improving our economy.

You know, I’ve got a lot of good relationships with folks both in the House and the Senate. I have a lot of relationships on both sides of the aisle. It hasn’t always manifested itself in the kind of agreements that I’d like to see between Democrats and Republicans, and so I think all of us have responsibilities to see if there are things that we can improve on. And I don’t exempt myself from needing to, you know, do some self-reflection and see if I can improve our working relationship.

There are probably going to be still some very sharp differences. And as I said during the campaign, there are going to be times where there are fights. And I think those are fights that need to be had. But what I think the American people don’t want to see is a focus on the next election instead of a focus on them. And I don’t have another election.

And you know, Michelle and I were talking last night about, you know, what an incredible honor and privilege it is to be put in this position. And there are people all across this country, millions of folks who’ve worked so hard to help us get elected. But there are also millions of people who may not have voted for us but are also counting on us.

And you know, we take that responsibility very seriously. I take that responsibility very seriously. And I hope and intend to be an even better president in the second term than I was in the first.

Jonathan Karl.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. Senator John McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham both said today that they want to have Watergate-style hearings on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and said that if you nominate Susan Rice to be secretary of state, they will do everything in their power to block her nomination. As Senator Graham said, he simply doesn’t trust Ambassador Rice after what she said about Benghazi. I’d like your reaction to that. And would those threats deter you from making a nomination like that?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, I’m not going to comment at this point on various nominations that I’ll put forward to fill out my Cabinet for the second term. Those are things that are still being discussed.

But let me say specifically about Susan Rice, she has done exemplary work. She has represented the United States and our interests in the United Nations with skill and professionalism and toughness and grace. As I’ve said before, she made an appearance at the request of the White House in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her. If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. And I’m happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.

And you know, we’re after an election now. I think it is important for us to find out exactly what happened in Benghazi, and I’m happy to cooperate in any ways that Congress wants. We have provided every bit of information that we have, and we will continue to provide information. And we’ve got a full-blown investigation, and all that information will be disgorged to Congress.

And I don’t think there’s any debate in this country that when you have four Americans killed, that’s a problem. And we’ve got to get to the bottom of it, and there needs to be accountability. We’ve got to bring those who carried it out to justice. They won’t get any debate from me on that.

But when they go after the U.N. ambassador, apparently because they think she’s an easy target, then they’ve got a problem with me. And should I choose — if I think that she would be the best person to serve America in the capacity — the State Department, then I will nominate her. That’s not a determination that I’ve made yet.

Yeah. Ed Henry.

Q: I want to take Chuck’s lead and just ask a very small follow- up, which is whether you feel you have a mandate, not just on taxes, but on a range of issues, because of your decisive victory. But I want to stay on Benghazi, based on what John (sp) asked, because you said, if they want to come after me, come after me. I wanted to ask about the families of these four Americans who were killed. Sean Smith’s father, Ray, said he believes his so basically called 911 for help, and they didn’t get it. And I know you’ve said you grieve for these four Americans, that it’s being investigated. But the families have been waiting for more than two months. So I would like to — for you to address the families, if you can: On 9/11, as commander in chief, did you issue any orders to try to protect their lives?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Ed, you know, I’ll address the families not through the press. I’ll address the families directly, as I already have. And we will provide all the information that is available about what happened on that day. That’s what the investigation is for. But as I said repeatedly, if people don’t think that we did everything we can to make sure that we saved the lives of folks who I sent there, and who were carrying out missions on behalf of the United States, then you don’t know how our Defense Department thinks or our State Department thinks or our CIA thinks. Their number one priority is obviously to protect American lives. That’s what our job is.

Now —

Q: (Off mic.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Ed, what — I’ll put forward — I will put forward every bit of information that we have. I can tell you that immediately upon finding out that our folks were in danger, that my orders to my National Security team were do whatever we need to do to make sure they’re safe. And that’s the same order that I would give anytime that I see Americans are in danger, whether they’re civilian or military, because that’s our number one priority.

With respect to the issue of mandate, I’ve got one mandate. I’ve got a mandate to help middle-class families and families that are working hard to try to get into the middle class. That’s my mandate. That’s what the American people said. They said, work really hard to help us.

Don’t worry about the politics of it. Don’t worry about the party interests. Don’t worry about the special interests. Just work really hard to see if you can help us get ahead, because we’re working really hard out here and we’re still struggling, a lot of us. That’s my mandate.

I don’t presume that because I won an election, that everybody suddenly agrees with me on any — everything. I’m more than familiar with all the literature about presidential overreach in second terms. We are very cautious about that.

On the other hand, I didn’t get re-elected just to bask in re- election. I got elected to do work on behalf of American families and small businesses all across the country who are still recovering from a really bad recession but are hopeful about the future. And — and I am too.

The one thing that, you know, I said during the campaign that maybe sounds like a bunch of campaign rhetoric but now that the campaign’s over I’m going to repeat it, and hopefully you guys will really believe me — when you travel around the country, you are inspired by the grit and resilience and hard work and decency of the American people. And it just makes you want to work harder. You know, you meet families who are — you know, have overcome really tough odds and somehow are making it and sending their kids to college. And you — you meet young people who are doing incredible work in disadvantaged communities because they believe in, you know, the American ideal and it should be available for everybody. And yeah, you meet farmers who are helping each other’s — during times of drought, and you know, you meet businesses that kept their doors open during the recession even though the owner didn’t have to take a salary.

And you — when you talk to these folks, you say to yourself, man, they deserve a better government than they’ve been getting. They — they deserve all of us here in Washington to be thinking every single day, how can I make things a little better for them? Which isn’t to say that everything we do is going to be perfect or that there aren’t just going to be some big, tough challenges that we have to grapple with.

But I do know the federal government can make a difference. We — we’re seeing it right now on the Jersey coast and in New York. People are still going through a really tough time. The response hasn’t been perfect. But it’s been aggressive and strong and fast and robust. And a lot of people have been helped because of it. And that’s a pretty good metaphor for how I want the federal government to operate generally, and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure it does.

Christi Parsons. Hey.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President, and congratulations, by the way.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thanks.

Q: One quick follow-up —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Christi was there in — when I was running for state Senate, so —

Q: That’s right. I was.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: — Christi and I go back a ways.

Q: I’ve never seen you lose.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (Inaudible) — that’s —

Q: I wasn’t looking that one time.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: There you go. (Laughter.)

Q: One quick follow-up, and then I want to ask you about Iran. I just want to make sure I understood what you said. Can you envision any scenario in which we do go off the fiscal cliff at the end of the year?

And on Iran, are you preparing a final diplomatic push here to resolve the nuclear program issue, and are we headed toward one-one- one talks?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, obviously we can all imagine a scenario where we go off the fiscal — fiscal cliff. If — if despite the election, if despite the dangers of going over the fiscal cliff and — and what that means for our economy, that there’s too much stubbornness in Congress that we can’t even agree on giving middle- class families a tax cut, then middle-class families are all going to end up having a big tax hike.

And that’s going to be a pretty rude shock for them and I suspect will have a big impact on the holiday shopping season, which in turn will have an impact on business planning and hiring, and we can go back into a recession. It would be a bad thing. It is not necessary.

So I want to repeat, step number one that we can take in the next couple of weeks: Provide certainty to middle-class families — 98 percent of families who make less than $250,000 a year, 97 percent of small businesses — that their taxes will not go up a single dime next year. Give them that certainty right now. We can get that done. We can then set up a structure whereby we are dealing with tax reform, closing deductions, closing loopholes, simplifying, dealing with entitlements. And I’m ready to — and — and willing to make big commitments to make sure that we’re locking in the kind of deficit reductions that stabilize our deficit, start bringing it down, start bringing down our debt. I’m confident we can do it.

It’s — and look, I’ve been living with this for a couple of years now. I know the math pretty well. And it — it — it’s — it really is arithmetic; it’s not calculus. There are some tough things that have to be done, but there’s a way of doing this that does not hurt middle-class families, that does not hurt our seniors, doesn’t hurt families with disabled kids, allows us to continue to invest in those things that make us grow like basic research and education, helping young people afford going to college.

As we’ve already heard from some Republican commentators, a modest tax increase on the wealthy is not going to break their backs. They’ll still be wealthy. And it will not impinge on business investment. So — so we know how to do this. This is just a matter of — of whether or not we come together and go ahead and say, Democrats and Republicans, we’re both going to hold hands and do what’s right for the American people. And I hope that’s what happens.

With respect to Iran, I very much want to see a diplomatic resolution to the problem. I was very clear before the campaign, I was clear during the campaign and I’m now clear after the campaign — we’re not going to let Iran get a nuclear weapon. But I think there is still a window of time for us to resolve this diplomatically. We’ve imposed the toughest sanctions in history. It is having an impact on Iran’s economy.

There should be a way in which they can enjoy peaceful nuclear power while still meeting their international obligations and providing clear assurances to the international community that they’re not pursuing a nuclear weapon. And so yes, I will try to make a push in the coming months to see if we can open up a dialogue between Iran and not just us but the international community, to see if we can get this thing resolved. I can’t promise that Iran will walk through the door that they need to walk though, but that would be very much the preferable option.

Q: And the — (inaudible) — conversation picked up?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I won’t talk about the details of negotiations, but I think it’s fair to say that we want to get this resolved and we’re not going to be constrained by diplomatic niceties or protocols. If Iran is serious about wanting to resolve this, they’ll be in a position to resolve it.

Q: At one point just prior to the election, there was talk that talks might be imminent —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: That was — that was not true, and it’s not — it’s not true as — as of today, OK?

Just going to knock through a couple of others. Mark Landler? Where’s Mark? There he is, right in front of me.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. In his endorsement of you a few weeks ago, Mayor Bloomberg said he was motivated by the belief that you would do more to confront the threat of climate change than your opponent. Tomorrow you’re going up to New York City, where you’re going to, I assume, see people who are still suffering the effects of Hurricane Sandy, which many people say is further evidence of how a warming globe is changing our weather. What specifically do you plan to do in a second term to tackle the issue of climate change? And do you think the political will exists in Washington to pass legislation that could include some kind of a tax on carbon?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, as you know, Mark (sp), we can’t attribute any particular weather event to climate change. What we do know is the temperature around the globe is increasing faster than was predicted even 10 years ago. We do know that the Arctic ice cap is melting faster than was predicted even five years ago. We do know that there have been extraordinarily — there have been an extraordinarily large number of severe weather events here in North America, but also around the globe.

And I am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behavior and carbon emissions. And as a consequence, I think we’ve got an obligation to future generations to do something about it.

Now, in my first term, we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars and trucks. That will have an impact. That will a lot of carbon out of the atmosphere. We doubled the production of clean energy, which promises to reduce the utilization of fossil fuels for power generation. And we continue to invest in potential breakthrough technologies that could further remove carbon from our atmosphere.

But we haven’t done as much as we need to. So what I’m going to be doing over the next several weeks, next several months, is having a conversation, a wide-ranging conversation with scientists, engineers and elected officials to find out what can — what more can we do to make short-term progress in reducing carbons, and then working through an education process that I think is necessary, a discussion, the conversation across the country about, you know, what realistically can we do long term to make sure that this is not something we’re passing on to future generations that’s going to be very expensive and very painful to deal with.

I don’t know what — what either Democrats or Republicans are prepared to do at this point, because, you know, this is one of those issues that’s not just a partisan issue. I also think there’s — there are regional differences. There’s no doubt that for us to take on climate change in a serious way would involve making some tough political choices, and you know, understandably, I think the American people right now have been so focused and will continue to be focused on our economy and jobs and growth that, you know, if the message is somehow we’re going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don’t think anybody’s going to go for that.

I won’t go for that.

If, on the other hand, we can shape an agenda that says we can create jobs, advance growth and make a serious dent in climate change and be an international leader, I think that’s something that the American people would support.

So you know, you can expect that you’ll hear more from me in the coming months and years about how we can shape an agenda that garners bipartisan support and helps move this — moves this agenda forward.

Q: It sounds like you’re saying, though — (off mic) — probably still short of a consensus on some kind of — (off mic).

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I — that I’m pretty certain of. And look, we’re — we’re still trying to debate whether we can just make sure that middle-class families don’t get a tax hike. Let’s see if we can resolve that. That should be easy. This one’s hard. But it’s important because, you know, one of the things that we don’t always factor in are the costs involved in these natural disasters. We’d — we just put them off as — as something that’s unconnected to our behavior right now, and I think what, based on the evidence, we’re seeing is — is that what we do now is going to have an impact and a cost down the road if — if — if we don’t do something about it.

All right. Last question, Mark Felsenthal. Where’s Mark?

Q: Thank you. Mr. President, the Assad regime is engaged in a brutal crackdown on its people. France has recognized the opposition coalition.What would it take for the United States to do the same, and is there any point at which the United States would consider arming the rebels?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, I was one of the first leaders, I think, around the world to say Assad had to go in response to the incredible brutality that his government displayed in the face of what were initially peaceful protests.

Obviously the situation in Syria’s deteriorated since then. We have been extensively engaged with the international community as well as regional powers to help the opposition. You know, we’ve committed hundreds of millions of dollars of humanitarian aid to help folks both inside of Syria and outside of Syria. We are constantly consulting with the opposition on how they can get organized so that they’re not splintered and divided in the face of the onslaught from the Assad regime.

We are in — in very close contact with countries like Turkey and Jordan that immediately border Syria and have an impact, and obviously Israel, which is having already grave concerns as we do about, for example, movements of chemical weapons that might occur in such a chaotic atmosphere and that could have an impact not just within Syria but on the region as a whole.

I’m encouraged to see that the Syrian opposition created an umbrella group that may have more cohesion than they’ve had in the past. We’re going to be talking to them. My envoys are going to be traveling to, you know, various meetings that are going to be taking place with the international community and the opposition.

We consider them a legitimate representative of the aspirations of the Syrian people. We’re not yet prepared to recognize them as some sort of government in exile.

But we do think that it is a broad-based, representative group. One of the questions that we’re going to continue to press is making sure that that opposition is committed to a democratic Syria, an inclusive Syria, a moderate Syria.

We have seen extremist elements insinuate themselves into the opposition. And you know, one of the things that we have to be on guard about, particularly when we start talking about arming opposition figures, is that we’re not indirectly putting arms in the hands of folks who would do Americans harm or do Israelis harm or otherwise engage in — in actions that are detrimental to our national security. So we — we’re constantly probing and working on that issue. The more engaged we are, the more we’ll be in a position to make sure that — that we are encouraging the most moderate, thoughtful elements of the opposition that are committed to inclusion, observance of human rights and working cooperatively with us over the long term. All right?

Q: (Off mic.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you very much.

Q: (Off mic) — on the spending side — (off mic) — on the taxing side. On the — on the spending, the 1.2 trillion (dollar) figure — is that something that you could see having a short-term postponement? Or — because earlier today you said — (off mic).

PRESIDENT OBAMA: That was a great question, but it would be a horrible precedent for me to answer your question just because you yelled it out. (Laughter.) So thank you very much, guys.

Full Text Campaign Buzz September 24, 2012: Mitt Romney’s Speech at a Campaign Event in Pueblo, Colorado — We Must Stand For Freedom

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Mitt Romney: We Must Stand For Freedom

Source: Mitt Romney Press, 9-24-12

“The world looks at the events going on. They don’t see these events as bumps in the road. These are lives. This is humanity. This is freedom. Freedom must be on the march. We must stand for freedom.” – Mitt Romney

Remarks
Pueblo, Colorado

September 24, 2012

Click Here To Watch Mitt Romney

MITT ROMNEY: “Look, the world looks at the events going on. They don’t see these events as bumps in the road. These are lives. This is humanity. This is freedom. Freedom must be on the march. We must stand for freedom. I see these extraordinary aircraft here and know that behind them are men and women who’ve flown them in peace, in times of danger. They fly them to protect us. They fly to make sure the world is a safer place. American leadership is derived from a strong military, which, by the way, is derived from a strong economy, which is derived from strong values and principles. I will strengthen America by restoring the principles that made us the hope of the earth!”

Campaign Headlines July 24, 2012: Mitt Romney Blasts President Obama Over Security Leaks, Defense Cuts in a Speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Reno, Nevada

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THE HEADLINES….

Romney Blasts Obama Over Security Leaks, Defense Cuts

Source: ABC News Radio, 7-24-12

Saul Loeb/AFP/J.D. Pooley/GettyImages

On the eve of his week-long trip abroad, Mitt Romney today condemned President Obama’s handling of recent security leaks to the media, including details from the attack that led to the death Osama Bin Laden, describing it as “contemptible” and urging the president to accept responsibility for leaks that might have stemmed from his administration.
“This isn’t a partisan issue; it’s a national-security crisis,” Romney said in remarks delivered to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Reno, Nev. “This conduct is contemptible. It betrays our national interest. It compromises our men and women in the field. And it demands a full and prompt investigation, with explanation and consequence….READ MORE

Full Text Campaign Buzz July 24, 2012: Fact Sheet: Mitt Romney’s Foreign Policy & National Plan For An American Century

CAMPAIGN 2012

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THE HEADLINES….

A brief look at Mitt Romney’s foreign policy plan

Source: AP, 7-24-12

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney outlined his vision of U.S. national security policy on Tuesday, challenging President Barack Obama over everything from classified information leaks to his handling of the war in Afghanistan….READ MORE

Fact Sheet: The Romney Plan For An American Century

Source: Mitt Romney, 7-24-12

Defense Policy

American military power is vital to the preservation of our own security and peace around the world. Mitt Romney will:

  • Reverse Obama-era defense spending cuts with the goal of setting a core defense spending floor of 4% of GDP.In his first 100 days, put our Navy on the path to increase its shipbuilding rate from nine per year to approximately fifteen per year.  Maintain a fleet of 11 aircraft carriers.
    Find efficiencies in the Department of Defense procurement process and bureaucratic staff to reinvest in the force.
  • Modernize and replace the aging inventories of the Air Force, Army, and Marines, and selectively strengthen our force structure.
  • Add 100,000 active duty troops.
  • In the first 100 days, begin reversing Obama-era cuts to missile defense and commit to a robust multi-layered national ballistic-missile defense system to deter and defend against nuclear attacks on our homeland and our allies.

Iran Policy

Mitt Romney believes it is unacceptable for Iran to possess a nuclear weapons capability and will adopt a comprehensive strategy to prevent that scenario.  He will:

  • In his first 100 days, make clear that the military option is on the table by ordering the regular presence of an aircraft carrier task force in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf region simultaneously. He will also begin talks with Israel to increase military coordination and assistance and enhance intelligence sharing.
  • Increase military coordination with Arab allies in the region and conduct more naval exercises in the region as a demonstration of strength and resolve.
  • Fully implement sanctions targeted at Iran’s Central Bank and its petroleum industry. Cease the Obama Administration’s practice of issuing exemptions from sanctions to nations such as China that fail to meaningfully reduce their oil imports from Iran.
  • Step up enforcement of existing U.S. laws that bar commerce with Iran, such as the exportation of refined petroleum products to Iran.
  • Increase diplomatic isolation of Iran and work to indict Iranian President Ahmadinejad for incitement to genocide under the Genocide Convention.
  • Support the Iranian opposition by improving the flow of information to the Iranian population about its own government’s repressive activities and refusing to stand silent while the Iranian regime ruthlessly terrorizes its own people.
  • Reaffirm that any negotiated agreement must entail the internationally recognized redline of full suspension of enrichment activities by the Iranian regime. In addition, call for intrusive and unannounced inspections, unfettered access to all officials and scientists who have participated in Iran’s nuclear program, removal of enriched uranium stockpiles from Iran, and a full accounting of past weaponization work.
  • Commit to the on-time completion of a fully capable missile defense system in Eastern Europe and retain the option of reverting to a swifter implementation plan. Mitt Romney will deny Russia any control or veto over the missile defense system.

Afghanistan & Pakistan Policy

Mitt Romney will cease President Obama’s practice of politicizing decisions on troop levels and transition timetables. Mitt Romney will:

  • In his first 100 days, order a full interagency review of our transition in Afghanistan toward the goal of a successful transition of combat operations by the end of 2014. He will review our military and assistance presence to determine the level required to secure our gains and to train Afghan forces to the point where they can protect the sovereignty of Afghanistan on their own. Withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan under a Romney administration will be based on conditions on the ground as assessed by our military commanders.
  • Work with the Afghan government and Pakistan and use U.S. leverage to ensure that those nations are fully contributing to the success of our mission. He will make clear to Afghan President Hamid Karzai that our commitment must be met with reciprocal efforts to crack down on corruption in his government, respect free and fair elections as required by the Afghan constitution, and coordinate with the United States on fighting the narcotics trade that fuels the insurgency. Mitt Romney will work with Pakistan to sever any connection between insurgent forces and Pakistan’s security and intelligence agencies.

China Policy

Mitt Romney will implement a strategy that makes the path of regional hegemony for China far more costly than the alternative path of becoming a responsible partner in the international system. Mitt Romney will:

  • Maintain robust military capabilities in the Pacific to guarantee that trade routes remain open and East Asia’s community of nations remains secure and prosperous.
  • Deepen cooperation among regional partners like India and build stronger ties to influential countries like Indonesia.
  • Defend human rights. Any serious policy must confront the fact that China’s Communist regime continues to deny its people basic political freedoms and human rights. Mitt Romney will support and engage civil society groups within China that are promoting democratic reform, anti-corruption efforts, religious freedom, and women’s and minority rights. These efforts will provide them with greater access to information through a stronger Internet freedom initiative.

Specifically on issues of trade, Mitt Romney will lay out a clear series of steps that the Chinese must take to become a responsible participant in the global economy, and a clear series of consequences that would accompany failure to make rapid progress down that path, such as:

If China continues to block government procurement from foreign firms:

  • End U.S. government procurement from China

If China continues to manipulate its currency:

  • Formally declare China to be a currency manipulator
    • Impose associated countervailing duties

If China continues to unfairly subsidize its domestic producers,  interfere with foreign competitors, and pursue an “indigenous innovation” policy by coercing and stealing from foreign firms:

  • Impose punitive tariffs on Chinese products for which China provides anti-competitive assistance
  • Work with other developed nations to impose intellectual property sanctions, blocking the transfer into China of technologies that China has prioritized

In response to all of these practices:

  • Use Reagan Economic Zone to confer benefits on genuine free trading nations from which China is excluded so long as its unfair practices continue

Middle East Policy

A Romney administration will pursue a strategy of supporting groups and governments across the Middle East to advance the values of representative government, economic opportunity, and human rights. And it will oppose any extension of Iranian or jihadist influence. Mitt Romney will:

  • Engage Congress to organize all diplomatic and assistance efforts in the greater Middle East under one regional director with unified budgetary and directive authority who will train our soft power on ensuring the Arab Spring does not become an Arab Winter.
  • Make available technical assistance to transitional governments to promote democracy, good governance, and sound financial management.
  • Convene a summit that brings together world leaders, donor groups, and young leaders of civil society groups in nations in transition.

Israel

Mitt Romney will restore our relationship with our closest ally in the Middle East. He will:

  • Make Israel the destination of his first foreign trip as president.
  • In the first 100 days, reaffirm as a vital U.S. national interest the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.
  • Work closely with Israel to maintain its strategic military edge and increase military assistance.
  • Reject any measure that would frustrate direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Mitt Romney will make clear to the Palestinians that the unilateral attempt to decide issues that are designated for final negotiations is unacceptable.
  • Reduce assistance to the Palestinians if they continue to pursue United Nations recognition or form a unity government that includes Hamas, a terrorist group dedicated to Israel’s destruction.

Egypt

Egypt is in many ways the fulcrum of the Arab world.  Mitt Romney will orient U.S. policy to encourage the development of an Egyptian government that represents all Egyptians, maintains peace with Israel, and promotes peace throughout the region. He will:

  • Condition the $1.3 billion in U.S. military assistance to Egypt on maintaining its peace agreement with Israel. Place conditions of good governance and peaceful relations on the $250 million in economic assistance, $1 billion in debt cancelation pledges, and $1 billion in OPIC loan guarantees the United States grants to Egypt.
  • Engage G-8 partners, the World Bank, and the European Investment Bank to use their collective influence and place conditions of good governance and peaceful relations on the billions they have pledged to Egypt.

Syria

Both America’s humanitarian and strategic interests would be served by the departure of Bashar al-Assad.  Mitt Romney will make clear that Assad must go and that no way forward in Syria will include Assad. He will:

  • Work with partners to call on Syria’s military to protect civilians rather than attack them, drive a wedge between the Assad regime and the wider Alawite minority and other minorities, assure them of a role in a post-Assad Syria if they abandon the regime, and increase the chances for reconciliation with the majority Sunni population after Assad’s fall.
  • Make clear that the United States and our allies will support the Syrian opposition when the time comes for them to forge a post-Assad government.
  • Work with partners to identify, organize, and arm opposition groups aligned with U.S. interests.

Russia Policy

Mitt Romney will reset President Obama’s “Reset” with Russia and implement a strategy to discourage aggressive or expansionist behavior on the part of Russia and encourage democratic political and economic reform. He will:

  • Review the implementation of the New START treaty and other decisions by the Obama Administration regarding America’s nuclear posture and arms-control policies to determine whether they serve the best interests and national security of the United States.
  • Pursue policies to reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian sources of energy. He will explore increasing technical assistance to the Eastern European nations currently developing the Turkey-to-Austria Nabucco natural gas pipeline and work with the private sector to spur access to untapped shale energy resources in Western Europe.
  • Deter Russian ambitions to its south by enhancing diplomatic ties, increasing military training and assistance, and negotiating trade pacts and educational exchanges with Central Asian states.
  • Forthrightly confront the Russian government over its authoritarian practices. Mitt Romney will increase the flow of information into Russia that highlights the virtues of freedom and a government free of corruption. He will bring more leaders of Russian civil society to the United States on exchange programs.

Latin America Policy

A Romney administration will support democratic allies and market-based economic relationships, contain destabilizing internal forces such as criminal gangs and terrorists, and oppose destabilizing outside influences such as Iran. Mitt Romney will:

  • In his first 100 days, launch a vigorous public diplomacy and trade promotion effort in the region—the Campaign for Economic Opportunity in Latin America (CEOLA)—to encourage trade and investment between the United States and Latin America and draw a stark contrast between the virtues of democracy and free trade and the ills of the authoritarian socialist model offered by Cuba and Venezuela.
  • Build on separate existing anti-drug and counterterrorism initiatives to form a unified Hemispheric Joint Task Force on Crime and Terrorism to coordinate intelligence and enforcement among allies to combat regional terrorist groups and criminal networks and sever connections to foreign terrorist entities like Hezbollah.
  • Explore with Mexico the need for enhanced military-to-military training cooperation and intelligence sharing to combat our mutual challenge of drug cartels and criminal gangs. Complete a high-tech fence to secure the southern border.

North Korea Policy

Mitt Romney will commit to eliminating North Korea’s nuclear weapons and its nuclear-weapons infrastructure. He will:

  • Work with allies to institute harsher sanctions on North Korea, such as cracking down on financial institutions that service the North Korean regime and sanctioning companies that conduct commercial shipping in and out of North Korea.
  • Step up enforcement of the Proliferation Security Initiative to constrain North Korean illicit exports.
  • Work to persuade China to commit to North Korea’s disarmament. Mitt Romney will discuss with China how the international community will address the humanitarian and security issues that will arise should North Korea disintegrate. And by reinvigorating our military and counter-proliferation relationships with South Korea, Japan, and others regional allies, he will demonstrate to the Chinese that they should join the coordinated effort or be left behind.

Diplomatic & National Security Institutions

Mitt Romney will empower our diplomatic, assistance, and national security institutions to best secure our enduring national interests and ideals. He will:

  • Reorganize our diplomatic and assistance agencies to foster joint regional strategic planning by placing unified budgetary and directive authority under one official responsible for all diplomatic and assistance programs within a particular region. This structure will mirror the regional military combatant command structure.
  • In the first 100 days, order a full interagency initiative to formulate a unified national strategy to deter and defend against the growing threats of militarized cyber-attacks, cyber-terrorism, cyber-espionage, and private-sector intellectual property theft.
  • Order an initiative to combat homegrown terrorism by redoubling efforts to work with state and local authorities to share intelligence “vertically,” enhance partnerships with Muslim-American communities to identify threats and suspicious activity, and develop our database of knowledge about the hallmarks of radicalization and recruitment. The strategy will contain measures to preserve privacy and our constitutional rights.
  • Work with Congress to update the chief source of statutory authority for the war on terrorism to authorize the use of force against any foreign terrorist entity that is waging war against the United States.
  • Work with Congress to unify the over 108 authorizing committees in Congress that oversee the Department of Homeland Security.

Setting a New Tone: Eight Actions for the First Hundred Days

  1. Restore America’s Naval Credibility

Announce an initiative to increase the naval shipbuilding rate from nine per year to approximately fifteen per year and sustain the carrier fleet at eleven. This will restore America’s presence and credibility on the high seas with a view toward deterring aggressive behavior and maintaining the peace.

  1. Strengthen and Repair Relationships with Steadfast Allies

Take swift measures to restore and enhance relationships with our most steadfast allies. Actions include reaffirming as a vital national interest Israel’s existence as Jewish state, declaring the U.S.-U.K. special relationship to be a foundation for peace and liberty, and beginning talks to strengthen cooperation with Mexico on the shared problem of drugs and security.

  1. Enhance Our Deterrent Against Iran

Reaffirm that Iran’s possession of a nuclear weapon is unacceptable. Order the regular presence of a carrier task force in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf region. Begin discussions with Israel to increase levels of military and intelligence coordination and assistance.

  1. Commit to a Robust National Missile Defense System

Begin process of reversing Obama-era budget cuts to national missile defense and raise to a top priority the full deployment of a multilayered national ballistic-missile defense system.

  1. Establish a Single Point of Responsibility for All Soft Power Resources in the Middle East

Work with Congress and relevant Executive branch agencies to organize all diplomatic and assistance efforts in the greater Middle East under one Regional Director with unified budgetary and directive authority. One official with responsibility and accountability will set regional priorities and direct our soft power toward ensuring the Arab Spring realizes its promise.

  1. Launch Campaign for Economic Opportunity in Latin America

Capitalize on the benefits arising from the ratification of the Colombian and Panamanian free trade agreements to launch a robust public-diplomacy and trade promotion campaign in Latin America that contrasts the benefits of democracy, free trade, and economic opportunity with the ills caused by the authoritarian model of Venezuela and Cuba.

  1. Conduct a Full Review of Our Transition in Afghanistan

Conduct a full interagency review of our military and assistance presence in Afghanistan to determine the presence necessary to secure our gains and successfully complete our mission. The review will involve discussions with generals on the ground and the delivery of the best recommendations of our military commanders.

  1. Order Interagency Initiative on Cybersecurity

Order a full interagency initiative to formulate a unified national strategy to deter and defend against the growing threats of militarized cyber-attacks, cyber-terrorism, cyber-espionage, and private-sector intellectual property theft. U.S. defense and intelligence resources must be fully engaged in this critical aspect of national defense.

To view the full foreign policy white paper please click here.

Full Text Campaign Buzz July 24, 2012: Mitt Romney’s Speech on Foreign Policy & National Security to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Reno, Nevada

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Remarks At The VFW National Convention

Source: Mitt Romney, 7-24-12

romney-2012-blog-image-texas.jpg

Thank you.  Commander Richard DeNoyer, I appreciate the introduction, and I’m proud to see a combat veteran from Massachusetts serving as National Commander of the VFW.

Ladies Auxiliary President Gwen Rankin, incoming National Commander John Hamilton, incoming Ladies Auxiliary President Leanne Lemley, Adjutant General Allen “Gunner” Kent, Executive Director Bob Wallace, distinguished guests and members of the VFW: Thank you for your generous welcome.

I want to start today with a few words about the unimaginable tragedy in Colorado last week.  We’ve since learned that among the victims were four people who had served – or were serving – our country in uniform.  Today, our hearts go out to the families of John Larimer of the U.S. Navy; Rebecca Wingo, an Air Force veteran; Jesse Childress, an Army veteran and member of the Air Force reserve; and Jonathan Blunk, a Navy veteran who died shielding his girlfriend from the spray of bullets.  The loss of four Americans who served our country only adds to the profound tragedy of that day.  All Americans are grateful for their service and deeply saddened by their deaths.  We mourn them and we will remember them.

The VFW is now over two million strong.  It has a special place in America’s heart.  Some of you fought recently, in Iraq or Afghanistan.  Others are old enough to have marched, flown, or sailed by orders of Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Whatever your age, whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, whenever you served – there’s one thing you have in common: You answered the call of your country in a time of war. From December 7th, 1941 to September 11, 2001, whenever America has been tested, you stepped forward. You come from our farms, our great cities, our small towns and quiet neighborhoods. Many of you have known violence so that your neighbors could only know peace.  You have done more than protect America; your courage and service defines America.  You are America at our best and it is an honor to address you.

Our veterans are part of a proud tradition that stretches back to the battlefields at Lexington and Concord – and now to places like Fallujah and Kandahar.  Year after year, our men and women in uniform have added proud achievements to their record of service.  And President Obama pointed to some of them yesterday in his speech.

Any time our military accomplishes a vital mission it is a proud moment for our nation.  But we owe our veterans and our military more than just an accounting of our successes.  They deserve a fair and frank assessment of the whole picture – of where we are and where we want to be.  And when it comes to national security and foreign policy, as with our economy, the last few years have been a time of declining influence and missed opportunity.

Just consider some of the challenges I discussed at your last national convention:

Since then, has the American economy recovered?

Has our ability to shape world events been enhanced, or diminished?

Have we gained greater confidence among our allies, and greater respect from our adversaries?

And, perhaps most importantly, has the most severe security threat facing America and our friends, a nuclear-armed Iran, become more or less likely?

These clear measures are the ultimate tests of American leadership.  And, by these standards, we haven’t seen much in the President’s first term that inspires confidence in a second.

The President’s policies have made it harder to recover from the deepest recession in seventy years … exposed the military to cuts that no one can justify … compromised our national-security secrets … and in dealings with other nations, given trust where it is not earned, insult where it is not deserved, and apology where it is not due.

From Berlin to Cairo to the United Nations, President Obama has shared his view of America and its place among nations.  I have come here today to share mine.

I am an unapologetic believer in the greatness of this country. I am not ashamed of American power.  I take pride that throughout history our power has brought justice where there was tyranny, peace where there was conflict, and hope where there was affliction and despair.  I do not view America as just one more point on the strategic map, one more power to be balanced.  I believe our country is the greatest force for good the world has ever known, and that our influence is needed as much now as ever.  And I am guided by one overwhelming conviction and passion:  This century must be an American Century.

In 1941, Henry Luce called on his countrymen – just then realizing their strength – “to create the first great American century.” And they succeeded: together with their allies, they won World War II, they rescued Europe, they defeated Communism, and America took its place as leader of the free world. Across the globe, they fought, they bled, they led.  They showed the world the extraordinary courage of the American heart and the generosity of the American spirit.

That courage and generosity remains unchanged today.  But sadly, this president has diminished American leadership, and we are reaping the consequences. The world is dangerous, destructive, chaotic.  And the two men running to be your commander-in-chief must offer their answers to the challenges we face.

Like a watchman in the night, we must remain at our post – and keep guard of the freedom that defines and ennobles us, and our friends.  In an American Century, we have the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world.  In an American Century, we secure peace through our strength.  And if by absolute necessity we must employ it, we must wield our strength with resolve.  In an American Century, we lead the free world and the free world leads the entire world.

If we do not have the strength or vision to lead, then other powers will take our place, pulling history in a very different direction.  A just and peaceful world depends on a strong and confident America. I pledge to you that if I become commander-in-chief, the United States of America will fulfill its duty, and its destiny.

American leadership depends, as it always has, on our economic strength, on our military strength, and on our moral strength.  If any of these falter, no skill of diplomacy or presidential oratory can compensate. Today, the strength of our economy is in jeopardy.

A healthy American economy is what underwrites American power. When growth is missing, government revenue falls, social spending rises, and many in Washington look to cut defense spending as an easy out.  That includes our current President.

Today, we are just months away from an arbitrary, across-the-board budget reduction that would saddle the military with a trillion dollars in cuts, severely shrink our force structure, and impair our ability to meet and deter threats.  Don’t bother trying to find a serious military rationale behind any of this, unless that rationale is wishful thinking. Strategy is not driving President Obama’s massive defense cuts.  In fact, his own Secretary of Defense warned that these reductions would be “devastating.”  And he is right.

That devastation starts at home. These cuts would only weaken an already stretched VA system and impair our solemn commitment that every veteran receives care second to none. I will not allow that to happen.

This is not the time for the President’s radical cuts in the military. Look around the globe. Other major powers are rapidly adding to their military capabilities, some with intentions very different from ours.  The regime in Tehran is drawing closer to developing a nuclear weapon.  The threat of radical Islamic terrorism persists. The threat of weapons of mass destruction proliferation is ever-present. And we are still at war and still have uniformed men and women in conflict.

All this and more is ongoing in the world.  And yet the President has chosen this moment for wholesale reductions in the nation’s military capacity.  When the biggest announcement in his last State of the Union address on improving our military was that the Pentagon will start using more clean energy – then you know it’s time for a change.

We’re not the first people to observe this.  It is reported that Bob Gates, the President’s first secretary of defense, bluntly addressed another security problem within this administration.  After secret operational details of the bin Laden raid were given to reporters, Secretary Gates walked into the West Wing and told the Obama team to “shut up.”  He added a colorful word for emphasis.

Lives of American servicemen and women are at stake.  But astonishingly, the administration failed to change its ways. More top-secret operations were leaked, even some involving covert action in Iran.

This isn’t a partisan issue; it’s a national security crisis.  And yesterday, Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, quote, “I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks.”

This conduct is contemptible. It betrays our national interest. It compromises our men and women in the field.  And it demands a full and prompt investigation by a special counsel, with explanation and consequence.  Obama appointees, who are accountable to President Obama’s Attorney General, should not be responsible for investigating the leaks coming from the Obama White House.

Whoever provided classified information to the media, seeking political advantage for the administration, must be exposed, dismissed, and punished.  The time for stonewalling is over.

It is not enough to say the matter is being looked into, and leave it at that.  When the issue is the political use of highly sensitive national security information, it is unacceptable to say, “We’ll report our findings after Election Day.”

Exactly who in the White House betrayed these secrets?  Did a superior authorize it?  These are things that Americans are entitled to know – and they are entitled to know right now.  If the President believes – as he said last week – that the buck stops with him, then he owes all Americans a full and prompt accounting of the facts.

And let me make this very clear:  These events make the decision we face in November all the more important.  What kind of White House would reveal classified material for political gain?  I’ll tell you right now:  Mine won’t.

The harm done when national security secrets are betrayed extends, of course, to the trust that allies place in the United States.

The operating principle of American foreign policy has been to work with our allies so that we can deter aggression before it breaks out into open conflict.  That policy depends on nurturing our alliances and standing up for our common values.

Yet the President has moved in the opposite direction.

It began with the sudden abandonment of friends in Poland and the Czech Republic.  They had courageously agreed to provide sites for our anti-missile systems, only to be told, at the last hour, that the agreement was off. As part of the so-called reset in policy, missile defenses were sacrificed as a unilateral concession to the Russian government.

If that gesture was designed to inspire good will from Russia, it clearly missed the mark.  The Russian government defended the dictator in Damascus, arming him as he slaughtered the Syrian people.

We can only guess what Vladimir Putin makes of the Obama administration. He regained the Russian presidency in a corrupt election, and for that, he got a congratulatory call from the Oval Office.  And then there was that exchange picked up by a microphone that President Obama didn’t know was on.  We heard him asking Dmitry Medvedev to tell Mr. Putin to give him “space.”  “This is my last election,” President Obama said, and “After my election I’ll have more flexibility.”

Why is flexibility with Russian leaders more important than transparency to the American people?

President Obama had a moment of candor, however, just the other day.  He said that the actions of the Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez have not had a serious national security impact on us.  In my view, inviting Hezbollah into our hemisphere is severe, serious, and a threat.

But at least he was consistent.  After all, this is the president who faltered when the Iranian people were looking for support in their struggle against the ayatollahs.  That uprising was treated as an inconvenient problem for the President’s policy of engagement, instead of as a moral and strategic opportunity.  That terrible misjudgment should never be repeated.  When unarmed women and men in Tehran find the courage to confront their oppressors, at risk of torture and death, they should hear the unequivocal voice of an American president affirming their right to be free.

I will leave Reno this evening on a trip abroad that will take me to England, Poland, and Israel.   And since I wouldn’t venture into another country to question American foreign policy, I will tell you right here – before I leave – what I think of this administration’s shabby treatment of one of our finest friends.

President Obama is fond of lecturing Israel’s leaders. He was even caught by a microphone deriding them. He has undermined their position, which was tough enough as it was.  And even at the United Nations, to the enthusiastic applause of Israel’s enemies, he spoke as if our closest ally in the Middle East was the problem.

The people of Israel deserve better than what they have received from the leader of the free world.  And the chorus of accusations, threats, and insults at the United Nations should never again include the voice of the President of the United States.

There are values, causes, and nations that depend on American strength, on the clarity of our purpose, and on the reliability of our commitments.  There is work in this world that only America and our allies can do, hostile powers that only we can deter, and challenges that only we can overcome.

For the past decade, among those challenges has been the war in Afghanistan. As commander-in-chief, I will have a solemn duty to our men and women in uniform.  A president owes our troops, their families, and the American people a clear explanation of our mission, and a commitment not to play politics with the decisions of war.

I have been critical of the President’s decision to withdraw the surge troops during the fighting season, against the advice of the commanders on the ground.  President Obama would have you believe that anyone who disagrees with his decisions is arguing for endless war.  But the route to more war – and to potential attacks here at home – is a politically timed retreat.

As president, my goal in Afghanistan will be to complete a successful transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014.  I will evaluate conditions on the ground and solicit the best advice of our military commanders.  And I will affirm that my duty is not to my political prospects, but to the security of the nation.

We face another continuing challenge in a rising China.  China is attentive to the interests of its government – but it too often disregards the rights of its people.  It is selective in the freedoms it allows; and, as with its one-child policy, it can be ruthless in crushing the freedoms it denies.  In conducting trade with America, it permits flagrant patent and copyright violations … forestalls American businesses from competing in its market … and manipulates its currency to obtain unfair advantage.  It is in our mutual interest for China to be a partner for a stable and secure world, and we welcome its participation in trade.  But the cheating must finally be brought to a stop.  President Obama hasn’t done it and won’t do it. I will.

We’ll need that same clarity of purpose and resolve in the Middle East.  America cannot be neutral in the outcome there.  We must clearly stand for the values of representative government, economic opportunity, and human rights. And we must stand against the extension of Iranian or jihadist influence.

Egypt is at the center of this historical drama.  In many ways, it has the power to tip the balance in the Arab world toward freedom and modernity. As president, I will not only direct the billions in assistance we give to Egypt toward that goal, but I will also work with partner nations to place conditions on their assistance as well.  Unifying our collective influence behind a common purpose will foster the development of a government that represents all Egyptians, maintains peace with Israel, and promotes peace throughout the region. The United States is willing to help Egypt support peace and prosperity, but we will not be complicit in oppression and instability.

There is no greater danger in the world today than the prospect of the ayatollahs in Tehran possessing nuclear weapons capability.  Yet for all the talks and conferences, all of the extensions and assurances, can anyone say we are farther from this danger now than four years ago?

The same ayatollahs who each year mark a holiday by leading chants of “Death to America” are not going to be talked out of their pursuit of nuclear weapons.  What’s needed is all the firmness, clarity, and moral courage that we and our allies can gather.  Sanctions must be enforced without exception, cutting off the regime’s sources of wealth.  Negotiations must secure full and unhindered access for inspections.  As it is, the Iranian regime claims the right to enrich nuclear material for supposedly peaceful purposes.  This claim is discredited by years of deception.  A clear line must be drawn: There must be a full suspension of any enrichment, period.

And at every turn, Iran must know that the United States and our allies stand as one in these critical objectives.  Only in this way can we successfully counter the catastrophic threat that Iran presents.  I pledge to you and to all Americans that if I become commander-in-chief, I will use every means necessary to protect ourselves and the region, and to prevent the worst from happening while there is still time.

It is a mistake – and sometimes a tragic one – to think that firmness in American foreign policy can bring only tension or conflict.  The surest path to danger is always weakness and indecision.  In the end, it is resolve that moves events in our direction, and strength that keeps the peace.

I will not surrender America’s leadership in the world. We must have confidence in our cause, clarity in our purpose, and resolve in our might.

This is very simple: if you do not want America to be the strongest nation on earth, I am not your President.  You have that President today.

The 21st century can and must be an American Century. It began with terror, war, and economic calamity. It is our duty to steer it onto the path of freedom, peace, and prosperity.

Fewer members of the Greatest Generation are with us today – and they can’t hold the torch as high as they have in the past.  We must now seize the torch they carried so gallantly and at such sacrifice. It is an eternal torch of decency, freedom and hope. It is not America’s torch alone. But it is America’s duty – and honor – to hold it high enough so that all the world can see its light.

Believe in America.

Thank you and God Bless the United States of America.

Full Text Obama Presidency July 23, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech to 113th National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Reno, Nevada — Defends Foreign Policy Record

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

President Obama Speaks to the Veterans of Foreign Wars

Source: WH, 7-23-12

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the 113th National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the 113th National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) in Reno, Nev., July 23, 2012 (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Today, President Obama spoke to the Veterans of Foreign Wars and discussed the promises his Administration has kept to secure our nation, fight terrorism, renew American leadership in the world, better serve our troops and military families and honor our veterans. He also thanked veterans for their service to our nation:

Even after you took off the uniform, you never stopped serving.  You took care of each other — fighting for the benefits and care you had earned.  And you’ve taken care of the generations that followed, including our newest veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.  On behalf of all our men and women in uniform, and on behalf of the American people, I want to thank you, VFW.  Thank you for your outstanding work.

Our troops have helped secure a better future for our country, the President said:

Thanks to the extraordinary service of our men and women in uniform, we’re winding down a decade of war; we’re destroying the terrorist network that attacked us; we’re strengthening the alliances that extend our values.  And today, every American can be proud that the United States is safer and stronger and more respected in the world.

“Every generation among you served to keep us strong and free,” the President said. “And it falls to us, those that follow, to preserve what you won.”

President Obama discussed his administration’s work to strengthen our military, support military families and uphold the nation’s sacred trust with our veterans, and announced a redesign of the Transition Assistance Program, which helps service members transition to the civilian workforce:

We’re going to set up a kind of “reverse boot camp” for our departing service members.  Starting this year, they’ll get more personalized assistance as they plan their careers. We’ll provide the training they need to find that job, or pursue that education, or start that business. And just as they’ve maintained their military readiness, we’ll have new standards of “career readiness.

The President also called on Congress to pass his Veterans Job Corps proposal and to extend the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior tax credits for businesses that hire veterans.

Remarks by the President to the 113th National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars

VFW Convention Hall

Reno, Nevada

12:35 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you so much.  Please, please, everybody have a seat.

Commander DeNoyer, thank you for your introduction, and your service in Vietnam and on behalf of America’s veterans.  I want to thank your executive director, Bob Wallace; your next commander, who I look forward to working with, John Hamilton.  And to Gwen Rankin, Leanne Lemley, and the entire Ladies Auxiliary, thank you for your patriotic service to America.  (Applause.)

I stand before you as our hearts still ache over the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado.  Yesterday I was in Aurora, with families whose loss is hard to imagine — with the wounded, who are fighting to recover; with a community and a military base in the midst of their grief.  And they told me of the loved ones they lost.  And here today, it’s fitting to recall those who wore our nation’s uniform:

Staff Sergeant Jesse Childress — an Air Force reservist, 29 years old, a cyber specialist who loved sports, the kind of guy, said a friend, who’d help anybody.

Petty Officer Third Class John Larimer — 27 years old, who, like his father and grandfather before him, joined the Navy, and who is remembered as an outstanding shipmate.

Rebecca Wingo — 32 years old, a veteran of the Air Force, fluent in Chinese, who served as a translator; a mother, whose life will be an inspiration to her two little girls.

And Jonathan Blunk — from Reno, just 26 years old, but a veteran of three Navy tours, whose family and friends will always know that in that theater he gave his own life to save another.

These young patriots were willing to serve in faraway lands, yet they were taken from us here at home.  And yesterday I conveyed to their families a message on behalf of all Americans: We honor your loved ones.  We salute their service.  And as you summon the strength to carry on and keep bright their legacy, we stand with you as one united American family.  (Applause.)

Veterans of Foreign Wars, in you I see the same shining values, the virtues that make America great.  When our harbor was bombed and fascism was on the march, when the fighting raged in Korea and Vietnam, when our country was attacked on that clear September morning, when our forces were sent to Iraq — you answered your country’s call.  Because you know what Americans must always remember — our nation only endures because there are patriots who protect it.

In the crucible of battle, you were tested in ways the rest of us will never know.  You carry in your hearts the memory of the comrades you lost.  For you understand that we must honor our fallen heroes not just on Memorial Day, but all days.  And when an American goes missing, or is taken prisoner, we must do everything in our power to bring them home.  (Applause.)

Even after you took off the uniform, you never stopped serving.  You took care of each other — fighting for the benefits and care you had earned.  And you’ve taken care of the generations that followed, including our newest veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.  On behalf of all our men and women in uniform, and on behalf of the American people, I want to thank you, VFW.  Thank you for your outstanding work.  (Applause.)

Of course, some among you — our Vietnam veterans — didn’t always receive that thanks, at least not on time.  This past Memorial Day, I joined some of you at The Wall to begin the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.  And it was another chance to say what should have been said all along:  You did your duty, and you made us proud.  And as this 50th anniversary continues, I’d ask all our Vietnam vets to stand, or raise your hand, as we say:  Thank you and welcome home.  (Applause.)

Every generation among you served to keep us strong and free.  And it falls to us, those that follow, to preserve what you won.  Four years ago, I stood before you at a time of great challenge for our nation.  We were engaged in two wars.  Al Qaeda was entrenched in their safe havens in Pakistan.  Many of our alliances were frayed.  Our standing in the world had suffered.  We were in the worst recession of our lifetimes.  Around the world, some questioned whether the United States still had the capacity to lead.

So, four years ago, I made you a promise.  I pledged to take the fight to our enemies, and renew our leadership in the world. As President, that’s what I’ve done.  (Applause.)  And as you reflect on recent years, as we look ahead to the challenges we face as a nation and the leadership that’s required, you don’t just have my words, you have my deeds.  You have my track record. You have the promises I’ve made and the promises that I’ve kept.

I pledged to end the war in Iraq honorably, and that’s what we’ve done.  (Applause.)  After I took office, we removed nearly 150,000 U.S. troops from Iraq.  And some said that bringing our troops home last year was a mistake.  They would have kept tens of thousands of our forces in Iraq — indefinitely, without a clear mission.  Well, when you’re Commander-in-Chief, you owe the troops a plan, you owe the country a plan — and that includes recognizing not just when to begin wars, but also how to end them.

So we brought our troops home responsibly.  They left with their heads held high, knowing they gave Iraqis a chance to forge their own future.  And today, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq, and we are proud of all the Americans who served there.  (Applause.)

I pledged to make it a priority to take out the terrorists who had attacked us on 9/11.  And as a candidate, I said that if we had Osama bin Laden in our sights, we would act to keep America safe — even if it meant going into Pakistan.  Some of you remember, at the time, that comment drew quite a bit of criticism.  But since I took office, we’ve worked with our allies and our partners to take out more top al Qaeda leaders than any time since 9/11.  And thanks to the courage and the skill of our forces, Osama bin Laden will never threaten America again, and al Qaeda is on the road to defeat.  (Applause.)

I pledged to finish the job in Afghanistan.  After years of drift, we had to break the momentum of the Taliban, and build up the capacity and the capability of Afghans.  And so, working with our commanders, we came up with a new strategy, and we ordered additional forces to get the job done.  This is still a tough fight.  But thanks to the incredible services and sacrifices of our troops, we pushed the Taliban back; we’re training Afghan forces; we’ve begun the transition to Afghan lead.

Again, there are those who argued against a timeline for ending this war — or against talking about it publicly.  But you know what, that’s not a plan for America’s security either.  After 10 years of war, and given the progress we’ve made, I felt it was important that the American people — and our men and women in uniform — know our plan to end this war responsibly.  (Applause.)  And so by the end of this summer, more than 30,000 of our troops will have come home.  Next year, Afghans will take the lead for their own security.  In 2014, the transition will be complete.  And even as our troops come home, we’ll have a strong partnership with the Afghan people, and we will stay vigilant so Afghanistan is never again a source for attacks against America. (Applause.)

We’re not just ending these wars; we’re doing it in a way that achieves our objectives.  Moreover, it’s allowed us to broaden our vision and begin a new era of American leadership.  We’re leading from Europe to the Asia Pacific, with alliances that have never been stronger.  We’re leading the fight against nuclear dangers.  We’ve applied the strongest sanctions ever on Iran and North Korea — nations that cannot be allowed to threaten the world with nuclear weapons.  (Applause.)  We’re leading on behalf of freedom — standing with people in the Middle East and North Africa as they demand their rights; protecting the Libyan people as they rid the world of Muammar Qaddafi.

Today, we’re also working for a transition so the Syrian people can have a better future, free of the Assad regime.  And given the regime’s stockpiles of chemical weapons, we will continue to make it clear to Assad and those around him that the world is watching, and that they will be held accountable by the international community and the United States, should they make the tragic mistake of using those weapons.  (Applause.)  And we will continue to work with our friends and our allies and the Syrian opposition on behalf of the day when the Syrian people have a government that respects their basic rights to live in peace and freedom and dignity.

Because we’re leading around the world, people have a new attitude toward America.  There’s more confidence in our leadership.  We see it everywhere we go.  We saw it as grateful Libyans waved American flags.  We see it across the globe — when people are asked, which country do you admire the most, one nation comes out on top — the United States of America.  (Applause.)

So this is the progress that we’ve made.  Thanks to the extraordinary service of our men and women in uniform, we’re winding down a decade of war; we’re destroying the terrorist network that attacked us; we’re strengthening the alliances that extend our values.  And today, every American can be proud that the United States is safer and stronger and more respected in the world.

And all this allows us to fulfill another promise that I made to you four years ago — strengthening our military.  After 10 years of operations, our soldiers will now have fewer and shorter deployments, which means more time on the home front to keep their families strong; more time to heal from the wounds of war; more time to improve readiness and prepare for future threats.

As President, I’ve continued to make historic investments to keep our armed forces strong.  And guided by our new defense strategy, we will maintain our military superiority.  It will be second to none as long as I am President and well into the future.  We’ve got the best-trained, best-led, best-equipped military in history.  And as Commander-in-Chief I am going to keep it that way.  (Applause.)

And by the way, given all the rhetoric lately — it is political season — let’s also set the record straight on the budget.  Those big, across-the-board cuts, including defense, that Congress said would occur next year if they couldn’t reach a deal to reduce the deficit?  Let’s understand, first of all, there’s no reason that should happen, because people in Congress ought to be able to come together and agree on a plan, a balanced approach that reduces the deficit and keeps our military strong. It should be done.  (Applause.)

And there are a number of Republicans in Congress who don’t want you to know that most of them voted for these cuts.  Now they’re trying to wriggle out of what they agreed to.  Instead of making tough choices to reduce the deficit, they’d rather protect tax cuts for some of the wealthiest Americans, even if it risks big cuts in our military.  And I’ve got to tell you, VFW, I disagree.  If the choice is between tax cuts that the wealthiest Americans don’t need and funding our troops that they definitely need to keep our country strong, I will stand with our troops every single time.  (Applause.)

So let’s stop playing politics with our military.  Let’s get serious and reduce our deficit and keep our military strong.   Let’s take some of the money that we’re saving because we’re not fighting in Iraq and because we’re winding down in Afghanistan — use half that money to pay down our deficit; let’s use half of it to do some nation-building here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)

Let’s keep taking care of our extraordinary military families.  For the first time ever, we’ve made military families and veterans a top priority not just at DOD, not just at the VA, but across the government.  As Richard mentioned, this has been a mission for my wife, Michelle, and Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden.  Today, more people across America in every segment of society are Joining Forces to give our military families the respect and the support that they deserve.  (Applause.)

And there’s another way we can honor those who serve.  It may no longer be a crime for con artists to pass themselves off as heroes, but one thing is certain — it is contemptible.  So this week, we will launch a new website, a living memorial, so the American people can see who’s been awarded our nation’s highest honors.  Because no American hero should ever have their valor stolen.  (Applause.)

This leads me to another promise I made four years ago —  upholding America’s sacred trust with our veterans.  I promised to strengthen the VA, and that promise has been kept.  In my first year, we achieved the largest percentage increase in the VA budget in 30 years.  And we’re going to keep making historic investments in our veterans.  When Richard came to the Oval Office, we talked about what those automatic budget cuts — sequestration — could mean for the VA.  So my administration has made it clear:  Your veteran’s benefits are exempt from sequestration.  They are exempt.  (Applause.)  And because advance appropriations is now the law of the land, veterans’ health care is protected from the budget battles in Washington.  (Applause.)

I promised you that I’d stand up for veterans’ health care. As long as I’m President, I will not allow VA health care to be turned into a voucher system, subject to the whims of the insurance market.  Some have argued for this plan.  I could not disagree more. You don’t need vouchers, you need the VA health care that you have earned and that you depend on.  (Applause.)

So we’ve made dramaticinvestments to help care for our veterans.  For our Vietnam veterans, we declared that more illnesses are now presumed connected to your exposure to Agent Orange.  As a result of our decision, Vietnam-era vets and your families received nearly $4 billion in disability pay.  You needed it; you fought for it.  We heard you and we got it done.  (Applause.)

We’ve added mobile clinics for our rural veterans; more tailored care for our women veterans; unprecedented support for veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury.  All tolled, we’ve made VA health care available to nearly 800,000 veterans who didn’t have it before.  (Applause.)  And we’re now supporting caregivers and families with the skills and the stipends to help care for the veterans that they love.

Of course, more veterans in the system means more claims.  So we’ve hired thousands of claims processors.  We’re investing in paperless systems.  To their credit, the dedicated folks at the VA are now completing one million claims a year.  But there’s been a tidal wave of new claims.  And when I hear about veterans waiting months, or years, for your benefits — it is unacceptable.  And we are doing something about it.  (Applause.)

We’re taking all those folks who processed your Agent Orange claims — more than 1,200 experts — and giving them a new mission:  Attack the backlog.  We’re prioritizing veterans with the most serious disabilities.  And the VA and DOD will work harder towards a seamless transition so new veterans aren’t just piled on to the backlog. And we will not rest — I will not be satisfied until we get this right.  And today, I’m also calling on all those who help our vets complete their claims — state VAs, physicians and veteran groups like the VFW — to join us.  You know how this can work better, so let’s get it done, together.

We’re also focused on the urgent needs of our veterans with PTSD.  We’ve poured tremendous resources into this fight — thousands of more counselors and more clinicians, more care and more treatment.  And we’ve made it easier for veterans with PTSD to qualify for VA benefits.  But after a decade of war, it’s now an epidemic.  We’re losing more troops to suicide — one every single day — than we are in combat.  According to some estimates, about 18 veterans are taking their lives each day — more every year than all the troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.  That’s a tragedy.  It’s heartbreaking.  It should not be happening in the United States of America.

So when I hear about servicemembers and veterans who had the courage to seek help but didn’t get it, who died waiting, that’s an outrage.  And I’ve told Secretary Panetta, Chairman Dempsey and Secretary Shinseki we’ve got to do better.  This has to be all hands on deck.

So our message to everyone who’s ever worn the uniform — if you’re hurting, it’s not a sign of weakness to seek help, it’s a sign of strength.  And when you do, we’ll be there and do more to help — including more counselors and clinicians to help you heal.  We need to end this tragedy, VFW.  (Applause.)  And we’re going to work together to make it happen.

So, too with our campaign to end homelessness among our veterans.  We’ve now helped to bring tens of thousands of veterans off the streets and into permanent housing.  This has to be a core mission, because every veteran who has fought for America ought to have a home in America.  (Applause.)

And this brings me to the last promise I want to discuss with you.  Four years ago, I said that I’d do everything I could to help our veterans realize the American Dream, to enlist you in building a stronger America.  After all, our veterans have the skills that America needs.  So today, our economy is growing and creating jobs, but it’s still too hard for too many folks to find work, especially our younger veterans, our veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.  And with a million more troops rejoining civilian life in the years ahead — and looking for work — we’ve got to step up our game, at every stage of their careers.

So today, I’m announcing a major overhaul of our transition assistance program.  We’re going to set up a kind of “reverse boot camp” for our departing servicemembers.  Starting this year, they’ll get more personalized assistance as they plan their careers.  We’ll provide the training they need to find that job, or pursue that education, or start that business.  And just as they’ve maintained their military readiness, we’ll have new standards of “career readiness.”

In addition, by making the Post-9/11 GI Bill a priority, we’ve helped more than 800,000 veterans and their families pursue their education.  And I’ve issued an executive order to help put a stop to schools that are ripping off our veterans.  (Applause.)

I’ve directed the federal government to step up on jobs.  Since I took office, we’ve hired more than 200,000 veterans into the federal government.  We made it a priority.  (Applause.)  And we’re keeping track — every agency, every department:  What are you doing for our veterans?

I’ve challenged community health centers to hire thousands of veterans as physicians and nurses.  And as we help local communities hire new police officers and firefighters and first responders, we’re giving a preference to veterans.

We’re also fighting to get more vets hired in the private sector.  With new tools like our online Veterans Jobs Bank, we’re connecting veterans directly to jobs.  We’re helping thousands of veterans get certified for good-paying jobs in manufacturing.  We succeeded in passing tax credits for businesses that hire our veterans and our wounded warriors.  And this morning, I signed into law the Veteran Skills to Jobs Act — making it easier for veterans to transfer their outstanding military skills into the licenses and credentials they need to get civilian jobs.  (Applause.)

If you are a young man that is in charge of a platoon or millions of dollars of equipment and are taking responsibility, or you’re a medic out in the field who is saving lives every single day — when you come home, you need to be credentialed and certified quickly so you can get on the job.  People should understand how skilled you are.  (Applause.)  And there shouldn’t be bureaucrats or runarounds.  We’ve got to put those folks to work.

Last summer, I also challenged the private sector to hire or train 100,000 veterans or their spouses.  Michelle and Jill Biden have been leading the effort, through Joining Forces.  And so far, thousands of patriotic businesses have hired or trained more than 90,000 veterans and spouses.  And our message to companies is simple:  If you want somebody who gets the job done, then hire a vet.  (Applause.)  Hire a vet.  Hire a vet and they will make you proud just like they’ve made America proud.

And we’re fighting for veterans who want to start their own businesses, including more training in entrepreneurship.  It’s one of the reasons we’ve cut taxes — 18 times for small businesses, including veteran-owned businesses.  And the effects ripple out, because vets are more likely to hire vets.

So today, we can point to progress.  More veterans are finding jobs; the unemployment rate for veterans has come down.  Yes, it’s still too high, but it’s coming down.  And now we’ve got to sustain that momentum.  It’s one of the reasons I’ve proposed to Congress a Veterans Jobs Corps to put our veterans back to work protecting and rebuilding America.  And today, I am again calling on Congress:  Pass this Veterans Jobs Corps and extend the tax credits for businesses that hire veterans so we can give these American heroes the jobs and opportunities that they deserve.  (Applause.)

So, VFW, these are the promises that I made.  These are the promises that I’ve kept.  Where we still have more to do, we will not rest.  That’s my vow to you.  I’ve got your back.  I’ve got your six.  Because we have a solemn obligation to all who serve

— not just for the years you’re in uniform, but for all the decades that follow, and because even though today’s wars are ending, the hard work of taking care of our newest veterans has only just begun.

Just as you protected America, we’re going to pass our country to the next generation, stronger and safer and more respected in the world.  So if anyone tries to tell you that our greatness has passed, that America is in decline, you tell them this:  Just like the 20th century, the 21st is going to be another great American Century.  For we are Americans, blessed with the greatest form of government ever devised by man, a democracy dedicated to freedom and committed to the ideals that still light the world.  We will never apologize for our way of life; we will never waver in its defense.

We are a nation that freed millions and turned adversaries into allies.  We are the Americans who defended the peace and turned back aggression.  We are Americans who welcome our global responsibilities and our global leadership.  The United States has been, and will remain, the one indispensable nation in world affairs.

And you, you are the soldiers, the sailors, the airmen, the Marines and the Coast Guardsmen who have kept us strong.  We will honor your legacy.  And we will ensure that the military you served, and the America that we love, remains the greatest force for freedom that the world has ever known.

God bless you.  God bless all of our veterans.  And God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END               1:08 P.M. PDT

Political Headlines July 23, 2012: Obama Defends His Foreign Policy, Declares ‘New Era’ of US Leadership at Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Defends His Foreign Policy, Declares ‘New Era’ of US Leadership

Source: ABC News, 7-23-12

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Obama on Monday argued that his foreign policy has ushered in a “new era of American leadership,” while suggesting that Republican rival Mitt Romney has not shown he is ready to be commander in chief.
“Four years ago, I made you a promise.  I pledged to take the fight to our enemies and renew our leadership in the world.  As president, that’s what I’ve done,” Obama said at the national convention for the Veterans of Foreign Wars….READ MORE

Political Headlines June 8, 2012: Attorney General Eric Holder Appoints 2 to Lead National Security Leaks Investigation

POLITICAL HEADLINES

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

IN FOCUS: AG HOLDER APPOINTS 2 US ATTORNEYS TO LEAD NATIONAL SECURITY LEAKS INVESTIGATION

“They’re intentionally leaking information to enhance President Obama’s image as a tough guy for the elections. That is unconscionable.” — Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

“These two highly-respected and experienced prosecutors will be directing separate investigations currently being conducted by the FBI. I have every confidence in their abilities to doggedly follow the facts and the evidence in the pursuit of justice wherever it leads…. They are fully authorized to prosecute criminal violations discovered as a result of their investigations and matters related to those violations, consult with members of the Intelligence Community and follow all appropriate investigative leads within the Executive and Legislative branches of government.” — Attorney General Eric Holder

Holder Appoints 2 US Attorneys to Lead Leaks Probe: Two US attorneys are taking over separate FBI investigations into leaks of national security information that critics have accused the White House of orchestrating to improve President Barack Obama’s re-election chances, a claim Obama calls “offensive” … AP, ABC News, 6-9-12

  • Holder Directs US Attorneys to See if Leaks Broke the Law: Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Friday assigned two United States attorneys to lead separate criminal investigations into recent disclosures to the news media of national security secrets, saying they were authorized to “follow all…. – NYT, 6-8-12
  • Attorney General Eric Holder names attorneys to investigate leaks: Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has appointed two US attorneys to lead investigations into the possible White House leak of classified information, even as President Obama challenged suggestions that his administration was involved in such…. WaPo, 6-9-12
  • Eric Holder names Ronald Machen and Rod Rosenstein to probe leaks: Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday named two federal prosecutors to oversee investigations into leaks of classified information that have roiled Congress and led to calls for a special prosecutor…. – Politico, 6-8-12
  • Holder appoints 2 prosecutors to lead leak probes: Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday appointed two US attorneys to lead a pair of criminal investigations into possible unauthorized disclosures of classified information, authorizing the two prosecutors to follow all appropriate investigative leads … LAT, 6-8-12
  • Holder taps two US prosecutors to investigate leaks: Attorney General Eric Holder late Friday afternoon appointed two US attorneys to lead separate investigations into unauthorized leaks of classified information, giving the two prosecutors full latitude to follow all potential leads…. – Washington Times, 6-8-12

Political Buzz June 8, 2012: Congressional Leaders Press for Inquiry to Investigate National Security Leaks Used in New York Times Feature on President Obama’s ‘Kill List”

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

IN FOCUS: CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS PRESS FOR INQUIRY TO INVESTIGATE NATIONAL SECURITY LEAKS

iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Congress Warns Intel Leaks Put ‘Lives at Risk’:
Source: ABC News Radio, 6-7-12
Top Democrats and Republicans Thursday demanded an end to leaks of classified intelligence because, they said, the leaks are putting lives at risk and jeopardizing future operations.
Thursday afternoon, the senior Democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees joined together with Republicans to denounce a recent flood of national security leaks about U.S. covert actions in counterterrorism and espionage, and to announce their collective effort to investigate the recurring issue of classified information being disclosed in the media.
Earlier this week, the FBI has opened a leak investigation into the disclosures in the New York Times last week that President Obama ordered the intelligence community to speed up cyber attacks against Iran with the Stuxnet worm, according to federal law enforcement officials. In recent weeks, there have also been stories about the president’s “kill list” of al Qaeda drone targets and another about the double agent who helped the U.S. foil the latest attempted al Qaeda attack on a U.S. airline.
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, called recent leaks “one of the most serious of breaches” that he has seen in 10 years sitting on the committee…. READ MORE

  • Pressing for Leak Inquiry by a Special Counsel: Calls for a special counsel to investigate leaks of classified information by Obama administration officials gathered momentum on Thursday after the Justice Department’s national security division partly recused itself from the inquiry…. – NYT, 6-7-12
  • Top lawmakers declare war on intelligence leaks: Leaders of the Senate and House intelligence committees said Thursday they were drafting legislation to further limit who can access highly classified information and possibly impose new penalties for revealing it…. – AP, 6-7-12
  • Obama administration playing dangerous game with intelligence leaks: Senator McCain and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney traded insults this week over intelligence leaks – McCain called the Obama White House “grossly irresponsible” to leak classified information for political gain, while Carney called McCain…. – Fox News, 6-7-12
  • Intelligence committees vow to stop leaks of secrets: The House and Senate intelligence committees announced plans Wednesday to draft new laws against leaks of classified information, adding to an uproar on Capitol Hill over a series of recent stories that revealed details of terrorism threats and CIA … WaPo, 6-7-12
  • Bipartisan congressional group calls for legislative action on leaks: A bipartisan group of congressional members called for an investigation into the source of security leaks that led to stories published by the New York Times, but stopped short of claiming the leaks were made for political purposes…. – LAT, 6-7-12
  • CIA Declines Lawmakers’ Request for Information on Leaks: The CIA won’t respond to a US House Intelligence Committee request for information about leaks of classified data, said Representative Mike Rogers, the panel’s chairman. The committee had asked about last month’s … BusinessWeek, 6-7-12
  • Calls grow for outside probe of US national security leaks: * McCain accuses White House of leaking for election-year gain * Committee chiefs have called for urgent probe of leaks * Leaks have involved cyber-warfare, drone strikes…. – Reuters, 6-7-12
  • Congressional leaders to meet with intelligence chief on leaks: Congressional leaders on intelligence issues will meet Thursday with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on apparent leaks of classified information involving a cyberwarfare program against Iran…. – CNN, 6-7-12
  • Analysis: Despite outrage, security leaks may go unplugged: Democratic and Republican intelligence experts in Congress are joining forces to condemn a series of jaw-dropping intelligence leaks which some Republicans charge are timed to boost President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign…. – Reuters, 6-6-12
  • Senate Will Investigate National Security Leaks About Terrorism ‘Kill List’: Senators John McCain and Saxby Chambliss called for the appointment for a special counsel to investigate leaks in wake of recent articles in The New York Times…. – NYT, 6-5-12
  • FBI Probes Leaks on Iran Cyberattack: The FBI has opened an investigation into who disclosed information about a classified US cyberattack program aimed at Iran’s nuclear facilities, according to two people familiar with the probe…. – WSJ, 6-5-12
  • McCain Calls on White House to Plug Intelligence Leaks: Describing the string of recent intelligence leaks to news outlets as “disturbing” and “simply unacceptable,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., accused the White House of putting the president’s ambitions for another term in the Oval Office ahead of national security.
    “A really disturbing aspect of this is that one could draw the conclusion from reading these articles that it is an attempt to further the president’s political ambitions for the sake of his re-election at the expense of our national security,” McCain said on the Senate floor late Tuesday…. – ABC News Radio, 6-5-12
  • Axelrod Denies Participating in Anti-Terror Discussions: The communications director of President Obama’s reelection campaign today denied a report in the New York Times that he had sat in on weekly White House meetings on terrorism.
    On Tuesday the paper said that after the failed 2009 Christmas Day “underwear bombing,” David Axelrod started attending the discussions with Obama and top national security advisers…. – ABC News Radio, 6-4-12

Campaign Buzz December 12, 2011: Gingrich-Huntsman Debate on Foreign Policy & National Security at St Anselm College, New Hampshire Emulates Lincoln-Douglas Style — Candidates Agree on Issues — Transcript Excerpts

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Jon M. Huntsman Jr., center, and Newt Gingrich covered only half of the 10 topics they planned to discuss during their 90 minute Lincoln-Douglas-style debate.
Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times
Jon M. Huntsman Jr., center, and Newt Gingrich covered only half of the 10 topics they planned to discuss during their 90 minute Lincoln-Douglas-style debate.

IN FOCUS: GINGRICH-HUNTSMAN DEBATE ON FOREIGN POLICY POLICY & NATIONAL SECURITY AT ST ANSELM COLLEGE EMULATES LINCOLN-DOUGLAS STYLE — CANDIDATES AGREE ON ISSUES

Live-blogging the Gingrich-Huntsman debate: Get updates from the Fix’s Aaron Blake and watch the Lincoln-Douglas style debate live…. WaPo, 12-12-11

“This is what we should have a lot more of. This is substantive. We’re a country in enormous trouble, and we need leaders who are willing to talk to citizens … We’re not going to solve things with, you know, what’s your solution on Libya in 30 seconds. This is not a Hollywood game, this is not a reality show. This is reality.” — Newt Gingrich

“We’re always looking for winners and losers in these things, but I think the winners might well be the American people.” — Jon Huntsman

Huntsman and Gingrich Square Off in Unmoderated Debate: In New Hampshire, Newt Gingrich and Jon M. Huntsman Jr. participated in a two-man unmoderated debate devoted to foreign policy and national security…. – NYT, 12-12-11

  • Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman agree on seriousness at debate in New Hampshire: The meeting of two presidential candidates here today was billed as a successor to the Lincoln Douglas debates, but turned out to be a festival of self-congratulation intended less to tease out differences between Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman than simply signal their status as serious men.
    The 90-minute talk at St. Anselm College, moderated by local Republican operative Patrick Griffin, centered on national security and foreign policy, and the two men ranged widely across Asia and the Middle East. The debate showed a few of their differences – Huntsman, notably, favors a rapid withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan – but it lacked the animating point of the 1858 debates on which it was modeled: a core disagreement…. – Politico, 12-12-11
  • Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman square off in friendly debate: Republican presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich and rival Jon Huntsman Jr. squared off Monday afternoon at a Lincoln-Douglas-style debate on national security and foreign policy.
    The event, sponsored by the St. Anselm College Republicans and hosted by the New Hampshire Institute of Politics and Political Library, was modeled after a series of seven debates that took place between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas during their 1858 campaign for a U.S. Senate seat from Illinios, in which one candidate spoke for the first 60 minutes, the second candidate followed with a 90-minute rebuttal, and then the first speaker had 30 minutes to respond.
    Monday’s debate lasted half as long and focused on half a dozen predetermined questions, but the candidates were allowed to answer without strict time constraints, which made for 90 minutes of what felt like a college seminar…. – LAT, 12-12-11
  • The Huntsman-Gingrich Debate That Wasn’t: The so-called “Lincoln-Douglas debate” between the GOP candidates at the top and bottom of the polls turned out to be an unenlightening lovefest
    Republican front-runner Newt Gingrich took a break from the campaign trail Monday to give a wide-ranging foreign-policy lecture at a New Hampshire university, where he was joined on the panel by a former ambassador to China, one Jon Huntsman.
    That’s what Monday afternoon’s supposed “Lincoln-Douglas debate” between Gingrich and Huntsman really felt like. The two flattered each other, recited a number of views that they mostly agreed upon, and filled the balance of the time with uncontroversial blather about the importance of foreign policy, the glories of the present event and, of course, the greatness of America…. – The Atlantic, 12-12-11
  • Gingrich, Huntsman Agree: Iran Is Scary GOP candidates exchange foreign policy views in New Hampshire debate: Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman engaged in a friendly, rather academic foreign policy debate today that saw more agreement than fireworks, the Los Angeles Times reports. Modeled on the Abraham Lincoln- Stephen Douglas debates of 1858—in which candidates spoke for long uninterrupted stretches—the two Republican contenders discussed issues including Iran, China, and Afghanistan at a college in New Hampshire. “I can see my daughter nodding off over there,” quipped Huntsman…. – Newser, 12-12-11

 

Republican presidential candidates Jon Huntsman Jr., left, and Newt Gingrich during a Lincoln-Douglas-style debate at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College in Manchester.

Republican presidential candidates Jon Huntsman Jr., left, and Newt Gingrich during a Lincoln-Douglas-style debate at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College in Manchester. (EPA/CJ GUNTHER / December 12, 2011)

Gingrich-Huntsman debate live blog (VIDEO)

Debate over (5:27 p.m.)

The debate has concluded.

We got through five of 10 planned topics in 90 minutes.

And the time-keeper closed with a zing for Mitt Romney, who is not there to defend himself.

Of Gingrich’s plan to challenge President Obama to similar Lincoln-Douglas style debates, the time-keeper, Pat Griffin, said: “I’ll bet you $10,000 he doesn’t show up.”

Huntsman digs at Trump (5:26 p.m)

“I can’t wait to compare and contrast this format with the Donald Trump debate,” Huntsman said.

Huntsman has passed on participating in the Trump-moderated debate, but Gingrich is taking part.

Gingrich says Chinese relationship most important (5:16 p.m.)

Gingrich said the Chinese will be the United States’ most important relationship for decades to come.

“The most important relationship of the next 50 years is the American people and the Chinese people,” Gingrich said, differentiating that from the relationship between the governments.

“If you don’t fundamentally rethink what we’re doing here, you cannot compete with China,” Gingrich added. “If we do the right thing here, China can’t compete with us.”

Huntsman says U.S. has interest in Syria, not Libya (4:52 p.m.)

Huntsman said he disagrees with the intervention in Libya because there was no national security interest there.

As for Syria, he suggested more should have been done.

“I couldn’t see a definable national security interest” in Libya, he said. “With Syria, I see it a little differently, because it is a conduit, a pipeline for Iran.”

Huntsman calls Iran the “transcendant threat” (4:44 p.m)

Huntsman says Iran poses a bigger problem than any other country right now, calling it the “transcendant threat” and saying all options are on the table in dealing with the regime there.

Huntsman said a nuclear Iran would lead Turkey and other nations to build nuclear programs.

“I think all options are on the table, and I do believe we’re going to have a conversation with Israel” when Iran goes nuclear, Huntsman said.

He also said the Obama Administration missed an opportunity to get a foothold in the region with the Arab Spring.

“We missed a huge opportunity with the Arab Spring,” Huntsman said. “Huge missed opportunity.”

Gingrich largely agreed on Iran. He has previously said the United States needs to be ready to join Israel against Iran and called Iran the “biggest national security threat of the next 10 years.”

Gingrich says United States not safer than 10 years ago (4:29 p.m.)

Gingrich said the United States might not be any safer than it was in 2001 when the war in Afghanistan began and before the war in Iraq began.

“It’s hard for me to argue that we’re any safer than we were 10 years ago,” Gingrich said, pointing to potential nuclear capabilities in Iran and Pakistan.

Huntsman says bring Afghanistan troops home (4:22 p.m.)

Huntsman said the United States has had success in Afghanistan, and that it should bring the troops home.

“I think we’ve done the best that we could do, but I think we’ve done all we could do,” he said, repeating his past statements on the topic, which differ from his GOP opponents. Huntsman said the time has passed for nation-building and counter-insurgency, and that the new mission should be focused on counter-terrorism.

Huntsman went on to say that the United States’ relationship with Pakistan is too “transactional.”

“Pakistan, sadly, is nothing more than a transactional relationship with the United States,” Huntsman said. “For all the money we put into Pakistan, are we in a better situation? The answer is no.”

Original post (3:44 p.m.)

Starting at 4 p.m. eastern time, The Fix will be doing a modified live blog of the one-on-one, Lincoln-Douglas style debate in New Hampshire between Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman.

Check back on this post for regular updates on the key moments from the debate and everything you need to know about what’s said.

For now, see piece previewing the debate.

Campaign Buzz November 28-29, 2011: Herman Cain Reassesses Bid for Republican Presidential Nomination After Atlanta Woman, Ginger White Accuses Him of 13 Year Affair

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

 

IN FOCUS: HERMAN CAIN REASSESSES PRESIDENTIAL BID AFTER ATLANTA WOMAN ACCUSES HIM OF 13 YEAR AFFAIR

 

Cain reassessing whether to remain in presidential race: Businessman Herman Cain told senior members of his campaign this morning that he is reassessing whether to remain in the Republican presidential race. One adviser said Cain is expected to make a decision by the end of the week…. – WaPo, 11-29-11

Herman Cain Is Reassessing His Bid for Republican Presidential Nomination, an Aide Says: Herman Cain told members of his campaign staff on Tuesday that he was reassessing whether to proceed with his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, an aide confirmed, a day after an Atlanta woman disclosed details of what she said was a 13-year affair with him.
In a morning conference call with his advisers, Mr. Cain said that he would make a decision in the coming days about whether to stay in the presidential race after his campaign was rocked by another round of allegations about his sexual conduct…. – NYT, 11-29-11

“We have to do an assessment as to whether or not this is going to create too much of a cloud, in some people’s minds, as to whether or not they would be able to support us going forth.” — Hermain to his staff in a phone call transcribed by National Review Online

“Obviously, you’re all aware of this recent firestorm that hit the news yesterday. First thing I want to do is say to you what I have said publicly: I deny those charges, unequivocally. Secondly, I have known this lady for a number of years. And thirdly, I have been attempting to help her financially because she was out of work and destitute, desperate. So, thinking that she was a friend — and I have helped many friends — I now know that she wasn’t the friend that I thought she was. But it was a just a friendship relationship.

That being said, obviously, this is cause for reassessment. As you know, during the summer we had to make some reassessments based upon our financial situation. We were able to hang in there; we reassessed the situation and kept on going. We also did a reassessment after the Iowa straw poll and we made another reassessment after the Florida straw poll. When the previous two accusations, false accusations, came about, we made another assessment. The way we handled those was, we continued on with our schedule. We made an assessment about what was going to happen to our support. But our supporters, and even some folks that we didn’t have as supporters, they stood with us, and they showed it not only in terms of their verbal support, they showed it in terms of their dollars.

Now, with this latest one, we have to do an assessment as to whether or not this is going to create too much of a cloud, in some people’s minds, as to whether or not they would be able to support us going forth.

Over the next several days, we are going to continue with the schedule as usual. I’ve got a major speech tonight at Hillsdale College on national security and foreign policy, and I will deliver it with vim, vigor, and enthusiasm. And then tomorrow we’ve got some media appearances scheduled. So we’re going to continue until we complete our assessment over the next several days.

But if a decision is made, different than to plow ahead, you all will be the first to know. So until that time, I want to continue to thank you all for your support, thank you for your prayers. It’s taken an emotional toll, but the people in the audience tonight will never know it.

It’s also taken a toll on my wife and family, as you would imagine. Any time you put another cloud of doubt, unfortunately, in the court of public opinion, for some people, you’re guilty until proven innocent. And so, the public will have to decide whether they believe her or whether they believe me. That’s why we’re going to give it time, to see what type of response we get from our supporters.” — Herman Cain

“I want to give you a heads up and everyone a heads up. “Here we go again. I didn’t do anything wrong.” — Herman Cain to Wolf Blitzer on CNN

“It was pretty simple. It wasn’t complicated. I was aware that he was married. And I was also aware I was involved in a very inappropriate situation, relationship.” — Ginger White on Fox 5 Atlanta

“If these allegations by Ms. White are true then it certainly goes to the issue of the character and the honesty of Herman Cain. I have to ask, how many more skeletons are there in his closet and what happens if more come out? When is Herman Cain going to come clean with the American public? He’s now accused a total of five women of being liars and Ms. White is just the latest that he’s accused of lying. I think that the American people are going to be able to make a judgement if they have not already done so….

There are millions of women in this country and millions of men as well having financial problems. The fact that she’s had them in the past doesn’t bear on whether or not she’s credible on this issue. As I understand it, she was concerned that people were getting in touch with her, finding out. She also didn’t like Herman Cain’s attacks on the women that had come forward and she decided it was time to come forward, tell the truth, as she knows it and she’s lived it.” — Celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred

In a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released just prior to Thanksgiving, Cain stood at 17 percent — down from 25 percent in a similar survey conducted a month ago.

  • Amid Talk of Affair, Cain Is Reassessing Campaign, Aide Says: Herman Cain tells aides he is reassessing whether to stay in the presidential race…. – NYT, 11-29-11
  • Cain tells aides he is reassessing his campaign: Herman Cain told aides Tuesday he is assessing whether the latest allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior against him “create too much of a cloud” for his Republican presidential candidacy to go forward. … – AP, 11-29-11
  • Herman Cain reassessing presidential candidacy: Businessman Herman Cain told senior members of his campaign on a conference call this morning that he is reassessing whether or not to remain in the Republican presidential race.
    On the conference call, which National Review listened to and transcribed, Cain denies the allegation of an affair with an Atlanta woman named Ginger White, which came to light on Monday, but acknowledged that the “firestorm” had caused a rethinking…. – WaPo, 11-29-11
  • Herman Cain preemptively denies new sex allegation: Herman Cain revealed Monday that an Atlanta-area woman is coming forward alleging an “extended” 13-year extramarital affair with the Republican presidential candidate…. – CBS News, 11-29-11
  • Herman Cain ‘reassessment’: What will his voters do if he drops out?: Though Herman Cain has denied the most recent allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior, the claim has prompted him to ‘reassess’ his campaign…. – CS Monitor, 11-29-11
  • Cain advisers largely standing by candidate: In the hours after Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain told his staff on a conference call that he was “reassessing” his campaign, senior advisers in states across the country were standing by their man – for the most part. … – CBS News, 11-29-11
  • John Coale Now Advising Herman Cain: John Coale, a Washington lawyer and husband of Fox News Channel’s Greta van Susteren, is friends with Herman Cain and now informally advising the embattled candidate as he faces allegations by a Georgia woman of a 13-year consensual affair…. – ABC News, 11-29-11
  • Cain Speaks on Foreign Policy, Avoiding Accusations: Herman Cain addressed a crowd of several hundred in a college gymnasium in Michgan, but he made no mention of the allegations against him, instead focusing on vague and optimistic foreign policy ideals…. – NYT, 11-29-11
  • Cain at Hillsdale: ‘Peace through strength and clarity’: The U.S. must maintain peace through strength of its military and the clarity of its missions, embattled GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain told a gathering at Hillsdale College on Tuesday.
    Cain, stung by recent accusations of a long affair, pressed ahead with his planned foreign policy speech the same day he told aides he may abandon his campaign for president.
    He did not discuss the controversy in his remarks…. – The Detroit News, 11-29-11
  • Cain doesn’t talk about alleged affair in speech: Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is sticking to his topic — defense spending — in his first public speech since an Atlanta businesswoman alleged that they had a 13-year extramarital affair…. – Boston.com, 11-29-11
  • Cain’s first public speech since allegation of affair stays on message about defense issues: Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is sticking to his topic — defense spending — in his first public speech since an Atlanta businesswoman alleged that they had a 13-year extramarital affair…. – WaPo, 11-29-11
  • Conservatives Are Turning Against Herman Cain: Conservatives who once showered love on Cain are rapidly jumping ship, as the candidate’s latest sex scandal threatens to permanently derail his upstart presidential campaign…. – Business Insider, 11-29-11
  • Towery: Cain ‘Dropping Like A Rock’ in Polls, Likely to End Run: Presidential hopeful Herman Cain is “dropping like a rock” in the latest Newsmax/InsiderAdvantage poll and is likely to be forced out of the presidential race by the end of the week amid reports that a number of prominent … – NewsMax.com, 11-29-11
  • Herman Cain lawyer Lin Wood refuses to rule out legal action against accuser: Embattled presidential candidate Herman Cain ‘s personal lawyer, Lin Wood, said in an interview Tuesday that he believes his client is telling the truth that he did not have a 13-year-affair with an Atlanta woman named Ginger White. … – WaPo, 11-29-11
  • Ginger White, latest Herman Cain accuser: Who is she?: The woman whose accusations may have prompted Herman Cain to reassess his campaign for president is a 46-year-old single mother of two grown children. Ginger White, who has worked as a fitness instructor, alleges that she carried on a 13-year affair with Cain.
    In two television interviews with Atlanta stations, she appeared soft-spoken and said she came forward only to defend her reputation after she feared the story would leak out. Cain has emphatically denied the affair, calling White a “destitute” friend whom he tried to help.
    “I couldn’t imagine anyone coming out and lying about this. Who would want this? It’s really not been fun,” White told Atlanta television station WSB outside her apartment Monday…. – WaPo, 11-29-11
  • Jon Huntsman: Maybe time for Herman Cain to go: That’s the word from the former Utah governor, though he gets to it in something of a roundabout way: “Given the bandwidth that has been taken out of the discussion of any other issues pertinent to this campaign, a reconsideration might be in order” … – Politico, 11-29-11
  • Newt: Cain will ‘have to talk to the county’ about latest accusations: Newt Gingrich, who has been friendly with Herman Cain but who has suggested his opponent needs to deal with the drip-drip of allegations about his past, suggested the businessman needs to address the claims made by Ginger White. … – Politico, 11-28-11
  • Woman Claims Affair With Cain, and He Denies It: An Atlanta woman came forward in an interview broadcast Monday night with details about what she called a 13-year affair with Herman Cain, the Republican presidential contender whose campaign was already struggling to overcome damage … – NYT, 11-28-11
  • Herman Cain denies allegation of 13-year affair: Atlanta businesswoman Ginger White tells a TV news station that she had a relationship with the Republican presidential contender. He calls her ‘an acquaintance who I thought was a friend.’ Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain denied … – LAT, 11-28-11
  • Ginger White accuses Herman Cain of long affair: An Atlanta woman said Monday that she engaged in an extended consensual affair with Herman Cain that began after a business meeting in the 1990s, continued as he flew her from city to city for dates and ended eight months ago — as Cain launched his … – Washington Post, 11-28-11
  • Woman alleges 13-year affair with Cain; he denies wrongdoing: In an explosive allegation, a Georgia woman said Monday she and Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain had a 13-year extramarital affair that lasted nearly until the former businessman announced his candidacy for the White House … – WaPo, 11-28-11
  • Businesswoman alleges 13-year affair with Herman Cain: An Atlanta businesswoman said Monday she and Republican presidential contender Herman Cain had a 13-year extramarital affair that ended right before Cain announced his campaign…. – USA Today, 11-28-11
  • Woman says she and Cain had 13-year affair; Cain denies accusation: An Atlanta businesswoman has accused GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain of having had an affair with her that lasted nearly 14 years. “I was aware that he was married, and I was also aware that I was involved in a very … – CNN, 11-28-11
  • Ginger White and the (alleged) love letters of The Herman Cain: Three allegations of sexual harassment may be regarded as a misfortune, but a 13-year affair looks like carelessness. At some point in those 13 years she must surely have realized that he was not going to give her a job. … – WaPo, 11-28-11
  • Herman Cain called back after Atlanta TV reporters texted him: This, from the Atlanta Fox affiliate’s report on Herman Cain’s alleged affair, will be tough for the candidate to explain: She [Ginger White] showed us some of her cell phone bills that included 61 phone calls or text messages to or from a number … – Politico, 11-28-11
  • Atlanta businesswoman claims Cain affair: An Atlanta businesswoman said Monday she had a 13-year extramarital affair with Herman Cain, prompting an extensive and harsh denial from the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO. But in an extraordinary step for a presidential candidate, Cain preempted the … – Politico, 11-28-11
  • Herman Cain denies he had an affair: A Georgia businesswoman said Monday that she and Herman Cain had a 13-year extramarital affair, an allegation the Republican presidential hopeful denied as strongly as he has earlier allegations of sexual harassment…. – AP, 11-28-11

Full Text Campaign Buzz November 22, 2011: CNN GOP National Security Republican Presidential Debate at Constitutional Hall, Washington, DC — Debate Transcript

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

 

Win Mcnamee/Getty Images

Before the sparring began at the debate in Washington on Tuesday, the Republican presidential primary candidates paused as the national anthem was sung.

Source: CNN, 11-23-11

CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Full Transcript of CNN NATIONAL SECURITY DEBATE, 20:00-22:00

Aired November 22, 2011 – 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, DEBATE MODERATOR AND CNN LEAD POLITICAL ANCHOR: Live from Washington, DC, for the Republican National Security Debate.

(UNKNOWN): It’s a president’s most important and daunting responsibility, to protect and defend the United States of America. Millions of lives in the hands of one commander-in-chief. It’s what legacies are made of.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A date which will live in infamy.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): For better…

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): — and for worse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY CARTER, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And that is not to do anything that would endanger the lives or safety of the hostages.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): In war…

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just two hours ago, Allied air forces began an attack on military targets in Iraq and Kuwait.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): — and peace. On the day everything changed… (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): — and every day since.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): Tonight, from an historic hall in the nation’s capital, the Republican candidates address the global challenges ahead — Mitt Romney, who ran an international business and the Olympic Winter Games.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The people of America deserve a regular briefing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker with a PhD in history.

Herman Cain…

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We would use our military might if we have to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): A business executive who worked for firms with global reach.

Ron Paul, a leading anti-war voice in Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: We should only go to the war when the people in this country declare the war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): Rick Perry, the governor of the state with the longest stretch of international border.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BACHMANN: Iran is waiting in the wings.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): Michele Bachmann, a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUNTSMAN: Our nation’s future is how well prepared we are to compete.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): Jon Huntsman, the former U.S. ambassador to China.

Rick Santorum, who served on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Who has what it takes to be the next commander-in-chief in a world of peril?

The first step toward building a legacy, the Republican National Security Debate begins now.

BLITZER: From Constitution Hall in the nation’s capital, this is the Republican presidential debate.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Every U.S. president since Calvin Coolidge has been inside this historic hall, just steps away from the White House.

Tonight, the eight Republican candidates are here with their ultimate goal in sight.

I’m Wolf Blitzer.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

Tonight’s debate is airing on CNN, CNN International, CNN en Espanol and the American Forces Network. We want to thank our co- sponsors, the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.

Members of these distinguished conservative think tanks, they are here in our audience and some of them will have a chance to question the candidates. They’ll add their knowledge and insights to our discussion, making this unlike any debate so far in this presidential campaign.

Viewers also can take part in our debate by sending us your questions online, on Twitter. Make sure to include the hash tag, cnndebate; on Facebook at Facebook.com/cnnpolitics; and, of course, on CNNPolitics.com.

It’s time now to meet the 2012 Republican presidential contenders.

Joining us onstage, the former U.S. ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman.

FORMER GOV. JON HUNTSMAN JR, R-UTAH, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.

Thank you very much.

Thank you.

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

HUNTSMAN: Thank you.

BLITZER: Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, R-MINN., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to see you, Wolf.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: The former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.

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BLITZER: The former president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Herman Cain.

(APPLAUSE)

The former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney…

(APPLAUSE)

Texas governor, Rick Perry…

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Texas congressman, Ron Paul…

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(inaudible) from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum.

(APPLAUSE)

Ladies and gentlemen, the Republican candidates for President of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, please rise for our National Anthem. Please rise. The National Anthem performed by Mauricio Perez, from the Tony Award winning musical, “Jersey Boys,” now playing at the National Theater here in Washington, D.C.

(APPLAUSE)

(SINGING NATIONAL ANTHEM)

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Mauricio Perez, thank you.

Candidates, please take your — to your podiums while I tell you a little bit more about how this debate will work. I’ll be the moderator and as I mentioned, our partners from the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute will ask questions as well.

I’ll follow up. I’ll try to guide the discussion. Candidates, I’ll try to make sure each of you gets your fair share of questions.

You’ll have one minute to answer, 30 seconds for follow-ups and rebuttals. And I’ll make sure you get time to respond if — if you’re singled out for criticism.

This year more than ever we’ve seen how events beyond our borders directly affect America, including perhaps the biggest national security issue right now, the economy.

Candidates, tonight Republican voters are here. They are watching around the country to decide if you have what it takes to be the next commander in chief, to shape foreign policy, to protect this great nation.

On some of these issues you will agree. On some you’ll disagree. But by the end of the night, voters should have a better understanding of how you would lead the nation in times of crisis.

Now, let’s have the candidates introduce themselves to our audience, but we’ll keep it very brief. Here’s an example of what I’m looking for.

I’m Wolf Blitzer and yes, that’s my real name. I’ll be your moderator this evening and I’m happy to welcome each one of you to our debate.

Rick Santorum, let’s begin with you.

FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM, R-PA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I am Rick Santorum. And it’s great to be here and I want to thank AEI and Heritage (inaudible).

… One constitutional responsibility of the federal government and that is national security. And I think we can all agree that if you like what Barack Obama has done to our economy, you’ll love what he’s done to our national security.

REP. RON PAUL, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Ron Paul, a congressman from Texas. I am pleased to be here at the debate because this is a very important debate. I am convinced that needless and unnecessary wars are a great detriment. They undermine our prosperity and our liberties. They add to our deficits and they consume our welfare. We should take a careful look at our foreign policy.

GOV. RICK PERRY, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, and I want to take a moment and introduce you, the beautiful first lady of the state of Texas, Anita. Thank you for being here with me, 29 years of wedded bliss and 45 years ago we had our first date. So I’m a blessed man in many ways to represent a great state, and we’re here to ask you for your support, your blessings and your vote.

FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Mitt Romney and yes, Wolf, that’s also my first name. And…

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: … I’m a husband, a father, a grandfather of 16. I love this country very much. I spent my life in the private sector. And as I’ve watched the direction this president has taken our country, both domestically and internationally, I’m afraid that he’s taking us on a perilous course. I want to keep America strong and free, and if I’m president, I’ll use every ounce of my energy to do just that.

(APPLAUSE)

HERMAN CAIN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am businessman Herman Cain. I’m delighted to be here to discuss one of the most critical issues we face because, as a result of this administration, our national security has indeed been downgraded.

(APPLAUSE)

FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH, R-GA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Newt Gingrich. My father spent 27 years in the infantry. And as a result of that, in the fall of 1958, I decided that national survival was worth the study of a lifetime. I’ve worked with both Heritage and the American Enterprise Institute for over 30 years. I can’t imagine any two institutions better to partner with CNN on the most important single topic, the survival of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

BACHMANN: My name is Michele Bachmann. I’m a proud member of the United States Congress. I’m privileged to serve on the House Select Committee on Intelligence. My father honorably served in the United States Air Force, my stepfather in the United States Army and my brother in the United States Navy.

I think for every one of us who are here on this stage tonight, I think we all want to send our very best Happy Thanksgiving greetings to all of our men and women in uniform who are serving us overseas, here in the United States and also to their families. Happy Thanksgiving. We appreciate, we love you and we want to get you home as soon as we can.

(APPLAUSE)

HUNTSMAN: My name is Jon Huntsman. I believe this week, in particular, that there is still much to be grateful for in this, the greatest nation that ever was. I’m here with my wife of 28 years, Mary Kay, who is fortuitously sitting in the New Hampshire box up here. We are the wife — or we are the parents of seven kids, two in the United States Navy.

Twice elected governor of the great state of Utah, I’ve lived overseas four times, three times as a United States ambassador. I am honored and privileged to be here. Wolf, CNN, Heritage, AEI, thank you one and all for making tonight possible.

BLITZER: Thank you very much. And let’s get right to the questions.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Our leadoff question is from the honorable Ed Meese, the former attorney general of the United States, who is representing the Heritage Foundation.

ED MEESE, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: At least 42 terrorist attacks aimed at the United States have been thwarted since 9/11. Tools like the Patriot Act have been instrumental in finding and stopping terrorists.

Shouldn’t we have a long range extension of the investigative powers contained in that act so that our law enforcement officers can have the tools that they need?

BLITZER: Speaker Gingrich, only this weekend there was an alleged terror plot uncovered in New York City. What do you think?

GINGRICH: Well, I think that Attorney General Meese has raised a key point, and the key distinction for the American people to recognize is the difference between national security requirements and criminal law requirements.

I think it’s desperately important that we preserve your right to be innocent until proven guilty, if it’s a matter of criminal law. But if you’re trying to find somebody who may have a nuclear weapon that they are trying to bring into an American city, I think you want to use every tool that you can possibly use to gather the intelligence.

The Patriot Act has clearly been a key part of that. And I think looking at it carefully and extending it and building an honest understanding that all of us will be in danger for the rest of our lives. This is not going to end in the short run. And we need to be prepared to protect ourselves from those who, if they could, would not just kill us individually, but would take out entire cities.

BLITZER: So, Speaker, just to clarify, you wouldn’t change the Patriot Act?

GINGRICH: No, I would not change it. I’m not aware of any specific change it needs. And I’d look at strengthening it, because I think the dangers are literally that great. And again, I’ve spent years studying this stuff. You start thinking about one nuclear weapon in one American city and the scale of loss of life and you ask yourself, what should the president be capable of doing to stop that?

And you come up with a very different answer. Again, very sharp division. Criminal law, the government should be frankly on defense and you’re innocent until proven guilty. National security, the government should have many more tools in order to save our lives.

BLITZER: Congressman Paul, I suspect you disagree.

PAUL: I do.

BLITZER: Tell us why.

PAUL: I think the Patriot Act is unpatriotic because it undermines our liberty. I’m concerned, as everybody is, about the terrorist attack. Timothy McVeigh was a vicious terrorist. He was arrested. Terrorism is still on the books, internationally and nationally, it’s a crime and we should deal with it.

We dealt with it rather well with Timothy McVeigh. But why I really fear it is we have drifted into a condition that we were warned against because our early founders were very clear. They said, don’t be willing to sacrifice liberty for security.

Today it seems too easy that our government and our congresses are so willing to give up our liberties for our security. I have a personal belief that you never have to give up liberty for security. You can still provide security without sacrificing our Bill of Rights.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: I want to bring others in, but do you want to respond, Mr. Speaker?

GINGRICH: Yes. Timothy McVeigh succeeded. That’s the whole point.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: Timothy McVeigh killed a lot of Americans. I don’t want a law that says after we lose a major American city, we’re sure going to come and find you. I want a law that says, you try to take out an American city, we’re going to stop you.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: This is like saying that we need a policeman in every house, a camera in every house because we want to prevent child- beating and wife-beating. You can prevent crimes by becoming a police state. So if you advocate the police state, yes, you can have safety and security and you might prevent a crime, but the crime then will be against the American people and against our freedoms. And we will throw out so much of what our revolution was fought for. So don’t do it so carelessly.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Congresswoman Bachmann, let me bring you into this conversation. Are you with Congressman Paul or Speaker Gingrich or do you have your own view?

BACHMANN: Well, I’m with the American people, with the Constitution, and with the job of the commander-in-chief as the number one duty of the president of the United States.

We have to realize we’re in a very different war, with very different techniques that are used for that war, and very different bad actors than we’ve had before in the terrorists and their motivations are very different.

We can’t forget that technology is completely different. When we were looking at prior laws, phones were wired in to walls. That’s not how it works any more. Today we deal with wireless functions. And we have to completely change the way that we go about investigating.

This is one thing we know about Barack Obama. He has essentially handed over our interrogation of terrorists to the ACLU. He has outsourced it to them. Our CIA has no ability to have any form of interrogation for terrorists.

When the bomber — or the attempted bomber over Detroit, the underwear bomber was intercepted, he was given Miranda warnings within 45 minutes. He was not an American citizen. We don’t give Miranda warnings to terrorists, and we don’t read them their rights. They don’t have any.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Huntsman, where do you stand on the Patriot Act? Do you believe it’s un-American, as Congressman Paul has suggested?

HUNTSMAN: I think we have to be very careful in protecting our individual liberties. We forget sometimes that we have a name brand in this world. And I have seen it shine living overseas. And when our light shines based on the values that we live up to and represent, it moves people, it moves countries, it moves events like nothing else can.

We are a nation of values. And forever, like what we’re trying to do in this debate tonight, we’ll try to find that balancing act between our individual liberties and security. But we also have to remember as we’re talking about security, I see Tom Ridge in the audience here, a great former secretary of Homeland Security. He will tell you, he will tell you that we cannot secure the homeland out of Washington, D.C., itself. We’ve got to make sure that we have partnerships with governors and mayors, that this is a national effort.

No longer can we compartmentalize intelligence. Those are the old days. Today we’ve got to share. We’ve got to make sure that we are prepared as a people, we are prepared not only as a federal government, but we’re prepared as well as a local government in a collaborative and sharing kind of relationship.

BLITZER: I’m going to give everyone a chance to respond, but let me get this one question from CNN Politics, that came to cnnpolitics.com, and then we’ll bring in the rest of you.

This was the question: “TSA pat-downs: violation of civil liberty or a necessity to ensure national security?”

Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: Well, we can do a lot better than the TSA system. It’s going to get get better over time. We can use better technology. We can also identify people who are lower risk and allow them to go through the process more quickly than the current process.

But let’s come back to the issue that seems to be so confusing here.

And that is Congressman Paul talked about crime. Newt Gingrich was right. There are different categories here. There’s crime and there are rights that are afforded to American citizens under our Constitution and those that are accused of crime. Then there’s war. And the tool of war being used today in America and around the world is terror. There’s a different body of law that relates to war.

And for those that understand the difference between the two, they recognize that we need tools when war is waged domestically to ensure that, as president of the United States, you can fulfill your first responsibility, which is to protect the life, liberty and property of American citizens and defend them from foes domestic and foreign.

And that means, yes, we’ll use the Constitution and criminal law for those people who commit crimes, but those who commit war and attack the United States and pursue treason of various kinds, we will use instead a very different form of law, which is the law afforded to those who are fighting America.

that we need tools when war is waged domestically to ensure that as president of the United States you can fulfill your first responsibility which is to protect the life, liberty and property of American citizens and defend them from foes domestic and foreign. That means yes we’ll use the constitution and criminal law for those people who commit crimes but those who commit war and attack the United States and pursue treason of various kinds we will use instead a very different form of law which is the law afforded to those who are fighting America.

BLITZER: Governor Perry…

(APPLAUSE)

… you proposed legislation that would criminalize these TSA pat-downs under certain circumstances.

PERRY: Right.

BLITZER: Explain what you have in mind.

PERRY: Well, here’s what I would do with the TSA; I would privatize it as soon as I could and get rid of those unions.

(APPLAUSE)

It’s working in Denver. They have a program where they’re privatizing it. And the airlines and other private-sector groups work together to do the security in our airports. And it makes abundant good sense.

And I agree with most of my colleagues here on the stage when we talk about the Patriot Act. And we need to keep it in place. We need to have — strengthen it if that’s what’s required, to update it with new technologies as they come along, Newt.

But here’s the other issue that I think we’ve really failed at, and that is in our ability to collect intelligence around the world. And this administration in particular has been an absolute failure when it comes to expending the dollars and supporting the CIA and the military intelligence around the world, to be able to draw in that intelligence that is going to truly be able to allow us to keep the next terrorist attack from happening on American soil.

BLITZER: Senator Santorum, under certain circumstances in the past, you’ve supported profiling. Is that correct?

SANTORUM: I have.

BLITZER: What do you have in mind?

SANTORUM: Well, I mean, I think TSA is a good example of that. We should be trying to find the bomber, not the bomb. Other countries have done it. Israel is probably the best example of that.

But to put this enormous expense on the federal government, to put the enormous expense on the traveling public for — for pat-downs and other intrusions, I think, is too much money. I agree with Governor Perry; I actually voted when I — when this bill came up, I voted to allow for privatization. I was not for this being a government function. I thought it could be a private function.

But the issue of the Patriot Act is — is a little different. We are at war. The last time we had a — we had a threat at home like this — obviously, it was much more of a threat at home — was during the Civil War.

And, of course, Abraham Lincoln ran right over civil rights. Why? Because we had a present domestic threat. In the previous wars that we’ve had, we haven’t had this type of threat that we have here in the homeland. And we have to deal with it differently.

I disagree with Governor Huntsman. He made some good points. And we have had the debate. It’s been an open debate. It’s really shown the values of our country, that we can engage in this open debate and balance those interests, and I think we have done so appropriately.

BLITZER: So just to be precise, is it ethnic profiling, religious profiling? Who would be profiled?

SANTORUM: Well, the folks who are most likely to be committing these crimes. If you look at — I mean, obviously, it was — obviously, Muslims would be — would be someone you’d look at, absolutely. Those are the folks who are — the radical Muslims are the people that are committing these crimes, as we’ve — by and large, as well as younger males.

I mean, these are things that — not exclusively — but these are things that you profile to — to find your best — the most likely candidate.

BLITZER: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: That’s digging a…

(APPLAUSE)

That’s digging a hole for ourselves. What if they look like Timothy McVeigh? You know, he was a pretty tough criminal.

I think we’re using too much carelessness in the use of words that we’re at war. I don’t remember voting on — on a declared — declaration of war. Oh, we’re against terrorism.

(APPLAUSE)

And terrorism is a tactic. It isn’t a person. It isn’t a people. So this is a very careless use of words. What about this? Sacrifice liberties because there are terrorists? You’re the judge and the jury? No, they’re suspects.

And they have changed the — in the — in DOD budget they have changed the wording on the definition of al-Qaeda and Taliban. It’s anybody associated with organizations, which means almost anybody can be loosely associated so that makes all Americans vulnerable.

And now we know that American citizens are vulnerable to assassination.

So I would be very cautious about protecting the rule of law. It will be a sacrifice that you’ll be sorry for. (APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Herman Cain, let’s bring you into this conversation. Are you with Senator Santorum when he says that there should be religious profiling, that Muslims in particular should get extra screening when they go — go through airports?

CAIN: I believe we can do a whole lot better with TSA. And I called it, targeted identification.

BLITZER: What does that mean?

CAIN: We can do — we can do — targeted identification. If you take a look at the people who are trying to kill us, it would be easy to figure out exactly what that identification profile looks like.

But I want — but I want to make sure that I get to the Patriot Act. So I believe we can do a whole better. The answer, I believe, also may be privatization.

Now, relative to the Patriot Act, if there are some areas of the Patriot Act that we need to refine, I’m all for that. But I do not believe we ought to throw out the baby with the bathwater for the following reason. The terrorists have one objective that some people don’t seem to get. They want to kill all of us.

So we should use every mean possible to kill them first or identify them first — first.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Now, just to be precise, Mr. Cain. I just want to — I’ll give you a chance. Is it OK for Muslim Americans to get more intensive pat downs or security when they go through airports than Christian Americans or Jewish Americans?

CAIN: No, Blitz. That’s oversimplifying it. I happen to believe that if — if you allow our intelligence agencies to do their job they can come up with an approach — I’m sorry, Blitz, I meant Wolf, OK?

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

This was — since we on a — since we on a blitz debate, I apologize. Wolf, what I’m saying is let’s ask the professionals to give us an approach of how we can increase the identification of people that might be a danger to civilians as well as a danger to this nation.

BLITZER: Thank you, Cain.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE) All right. Go ahead. We have another question. Please give us your name and the organization you represent.

QUESTION: I’m Fred Kagan, resident scholar and director of the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute.

And my question is, the raid that killed Osama bin Laden was obviously an important success in the struggle against al-Qaeda, although it also drove U.S. relations with Pakistan into a new low.

Do you think that an expanded drone campaign in Pakistan would be sufficient to defeat al-Qaeda and to secure our interests in Pakistan?

BLITZER: Governor Huntsman?

HUNTSMAN: Let me just say that as we talk about foreign policy, let’s be reminded that in order to have an effective foreign policy we need a Washington that works.

Today we have a president who can’t lead. We have a Congress that can’t even figure out how to balance our budget. They need term limits, by the way. We’ve gotta get our house in order if we…

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. We’ve gotta get our house in order if we’re gonna expect to get anything done overseas because when our light shines we can influence the rest of the world.

Pakistan is a concern. That’s the country that ought to keep everybody up at night. You have not President Zardari in charge but General Kayani over the military, which also is responsible for ISI.

You’ve got the youngest demographic of the 160 million people in Pakistan. You’ve got a Midrasha movement. You’ve got over 100 nuclear weapons. You’ve got trouble on the border.

You’ve got a nation-state that is a candidate for failure. And I say it’s a haven for bad behavior. It’s a haven — it’s — it’s a haven for training the people who seek to do us harm. And an expanded drone program is something that would serve our national interest.

I think it must be done. And I think it must be consistent with recognizing the reality on the ground of what we need out of Afghanistan — we don’t need 100,000 troops in Afghanistan.

We don’t need to nation-build in Afghanistan when this nation so desperately needs to be built.

BLITZER: We’re gonna get to Afghanistan.

HUNTSMAN: But we need something. We need something in Afghanistan.

BLITZER: Congresswoman Bachmann, we’ll be bringing you in. You’re a member… HUNTSMAN: We need Special Forces and drones.

BLITZER: All right. You’re a member of the Intelligence Committee. Do you think, as Governor Perry has said, that Pakistan should no longer receive U.S. aid because they’ve shown they’re not a good friend, ally of the United States?

BACHMANN: Pakistan has been the epicenter of dealing with terrorism. They are, as Governor Huntsman said, there are al-Qaeda training grounds there. There’s also the Haqqani network that can be trained there as well.

And they also are one of the most violent, unstable nations that there is. We have to recognize that 15 of the sites, nuclear sites are available or are potentially penetrable by jihadists. Six attempts have already been made on nuclear sites. This is more than an existential threat. We have to take this very seriously.

The United States has to be engaged. It is complicated. We have to recognize that the Chinese are doing everything that they can to be an influential party in Pakistan. We don’t want to lose influence.

I’m answering your question. You asked me about the money that the United States gives to Pakistan. This is a — this is a dual answer. A nation that lies, that does everything possibly that you could imagine wrong, at the same time they do share intelligence data with us regarding Al Qaida.

We need to demand more. The money that we are sending right now is primarily intelligence money to Pakistan. It is helping the United States. Whatever our action is, it must ultimately be about helping the United States and our sovereignty…

BLITZER: So…

BACHMANN: … our safety and our security.

BLITZER: … you would continue that aid to Pakistan?

BACHMANN: I — at this point I would continue that aid, but I do think that the Obama policy of keeping your fingers crossed is not working in Pakistan,. And I also think that Pakistan is a nation, that it’s kind of like too nuclear to fail. And so we’ve got to make sure that we take that threat very seriously.

BLITZER: Governor Perry?

PERRY: I understand where she’s coming from, but the bottom line is that they’ve showed us time after time that they can’t be trusted. And until Pakistan clearly shows that they have America’s best interests in mind, I would not send them one penny, period.

I think it is important for us to send the message to those across the world that, if you are not going to be an ally of the United States, do not expect a dime of our citizens’ money to be coming into your country. That is the way we change foreign policy. Now, if we want to engage these countries with our abilities and our companies that go in, and help to economically build these countries up, rather than just writing a blank check to them, then we can have that conversation, because I think that is a change in foreign policy that would be adequate and appropriate and a positive move for us.

But to write a check to countries that are clearly not representing American interests is nonsensical.

BLITZER: You want to respond, Congresswoman Bachmann?

BACHMANN: Well, I — with all due respect to the governor, I think that’s highly naive, because, again, we have to recognize what’s happening on the ground. These are nuclear weapons all across this nation. And, potentially, Al Qaida could get hold of these weapons.

These weapons could find their way out of — out of Pakistan, into New York City or into Washington, D.C., and a nuclear weapon could be set off in this city. That’s how serious this is. We have to maintain an American presence.

They certainly aren’t looking out for the best interests of the United States. I wouldn’t expect them to. But at the same time, we have to have our interests, which is national security, represented. The best way we can do that with an uneven actor state is to have some sort of presence there.

BLITZER: I just want to give Governor Perry the chance to respond.

She just said your views are highly naive.

PERRY: And I — absolutely we need to be engaged in that part of the world. I never said for us not to be engaged. I just said we need to quit writing blank checks to these countries, and then letting them decide how these dollars are going to be spent.

We’ve got Afghanistan and India working in concert right now to leverage Pakistan. I think if we would create a trade zone in that part of the world, where you have all of those countries working together, that may be the answer to getting Pakistan to understand that they have to work with all of the countries in that region.

BLITZER: All right, I want to move on.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: I want to move on, but you’ll have a chance — you’ll have a chance to respond…

BACHMANN: If I can just — Wolf, if I could just…

BLITZER: Very quickly.

BACHMANN: … clarify, we’re not writing just blank checks. We’re also exchanging intelligence information. So we aren’t writing blank checks in that region.

BLITZER: All right. Let’s take another question from the audience.

Please give us your name and your organization.

QUESTION: Israel Ortega (ph) with the Heritage Foundation.

Is the money that we’ve drawn back from U.S. troops in Afghanistan really worth the risk of allowing Taliban to expand territories, and Al Qaida to grow safe sanctuaries?

BLITZER: Governor Romney, $2 billion a week the United States is spending right now in Afghanistan, $2 billion, more than $100 billion a year. And U.S. troops are supposed to stay for another three years at least, till the end of 2014. Is that money well spent?

ROMNEY: We spent about $450 billion so far, 1,700 or so service men and women have lost their lives there, and many tens of thousands have been wounded. Our effort there is to keep Afghanistan from becoming a launching point for terror against the United States. We can’t just write off a major part of the world.

Pakistan is the sixth largest country in the world. We can’t just say goodbye to all of — of what’s going on in that part of the world.

Instead, we want to draw them toward modernity. And for that to happen, we don’t want to literally pull up stakes and run out of town after the extraordinary investment that we’ve made. And that means we should have a gradual transition of handing off to the Afghan security forces the responsibility for their own country.

And for the region, what happened in Indonesia back in the 1960s, where — where we helped Indonesia move toward modernity with new leadership. We — we brought them in the technology that allowed them to trade in the world.

We need to bring Pakistan into the 21st century — or the 20th century, for that matter, so that they — they can engage throughout the world with trade and with modernity.

Right now, American approval level in — in Pakistan is 12 percent. We’re not doing a very good job with this huge investment we make of $4.5 billion a year. We can do a lot better directing that to encourage people to take advantage of the extraordinary opportunities the West and freedom represent for their people.

BLITZER: Now, Governor Huntsman, do you agree with Governor Romney that the U.S. has to stay in Afghanistan at these levels?

HUNTSMAN: No, I — I totally disagree. I think we need to square with the American people about what we’ve achieved. We need an honest conversation in this country about the sacrifices that have been made over nearly 10 years. We have — we have dismantled the Taliban. We’ve run them out of Kabul. We’ve had free elections in 2004. We’ve killed Osama bin Laden. We’ve upended, dismantled al Qaeda. We have achieved some very important goals for the United States of America.

Now, the fact that we have 100,000 troops nation-building in Afghanistan when this nation so desperately needs to be built, when, on the ground, we do need intelligence gathering, no doubt about that. We need a strong Special Forces presence. We need a drone presence. And we need some ongoing training of the Afghan National Army.

But we haven’t done a very good job defining and articulating what the end point is in Afghanistan. And I think the American people are getting very tired about where we find ourselves today.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Let me let Governor Romney respond.

ROMNEY: Well, let me respond.

Are you suggesting, Governor, that we just take all our troops out next week or what — what’s your proposal?

HUNTSMAN: Did you hear what I just said?

I said we should draw down from 100,000. We don’t need 100,000 troops. We don’t need 100,000 troops in Afghanistan…

(CROSSTALK)

HUNTSMAN: — many of whom can’t even cross the wire. We need a presence on the ground that is more akin to 10,000 or 15,000. That will serve our interests in terms of intelligence gathering and Special Forces response capability. And we need to prepare for a world, not just in South Asia, but, indeed, in every corner of the world in which counter-terror — counter-terrorism is going to be in front of us for as far as the eye can see into the 21st century.

ROMNEY: And the — and the commanders on the ground feel that we should bring down our surge troops by December of 2012 and bring down all of our troops, other than, perhaps, 10,000 or so, by the end of — of 2014.

The decision to pull our troops out before that, they believe, would put at risk the extraordinary investment of treasure and blood which has been sacrificed by the American military.

I stand with the commanders in this regard and have no information that suggests that pulling our troops out faster than that would do anything but put at — at great peril the extraordinary sacrifice that’s been made. This is not time for America to cut and run. We have been in for 10 years. We are winding down. The Afghan troops are picking up the capacity to secure their country. And the mission is pretty straightforward, and that is to allow the Afghan people to have a sovereign nation not taken over by the Taliban. BLITZER: Let me bring the speaker in. What do you say…

GINGRICH: I would…

BLITZER: — pull out?

HUNTSMAN: Just — just one point.

BLITZER: You want — oh, go ahead.

HUNTSMAN: Yes, just about the generals on the ground. And listen, I think it’s important for the American people to know we have achieved some very important objectives in raising standards in Afghanistan and helping to build civil society.

But at the end of the day, the president of the United States is commander-in-chief, commander-in-chief. Of course you’re going to listen to the generals. But…

(APPLAUSE)

HUNTSMAN: — I also remember when people listened to the generals in 1967 and we heard a certain course of action in South Asia that didn’t serve our interests very well.

The president is the commander-in-chief and ought to be informed by a lot of different voices, including of those of his generals Jr. ) on the ground.

BLITZER: Speaker Gingrich?

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: It’s…

ROMNEY: Look, I’ve got a good — he gets a response, I get a response.

BLITZER: All right.

ROMNEY: Of course the commander-in-chief makes — make the final decision.

PAUL: How about the rest of us?

ROMNEY: Of course the final — look…

PAUL: How about us who haven’t had a response?

BLITZER: (INAUDIBLE) got a chance.

ROMNEY: Of course the commander-in-chiefs makes the — makes the final decision. But the commander-in-chief makes that decision based upon the input of people closest to the ground. And — and we — we’ve both been to Afghanistan. I’ve been to Afghanistan. The people I speak with there say we have a very good prospect of the people in Afghanistan being able to secure the peace and their sovereignty from the Taliban, but that if we pull out on a precipitous basis, as Governor Huntsman suggests, that we could well see that nation and Pakistan get pulled into terror and become another launching point to go after America. That’s a mistake. That’s why you listen and then make your decision.

BLITZER: Speaker?

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: Well, Wolf, I’m a little confused about exactly what we’re currently debating, because I think — I think we tend to get down to these narrow questions that — that, in a sense, don’t get at the — at the core issues.

The very first question I thought about Pakistan is the one that should be the starting point.

The gentleman said that when we went in and killed bin Laden, that we drove U.S.-Pakistan — did I have — is this like a 30-second response?

BLITZER: Go ahead.

GINGRICH: I mean, I’m happy to play by the rules, I just want to know what they are. But I think this is the heart of the American dilemma. We were told, a perfectly natural Washington assumption that our killing bin Laden in Pakistan drove U.S.-Pakistan relations to a new low.

To which my answer is, well, it should have because we should be furious.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: Now, and that’s where this has got to start. You want to keep American troops in Afghanistan, you accept hot pursuit, you say no sanctuaries, you change the rules of engagement, you put the military in charge of the military side, you overhaul the State Department and AID so they get the job done, and you do it for real and you do it intensely, and you tell the Pakistanis, help us or get out of the way, but don’t complain if we kill people you’re not willing to go after on your territory where you have been protecting them.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: I agree with Ron Paul. We are not fighting a war on terrorism. Terrorism is a tactic. We’re fighting a war against radical Islam. And what radical Islam is telling — all of the radical Islamist leaders are saying is that just wait America out, America is weak, they will not stand for the fight, they cannot maintain this, they’ll set time limits, politics will interfere, and we will tell the people in Afghanistan, we will tell the people in Iraq and other places that we will be the strong horse in the region.

And President Obama, by making political decision after political decision about timelines and constraints on rules of engagement, has validated everything these radical Islamists are saying.

So the answer to you, Jon, is that you’re doing exactly — Governor Huntsman, is that you’re doing exactly what all of the radical leaders are saying that America will do, that we are not in this to win, we are going to play politics with this, and then we will find this problem in Afghanistan on our shores in a very short order.

BLITZER: We are going to come to Congressman Cain (sic) in a moment. But just hold your horses for a second because we’re going to take a quick break. Much more coming up. The former chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff calls this the number one threat to America’s national security. The candidates will answer that question on this topic, coming up next.

We want you to send us your questions for the candidates. Go to cnnpolitics.com or facebook.com/cnnpolitics or on twitter use #cnndebate. Our coverage of this historic debate at Constitution Hall in Washington continues in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to historic Constitution Hall here in the nation’s capital.

(APPLAUSE)

We’re continuing the CNN national security debate. Let’s go right to the audience. We have a question from the audience.

(APPLAUSE)

Go ahead with your question.

Hello?

No question from the audience.

Yes, we do. We do have a question from the audience.

(LAUGHTER)

We were waiting for you.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: I’m Mike Gonzalez (ph) of the Heritage Foundation.

BLITZER: Thank you.

QUESTION: If Israel attacked Iran to prevent Tehran from getting nuclear weapons, would you help Israel launch the attack or support it otherwise? BLITZER: All right. We’ve got the question. Let me ask Herman Cain first. Did you get the question?

CAIN: I didn’t quite get the question.

BLITZER: If — the specific question is, if Israel attacked Iran to prevent Tehran from getting nuclear weapons, would you help Israel launch the attack or support it otherwise?

CAIN: I would first make sure that they had a credible plan for success, clarity of mission and clarity of success.

Remember, when you talk about attacking Iran, it is a very mountainous region. The latest reports say that there may be 40 different locations, and I would want to make sure that we had a good idea from intelligence sources where these are located.

And if Israel had a credible plan that it appeared as if they could succeed, I would support Israel, yes. And in some instances, depending upon how strong the plan is, we would join with Israel for that, if it was clear what the mission was and it was clear what the definition of victory was.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Congressman Paul, would you support Israel and help Israel in such an attack?

PAUL: No, I wouldn’t do that.

(LAUGHTER)

But there would be good reasons because I don’t expect it to happen. Because, you know, the Mossad leader that just retired said it would be the stupidest thing to do in the world. And it’s a big argument over in Israel. They’re not about to do this.

They’ve just polled 40 major experts on foreign policy here by the National Journal. Not one of them said there should be a unilateral attack on — on the sites in — in Iran.

So that’s not going to happen. And if it did — you’re supposing that if it did, why does Israel need our help? We need to get out of their way. I mean, we interfere with them. We interfere with them…

(LAUGHTER)

… when they deal with their borders. When they want to have peace treaties, we tell them what they can do because we buy their allegiance and they sacrifice their sovereignty to us. And then they decide they want to bomb something, that’s their business, but they should, you know, suffer the consequences. When they bombed the Iraqi missile site, nuclear site, back in the ’80s, I was one of the few in Congress that said it’s none of our business and Israel should take care of themselves. Israel has 200, 300 nuclear missiles. And they can take care of themselves. Why should we commit — we don’t even have a treaty with Israel. Why do we have this automatic commitment that we’re going to send our kids and send our money endlessly to Israel? So I think they’re quite capable of taking care of themselves.

I think we do detriment — just think of all the money we gave to Egypt over 30 or 40 years. Now, look, we were buying friendship. Now there’s a civil war, they’re less friendly to Israel.

The whole thing is going to backfire once we go bankrupt and we remove our troops, so I think we should be very cautious in our willingness to go to war and send troops without a proper declaration by the U.S. Congress.

BLITZER: Let me let Herman Cain respond.

(APPLAUSE)

CAIN: Thank you.

I stated if the mission and the plan were clear, that it could succeed, but I pointed out that that is highly unlikely, given the terrain, the mountainous terrain in Iran.

But here’s the other reason that we should help Israel in an initiative live that. Back to Afghanistan: if we pull out of Afghanistan too soon, Iran is going to help to fulfill that power vacuum in Afghanistan. And so it is in our best interests, the United States of America, to prevent them from being able to help fill that power vacuum in Afghanistan.

BLITZER: Let’s stay on this subject. And I want all of you to weigh in. We have another question.

Please give us your name and your organization.

QUESTION: Good evening. I’m Danielle Pletka (ph); I’m the Vice President for Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. Yesterday the United States and the U.K. slapped new sanctions on Iran. But we haven’t bought oil directly from Iran in over 30 years. We’ve had targeted sanctions on Iran for more than half that time.

Nonetheless, Iran is probably less than a year away from getting a nuclear weapon. Do you believe that there is any set of sanctions that could be put in place that would stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon?

BLITZER: Let’s go to Governor Perry. What do you think?

PERRY: Absolutely. We need to sanction the Iranian Central Bank. That would be one of the most powerful ways to impact that. As a matter of fact, Congressman Paul, that is what we need to do before we ever start having any conversations about a military strike, is to use every sanction that we have. And when you sanction the Iranian Central Bank, that will shut down that economy. At that particular point in time, they truly have to deal with the United States. And it’s one of the reasons that I call for the — there is an area over there, of all of them working together — and I’m talking about Syria — and bringing them into the mix as well.

As I called for, one of the options is to have a no-fly zone over Syria at the same time you’re putting those types of sanctions against Iran. And in that moment, they will understand that America is serious. This President refuses to do that, and it’s another show of lack of leadership from the President of the United States.

BLITZER: The argument, Speaker Gingrich — and I know you’ve studied this, and I want you to weigh in — on the sanctioning of the Iranian Central Bank, because if you do that, for all practical purposes, it cuts off Iranian oil exports, 4 million barrels a day.

The Europeans get a lot of that oil. They think their economy, if the price of gasoline skyrocketed, which it would, would be disastrous. That’s why the pressure is on the U.S. to not impose those sanctions. What say you?

GINGRICH: Well, I say you — the question you just asked is perfect, because the fact is we ought to have a massive all-sources energy program in the United States designed to, once again, create a surplus of energy here, so we could say to the Europeans pretty cheerfully, that all the various sources of oil we have in the United States, we could literally replace the Iranian oil.

Now that’s how we won World War II.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: So, I think you put your finger, Wolf, on the — on the — you know, we all get sucked into these tactical discussions. We need a strategy of defeating and replacing the current Iranian regime with minimum use of force. We need a strategy, as Rick Santorum was saying, of being honest about radical Islam and designing a strategy to defeat it wherever it happens to exist.

We need a strategy in central Asia that recognizes that, frankly, if you’re Pashtun, you don’t care whether you’re in Pakistan or Afghanistan, because you have the same tribal relationships. So we need to be much more strategic and less tactical in our discussion.

But if we were serious, we could break the Iranian regime, I think, within a year, starting candidly with cutting off the gasoline supply to Iran, and then, frankly, sabotaging the only refinery they have.

BLITZER: But sanctions on the Iranian Central Bank now, is that a good idea or a bad idea?

GINGRICH: I think it’s a good idea if you’re serious about stopping them having nuclear — I mean, I think replacing the regime before they get a nuclear weapon without a war beats replacing the regime with war, which beats allowing them to have a nuclear weapon. Those are your three choices.

BLITZER: I want Congresswoman Bachmann to weigh in. Go ahead.

(APPLAUSE)

BACHMANN: I agree with all of that. And energy independence is something that President Obama certainly has avoided.

BLITZER: But that’s going to take many years.

BACHMANN: It — it will but the president — almost every decision that the president has made since he came in has been one to put the United States in a position of unilateral disarmament including the most recent decision he made to cancel the Keystone Pipeline.

That would have not only created jobs but it would have helped us in energy independence.

But I want to go back to something. That’s the fact why is it that we’re talking about Israel having to make a strike against Iran? It’s because Iran has announced they plan to strike Israel.

They’ve stated, as recently as August just before President Ahmadinejad came to — to the U.N. General Assembly. He said that he wanted to eradicate Israel from the face of the earth.

He has said that if he has a nuclear weapon he will use it to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. He will use it against the United States of America.

This isn’t just an idle threat. This is a reality. And that’s why President Obama has — has failed the American people because for two and a half years he gave the Iran the luxury of time.

He met with them with no preconditions. It’s the doctrine of appeasement. He has changed the course of history because at the time when we needed a leader most, we didn’t have one.

That’s what I’ll do differently as President of the United States. I’ll lead.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you. All right. I — I — I want to — I want to — we’re gonna continue this but we have another question from Paul Wolfowitz. Go ahead.

QUESTION: My name is Paul Wolfowitz. I’m a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and my question is about development assistance.

Under George W. Bush, who was a conservative Republican, the United States spent billions of dollars to fight AIDS and malaria in Africa and elsewhere and set up the Millennium Challenge Corporation to encourage governments of poor countries to pursue policies that promote economic growth and job creation.

Do you believe those are still wise expenditures? Or do you think we can no longer afford them?

BLITZER: Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: Well, as the author of the Global Fund Bill and the Millennium Challenge in the United States Senate and someone who worked with the president on PEPFAR to deal with the issue of AIDS in Africa, I believe it’s absolutely essential.

Africa was a country on the brink. On the brink of complete meltdown and chaos, which would have been fertile ground for the radical Islamists to be able to — to get — to get a foothold.

We’re seeing it already. But the work that we’ve done in stabilizing that area, while humanitarian in nature, was absolutely essential for our national security.

And I hear people up here talking abut zeroing out foreign aid and humanitarian aid in particular. I think that’s absolutely the wrong course.

You want to — you want to spend more money on the military, zero out all the things we do to develop relationships around the world and we will spend a lot more money on the military.

It’s important for us to use all the assets we have. Promote our values. America is that shining city on the hill. It is — it is the city that comes to the aid of those in trouble in America — in the world.

We have done more good for America in Africa and in the third world by the things that we’ve done. And we have saved money and saved military deployments by wisely spending that money not on our enemies but on folks who can and will be our friends.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Herman Cain?

CAIN: Here again…

BLITZER: All right, here’s the question. Can the United States afford to continue that kind of foreign assistance to Africa for AIDS, malaria — could run into the billions of dollars? CAIN: It depends upon priorities. Secondly, it depends upon looking at the program and asking the question, has that aid been successful.

In other words, let’s look at the whole problem. It may be worthwhile to continue. It may not. I would like to see the results.

Just like every program we have here domestically, what have the results been. Then we make a decision about how we prioritize. BLITZER: Ron Paul?

PAUL: I — I think the aid is all worthless. It doesn’t do any good for most of the people. You take money from poor people in this country and you end up giving it to rich people in poor countries.

And they’re used as weapons of war so you accomplish nothing. We should export some, maybe some principles about free markets and sound money and maybe they could produce some of their — their own wealth.

But this whole idea of — of talking about the endless wars and the endless foreign aid, it seems like nobody cares about the budget. I mean, we — we’re in big trouble and — and — and nobody wants to cut anything.

So if you’re gonna keep sending foreign aid overseas and these endless wars that you don’t have to declare and — and go into Libya without even consulting with the Congress, the biggest threat — the biggest threat to our national security is our financial condition.

And this is just aggravating it.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: Congressman Paul, what they’re doing is cutting a trillion dollars out of the defense budget. They’re cutting a trillion dollars out of the defense budget, which just happens to equal the trillion dollars we’re putting into “Obama-care.”

And so what you have is a president that has a priority of spending us into bankruptcy, but he’s not just spending us into bankruptcy, he’s spending the money foolishly.

We need to protect America and protect our troops and our military and stop the idea of “Obama-care.” That’s the best way to save money, not the military.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Hold on one second because Ron Paul wants to respond to that point.

PAUL: Well, they’re not cutting anything out of anything. All this talk is just talk.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: Believe me. They’re cutting — they’re nibbling away at baseline budgeting, and its automatic increases. There’s nothing cut against the military. And the people on the Hill are nearly hysterical because they’re not going — the budget isn’t going up as rapidly as they want it to. It’s a road to disaster. We had better wake up.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: OK. Let’s just talk about what they’re cutting with the first $350 billion, not the next 600 which is coming down the road. The first $350 billion, what do they cut? They stopped the F-22. They delayed aircraft carriers. They stopped the Navy cruiser system. They said long range Air Force bombers aren’t going to be built. They’re trying to cut our troops by 50,000. The list goes on.

They’re cutting programs that are cutting the capacity of America to defend itself. Look, let’s stand back for a moment, because we’ve been talking about Israel and Iran. What we’re talking about here is a failure on the part of the president to lead with strength.

And that’s why we have discussions about whether Israel should have to step in to stop the nuclear program, whether Iran is going to become nuclear. We have a president who pursued an agenda of saying we’re going to be friendly to our foes and we’re going to be disrespectful to our friends.

The right course in America is to stand up to Iran with crippling sanctions, indict Ahmadinejad for violating the Geneva — or the Genocide Convention, put in place the kind of crippling sanctions that stop their economy. I know it’s going to make gasoline more expensive. There’s no price which is worth an Iranian nuclear weapon.

And the right course for Israel is to show that we care about Israel, that they are our friend, we’ll stick with them. If I’m president of the United States, my first trip — my first foreign trip will be to Israel to show the world we care about that country and that region.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right. We’re going to stay on this subject.

Go ahead.

ALISON ACOSTA FRASER, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR, OKLAHOMA OFFICE OF STATE FINANCE: Hi, my name is Alison Acosta Fraser, and I’m the director of the Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation. And my question is this, the next president will have to make some very, very tough choices in order to solve the nation’s spending and debt crisis. Would you be willing to say that our national security is so paramount that cuts to the defense budget are unacceptable?

BLITZER: Speaker Gingrich.

GINGRICH: No. I helped found the Military Reform Caucus in 1981 at the beginning of the Reagan buildup because it’s clear that there are some things you can do in defense that are less expensive.

It’s clear, if it takes 15 to 20 years to build a weapons system at a time when Apple changes technology every nine months, there’s something profoundly wrong with this system. So I’m not going to tell you automatically I’m going to say yes. (APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: But let me make a deeper point. There’s a core thing that’s wrong with this whole city. You said earlier that it would take too long to open up American oil. We defeated Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan in three years and eight months because we thought we were serious.

If we were serious, we would open up enough oil fields in the next year that the price of oil worldwide would collapse. Now, that’s what we would do if we were a serious country. If we were serious…

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: One last thing, if we were serious, we would apply Strong America Now’s model of Lean Six Sigma, we would save $500 billion a year by having an efficient effective federal government. We would open up federal lands, increasing dramatically both jobs and the amount of revenue of the federal government.

There are lots of things you can do if you decide break out of the current mindless bureaucracy of this city and just get the job done, including, by the way, making the Millennium Challenge work and doing it in a way that we actually help people even more effectively and at a much lower cost by having public/private partnerships.

BLITZER: I’m going to bring Governor Huntsman in, but very quickly, Mr. Speaker, would you, if you were president of the United States, bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities to prevent it from becoming a nuclear power?

GINGRICH: Only as a last recourse and only as a step towards replacing the regime. No bombing campaign which leaves the regime in charge is going to accomplish very much in the long run. You have to seriously talk about regime replacement, not just attacking them.

But I will also say — this is, I guess, where I disagree with my good friend Ron Paul. If my choice was to collaborate with the Israelis on a conventional campaign or force them to use their nuclear weapons, it will be an extraordinarily dangerous world if out of a sense of being abandoned they went nuclear and used multiple nuclear weapons in Iran. That would be a future none of us would want to live through.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Huntsman, where do you stand on defense cuts?

HUNTSMAN: Well, let’s face the economic reality. Let’s face the deficit reality we have as a country. We have an economic deficit. And I’d argue that 70 percent debt-to-GDP is a national security problem because, at some point, you just don’t grow any more, when your debt becomes that.

I mean, look at Japan. They’re in their third decade of lost growth. Look at Greece. Look at Italy. So I’d say, aside from that, we’ve got another deficit in this country. It’s called the trust deficit.

People have lost trust in their institutions of power in America. They don’t trust Congress. They don’t trust the executive branch. They don’t trust Wall Street. The list goes on. We’ve got to fix both those deficits.

As it relates to defense spending, let’s be realistic about this. We can’t have an intellectually honest conversation about where we go with debt and spending with sacred cows. Everything’s got to be on the table. The Defense Department’s got to be on the table, for haven’t sake. But we need to have a Defense Department and a budget for the Defense Department. If we can’t find some savings in the $650 billion budget, we’re not looking closely enough.

But we need spending for the Department of Defense that follows a strategy. And that strategy needs to follow how we best protect the American people now that we’re in the second decade of the 21st century.

And I believe our national security strategy and our foreign policy increasingly needs to follow, number one, economic policy.

It used to break my heart sitting in Beijing, the second largest embassy in the world, looking at neighboring Afghanistan. We’d have 100,000 troops there. The Chinese would move in and take the mining concession. And I’d say there’s something fundamentally wrong with this picture.

When are we going to get with the program and determine that foreign policy will be driven by economics, that which plays right back to strengthening our core (ph)…

(APPLAUSE)

… and creates jobs here on the home front.

And, second of all, let’s face the reality that we have a counterterror threat for as far as the eye can see.

Professor Wolfowitz was just up here. I know he’s done a lot of work on — for as far as the eye can see, and that means not only in Afghanistan but every corner of the world. We’ve got to prepare for the reality that counterterrorism is here to stay. We need friends and allies who are in this fight with us. We need special forces response capability. We need defense spending that will match the realities of where we find ourselves.

BLITZER: Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

Let me bring in Governor Perry into this conversation.

As you know, the so-called supercommittee failed. And as a result, unless Congress takes action next year — in an election year, that would be difficult — there’s not going to be any change in that automatic trigger as it’s called. That sequestration, $1.2 trillion cut, including $600 billion in defense, will go into effect.

Here’s the question. If you were president of the United States, would you compromise with Democrats in Congress in order to avoid that Washington gridlock that, if you believe the polls, the American people hate?

PERRY: I don’t think anybody is particularly surprised that a supercommittee failed. It was a super-failure. And I think we expected that. We had a president of the United States who is not a leader. He pitched this over to them and said, here, you all figure this out.

I’ve signed six balanced budgets as the head of the state of Texas. I worked with those legislators on a daily basis, or my staff.

This president has been an absolute failure when it came to this budget process. And the idea — it was almost reprehensible to me. I’ve worn the uniform of this country. I’ve been the commander in chief of the 20-plus-thousand National Guard troops that we have in Texas, Dr. Paul.

But it was reprehensible, for me, for this president to stand in front of Americans and to say that that half a trillion dollars, $500 million-plus is not going to be on the table and we’re just going to have to work our way through it, putting young men and women’s life in jeopardy.

And I will tell you, as a commander in chief, as an American citizen, that is totally and absolutely irresponsible. Even his own secretary of defense said it was irresponsible. As a matter of fact, if Leon Panetta is an honorable man, he should resign in protest.

BLITZER: Here’s the question, though. Would you compromise — all of you have said you wouldn’t accept any tax increases at all, even if there were 10 — 10 times as many spending cuts. So would you just let the gridlock continue, Governor Perry, or would you compromise under those circumstances?

PERRY: Listen, I’ve had to work with Democrats for the 10 years that I’ve been the governor of the state of Texas.

So the idea that you can’t sit down and work with people on both sides of the aisle, but just to, you know, throw us into — into that briar patch at this particular point in time and say, what would you do — we would never have gotten into that situation if I were the president of the United States. I’d have been there working day in and day out so that we had a budget that not only — I’ve laid out a clear plan to — flat tax of 20 percent; cut the spending; and put a 20 percent corporate tax rate in. And, as a matter of fact, they ought to make the legislature, the Congress, part-time, and that would make as big an impact in this city as anything I can think of.

BLITZER: Let me bring Senator Santorum into this, because I covered Ronald Reagan’s presidency. And, as you know — and I’ll read a quote. He wrote in his autobiography this: “If you got 75 of 80 percent of what you were asking for, I say you take it and fight for the rest later.”

If you got 75 percent or 80 percent of what you wanted, would you make a deal with Democrats, increase some taxes in order to move on and fight the next battle the next day?

SANTORUM: It all depends on what the 75 percent and 85 percent is. If the — if the things that you have to give up make what you’re trying to accomplish harder to do — in other words, reduce the deficit, what the Republicans — why the Republicans are drawing a line in the sand, rightfully so, it’s because what they’re — what the Democrats are attempting to do is increase taxes, which will slow down to the — this economy, which will increase the deficit, reduce tax revenues, ultimately, and — and increase government payments.

So you don’t work against yourself. You — you won’t — you — you take ideas from the other side that you may not find particularly valuable, like spending cuts that you may not want. There are spending cuts that I would like to, you know, I mean there’s things that it mentioned before, that I would stand — stand firm on.

But in a compromise, yes, you do give up some things that you think maybe are critical spending. But you don’t undermine the ability of this con — economy to grow because of politics. This president has poisoned the well. He’s campaigned all over this country, trying to divide group from group in order to — to — to win, you know, to — to position himself to win this election and rally his troops. And what he’s done is poisoned the well here in Congress.

I’ve worked together, I’ve got a long track record of bipartisan accomplishments where I kept to the principles. I use welfare reform as an example. Welfare reform, I stuck to my principles. We cut the welfare budget. We had — we had time limits. We block granted to the states and we put a work requirement.

Did I compromise on things?

Yes. I compromised on some — on some child care. I compromised on — on some transportation.

So I got 75 percent. But it 100 percent changed the welfare system because we…

BLITZER: Thank you.

SANTORUM: — stuck to our principles.

BLITZER: Let — but let’s stay on this subject, because I know many of you want to weigh in.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: We have another question.

ALEX BRILL: My name is Alex Brill and I’m a research fellow in the economics department at the American Enterprise Institute. Even if the super committee hadn’t failed, the savings that they would have proposed would have been a drop in the bucket relative to the $11 trillion deficit our country may face in the subsequent decade. In the decades after that, without entitlement reform, we’ll borrow even more.

To strengthen our economy, to strengthen our country, what entitlement reform proposals would you make to address our long-term structural deficit?

BLITZER: Good question.

Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: It’s a great question and it raises the — the core issue of really large scale change.

Yesterday in Manchester, I outlined a Social Security reform plan based on Chile and based on Galveston, Texas. In Chile, people who have now have the right to a personal Social Security savings account, for 30 years, the government of Chile has promised that if you don’t have as much savings as you would get from Social Security, the government would make up the difference.

In 30 years time, they’ve paid zero dollars, even after ’07 and ’08 and ’09, people slid from three times as much to one-and-a-half times as much, but they didn’t go below the Social Security amount. The result is in Chile, for example, 72 percent — they have 72 percent of the GDP in savings. It has — it has increased the economy, increased the growth of jobs, increased the amount of wealth and it dramatically solves Social Security without a payment cut and without having to hurt anybody.

So I think you can have a series of entitlement reforms that, frankly, make most of this problem go away without going through the kind of austerity and pain that this city likes.

BLITZER: Let’s talk about that, Congresswoman Bachmann.

Social Security, Medicare, health care — what would you cut first?

What would you tackle if you were president of the United States?

BACHMANN: Let me answer that in the context of the super committee, because I was involved in the middle of that fight as a member of Congress this summer. And my voice said this. I said it’s time for us to draw a line in the sand. We have sufficient revenues coming in to pay the interest on the debt.

But the real issue was, were we going to give Congress another $2.4 billion in borrowing authority?

In other words, another blank check to the president. Because, again, consider the context. A little of four years ago, we were just over $8 trillion in debt. We are now $15 trillion in debt in just over four years. Now we’re talking about — if the gentleman is correct — adding another $11 trillion in debt over 10 years, or potentially $8.5 trillion, according to the super committee.

All that they were asked to do is cut back on $1.2 trillion of that increase in debt. We aren’t even talking about the central issue, which is balancing the budget. We need to balance the budget and then chip away at the debt. This isn’t Monopoly money.

Because what we need to recognize is that when we are sending interest money over to China, with whom we are highly in hock, we’re not just sending our money. We’re sending our power.

What will happen is that our national security and our military will decrease and our money will increase China’s military. So think about that.

Our money will be used to grow China’s military at the expense of the United States military. That should give every American pause.

BLITZER: All right. I want everybody to stand by and all of you are going to weigh in. We’ve got a lot more to discuss, important issues that we’re talking about. Collect your thoughts for a moment.

More tough questions for the candidates including their plans for protecting the border, reducing illegal immigration — we’re live from Constitution Hall here in Washington, D.C. This is the CNN Republican National Security Debate.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to the CNN National Security Debate.

The next President of the United States will certainly have to tackle conflicts in the Middle East. You’re looking at these live pictures coming in from Cairo’s Tahrir Square right now, the middle of the night in Egypt.

Thousands of Egyptians are again protesting their government as the Arab Spring continues into the winter months.

The candidates will weigh in on this and much, much more. We’re being seen live, around the world right now. Remember, you can send in your questions and comments at cnnpolitics.com; at Twitter, remember hash tag #cnndebate.

The Republican National Security Debate — we’ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to the historic Constitution Hall here in Washington, D.C. We’re at the CNN Republican National Security Debate. Let’s go right to the audience. We have a question. Please, give us your name and your organization. TRULUCK: Thank you. My name is Phil Truluck. I’m executive vice president and chief operating officer of The Heritage Foundation. And I’d like to thank all the candidates for joining us tonight. I know some of you may want to be in other places, but we appreciate you being here and sharing your views with us.

Let’s — I’d like to turn it back a little bit, a little closer to home, and talk about what’s going on on the borders, our southern border. As all of you know, the drug-related crimes and violence are getting heavier and heavier in that area.

First, do you consider that to be a national interest threat? And, secondly, what could we be doing with the Mexican government to help stop these drug cartels?

BLITZER: Let’s go to Governor Perry. You represent the state with the longest border with Mexico right now. What do you think you should do, if you were President of the United States, as far as using the United States military?

PERRY: Well, let me kind of broaden it out. I think it’s time for a 21st century Monroe Doctrine. When you think about what we put in place in the — in the 1820s, and then we used it again in the 1960s with the Soviet Union. We’re seeing countries start to come in and infiltrate. We know that Hamas and Hezbollah are working in Mexico, as well as Iran, with their ploy to come into the United States.

We know that Hugo Chavez and the Iranian government has one of the largest — I think their largest embassy in the world is in Venezuela. So the idea that we need to have border security with the United States and Mexico is paramount to the entire western hemisphere.

So putting that secure border in place with strategic fencing, with the boots on the ground, with the aviation assets, and then working with Mexico in particular, whether it’s putting sanctions against the banks, whether it’s working with them on security with Mexico, all of those together can make that country substantially more secure and our borders secure.

As the President of the United States, I will promise you one thing, that within 12 months of the inaugural, that border will be shut down, and it will be secure.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Congressman Paul, you’re from Texas. Do you agree with your governor?

PAUL: Not entirely.

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: No, the drug was mentioned. I think that’s another war we ought to cancel, because it’s… (APPLAUSE)

PAUL: … to nobody’s benefit. And that’s where the violence is coming from. But, yes, we do have a national responsibility for our borders. What I’m, sort of, tired of is all the money spent and lives lost worrying about the borders between Pakistan and Afghanistan and forgetting about our borders between the United States and Mexico. We should think more about, you know, what we do at home.

We need better immigration services, obviously. But, you know, if you subsidize something or give people incentives, you get more of it. So if you give easy road to citizenship, you’re going to have more illegals. If you have a weak economy, which is understandable and we should have prevented, that’s understandable.

But giving — mandating to the states and to Texas that we have to provide free medical care and free education, that’s a great burden. It’s a great burden to California and all the border states.

So I would say eliminate all these benefits and talk about eliminating the welfare state because it’s detrimental not only to here but the people that come because that’s the incentive to bring their families with them.

BLITZER: But I just want you to clarify. When you say cancel the war on drugs, does that mean legalize all these drugs? PAUL: I think the federal war on drugs is a total failure.

(APPLAUSE)

You can — you can at least let sick people have marijuana because it’s helpful, but compassionate conservatives say, well, we can’t do this; we’re going to put people who are sick and dying with cancer and they’re being helped with marijuana, if they have multiple sclerosis — the federal government’s going in there and overriding state laws and putting people like that in prison.

Why don’t we handle the drugs like we handle alcohol? Alcohol is a deadly drug. What about — the real deadly drugs are the prescription drugs. They kill a lot more people than the illegal drugs.

So the drug war is out of control. I fear the drug war because it undermines our civil liberties. It magnifies our problems on the borders. We spend — like, over the last 40 years, $1 trillion on this war. And believe me, the kids can still get the drugs. It just hasn’t worked.

BLITZER: Herman Cain, let me let you…

(APPLAUSE)

… weigh in.

CAIN: Yes. Allow me to answer the gentleman’s question. The answer is yes. An insecure border is a national security threat for the following reasons.

Number one, we know that terrorists have come into this country by way of Mexico. Secondly, 40 percent of the people in Mexico, according to a survey, already believe that their country is a failed state. Thirdly, the number of people killed in Mexico last year equals the number of people killed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

So yes, so let’s solve the whole problem. Number one, secure the border for real. Number two, enforce the laws that are already there. We don’t need new laws. Number three, promote the current path to citizenship. Clean up the bureaucracy in Washington, D.C. so people can come through the front door instead of sneaking in the side door. And, number four, to deal with the illegals that are already here, empower the states to do what the federal government is not capable of doing.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Let’s stay on this subject. Go ahead, please.

QUESTION: I have a question about high-skilled immigration. We hear a lot about low-skilled immigration, so I want to ask you about high-skilled immigration.

What would you do to ensure that the United States is as welcoming as possible to the world’s skilled immigrants and entrepreneurs?

BLITZER: Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: Well, as the son of a legal immigrant to this country, I strongly believe in legal immigration and believe we are that shining city on the hill, that our future — if you look at all of the jobs that are being created in our economy today, a huge percentage of them come from the legal immigrants of this county — country who have innovated, who created great products, who created great companies and employed lots of people.

That’s one of the reasons that — that I put together my economic plan, was to take all that great innovation that’s coming as a result, in part, of legal immigration and make sure that those products that are being created are actually made here in America.

That’s part of the problem that — you know, Reaganomics was criticized as trickle-down. Problem is, we’re not seeing that money trickle down to the blue-collar workers in America. And that’s why I put forth a four-point economic plan to revitalize manufacturing that begins with zeroing out the corporate tax for manufacturers; also, regulatory reform, repatriation of profits, if invested in this country, to pay no taxes; and finally, energy policy that will explode the energy industry in this country.

We do those things, we’ll not only have the innovation, which I support, coming from legal — legal immigrants, but we’ll have that money trickle down to blue-collar workers and we can see that income mobility that a lot of people are right in that is not happening in America.

BLITZER: Speaker Gingrich, let me let you broaden out this conversation. Back in the ’80s — and you remember this well. I was covering you then. Ronald Reagan and you — you voted for legislation that had a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, as you well remember. There were, what, maybe 12 million, 10 million — 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States right now.

Some called it amnesty then; they still call it amnesty now. What would you do if you were President of the United States, with these millions of illegal immigrants, many of whom have been in this country for a long time?

GINGRICH: Let me start and just say I think that we ought to have an H-1 visa that goes with every graduate degree in math, science and engineering so that people stay here.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: You know, about five blocks down the street, you’ll see a statue of Einstein. Einstein came here as an immigrant. So let’s be clear how much the United States has drawn upon the world to be richer, better and more inclusive.

I did vote for the Simpson-Mazzoli Act. Ronald Reagan, in his diary, says he signed it — and we were supposed to have 300,000 people get amnesty. There were 3 million. But he signed it because we were going to get two things in return. We were going to get control of the border and we were going to get a guest worker program with employer enforcement.

We got neither. So I think you’ve got to deal with this as a comprehensive approach that starts with controlling the border, as the governor said. I believe ultimately you have to find some system — once you’ve put every piece in place, which includes the guest worker program, you need something like a World War II Selective Service Board that, frankly, reviews the people who are here.

If you’re here — if you’ve come here recently, you have no ties to this country, you ought to go home. period. If you’ve been here 25 years and you got three kids and two grandkids, you’ve been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don’t think we’re going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully and kick you out.

The Creeble Foundation is a very good red card program that says you get to be legal, but you don’t get a pass to citizenship. And so there’s a way to ultimately end up with a country where there’s no more illegality, but you haven’t automatically given amnesty to anyone.

BLITZER: Congresswoman Bachmann, you agree with the speaker?

BACHMANN: Well, I don’t agree that you would make 11 million workers legal, because that, in effect, is amnesty. And I also don’t agree that you would give the DREAM Act on a federal level. And those are two things that I believe that the speaker had been for, and he can speak for himself.

But those are two areas that I don’t agree with. What I do think, though, is what Steve — what Steve Jobs said to President Obama. He had said to President Obama that he had to move a great deal of his operation over to China because he couldn’t find 30,000 engineers to be able to do the work that needed to be done.

That’s what we want to do. We do want to have people. And I agree with the speaker, people like chemists and engineers, and people who are highly skilled.

We think about the United States and what’s in the best interests of the United States. If we can utilize these workers, like Steve jobs wanted to, then we need to offer those visas. That will help the United States. But I don’t agree that we should make 11 million workers who are here illegally legal.

BLITZER: Let me let the speaker respond to that.

GINGRICH: Well, I mean, two things, first of all, in the DREAM Act, the one part that I like is the one which allows people who came here with their parents to join the U.S. military, which they could have done if they were back home, and if they serve on it with the U.S. military to acquire citizenship, which is something any foreigner can do.

And I don’t see any reason to punish somebody who came here at three years of age, but who wants to serve the United States of America. I specifically did not say we’d make the 11 million people legal.

I do suggest if you go back to your district, and you find people who have been here 25 years and have two generations of family and have been paying taxes and are in a local church, as somebody who believes strongly in family, you’ll have a hard time explaining why that particular subset is being broken up and forced to leave, given the fact that they’ve been law-abiding citizens for 25 years.

BLITZER: Congresswoman Bachmann, you want to respond?

(APPLAUSE)

BACHMANN: If I understood correctly, I think the speaker just said that that would make 11 people — 11 million people who are here illegally now legal. That’s really the issue that we’re dealing with. And also, it would be the DREAM Act, the federal DREAM Act, which would offer taxpayer-subsidized benefits to illegal aliens. We need to move away from magnets (ph), not offer more.

BLITZER: Let’s broaden it out.

Governor Romney, where do you stand? Are you with the speaker, that some of those illegal immigrants — I think — he didn’t say all — some of them, if they have roots, they belong to a church, for example, should be allowed to stay in this country? ROMNEY: Look, amnesty is a magnet. What when we have had in the past, programs that have said that if people who come here illegally are going to get to stay illegally for the rest of their life, that’s going to only encourage more people to come here illegally.

The right course for our immigration system is to say we welcome people who want to come here legally. We’re going to have a system that makes that easier and more transparent. But to make sure we’re able to bring in the best and brightest — and, by the way, I agree with the speaker in terms of — I’d staple a green card to the diploma of anybody who’s got a degree of math, science, a Masters degree, Ph.D.

We want those brains in our country. But in order to bring people in legally we’ve got to stop illegal immigration. That means turning off the magnets of amnesty, in-state tuition for illegal aliens, employers that knowingly hire people that have come here illegally.

We welcome legal immigration. This is a party, this is a party that loves legal immigration. But we have to stop illegal immigration for all the reasons the questioner raised, which is, it is bringing in people who in some cases can be terrorists, in other cases they become burdens on our society.

And we have to finally have immigration laws that protect our border, secure the border, turn off the magnets, and make sure we have people come to this country legally to build our economy.

BLITZER: Just to precise, and I’ll give Speaker Gingrich a chance to respond. Are you saying that what he’s proposing, giving amnesty in effect, or allowing some of these illegal immigrants to stay, is a magnet that would entice others to come to this country illegally?

ROMNEY: There’s no question. But to say that we’re going to say to the people who have come here illegally that now you’re all going to get to stay or some large number are going to get to stay and become permanent residents of the United States, that will only encourage more people to do the same thing.

People respond to incentives. And if you can become a permanent resident of the United States by coming here illegally, you’ll do so. What I want to do is bring people into this country legally, particularly those that have education and skill that allows us to compete globally. (APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: I do not believe that the people of the United States are going to take people who have been here a quarter century, who have children and grandchildren, who are members of the community, who may have done something 25 years ago, separate them from their families, and expel them.

I do believe if you’ve been here recently and have no ties to the U.S., we should deport you. I do believe we should control the border. I do believe we should have very severe penalties for employers, but I would urge all of you to look at the Krieble Foundation Plan.

I don’t see how the — the party that says it’s the party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families that have been here a quarter century. And I’m prepared to take the heat for saying, let’s be humane in enforcing the law without giving them citizenship but by finding a way to create legality so that they are not separated from their families.

BLITZER: Governor Perry, are you with the speaker or with the governor, Governor Romney?

(APPLAUSE)

PERRY: Here we go again, Mitt. You and I standing by each other again and you used the words about the magnets. And that’s one of the things that we obviously have to do is to stop those magnets for individuals to come in here.

But the real issue is securing that border. And this conversation is not ever going to end until we get the border secure. But I do think that there is a way. That after we secure that border that you can have a process in place for individual who are law- abiding citizens who have done only one thing, as Newt says, 25 years ago or whatever that period of time was, that you can put something in place that basically continues to keep those families together.

But the idea that we’re having this long and lengthy conversation here, until we have a secure border is just an intellectual exercise. You’ve got to secure the border first. And I know how to do that. I’ve been dealing with it for 10 years.

And we have to put the boots on the ground and the aviation assets in place, and secure that border once and for all, and be committed to it.

BLITZER: Let me let Governor Romney respond.

ROMNEY: Yes, I don’t disagree with what Governor Perry indicated. Certainly we have to secure the border. And we talk about people who have been here 25 years, that is the extreme exception…

BLITZER: You would let them stay.

ROMNEY: … not the rule.

BLITZER: You would let them stay?

ROMNEY: I’m not going to start drawing lines here about who gets to stay and who get to go. The principle is that we are not going to have an amnesty system that says that people who come here illegally get to stay for the rest of their life in this country legally.

The answer is we’re going to have a system that gives people who come legally a card that identifies them as coming here legally. Employers are going to be expected to inspect that card, see if they’re here legally. On that basis we’re going to be able to bring you to this country.

The number of people that we need to power our industries, whether that’s agriculture or high tech, we welcome people in here with visa programs. We have a whole series of legal programs. But the idea of focusing a Republican debate on amnesty and who we’re going to give it to, is a huge mistake.

Secure our border, protect legal immigration, and return to a system that follows the law.

BLITZER: All right. Let’s take another…

(APPLAUSE)

… quick break because we have a lot more to — I want to bring everybody into this conversation. We’re also going to broaden the conversation and go to the Middle East and see what’s going on in the so-called Arab Spring.

Don’t forget, Twitter — you can weigh in on what’s going on, #CNNdebate. Also, go to Facebook, CNNpolitics.com. Much more from historic Constitution Hall, here in the nation’s capital, right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right. Welcome back to the CNN Republican national security debate. Let’s go right to the audience.

Please give us your name and your organization.

QUESTION: I’m David Addington. I’m a vice president with the Heritage Foundation.

(APPLAUSE)

Serious violence has erupted in Syria between the repressive al- Assad regime and some elements of the people of Syria. Syria borders a major ally of the United States, NATO ally, Turkey, and three other friendly countries, Israel, Jordan and Iraq.

In your view, what are the interests of the United States in this region and what would you do to protect them?

BLITZER: Herman Cain, you may not know this, but today Governor Perry called for a no-fly zone, for the U.S. to participate in a no- fly zone over Syria. Would you go that far? Would you support that?

CAIN: No, I would not. I would work with our allies in the region to put pressure to be able to try and get our allies and other nations to stop buying oil from Syria. That would be one thing that I would do, but I would not support a no-fly zone.

The most effective tools that we have in any of these situations are a strong military, which it is getting weaker, unfortunately, and our own economic strength.

This whole discussion tonight about cutting and compromise, we didn’t spend enough time talking about the other part of the problem — growing this economy, because this administration has failed dismally at growing this economy. We can cut until the cows come home but it still would not solve the problem until we have effective economic growth.

BLITZER: Governor Perry, why would you support a no-fly zone over Syria?

PERRY: Obviously, that’s one of a multitude of — of sanctions and actions that I think work very well from the standpoint of being able to pressure that regime, overt, covert, economic sanctions.

I mean I think there are a number of ways. But when you put the no-fly zone above Syria, it obviously gives those dissidents and gives the military the opportunity to maybe disband, that want to get out of the situation that they’re in in Syria, as well.

So I think if we’re serious about Iran — and that’s what we’re really talking about here. We’re talking about Syria is a partner with Iran in exporting terrorism all across that part of the world and — and around the globe.

So if we’re serious about Iran, then we have to be serious about Syria, as well.

So I think a no-fly zone is an option of one of a multitude of options that we should be using. And we should put them in place if we’re serious about Iran not getting the nuclear weapon.

BLITZER: Governor Huntsman, let me bring you into this conversation.

We just got a question from Twitter. I’ll read it to you.

“So many people view the Arab spring as a good thing. Given the recent violence in Egypt, do you worry this can go bad?”

And we’ve got some live pictures we’re going to show our viewers out there of Tahrir Square in Cairo right now. Thousands of people are protesting the military regime in Egypt right now.

What do you say to this person who sent this — this — this Twitter message to us?

HUNTSMAN: His — history will tell. We missed the Persian spring. The president failed on that front. We go into Libya, where, to my mind, we don’t have any definable American interests. We’ve got Syria now on the horizon, where we do have American interests. It’s called Israel. We’re a friend and ally. They’re a friend and ally. And we need to remind the world what it means to be a friend and ally of the United States.

And we have nuclearization in Iran. Centrifuges spinning. At some point, they’re going to have enough in the way of fissile material out of which to make a weapon. That’s a certainty.

We had a discussion earlier tonight about sanctions. Everybody commented on sanctions. Sanctions aren’t going to work, I hate to break it to you. They’re not going to work because the Chinese aren’t going to play ball and the Russiansaren’t going to play ball.

And I believe Iran has already — the mullahs have already decided they want to go nuclear.

Why?

They have looked at North Korea. They’ve got a weapon. Nobody touches them. They like at Libya. Libya gave up their weapon in exchange for friendship with the world. Look where they are.

So I say let’s let history be our guide. We saw the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1919. We saw the region transform and make itself into something different. We saw changes in 1947.

I think we do our national interests a disservice by jumping in too soon and taking up sides with people we don’t fully understand, Islamist groups, pan-Arab groups.

Our interest in the Middle East is Israel. And our interest is to ensure that Israel — that Iran does not go nuclear.

BLITZER: All right, let’s stay in the region.

We have another question from the audience.

KATHERINE ZIMMERMAN: I’m Katherine Zimmerman from the American Enterprise Institute Critical Threats Project.

The United States adopted a policy of disengagement with Somalia after its retreat following Black Hawk down.

Today, an al Qaeda affiliate, Al Shabab, controls significant territory in that country.

What can the United States do to prevent Al Shabab from posing the same threat that al Qaeda did from Afghanistan 10 years ago?

BLITZER: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: You’re talking about al Qaeda, correct?

ZIMMERMAN: Right.

PAUL: You have to understand who the al Qaeda really is. The — the al Qaeda responds in a very deliberate fashion. As a matter of fact, Paul Wolfowitz explained it very clearly after 9/11.

He said that al Qaeda is inspired by the fact that we had bases in Saudi Arabia. So if you want to inspire al Qaeda, just meddle in — in that region. That will inspire the al Qaeda. As a matter of fact, he went on to say that that was a good reason for us to remove the base that we had had in 15 years in — in Saudi Arabia and that we should have done that.

So there is a response. Al Qaeda responds to that and they — they are quite annoyed with us. So if you drop — if you have a no- fly zone over Syria, that’s an act of war.

What if we had China put a no-fly zone over our territory? I don’t think — I don’t think we would like that.

And I think we should practice a policy of good will to other people. What about saying that we don’t do anything to any other country that we don’t have them do to us? When we have a no-fly zone over Iraq, it was for — meant to be regime change. And evidently, some want to have regime change.

What is our business? Why should we spend more money and more lives to get involved in another war? That’s an — that is the internal affairs of the other nations and we don’t want — we don’t need another nation to start nation building. We have way too many already. So this is just looking for more trouble. I would say why don’t we mind our own business?

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Romney, where do you stand?

ROMNEY: Wolf, that is a foreign policy. It’s different than President Obama’s, but similar in some respects. President Obama’s foreign policy is one of saying, first of all, America’s just another nation with a flag.

I believe America is an exceptional and unique nation. President Obama feels that we’re going to be a nation which has multipolar balancing militaries. I believe that American military superiority is the right course. President Obama says that we have people throughout the world with common interests. I just don’t agree with him. I think there are people in the world that want to oppress other people, that are evil.

President Obama seems to think that we’re going to have a global century, an Asian century. I believe we have to have an American century, where America leads the free world and the free world leads the entire world.

President Obama apologizes for America. It is time for us to be strong as a nation. And if we are strong, with a military and economy that are so strong, no one in the world will try and attempt to threaten us or to attack our friends.

BLITZER: Just to be precise, are you with Governor Perry…

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: … on declaring a no-fly zone over Syria? ROMNEY: No, this is not — this is not the time for a no-fly zone over Syria. This is the time for us to use not only sanctions, but covert actions within Syria to get regime change there. There are people in the military that are shifting over, that are — that are becoming part of the rebel effort.

We should support those efforts. We need to meet with the Alawites to make sure they understand that they have a future after Assad, that they don’t have to link with him. He’s getting pressure now from both Turkey as well as Saudi Arabia. They’re coming and putting pressure on him. The Arab League is putting pressure on him.

We — that’s the right way to go. And by the way, they have 5,000 tanks in Syria. A no-fly zone wouldn’t be the right military action. Maybe a no-drive zone. I mean, this is — this is a nation — this is a nation which is not bombing its people, at this point, and the right course is not military.

BLITZER: We’re ready to wrap it up. But let me have Governor Perry react.

PERRY: Yes, as I said, I said the no-fly zone is one of the options that we have. But I think you need to leave it on the table to make sure, because this is not just about Syria. This is about Iran, and those two, as a partnership and exporting terrorism around the world. And if we’re going to be serious about saving Israel, we better get serious about Syria and Iran, and we better get serious right now.

BLITZER: All right. Let’s take another question from the audience. This is last question. Go ahead.

QUESTION: My name is Mark Teese (ph) and I’m a visiting fellow with the American Enterprise Institute. And my question has to do with the unexpected. During the 200 Presidential debates, Governor George W. Bush was never asked about the threat from Al Qaida, yet the battle with Al Qaida dominated his presidency. What national security issue do you worry about that nobody is asking about, either here or in any of the debates so far?

BLITZER: All right. Let’s go down the line and start with Senator Santorum. Give us a quick answer. What do you think?

SANTORUM: Well, I’ve spent a lot of time and concern — and Rick mentioned this earlier — about what’s going on in Central and South America. I’m very concerned about the militant socialists and there — and the radical Islamists joining together, bonding together.

I’m concerned about the spread of socialism and that this administration, with — time after time, whether it was the delay in moving forward on Colombia’s free trade agreement, whether it was turning our back to the Hondurans and standing up for democracy and the — and the rule of law.

And we took the side with Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro for a corrupt President. We’ve sent all the wrong signals to Central and South America.

BLITZER: Thank you.

SANTORUM: You know, maybe the first trip I would take to Israel, but my second trip, and third and fourth, would be into Central and South America. We need to build a solid hemisphere and those people — and the people in south of our border need to know that we are going to…

BLITZER: All right.

SANTORUM: … solidarity with them and build strong alliances.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

I want to do this quickly, if we can, because we don’t have a lot of time.

Congressman?

PAUL: I worry most about overreaction on our part, getting involved in another war when we don’t need to, when we have been attacked, and our national security has not been at threat. And I worry a lot about people never have come around to understanding who the Taliban is and why they are motivated.

Taliban doesn’t mean they want to come here and kill us. The Taliban means they want to kill us over there because all they want to do is get people who occupy their country out of their country, just like we would if anybody tried to occupy us.

BLITZER: Governor Perry?

(APPLAUSE)

PERRY: I think, obviously, the big issue out there, and we’ve talked about it before, but I happen to think it’s China and how we’re — we’re going to deal with China.

And Communist China — when I think back about Ronald Reagan, and he said that the Soviet Union was destined for the ash heap of history, and he was correct, and I happen to think that Communist China is destined for the ash heap of history because they are not a country of virtues.

When you have 35,000 forced abortions a day in that country; when you have the cybersecurity that the PLA has been involved with, those are great and — and major issues, both morally and security-wise that we’ve got to deal with now.

BLITZER: All right. We’ve got to keep it brief. But, go ahead…

(APPLAUSE)

… Governor Romney. ROMNEY: Rick, in my view, is right with regards to long-term security interests, and that’s — and that’s China, although that’s very much on our agenda.

Immediately, the most significant threat is, of course, Iran becoming nuclear.

But I happen to think Senator Santorum is right with regards to the issue that doesn’t get enough attention. That’s the one that may come up that we haven’t thought about, which is Latin America. Because, in fact, Congressman, we have been attacked. We were attacked on 9/11. There have been dozens of attacks that have been thwarted by our — by our security forces. And we have, right now, Hezbollah, which is working throughout Latin America, in Venezuela, in Mexico, throughout Latin America, which poses a very significant and imminent threat to the United States of America.

BLITZER: Thank you, Governor. Mr. Cain?

(APPLAUSE)

CAIN: Having been — having been a ballistics analyst and a computer scientist early in my career, cyber attacks: that’s something that we do not talk enough about, and I happen to believe that that is a national security area that we do need to be concerned about.

BLITZER: Speaker Gingrich?

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: I — I helped create the Hart-Rudman Commission with President Clinton, and they came back after three years and said the greatest threat to the United States was the weapon of mass destruction in an American city, probably from a terrorist. That was before 9/11.

That’s one of the three great threats. The second is an electromagnetic pulse attack which would literally destroy the country’s capacity to function.

And the third, as Herman just said, is a cyber attack. All three of those are outside the current capacity of our system to deal with.

BLITZER: Thank you. Congresswoman?

BACHMANN: Well, I would agree with what my colleagues said up here on the stage. And also, we need to remember, we won the peace in Iraq. And now President Obama is intentionally choosing to give that peace away.

This is a significant issue because we’re taking the terrorist threat away from the Middle East, bringing it to the United States.

We talked about Al-Shabaab. Al-Shabaab is real. In my home state of Minnesota, we’ve just had two convictions of two women that are financing terror with Al-Shabaab. This threat, I believe, now is in the United States and now the threat has come home and that’s what we have to deal with.

BLITZER: Governor Huntsman?

HUNTSMAN: I guess I could say China because I know a little bit about the subject matter, but they’re in for real trouble ahead.

So I have to say that our biggest problem is right here at home. And you can see it on every street corner. It’s called joblessness. It’s called lack of opportunity. It’s called debt, that has become a national security problem in this country. And it’s also called a trust deficit, a Congress that nobody believes in anymore, an executive branch that has no leadership, institutions of power that we no longer believe in.

How can we have any effect on foreign policy abroad when we are so weak at home? We have no choice. We’ve got to get on our feet here domestically.

BLITZER: Thank you to…

(APPLAUSE)

… all of you. And thanks to all of you as well. We have to leave it right there. We want to thank our partners, the American Enterprise Institute. We want to thank the Heritage Foundation. Thanks very much for watching. I’m Wolf Blitzer here at Constitution Hall.

(APPLAUSE)

Campaign Buzz November 22, 2011: CNN GOP National Security Republican Presidential Debate at Constitutional Hall, Washington, DC — Frontrunner Newt Gingrich Takes Center Stage on Immigration & Patriot Act

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Win Mcnamee/Getty Images

Before the sparring began at the debate in Washington on Tuesday, the Republican presidential primary candidates paused as the national anthem was sung.

IN FOCUS: CNN GOP NATIONAL SECURITY REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES DEBATE

Fact checking the GOP national security debate — CBS News, 11-22-11

Debate Highlights G.O.P.’s Lack of a Unified Security Vision: Most of the presidential candidates vowed to put any necessary steps to protect the nation ahead of worries about civil liberties…. – NYT, 11-22-11

Live Blogging the National Security Debate: Follow along for live updates, analysis and fact checks during the Republican national security debate…. – NYT, 11-22-11

Defense cuts, immigration policy: Key moments in Tuesday night’s GOP presidential debate: Key moments in Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate…. – AP, 11-22-11

“I’m prepared to take the heat for saying let’s be humane in enforcing the law without giving them citizenship, but by finding a way to create legality so that they are not separated from their families.” — Newt Gingrich

“I think the speaker just said that he would make 11 people, 11 million people who are here illegally now, legal.” — Rep. Michele Bachmann

“A no-fly zone wouldn’t be the right military action — maybe a no-drive zone. — Mitt Romney

“We’ve got to get on our feet domestically.” — Jon Huntsman

“Africa was a country on the brink. On the brink of complete meltdown and chaos, which would have been fertile ground for the radical Islamists to be able to — to get — to get a foothol.” — Rick Santorum

 

  • Republican Presidential Hopefuls Debate National Security, Foreign Aid: US Republican presidential hopefuls debated how to deal with Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran’s nuclear program Tuesday evening in their latest televised debate. Questioned about US aid to Pakistan, Texas Governor Rick Perry said he would cut the aid … – Voice of America, 11-22-11
  • GOP presidential candidates debate liberty vs. security in age of terrorism: The Republican presidential candidates grappled Tuesday with how to balance civil liberties and security, from the war on terrorism at home and abroad to check-in lines at airports. … – Miami Herald, 11-22-11
  • GOP candidates spar over global threats, security: The eight major GOP presidential candidates all believe they can be a better commander in chief than President Obama. But some differences emerged in the 11th nationally televised debate of the year, on issues such as the … – USA Today, 11-22-11
  • CNN Republican debate: Winners and losers: Another day, another Republican presidential debate. We live-blogged the whole thing but also took note of a few of the night’s winners and, yes, losers. Republican presidential candidates (LR) former US Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), US Representative … – WaPo, 11-22-11
  • Too Much Debate? Why the Republican Frontrunner Keeps Changing: Debates are doing in the Republican candidates one by one, and yet they can’t seem to stop talking. And we can’t seem to stop watching. Tuesday night’s debate was the 11th political face-off among the Republican candidates…. – Reuters, 11-22-11
  • Gingrich shows humane side on immigration: In his first debate as the Republican frontrunner, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich took a political gamble Tuesday by wading into the volatile issue of limited amnesty for long-time illegal immigrants. … – CNN, 11-22-11
  • 2012 CNN foreign policy debate: Mitt Romney channels Rudy Giuliani: For one night only, anyway, but Mitt Romney just turned to Ron Paul as a foil to make the point about how the US was attacked on 9/11, which was why the nation is at war. FIghting with Paul as a hawk was a part of Rudy Giuliani’s debate strategy…. – Politico, 11-22-11
  • Patriot Act, security prompt GOP sparring in CNN National Security Debate: The Republican candidates for president outlined their visions for fighting terrorism and keeping the country safe during a CNN debate Tuesday held just down the street from the White House … – CNN, 11-22-11
  • Gingrich Calls for Regime Change in Iran: Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich called for replacing the leadership of Iran and said that could be accomplished within a year, adopting a more aggressive posture toward the US … – WSJ, 11-22-11
  • Gingrich at center stage, national security in the spotlight: Republican presidential candidates argued Tuesday night over what was more important — the need to fight terrorism or protect civil liberties — as they sought to define themselves on national … – USA Today, 11-22-11
  • Washington foreign policy debate: Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich mix it up: Some of Newt GIngrich’s critics have been taking him on over his past stands on immigration, and Michele Bachmann joined them onstage, pointing out that the former House Speaker supported, as she said, the federal DREAM Act. Gingrich disagreed. … – Politico, 11-22-11
  • GOP divides on foreign policy questions: The Republican presidential candidates sparred in a national security debate Tuesday night, dividing over the war in Afghanistan, the Patriot Act, foreign aid and more. The night was a stark contrast to the overall unity within the Republican Party…. – Politico, 11-22-11
  • Gingrich says cutting off Iran from gasoline, sabotaging its refineries would: Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich says the United States could “break Iran within a year” if allies worked together on a strategy instead of focusing on specific tactics. Gingrich says that ending gasoline sales to Iran and … – WaPo, 11-22-11
  • Gingrich ‘prepared to take the heat’ with talk of amnesty: In his first debate since jumping into the lead in the polls, Newt Gingrich took the lead on a controversial topic Tuesday night when he suggested that his fellow Republicans might reconsider their outright opposition to amnesty for … – LAT, 11-22-11
  • GOP debate recap: Yes, Herman Cain’s obsession with the topography of Iran showed up. No, Michele Bachmann’s friend, the Seven-Foot Doctor, didn’t. Probably the newsiest thing that happened in tonight’s Republican debate on national security was that Newt Gingrich went where Rick Perry should never have gone and tried to make a case for moderation on immigration…. – WaPo, 11-22-11
  • Candidates Vie For Air Time: Among the many things that pundits and party operatives alike will be considering during tonight’s GOP debate on CNN – the 11th debate of this primary season – is the following question: Does it appear as though some candidates are being asked more … – ABC News, 11-22-11
  • Networks walk a tightrope over crowded debates: Keeping the crowded Republican presidential debates fair, lively and topical at the same time can seem like the equivalent of juggling while walking a tightrope. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer is the next television personality on stage. … – CBS News, 11-22-11
  • Too Much Debate? Why the Republican Frontrunner Keeps Changing: Debates are doing in the Republican candidates one by one, and yet they can’t seem to stop talking. And we can’t seem to stop watching. Tuesday night’s debate was the 11th political face-off among the Republican candidates in a year that … – TheWrap, 11-22-11
  • Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul clashed over the Patriot Act: Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul clashed over the Patriot Act at the start of Tuesday’s debate for GOP presidential candidates, with Gingrich saying terrorism means “all of us will be in danger for the rest of our lives. … – CNN, 11-22-11
  • At GOP debate, candidates spar over Patriot Act: It only took a few minutes for Newt Gingrich to display the bluntness that has become his signature quality during the Republican presidential debates. Gathered at the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall in Washington, … – LAT, 11-22-11
  • Gingrich, Paul tangle over Patriot Act’s reach: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul are tangling over the Patriot Act as they open a Republican presidential debate on national security. Gingrich says he supports the anti-terrorism law that civil liberty activists object … – Boston Globe, 11-22-11
  • Gingrich, Paul tangle over Patriot Act as GOP candidates open national: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul are tangling over the Patriot Act as they open a Republican presidential debate on national security. Gingrich says he supports the anti- terrorism law that civil liberty activists object … – WaPo, 11-22-11
  • DC debate: Michele Bachmann says technology has changed: Michele Bachmann opened with a response to the Patriot Act question by saying she’s “with the American people, with the Constitution,” but went on to say, without directly answering the Patriot Act question, that, “We can’t forget that technology is … – Politico, 11-22-11
  • Foreign policy debate: Ron Paul cites Oklahoma City on counter-terrorism: Ron Paul delivered the first philosophical dispute of CNN’s national security debate, disagreeing with Newt Gingrich’s support for the Patriot Act and pointing to the Oklahoma City attack as a threat dealt with through criminal law. … – Politico, 11-22-11
  • Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul Clash Over Patriot Act Extension: Saying “we will be in danger for the rest of our lives,” Newt Gingrich on Tuesday supported an extension of Patriot Act provisions to fight terrorism. Speaking at a CNN debate on national security at Constitution Hall in Washington, DC…. – Sunshine State News, 11-22-11
  • Patriot Act a new litmus test in GOP debate: Republican candidates staked out contrary stances on renewing the Patriot Act at the onset of a national security debate on Tuesday, adding another latest litmus test on how to best protect the United States…. – The Hill, 11-22-11
  • Gingrich Supports Patriot Act Powers to Protect US ‘In Danger’: Former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the Republican presidential front runner, said that the US must strengthen tools to detect and prevent terrorism because “all of us will be in danger for the rest of our … – BusinessWeek, 11-22-11
  • CNN national security debate: What to watch for: Eight Republican candidates will gather for the billionth — oops, sorry, twelfth— time tonight in Washington, DC for a debate focused on national security…. – WaPo, 11-22-11
  • 2012 GOP Hopefuls Face Off On National Security: The supercommittee’s embarrassing collapse adds a tricky new task for the combatants in yet another GOP debate Tuesday: persuading voters they can end the partisan dysfunction crippling Washington…. – New York Daily News, 11-22-11

Full Text Campaign Buzz November 12, 2011: CBS News / National Journal GOP Republican Presidential Debate at Wofford College, Spartanburg, South Carolina Transcript — Iran & Pakistan Central Issues in National Security & Foreign Policy Debate

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Alex Wong/Getty Images

The eight Republican candidates for president debated Saturday in Spartanburg, S.C. More Photos »

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

IN FOCUS: REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES DEBATE IN SOUTH CAROLINA ON NATIONAL SECURITY & FOREIGN POLICY

Republican Debate Sponsored by CBS, The National Journal and the Republican Party of South Carolina

Sponsored by CBS, The National Journal and the Republican Party of South Carolina

Related

Speakers:

Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-PA.

Former Rep. Newt Gingrich, R-GA.

Former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-MASS.

Former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., R-UTAH

Hermain Cain

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-MINN.

Gov. Rick Perry, R-TEXAS

Rep. Ron Paul, R-TEXAS

Moderators: CBS moderator Scott Pelley and National Journal moderator Major Garrett

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  This country has a bright future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We have something to be proud of.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS:  I’m the champion of liberty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We’ve got the answers. We don’t have leadership.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY:  If you want to become president of the United States, you’ve got to let both people speak.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We should make English the official language.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELE BACHMANN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I won’t rest until I repeal ObamaCare.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY:  You had your chance.  Let me speak.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM:  You’re out of line.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL:  Fourteen girls to take an inoculation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM:  Just because our economy is sick doesn’t mean our values are sick.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS:  It is a Ponzi scheme.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  My 999 Plan is a bold solution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HUNTSMAN:  This country is never again going to bailout corporations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BACHMANN:  I will build the fence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERRY:  We know how to secure the borders.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is about nation-building at home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH:  The American people create jobs, not governments.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL:  Government is not very capable of managing almost anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY:  Middle income Americans need a break and I’ll give it to them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN:  This economy is on life support.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERRY:  If you are too big to fail, you are too big.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT PELLEY, CO-HOST:  Tonight from South Carolina, the Republicans who would be president address critical issues of national security and foreign affairs.      It’s the commander-in-chief debate — eight candidates, 90 minutes, all starting in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PELLEY:  Good evening from Wofford College in Spartansburg, South Carolina. I’m Scott Pelley with CBS News, along with my colleague, Major Garrett, of “National Journal”. In just under a year now, Americans will go to the polls to choose a president. Tonight, CBS News and “National Journal” are pleased to bring you a discussion of the issues by the Republican candidates for their party’s nomination. The focus will be foreign policy and national security, the president’s role as commander-in-chief. Consider this, the 9/11 attacks came in the eighth month of a new presidency, the Bay of Pigs in the 13th week and the Civil War on the 40th day of a new presidency — reminders from history that a president must be prepared to deal with a crisis from day one. The ground rules for tonight’s debate are simple — a candidate who is asked a question will have one minute to respond and then, at the discretion of the moderators, there can be a 30 second follow-up or a 30 second rebuttal from another candidate. The debate will run a total of 90 minutes.  The first hour will be broadcast right here, on the CBS television network.  The entire 90 minutes will be streamed on CBSNews.com and NationalJournal.com.  And we invite you to submit questions during the debate to either Web site. Joining me now in asking the question, Major Garrett.

MAJOR GARRETT, CO-HOST:  Scott, thank you very much. One more piece of housekeeping.  Let’s introduce the candidates. Former Utah governor, Jon Huntsman. Representing the 6th District of Minnesota, Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann. Representing the 14th District of Texas, Congressman Ron Paul.

(APPLAUSE)

GARRETT:  From Atlanta, Georgia, businessman Herman Cain.

(APPLAUSE)

GARRETT:  Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

(APPLAUSE)

GARRETT:  Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich

(APPLAUSE)

GARRETT:  Current Texas Governor Rick Perry.

(APPLAUSE)

GARRETT:  And former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

(APPLAUSE)

GARRETT:  Mr. Cain, I’d like to begin this evening with you, sir.

CAIN:  Yes?

GARRETT:  This week, a U.N. nuclear watchdog agency provided additional credible evidence that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon. If you were president right now, what would you do specifically that this administration is not doing to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon?

CAIN:  The first thing that I would do is to assist the opposition movement in Iran that’s trying to overthrow the regime. Our enemies are not the people of Iran, it’s the regime.  And a regime change is what they are trying to achieve. Secondly, we need to put economic pressure on Iran by way of our own energy independence strategy, by having our own energy independence strategy, we would impact the price of oil on the world market, because Iran uses oil not only as a — a means — a currency, but they use it as a weapon. One of the reasons that they are able to afford that nuclear weapons program is because of oil. Secondly, we would then work to increase sanctions on Iran, along with our friends and our allies.  So whereas we would not be — so as I do believe that they have a nuclear weapons program and they’re closer to having a nuclear weapon, stopping them, the only way you can stop them is through economic means.

GARRETT:  A quick follow-up, Mr. Cain.

CAIN:  Yes.

GARRETT:  When you say assisting the opposition, would you entertain military assistance to that opposition…

CAIN:  No…

GARRETT:  (INAUDIBLE).

CAIN:  — not at this time.  I would not entertain military opposition.  I’m talking about to help the opposition movement within the country. And then there’s one other thing that we could do.  We could deploy our ballistic missile defense capable Aegis warships strategically in that part of the world.  We have the biggest fleet of those warships in the world, and we could use them strategically in the event that they were able to fire a ballistic missile.

PELLEY:  Governor Romney, would it be worth going to war to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon?

ROMNEY:  Well, let’s — let’s start back from there and let’s talk about where we are.  This is, of course, President Obama’s greatest failing, from a foreign policy standpoint, which is he recognized the gravest threat that America and the world faced as — and faced was a nuclear Iran and he did not do what was necessary to get Iran to be dissuaded from their nuclear folly. What he should have done is speak out when dissidents took to the streets and say America is with you and work on a covert basis to encourage the dissidents. Number two, he should have put — put in place crippling sanctions against Iran.  But instead of getting Russia, for instance, to when —  when he gave in our — our missile defense system, to agree to — to stand with those crippling sanctions, he gave Russia what they wanted, their number one foreign policy objective, and got nothing in return.

PELLEY:  That’s…

ROMNEY:  And finally…

PELLEY:  — that’s the time by the governor on the question.

ROMNEY:  I get — I get…

PELLEY:  We’re going to adhere to time.

ROMNEY:  I get 60…

PELLEY:  Very quickly…

ROMNEY:  — seconds.

PELLEY:  But what made…

ROMNEY:  I get 60 seconds.

PELLEY:  Yes, yes sir. And the 60…

ROMNEY:  That was 30.

PELLEY:  The 60…

ROMNEY:  Sorry, it started at yellow so I — I have much more time to go.

PELLEY:  You — you know what, Governor?

ROMNEY:  Yes?

PELLEY:  I stand corrected.  You are right.  Please continue.

ROMNEY:  Yes.  All right.  Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY:  Fin — finally, the president should have built a credible threat of military action and made it very clear that the United States of America is willing, in the final analysis, if necessary, to take military action to keep Iran from having a nuclear weapon. Look, one thing you can know and that is if we reelect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon.  And if we elect Mitt Romney, if you elect me as the next president, they will not have a nuclear weapon. PELLEY:  But, sir, let me…

(APPLAUSE)

PELLEY:  — you just described where we are today and that’s what you’re going to have to deal with if you become president. How do you prevent them from obtaining a nuclear weapon? Is it worth going to war to prevent that?

ROMNEY:  Well, it’s worth putting in place crippling sanctions. It’s worth working with the insurgents in the country to encourage regime change in the country.  And if all else fails, if after all of the work we’ve done, there’s nothing else we could do besides mil — take military action, then of course you take military action.  It is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon. We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.  This term unacceptable has been applied by several presidents over history.  And our current president has made it very clear that he’s not willing to do those things necessary to get Iran to be dissuaded from their nuclear folly. I will take a different course.  I will make sure that the sanctions, diplomatic pressure, economic pressure and support of insurgents within the country help them become dissuaded to get away from their nuclear ambition.

PELLEY:  This…

ROMNEY:  And, finally…

PELLEY:  — this time, it is time.

ROMNEY:  Yes.  And finally, at that…

PELLEY:  (INAUDIBLE)…

ROMNEY:  And, finally (INAUDIBLE)…

PELLEY:  You’ll have 30 seconds on the follow-up.

ROMNEY:  Yes.

PELLEY:  So we’re going to try to adhere to the time.

GARRETT:  Mr. Speaker, is this the right way to look at this question, war or not war? Or do you see other options diplomatically, or other non-war means that the United States has in its possession with dealing with Iran that it has not employed?

GINGRICH:  Well, let me start and say that both the answers you just got are superior to the current administration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes!

GINGRICH:  And…

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH:  — you know, there are a number of ways to be smart about Ir  — Iran and relatively few ways to be dumb.  And the administration is has skipped all the ways to be smart.

(LAUGHTER)

GARRETT:  Could you tell us the smart ways…

GINGRICH:  Sure.

GARRETT:  — Mr. Speaker?

GINGRICH:  First of all, abs — maximum covert operations to block and disrupt the Iranian program, including taking out their scientists, including breaking up their systems, all of it covertly, all of it deniable. Second, maximum…

(LAUGHTER)

GINGRICH:  — maximum coordination with the Israelis in a way which allows them to maximize their impact in Iran.

GINGRICH:  Third, absolute strategic program comparable to what President Reagan, Pope John Paul II and Margaret Thatcher did to the Soviet Union, of every possible aspect short of war of breaking the regime and bringing it down. And I agree entirely with Governor Romney.  If in the end, despite all of those things, the dictatorship persists you have to take whatever steps are necessary to break its capacity to have a nuclear weapon.

PELLEY:  Congressman Paul, let me follow up with you for just 30 seconds.  Is it worth going to war to prevent a nuclear weapon in Iran?

PAUL:  No, it isn’t worthwhile.  The only way you would do that is you’d have to go the Congress.  We — we as commander in chief aren’t — to make a decision to go to war. You know, the old-fashioned way, the Constitution, you go to the Congress and find out if our national security is threatened.  And I’m afraid what’s going on right now is similar to the war propaganda that went on against Iraq. And you know they didn’t have weapons of mass destruction and it was orchestrated and it was, to me, a tragedy of what’s happened these past  — last 10 years, the death and destruction, $4 billion — $4 trillion in debt. So no, it’s not worthwhile going to war.  If you do, you get a declaration of war and you fight it and you win it and get it over with.

PELLEY:  Thank you, Congressman.

(APPLAUSE)

PELLEY:  Governor Perry, what’s your appraisal of the combat situation on the ground in Afghanistan today and what would you change?

PERRY:  Let me answer the previous question very quickly for our — if I  — if I may.

PELLEY:  Governor, I’d like to move on.  Could you give me a sense of your — of your appraisal of the combat situation?

PERRY:  I — I — if you — I have a minute and I can do both in one minute, I promise you.

PELLEY:  There is…

PERRY:  And the issue that has not been raised is that this country can sanction the Iranian Central Bank right now and shut down that country’s economy and that’s what this president needs to do. And the American people need to stand up and force him to make that stand today. Now, let me address this issue of Afghanistan and how we deal with it. The mission must be completed there.  The idea that we will have wasted our treasure and the lives of young Americans to not secure Afghanistan is not appropriate. But the idea that we would give a timetable to our enemy is irresponsible.  From a military standpoint, it’s irresponsible from the lives of our young men and women and it is irresponsible leadership of this president to give a timetable to pull out of any country that we’re in conflict with.

PELLEY:  But governor, if I could just follow up for 30 seconds. The question was what’s your appraisal of the combat situation on the ground there and what would you change as commander in chief?

PERRY:  Well, obviously we’re discussing with our commanders on the field about what’s going on in Afghanistan.  I — I think we’re making progress there. The issue is training up the Afghan security forces so that we’re comfortable that they can protect that citizenry and continue to take the war to the terrorists that are using Afghanistan and Pakistan, I might add. It’s a very complex part of the world.  But I think that our military is doing the best job that they can, considering the lack of support that they’re getting from this administration of telegraphing to the enemy when we’re gonna pull out.

GARRETT:  Senator Santorum, I know you want to jump in on Iran. I’ll give you that opportunity in just second. So let me merge two things if I could — just one second.  The Taliban said earlier this summer, quote, “The Afghans have an endless stamina for a long war.” If you were commander in chief, would you have endless stamina for a victory in Afghanistan?  And would you this evening define victory in Afghanistan? And please weigh in, and I know you do want to, on Iran.

SANTORUM:  Thank you very much, Major.  I appreciate that. Victory against the Taliban in Afghanistan is that the Taliban is a neutered force.  They are no longer a security threat to the — to the Afghan people or to — to our country.  That would be victory. Doesn’t mean wipe them out, we can’t wipe them out, but they’re no longer a security threat. The bigger issue and — I know there’s those of us at the end that don’t get a lot of questions and so I — I — this was — this is the most important national security issue that we’re gonna be dealing with here in — in this year and that’s the issue of Iran getting a nuclear weapon. And I think everyone should have the opportunity to answer that question, particularly me.  I’ve been working on Iran since back in 2004. And I proposed exactly the things that Herman and — and Mitt Romney suggested, which was to give money to the — to the — to the rebel forces there to — to help the pro-democracy movement and to put tough sanctions in place. I was opposed by President Bush and yet we were able to overcome that and pass the Iran Freedom And Support Act.  I was able to get that done and then President Bush didn’t provide money for the pro- democracy movement.  And President Obama cut that money. What we — we have a situation that’s different.  I disagree with Newt. More sanctions and — and — and providing, you know, more support for the pro-democracy movement isn’t gonna be enough in time. Read the IAEA report.  They are close and…

PELLEY:  Senator, I’m sorry, that’s time.  I’m sorry.  We’re gonna try to…

SANTORUM:  Well…

PELLEY:  … adhere to time and be fair…

SANTORUM:  … let me — if I can — to be fair…

PELLEY:  … to everyone in the application of that rule but if…

SANTORUM:  I understand.  Just let me finish my final comment. My final comment is we should be working with Israel right now to do what they did in Syria, what they did in Iraq, which is take out that nuclear capability before the next explosion we hear in Iran is a nuclear one and then the world changes.

PELLEY:  That is time.  Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

PELLEY:  Representative Bachmann, do you think the 30,000 surge troops in Afghanistan have made a difference and if so, where?

BACHMANN:  They absolutely have but it’s unfortunate the request was made for 40,000 troops.      President Obama dithered for approximately two months when he should have given the full complement of 40,000 troops. When he gave 30,000 troops to the effort in Afghanistan that meant that a decision had to be made. With 40,000 troops they could have conducted the war going into the southern province, in — in Helmand and also going into the eastern province and dealing with the problem all at once and coming to victory that much sooner and bringing our troops home. When 30,000 troops were given, then our troops did the very best that they could by going into the south and dealing in the Helmand Province. We actually have seen improvement down by Kandahar.  That’s a very good thing.  And that’s because of the brave actions of our men and women in that area. However, we have to recognize now President Obama has made a very fatal decision in Afghanistan.  He’s made the decision that by next September our troops will be withdrawn. If that is the case, how do we expect any of our allies to continue to work with us?  How can we even begin to seek the peace with the Haqqani network that are in the eastern region?

PELLEY:  Thank — thank you.

GARRETT:  Thank you, Congresswoman, that’s time.

PELLEY:  Thank you, Congresswoman Bachmann.  Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

PELLEY:  Let me come over to you Governor Huntsman and — and ask you, we are seeing spikes in casualties in Afghanistan in new places. Can you explain to me what’s happening there?  And how you would change that as commander in chief?

HUNTSMAN:  Well, I think the spikes obviously are driven by lack of security, proper security, in certain parts of the country, which could plague us for a very, very long time to come. I take a different approach on Afghanistan.  I say it’s time to come home.

(APPLAUSE)

I say this — I say this nation has achieved its key objectives in Afghanistan.  We’ve had free elections in 2004.  We’ve uprooted the Taliban.  We dismantled al-Qaeda.  We have killed Osama bin Laden. I say this nation’s future is not Afghanistan.  This nation’s future is not Iraq.  This nation’s future is how prepared we are to meet the 21st Century challenges, that’s economic and that’s education.      And that’s gonna play out over the Asia-Pacific region and we’re either prepared for that reality or we’re not. I don’t want to be nation building in Afghanistan when this nation so desperately needs to be built.

PELLEY:  Make sure I understand — bring all the troops home today?

(APPLAUSE)

HUNTSMAN:  Here’s what I keep behind because we still have work to do: we don’t need 100,000 troops nation building, many of whom can’t cross the wire. I think we need a component that gathers tactical intelligence. We need enhanced Special Forces response capability for rapid response.  And we need some ongoing commitment to train the local Afghan national army. That’s not 100,000 troops.  That’s well south of that.  We are fighting an asymmetric threat, a counterterror threat, not only there but in Waziristan and every other corner of the world and we need to prepare for that as a reality of our 21st Century foreign policy.

GARRETT:  And that’s time.  Thank you, sir. Governor Romney, a much smaller footprint in Afghanistan, do you support that? And secondarily, sir, is it time or would it ever be time for the United States to negotiate with the Taliban?

ROMNEY:  We don’t negotiate with terrorists.  I’d not negotiate with the Taliban.  That’s something for the Afghans to decide, how they’re going to pursue their course in the future. With regards to our footprint in Afghanistan, the right course is for us to do our very best to secure the victories that have been so hard won by the soldiers, the men and women of — of our fighting forces who’ve been in Afghanistan. The commanders on the field feel that we can take out 30,000 to 40,000 troops some time by the end of next year.  The commander in chief, perhaps looking at the calendar of the election, decided to bring them home in September instead in the middle of the fighting season. Our commanders said that puts our troops at risk, at danger. Please don’t pull them out there, they said.  But he said, no, I’m gonna get them out early. I think that was a mistake.  Our surge troops should have been withdrawn by December of next year, not by September.  And the timetable by the end of 2014 is the right timetable for us to be completely withdrawn from Afghanistan, other than a small footprint of support forces.

PELLEY:  Mr. Speaker, how do you achieve peace in Afghanistan if you don’t negotiate with the Taliban? GINGRICH:  I don’t think you do.  I mean, look, I…

PELLEY:  Would you agree that the Taliban….

GINGRICH:  I — I — I think this so much bigger and deeper a problem than we’ve talked about as a country that we — we don’t have a clue how hard this is gonna be. First of all, the Taliban survives for the very same reason that historically we’ve said gorillas always survive, which is they have a sanctuary. The sanctuary is Pakistan.  You’re never going to stop the Taliban as long as they can hide.  And you — and you have proof every week in new bombings, and new killings, and new training.  So I think this has to be a much larger strategic discussion that starts with frankly Pakistan on the one end, and Iran on the other.  Because Afghanistan is in between the two countries, and is the least important of the three countries.

PELLEY:  Related to that, Mr. Cain, I’d like to pick up on a point that Speaker Gingrich just made.  You have said about foreign policy America needs to be clear about who its friends are, and who its foes are.  So this evening, sir, Pakistan — friend or foe?

CAIN:  We don’t know, because Pakistan — it’s not clear, because Pakistan is where Osama bin Laden was found and eliminated.  Secondly, Pakistan has had a conversation with President Karzai from Afghanistan, and they — and President Karzai has said that if United States gets into a dispute with Pakistan, then Afghanistan is going to side with Pakistan. There is a lot of clarity missing, like Speaker Gingrich says, in this whole region.  And they are all inter-related.  So there isn’t a clear answer as to whether or not Pakistan is a friend or foe.  That relationship must be reevaluated.

PELLEY:  If you were president, sir, and your National Security Council asked you what questions you would want answered to find out a better answer to this very question, what would you tell them?

CAIN:  I would ask them what commitments is Pakistan willing to make to assure the United States of America that they are a friend or a — or a foe.  And be specific about that.  Will they make commitments relative to the commitment of their military if we have to make commitments?  Are they willing to come to some regional agreement about what we need to do? We need a regional strategy in that area of the world such that all of our allies where we work together in order to come up with those things that will be mutually beneficial to everyone.  Those are the questions that need to be asked.

PELLEY:  Governor Perry, why is Pakistan playing a double game saying that it supports the United States one moment, and then supporting terrorists who are killing American troops the next? What’s going on there?

PERRY:  Listen, I think we’re having a — an interesting conversation here.  But the deeper one is — that the speaker makes reference to is the whole issue of — of foreign aid.  And we need a president of the United States working with a Congress that sends a clear message to every country.  It doesn’t make any difference whether it’s Pakistan, or whether it’s Afghanistan, or whether it’s India. The foreign aid budget in my administration for every country is going to start at zero dollars — zero dollars.  And then we’ll have a conversation.  Then we’ll have a conversation in this country about whether or not a penny of our taxpayer dollars needs to go into those countries.  And Pakistan is clearly sending us messages Mitt. It’s clearly sending us messages that they — they don’t deserve our foreign aid that we’re getting, because they’re not being honest with us.  American soldiers’ lives are being put at jeopardy because of that country, and the decisions that they’re ma…

(CROSSTALK)

PELLEY:  And that’s…

PERRY:  And it’s time for us as a country to say no to foreign aid to countries that don’t support the United States of America.

PELLEY:  That’s time, Governor.  Governor, let me give you 30 seconds in the follow up to go back to the question.  Why is Pakistan playing this double game?  Help us understand what’s going on there.

PERRY:  What they’ve doing is — they’ve been doing this for years. Their political people are not who are in charge of that country.  It’s the military.  It’s the secret service.  That’s who is running that country.  And I don’t trust them.  And we need to send clear messages. We need to do foreign aid completely different. I’m telling you no dollars going into those countries.  As a matter of fact, if they want any American aid, any country, unless we say differently then American manufacturing — big companies, small companies going in to help create economic impact in those countries…

PELLEY:  And that’s time, Governor.  Thank you.

PERRY:  … rather than just dollars flowing into some administration.

PELLEY:  Thank you very much.

GARRETT:  Congresswoman Bachmann, you serve on the Intelligence Committee.  I would like to get your assessment of what you think is happening in Pakistan, especially with the Haqqani network.  And you know from sitting on that committee that those in the diplomatic corps in this country, and even the intelligence community, believe that there is a tangible benefit at times to properly apply foreign aid from this country. So I want to know if you agree with the governor on that question, “Starting at zero.”  And also your assessment of the intelligence situation in Pakistan.  And what would you do about it?

BACHMANN:  Pakistan is a very difficult area, because they have been housing terrorists.  And terrorists have been training there.  Al Qaeda as well as Haqqani, as — whether other militias dealing with terrorist organizations.  But I would not agree with that assessment to pull all foreign aid from Pakistan. I would reduce foreign aid to many, many countries.  But there’s a problem.  Because Pakistan has a nuclear weapon.  We have more people affiliated with Al Qaeda closer to that nuclear bomb than in any other nation.  This is an extremely important issue.  And I think it underscores exactly why the next commander-in-chief has to understand from day one the intricacies that are happening in the Middle East.  This is a very dangerous time.  If you look at Iran, and if you look at Pakistan, and if you look at — at the link with Syria, because Iran is working through proxies like Syria through Hezbollah, through Hamas. It seems that the table is being set for world wide nuclear war against Israel.  And if there’s anything that we know, President Obama has been more than willing to stand with Occupy Wall Street, but he hasn’t been willing to stand with Israel.  Israel looks at President Obama, and they do not see a friend.

GARRETT:  Congresswoman, thank you. Speaker Gingrich, you presided as speaker over several foreign aid budgets for the United States.  And I remember covering in 1995 the intervention of the half a Mexican Peso.  You have seen at times the proper role of the United States through foreign aid and other interventions.  I want to know if you agree with Governor Perry about starting at zero.

GINGRICH:  Absolutely.  I mean, what he says made absolutely the perfect sense?  Why would you start every year — I mean, consider the alternative.  You’re giving some countries $7 billion a year.  So you start off — or — or in the case of Egypt $3 billion a year.  So you start off every year and say, “Here’s your $3 billion.  Now I’ll start thinking.”      You ought to start off with zero and say, “Explain to me why I should give you a penny.”  And let me tell you, the fact that the Pakistanis — and think about this.  The Pakistanis hid bin Laden for at least six years in a military city within a mile of their national defense university.  And then they got mad at the people who turned him over to us. And we think those are the acts of allies?  I think that’s a pretty good idea to start at zero, and sometimes stay there.

GARRETT:  Just a quick follow up, Mr. Speaker.  Since you mentioned —  since you mentioned Egypt, Mr. Speaker, I just want to know if you were president if the aid that we currently provide on an annualized basis to Egypt would be completely rethought of — possibly eliminated if you were president.

GINGRICH:  Well, it would certainly be completely rethought.  And candidly the degree to which the Arab spring may become an anti- Christian spring is something which bothers me a great deal.  And I would certainly have the State Department intervening on behalf of the Christians who are being persecuted under the new system having their churches burned, having people killed.  And I’d be pretty insistent that we are not going to be supportive of a regime which is explicitly hostile to religions other than Islam.

PELLEY:  Senator Santorum, if a Pakistani nuclear weapon goes missing, what do you do?

SANTORUM:  Well, let me just step back, and say I disagree with a lot of what was said up here.  Pakistan must be a friend of the United States for the reason that Michele outlined.  Pakistan is a nuclear power.  And there are people in this — in that country that if they gained control of that country will create a situation equal to the situation that is now percolating in Iran. So we can’t be indecisive about whether Pakistan is our friend. They must be our friend.  And we — we must engage them as friends, get over the difficulties we have as we did with Saudi Arabia with — with respect to the events of 9-11.  We — the terrorists came from Saudi Arabia.  And we said, “Well, you know what?  It’s important for us to maintain that relationship in spite of those difficulties.”  And it’s important for us with a nuclear power with a very vast number of people in Pakistan who are radicalizing, that we keep a solid and stable relationship, and work through our difficulties. It is that important, and we must maintain that relationship.

PELLEY:  But the Pakistanis back a terrorist network, the Haqqani Network, that laid siege to the NATO Headquarters, and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul for 20 hours a few weeks ago.

SANTORUM:  The Pakistanis would say they don’t back…

PELLEY:  How do you make friends out of Pakistan?

SANTORUM:  A lot of the Pakistanis and most of the government would say they don’t back the Haqqani Network.  And that the Haqqani Network causes as much trouble in Pakistan as it has caused us in — in Afghanistan.  We need to work with the elements of Pakistan, and there are elements in the government of Pakistan, and the military.

SANTORUM:  We need to continue those joint exercises.  We need to continue the — the aid relationship.  And of course, we all know the aid relationship when it comes to military aid is all spent in the United States.  So it’s not giving money away.  It’s — it’s sending military hardware which creates jobs in this country to those countries creating nexus in relationships and dependency on our weapon systems that’s important for those future relationships.

PELLEY:  Senator, we’ll have to leave it right there.  We will have more of the Republican commander-in-chief debate in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PELLEY:  Welcome back to Spartanburg, South Carolina, and the “Republican Commander-in-Chief Debate.” I’m Scott Pelley with CBS News, along with Major Garrett of National Journal.

GARRETT:  Thanks, again, Scott. Mr. Speaker, you said yesterday that Governor Romney is a competent manager, but you said you were unsure if he was really capable of changing Washington.  You said you were the change agent. Based on the arc of this campaign and perhaps what you’ve heard tonight, would you care to evaluate Governor Romney’s ability think outside the box and change the United States national security or foreign policy perspectives?

GINGRICH:  No.  No.

(LAUGHTER)

GARRETT:  You said so last night.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

GARRETT:  Then what was the point, sir, of bringing it up yesterday on a national radio show?

GINGRICH:  I brought it up yesterday because I was on a national radio show.  I think he brings up things when he’s on national radio shows.  We’re here tonight talking to the American people about why every single one of us is better than Barack Obama.  And that’s a topic I’d rather…

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

GARRETT:  Mr. Speaker, if you — if you would like to…

GINGRICH:  And by the way — let me just say, compared to this administration, talking about a friend who is a great business manager, is a good manager, is an enormous improvement over Barack Obama.

(APPLAUSE)

GARRETT:  Then, Mr. Speaker, I well remember you talking as speaker about the necessity of leaders to think outside the box.

GINGRICH:  Yes.

GARRETT:  If you were president, how would you think outside the box about some of the issues we’ve discussed here tonight?

GINGRICH:  Oh, in a number of ways.  As I said earlier, I would explicitly adopt the Reagan-John Paul II-Thatcher strategy towards Iran.  I would do the same thing towards North Korea.  I would adopt a very strong policy towards the United Nations of dramatically taking on its absurdities. I would explicitly repudiate what Obama has done on Agenda 21 as the kind of interference from the United Nations…

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH:  There are a number of other areas.  I would also, frankly, apply Lean Six Sigma to the Pentagon to liberate the money to rebuild the Navy.  We need a capital investment program and this administration is shrinking the Navy to a point where it’s going to be incapable of doing its job worldwide. So there are a number of places I would be thinking outside the box.

PELLEY:  And that’s time, Mr. Speaker.  Thank you very much. Mr. Cain, you’ve often said that you’ll listen to your generals for their advice before making your decisions as commander-in-chief. How will you know when you should overrule your generals?

CAIN:  The approach to making a critical decision, first make sure that you surround yourself with the right people.  And I feel that I’ll be able to make that assessment when we put together the cabinet and all of the people from the military, et cetera. You will know you’re making the right decision when you consider all the facts and ask them for alternatives.  It is up to the commander-in-chief to make that judgment call based upon all the facts.  And because I’ll have a multiple group of people offering different recommendations, this gives me the best opportunity to select the one that makes the most amount of sense. But ultimately it’s up to the commander-in-chief to make that decision.

GARRETT:  Senator Santorum, this is really a question about how you build a leadership model.  How, sir, would you decide when it was necessary for you as commander-in-chief to overrule the advice you get from either your civilian advisers or your military advisers?

SANTORUM:  Well, I’ll come into the office of the presidency with a very clear agenda and will get people together that will share my point of view.  When I was in the United States Senate, I didn’t hire people who didn’t share how I approached the problem.  That’s what the people of this country are elected — they’re electing someone who is going to be very crystal clear, and as you heard from my first two answers, I don’t mince words. I say exactly what I believe and then I follow through and do what I say.  I did that when I was in public life before, even though I represented a state that wasn’t a particularly conservative state, I followed through and did that and I will surround myself with people who will execute what I promised the American public to do, and then we will go about the process of doing that.

GARRETT:  You mentioned your agenda.  If you could prioritize one or two points, maybe more if you’d like, what your key agenda is on national security?

SANTORUM:  Well, obviously, the issue we were talking about before, which is number one, Iran must not get a nuclear weapon, and we will go about whatever it takes to make sure that happens. I hope, I hope that some of the things that I’ve talked about here and Newt’s thing that I’ve been talking about for a while, which is covert activity, you know, there have been scientists turning up dead in Russia and in Iran. There have been computer viruses.  There have been problems at their facility.  I hope that the United States has been involved with that.  I hope that we’ve been doing everything we can covertly to make sure that that program doesn’t proceed forward. And if we’re lucky enough — and I’m not sure we will be, that if no action is taken and we still don’t have a nuclear Iran, that would be my laser beam focus to make sure that would not happen.

PELLEY:  And that’s time, Senator.  Thank you very much. Governor Perry, you advocate the elimination of the Department of Energy.  If you eliminate the Department of Energy…

PERRY:  I’m glad you remembered it.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

PELLEY:  I’ve had some time to think about it, sir.

(LAUGHTER)

PERRY:  Me, too.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

PELLEY:  If you eliminate the Department of Energy, what do you do with the nuclear weapons?

PERRY:  Well, there are plenty of places in our government that can have oversight on our nuclear energy. But let me back over to the question that you have asked before this about what is the most important thing from a strategic standpoint, commander-in-chief.  For 10 years I have been the commander-in-chief of over 20,000-plus individuals in the state of Texas as we’ve dealt way host of either natural disasters or having deployments into the combat zones. So if there’s someone on this stage who has had that hands-on commander-in-chief experience, it is me as the governor of the state of Texas.  I’ve dealt with generals.  I have individuals at the Department of Defense who have been at the highest levels, both on the civilian side and on the military side, that will help me make decisions about those issues that we face as a country.

PERRY:  So I feel very comfortable from day one of surrounding myself with individuals who have extraordinary backgrounds in national defense, and will be able to put this country on a track that Americans will feel we know that we’re going to be secure, including…

PELLEY:  And that’s time, sir.

PERRY:  … the southern border of this country with Mexico.

PELLEY:  And that’s time.  Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

GARRETT:  I don’t need to tell the people on this stage that presidential politics is interactive business, and, of course, this debate is interactive as well. And we have an e-mail question, I’m happy to say, emailed into the “National Journal”.  And it comes from Stephen Shaffer (ph) (inaudible), Oregon (ph).  And I’d like to address this question to Mr. Cain. Stephen (ph) writes:  “I served on an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War.  I believe that torture is always wrong in all cases. What is your stance on torture?”

CAIN:  I believe that — following the procedures that have been established by our military.  I do not agree with torture.  Period. However, I would trust the judgment of our military leaders to determine what is torture and what is not torture.  That is the critical consideration.

GARRETT:  Mr. Cain, of course you’re familiar with the long- running debate we’ve had about whether waterboarding constitutes torture or is an enhanced interrogation technique. In the last campaign, Republican nominee John McCain and Barack Obama agreed that it was torture, and should not be allowed legally, and that the Army Field Manual should be the methodology used to interrogate enemy combatants.  Do you agree with that or do you disagree, sir?

CAIN:   I agree that it was an enhanced interrogation technique.

GARRETT:  And then you would support it as president?

(APPLAUSE)

GARRETT:  You would return…

CAIN:  Yes.

GARRETT:  … to that policy?

CAIN:  I would return to that policy.  I don’t see it as torture.  I see it as an enhanced interrogation technique.

GARRETT:  Congresswoman Bachmann, your opinion on this question that our emailer asked?

BACHMANN:  If I were president, I would be willing to use waterboarding.  I think it was very effective.  It gained information for our country, and I — and I also would like to say that today, under Barack Obama, he is allowing the ACLU to run the CIA. You need to understand that today, today we — it — when we — when we interdict a terrorist on the battlefield, we have no jail for them.  We have nowhere to take them.  We have no CIA interrogation anymore.  It is as though we have decided we want to lose in the war on terror under President Obama.  That’s not my strategy.  My strategy will be that the United States will be victorious in the war on terror.

GARRETT:  Congressman Paul, my fighting sense tells me we have a debate about to get launched here.  I know you have an opinion and would like to weigh in.

PAUL:  Yes, torture is illegal and — by our laws.  It’s illegal by international laws.

GARRETT:  How do you — how do you define torture, sir?

PAUL:  Well, waterboarding is torture and many others.  It’s illegal under international law and under our law.  It’s also immoral, and it’s also very impractical.  There’s no evidence that you really get reliable evidence. Why would you accept the position of torturing a hundred people because you know one person might have information?  And that’s what you do when you accept the principle of torture.  I think it’s — I think it’s uncivilized and — and have no practical advantages and it’s really un-American to accept, on principle, that we will torture people that we capture.

(CROSSTALK)

BACHMANN:  Major, Major, I have to weigh in.  I have to say something.  I have — I have to say something.  I have — I have to say…

PELLEY:  Let’s allow — let’s allow — I’m sorry, Congresswoman, just a moment, if you would, please.  Let’s give — let’s give Governor Huntsman an opportunity to take 30 seconds on that question.

HUNTSMAN:  It gets a little lonely over here in Siberia from time to time.

(LAUGHTER)

(UNKNOWN):  Tell me about it.

HUNTSMAN:  First of all, let me thank the sailor on the shift.  I have two boys in the United States Navy.  And all they want to do is go on to fight, protect and defend the great freedoms that we share in this country. This country has values.  We have a name brand in the world. I’ve lived overseas four times.  I’ve been an ambassador for my country three times.  I’ve lived overseas and done business.  We diminish our standing in the world and the values that we project, which include liberty, democracy, human rights and open markets, when we torture. We should not torture.  Waterboarding is torture.  We dilute ourselves down like a whole lot of other countries, and we lose that ability to project values that a lot of people in corners of this world are still relying on the United States to stand up for.

PELLEY:  And that is time.  Thank you, sir. Governor Romney…

(APPLAUSE)

PELLEY:  … Governor Romney, recently, President Obama ordered the death of an American citizen who was suspected of terrorist activity overseas.  Is it appropriate for the American president, on the president’s say-so alone, to order the death of an American citizen suspected of terrorism?

ROMNEY:  Absolutely.  In this case, this is an individual who had aligned himself with a — with a group that declared war on the United States of America.  And if there’s someone that’s going to join with a group like Al Qaida that declares war on America, and we’re in a — in a war with that entity, then, of course, anyone who is bearing arms with that entity is fair game for the United States of America. Let me go back…

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY:  … let me go back and just talk a moment about the issue that a number of people have spoken about, which is their definition of how their foreign policy might be different than this president. My foreign policy is pretty straightforward.  I would be guided by an overwhelming conviction that this century must be an American century, where America has the strongest values, the strongest economy and the strongest military.  An American century means a century where America leads the free world and the free world leads the entire world. We have a president right now who thinks America is just another nation.  America is an exceptional nation.  We have a president who thinks that the way to conduct foreign policy is through his personal affects (sic) on other people. I am — I believe the way to conduct foreign policy is with American strength.  Everything I do will make America stronger, and I will stand and use whatever means necessary within the law to make sure that we protect America’s citizens and Americans’ rights.

PELLEY:  And that — and that’s time, Governor. Ladies and gentlemen…

(APPLAUSE)

PELLEY:  … ladies and gentlemen, the applause are lovely but we will not have booing.  Thank you very much.  We’ll have — we’ll have courtesy for all of the candidates on the stage. Speaker Gingrich, if I can ask you the same question.   As president of the United States, would you sign that death warrant for an American citizen overseas who you believe is a terrorist suspect?

GINGRICH:  Well, he’s not a terrorist suspect.  He’s a person who was found guilty under review of actively seeking the death of Americans.

PELLEY:  Not found guilty by a court, sir.

GINGRICH:  He was found guilty by a panel that looked at it and reported to the president.

PELLEY:  Well, that’s extrajudicial.

(CROSSTALK)

PELLEY:  It’s not the rule of law.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH:  It is the rule of law.  That is explicitly false.  It is the rule of law.  If you engage in war against the United States, you are an enemy combatant.  You have none of the civil liberties of the United States.  You cannot go to court.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH:  No, let me be — let me be very clear about this on two levels.  There is a huge gap here that, frankly, far too many people get confused over.  Civil defense, criminal defense is a function of being within the American law.  Waging war on the United States is outside criminal law. It is an act of war and should be dealt with as an act of war, and the correct thing in an act of war is to kill people who are trying to kill you.

(APPLAUSE)

(UNKNOWN):  Well said.  Well said.

GARRETT:  Governor Perry, with your indulgence, sir, I would like to change the subject a little bit to China.  According to U.S. officials, China is using cyber-attacks to steal billions of dollars of intellectual property that is critical to this nation’s economic success.  Are we, sir, engaged in financial warfare with China?

PERRY:  Listen, there are some people who have made the statement that the 21st century is going to be the century of China and that, you know, we’ve had our time in the sunshine.  I don’t believe that.  I don’t believe that at all. As a matter of fact, you think back to the 1980s, and we faced a similar type of a situation with Russia.  And Ronald Reagan said that Russia would end up on the ash heap of history, and he was right. I mean, I happen to think that the communist Chinese government will end up on the ash heap of history if they do not change their virtues.  It is important for a country to have virtues, virtues of honesty.  And this whole issue of allowing cyber-security to go on, we need to use all of our resources. The private sector, working along with our government to really —  standing up the cyber-command in 2010 was a good start on that. But fighting this cyber-war, I would suggest, is one of the great issues that will face the next President of the United States and we must win it.

PELLEY:  Governor, thank you.  That’s time. Governor Romney, I wonder, how would you manage China to avoid a 21st century Cold War?

ROMNEY:  Well, China has an interest in trade.  China wants to — as they have 20 million people coming out of the farms and coming into the cities every year, they want to be able to put them to work. They want to have access to global markets.  And so we have, right now, something they need very badly, which is access to our market and our friends around the world have that same power over China. We need to make sure that we let them understand that in order for them to continue to have free and open access to the thing they want so badly, our markets, they have to play by the rules. They can’t hack into our computer systems and steal from our government.  They can’t steal from corporations.  They can’t take patents and designs, intellectual property and duplicate them — duplicate them and counterfeit them and sell them around the world. And they also can’t manipulate their currency in such a way as to make their prices well below what they otherwise would be.  We have to have China understand that, like everybody else on the world stage, they have to play by the rules.  And if they do, we’ll have open trade with them and work with them.  And they should, in every way, want to collaborate with us and not become a belligerent nation, economically or militarily. But if you just continue to sit back and let them run over us, the policies of Barack Obama in China have allowed China to continue to expand their — their entry into our computer systems, their entry…

(UNKNOWN):  And…

ROMNEY:  — stealing our intellectual property…

PELLEY:  That’s time, Governor…

ROMNEY:  — and, of course, their military…

PELLEY:  (INAUDIBLE).

ROMNEY:  — their military capacity, as well.

PELLEY:  That’s time, Governor. But I would like to ask you a follow-up on that point.  You — you’ve talked about all the things that China should be doing. How do you affect that as commander-in-chief? How do you make China do these things

ROMNEY:  Well, number one on day one is acknowledging something which everyone knows, they’re a currency manipulator.  And on that basis, we also go before the WT — WTO — and bring an action against them as a currency manipulator.  And that allows us to apply selectively tariffs where we believe they are stealing our intellectual property, hacking into our computers or artificially lowering their prices and killing American jobs. We can’t just sit back and let China run all over us.  People say, well, you’ll start a trade war.  There’s one going on right now, folks.  They’re stealing our jobs and we’re going to stand up to China.

(APPLAUSE)

GARRETT:  Governor Huntsman, Governor Romney just said we’re in the middle of a war that — we’re not even declared or we’re not even aware of and Governor Perry said China will end up on the ash heap of history. You’ve been in China.  You were the ambassador of our nation there under President Obama. What’s your reaction?

HUNTSMAN:  Well, the real — the reality is a little different, as it usually is when you’re on the ground.  And I’ve tried to figure this out for 30 years of my career. First of all, I don’t think, Mitt, you can take China to the WTO on currency-related issues. Second, I — I don’t know that this country needs a trade war with China.   who does it hurt? Our small businesses in South Carolina, our exporters, our agriculture producers.  We don’t need that at a time when China is about to embark on a generational transition. So what should we be doing? We should be reaching out to our allies and constituencies within China.  They’re called the young people.  They’re called the Internet generation.  There are 500 million Internet users…

PELLEY:  And Governor…

HUNTSMAN:  — in China…

PELLEY:  — we’re going to have to…

HUNTSMAN:  — now 80 million bloggers and they are bringing about change the likes of which is going to take China down.

PELLEY:  We’re going to have to leave it there.

HUNTSMAN:  — while we have an opportunity to go up and win back our economic…

PELLEY:  Governor…

HUNTSMAN:  — manufacturing muscle.

PELLEY:  That’s time.

HUNTSMAN:  That’s all I want to do as president.

PELLEY:  I thank you very much. We will be back with the Republican Commander-In-Chief Debate from Wofford College, in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PELLEY:  Welcome back to South Carolina and the Republican Commander-In-Chief debate. Governor Perry, we just got a question via Twitter from Barbara McMahon. And Barbara asks this question of you:  “Does Governor Perry’s foreign aid starts at zero included Israel?”

PERRY:  Well, governorperry would Tweet back to her that absolutely, every country would start at zero.  Obviously…

(APPLAUSE)

PERRY:  — Israel is a special ally.  And my bet is that we would be funding them at some substantial level.  But it makes sense for everyone to come in at zero and make your case.  As a matter of fact, we ought to try that — doing that with some of those agencies that I was trying to think the name of the other night.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

PERRY:  Starting at zero, zero-based budgeting, and then we’ll share with you, is — we’ve got to go there.  And everyone has to come in and make their case.  That’s what the American people are doing. There’s somebody at home sitting watching TV tonight, looking for a job.  And they’re having to budget. Why in the world would our federal government get a pass on sending our tax dollars to any country…

PELLEY:  And Governor, I have to…

PERRY:  — without having an answer?

PELLEY:  We’re going to have to leave it right there.

PERRY:  Why?

PELLEY:  I thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

PELLEY:  That brings us to the end of the first hour of the debate.  Some CBS stations will be leaving us.  But you can continue to follow the debate online on CBSNews.com and NationalJournal.com. And you can submit questions for the candidates at either of those sites. Most of our stations in South Carolina and on the West Coast will continue to broadcast the debate. When we return, we will take questions from South Carolina’s two senators, United States Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Jim DeMint. With thanks to the candidates…

(APPLAUSE) PELLEY:  — thanks to Wofford College, thanks to the GOP of South Carolina, I’m Scott Pelley.

Campaign Buzz November 12, 2011: CBS News / National Journal GOP Republican Presidential Debate at Wofford College, Spartanburg, South Carolina — Iran & Pakistan Central Issues in National Security & Foreign Policy Debate

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

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The eight Republican candidates for president debated Saturday in Spartanburg, S.C. More Photos »

IN FOCUS: REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES DEBATE IN SOUTH CAROLINA ON NATIONAL SECURITY & FOREIGN POLICY

CBS News/National Journal Debate — CBS News, 11-12-11

In Full: The CBS News/NJ GOP debate: The commander-in-chief debate: Eight Republican presidential candidates gathered at South Carolina’s Wofford College for a national security and foreign policy debate hosted by CBS News and National Journal…. Watch Video

CBS News, National Journal to host Republican debate on Nov. 12: CBS News and National Journal today are announcing a Republican presidential debate to take place on November 12 at 8 p.m. ET. It will take place at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C. and will be moderated by CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor Scott Pelley and National Journal congressional correspondent Major Garrett. The debate, the first on broadcast television, will focus primarily on national security…. – CBS News, 11-12-11

Live Blogging the Republican Debate in S.C.: The Republican presidential candidates gather for a debate Saturday night in South Carolina, where Rick Perry will get a chance to redeem his fumbling, forgetful performance in Michigan on Wednesday night…. – NYT, 11-12-11

 

  • The Republicans: Live from South Carolina: Republicans largely agreed with each other on foreign policy issues during a debate Saturday, largely reserving their criticism for President Obama over his stewardship of world affairs…. – USA Today, 11-12-11
  • Live blogging the GOP foreign policy debate — JTA, 11-12-11
  • A look at key moments in Republican debate: Key moments in Saturday night’s Republican presidential debate…. – AP, 11-12-11
  • “We’re here tonight to talk to the American people about why every single one of us is better than Barack Obama.” — Newt GingrichMr. Perry successfully made light of his brain freeze on Wednesday, though he had help from the CBS moderator Scott Pelley.
    When Mr. Pelley began asking how nuclear weapons would be monitored without an Energy Department, Mr. Perry, smiling broadly, cut in with a joke: “I’m glad you remembered it.”
    “I’ve had some time to think about it, sir,” Mr. Pelley said, to which Mr. Perry shot back, “Me too.”

    “Look, one thing you can know, and that is if we re-elect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon.” — Mitt Romney

    “It’s time for us as a country to say no to foreign aid to countries that don’t support the United States of America.” — Gov. Rick Perry

  • Up for Debate: Foreign Policy and Obama: The eight major Republican candidates for president joined in a united attack against President Obama as commander in chief during a debate here Saturday, but at times differed sharply over how to block Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the way forward in Pakistan.
    The debate, held here by CBS News and The National Journal, was the first to focus exclusively on foreign policy, and the candidates seemed more focused on presenting themselves as plausible commanders in chief than on knocking one another off-balance.
    His fortunes rising in polls, former Speaker Newt Gingrich declined an invitation to repeat his Friday critique of the presumed Republican front-runner Mitt Romney as insufficient to the task of changing Washington, saying sternly, “We’re here tonight to talk to the American people about why every single one of us is better than Barack Obama.”… – NYT, 11-12-11
  • At least 3 GOP candidtes say war with Iran is an option: Three Republican candidates for president said they would go to war if Iran Timeline of articlesobtained a nuclear weapon. Mitt Romney, one of the frontrunners and the former Massachusetts governor, Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the US House of Representatives…. – JTA, 11-12-11
  • GOP candidates talk tough on Iran, split over Pakistan at debate: As a foreign policy-themed debate got underway in Spartanburg, S.C., on Saturday, it quickly became clear that the eight Republican presidential candidates on the stage were more like-minded on how to handle the threat posed by a nuclear Iran than what do with Pakistan.
    Almost to a candidate, they charged that President Obama wasn’t doing enough to deter Iran from developing a nuclear weapon…. – LAT, 11-12-11
  • Romney: Iran will obtain nuclear weapon if Obama is re-elected: The Republicans vying to challenge President Obama in next year’s election slammed his administration’s foreign policy, suggesting he’s bungled efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear … – Yahoo! News Blogs, 11-12-11
  • Perry: My foreign aid budget starts at zero: Texas Gov. Rick Perry said he would cut the United States’ foreign aid budget to zero and then allocate taxpayer dollars depending on each country’s support for America, indicating that Pakistan would no longer receive U.S. aid but Israel would.
    “It’s time for us as a country to say no to foreign aid to countries that don’t support the United States of America,” Perry said.
    His idea received support from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich but, in the case of Pakistan, was opposed by Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum at the CBS News/National Journal debate in Spartanburg, S.C…. – CBS News, 11-12-11
  • Romney and Gingrich willing to attack Iran to prevent them from getting nukes: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich both said it is worth using the United States military to attack Iran in order to prevent the oil rich nation from obtaining a nuclear weapon…. – CBS News, 11-12-11
  • GOP presidential candidates criticize Obama’s Afghanistan policy: Republican presidential contenders blasted President Barack Obama’s policies on Iran and Afghanistan Saturday night as badly misguided and weak…. – Myrtle Beach Sun News, 11-12-11
  • >GOP presidential debate in South Carolina – live: Can Rick Perry avoid ‘brain freeze’ in tonight’s GOP presidential debate in South Carolina? Follow our live coverage here Republican presidential contender Rick Perry: can he remember his own name in tonight’s GOP debate in South Carolina? … – The Guardian, 11-12-11
  • GOP hopefuls debate foreign policy tonight: The 2012 Republican hopefuls will take the stage again tonight for another debate – this one focused on foreign policy. The event in South Carolina is being hosted by CBS and the National Journal… – Politico, 11-12-11
  • Republican debate in South Carolina tests Rick Perry and Herman Cain once again: The Republican presidential campaign makes a stop in this key primary state Saturday for a debate on foreign policy and national security issues. It could be an especially important moment for businessman Herman Cain and Texas Gov. Rick Perry… – WaPo, 11-12-11
  • Republican presidential contenders challenge Obama on foreign policy in South Carolina: Republican candidates prepared to challenge President Barack Obama on foreign policy, an issue they have given scant attention in recent weeks, as they gathered Saturday night for their second debate in four days. … – WaPo, 11-12-11
  • CBS/NJ GOP debate tonight: 5 things to watch: Can Rick Perry recover from his disastrous gaffe? Can Gingrich keep the momentum going? Can Cain prove he’s more than 9-9-9? Read more by Jan Crawford on CBS News’ Political Hotsheet….. – CBS News, 11-12-11
  • GOP candidates ready for CBS News/National Journal debate: Eight candidates looking to unseat President Obama will gather on stage at Wofford College Saturday night for a debate on national security and foreign policy hosted by CBS News and National Journal.
    The Spartanburg, South Carolina, debate is chance for Texas Gov. Rick Perry to revive his candidacy after a major flub Wednesday night in Michigan where he said he wants to eliminate three government agencies but could only name two of them. The awkward pause has been played over and over again on TV and the Internet since then.
    In the CBS News poll released Friday, Cain leads the field with 18 percent, followed by Romney and a surging Newt Gingrich at 15 percent. Perry is in fourth place in the poll with 8 percent, followed by Ron Paul at 5 percent, Michele Bachmann at 4 percent, Rick Santorum at 2 percent and Jon Huntsman at 1 percent…. – CBS News, 11-12-11
  • Cain hones in on foreign policy before debate: Hours before the second Republican presidential debate of the week, GOP candidate Herman Cain previewed his foreign policy bona fides before a group of young Republicans in his home state Saturday morning. … – CNN, 11-12-11
  • Gingrich: Bring the Debates On: There may be one Republican candidate prone to memory lapses who wishes he never had to debate again, but Newt Gingrich cannot get enough of these events. Bring the debates on, he told a crowd at the opening…. – NYT, 11-12-11
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