Third Presidential Debate
Boca Raton, Florida
October 22, 2012
[White House Transcript]
9:01 P.M. EDT
MR. SCHIEFFER: Good evening from the campus of Lynn University
here in Boca Raton, Florida. This is the fourth and last debate
of the 2012 campaign, brought to you by the Commission on Presidential
Debates. This one is on foreign policy. I'm Bob Schieffer
of CBS News.
The questions are mine and I have not shared them with the candidates
or their aides. The audience has taken a vow of silence -- no
applause, no reaction of any kind -- except right now, when we welcome
President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney.
Gentlemen, your campaigns have agreed to certain rules, and they are
simple. They’ve asked me to divide the evening into
segments. I'll pose a question at the beginning of each segment.
You will each have two minutes to respond, and then we will have a
general discussion until we move to the next segment.
Tonight’s debate, as both of you know, comes on the 50th anniversary of
the night that President Kennedy told the world that the Soviet Union
had installed nuclear missiles in Cuba, perhaps the closest we've ever
come to nuclear war. And it is a sobering reminder that every
President faces at some point an unexpected threat to our national
security from abroad.
So let’s begin.
The first segment is the challenge of a changing Middle East and the
new face of terrorism. I'm going to put this into two segments,
so you’ll have two topic questions within this one segment on the
subject. The first question -- and it concerns Libya.
The controversy over what happened there continues. Four
Americans are dead, including an American Ambassador. Questions
remain of what happened: What caused it? Was it
spontaneous? Was it an intelligence failure? Was it a policy
failure? Was there an attempt to mislead people about what really
Governor Romney, you said this was an example of an American policy in
the Middle East that is unraveling before our very eyes. I'd like
to hear each of you give your thoughts on that. Governor Romney,
you won the toss -- you go first.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Thank you, Bob. And thank you for agreeing
to moderate this debate this evening. Thank you to Lynn
University for welcoming us here. And, Mr. President, it’s good
to be with you again. We were together at a humorous event a
little earlier, and it’s nice to maybe be funny this time -- not on
purpose. We'll see what happens.
This is obviously an area of great concern to the entire world, and to
America in particular, which is to see a complete change in the
structure and the environment in the Middle East. With the Arab
Spring came a great deal of hope that there would be a change towards
more moderation, an opportunity for greater participation on the part
of women in public life and in economic life in the Middle East.
But instead we've seen in nation after nation a number of disturbing
Of course, we see in Syria, 30,000 civilians having been killed by the
military there. We see in Libya, an attack, apparently by -- I
think we know now -- by terrorists of some kind against our people
there, four people dead. Our hearts and minds go to them.
Mali has been taken over -- the northern part of Mali by al Qaeda-type
individuals. We have in Egypt a Muslim Brotherhood
president. And so what we're seeing is a pretty dramatic reversal
of the kind of hopes we had for that region. Of course, the
greatest threat of all is Iran, four years closer to a nuclear weapon.
And we're going to have to recognize that we have to do as the
President has done -- I congratulate him on taking out Osama bin Laden
and going after the leadership in al Qaeda. But we can't kill our
way out of this mess. We're going to have to put in place a very
comprehensive and robust strategy to help the world of Islam and other
parts of the world reject this radical, violent extremism, which is --
it’s certainly not on the run. It’s certainly not hiding.
This is a group that is now involved in 10 or 12 countries. And
it presents an enormous threat to our friends, to the world, to America
long term, and we must have a comprehensive strategy to help reject
this kind of extremism.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, my first job as Commander-in-Chief, Bob, is
to keep the American people safe. And that's what we've done over
the last four years. We ended the war in Iraq, refocused our
attention on those who actually killed us on 9/11. And as a
consequence, al Qaeda’s core leadership has been decimated.
In addition, we're now able to transition out of Afghanistan in a
responsible way, making sure that Afghans take responsibility for their
own security. And that allows us also to rebuild alliances and
make friends around the world to combat future threats. Now, with
respect to Libya, as I indicated in the last debate, when we received
that phone call, I immediately made sure that, number one, we did
everything we could to secure those Americans who were still in harm’s
way; number two, that we would investigate exactly what happened; and
number three, most importantly, that we would go after those who killed
Americans and we would bring them to justice. And that’s exactly
what we’re going to do.
But I think it’s important to step back and think about what happened
in Libya. Now, keep in mind that I and Americans took leadership
in organizing an international coalition that made sure that we were
able to -- without putting troops on the ground, at the cost of less
than what we spent in two weeks in Iraq -- liberate a country that had
been under the yoke of dictatorship for 40 years, got rid of a despot
who had killed Americans. And, as a consequence, despite this
tragedy, you had tens of thousands of Libyans, after the events in
Benghazi, marching and saying, “America is our friend. We stand
with them.” Now, that represents the opportunity we have to take
And, Governor Romney, I’m glad that you agree that we have been
successful in going after al Qaeda, but I have to tell you that your
strategy previously has been one that has been all over the map, and is
not designed to keep Americans safe or to build on the opportunities
that exist in the Middle East.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Well, my strategy is pretty straightforward,
which is to go after the bad guys, to make sure we do our very best to
interrupt them, to kill them, to take them out of the picture.
But my strategy is broader than that. That’s important, of
course. But the key that we’re going to have to pursue is a
pathway to get the Muslim world to be able to reject extremism on its
own. We don’t want another Iraq. We don’t want another
Afghanistan. That’s not the right course for us.
The right course for us is to make sure that we go after the people who
are leaders of these various anti-American groups and these jihadists,
but also help the Muslim world. And how do we do that? A
group of Arab scholars came together, organized by the U.N., to look at
how we can help the world reject these terrorists. And the answer
they came up with was this: One, more economic development.
We should key our foreign aid, our direct foreign investment -- and
that of our friends -- we should coordinate it to make sure that we
push back and give them more economic development. Number two,
better education. Number three, gender equality. Number
four, the rule of law. We have to help these nations create civil
But what’s been happening over the last couple of years is as we’ve
watched this tumult in the Middle East, this rising tide of chaos
occur, you see al Qaeda rushing in. You see other jihadist groups
rushing in. And they’re throughout many nations in the Middle
It’s wonderful that Libya seems to be making some progress, despite
this terrible tragedy. But next door, of course, we have Egypt --
Libya is 6 million population, Egypt 80 million population. We
want to make sure that we’re seeing progress throughout the Middle
East, with Mali now having North Mali taken over by al Qaeda; with
Syria having Assad continuing to kill -- to murder his own
people. This is a region in tumult. And of course, Iran on
the path to a nuclear weapon -- we’ve got real problems in the region.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Let’s give the President a chance.
THE PRESIDENT: Governor Romney, I’m glad that you recognize that
al Qaeda is a threat, because a few months ago, when you were asked
what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia
-- not al Qaeda -- you said Russia. And the 1980s are now calling
to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War has been over
for 20 years.
But, Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to
import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies
of the 1950s, and the economic policies of the 1920s.
You say that you’re not interested in duplicating what happened in
Iraq, but just a few weeks ago you said you think we should have more
troops in Iraq right now. And the challenge we have -- I know you
haven’t been in a position to actually execute foreign policy, but
every time you’ve offered an opinion, you’ve been wrong. You said
we should have gone into Iraq, despite the fact that there were no
weapons of mass destruction. You said that we should still have
troops in Iraq to this day.
You indicated that we shouldn’t be passing nuclear treaties with
Russia, despite the fact that 71 senators -- Democrats and Republicans
-- voted for it. You’ve said that, first, we should not have a
timeline in Afghanistan; then you said we should; now you say maybe, or
it depends -- which means not only were you wrong, but you were also
confusing and sending mixed messages both to our troops and our allies.
So what we need to do with respect to the Middle East is strong, steady
leadership, not wrong and reckless leadership that is all over the
map. And unfortunately, that's the kinds of opinions that you’ve
offered throughout this campaign, and it is not a recipe for American
strength or keeping America safe over the long term.
MR. SCHIEFFER: I’m going to add a couple of minutes here to give
you a chance to respond.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Well, of course, I don't concur with what the
President said about my own record and the things that I’ve said.
They don't happen to be accurate.
But I can say this -- that we’re talking about the Middle East and how
to help the Middle East reject the kind of terrorism we’re seeing and
the rising tide of tumult and confusion. And attacking me is not
an agenda. Attacking me is not talking about how we’re going to
deal with the challenges that exist in the Middle East and take
advantage of the opportunity there and stem the tide of this violence.
But I’ll respond to a couple of the things you mentioned. First
of all, Russia I indicated is a geopolitical foe, not a --
THE PRESIDENT: Number one geopolitical --
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Excuse me. It’s a geopolitical foe, and I
said in the same -- in the same paragraph I said, and Iran is the
greatest national security threat we face. Russia does continue
to battle us in the U.N. time and time again. I have clear eyes
on this. I’m not going to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes
to Russia or Mr. Putin. And I’m certainly not going to say to
him, I’ll give you more flexibility after the election. After the
election, he’ll get more backbone.
Number two, with regards to Iraq, you and I agreed, I believe, that
there should have been a status of forces agreement. Did you --
THE PRESIDENT: That's not true.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Oh, you didn't -- you didn't want a status of
THE PRESIDENT: No, what I -- what I would not have done is left
10,000 troops in Iraq that would tie us down. That certainly
would not help us in the Middle East.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: I’m sorry. You actually -- there was an
effort on the part of the President --
THE PRESIDENT: You are --
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: -- to have a Status of Forces Agreement --
THE PRESIDENT: He was --
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: And I concurred in that and said that we should
have some number of troops that stayed on. That was something I
concurred with --
THE PRESIDENT: Governor --
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: -- your posture. That was my posture as
well. You thought it should have been 5,000 troops.
THE PRESIDENT: Governor --
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: I thought it should have been more troops.
But you know what, the answer was --
THE PRESIDENT: This is just a few weeks ago.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: -- we got no troops through whatsoever.
THE PRESIDENT: This is just a few weeks ago that you indicated
that we should still have troops in Iraq.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: No, I didn't. I’m sorry, that's --
THE PRESIDENT: You made a major speech.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: I indicated that you -- I indicated that you
failed to put in place a status of forces agreement --
THE PRESIDENT: Governor --
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: -- at the end of the conflict that existed in
THE PRESIDENT: Governor, here’s one thing --
MR. SCHIEFFER: Let him answer, please.
THE PRESIDENT: Here’s one thing I’ve learned as
Commander-in-Chief. You’ve got to be clear both to our allies and
our enemies about where you stand and what you mean. Now, you
just gave a speech a few weeks ago in which you said we should still
have troops in Iraq. That is not a recipe for making sure that we
are taking advantage of the opportunities and meeting the challenges of
the Middle East.
Now, it is absolutely true that we cannot just beat these challenges
militarily. And so what I’ve done, throughout my presidency and
will continue to do, is, number one, make sure that these countries are
supporting our counterterrorism efforts.
Number two, make sure that they are standing by our interests in
Israel’s security -- because it is a true friend and our greatest ally
in the region.
Number three, we do have to make sure that we’re protecting religious
minorities and women because these countries can’t develop unless all
the population -- not just half of it -- is developing.
Number four, we do have to develop their economic capabilities.
But number five, the other thing that we have to do is recognize that
we can’t continue to do nation-building in these regions -- part of
American leadership is making sure that we’re doing nation-building
here at home. That will help us maintain the kind of American
leadership that we need.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Let me interject the second topic question in this
segment about the Middle East and so on. And that is -- you both
mentioned -- alluded to this, and that is Syria.
The war in Syria has now spilled over into Lebanon. We have,
what, more than a hundred people that were killed there in a
bomb. There were demonstrations there, eight people dead.
Mr. President, it’s been more than a year since you saw -- you told
Assad he had to go. Since then, 30,000 Syrians have died.
We’ve had 300,000 refugees. The war goes on; he’s still
there. Should we reassess our policy and see if we can find a
better way to influence events there, or is that even possible?
And you go first, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: What we’ve done is organize the international
community, saying Assad has to go. We’ve mobilized sanctions
against that government. We have made sure that they are
isolated. We have provided humanitarian assistance, and we are
helping the opposition organize. And we’re particularly
interested in making sure that we’re mobilizing the moderate forces
inside of Syria.
But ultimately, Syrians are going to have to determine their own
future. And so everything we’re doing, we’re doing in
consultation with our partners in the region -- including Israel, which
obviously has a huge interest in seeing what happens in Syria;
coordinating with Turkey and other countries in the region that have a
great interest in this.
Now, what we’re seeing taking place in Syria is heartbreaking.
And that’s why we are going to do everything we can to make sure that
we are helping the opposition. But we also have to recognize that
for us to get more entangled militarily in Syria is a serious
step. And we have to do so making absolutely certain that we know
who we are helping, that we’re not putting arms in the hands of folks
who eventually could turn them against us or our allies in the region.
And I am confident that Assad’s days are numbered. But what we
can’t do is to simply suggest that, as Governor Romney at times has
suggested, that giving heavy weapons, for example, to the Syrian
opposition is a simple proposition that would lead us to be safer over
the long term.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Well, let’s step back and talk about what’s
happening in Syria and how important it is. First of all, 30,000
people being killed by their government is a humanitarian
disaster. Secondly, Syria is an opportunity for us because Syria
plays an important role in the Middle East, particularly right now,
Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world. It’s their route to
the sea. It’s the route for them to arm Hezbollah in Lebanon,
which threatens, of course, our ally, Israel. And so seeing Syria
remove Assad is a very high priority for us. Number two, seeing a
replacement government being responsible people is critical for us.
And finally, we don’t want to have military involvement there. We
don’t want to get drawn in to a military conflict. And so the
right course for us is working through our partners and with our own
resources to identify responsible parties within Syria, organize them,
bring them together in a form of, not government, a form of council
that can take the lead in Syria, and then make sure they have the arms
necessary to defend themselves.
We do need to make sure that they don’t have arms that get into the
wrong hands, that those arms could be used to hurt us down the
road. We need to make sure as well that we coordinate this effort
with our allies, and particularly with Israel. But the Saudis and
the Qatari and the Turks are all very concerned about this.
They’re willing to work with us. We need to have a very effective
leadership effort in Syria, making sure that the insurgents there are
armed and that the insurgents that become armed are people who will be
the responsible parties.
Recognize -- I believe that Assad must go. I believe he will
go. But I believe we want to make sure that we have the
relationships of friendship with the people that take his place, such
that in the years to come, we see Syria as a friend and Syria as a
responsible party in the Middle East.
This is a critical opportunity for America. And what I’m afraid
of is we’ve watched over the past year or so, first the President
saying, well, we’ll let the U.N. deal with it and Assad -- excuse me --
Kofi Annan came in and said we’re going to try -- have a
ceasefire. That didn’t work. Then it looked to the Russians
and said, let’s see if you can do something. We should be playing
the leadership role there -- not on the ground with military, but play
the leadership role.
MR. SCHIEFFER: All right.
THE PRESIDENT: We are playing the leadership role. We
organized the Friends of Syria. We are mobilizing humanitarian
support and support for the opposition. And we are making sure
that those we help are those who will be friends of ours in the long
term and friends of our allies in the region over the long term.
But going back to Libya, because this is an example of how we make
choices -- when we went into Libya, and we were able to immediately
stop the massacre there because of the unique circumstances and the
coalition that we had helped to organize, we also had to make sure that
Muammar Qaddafi didn’t stay there.
And to the Governor’s credit, you supported us going into Libya and the
coalition that we organized. But when it came time to making sure
that Qaddafi did not stay in power, that he was captured, Governor,
your suggestion was that this was mission creep, that this was mission
Imagine if we had pulled out at that point. Muammar Qaddafi had
more American blood on his hands than any individual other than Osama
bin Laden, and so we were going to make sure that we finished the
job. That’s part of the reason why the Libyans stand with
us. But we did so in a careful, thoughtful way, making certain
that we knew who we were dealing with; that those forces of moderation
on the ground were ones that we could work with. And we have to
take the same kind of steady, thoughtful leadership when it comes to
Syria. That’s exactly what we’re doing.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor, can I just ask you, would you go beyond
what the administration would do? Like, for example, would you
put in no-fly zones over Syria?
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: I don’t want to have our military involved in
Syria. I don’t think there’s a necessity to put our military in
Syria at this stage. I don’t anticipate that in the future.
As I indicated, our objectives are to replace Assad and to have in
place a new government which is friendly to us -- a responsible
government, if possible. And I want to make sure they get armed
and they have the arms necessary to defend themselves, but also to
But I do not want to see a military involvement on the part of our
troops. And this isn’t going to be necessary. We have --
with our partners in the region, we have sufficient resources to
support those groups.
But, look, this has been going on for a year. This is a time --
this should have been a time for American leadership. We should
have taken a leading role -- not militarily, but a leading role
organizationally, governmentally -- to bring together the parties
there, to find responsible parties.
As you hear from intelligence sources even today, the insurgents are
highly disparate; they haven’t come together; they haven’t formed a
unity group, a council of some kind. That needs to happen.
America can help that happen. And we need to make sure they have
the arms they need to carry out the very important role, which is
getting rid of Assad.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Can we get a quick response, Mr. President?
Because I want to ask about Egypt.
THE PRESIDENT: I’ll be very quick. What you just heard
Governor Romney said is he doesn’t have different ideas, and that’s
because we’re doing exactly what we should be doing to try to promote a
moderate Syrian leadership and an effective transition so that we get
Assad out. That’s the kind of leadership we’ve shown.
That’s the kind of leadership we’ll continue to show.
MR. SCHIEFFER: May I ask you, during the Egyptian turmoil, there
came a point when you said it was time for President Mubarak to go.
THE PRESIDENT: Right.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Some in your administration thought perhaps we
should have waited a while on that. Do you have any regrets about
THE PRESIDENT: No, I don’t, because I think that America has to
stand with democracy. The notion that we would have tanks run
over those young people who were in Tahrir Square -- that is not the
kind of American leadership that John F. Kennedy talked about 50 years
But what I’ve also said is that now that you have a democratically
elected government in Egypt, they have to make sure that they take
responsibility for protecting religious minorities -- and we have put
significant pressure on them to make sure they’re doing that; to
recognize the rights of women, which is critical throughout the
region. These countries can’t develop if young women are not
given the kind of education that they need. They have to abide by
their treaty with Israel. That is a red line for us, because not
only is Israel’s security at stake, but our security is at stake if
They have to make sure that they’re cooperating with us when it comes
to counterterrorism. And we will help them with respect to
developing their own economy -- because ultimately, what’s going to
make the Egyptian revolution successful for the people of Egypt but
also for the world is if those young people who gathered there are
seeing opportunities. Their aspirations are similar to young
people’s here. They want jobs. They want to be able to make
sure their kids are going to a good school. They want to make
sure that they have a roof over their heads and that they have the
prospects of a better life in the future.
And so one of the things that we’ve been doing is, for example,
organizing entrepreneurship conferences with these Egyptians to give
them a sense of how they can start rebuilding their economy in a way
that’s non-corrupt, that’s transparent.
But what is also important for us to understand is, is that for America
to be successful in this region, there are some things that we’re going
to have to do here at home as well. One of the challenges over
the last decade is we’ve done experiments in nation-building in places
like Iraq and Afghanistan, and we’ve neglected, for example, developing
our own economy, our own energy sectors, our own education
system. And it’s very hard for us to project leadership around
the world when we’re not doing what we need to do here.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor Romney, I’m going to hear your response
to that. But I would just ask you, would you have stuck with
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: No. I believe, as the President indicated,
and said at the time that I supported his action there. I felt
that -- I wish we would have had a better vision of the future. I
wish that, looking back at the beginning of the President’s term and
even further back than that, that we would have recognized that there
was a growing energy and passion for freedom in that part of the world,
and that we would have worked more aggressively with our friend and
with other friends in the region to have them make the transition
towards a more representative form of government, such that it didn’t
explode in the way it did.
But once it exploded, I felt the same as the President did, which is
these freedom voices in the streets of Egypt were the people who were
speaking of our principles. And President Mubarak had done things
which were unimaginable, and the idea of him crushing his people was
not something that we could possibly support.
Let me step back and talk about what I think our mission has to be in
the Middle East and even more broadly -- because our purpose is to make
sure the world is more -- is peaceful. We want a peaceful
planet. We want people to be able to enjoy their lives and know
they’re going to have a bright and prosperous future and not be at
war. That’s our purpose. And the mantle of leadership for
promoting the principles of peace has fallen to America. We
didn’t ask for it, but it’s an honor that we have it. But for us
to be able to promote those principles of peace requires us to be
strong, and that begins with a strong economy here at home. And
unfortunately, the economy is not stronger.
When the President of Iraq -- excuse me, of Iran, Ahmadinejad, says
that our debt makes us not a great country, that’s a frightening
thing. The former chief of -- the Joint Chiefs of Staff said that
-- Admiral Mullen -- said that our debt is the biggest national
security threat we face.
We have weakened our economy. We need a strong economy. We
need to have, as well, a strong military. Our military is second
to none in the world. We’re blessed with terrific soldiers and
extraordinary technology and intelligence. But the idea of a
trillion dollars in cuts through sequestration and budget cuts to the
military would change that.
We need to have strong allies. Our association and connection
with our allies is essential to America’s strength. We’re the
great nation that has allies -- 42 allies and friends around the
world. And finally we have to stand by our principles.
And if we’re strong in each of those things, American influence will
grow. But, unfortunately, in nowhere in the world is America’s
influence greater today than it was four years ago.
MR. SCHIEFFER: All right.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: And that's because we’ve become weaker --
THE PRESIDENT: Bob, I think --
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: -- on each of those four dimensions.
MR. SCHIEFFER: You’re going to get a chance to respond to that
because that's a perfect segue into our next segment, and that is what
is America’s role in the world. And that is the question:
What do each of you see as our role in the world? And I believe,
Governor Romney, it’s your turn to go first.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Well, I absolutely believe that America has a
responsibility and the privilege of helping defend freedom and promote
the principles that make the world more peaceful, and those principles
include human rights, human dignity, free enterprise, freedom of
expression, elections -- because when there are elections, people tend
to vote for peace. They don't vote for war. So we want to
promote those principles around the world.
We recognize that there are places of conflict in the world. We want to
end those conflicts to the extent humanly possible. But in order
to be able to fulfill our role in the world, America must be
strong. America must lead. And for that to happen, we have
to strengthen our economy here at home. You can't have 23 million
people struggling to get a job. You can't have an economy that
over the last three years keeps slowing down in its growth rate.
You can't have kids coming out of college, half of whom can't find a
job today, or a job that's commensurate with their college
degree. We have to get our economy going.
And our military -- we’ve got to strengthen our military long
term. We don't know what the world is going to throw at us down
the road. We make decisions today in a military that will
confront challenges we can't imagine. In the 2000 debates, there
was no mention of terrorism, for instance. And a year later, 9/11
happened. So we have to make decisions based upon uncertainty,
and that means a strong military. I will not cut our military
We have to also stand by our allies. I think the tension that
existed between Israel and the United States was very
unfortunate. I think also that pulling our missile defense
program out of Poland in the way we did was also unfortunate in terms
of, if you will, disrupting the relationship in some ways that existed
And then of course, with regards to standing for our principles, when
the students took the streets in Tehran, and the people there
protested, the Green Revolution occurred. For the President to be
silent, I thought was an enormous mistake. We have to stand for
our principles, stand for our allies, stand for a strong military and
stand for a stronger economy.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: America remains the one indispensible nation, and
the world needs a strong America, and it is stronger now than when I
came into office. Because we ended the war in Iraq, we were able
to refocus our attention on not only the terrorist threat, but also
beginning a transition process in Afghanistan.
It also allowed us to refocus on alliances and relationships that had
been neglected for a decade. And, Governor Romney, our alliances
have never been stronger -- in Asia, in Europe, in Africa, with Israel,
where we have unprecedented military and intelligence cooperation,
including dealing with the Iranian threat.
But what we also have been able to do is position ourselves so we can
start rebuilding America. And that’s what my plan does -- making
sure that we’re bringing manufacturing back to our shores so that we’re
creating jobs here, as we’ve done with the auto industry -- not
rewarding companies that are shipping jobs overseas; making sure that
we’ve got the best education system in the world, including retraining
our workers for the jobs of tomorrow.
Doing everything we can to control our own energy. We’ve cut our
oil imports to the lowest level in two decades because we’ve developed
oil and natural gas, but we also have to develop clean energy
technologies that will allow us to cut our exports in half by
2020. That’s the kind of leadership that we need to show.
And we’ve got to make sure that we reduce our deficit.
Unfortunately, Governor Romney’s plan doesn’t do it. We’ve got to
do it in a responsible way by cutting out spending we don’t need, but
also by asking the wealthiest to pay a little bit more. That way we can
invest in the research and technology that’s always kept us at the
Now, Governor Romney has taken a different approach throughout this
campaign. Both at home and abroad, he has proposed wrong and
reckless policies. He’s praised George Bush as a good economic
steward and Dick Cheney as somebody who shows great wisdom and
judgment. And taking us back to those kinds of strategies that
got us into this mess are not the way that we are going to maintain
leadership in the 21st century.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor Romney, wrong and reckless policies?
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: I’ve got the policy for a future, an agenda for
the future. And when it comes to our economy here at home, I know
what it takes to create 12 million new jobs and rising take-home
pay. And what we’ve seen over the last four years is something I
don’t want to see over the next four years.
The President said by now we’d be at 5.4 percent unemployment.
We’re 9 million jobs short of that. I will get America working
again and see rising take-home pay again, and I’ll do it with five
Number one, we are going to have North American energy
independence. We’re going to do it by taking full advantage of
oil, coal, gas, nuclear, and our renewables. Number two, we’re
going to increase our trade. Trade grows about 12 percent per
year. It doubles about every five or so years. We can do
better than that, particularly in Latin America.
The opportunities for us in Latin America we have just not taken
advantage of fully. As a matter of fact, Latin America’s economy
is almost as big as the economy of China. We’re all focused on
China. Latin America is a huge opportunity for us -- time zone,
Number three, we’re going to have to have training programs that work
for our workers and schools that finally put the parents and the
teachers and the kids first, and the teachers unions are going to have
to go behind.
And then we’re going to have to get to a balanced budget. We
can’t expect entrepreneurs and businesses, large and small, to take
their life savings or their company’s money and invest in America if
they think we’re headed to the road to Greece. And that’s where
we’re going right now unless we finally get off this spending and
borrowing binge. And I’ll get us on track to a balanced budget.
And finally, number five, we’ve got to champion small business.
Small businesses are where jobs come from. Two-thirds of our jobs
come from small businesses. New business formation is down at the
lowest level in 30 years under this administration. I want to
bring it back and get back good jobs and rising take-home pay.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, let’s talk about what we need to
compete. First of all, Governor Romney talks about small
businesses, but, Governor, when you were in Massachusetts, small
businesses development ranked about 48th, I think, out of 50 states in
Massachusetts because the policies that you’re promoting actually don’t
help small businesses. And the way you define small businesses
include folks at the very top -- they include you and me. That’s
not the kind of small business promotion we need.
But let’s take an example that we know is going to make a difference in
the 21st century, and that’s our education policy. We didn’t have a lot
of chance to talk about this in the last debate. Under my
leadership, what we’ve done is reformed education, working with
governors -- 46 states. We’ve seen progress and gains in schools
that were having a terrible time, and they’re starting to finally make
progress. And what I now want to do is to hire more teachers,
especially in math and science, because we know that we’ve fallen
behind when it comes to math and science. And those teachers can
make a difference.
Now, Governor Romney, when you were asked by teachers whether or not
this would help the economy grow, you said this isn’t going to help the
economy grow. When you were asked about reduced class sizes, you
said class sizes don’t make a difference. But I tell you, if you
talk to teachers, they will tell you it does make a difference.
And if we’ve got math teachers who are able to provide the kind of
support that they need for our kids, that’s what’s going to determine
whether or not the new businesses are created here. Companies are
going to locate here depending on whether we’ve got the most highly
And the kinds of budget proposals that you’ve put forward, when we
don’t ask either you or me to pay a dime more in terms of reducing the
deficit, but instead we slash support for education, that’s undermining
our long-term competitiveness. That is not good for America’s
position in the world -- and the world notices.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Let me get back to foreign policy.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Well, look --
MR. SCHIEFFER: Can I just get back to --
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Well, I need to speak a moment if you’ll let me,
MR. SCHIEFFER: Okay.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: -- just about education, because I’m so proud of
the state that I had the chance to be governor of. We have, every
two years, tests that look at how well our kids are doing.
Fourth-graders and eighth-graders are tested in English and math.
While I was governor, I was proud that our fourth-graders came out
number one of all 50 states in English and then also in math, and our
eighth-graders number one in English and also in math. First time
one state had been number one in all four measures.
How did we do that? Well, Republicans and Democrats came together
on a bipartisan basis to put in place education principles that focused
on having great teachers in the classroom, and that was --
THE PRESIDENT: Ten years earlier, Governor.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: -- and that was what allowed us to become the
number-one state in the nation.
THE PRESIDENT: But that was 10 years before you took office.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: And this is -- and we were --
MR. SCHIEFFER: Gentlemen.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Absolutely --
THE PRESIDENT: And then you cut education spending when you came
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: The first -- and we kept our schools number one
in the nation. They’re still number one today.
MR. SCHIEFFER: All right.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: And the principles that we put in place -- we
also gave kids not just a graduation exam that determined whether they
were up to the skills needed to be able to compete, but also if they
graduated in the top quarter of their class they got a four-year,
tuition-free ride at any Massachusetts public institution of higher
THE PRESIDENT: That happened before you came into office, though.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor --
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: That was actually mine. Actually, Mr.
President, you’ve got that fact wrong.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Let me just -- I want to try to shift it, because
we have heard some of this in the other debates. Governor, you
say you want a bigger military, you want a bigger Navy. You don’t
want to cut defense spending. What I want to ask you -- we’re
talking about financial problems in this country -- where are you going
to get the money?
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Well, let’s come back and talk about the
military, but all the way through. First of all, I’m going
through from the very beginning -- we’re going to cut about 5 percent
of the discretionary budget, excluding military. That’s number
one, all right? And that’s --
MR. SCHIEFFER: But can you do this without driving us deeper into
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: The good news is -- I’ll be happy to have you
take a look. Come on our website; you’ll look at how we get to a
balanced budget within 8 to 10 years. We do it by getting
-- by reducing spending in a whole series of programs. By the
way, number one I get rid of is Obamacare. There are a number of
things that sound good, but, frankly, we just can’t afford them, and
that one doesn’t sound good and it’s not affordable. So I get rid
of that one from day one. To the extent humanly possible, we get
that out. We take program after program that we don’t absolutely
have to have and we get rid of them.
Number two, we take some programs that we are going to keep, like
Medicaid, which is a program for the poor -- we take that health care
program for the poor and we give it to the states to run because states
run these programs more efficiently. As a governor, I thought,
please, give me this program. I can run this more efficiently
than the federal government.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Can he do that?
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: And states, by the way, are proving it.
States like Arizona, Rhode Island have taken these Medicaid dollars,
have shown they can run these programs more cost-effectively. And
so I want to do those two things. It gets us to a balanced budget
within 8 to 10 years.
THE PRESIDENT: Bob --
MR. SCHIEFFER: Let --
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Let’s get back to the military, though.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Well, that’s what I’m trying to find out about.
THE PRESIDENT: He should have answered the first question.
Look, Governor Romney has called for $5 trillion of tax cuts that he
says he’s going to pay for by closing deductions. Now, the math
doesn’t work, but he continues to claim that he’s going to do it.
He then wants to spend another $2 trillion on military spending that
our military is not asking for.
Now, keep in mind that our military spending has gone up every single
year that I’ve been in office. We spend more on our military than
the next 10 countries combined -- China, Russia, France, the United
Kingdom, you name it -- next 10. And what I did was work with our
Joint Chiefs of Staff to think about what are we going to need in the
future to make sure that we are safe, and that’s the budget that we’ve
But what you can’t do is spend $2 trillion in additional military
spending that the military is not asking for; $5 trillion on tax
cuts. You say that you’re going to pay for it by closing
loopholes and deductions without naming what those loopholes and
deductions are, and then somehow you’re also going to deal with the
deficit that we’ve already got. The math simply doesn’t work.
But when it comes to our military, what we have to think about is not
just budgets. We’ve got think about capabilities. We need
to be thinking about cybersecurity. We need to be thinking about
space. That's exactly what our budget does, but it’s driven by
strategy. It’s not driven by politics. It’s not driven by
members of Congress and what they would like to see. It’s driven
by what are we going to need to keep the American people safe.
That's exactly what our budget does.
And it also then allows us to reduce our deficit, which is a
significant national security concern, because we’ve got to make sure
that our economy is strong at home so that we can project military
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Bob, I’m pleased that I’ve balanced
budgets. I was in the world of business for 25 years. You
didn't balance your budget, you went out of business. I went to
the Olympics that was out of balance, and we got it on balance and made
a success there. I had the chance to be governor of our state;
four years in a row, Democrats and Republicans came together to balance
the budget. We cut taxes 19 times, balanced our budget.
The President hasn’t balanced a budget yet. I expect to have the
opportunity to do so myself. I’m going to be able to balance the
Let’s talk about military spending, and that's this -- our Navy --
MR. SCHIEFFER: Thirty seconds.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Our Navy is old -- excuse me, our Navy is
smaller now than any time since 1917. The Navy said they needed
313 ships to carry out their mission; we’re now down to 285.
We’re headed down to the low 200s if we go through with
sequestration. That's unacceptable to me. I want to make
sure that we have the ships that are required by our Navy.
Our Air Force is older and smaller than any time since it was founded
in 1947. We’ve changed for the first time since FDR -- since FDR,
we had the -- we’ve always had the strategy of saying we could fight in
two conflicts at once. Now we’re changing to one conflict.
Look, this, in my view, is the highest responsibility of the President
of the United States, which is to maintain the safety of the American
people. And I will not cut our military budget by a trillion
dollars, which is the combination of the budget cuts the President has,
as well as the sequestration cuts. That, in my view, is making
our future less certain and less secure --
THE PRESIDENT: Bob, I just need to comment on this. First
of all, the sequester is not something that I proposed. It’s
something that Congress has proposed. It will not happen.
The budget that we’re talking about is not reducing our military
spending, it’s maintaining it.
But I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at
how our military works. You mentioned the Navy, for example, and
that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we
also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military
has changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where
planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater,
nuclear submarines. And so the question is not a game of
Battleship where we’re counting ships; it’s what are our capabilities.
And so when I sit down with the Secretary of the Navy and the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, we determine how are we going to be best able to meet
all of our defense needs in a way that also keeps faith with our
troops, that also makes sure that our veterans have the kind of support
that they need when they come home. And that is not reflected in
the kind of budget that you’re putting forward, because it just doesn’t
work. And we visited the website quite a bit and it still doesn’t
MR. SCHIEFFER: A lot to cover. I’d like to move to the next
segment: Red lines -- Israel and Iran. Would either of you
-- and you’ll have two minutes -- and, President Obama, you have the
first go at this one. Would either of you be willing to declare
that an attack on Israel is an attack on the United States -- which, of
course, is the same promise that we give to our close allies like
Japan. And if you made such a declaration, would not that deter
Iran? It’s certainly deterred the Soviet Union for a long, long
time when we made that promise to our allies.
THE PRESIDENT: First of all, Israel is a true friend; it is our
greatest ally in the region. And if Israel is attacked, America
will stand with Israel. I’ve made that clear throughout my
MR. SCHIEFFER: So you’re saying we’ve already made that
THE PRESIDENT: I will stand with Israel if they are
attacked. And this is the reason why, working with Israel, we
have created the strongest military and intelligence cooperation
between our two countries in history. In fact, this week, we’ll
be carrying out the largest military exercise with Israel in history --
this very week.
But to the issue of Iran, as long as I’m President of the United
States, Iran will not get a nuclear weapon. I made that clear
when I came into office. We then organized the strongest
coalition and the strongest sanctions against Iran in history, and it
is crippling their economy. Their currency has dropped 80
percent. Their oil production has plunged to the lowest level
since they were fighting a war with Iraq 20 years ago. So their
economy is in shambles.
And the reason we did this is because a nuclear Iran is a threat to our
national security and it’s a threat to Israel’s national
security. We cannot afford to have a nuclear arms race in the
most volatile region in the world. Iran is a state sponsor of
terrorism, and for them to be able to provide nuclear technology to
non-state actors, that’s unacceptable. And they have said that
they want to see Israel wiped off the map.
So the work that we’ve done with respect to sanctions now offers Iran a
choice: They can take the diplomatic route and end their nuclear
program, or they will have to face a united world and a United States
President -- me -- who said we’re not going to take any options off the
The disagreement I have with Governor Romney is that during the course
of this campaign, he’s often talked as if we should take premature
military action. I think that would be a mistake, because when
I’ve sent young men and women into harm’s way, I always understand that
that is the last resort, not the first resort.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Two minutes.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Well, first of all, I want to underscore the
same point the President made, which is that if I’m President of the
United States -- when I’m President of the United States, we will stand
with Israel. And if Israel is attacked, we have their back, not
just diplomatically, not just culturally, but militarily. That’s
Number two, with regards to Iran and the threat of Iran -- there’s no
question but that a nuclear Iran, a nuclear-capable Iran is
unacceptable to America. It presents a threat not only to our
friends, but ultimately a threat to us to have Iran have nuclear
material, nuclear weapons that could be used against us or used to be
threatening to us.
It’s also essential for us to understand what our mission is in Iran,
and that is to dissuade Iran from having a nuclear weapon through
peaceful and diplomatic means. And crippling sanctions are
something I called for five years ago -- when I was in Israel speaking
at the Herzliya conference, I laid out seven steps. Crippling
sanctions were number one and they do work. You’re seeing it
right now in the economy. It’s absolutely the right thing to do
to have crippling sanctions. I’d have put them in place earlier,
but it’s good that we have them.
Number two, something I would add today is I would tighten those
sanctions. I would say that ships that carry Iranian oil can’t
come into our ports. I imagine the EU would agree with us as
well. Not only ships couldn’t, I’d say companies that are moving
their oil can’t; people who are trading in their oil can’t. I
would tighten those sanctions further.
Secondly, I’d take on diplomatic isolation efforts. I’d make sure
that Ahmadinejad is indicted under the genocide convention. His
words amount to genocide in citation. I would indict him for
it. I would also make sure that their diplomats are treated like
the pariah they are around the world -- the same way we treated the
apartheid diplomats of South Africa. We need to increase pressure
time and time again on Iran because anything other than a solution to
this which says -- which stops this nuclear folly of theirs is
unacceptable to America.
And of course, a military action is the last resort. It is
something one would only -- only consider if all of the other avenues
had been tried to their full extent.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Let me ask both of you, there are -- as you know,
there are reports that Iran and the United States as part of an
international group have agreed in principle to talks about Iran’s
nuclear program. What is the deal -- if there are such talks,
what is the deal that you would accept?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, those are reports in the
newspaper. They are not true. But our goal is to get Iran
to recognize it needs to give up its nuclear program and abide by the
U.N. resolutions that have been in place -- because they have the
opportunity to reenter the community of nations. And we would
There are people in Iran who have the same aspirations as people all
around the world for a better life. And we hope that their
leadership takes the right decision. But the deal we’ll accept is
they end their nuclear program. It’s very straightforward.
And I’m glad that Governor Romney agrees with the steps that we’re
taking. There have been times, Governor, frankly, during the
course of this campaign where it sounded like you thought that you’d do
the same things we did, but you’d say them louder and somehow that
would make a difference. And it turns out that the work involved
in setting up these crippling sanctions is painstaking. It’s
We started from the day we got into office. And the reason it was
so important -- and this is a testament to how we’ve restored American
credibility and strength around the world -- is we had to make sure
that all the countries participated, even countries like Russia and
China, because if it’s just us that are imposing sanctions, we’ve had
sanctions in place for a long time. It’s because we got everybody to
agree that Iran is seeing so much pressure. And we’ve got to
maintain that pressure.
There is a deal to be had, and that is that they abide by the rules
that have already been established; they convince the international
community they are not pursuing a nuclear program; there are
inspections that are very intrusive, but over time what they can do is
In the meantime, though, we’re not going to let up the pressure until
we have clear evidence that that takes place.
And one last thing, just to make this point -- the clock is
ticking. We’re not going to allow Iran to perpetually engage in
negotiations that lead nowhere. And I’ve been very clear to
them. Because of the intelligence coordination that we do with a
range of countries, including Israel, we have a sense of when they
would get breakout capacity, which means that we would not be able to
intervene in time to stop their nuclear program. And that clock
MR. SCHIEFFER: All right.
THE PRESIDENT: And we’re going to make sure that if they do not
meet the demands of the international community, then we are going to
take all options necessary to make sure they don't have a nuclear
MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: I think from the very beginning, one of the
challenges we’ve had with Iran is that they have looked at this
administration and felt that the administration was not as strong as it
needed to be. I think they saw weakness where they had expected
to find American strength.
And I say that because from the very beginning, the President, in his
campaign some four years ago, said he’d meet with all the world’s worst
actors in his first year. He’d sit down with Chavez and Kim
Jong-il, with Castro and with President Ahmadinejad of Iran. And
I think they looked and thought, well, that's an unusual honor to
receive from the President of the United States.
And then the President began what I’ve called an apology tour of going
to various nations in the Middle East and criticizing America. I
think they looked at that and saw weakness. Then when there were
dissidents in the streets of Tehran, a Green Revolution, holding signs
saying, is America with us, the President was silent. I think
they noticed that as well. And I think that when the President said he
was going to create daylight between ourselves and Israel, that they
noticed that as well.
All of these things suggested, I think, to the Iranian mullahs that,
hey, we can keep on pushing along here, we can keep talks going on,
we’re just going to keep on spinning centrifuges. Now there are some
10,000 centrifuges spinning uranium, preparing to create a nuclear
threat to the United States and to the world. That’s unacceptable for
And it’s essential for a President to show strength from the very
beginning, to make it very clear what is acceptable and not
acceptable. And an Iranian nuclear program is not acceptable to
us. They must not develop nuclear capability. And the way
to make sure they understand that is by having from the very beginning
the tightest sanctions possible. They need to be tightened.
Our diplomatic isolation needs to be tougher. We need to indict
Ahmadinejad. We need to put the pressure on them as hard as we
possibly can, because if we do that, we won’t have to take the military
THE PRESIDENT: Bob, let me just respond. Nothing Governor
Romney just said is true, starting with this notion of me
apologizing. This has been probably the biggest whopper that’s
been told during the course of this campaign. And every
fact-checker and every reporter who’s looked at it, Governor, has said
this is not true.
And when it comes to tightening sanctions, look, as I said before,
we’ve put in the toughest, most crippling sanctions ever. And the fact
is, while we were coordinating an international coalition to make sure
these sanctions were effective, you were still invested in a Chinese
state oil company that was doing business with the Iranian oil
sector. So I’ll let the American people decide, judge who is
going to be more effective and more credible when it comes to imposing
And with respect to our attitude about the Iranian Revolution, I was
very clear about the murderous activities that had taken place and that
was contrary to international law and everything that civilized people
stand for. And so the strength that we have shown in Iran is
shown by the fact that we’ve been able to mobilize the world.
When I came into office, the world was divided; Iran was
resurgent. Iran is at its weakest point economically,
strategically, militarily, than in many years. And we are going
to continue to keep the pressure on to make sure that they do not get a
nuclear weapon. That’s in America’s national interest, and that
will be the case so long as I’m President.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: We’re four years closer to a nuclear Iran. We’re
four years closer to a nuclear Iran. And we should not have
wasted these four years to the extent they’ve continued to be able to
spin these centrifuges and get that much closer. That’s number
Number two, Mr. President, the reason I call it an apology tour is
because you went to the Middle East and you flew to Egypt and to Saudi
Arabia and to Turkey and Iraq, and -- and, by the way, you skipped
Israel, our closest friend in the region, but you went to the other
nations. And, by the way, they noticed that you skipped
Israel. And then in those nations, and on Arabic TV, you said
that America had been dismissive and derisive. You said that on
occasion America has dictated to other nations. Mr. President,
America has not dictated to other nations. We have freed other
nations from dictator.
THE PRESIDENT: Bob, let me respond. If we’re going to talk
about trips that we’ve taken -- when I was a candidate for office, the
first trip I took was to visit our troops. And when I went to
Israel as a candidate, I didn’t take donors, I didn’t attend
fundraisers. I went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum there, to
remind myself the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be
And then I went down to the border town of Sderot, which had
experienced missiles raining down from Hamas. And I saw families
there who showed me where missiles had come down near their children’s
bedrooms, and I was reminded of what that would mean if those were my
kids -- which is why, as President, we funded an Iron Dome program to
stop those missiles. So that’s how I’ve used my travels, when I
traveled to Israel and when I traveled to the region.
And the central question at this point is going to be who’s going to be
credible to all parties involved. And they can look at my track
record -- whether it’s Iran’s sanctions, whether it’s dealing with
counterterrorism, whether it’s supporting democracy, whether it’s
supporting women’s rights, whether it’s supporting religious minorities
-- and they can say that the President of the United States and the
United States of America has stood on the right side of history.
And that kind of credibility is precisely why we’ve been able to show
leadership on a wide range of issues facing the world right now.
MR. SCHIEFFER: What if the Prime Minister of Israel called you on
the phone and said, “Our bombers are on the way. We’re going to
bomb Iran” -- what do you say?
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Bob, let’s not go into hypotheticals of that
nature. Our relationship with Israel, my relationship with the
Prime Minister of Israel is such that we would not get a call saying
our bombers are on the way or their fighters are on the way. This
is the kind of thing that would have been discussed and thoroughly
evaluated well before that kind of last minute --
MR. SCHIEFFER: So you’re saying --
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: I’m just saying that’s just not --
MR. SCHIEFFER: Okay, well, let’s see what --
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Let’s come back to what the President was
speaking about, which is what’s happening in the world, and the
President’s statement that things are going so well. Look, I look
at what’s happening around the world and I see Iran four years closer
to a bomb. I see the Middle East with a rising tide of violence,
chaos, tumult. I see jihadists continuing to spread -- whether
they’re rising or just about the same level, hard to precisely measure
but it’s clear they’re there. They’re very strong. I see
Syria with 30,000 civilians dead. Assad is still in power.
I see our trade deficit with China larger than it’s -- growing larger
every year, as a matter of fact. I look around the world and I
don’t feel that -- you see North Korea continuing to export their
nuclear technology. Russia has said they’re not going to follow
Nunn-Lugar anymore. They’re -- back away from a nuclear
proliferation treaty that we had with them.
I look around the world -- I don’t see our influence growing around the
world. I see our influence receding -- in part because of the
failure of the President to deal with our economic challenges at home;
in part because of our withdrawal from our commitment to our military
in the way I think it ought to be; in part because of the turmoil with
Israel. I mean, the President received a letter from 38 Democrat
senators saying that tensions with Israel were a real problem.
They asked him, please repair the tension -- Democrat senators --
please repair the damage in his own party.
THE PRESIDENT: All right, Governor, the problem is, is that on a
whole range of issues -- whether it’s the Middle East, whether it’s
Afghanistan, whether it’s Iraq, whether it’s now Iran -- you’ve been
all over the map. I mean, I’m pleased that you now are endorsing
our policy of applying diplomatic pressure and potentially having
bilateral discussions with the Iranians to end their nuclear program.
But just a few years ago, you said that’s something you’d never
do. In the same way that you initially opposed a timetable in
Afghanistan; now you’re for it, although it depends. In the same
way that you say you would have ended the war in Iraq, but recently
gave a speech saying that we should have 20,000 more folks in
there. The same way that you said that it was mission creep to go
When it comes to going after Osama bin Laden, you said, well, any
President would make that call. But when you were a candidate in
2008 -- as I was -- and I said if I got bin Laden in our sights, I
would take that shot, you said we shouldn’t move heaven and earth to
get one man. You said we should ask Pakistan for
permission. And if we had asked Pakistan for permission, we would
not have gotten it [him]. And it was worth moving heaven and
earth to get him
After we killed bin Laden, I was at Ground Zero for a memorial and
talked to a young woman who was four years old when 9/11
happened. And the last conversation she had with her father was
him calling from the Twin Towers, saying, “Peyton, I love you, and I
will always watch over you.” And for the next decade she was
haunted by that conversation. And she said to me, “By finally
getting bin Laden, that brought some closure to me.” And when we
do things like that, when we bring those who have harmed us to justice,
that sends a message to the world, and it tells Peyton that we did not
forget her father.
MR. SCHIEFFER: All right.
THE PRESIDENT: And I make that point because that’s the kind of
clarity of leadership -- and those decisions are not always
popular. Those decisions generally are not poll-tested. And
even some in my own party, including my current Vice President, had the
same critique as you did. But what the American people understand
is, is that I look at what we need to get done to keep the American
people safe and to move our interests forward, and I make those
MR. SCHIEFFER: All right, let’s go and that leads us -- this
takes us right to the next segment, Governor, America’s longest war,
Afghanistan and Pakistan --
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Bob --
MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor, you get to go first here.
MR. SCHIEFFER: You can’t -- okay, but you can’t have the
President just lay out a whole series of items without giving me a
chance to respond.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Well, with respect, sir, you had laid out quite a
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Well, that's probably true. (Laughter.)
MR. SCHIEFFER: And we’ll give you -- we’ll give you --
THE PRESIDENT: We’ll agree --
MR. SCHIEFFER: We’ll catch up. The United States is
scheduled to turn over responsibility for security in Afghanistan to
the Afghan government in 2014. At that point we will withdraw our
combat troops, leave a smaller force of Americans -- if I understand
our policy -- in Afghanistan for training purposes. It seems to
me the key question here is what do you do if the deadline arrives and
it is obvious the Afghans are unable to handle their security? Do
we still leave? And I believe, Governor Romney, you go first.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Well, we’re going to be finished by 2014. And
when I’m President, we’ll make sure we bring our troops out by the end
of 2014. The commanders and the generals there are on track to do
so. We’ve seen progress over the last several years. The surge
has been successful, and the training program is proceeding
apace. There are a large number of Afghan security forces --
350,000 -- that are ready to step in to provide security, and we’re
going to be able to make that transition by the end of 2014. So
our troops will come home at that point.
I can tell you at the same time that we will make sure that we look at
what’s happening in Pakistan and recognize that what’s happening in
Pakistan is going to have a major impact on the success in
Afghanistan. And I say that because I know a lot of people just
feel like we should brush our hands and walk away -- and I don't mean
you, Mr. President -- but some people in our nation feel that Pakistan
isn’t being nice to us and that we should just walk away from them.
Pakistan is important to the region, to the world, and to us, because
Pakistan has a hundred nuclear warheads, and they're rushing to build a
lot more. They’ll have more than Great Britain sometime in the
relatively near future. They also have the Haqqani Network and
the Taliban existent within their country.
And so a Pakistan that falls apart, becomes a failed state, would be of
extraordinary danger to Afghanistan and to us. And so we’re going
to have to remain helpful in encouraging Pakistan to move towards a
more stable government and rebuild a relationship with us. And
that means that our aid that we provide to Pakistan is going to have to
be conditioned upon certain benchmarks being met. So for me, I
look at this as both a need to help move Pakistan in the right
direction and also to get Afghanistan to be ready, and they will be
ready by the end of 2014.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: When I came into office, we were still bogged down
in Iraq, and Afghanistan had been drifting for a decade. We ended
the war in Iraq, refocused our attention on Afghanistan. And we
did deliver a surge of troops. That was facilitated in part
because we had ended the war in Iraq. And we are now in a
position where we have met many of the objectives that got us there in
the first place.
Part of what had happened is we had forgotten why we had gone. We
went because there were people who were responsible for 3,000 American
deaths. And so we decimated al Qaeda’s core leadership in the
border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan. We then started
to build up Afghan forces, and we're now in a position where we can
transition out, because there’s no reason why Americans should die when
Afghans are perfectly capable of defending their own country.
That transition has to take place in a responsible fashion. We’ve been
there a long time, but we’ve got to make sure that we and our coalition
partners are pulling out responsibly and giving Afghans the
capabilities that they need.
But what I think the American people recognize is after a decade of
war, it’s time to do some nation-building here at home. And what we can
now do is free up some resources to, for example, put Americans back to
work -- especially our veterans -- rebuilding our roads, our bridges,
our schools; making sure that our veterans are getting the care that
they need when it comes to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic
Brain Injury; making sure that the certifications that they need for
good jobs of the future are in place.
I was having lunch with some -- a veteran in Minnesota who had been a
medic dealing with the most extreme circumstances. When he came
home and he wanted to become a nurse, he had to start from
scratch. And what we’ve said is let’s change those
certifications. The First Lady has done great work with an
organization called Joining Forces, putting our veterans back to
work. And as a consequence, veterans’ unemployment is actually
now lower than the general population; it was higher when I came into
So those are the kinds of things that we can now do because we’re
making that transition in Afghanistan.
MR. SCHIEFFER: All right, let me go to Governor Romney, because
you talked about Pakistan and what needs to be done there.
General Allen, our commander in Afghanistan, says that Americans
continue to die at the hands of groups who are supported by
Pakistan. We know that Pakistan has arrested the doctor who
helped us catch Obama -- bin Laden. It still provides safe haven
for terrorists. Yet we continue to give Pakistan billions of
dollars. Is it time for us to divorce Pakistan?
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: No, it’s not time to divorce a nation on Earth
that has 100 nuclear weapons and is on the way to double that at some
point; a nation that has serious threats from terrorist groups within
its nation -- as I indicated before, the Taliban, the Haqqani
Network. It’s a nation that’s not like others and it does not
have a civilian leadership that is calling the shots there.
You’ve got the ISI, their intelligence organization, that’s probably
the most powerful of three branches there. Then you have the
military and then you have the civilian government.
This is a nation which, if it falls apart, if it becomes a failed
state, there are nuclear weapons there, and you’ve got terrorists there
who could grab their hands onto those nuclear weapons. This is an
important part of the world for us. Pakistan is technically an
ally, and they’re not acting very much like an ally right now, but we
have some work to do.
And I don’t blame the administration for the fact that the relationship
with Pakistan is strained. We had to go into Pakistan. We
had to go in there to get Osama bin Laden. That was the right
thing to do. And that upset them, but there was obviously a great
deal of anger even before that. But we’re going to have to work
with the people in Pakistan to try and help them move to a more
responsible course than the one that they’re on.
It’s important for them. It’s important for the nuclear
weapons. It’s important for the success of Afghanistan, because
inside Pakistan you have a large -- Pashtuns that are Taliban.
They’re going to come rushing back in to Afghanistan when we go, and
that’s one of the reasons the Afghan security forces have so much work
to do to be able to fight against that.
But it’s important for us to recognize that we can’t just walk away
from Pakistan. But we do need to make sure that as we send
support for them, that this is tied to them making progress on matters
that would lead them to becoming a civil society.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you, Governor -- because we know
President Obama’s position on this -- what is your position on the use
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Well, I believe that we should use any and all
means necessary to take out people who pose a threat to us and our
friends around the world. And it’s widely reported that drones
are being used in drone strikes, and I support that entirely, and feel
the President was right to up the usage of that technology, and believe
that we should continue to use it to continue to go after the people
who represent a threat to this nation and to our friends.
Let me also note that, as I said earlier, we’re going to have to do
more than just going after leaders and killing bad guys, important as
that is. We’re also going to have to have a far more effective
and comprehensive strategy to help move the world away from terror and
Islamic extremism. We haven’t done that yet.
We talk a lot about these things, but you look at the record -- you
look at the record of the last four years and say, is Iran closer to a
bomb? Yes. Is the Middle East in tumult? Yes.
Is al Qaeda on the run, on its heels? No. Are Israel and
the Palestinians closer to reaching a peace agreement? No, they
haven’t had talks in two years. We have not seen the progress we
need to have. And I’m convinced that with strong leadership and
an effort to build a strategy based upon helping these nations reject
extremism, we can see the kind of peace and prosperity the world
THE PRESIDENT: Well, keep in mind, our strategy wasn’t just going
after bin Laden. We’ve created partnerships throughout the region
to deal with extremism -- in Somalia, in Yemen, in Pakistan. And
what we’ve also done is engage these governments in the kind of reforms
that are actually going to make a difference in people’s lives day to
day -- to make sure that their governments aren’t corrupt; to make sure
that they are treating women with the kind of respect and dignity that
every nation that succeeds has shown; and to make sure that they’ve got
a free market system that works. So across the board, we are
engaging them in building capacity in these countries, and we’ve stood
on the side of democracy.
One thing I think Americans should be proud of -- when Tunisians began
to protest, this nation -- me, my administration -- stood with them
earlier than just about any other country. In Egypt, we stood on
the side of democracy. In Libya, we stood on the side of the
people. And as a consequence, there’s no doubt that attitudes
about Americans have changed.
But there are always going to be elements in these countries that
potentially threaten the United States, and we want to shrink those
groups and those networks, and we can do that. But we’re always
also going to have to maintain vigilance when it comes to terrorist
activities. The truth, though, is that al Qaeda is much weaker
than it was when I came into office, and they don’t have the same
capacities to attack the U.S. homeland and our allies as they did four
MR. SCHIEFFER: Let’s go to the next segment, because it’s a very
important one. It is the rise of China and future challenges for
America. I want to just begin this by asking both of you -- and,
Mr. President, you go first this time -- what do you believe is the
greatest future threat to the national security of this country?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think it will continue to be terrorist
networks. We have to remain vigilant, as I just said. But with
respect to China, China is both an adversary but also a potential
partner in the international community if it’s following the
rules. So my attitude coming into office was that we are going to
insist that China plays by the same rules as everybody else.
Now, I know Americans had seen jobs being shipped overseas, businesses
and workers not getting a level playing field when it came to
trade. And that’s the reason why I set up a trade task force to
go after cheaters when it came to international trade. That’s the
reason why we have brought more cases against China for violating trade
rules than the other -- the previous administration had done in two
terms. And we’ve won just about every case that we filed, that
has been decided.
In fact, just recently, steel workers in Ohio and throughout the
Midwest, Pennsylvania, are in a position now to sell steel to China
because we won that case. We had a tire case in which they were
flooding us with cheap domestic tires -- or cheap Chinese tires -- and
we put a stop to it and, as a consequence, saved jobs throughout
I have to say that Governor Romney criticized me for being too tough in
that tire case; said this wouldn’t be good for American workers and
that it would protectionist. But I tell you, those workers don’t
feel that way. They feel as if they had finally an administration
who was going to take this issue seriously.
Over the long term, in order for us to compete with China, we’ve also
got to make sure, though, that we’re taking care of business here at
home. If we don’t have the best education system in the world, if
we don't continue to put money into research and technology that will
allow us to create great businesses here in the United States, that’s
how we lose the competition. And unfortunately, Governor Romney’s
budget and his proposals would not allow us to make those investments.
MR. SCHIEFFER: All right. Governor.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Well, first of all, it’s not government that
makes business successful. It’s not government investments that
make businesses grow and hire people. Let me also note that the
greatest threat that the world faces, the greatest national security
threat is a nuclear Iran.
Let’s talk about China. China has an interest that’s very much
like ours in one respect, and that is they want a stable world.
They don’t want war. They don’t want to see protectionism.
They don’t want to see the world break out into various form of chaos,
because they have to manufacture goods and put people to work.
They have about 20,000 -- 20 million, rather, people coming out of the
farms every year, coming into the cities, needing jobs. So they
want the economy to work and the world to be free and open. And
so we can be a partner with China. We don’t have to be an
adversary in any way, shape, or form. We can work with
them. We can collaborate with them if they're willing to be
Now, they look at us and say, is it a good idea to be with
America? How strong are we going to be? How strong is our
economy? They look at the fact that we owe them a trillion
dollars and owe other people $16 trillion in total, including
them. They look at our decision to cut back on our military
capabilities -- a trillion dollars. The Secretary of Defense
called these trillion dollars of cuts to our military
devastating. It’s not my term. It’s the President’s own
Secretary of Defense called them devastating. They look at
America’s commitments around the world and they see what’s happening,
and they say, well, okay, is America going to be strong? And the
answer is, yes, if I’m President, America will be very strong.
We’ll also make sure that we have trade relations with China that work
for us. I’ve watched year in and year out as companies have shut
down and people have lost their jobs because China has not played by
the same rules, in part by holding down artificially the value of their
currency; it holds down the prices of their goods. It means our
goods aren’t as competitive, and we lose jobs. That's got to
end. They're making some progress. They need to make
more. That's why on day one I will label them a currency
manipulator, which allows us to apply tariffs where they're taking jobs.
They're stealing our intellectual property, our patents, our designs,
our technology, hacking into our computers, counterfeiting our
goods. They have to understand we want to trade with them, we
want a world that's stable, we like free enterprise, but you’ve got to
play by the rules.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Well, Governor, let me just ask you, if you
declare them a currency manipulator on day one, some people say you’re
just going to start a trade war with China on day one. Is that --
isn’t there a risk that that could happen?
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Well, they sell us about this much stuff every
year, and we sell them about this much stuff every year. So it’s
pretty clear who doesn't want a trade war. And there’s one going
on right now which we don't know about -- it’s a silent one, and
they're winning. We have enormous trade imbalance with
China. And it’s worse this year than last year. And it’s
worst last year than the year before.
And so we have to understand that we can't just surrender and lose jobs
year in and year out. We have to say to our friends in China,
look, you guys are playing aggressively, we understand it, but this
can't keep on going. You can't keep on holding down the value of
your currency, stealing our intellectual property, counterfeiting our
products, selling them around the world -- even into the United States.
I was with one company that makes valves in process industries.
And they said, look, we were having some valves coming in that were
broken and we had to repair them under warranty. And we looked
them up, and they had our serial number on them, and then we noticed
that there was more than one with that same serial number. There
were counterfeit products being made overseas with the same serial
number as a U.S. company, the same packaging. These were being
sold into our market and around the world as if they were made by the
U.S. competitor. This can't go on. I want a great
relationship with China. China can be our partner, but that
doesn't mean they can just roll all over us and steal our jobs on an
THE PRESIDENT: Well, Governor Romney is right, you are familiar
with jobs being shipped overseas because you invested in companies that
were shipping jobs overseas. And that's your right. I mean,
that's how our free market works. But I’ve made a different bet
on American workers.
If we had taken your advice, Governor Romney, about our auto industry,
we’d be buying cars from China instead of selling cars to China.
If we take your advice with respect to how we change our tax code so
that companies that are in profits overseas don’t pay U.S. taxes
compared to companies here that are paying taxes, that’s estimated to
create 800,000 jobs. The problem is they won’t be here; they’ll
be in places like China.
And if we’re not making investments in education and basic research,
which is not something that the private sector is doing at a sufficient
pace right now and has never done, then we will lose the lead in things
like clean energy technology.
Now, with respect to what we’ve done with China already, U.S. exports
have doubled since I came into office to China. And, actually,
currencies are at their most advantageous point for U.S. exporters
since 1993. We absolutely have to make more progress, and that’s
why we’re going to keep on pressing.
And when it comes to our military and Chinese security, part of the
reason that we were able to pivot to the Asia Pacific region after
having ended the war in Iraq and transitioning out of Afghanistan is
precisely because this is going to be a massive growth area in the
And we believe China can be a partner, but we’re also sending a very
clear signal that America is a Pacific power, that we are going to have
a presence there. We are working with countries in the region to
make sure, for example, that ships can pass through, that commerce
continues. And we’re organizing trade relations with countries
other than China so that China starts feeling more pressure about
meeting basic international standards. That’s the kind of
leadership we’ve shown in the region. That’s the kind of
leadership that we’ll continue to show.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: I just want to take one of those points.
Again, attacking me is not talking about an agenda for getting more
trade and opening up more jobs in this country. But the President
mentioned the auto industry and that somehow I would be in favor of
jobs being elsewhere. Nothing could be further from the
truth. I’m a son of Detroit. I was born in Detroit.
My dad was head of a car company. I like American cars, and I
would do nothing to hurt the U.S. auto industry.
My plan to get the industry on its feet when it was in real trouble was
not to start writing checks. It was President Bush that wrote the
first checks. I disagreed with that. I said they need --
these companies need to go through a managed bankruptcy. And in that
process, they can get government help and government guarantees, but
they need to go through bankruptcy to get rid of excess cost and the
debt burden that they’d built up. And fortunately, the President
THE PRESIDENT: Governor Romney, that’s not what you said.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Fortunately, the President -- you can take a
look at the op-ed. You can take a look at the op-ed.
THE PRESIDENT: Governor Romney, you did not say that you would
provide governor help.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: You know, I’m still speaking. I said that
we would provide guarantees, and that was what was able to allow these
companies to go through bankruptcy, to come out of bankruptcy.
Under no circumstances would I do anything other than to help this
industry get on its feet. And the idea that has been suggested,
that I would liquidate the industry -- of course not, of course not.
THE PRESIDENT: Let’s check the record.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: That’s the height of silliness. I have
never said I would --
THE PRESIDENT: Let’s check the record.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: -- liquidate the industry. I want to keep
the industry going and thriving.
THE PRESIDENT: Governor, the people of Detroit don’t forget.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: And that’s why I have the kind of commitment to
make sure that our industries in this country can compete and be
successful. We in this country can compete successfully with
anyone in the world, and we’re going to. We’re going to have to
have a President, however, that doesn’t think that somehow the
government investing in car companies like Tessella and Fisker, making
electric battery cars -- this is not research, Mr. President.
These are the government investing in companies, investing in
Solyndra. This is a company -- this isn’t basic research. I
want to invest in research. Research is great. Providing
funding to universities and think tanks -- great. But investing
in companies -- absolutely not. That’s the wrong way to go.
THE PRESIDENT: Governor, the fact of the matter is --
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: I’m still speaking. So I want to make sure
that we make America more competitive and that we do those things that
make America the most attractive place in the world for entrepreneurs,
innovators, businesses to grow. But your investing in companies
doesn’t do that. In fact, it makes it less likely for them to
come here, because the private sector is not going to invest in a solar
THE PRESIDENT: Governor, I’m happy to respond. You’ve held
the floor for a while.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: -- if you’re investing government money in
THE PRESIDENT: Look, I think anybody out there can check the
record. Governor Romney, you keep on trying to airbrush history
here. You were very clear that you would not provide government
assistance to the U.S. auto companies even if they went through
bankruptcy. You said that they could get it in the private
marketplace. That wasn’t true. They would have gone through
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: You’re wrong. You’re wrong, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: No, I am not wrong.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: You’re wrong.
THE PRESIDENT: I am not wrong.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: People can look it up -- you’re right.
THE PRESIDENT: People will look it up.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Good.
THE PRESIDENT: But more importantly, it is true that in order for
us to be competitive, we’re going to have to make some smart choices
right now. Cutting our education budget -- that’s not a smart
choice. That will not help us compete with China. Cutting
our investments in research and technology -- that’s not a smart
choice. That will not help us compete with China. Bringing
down our deficit by adding $7 trillion of tax cuts and military
spending that our military is not asking for, before we even get to the
debt that we currently have -- that is not going to make us more
Those are the kinds of choices that the American people face right
now. Having a tax code that rewards companies that are shipping
jobs overseas instead of companies that are investing here in the
United States -- that will not make us more competitive. And the
one thing that I’m absolutely clear about is that after a decade in
which we saw a drift, jobs being shipped overseas, nobody championing
American workers and American businesses, we’ve now begun to make some
real progress. What we can’t do is go back to the same policies
that got us into such difficulty in the first place. And that’s
why we have to move forward and not go back.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: I couldn’t agree more about going forward, but I
certainly don’t want to go back to the policies of the last four
years. The policies of the last four years has seen incomes in
America decline every year for middle-income families, now down $4,300
during your term. Twenty-three million Americans still struggling
to find a good job.
When you came to office, 32 million people on food stamps; today, 47
million people on food stamps. When you came to office, just over
$10 trillion in debt; now $16 trillion in debt. It hasn’t
worked. You said by now we’d be at 5.4 percent
unemployment. We’re 9 million jobs short of that. I’ve met
some of those people. I met them in Appleton, Wisconsin. I
met a young woman in Philadelphia who’s coming out of college, can't
find work. Ann was with someone just the other day that was just
weeping about not being able to get work. It’s just a tragedy in
a nation so prosperous as ours that these last four years have been so
And that's why it’s so critical that we make America once again the
most attractive place in the world to start businesses, to build jobs,
to grow the economy. And that's not going to happen by just
Look, I’d love to -- I love teachers, and I’m happy to have states and
communities that want to hire teachers do that. By the way, I
don't like to have the federal government start pushing its way deeper
and deeper into our schools; let the states and localities do
that. I was a governor -- the federal government didn't hire our
MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: But I love teachers, but I want to get our
private sector growing, and I know how to do it.
MR. SCHIEFFER: I think we all love teachers. (Laughter.)
Gentlemen, thank you so much for a very vigorous debate. We have
come to the end. It is time for closing statements. I
believe you’re first, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much, Bob, Governor Romney,
and to Lynn University.
You’ve now heard three debates, months of campaigning and way too many
TV commercials. (Laughter.) And now you’ve got a
choice. Over the last four years, we’ve made real progress
digging our way out of policies that gave us two prolonged wars, record
deficits, and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
And Governor Romney wants to take us back to those policies -- a
foreign policy that's wrong and reckless; economic policies that won’t
create jobs, won't reduce our deficit, but will make sure that folks at
the very top don't have to play by the same rules that you do.
And I’ve got a different vision for America.
I want to build on our strengths. And I’ve put forward a plan to
make sure that we’re bringing manufacturing jobs back to our shores by
rewarding companies and small businesses that are investing here, not
overseas. I want to make sure we’ve got the best education system
in the world, and we’re retaining our workers for the jobs of tomorrow.
I want to control our own energy by developing oil and natural gas, but
also the energy sources of the future. Yes, I want to reduce our
deficit by cutting spending that we don't need, but also by asking the
wealthy to do a little bit more so that we can invest in things like
research and technology that are the key to a 21st-century economy.
As Commander-in-Chief, I will maintain the strongest military in the
world, keep faith with our troops, and go after those who would do us
harm. But after a decade of war, I think we all recognize we’ve
got to do some nation-building here at home rebuilding our roads, our
bridges, and especially caring for our veterans who sacrificed so much
for our freedom.
We’ve been through tough times, but we always bounce back because of
our character, because we pull together. And if I have the
privilege of being your President for another four years, I promise you
I will always listen to your voices, I will fight for your families,
and I will work every single day to make sure that America continues to
be the greatest nation on Earth. Thank you.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Thank you. Bob, Mr. President, folks at
Lynn University, good to be with you. I’m optimistic about the
future. I’m excited about our prospects as a nation. I want
to see peace. I want to see growing peace in this country.
It’s our objective. We have an opportunity to have real
leadership. America is going to have that kind of leadership and
continue to promote principles of peace that will make the world a
safer place, and make people in this country more confident that their
future is secure.
I also to want to make sure that we get this economy going. And
there are two very different paths the country can take. One is a
path represented by the President, which, at the end of four years,
would mean we’d have $20 trillion in debt, heading towards
Greece. I’ll get us on track to a balanced budget.
The President’s path will mean continuing declining in take-home
pay. I want to make sure our take-home pay turns around and
starts to grow. The President’s path means 20 million people out
of work, struggling for a good job. I’ll get people back to work
with 12 million new jobs.
I’m going to make sure that we get people off of food stamps, not by
cutting the program, but by getting them good jobs. America is
going to come back, and for that to happen, we’re going to have to have
a President who can work across the aisle.
I was in a state where my legislature was 87 percent Democrat. I
learned how to get along on the other side of the aisle. We’ve
got to do that in Washington. Washington is broken. I know
what it takes to get this country back, and we’ll work with good
Democrats and good Republicans to do that.
This nation is the hope of the Earth. We’ve been blessed by
having a nation that’s free and prosperous thanks to the contributions
of the Greatest Generation. They’ve held a torch for the world to
see, a torch of freedom and hope and opportunity. Now it’s our
turn to take that torch. I’m convinced we’ll do it.
We need strong leadership. I’d like to be that leader with your
support. I’ll work with you. I’ll lead you in an open and
honest way. And I ask for your vote. I’d like to be the
next President of the United States to support and help this great
nation, and to make sure that we all together maintain America as the
hope of the Earth. Thank you so much.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Gentlemen, thank you both so much. That
brings an end to this year’s debates. And we want to thank Lynn
University and its students for having us. As I always do at the
end of these debates, I leave you with the words of my mom, who said,
go vote. (Laughter.) It makes you feel big and
strong. Good night.
10:32 P.M. EDT