Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 October 19, 2016: The third Trump-Clinton presidential debate transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:

The third Trump-Clinton presidential debate transcript

Source: Vox, 10-19-16

Chris Wallace: I’m Chris Wallace of Fox News. And I welcome you to the third and final of the 2016 presidential debates between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump.

This debate is sponsored by the commission on presidential debates. The commission has designed the format, six roughly 15-minute segments with two-minute answers to the first question, then open discussion for the rest of each segment. Both campaigns have agreed to those rules. For the record, I decided the topics and the questions in each topic. None of those questions has been shared with the commission or the two candidates. The audience here in the hall has promised to remain silent. No cheers, boos, or other interruptions, so we and you can focus on what the candidates have to say. No noise except right now as we welcome the Democratic nominee for president, Secretary Clinton, and the Republican nominee for president, Mr. Trump.

Secretary Clinton, Mr. Trump, welcome. Let’s get right to it. The first topic is the Supreme Court. We — you both talked briefly about the court in the last debate, but I want to drill down on this because the next president will almost certainly have at least one appointment and likely or possibly two or three appointments, which means that you will in effect determine the balance of the court for what could be the next quarter century. First of all, where do you want to see the court take the country? And secondly, what’s your view on how the Constitution should be interpreted? Do the founders’ words mean what they say, or is it a living document to be applied flexibly according to changing circumstances? In this segment, Secretary Clinton, go first, you have two minutes.

Hillary Clinton: Thank you very much, Chris, and thanks to UNLV for hosting us. When we talk about the Supreme Court it really raises the central issue in this election, namely, what kind of country are we going to be? What kind of opportunities will we provide for our citizens?

What kind of rights will Americans have? And I feel strongly that the Supreme Court needs to stand on the side of the American people, not on the side of the powerful corporations and the wealthy.

For me, that means that we need a Supreme Court that will stand up on behalf of women’s rights, on behalf of the rights of the LGBT community, that will stand up and say no to Citizens United, a decision that has undermined the election system in the country because of the way it permits dark, unaccountable money to come into our electoral system. I have major disagreements with my opponent about these issues and others that will be before the Supreme Court, but I feel that at this point in our country’s history, it is important that we not reverse marriage equality, that we not reverse Roe v. Wade, that we stand up against Citizens United, we stand up for the rights of people in the workplace, that we stand up and basically say the Supreme Court should represent all of us. That’s how I see the court, and the kind of people that I would be looking to nominate to the court would be in the great tradition of standing up to the powerful, standing up on behalf of our rights as Americans, and I look forward to having that opportunity.

I would hope that the Senate would do its job and confirm the nominee that President Obama has sent to them. That’s the way the Constitution fundamentally should operate. The president nominates and then the Senate advises and consents or not.

But they go forward with the process.

Wallace: Secretary Clinton, thank you. Mr. Trump, same question. Where do you want to see the court take the country, and how do you believe the Constitution should be interpreted?

Donald Trump: Well, first of all, it’s great to be with you and thank you, everybody. The Supreme Court, it’s what it’s all about. Our country is so, so, just so imperative that we have the right justices. Something happened recently where Justice Ginsburg made some very inappropriate statements toward me and toward a tremendous number of people, many, many millions of people that I represent, and she was forced to apologize, and apologize she did. But these were statements that should never, ever have been made.

We need a Supreme Court that, in my opinion, is going to uphold the Second Amendment and all amendments, but the Second Amendment, which is under absolute siege. I believe if my opponent should win this race, which I truly don’t think will happen, we will have a Second Amendment which will be a very, very small replica of what it is right now. But I feel that it’s absolutely important that we recall because of the fact that it is under such trauma. I feel that the justices that I am going to appoint — and I’ve named 20 of them — the justices that I’m going to appoint will be pro-life, they will have a conservative bent, they will be protecting the Second Amendment, they are great scholars in all cases, and they’re people of tremendous respect. They will interpret the Constitution the way the founders wanted it interpreted.

And I believe that’s very, very important. I don’t think we should have justices appointed that decide what they want to hear.

It’s all about the Constitution of — and so important, the Constitution the way it was meant to be and those are the people that I will appoint.

Wallace: We now have 10 minutes for open discussion. I want to focus on two issues that in fact by the justices that you name could end up changing the existing law of the land. First is one that you mentioned, Mr. Trump, and that is guns. Secretary Clinton, you said last year, and let me quote, the Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment.

Now, in fact, in the 2008 Heller case, the court ruled that there is a constitutional right to bear arms but a right that is reasonably limited. Those were the words of Judge Antonin Scalia, who wrote the decision. What’s wrong with that?

Clinton: Well, first of all, I support the Second Amendment. I lived in Arkansas for 18 wonderful years. I represented upstate New York. I understand and respect the tradition of gun ownership. It goes back to the founding of our country. But I also believe that there can be and must be reasonable regulation. Because I support the Second Amendment doesn’t mean that I want people who shouldn’t have guns to be able to threaten you, kill you or members of your family.

And so when I think about what we need to do, we have 33,000 people a year who die from guns. I think we need comprehensive background checks. We need to close the online loophole, close the gun show loophole. There are other matters that I think are sensible that are the kind of reforms that would make a difference that are not in any way conflicting with the Second Amendment.

You mentioned the Heller decision, and what I was saying that you reference, Chris, was that I disagreed with the way the court applied the Second Amendment in that case. Because what the District of Columbia was trying to do was protect toddlers from guns. They wanted people with guns to safely store them, and the court didn’t accept that reasonable regulation, but they’ve accepted many other.

I see no conflict between saving people’s lives and defending the Second Amendment.

Wallace: Let me bring Mr. Trump in here. The bipartisan open debate coalition got millions of votes on questions to ask here, and this was, in fact, one of the top questions that they got. How will you ensure the Second Amendment is protected? You just heard Secretary Clinton’s answer. Does she persuade you that, while you may differ on regulation, that she supports a Second Amendment right to bear arms?

Trump: The DC v. Heller decision was very strongly and she was extremely angry about it. I watched. She was very, very angry when upheld. And Justice Scalia was so involved, and it was a well-crafted decision, but Hillary was extremely upset, extremely angry, and people that believe in the Second Amendment and believe in it very strongly were very upset with what she had to say.

Wallace: Let me bring in Secretary Clinton. Were you extremely upset?

Clinton: Well, I was upset because, unfortunately, dozens of toddlers injure themselves, even kill people with guns because, unfortunately, not everyone who has loaded guns in their homes takes appropriate precautions.

But there’s no doubt that I respect the Second Amendment, that I also believe there’s an individual right to bear arms. That is not in conflict with sensible, commonsense regulation. And you know, look, I understand that Donald’s been strongly supported by the NRA, the gun lobby’s on his side, they’re running millions of dollars of ads against me. And I regret that, because what I would like to see is for people to come together and say of course we’re going to protect and defend the Second Amendment, but we’re going to do it in a way that tries to save some of these 33,000 lives that we lose every year.

Wallace: Let me bring Mr. Trump back into that. Because, in fact, you oppose any limits on assault weapons, any limits on magazines. You support a national right to carry law. Why, sir?

Trump: Let me just tell you before we go any further, in Chicago, which has the toughest gun laws in the United States, probably you could say by far they have more gun violence than any other city. So we have the toughest laws and you have tremendous gun violence.

I am a very strong supporter of the Second Amendment. And I don’t know if Hillary was saying it in a sarcastic manner, but I’m very proud to have the endorsement of the NRA. It’s the earliest endorsement they’ve ever given to anybody who ran for president. I’m very honored by all of that.

We are going to appoint justices. This is the best way to help the Second Amendment. We’re going to appoint justices that will feel very seriously about the Second Amendment. That will not do damage to the Second Amendment.

Wallace: Let’s pick up on another issue which divides you and the justices that whoever ends up winning this election appoints could have a dramatic effect there, and that’s the issue of abortion. Mr. Trump, you’re pro-life. But I want to ask you specifically, do you want the court, including the justices that you will name, to overturn Roe v. Wade, which includes, in fact states, a woman’s right to abortion?

Trump: Well, if that would happen, because I am pro-life and I will be appointing pro-life judges, I would think that that would go back to the individual states.

Wallace: But I’m asking you specifically —

Trump: If they overturned it, it will go back to the states.

Wallace: What I’m asking you, sir, is do you want to see the court overturn? You just said you want to see the court protect the Second Amendment. Do you want to see the court overturn Roe v. Wade?

Trump: If we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that will happen. And that will happen automatically in my opinion because I’m putting pro-life justices on the court. I will say this, it will go back to the states and the states will then make a determination.

Wallace: Secretary Clinton?

Clinton: I strongly support Roe v. Wade, which guarantees a constitutional right to a woman to make the most intimate, most difficult in many cases decisions about her health care that one can imagine. And in this case it’s not only about Roe v. Wade. It is about what’s happening right now in America. So many states are putting very stringent regulations on women that block them from exercising that choice to the extent that they are defunding Planned Parenthood, which, of course, provides all kinds of cancer screenings and other benefits for women in our country.

Donald has said he’s in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood. He even supported shutting the government down to defund Planned Parenthood. I will defend Planned Parenthood. I will defend Roe v. Wade, and I will defend women’s rights to make their own health care decisions.

Wallace: Secretary —

Clinton: And we’ve come too far to have that turn back now. Indeed, he said women should be punished, that there should be some form of punishment for women who obtain abortions. And I could just not be more opposed to that kind of thinking.

Wallace: I’m going to give you a chance to respond, but I want to ask you, Secretary Clinton, how far you believe the right to abortion goes. You have been quoted as saying that the fetus has no constitutional rights. You also voted against a ban on late-term partial-birth abortions. Why?

Clinton: Because Roe v. Wade very clearly sets out that there can be regulations on abortion so long as the life and the health of the mother are taken into account. And when I voted as a senator, I did not think that that was the case. The kinds of cases that fall at the end of pregnancy are often the most heartbreaking, painful decisions for families to make. I have met with women who toward the end of their pregnancy get the worst news one could get, that their health is in jeopardy if they continue to carry to term or that something terrible has happened or just been discovered about the pregnancy. I do not think the United States government should be stepping in and making those most personal of decisions. So you can regulate if you are doing so with the life and the health of the mother taken into account.

Wallace: Mr. Trump, your reaction, and particularly on this issue of late-term partial birth abortion.

Trump: I think it’s terrible if you go with what Hillary is saying in the ninth month you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby.

Now, you can say that that’s okay, and Hillary can say that that’s okay, but it’s not okay with me. Because based on what she’s saying and based on where she’s going and where she’s been, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month, only the final day. And that’s not acceptable.

Clinton: Well, that is not what happens in these cases. And using that kind of scare rhetoric is just terribly unfortunate. You should meet with some of the women that I’ve met with. Women I’ve known over the course of my life.

This is one of the worst possible choices that any woman and her family has to make. I do not believe the government should be making it. I’ve been to countries where governments forced women to have abortions like they did in China or force women to bear children like they used to do in Romania. I can tell you the government has no business in the decisions that women make with their families in accordance with their faith, with medical advice, and I will stand up for that right.

Wallace: All right. Just briefly, I want to move on.

Trump: And honestly, nobody has business doing what I just said, doing that as late as one or two or three or four days prior to birth, nobody has that.

Wallace: All right. Let’s move on to the subject of immigration, and there is almost no issue that separates the two of you more than the issue of immigration.

Actually, there are a lot of issues. Mr. Trump, you want to build a wall. Secretary Clinton, you’ve offered no specific plan for how you want to secure our southern border.

Mr. Trump, you are calling for major deportations. Secretary Clinton, you say within your first 100 days as president you’ll offer a package that includes a pathway to citizenship. The question really is why are you right and your opponent wrong? Mr. Trump, you go first in this segment. You have two minutes.

Trump: First of all, she wants to give amnesty, which is a disaster and very unfair to all the people who are waiting in line for many years. We need strong borders. In the audience tonight we have four mothers of — I mean, these are unbelievable people that I’ve gotten to know over a period of years whose children have been killed, brutally killed by people who came into the country illegally. You have mothers, fathers, relatives all over the county. They’re coming in illegally.

Drugs are pouring in through the border. We have no country if we have no border. Hillary wants to give amnesty, she wants to have open borders.

As you know, the Border Patrol agency, 16,500-plus ICE last week endorsed me. First time they’ve ever endorsed a candidate. It means their job is tougher, but they know what’s going on. They know it better than anybody. They want strong borders. They feel we have to have strong borders. I was up in New Hampshire, the biggest complaint they have with all the problems going on in the world, many of the problems caused by Hillary Clinton and by Barack Obama, all of the problems, their single biggest problem is heroin that pours across our southern borders, just pouring and destroying their youth. It’s poisoning the blood of their youth and plenty of other people.

We have to have strong borders. We have to keep the drugs out of our country. Right now we’re getting the drugs, they’re getting the cash. We need strong borders. We absolute — we cannot give amnesty.

Now I want to build a wall. We need the wall. The border patrol, ICE, they all want the wall. We stop the drugs, shore up the border.

One of my first acts will be to get all of the drug lords, we have some bad, bad people in this country that have to go out. We’ll get them out, secure the border, and once the border is secured, at a later date we’ll make a determination as to the rest. But we have some bad hombres here and we’re going to get them out.

Wallace: Mr. Trump, thank you. Same question to you, Secretary Clinton, basically why are you right and Mr. Trump is wrong?

Clinton: As he was talking, I was thinking about a young girl I met here in Las Vegas, Carla, who was very worried that her parents might be deported because she was born in this country but they were not. They work hard and do everything they can to give her a good life. And you’re right, I don’t want to rip families apart. I don’t want to be sending parents away from children. I don’t want to see the deportation force that Donald has talked about in action in our country. We have 11 million undocumented people. They have 4 million American citizen children — 15 million people. He said as recently as a few weeks ago in Phoenix that every undocumented person would be subject to deportation.

Now, here’s what that means. It means you would have to have a massive law enforcement presence where law enforcement officers would be going school to school, home to home, business to business, rounding up people who are undocumented, and we would then have to put them on trains, on buses, to get them out of our country. I think that is an idea that is not in keeping with who we are as a nation. I think it’s an idea that would rip our country apart. I have been for border security for years.

I voted for border security in the United States Senate. And my comprehensive immigration reform plan of course includes border security. But I want to put our resources where I think they’re most needed — getting rid of any violent person, anybody who should be deported, we should deport them. When it comes to the wall that Donald talks about building, he went to Mexico. He had a meeting with the Mexican president. Didn’t even raise it. He choked, then got into a Twitter war because the Mexican president said, “We’re not paying for that wall.”

So I think we are both a nation of immigrants and we are a nation of laws and that we can act accordingly. That’s why I’m introducing immigration reform within the first 100 days with a path to citizenship.

Trump: Chris, I think it’s an issue to respond to. First of all, I had a very good meeting with the president of Mexico. Very nice man. We will be doing very much better with Mexico on trade deals, believe me, than the NAFTA deal by her husband, one of the worst deals of any kind signed by anybody. It’s a disaster. Hillary Clinton wanted the wall. Hillary Clinton fought for the wall in 2006 or thereabouts.

Now, she never gets anything done, so naturally the wall wasn’t built. But Hillary Clinton want the wall. We’re a country of laws. And by the way —

Wallace: I’d like to hear from Secretary Clinton.

Clinton: I voted for border security, and there are —

Trump: And the wall.

Clinton: There are some limited places where that was appropriate. There’s also going to be new technology and how best to deploy that. But it is clear, when you look at what Donald has been proposing — he started his campaign bashing immigrants, calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals and drug dealers — that he has a very different view about what we should do to deal with immigrants. Now, what I am also arguing is that bringing undocumented immigrants out from the shadows, putting them in the formal economy, will be good because employers can’t exploit them and undercut their wages.

Donald knows a lot about this; he used undocumented labor to build Trump Tower. He underpaid undocumented workers, and when they complained he said what a lot of [people] do, you complain I’ll get you deported. I want to get the economy working and not let employers like Donald exploit undocumented workers that hurts them and undocumented workers.

Trump: President Obama has moved millions of people out. Nobody knows about it, nobody talks about it. But under Obama, millions of people have been moved out of this country, they’ve been deported. She doesn’t want to say that, but that’s what’s happened. And that’s what’s happened big league. As far as moving these people out and moving, we have a country or we don’t. We’re a country of laws. We either have a border or we don’t. You can come back in and you can become a citizen, but it’s very unfair — we have million of people that did it the right way.

They’re on line, they’re waiting. We’re going to speed up the process big league because it’s very inefficient. But they’re in line and they’re waiting to become citizens. Very unfair that somebody runs across the border, becomes a citizen. Under her plan you have open borders. You would have a disaster on trade. And you’ll have a disaster with your open borders. What she doesn’t say is that president Obama has deported millions and millions of people just the way it is. Wallace: Secretary Clinton — Clinton: We will not have open borders. That is a rank mischaracterization. Wallace: Secretary Clinton? Clinton: We’ll have secure borders but we’ll also have reform. This used to be a bipartisan issue. Ronald Reagan was the last president — Wallace: Excuse me. Secretary Clinton. Clinton: Designed immigration reform and George W. Bush supported it as well. Wallace: Secretary Clinton, I want to clear up your position on this issue because in a speech you gave to a Brazilian bank for which you were paid $225,000 we’ve learned from the Wikileaks that you said this and I want to quote, my dream is a hemispheric common market with open trade and open borders —Trump: Thank you.

Wallace: So that’s the question. Please, quiet, everybody. Is that your dream, open borders?

Clinton: Well, if you went on to read the rest of the sentence, I was talking about energy. You know, we trade more energy with our neighbors than we trade with the rest of the world combined. And I do want us to have an electric grid, energy system that crosses borders. I think that would be a great benefit to us. But you are very clearly quoting from wikileaks and what’s really important about wikileaks is that the Russian government has engaged in espionage against Americans. They have hacked American websites, American accounts of private people, of institutions, then they have given that information to Wikileaks for the purpose of putting it on the internet.

This has come from the highest levels of the Russian government, clearly from Putin himself, in an effort, as 17 of our intelligence agencies have confirmed to influence our election. So I actually think the most important question of this evening, Chris, is finally will Donald Trump admit and condemn that the Russians are doing this and make it clear that he will not have the help of Putin in this election, that he rejects Russian espionage against Americans which he actually encouraged in the past?

Those are the questions we need answered. We’ve never had anything like this happen in any of our elections before.

Trump: That was a great pivot off the fact that she wants open borders, okay? How did we get off to Putin?

Wallace: Hold on.

Trump: No, no.

Wallace: Hold on, folks. Because this is going to end up getting out of control. Let’s try to keep it quiet for the candidates and for the American people.

Trump: Just to finish on the borders —

Wallace: Yes.

Trump: She wants open borders. People are going to pour into our country. People are going to come in from Syria. She wants 550% more people than Barack Obama, and he has thousands and thousands of people. They have no idea where they come from and you see, we are going to stop radical islamic terrorism in this country. She won’t even mention the words and neither will president Obama. So I just want to tell you, she wants open borders.

Now we can talk about Putin. I don’t know Putin. He said nice things about me. If we got along well, that would be good.

If Russia and the United States got along well and went after ISIS, that would be good. He has no respect for her. He has no respect for our president. And I’ll tell you what, we’re in very serious trouble because we have a country with tremendous numbers of nuclear warheads, 1,800, by the way, where they expanded and we didn’t — 1800 nuclear warheads, and she’s playing chicken. Look —

[Crosstalk]

Clinton: Well, that’s because he’d rather have a puppet as president.

Trump: No puppet, no puppet.

Clinton: And it’s pretty clear —

Trump: You’re the puppet.

Clinton: It’s pretty clear you won’t admit.

Trump: No, you’re the puppet.

Clinton: That the Russians have engaged in cyber attacks against the United States of America, that you encouraged espionage against our people, that you are willing to spout the Putin line, sign up for his wish list, rake up nato, do whatever he wants to do, and that you continue to get help from him because he has a very clear favorite in this race so I think this is such an unprecedented situation, we’ve never had a foreign government trying to interfere in our election.

We have 17, 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyber attacks come from the highest levels of the Kremlin and they are designed to influence our election. I find that deeply disturbing.

Wallace: Secretary Clinton —

Trump: She has no idea whether it’s Russia, China or anybody else.

Clinton: I am not quoting myself.

Trump: She has no idea.

Clinton: There are 17 —

Trump: You have no idea.

Clinton: 17 intelligence. Do you doubt? 17 military —

Trump: Our country has no idea.

Clinton: And civilian agencies.

Trump: I doubt it.

Clinton: He’d rather believe Vladimir Putin than the military and civilian intelligence professionals who are sworn to protect us. I find that just absolutely —

Trump: She doesn’t like Putin because Putin has outsmarted her at every step of the way.

Wallace: Mr. Trump —

Trump: Excuse me.

Wallace: Mr. Trump —

Trump: Putin has outsmarted her.

Wallace: Mr. Trump, I do get to ask some questions.

Trump: Yes.

Wallace: I would like to ask you this direct question. The top national security officials of this country do believe that Russia is behind these hacks. Even if you don’t know for sure whether they are, do you condemn any interference by Russia in the American election?

Trump: By Russia or anybody else.

Wallace: You condemn their interference?

Trump: Of course I condemn. Of course. I don’t know Putin. I have no idea —

Wallace: I’m not asking you that.

Trump: This is not my best friend. But if the United States got along with Russia, wouldn’t be so bad. Let me tell you, Putin has outsmarted her and Obama at every single step of the way. Whether it’s Syria. You name it. Missiles. Take a look at the start-up that they signed. The Russians have said, according to many, many reports, I can’t believe they allowed us to do this. They create warheads and we can’t. The Russians can’t believe it. She’s been outsmarted by Putin. All you have to do is look at the Middle East. They’ve taken over. We’ve spent $6 trillion. They’ve taken over the Middle East. She has been outsmarted and outplayed worse than anybody I’ve ever seen in any government whatsoever.

Wallace: We’re a long way away from immigration, but I’m going to let you finish this topic. You have about 45 seconds.

Trump: And she always will be.

Clinton: I find it ironic that he’s raising nuclear weapons. This is a person who has been very cavalier, even casual about the use of nuclear weapons.

Trump: Wrong.

Clinton: Japan, Korea, even Saudi Arabia. He said if we have them, why don’t we use them, which I think is terrifying. The bottom line on nuclear weapons is that when the president gives the order, it must be followed. There’s about four minutes between the order being given and the people responsible for launching nuclear weapons to do so. And that’s why 10 people who have had that awesome responsibility have come out and in an unprecedented way said they would not trust Donald Trump with the nuclear codes or to have his finger on the nuclear button.

Trump: I have 200 generals and admirals, 21 endorsing me, 21 congressional medal of honor recipients. As far as Japan and other countries, we are being ripped off by everybody — we’re defending other country. We’re spending a fortune doing it. They have the bargain of the century. All I said is we have to renegotiate these agreements because our country cannot afford to defend Saudi Arabia, Japan, Germany, South Korea and many other places. We cannot continue to afford. She took that as saying nuclear weapons.

Look, she’s been proven to be a liar on so many different ways. This is just another lie.

Clinton: Well, I’m just quoting you —

Trump: There’s no quote. You’re not going to find a quote from me.

Clinton: Nuclear competition in Asia, you said, you know, go ahead, enjoy yourselves, folks. That kind of —

Trump: And defend yourselves. And defend yourselves. I didn’t say nuclear. And defend yourselves.

Clinton: United States has kept the peace through our alliances. Donald wants to tear up our alliances. I think it makes the world safer and, frankly, it makes the United States safer. I would work with our allies in Asia, in Europe, in the middle East and elsewhere. That’s the only way we’re going to —

Wallace: We’re going to move on to the next topic, which is the economy. And I hope we handle that as well as we did immigration. You also have very different ideas about how to get the economy growing faster. Secretary Clinton, in your plan, government plays a big role. You see more government spending, more entitlements more tax credit, more penalties. Mr. Trump you want to get government out with less regulation. We’ll drill down into this a little more. But in this overview, please explain to me why you think your plan will create more jobs and growth for this country and your opponent’s plan will not. In this round, you go first, Secretary Clinton.

Clinton: I think when the middle class thrives, America thrives. And so my plan is based on growing the economy, giving middle class families many more opportunities.

I want us to have the biggest jobs program since World War II, jobs and infrastructure and advanced manufacturing. I think we can compete with high wage countries, and I believe we should. New jobs and clean energy not only to fight climate change, which is a serious problem, but to create new opportunities and new business I want us to do more to help small businesses.

I want to raise the minimum wage because people who live in poverty, who work full-time should not still be in poverty. I want to make sure that women get equal pay for the work we do. I feel strongly we have to have an education system that starts with preschool and goes through college. That’s why I want more technical education in high schools and community colleges, real apprenticeships to prepare people for the real jobs of the future. I want to make college debt free and for families making less than $125,000, you will not get a division bill from a public college or university if the plan that I worked on with Bernie Sanders is enacted.

And we’re going to work hard to make sure that it is. Because we are going to go where the money is. Most of the gains in the last years since the great recession have gone to the very top. So we’ll have the wealthy pay their fair share.

We’ll have corporations make a contribution greater than they are now to our country. [I have] a plan that has been analyzed by independent experts which said that it could produce 10 million new jobs. By contrast, Donald’s plan has been analyzed to conclude it might lose jobs. Why? Because his whole plan is to give the biggest tax breaks ever to the wealthy and to corporations adding $20 trillion to our debt and pausing the kind of dislocation that we have seen before because it truly will be trickle-down economics on steroids.

So the plan I have I think will actually produce greater opportunities. The plan he has will cost us jobs and possibly lead to another great recession.

Wallace: Secretary, thank you. Mr. Trump, why will your plan create more jobs and growth?

Trump: Her plan is going to raise taxes and even double your taxes. Her tax plan is a disaster. And she can say all she wants about college tuition and I’m a big proponent, we’re going to do a lot of things for college tuition, but the rest of the public’s going be paying for it. We’ll have a massive, massive tax increase under Hillary Clinton’s plan.

But I’d like to start off where we left because when I said Japan and Germany and I’m not to single them out, South Korea, these are very rich, powerful countries. Saudi Arabia, nothing but money. We protect Saudi Arabia. Why aren’t they paying?

She immediately, when she heard this, I questioned and I questioned NATO, why aren’t the NATO questions paying, because they weren’t paying. Since I did this, a year ago, all of a sudden they’re paying. I’ve been given a lot of credit for it. All of a sudden they’re starting to pay up.

They have to pay up. We’re protecting people. They have to pay up. I’m a big fan of NATO, but they have to pay up. She comes out and said, we love our allies, we think our allies are great. It’s awfully hard to get them to pay up when you have somebody saying we think how great they are. We have to tell Japan in a very nice way, we have to tell Germany, all of these countries, South Korea, we have to say, you have to help us out. We have during his regime, during President Obama’s regime, we’ve doubled our national debt. We’re up to $20 trillion.

So my plan, we’re going to re-negotiate trade deals. We’ll have more free trade than we have right now, but we have horrible deals. Our jobs are being taken out. NAFTA, one of the worst deals ever. Our jobs are being sucked out of our economy. You look at all of the places that I just left, you go the Pennsylvania, you go to Ohio, you go to Florida, you go to any of them, upstate New York, our jobs have fled to Mexico and other places. We’re bringing our jobs back. I’m going to renegotiate NAFTA.

And if I can’t make a great deal, then we’re going to terminate nafta and great new deals. We’ll have trade, but we’ll terminate it, we’ll make a great trade deal. And if we can’t, we’re going to go a separate way because it has been a disaster.

We’re going to cut taxes massively. We’ll cut business taxes massively. They’re going to start hiring people. We’re going to bring the $2.5 trillion that’s offshore back into the country. We’re going to start the engine rolling again because right now our country is dying at 1 percent GDP.

Clinton: Let me translate that if I can, Chris. Because —

Trump: You can’t.

Clinton: Fact is, he’s going to advocate for the largest tax cuts we’ve ever seen.

Three times more than the tax cuts under the Bush administration. I have said repeatedly throughout this campaign, I will not raise taxes on anyone making $250,000 or less. I also will not add a penny to the debt. I have costed out what I’m going to do. He will, through his massive tax cuts, add $20 trillion to the debt. He mentioned the debt. We know how to get control of the debt.

When my husband was president, we went from a $300 billion deficit to a $200 billion surplus and we’re actually on the path to eliminating the national debt. When President Obama came into office he inherited the worst economic disaster since the great depression. He has cut the deficit by two-thirds.

So yes, one of the ways you go after the debt. One of the ways you create jobs is by investing in people. I do have investments, investments in new jobs, investments in education, skill training and the opportunities for people who get ahead and stay ahead. That’s the kind of approach —

Wallace: Secretary.

Clinton: That will work. Cutting taxes on the wealthy. We tried that. It has not worked the way that it has been —

Wallace: Secretary Clinton, I want to pursue your plan. Because in many ways it is similar to the Obama stimulus plan in 2009, which has led to the slowest GDP growth since 1949.

Trump: Correct.

Wallace: Thank you, secretary. You told me in July when we spoke that the problem is that president Obama didn’t get to do enough in what he was trying to do with this stimulus. So is your plan basically even more of the Obama stimulus?

Clinton: Well, it’s a combination, Chris. Let me say that when you inherit the level of economic catastrophe that president Obama inherited, it was a real touch and go situation.

I was in the senate before I became secretary of state. I’ve never seen people as physically distraught as the bush administration team was because of what was happening to the economy.

I personally believe that the steps that president Obama took saved the economy. He doesn’t get the credit he deserves for taking some very hard positions, but it was a terrible recession. So now we’ve dug ourselves out of it. We’re standing, but we’re not yet running. So what I am proposing is that we invest from the middle out and the ground up, not the top down.

That is not going to work. That’s why what I have put forward doesn’t add a penny to the debt, but it is the kind of approach that will enable more people to take those new jobs, higher paying jobs.

We’re beginning to see some increase in incomes and we certainly have had a long string of increasing jobs. We’ve got to do more to get the whole economy moving, and that’s what I believe I will be able to do.

Wallace: Mr. Trump, even conservative economists who have looked at your plan say that the numbers don’t add up, that your idea, and you’ve talked about 25 million jobs created, 4%.

Trump: Over a ten-year period.

Wallace: Growth is unrealistic. And they say you talk a lot about growing the energy industry. They say with oil prices as they are right now, that’s unrealistic as well. Your response?

Trump: So I just left some high representatives of India. They’re growing at 8 percent. China is growing at 7 percent. And that for them is a catastrophically low number. We are growing, our last report came out and it’s right around the 1 percent level and I think it’s going down. Last week, as you know, the end of last week, they came out with an anemic jobs report. A terrible jobs report. In fact, I said is that the last jobs report before the election? Because if it is, I should win easily. It was so bad. The report was so bad. Look, our country is stagnant. We’ve lost our jobs. We’ve lost our businesses.

We’re not making things anymore, relatively speaking, our product is pouring in from China, pouring in from Vietnam, pouring in from all over the world. I’ve visited so many communities, this has been such an incredible education for me, Chris. I’ve gotten to know so many — I’ve developed so many friends over the last year. And they cry when they see what’s happened. I pass factories that were thriving 20, 25 years ago and because of the bill that her husband signed and she blessed a hundred percent, it is just horrible what’s happened to these people in these communities. She can say that her husband did well, but boy, did they suffer as NAFTA kicked in because it didn’t really kick in very much but it kicked in after they left. Boy, did they suffer. That was one of the worst things that’s ever been signed by our country. Now she wants to sign transpacific partnership.

She lied when she said she didn’t call it the gold standard in one of the debates. She totally lied and they fact checked and said I was right.

Wallace: I want to give you a chance to briefly speak to that and I want to pivot to — Trump: And that was — Wallace: Obamacare. Clinton: Let me say, number one, when I saw the final agreement for TPP, I said I was against it. It didn’t meet my test. I’ve had the same test. Does it create jobs, raise incomes and further our national security? I’m against it now, I’ll be against it after the election, I’ll be against it when I’m President.

There’s only one of us on this stages that actually shipped jobs to Mexico because that’s Donald. He shipped jobs to 12 countries including Mexico, but he mentioned China. One of the biggest problems we have with China is the illegal dumping of steel and aluminum into our markets.

I’ve fought against that as a senator, I stood up against it as secretary of state, Donald has bought Chinese steel and aluminum. The Trump Hotel here in las Vegas was made with Chinese steel. He goes around with crocodile tears about how terrible it is, but he has given jobs to Chinese steel workers, not American teal workers —

Wallace: Mr. Trump?

Trump: That’s the kind of approach that’s going to work. We’ll pull the country together. We’ll have trade agreements that we enforce. I’ll have trade prosecutor for the first time in history. We’re going to enforce those agreements and look for businesses that help us by buying American products.

I ask a simple question. She’s been doing this for 30 years. Why didn’t you do it over the last 15, 20 years? You were very much involved — excuse me, my turn. You were very much involved in every aspect of this country, very much.

And you do have experience. I say the one thing you have over me is experience, but it’s bad experience because what you’ve done is turned out badly. For 30 years you’ve been in a position to help and if you say that I used theater or I use something else make it impossible for me to do that.

You talk, but you don’t get anything done, Hillary. You don’t, just like when you ran the state department, $6 billion is missing. How do you miss $6 billion? You ran the state department. It was either stolen, they don’t know, it’s gone — 6 billion. If you become president, this country is going to be in some mess, believe me.

Clinton: Well, first of all, what he just said about the state department is not only untrue, it’s been did you debunked numerous times. But I think it’s really an important issue he raised the 30 years of experience.

Let me just talk briefly about that. You know, back in the 1970s, I worked for Children’s Defense Fund, and I was taking on discrimination against African-American kids in schools. He was getting sued by the Justice Department for racial discrimination in his apartment buildings.

In the 1980s, I was working to reform the schools in Arkansas. He was bore rogue $14 million from his father to start his businesses. In the 1990s, I went to Beijing and I said women’s rights are human rights. He insulted a former miss universe, Alicia Machado, called her an eating machine.

Trump: Give me a break.

Clinton: And on the day when I was in the situation room, monitoring the raid that brought Osama bin Laden to justice, he was host “The Celebrity Apprentice.” So I’m happy to compare my 30 years of experience, what I’ve done for this country, trying to help in every way I could, especially kids and families get ahead and stay ahead with your 30 years. And I’ll let the American people make that decision.

Trump: Well, I think I did a much better job. I built a massive company, a great company, some of the greatest assets anywhere in the world worth many, many billions of dollars. I started with a $1 million loan. I agree with that. It’s a $1 million loan. But I built a phenomenal company. And if we could run our country the way I’ve run my company, we would have a country that you would be so proud of, you would even be proud of it.

And frankly, when you look at her real record, take a look at Syria. Take a look at the migration. Take a look at Libya. Take a look at Iraq. She gave us ISIS because her and Obama created this small vacuum. A small group came out of that huge vacuum. We should have never been in Iraq. But once we were there, we never should have got out the way they wanted to get out. She gave us ISIS as sure as you are sitting there. And what happened is now ISIS is in 32 countries. And now I listen how she is going to get rid of ISIS. She is going to get rid of nobody.

Wallace: All right. We are going to get to foreign hot spots in a few moments. But the next segment is fitness to be president of the United States. Mr. Trump, at the last debate you said your talk about grabbing women was just that, talk, and that you had never actually done it. And since then, as we all know, nine women have come forward and said you either groped them or kissed them without their consent. Why would so many different women from so many different circumstances over so many different years, why would they all in this last couple of weeks make up — you deny this. Why would they all make up these stories. And since this is a question for both of you, secretary Clinton, Mr. Trump says what your husband did and that you defended was even worse. Mr. Trump, you go first.

Trump: Well, first of all, those stories have been largely debunked. Those people, I don’t know those people. I have a feeling how they came. I believe it was her campaign that did it. Just like if you look at what came out today on the clips where I was wondering what happened with my rally in Chicago and other rallies where we had such violence. She is the one — and Obama — that caused the violence. They hired people. They paid them $1500 and they’re on tape saying be violent, cause fights, do bad things. I would say the only way, because the stories are all totally false. I have to say that. And I didn’t even apologize to my wife who is sitting right here because I didn’t do anything. I didn’t know any of these women. I didn’t see these women. These women, the woman on the plane, I think they want either fame or her campaign did it. And I think it’s her campaign. When I saw what they did, which is a criminal act, by the way, where they’re telling people to go out and start fistfights and start violence, I tell you what, in particular in Chicago, people were hurt and people could have been killed in that riot.

And that was now all on tape started by her. I believe, Chris, that she got these people to step forward. If it wasn’t, they get their ten minutes of fame. But they were all totally — it was all fiction. It was lies and it was fiction.

Wallace: Secretary Clinton?

Clinton: Well, at the last debate we heard Donald talking about what he did to women. And after that a number of women have come forward saying that’s exactly what he did to them. Now what was his response? Well, he held a number of big rallies where he said that he could not possibly have done those things to those women because they were not attractive enough for —

Trump: I did not say that. I did not say that.

Clinton: In fact, he went on to say —

Wallace: Sir, her two minutes.

Trump: I did not say that.

Wallace: Her two minutes.

Clinton: He went on to say look at her. I don’t think so. About another woman, he said that wouldn’t be my first choice. He attacked the woman reporter writing the story, called her disgusting as he has called a number of women during this campaign. Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger. He goes after their dignity, their self-worth, and I don’t think there is a woman anywhere who doesn’t know what that feels like.

So we now know what Donald thinks and what he says and how he acts towards women. That’s who Donald is. I think it’s really up to all of us to demonstrate who we are and who our country is and to stand up and be very clear about what we expect from our next president, how we want to bring our country together where we don’t want to have the kind of pitting of people one against the other, where instead we celebrate our diversity, we lift people up.

And we make our country even greater. America is great because America is good. And it really is up to all of us to make that true, now and in the future in particular for our children and our grandchildren.

Wallace: Mr. Trump —

Trump: Nobody has more respect for women than I do. Nobody. Nobody has more respect.

[Audience Reaction]

Wallace: Please, everybody.

Trump: And frankly, those stories have been largely debunked. And I really want to talk about something slightly different. She mentions this. Which is all fiction, all a fictionalized. Probable or possibly started by her and her very sleazy campaign. But I will tell you what isn’t fictionalized are her e-mails where she destroyed 33,000 e-mails criminally, criminally, after getting a subpoena from the United States Congress.

What happened to the FBI? I don’t know. We have a great general, four-star general today. You read it in all the papers, going to potentially serve five years in jail for lying to the FBI. One lie. She’s lied hundreds of times to the people, to congress, and to the FBI. He is going to probably go to jail. This is a four-star general. And she gets away with it, and she can run for presidency of the United States? That’s really what you should be talking about. Not fiction where somebody wants fame or where they come out of their crooked campaign.

Wallace: Secretary Clinton?

Clinton: Well, every time Donald has pushed on something which is obviously uncomfortable like what these women are saying, he immediately goes to denying responsibility. And it’s not just about women. He never apologizes or says he is sorry for anything. So we know what he has said and what he has done to women. But he also went after a disabled reporter —

Trump: Wrong.

Clinton: He mocked and Mr and Mrs. Khan on national television. He went after Mr. And Mrs. Khan, the parents of Han who died serving our country, a gold star family because of their religion. He went after John McCain, a prisoner of war. Said he prefers people who aren’t captured. He went after a federal judge, born in Indiana but who Donald said couldn’t be trusted to try the fraud and racketeering case against Trump University because his parents were Mexican.

So it’s not one thing. This is a pattern, a pattern of divisiveness of a very dark and in many ways dangerous vision of our country where he incites violence, where he applauds people who are pushing and pulling and punching at his rallies. That is not who America is. And I hope that as we move in the last weeks of this campaign, more and more people will understand what’s at stake in this election. It really does come down to what kind of country we are going to have.

Trump: So sad when she talks about violence at my rallies and she caused the violence. It’s on tape. Now the other things are false, but honestly, I’d love to talk about getting rid of ISIS. And I’d love to talk about other things.

Wallace: Okay.

Trump: But the other charges as she knows are frauds.

Wallace: In this bucket about fitness to be president, there has been a lot of developments over the last ten days since the last debate. I’d like to ask you about them. These are questions that the American people have. Secretary Clinton, during your 2009 senate confirmation hearing, you promised to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest with your dealing with the Clinton Foundation while you were secretary of state. But e-mails show that donors got special access to you.

Those seeking grants for Haiti relief were considered simply from non-donors, and some of those donors got contract, government contracts, active money. Can you really say you kept your pledge to that senate committee, and what happened and what went on between you and the Clinton foundation. Why isn’t it what Mr. Trump calls pay to play.

Clinton: Well, everything I did as secretary of state was in furtherance of our country’s interests and our values. The state department said that. I think that’s been proven. But I am happy. In fact, I am thrilled to talk about the Clinton Foundation.

Because it’s a world-renowned charity. I’m so proud of the work it does. I could talk for the rest of the debate. I know I don’t have the time to do that. But just briefly, the Clinton foundation made it possible for 11 million people around the world with HIV/AIDS to afford treatment. That’s about half of all the people in the world who are getting treatment.

Wallace: Secretary Clinton —

Clinton: In partnership with the American Health Association, we have made environments in schools including healthier lunches.

Wallace: Secretary, respectfully, this is an open discussion.

Clinton: Well it is.

Wallace: I asked a specific question, pay or the play.

Clinton: But there is no evidence —

Wallace: Let’s ask Mr. Trump.

[ Overlapping dialog ]

Trump: It’s a criminal enterprise. Saudi Arabia giving $25 million. Qatar, all of these companies. You talk about women and women’s rights. So these are people that push gays off buildings. These are people that kill women and treat women horribly. And yet you take their money. So I’d like to ask you right now why don’t you give back the money that you have taken from certain countries that treat certain groups of people so horribly? Why don’t you give back the money?

I think it would be great gesture. Because she takes a tremendous amount of money. And you take a look at the people of Haiti. I was in little Haiti the other day in Florida. And I want to tell you, they hate the Clintons because what’s happened in Haiti with the Clinton Foundation is a disgrace. And you know it and they know it and everybody knows it.

Wallace: Secretary Clinton?

Clinton: Well, very quickly at the Clinton Foundation spend 90% of all the money that is donated on behalf of programs around the world and in our own country. I’m very proud of that. We are the highest rating from the watchdogs that follow foundations.

And I’d be happy to compare what we do with the Trump Foundation, which took money from other people and bought a six-foot portrait of Donald. I mean, who does that? It just was astonishing. But when it comes to Haiti, Haiti is the poorest country in our hemisphere. The earthquake and the hurricane, it has devastated Haiti.

Bill and have I been involved in trying to help Haiti for many years. The Clinton Foundation raised $30 million to help Haiti after the catastrophic earthquake and all of the terrible problems the people there had. We’ve done things to help small businesses, agriculture, and so much else. And we’re going to keep working to help Haiti because it’s an important part of the American experience.

Trump: I’d like to mention one thing: Trump Foundation, small foundation. People contribute. I contribute. The money — 100% goes to different charity, including a lot of military. I don’t get anything. I don’t buy boats. I don’t buy planes. What happens, the money goes in —

Wallace: Wasn’t some of the money used to settle your lawsuit, sir?

Trump: No, we put up the American flag. And that’s it. They put up the American flag. We fought for the right in palm beach to put up the American flag.

Wallace: But there was a penalty imposed by Palm Beach County.

Trump: There was.

Wallace: The money came from your foundation.

Trump: There was.

Wallace: Instead of Mar-a-Lago.

Trump: Went to Fisher House, where they build houses, the money that you’re talking about went to Fisher House, where they build houses for veterans and disabled.

Clinton: But of course there is no way we can know whether any of that is true because he hasn’t released his tax returns. He is the first candidate ever to run for president in the last 40 plus years who has not released his tax returns. Serving what he says about charity or anything else we can’t prove it. You can look at our tax returns. We’ve got them all out there. But what is really troubling is that we learned in the last debate he has not paid a penny in federal income tax. And we were talking about immigrants a few minutes ago, Chris. Half of all immigrants, undocumented immigrants in our country actually pay federal income tax. We have undocumented immigrants in America who are paying more federal income tax than a billionaire. I find that just astonishing.

Trump: We’re entitled because of the laws that people like her passed to take massive amounts of depreciation and other charges, and we do it. And all of our donors, just about all of them, I know [Warren] Buffett took hundreds of millions of dollars, George Soros took hundreds of millions of dollars. Let me just explain.

Wallace: We heard this.

Trump: Most of her donors have done the same thing as I do.

Wallace: Folks we have heard this.

Trump: Hillary, what you should have done, you should have changed the law when you a United States senator.

Wallace: We heard this.

Trump: Because your donors and your special interests are doing the same thing as I do, except even more. So you should have changed the law, but you won’t change the law because you take in so much money. I mean, I sat in my apartment today on a very beautiful hotel down the street.

Clinton: Made with Chinese steel.

Trump: I will tell you, I sat there watching ad after false ad, all paid for by your friends on wall Street that gave so much money because they know you’re going to protect them. And frankly, you should have changed the laws. If you don’t like what I did, you should have changed the laws.

Wallace: Mr. Trump, I want to ask you about one last question in this topic. You have been warning at rallies recently that this election is rigged and that Hillary Clinton is in the process of trying to steal it from you. Your running mate Governor Pence pledged on Sunday that he and you, his words, will absolutely accept the result of this election. Today your daughter Ivanka said the same thing. I want to ask you here on this stage tonight do, you make the same commitment that you will absolutely, sir, that you will absolutely accept the result of this election?

Trump: I will look at it at the time. I’m not looking at anything now. I will look at it at the time. What I’ve seen, what I’ve seen is so bad. First of all, the media is so dishonest and so corrupt. And the pile-on is so amazing. The New York Times actually wrote an article about it, that they don’t even care. It’s so dishonest. And they have poisoned the minds of the voters. But unfortunately for them, I think the voters are seeing through it. I think they’re going to see through it. We’ll find out on November 8.

Wallace: But sir —

Trump: Excuse me, Chris, if you look at your voter rolls, you will see millions of people registered to vote. This isn’t coming from me, from fury report and other places. Millions of people that are registered to vote that shouldn’t be registered to vote.

So let me just give you one other thing as I talk about the corrupt media. I talk about the millions of people. I tell you one other thing. She shouldn’t be allowed to run. She’s guilty of a very, very serious crime. She should not be allowed to run. And just in that respect I say it’s rigged. Because she should never — Chris, she should never have been allowed to run for the presidency based on what she did with e-mails and so many other things.

Wallace: Sir, there is a tradition in this country, in fact one of the primes of this country is the peaceful transition of power. And that no matter how hard fought a campaign is, that at the end of the campaign, that the loser concedes to the winner. Not saying that you’re necessarily going to be the loser or the winner. But that the loser concedes to the winner, and that the country comes together in part for the good of the country. Are you saying you’re not prepared now to commit to that principle?

Trump: What I’m saying is I’ll tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense, okay?

Clinton: Let me respond to that, because that’s horrifying.

Every time Donald thinks things are not going in his direction, he claims whatever it is is rigged against him. The FBI conducted a year-long investigation into my e-mails. They concluded there was no case. He said the FBI was rigged. He lost the Iowa caucus. He lost the Wisconsin primary.

He said the Republican primary was rigged against him. Then Trump University gets sued for fraud and racketeering. He claims the court system and the federal judge is rigged against him. There was even a time when he didn’t get an Emmy for his TV program three years in a row and he started tweeting that the Emmys were rigged.

Trump: Should have gotten it.

Clinton: This is a mind-set. This is how Donald thinks. And it’s funny, but it’s also really troubling.

Trump: Okay.

Clinton: Now that is not the way our democracy works. We’ve been around for 240 years. We’ve had free and fair election. We’ve accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them. And that is what must be expected of anyone standing on a debate stage during a general election. You know, president Obama said the other day when you’re whining —

Wallace: — Hold on, folks, hold on, folks.

Clinton: Before you’re even finished, it shows you’re not up to doing the job. And let’s, you know, let’s be clear about what he is saying and what that means. He is denigrating, he is talking down our democracy.

And I for one am appalled that somebody who is the nominee of one of our two major parties would take that kind of position.

Trump: I think what the FBI did and the Department of Justice did including meeting with her husband, the attorney general in the back of an airplane on the tarmac in Arizona, I think it’s disgraceful. I think it’s a disgrace.

Wallace: All right.

Trump: I think we’ve never had a situation so bad as. This.

Wallace: Hold on, folks. This doesn’t do any good for anyone. Let’s please continue the debate and move on to the subject of foreign hot spots. The Iraqi defensive to take back Mosul has begun. If they’re successful in pushing ISIS out of that city and out of all of Iraq, the question then becomes what happens the day after. And that’s something that whichever — whoever of you ends up as president is going to have to confront. Will you put U.S. troops into that vacuum to make sure ISIS doesn’t come back or isn’t replaced by something even worse? Secretary Clinton, you go first in this segment. You have two minutes.

Clinton: Well, I am encouraged that there is an effort led by the Iraqi army, supported by Kurdish

forces and also given the help and advice from the number of special forces and Americans on the ground. I will not support putting American forces into Iraq as a force. I don’t think that is in our interest and I don’t think it would be smart to do. Chris, I think that would be a big red flag waving for ISIS to reconstitute itself. The goal here is to take back Mosul. It’s going to be a hard fight. I’ve got no illusions about that. And then continue to press into Syria to begin to take back and move on Raqqah, which is the ISIS headquarters.

I am hopeful that the hard work that American military advisers have done will pay off, and that we will see a really successful military operation. But we know we’ve got lots of work to do. Syria will remain a hotbed as terrorism as long as the civil war aided and abetted by the Iranians and the Russians continue.

So I have said look, we need to keep our eye on ISIS. That’s why I want to have an intelligence surge that protect us here at home while we have to go after them from the air, on the ground, online. Why we have to make sure here at home we don’t let terrorists buy weapons. If you’re too dangerous to fly, you’re too dangerous to buy a gun. And I’m going to continue to push for a no-fly zone and safe havens within Syria. Not only to help protect the iranians and prevent the constant outflow of refugees, but to frankly gain some leverage on both the Syrian government and the Russians so that perhaps we can have the kind of serious negotiation necessary to bring the conflict to an end and go forward on a political track.

Wallace: Mr. Trump, same question. If we are able to push ISIS out of mosul and out of Iraq, would you be willing to put U.S. Troops in there to prevent their return or something else?

Trump: Let me tell you, Mosul is so sad. We had Mosul. But when she left, she took everybody out, we lost Mosul. Now we’re fight again to get Mosul. The problem with Mosul and what they wanted to do is they wanted to get the leaders of ISIS who they felt were in Mosul. About three months ago, I started reading that they want to get the leaders. And they’re going to attack Mosul. Whatever happened to the element of surprise? Okay? We announce we’re going after Mosul. I’ve been reading about going after mosul now for how long? Three months? These people have all left. They’ve all left. The element of surprise. Douglas MacArthur, George Patton spinning in their graves when they see the stupidity of our country. So we’re now fighting for mosul that we had. All she had to do is stay there. Now we’re going in to get it. But you know who is big winner in mosul is going to be after we eventually get it? And the only reason they did it is because she is running for the office of president, and they want to look tough. They want to look good.

He violated the red line in the sand. And he made so many mistakes. Made all mistakes. That’s why we have the great migration. But she wanted to look good for the election. So they’re going in. But who is going to Mosul, really? By the way, much tougher than they thought.

Much tougher, going to be more deaths than they thought. But the leaders we wanted to get are all gone because they’re smart. They said what do we need this for? So Mosul is going to be a wonderful thing, and Iran should write us a letter of thank you, just like really stupid, the stupidest deal of all time.

A deal that is going to give Iran absolutely nuclear weapons. Iran should write us yet another letter saying thank you very much. Because Iran, as I said many years ago, Iran is taking over Iraq. Something they’ve wanted to do forever. But we’ve made it so easy for them. So we’re now going to take Mosul. And you know who is going to be the beneficiary? Iran. Boy are they making — I mean, they are outsmarting. Look, you’re not there. You might be involved in that decision. But you were there when you took everybody out of Mosul and out of Iraq. You shouldn’t have been in Iraq. But you did vote for it. You shouldn’t have been in Iraq. But once you were in Iraq, you should have never left the way.

Wallace: Sir, your two minutes are up.

Trump: The point is the winner is going to be Iran.

Clinton: Well, once again, Donald is implying that he didn’t support the invasion of Iraq. I said it was a mistake. I said that years ago. He has consistently defined knight —

Trump: Wrong.

Clinton: What is a very clear fact.

Trump: Wrong.

Clinton: That before the invasion he supported it. I just want everybody to go Google it. Google Donald Trump Iraq and you will see the dozens of sources which verify that he was for the invasion of Iraq.

Trump: Wrong.

Clinton: And you can actually hear the audio of him saying that. Now why does that matter? Well, it matters because he has not told the truth about that position. I guess he believes it makes him look better now to contrast with me because I did vote for it. What’s really important here is to understand all the interplay. Mosul is a Sunni city. Mosul is on the border of Syria. And yes, we do need to go after Baghdadi, just like we went after bin laden while you were doingCelebrity Apprentice, and we brought him to justice. We need to go after the leadership, but we need to get rid of them, get rid of their fighters, their estimated several thousand fighters in Mosul.

They’ve been digging underground. They’ve been prepared to defend. It’s going to be tough fighting. I think we can take back mosul and move on into Syria and take bacharach ca. This is what we have to do. I’m just amazed that he seems to think that the Iraqi government and our allies and everybody else launched the attack on mosul to help me in this election. But that’s how Donald thinks, you know. Looking for some —

Trump: Chris, we don’t gain anything. Iran is taking over Iraq.

Wallace: Secretary Clinton —

Trump: Iran is taking over Iraq.

Wallace: Secretary Clinton —

Trump: We would have gained if we had surprise.

Wallace: Secretary Clinton, it’s an open discussion. Secretary, secretary, please let Mr. Trump speak. Go ahead.

Clinton: And he proves it every time he talks.

Trump: No, you are the one that is unfit. Wikileaks just came out. John Podesta said some horrible things about you. And boy was he right. He said some beauties. And you know, Bernie Sanders, he said you have bad judgment. You do. And if you think that going into mosul after we let the world know we’re going in and all of the people that we really wanted, the leaders, they’re all gone. If you think that was good, then you do. Now John Podesta said you have terrible instincts. Bernie Sanders said you have bad judgment. I agree with both.

Clinton: Well, you should ask Bernie Sanders who he is supporting for president. And he has said —

Trump: Which is a big mistake.

Clinton: And campaigned for me around the country. You the most dangerous person to run for president in the modern history of America. I think he is right.

Wallace: Let’s turn to Aleppo. Mr. Trump, in the last debate, you were both asked about the situation in the Syrian city of Aleppo. And I want to follow up on that because you said several things in that debate which were not true, sir. You said that Aleppo has basically fallen. In fact, there are — it’s a catastrophe.

Trump: It is a catastrophe.

[Crosstalk]

Wallace: Are a quarter million people still living there and being slaughtered.

Trump: That’s right. And they’re being slaughtered because of bad decisions.

Wallace: If I may just finish here. And you also said that ISIS — that Syria and Russia are busy fighting ISIS. In fact, they have been the ones who have been bombing and shelling eastern Aleppo. And they just announced a humanitarian pause, in effect admit Thanksgiving have been bombing and shelling Aleppo. Would you like to clear that up, sir?

Trump: Well, Aleppo is a disaster. It’s a humanitarian nightmare. But it has fallen from any standpoint. Whether you need to sign a document, take a look at Aleppo. It is so sad when you see what’s happened. And a lot of this is because of Hillary Clinton. Because what has happened, by fighting Assad, who turned out to be a lot tougher than she thought, and now she is going to say oh, he loves Assad, he’s just much tougher and much smarter than her and Obama. And everyone thought he was gone two years ago, three years ago. He aligned with Russia. He now also aligned with Iran. Who we made very powerful. We gave them $150 billion back. We give them $1.7 billion in cash. I mean cash, bundles of cash as big as this stage. We gave them $1.7 billion.

Now they have aligned, he has aligned with Russia and with Iran. They don’t want ISIS. But they have other things because we’re backing, we’re backing rebels. We don’t know who the rebels are. We’re giving them lots of money, lots of everything. We don’t know who the rebels are. And when and if, and it’s not going to happen because you have Russia and you have Iran now. But if they ever did overthrow Assad, you might end up as bad as Assad is, and he is a bad guy.

But you may very well end up with worse than Assad. If she did nothing, we’d be in much better shape. And this is what has caused the great migration where she has taken in tens of thousands of Syrian refugees who probably in many case, not probably, who are definitely in many cases ISIS aligned. And we now have them in our country and wait until you see this is going to be the great Trojan horse.

And wait until you see what happens in the coming years. Lots of luck, Hillary. Thanks a lot for doing a great job.

Wallace: Secretary Clinton, you have talked about in the last debate and again today that you would impose a no-fly zone to try to protect top the killing there. President Obama has refused to do that because he fears it’s going to draw us closer, deeper into the conflict. And general Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff there says you want to impose a no-fly zone, chances are you’re going to get into a war, his words, with Syria and Russia. So the question I have, if you impose a no-fly zone, first of all, how do you respond to their concerns? Secondly, if you impose a no-fly zone and a Russian plane violates that, does president Putin shoot that plane down?

Clinton: First of all, I think a no-fly zone could save lives and could hasten the end of the conflict. I’m well aware of the really legitimate concerns you have expressed from both the president and the general. This would not be done just on the first day. This would take a lot of negotiation, and it would also take making it clear to the Russians and the Syrians that our purpose here was to provide safe Zones on the ground.

We’ve had millions of people leave Syria. And those millions of people inside Syria who have been dislocated. So I think we could strike a deal and make a it very clear to the Russians and the Syrians that this was something that we believe was in the best interests of the people on the ground in Syria. It would help was our fight against ISIS. But I want to respond to what Donald said about refugees. He has made these claims repeatedly. I am not going to let anyone into this country who is not vetted, who we do not have confidence in.

But I’m not going to slam the door on women and children. That picture of that little 4-year-old boy in Aleppo with the blood coming down his face while he sat in an ambulance is haunting. And so we are going to do very careful, thorough vetting that does not solve our internal challenges with ISIS and our

need to stop radicalization, to work with American Muslim communities who are on the front lines to identify and prevent attacks. In fact, the killer of the dozens of people at the nightclub in Orlando, the pulse nightclub was born in queens, the same place Donald was born. So let’s be clear about what the threat is and how we are best going to be able to meet it. And yes, some of that threat emanates from over in Syria and Iraq, and we’ve got to keep fighting. And I will defeat ISIS. And some of it is we have to up our game and be much smarter here at home.

Wallace: I want to get into our final segment.

Trump: But I just have to, it’s so ridiculous. She will defeat ISIS. We should have never let ISIS in the first place. And right now they’re in 32 countries. Wait, one second. They have, and a ceasefire three weeks ago. A ceasefire, United States, Russian, Syria. And during the ceasefire, Russia took over vast swatches of land and then said we don’t want the ceasefire anymore. We’re so outplayed on missiles, on ceasefires. She was not there so I assume she has nothing to do with it. But our country is so outplayed by Putin and Assad and by Iran. Nobody can believe how stupid our leadership is.

Wallace: Mr. Trump, Secretary Clinton, we need to move on to our final segment. And that is the national debt, which has not been discussed until tonight. Our national debt a share of gdp is now 70 percent. That’s the highest since just after World War II. But the nonpartisan Committee for Responsible Budget says Secretary Clinton, under your plan, debt would rise to 86 percent of GPD over the next 10 years. Mr. Trump, under your plan, they say it would rise to 105 percent of GDP over the next 10 years. Question is, why are both of you ignoring this problem? Mr. Trump, you go first.

Trump: I say they’re wrong because I’m going to create tremendous jobs. And we’re bringing gdp from really 1 percent, which is what it is now. And if she got in it would be less than zero. But we’re bringing it from 1 percent up to 4 percent. I think you can go higher, to 5 or 6 percent. We have a tremendous machine. We will have created a tremendous economic machine. To do that, we’re taking back jobs. We’re not going to let our countries be raided by other countries where we don’t make our product anymore. It’s very sad. I’m going to create a kind of country that we were from the standpoint of industry. We used to be there. We have given it up. We have become very, very sloppy. We’ve had people that are political ax making the biggest deal in the world. Bigger than companies. You take these big companies.

These trade deals are far bigger than companies. Yet we don’t use our great leaders. Many of whom back me and many of whom back Hillary, I must say. But we don’t use those people. These are the greatest negotiators in the world. We are the greatest business people in the world. We have to use them to negotiate our trade deals. We use political hacks. We use people that get the position because they made a campaign contribution. And they’re dealing with China and people who have very much smarter than they are. We have to use our great people. We will create an economic machine the likes of which we haven’t seen in many decades. And people, Chris, will again go back to work. And they’ll make a lot of money. And we’ll have companies that will grow and expand and start from new.

Wallace: Secretary Clinton?

Clinton: Well, first when I hear Donald talk about that and his slogan is “Make America Great Again.” I wonder when he thought America was great. And before he rushes and says “Before you and president Obama were there,” I think it’s important to recognize that he has been criticizing our government for decades. You know, back in 1987, he took out a $100,000 ad in the New York Times during the time when President Reagan was president and basically said exactly what he just said now, that we were the laughingstock of the world.

He was criticizing President Reagan. This is the way Donald thinks about himself, puts himself into, you know, the middle and says I alone can fix it, as he said on the convention stage. But if you look at the debt, which is the issue you asked about, Chris, I pay for everything I’m proposing.

I do not add a penny to the national debt. I take that very seriously because I do think it’s one of the issues we’ve got to come to grips with.

So when I talk about how we’re going to pay for education, how we’re going to invest in infrastructure, how we’re going to get the cost of prescription drugs down, and a lot of the other issues that people talk to me about all the time, I’ve made it very clear, we are going where the money is.

We are going to ask the wealthy corporations to pay their fair share. And there is no evidence whatsoever that that will slow down or diminish our growth. In fact, I think just the opposite. We’ll have what economists call middle outgrowth. We’ve got to get back to rebuilding the middle class. The families of America. That’s where growth will come from. That’s why I want to invest in you. I want to invest in your family. And I think that’s the smartest way to grow the economy, to make the economy fairer. And we just have a big disagreement about this. It may be because of our experience. He started off with his dad as a millionaire. I started off with my dad as a small businessman.

Trump: We’ve heard this before. We’ve heard this before.

Clinton: I think it’s a difference that affects how we see the world and what we want to do with the economy.

Wallace: Time.

Trump: Thank you, Hillary. Could I just respond?

Wallace: Well, no. Because we’re running out of time.

Trump: Reagan was very strongly on trade. I disagreed with him. We should have been much tougher on trade even then. I’ve been waiting for years. Nobody does it right. And frankly now we’re going to do it right.

Wallace: The one last area I want to get into in this debate is the fact that the biggest driver of our debt is entitlements, which is 60 percent of all federal spending. Now the committee for federal — responsible federal budget has looked at both of your plans and they say neither of you has a serious plan that is going to solve the fact that Medicare is going to run out of money in the 2020s. Social Security is going to run out of money in the 2030s. And at that time, recipients are going to take huge cuts in their benefits.

So in effect, the final question I want to ask you in this regard, and let me start with you, Mr. Trump, would President Trump make a deal to save Medicare and Social Security that included both tax increases and benefit cuts in effect a grand bargain on entitlements?

Trump: I’m cutting tax. We’re going to grow the economy. It’s going grow at a record rate.

Wallace: But that’s not going to help entitlements.

Trump: It’s going to totally help you. And one thing we have to do, repeal and replace the disaster known as Obamacare. It’s destroying our country. It’s destroying businesses. We have to repeal and replace Obamacare. You take a look at the kind of numbers that that will cost us in the year ’17.

It is a disaster. If we don’t repeal and replace it’s probably going to die of its own weight. But Obamacare has to go. It’s — the premiums are going up 60, 70, 80 percent.

Next year they’re going to go up over 100 percent. And I’m really glad that the premiums have started at least the people see what is happening because she wants to keep Obamacare. And she wants to make it’s even worse. And it can’t get any worse. Bad Hillary Clinton — at the most we have to repeal and replace.

Wallace: Secretary Clinton, same question. At this point, social security and medicare are going to run out. Will you as president consider a grand bargain, a deal that includes both tax increases and benefit cuts to try to save both fronts?

Clinton: I want to enhance benefits for low income workers and for women who have been disadvantaged by the current social security system. But what Donald is proposing with the massive tax cuts will result in a $20 trillion national debt — that will have dire consequences for social security and medicare. And I’ll say something about the Affordable Care Act, which he wants to repeal: The Affordable Care Act extended the solvency of the Medicare trust fund. So if he repeals it, our Medicare problem gets worse.

Trump: Your husband disagrees with you.

Clinton: The long-term health care drivers. We’ve got to get costs down, increase value, emphasize wellness. I have a plan for doing that. And I think that we will be able to get entitle spending under control by with more resources and smarter decisions. Wallace: This is the final time probably to both of your delight that you’re going to be on stage together in this campaign. I would like to end it on a positive note, that you had not agreed to closing statements. But it seems to me in a funny way that might make it more interesting, because you haven’t prepared closing statements. So I would like you each to take — we’re going to put a clock up, a minute, as the final question and the final debate to tell the American people why they should elect you to be the next president. This is another new mini segment. Secretary Clinton, it’s your turn to go first.

Clinton: Well, I would like to say to everyone watching tonight, that I’m reaching out to all Americans — Democrats, Republicans and Independents — because we need everybody to help make our country what it should be to grow the economy, to make it fairer, to make it work for everyone. We need your talents, your skills, your commitment, your energy, your ambition. I’ve been privileged to see the presidency up close.

And I know the awesome responsibility of protecting our country and the incredible opportunity of working to try to make life better for you. I have made the cause of children and families really my life’s work.

That’s what my mission will be in the presidency. I will stand up for families against powerful interests, against corporations. I will do everything that I can to make sure that you have good jobs with rising incomes, that your kids have good educations from preschool through college. I hope you will give me a chance to serve as your president.

Wallace: Secretary Clinton, thank you. Mr. Trump?

Trump: She is raising the money from the people she wants to control. It doesn’t work that way. When I started this campaign, I started it very strongly. It’s called make America great again.

We’re going to make America great. We have a depleted military. It has to be helped. It has to be fixed. We have the greatest people on Earth in our military.

Well don’t take care off our veterans. We take care of illegal immigrants better than we take care of our military. That can’t happen. Our policemen and women are disrespected. We need law and order, but we need justice too. Our inner cities are a disaster. You get shot walking to the store. They have no education, they have no jobs. I will do more for African Americans and Latinos than she can ever do in ten lifetimes. All she has done is talk to the African Americans and to the Latinos.

But they get the vote and then they come back — they say we’ll see you in four years. We are going to make America strong again. And we are going to make America great again. And it has to start now. We cannot take four more years of Barack Obama. And that’s what you get when you get her.

Wallace: Thank you, both. Secretary Clinton — hold on just a moment, folks — Secretary Clinton, and Mr.Trump, I want to thank you both for participating in all three of these debates that brings to an end this year’s debate sponsored by the commission on presidential debates.

We want to thank the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and its students for having us. Now the decision is up to you.

Well, millions have already voted election day, November 8th is just 20 days away. One thing everyone here can agree on. We hope you will go vote. It’s one of the honors and obligations of living in this great country. Thank you and good night.

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Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 October 9, 2016: The second Trump-Clinton presidential debate transcript

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & ELECTIONS

2016

The second Trump-Clinton presidential debate transcript

Source: Vox, 10-9-16

Raddatz: Good evening. I’m Martha Raddatz from ABC news.

Cooper: And I’m Anderson Cooper from CNN, we want to welcome you to Washington University in St. Louis for the second presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump sponsored by the Commission on presidential debates. Tonight’s debate is a town hall format which gives voters the chance to directly ask the candidates questions. Martha and I will ask follow-up questions but the night really belongs to the people in this room and to people across the country who committed questions online. The people you see on this stage were chosen by the Gallup organization, are all from the St. Louis area and told Gallup they have not committed to a candidate. Each of them came here with questions they wanted to ask and we saw the questions for the first time this morning. Anderson and I and our team from ABC and CNN are the only ones who have seen them. Both candidates will have two minutes to answer each audience and online question we hope to get to as many questions as we can. We asked the audience not to slow things down with any applause, except for now. Ladies and gentlemen, the Republican nominee for president, Donald J. Trump and the democratic nominee for president, Hillary Clinton.

Anderson Cooper: Thank you very much.

We’re honored to be here. Also the Commission on Presidential Debates for sponsoring this. This is obviously a town hall format tonight — a chance for the Americans on this stage and thousands of people who have sent in questions online to ask questions directly to the candidates.

Martha Raddatz: After they’ve asked their questions, they’ve promised to remain silent and I know you’ve heard this before this evening, but no outbursts of any kind. We want to keep this focused on the candidates and the people who are asking the questions here. We appreciate your cooperation and we’ll start shortly. Great to see you all.

MR: Good evening. I’m Martha Raddatz from ABC news.

AC: I’m Anderson Cooper from CNN. We want to welcome you to Washington University for the second presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Sponsored by the commission on presidential debates. Tonight’s debate is a town hall format, which gives voters the chance to directly ask questions. The night really belongs to the people in this room and to people across the country who have submitted questions online.

The people you see on this stage were chosen by the Gallup organizations. They are all from the St. Louis area and told Gallup they haven’t committed to candidate. Each of them came here with questions they want to ask. And we saw those questions for the first time this morning. And son and I and our team from ABC and CNN are the only ones who have seen them. Both candidates will have two minutes to answer each audience and online question, we hope to get to as many as we can, so we’ve asked the audience not to slow things down with applause. Except for now. Ladies and gentlemen, the Republican nominee for president, Donald J. Trump and democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.

Thank you very much for being here. We’re going to begin with a question from one of members in our town hall. Each of you will have two minutes to respond to this question. Secretary Clinton, you won the coin toss.

Voter: Thank you and good evening. The last debate could have been rated as MA: mature audiences, per TV parental guidelines. Do you feel you’re models appropriate and positive behavior for today’s youth.

Clinton: Thank you. Are you a teacher? Yes, I think that that’s a very good question. Because I’ve heard from lots of teachers and parents about some of their concerns. About some of the things that are being said and done in this campaign. And I think it is very important for us to make clear to our children that our country really is great because we’re good.

And we are going to respect one another. Lift each other up. We are going to be looking for ways to celebrate our diversity.

And we are going to try to reach out to every boy and girl as well as every adult, to bring them into working on behalf of our country. I have a very positive and optimistic view about what we can do together.

That’s why the slogan of my campaign is stronger together, because when we work together, if we overcome the divisiveness that sometimes sets Americans against one another and instead make big goals, and I’ve set forth some big goals — getting the economy to work for everyone, not just those at the top. Making sure we have the best education system from preschool to college and making it affordable and so much else. If we set those goals and go together to try to achieve them, there’s nothing in my opinion that America can’t do.

So that’s why I hope that we will come together in this campaign. Obviously, I’m going to earn your vote, hoping to be elected in November, and I can promise you, I will work with every American.

I want to be the president for all Americans, regardless of your political beliefs, where you come from, what you look like, your religion. I want us to heal our country and bring it together. Our children and grandchildren deserve that.

AC: Thank you. You have two minutes.

DT: Well, I actually agree with that. I agree with everything she said. I began this campaign because I was so tired of seeing such foolish things happen to our country. This is a great country. A great land. I’ve gotten to know the people of the country over the last year and a half that I’ve been doing this as a politician. I cannot believe I’m saying that about myself, but I guess I have been a politician, and my whole concept was to make America great again.

When I watched the Iran deal being made, some horrible things like Obamacare, health insurance, and health care is going up with numbers that are astronomical, 68 percent, 71 percent, when I look at the Iran deal and how bad a deal it is for us. It’s a one-sided transaction. Where we’re giving back $150 billion to a terrorist state really the number one terror state, we’ve made them a strong country from really a very weak country from just three years ago.

When I look at all of the things that I see and all of the potential that our country has — we have such tremendous potential. Whether it’s in business and trade, where we’re doing so badly. Last year, we had almost $800 billion trade deficit. Other words, trading with other countries. We had an $800 billion deficit. It’s hard to believe.

Inconceivable. We’re going the make great deals. Haivng a strong border is going to bring back law and order. Just today policeman were shot — two, killed. And this is happening on a weekly basis. We have to bring back respect to law enforcement. At the the same time, we need the take care of people on both sides. We need justice. But I want to do things that haven’t been done, including fixing and making inner-cities better for African-Americans and for the Latinos, Hispanics, and I look forward to making America great again.

AC: Thank you, Mr. Trump. The question from Patrice was are you both modeling appropriate behaviors for today’s youth. We received a lot of questions about the tape released on Friday. You called what you said locker room banter — kissing women without consent, grabbing their genitals. That is sexual assault. You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women.

DT: I don’t think you understood.

This was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it. I apologize to my family. To the American people. Certainly I’m not proud of it. But this is locker room talk. When we have a world where you have ISIS chopping off heads, where you have frankly drowning people in steel cages, wars, and horrible, horrible fights all over — so many bad things happening. We haven’t seen anything like this, the carnage all over the world. Can you imagine the people that are frankly doing so well against us with ISIS? And they look at our country and see what’s going on. Yes, I’m very embarrassed by it. I hate it. But it’s locker room talk and it’s one of those things. I will knock the hell out of ISIS. We’re going to defeat ISIS.

ISIS happened a number of years ago in a vacuum left because of bad judgment, and I will tell you, I will take care of ISIS.

AC: So, Mr. Trump —

DT: Get on to much more important things and much bigger things.

AC: For the record, are you saying, what you said on the bus 11 years ago, that you did not kiss women without consent or grope women without consent.

DT: I have great respect for women. Nobody has more respect for women than I do.

AC: So, you’re saying you never did that.

DT: I said things that frankly, you hear these things. And I was embarrassed by it. But I have tremendous respect for women.

AC: Have you ever done those things?

DT: No, I have not. I will tell you that I’m going the make our country safe. We’re going to have borders in our country, which we don’t know. People are pouring into our country and coming in from the Middle East and other places.

We’re going to make America safe again. Make America great again, but safe again. And we’re going to make America wealthy again because if you don’t do that, it just, it sounds harsh to say, but we have to — I would build up the wealth.

AC: Thank you, Mr. Trump.

DT: Other nations are taking our jobs and wealth.

AC: Secretary Clinton, do you want to respond?

HC: Well, like everyone else, I spent a lot of time thinking over the last 48 hours about what we heard and saw. You know, with prior Republican nominees, for president, I disagreed with them. Politics, policies, principles.

But I never questioned their fitness to serve. Donald Trump is different. I said starting back in June, that he was not fit to be president and commander in chief. And many Republicans and independents have said the same thing. What we all saw and heard on Friday was Donald talking about women. What he thinks about women. What he does to women.

And he has said that the video doesn’t represent who he is. But I think it’s clear to anyone who heard it that it represents exactly what he is. Because we’ve seen this throughout the campaign. We have seen him insult women. We’ve seen him rate women. On their appearance. Ranking them from one to 10. We’ve seen him embarrass women on TV and on Twitter. We saw him after the first debate spend nearly a week denigrating a former Miss Universe in the harshest, most personal terms, so, yes, this is who Donald Trump is. But it’s not only women and it’s not only this video that raises questions about his fitness to be our president.

Because he has also targeted immigrants, African Americans, Latinos, people with disabilities, Muslims, and others, so, this is who Donald Trump is, and the question for us, the question our country must answer is that this is not who we are. That’s why, to go back to your question, I want to send a message we all should. To every boy and girl and indeed to the entire world.

That America is great and we are great, because we are good and we will respect one another. And we will work with one another and we will celebrate our diversity.

These are very important values to me because this is the America that I know and love. And I can pledge to you tonight that this is the America that I will serve if I’m so fortunate enough to become your president.

MR: And we want to get to some questions —

DT: Am I allowed to respond to that?

MR: Yes.

DT: It’s just words, folks. Just words. Those words, I’ve been hearing them for many years. I heard them when they were running for the Senate. In New York.

Where Hillary was going to bring back jobs to upstate New York and she failed. I’ve heard them where Hillary is constantly talking about the inner cities of our country, which are a disaster. Education-wise. Job0-ise. Safety-wise. In every way possible, I’m going to help the African Americans, help the Latinos, Hispanics. I am going to help the inner cities.

She’s done a terrible job for the African Americans. She wants their votes and does nothing and then comes back four years later. We saw that firsthand when the United States senator she campaigned where the —

MR: Mr. Trump, Mr. Trump — I want to get to audience questions and online questions.

DT: So, she’s allowed to do that, but I’m not allowed to respond. Sounds fair.

DT: This tape is generating intense interest. In just 48 hours, it’s become the single most talked about story of the entire 2016 [cycle] on Facebook with millions and millions of people discussing it on social network.

As we said, we want to bring in questions from voters around country via social media and our first on this topic. Jeff from Ohio asks on Facebook, Trump says the campaign has changed him. When did that happen? So, Mr. Trump, let me add to that. When you walked off that bus at age 59, were you a different man, or did that behavior continue until just recently? And you have two minutes for this.

DT: That was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it. I am a person who has great respect for people, for my family, for the people of this country. And certainly I’m not proud of it, but that was something that happened. If you look at Bill Clinton, far worse, mine are words, his was action. This is what he has done to women. There’s never been anybody in the history of politics in this nation that’s been so abusive to women, so you can say any way you want to say it, but Bill Clinton was abusive to women.

Hillary Clinton attacked those same women and attacked them viciously. Four of them are here tonight. One of the women, who is a wonderful woman, at 12 years-old, was raped at 12. Her client she represented got him off and she’s seen laughing at the girl who was raped. She is here with us tonight, so, don’t tell me about words. And absolutely, I apologize for those words. But it is things that people say, but what President Clinton did, he was impeached, lost his license to practice law. He had to pay an $850,000 fine. To one of the women. Paula Jones, who’s also here tonight.

And I will tell you that when Hillary brings up a point like that and talks about words that I said 11 years ago, I think it’s disgraceful and I think she should be ashamed of herself, if you want to know the truth.

HC: First, let me say so much of what he just said is not right, but he gets to run his campaign any way he chooses. He gets to decide what he gets to talk about.

Instead of answering people’s questions, laying out the plans we have that make a better life and a better country. That’s his choice. When I hear something like that, I am reminded of what my friend, Michelle Obama, advised us all.

When they go low, you go high.

And look, if this were just about one video, maybe what he’s saying tonight would be understandable, but everyone can draw their own conclusions at this point about whether or not the man in video or on the stage respects women. But he never apologizes for anything to win.

He never apologized to Mr. And Mrs. Khan, the gold star family whose son died in the line of duty, and Donald insulted and attacked them for weeks over their religion. He never apologized to the distinguished federal judge who was born in Indiana, but Donald said he couldn’t be trusted to be a judge because his parents were, quote, Mexican. He never apologized to the reporter that he mimicked and mocked on national television.

And our children were watching. And he never apologized for the racist lie that President Obama was not born in the United States of America. He owes the president apology. He owes our country an apology and he needs to take responsibility for his actions and words.

DT: Well, you owe the president an apology because as you know very well, your campaign Sidney Blumenthal, another real winner that you have and he’s the one that got this started along with your campaign manager and they were on television just two weeks ago, she was, saying exactly that. So, you really owe him an apology. You’re the one that sent the pictures around your campaign. Sent the pictures around with president Obama, long before I was involved. Number two, Michelle Obama. I’ve gotten to see the commercials that they did on you.

And I’ve gotten to see some of the most vicious commercials I’ve ever seen of Michelle Obama talking about you, Hillary. So, you talk about friend, go back and take a look at those commercials. A race where you lost fair and square.

Unlike the Bernie Sanders race, where you won, but not fair and square, in my opinion. All you have to do is take a look at Wikileaks and see what they say about Sanders and see what Wasserman-Schultz had in mind. Never had a chance. I was so surprised to see him sign on with the devil, but when you talk about apology, I think the one you should really be apologizing for and this thing you should be apologizing for are the 33,000 e-mails that you deleted and that you acid washed and then the two boxes of e-mails and other things last week taken from an office and are now missing. I’ll tell you what I didn’t think I’d say this and I’m going to say it and hate to say it: If I win, I’m going to instruct the attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation because there’s never been so many lies, so much deception.

Never been anything like it and we’re going to have a special prosecutor. When I speak, I go out and speak, the people of this country are furious. In my opinion, the people that have been long-term workers at the FBI are furious. There has never been anything like this, where e-mails and you get a subpoena and after getting the subpoena, you delete 33,000 e-mails and then acid watch them or bleach them. A very expensive process, so we’re going to get a special prosecutor because people have been, their lives have been destroyed for doing one fifth of what you’ve done. And it’s a disgrace and honestly, you ought to be ashamed.

HC: Let me just talk about e-mails because everything he just said is absolutely false. But I’m not surprised. And the first debate, and —

AC: The audience needs to calm down here.

HC: I told people it would be impossible be fact checking all the the time — I’d never get to talk about anything I want to do or how we’re going to make lives better for people. So go to HillaryClinton.com. You can fact check him in realtime, last time at the first debate, we had millions of people fact checking, so expect we’ll have millions more fact checking. It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law of our country.

DT: Because you’d be in jail.

AC: We want to remind the audience to please not — talk out loud. Please do not applaud. You’re just wasting time.

MR: You’ve said your handing of your e-mails was a mistake. You disagreed with James Comey, calling it quote extremely careless. The FBI said there were 110 e-mails, eight of which were Top Secret, and it was possible hostile actors did gain access. You don’t call that extremely careless?

HC: I’ll repeat it because I want everyone to hear it. That was a mistake and I take responsibility. For using a personal e-mail account. Obviously, if I were to do it over again, I would not. I’m not making any excuses. It was a mistake.

And I am very sorry about that. But I think it’s also important to point out where there are some misleading accusations from critics and others.

After a year long investigation, there is no evidence that anyone hacked the server I was using and no evidence that anyone can point to at all anyone who says otherwise has no basis. That any classified material ended up in the wrong hands. I take classified materials very seriously and always have when I was on the senate armed services committee, I was privy to a lot of classified material.

Obviously, as secretary of state, I had some of the most important secrets that we possess such as going after bin laden so I am very committed to taking classified information seriously. There is no evidence that any classified information ended up in the wrong hands.

DT: And yet, she didn’t know the word the letter C on a document.

Right? She didn’t even know what that letter meant. You know, it’s amazing. I’m watching Hillary go over facts. And she’s going after fact after fact and lying again. Because she said she, you know, what she did — the e-mail — was fine. You think it was fine? I don’t think so. She said that 33,000 e-mails had to do with her daughter’s wedding, number one and a yoga class.

Right? She didn’t even know what that letter meant. You know, it’s amazing. I’m watching Hillary go over facts. And she’s going after fact after fact and lying again. Because she said she, you know, what she did — the e-mail — was fine. You think it was fine? I don’t think so. She said that 33,000 e-mails had to do with her daughter’s wedding, number one and a yoga class.

Maybe we’ll give three or four or five; 33,000 e-mails deleted and now, she’s saying there wasn’t anything wrong more importantly, that was after getting the subpoena. Got it from the United States Congress and I’ll be honest, I am so disappointed in congressmen, including Republicans, for allowing this to happen. Our justice department — where her husband goes on to the back of a plane for 39 minutes, talks to the attorney general, days before a ruling is going to be made on her case. But for you to say that there was nothing wrong with you deleting 39,000 e-mails, again, you should be ashamed of yourself. What you did and this is after getting a subpoena from the United States Congress.

Moderator: We have to move on. Secretary Clinton, you can respond.

Moderator: We want to give the audience a chance here.

DT: Let alone after getting a subpoena from the United States government.

Moderator: Clinton, you can respond. We have to move on to an audience question.

HC: Look, it’s just not true, so please —

DT: You didn’t delete them?

AC: Allow her to respond, please.

DT: 33,000.

HR: Not, well, we turned over 35,000 so —

DT: What about the other 15,000?

AC: Please allow her to respond. She didn’t talk while you talked.

HC: Yes, that’s true, I didn’t. In the first debate and I’m going to try not to in this debate because I’d like to get to the questions.

DT: Get off this question.

HC: Okay, Donald, I know you’re into big diversion tonight, anything to avoid talking about your campaign and the way it’s exploding and the way Republicans are leaving you.

Moderator: We have a question from Ken. About health care.

DT: I’d like to know why aren’t you bringing up the e-mails? It hasn’t been finished.

Moderator: Ken has a question.

DT: Nice, one on three.

Ken: Thank you. The Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare, it is not affordable. Premiums have gone up. Deductibles have gone up. Copays have gone up. Prescriptions have gone up and the coverage has gone down. What will you do to bring the cost down, and make coverage better?

AC: That first one goes to secretary Clinton because you started out the last one to the audience.

HC: He wants to start. He can start. Go ahead, Donald.

DT: No, I’m a gentlemen, go ahead.

HC: Well, I think he was about to say he’s going to solve it by repealing it and getting rid of the Affordable Care Act and I’m going to fix it. Because I agree with you. Premiums have gotten too high. Copay, deductibles, prescription drug costs — and I’ve laid out a series of options we can take to try to get those costs down. Here’s what I don’t want people to forget when we talk about ranging in the cost. When the Affordable Care Act passed, it wasn’t just 20 million [people who] got insurance who didn’t have it before. That was a good thing.

I meet these people all the time and they tell in what a difference it meant having that. But if [anything] else, the 170 million of of us who got insurance through our employees, got big benefits. Number one, insurance companies can’t deny you coverage because of a preexisting condition.

Number two, no lifetime limits, which is a big deal in you have serious health problems. Number three, women can’t be charged more than men for health insurance, which is the way it used to be. Number four, if you’re under 26, and your parents have a policy, you can be on that policy until age 26. So I want very much to save what works and is good about the affordable care act, but we’ve got to get costs down. We’ve got to provide additional help to small businesses. To know that they can afford to provide health insurance. But if we repeal it as Donald has proposed and start over again, all of those benefits are lost to everybody. Not just people who get their health insurance on the exchange. And then we would have to start all over again. Right now, we are at 90 percent health insurance coverage. That’s highest we’ve ever been in our country. I want us to get 100% and keep costs down and quality up.

AC: You have two minutes.

DT: It is such a great question and maybe the question I get almost more than anything else. Outside of defense. Obamacare is a disaster. You know it. We all know it. It’s going up at numbers that nobody’s seen worldwide. Nobody’s ever seen numbers like this for health care. Only gets worse. Their method of fixing it is to go back and ask congress for more and more money. We have almost $20 trillion in debt. Obamacare will never work. It’s very bad. Very bad health insurance. Far too expensive. And not only expensive for the person that has it, unbelievably expensive for our country. One of the biggest line items very shortly. We have to repeal it. And replace it. With something absolutely much less expensive.

And something that works. Where your plan can actually be tailored. We have to get rid of the lines around the state. Artificial lines, where we stop insurance companies from coming in and competing because they want and President Obama and whoever was working on it, they want to leave those lines because that gives the insurance companies essentially monopolies. We want competition.

You’ll have the finest health care plan there is. She wants to go to a single payer plan, which would be a disaster. Somewhat similar to Canada. If you’ve noticed the Canadians, when they need a big operation, they come into the United States in many cases, because their system is so slow. It’s catastrophic in certain ways. But she wants to go to single payer, which means the government basically rules everything. Hillary Clinton has been after this for years. Obamacare was the first step.

Obamacare is a total disaster, and not only are your rates going up by numbers nobody’s believed, but your deductibles are going up so unless you get hit by a truck, you’re never going to be able to use it. It is a disastrous plan and has to be repealed. And replaced.

MR: Your husband called Obamacare quote, the craziest thing in the world. Small business owners are getting killed, coverage is cut in half. Was he [exaggerating] or simply telling the truth.

HC: He clarified, and it’s clear. Look, we are in a situation in our country, where if we were to start all over again, we might come up with a different system. But we have an employer based system. That’s where the vast majority of people get their health care. And the Affordable Care Act was meant to try to fill the gap between people who were too poor and couldn’t put together any resources to afford health care, namely, people on medicaid. Obviously, medicare, which is a single payer system. Which takes care of our elderly, and does a great job doing it, by the way, and then all of the people who were employed.

But people who were working, but didn’t have the money to afford insurance and didn’t have anybody, an employer, anybody else to help them. That was the slot that the Obama care approach was to take. And like I say, 20 million people now have health insurance. So, if we just rip it up and throw it away, what Donald’s not telling you is we just turn it back to the insurance companies the way it used to be and that means the insurance companies get to do pretty much whatever they want, including saying “look, sorry, you’ve got diabetes, you had cancer, your child has asthma.” You may not be able to have insurance because you can’t afford it, so let’s fix what’s broken about it, but let’s not throw it away and give it back to the insurance companies. That’s not going to work.

MR: Mr. Trump —

DT: First of all, Hillary, everything’s broken about it. Everything. Number two, Bernie Sanders said Hillary Clinton has very bad judgment. This is a perfect example of it.

MR: Mr. Trump, you’ve said you want to end Obamacare and make coverage accessible for people with preexisting conditions. How do you force insurance companies to do that if you’re no longer mandating — what does that mean?

DT: I’ll tell you. You’re going to have plans that are so good because we’re going to have some competition. Once we break out the lines and allow the competition to come.

AC: Are you going to have a mandate that Americans have to have health insurance?

DT: President Obama by keeping those — and it was almost gone until just right toward the end of the passage of Obamacare, which was a fraud. You know that, because Jonathan Gruber, the architect of Obamacare, said it was a great lie. It was big lie. President Obama said you keep your plan, the whole thing was a fraud and it doesn’t work.

When we get rid of those lines, you have competition and we’ll be able to keep preexisting and help people that can’t get, don’t have money because we are going to have people protected. And Republicans feel this way. Believe it or not and strongly this way. We’re going to block grant. Into the states. Block grant into medicaid. So we will be able to take care of people without the necessary funds to take care of themselves.

MR: Now a question for both candidates.

Voter: There are 3.3 Muslims in the United States and I’m one of them. You’ve mentioned working with Muslim nations, but with islamophobia on the rise, how will you help people like me deal with the consequences of being a threat to the country after the election is over.

MR: Mr. Trump.

DT: You’re right about Islamophobia and that’s a shame. One thing we have to do is we have to make sure that because there is a problem, whether we like it or not — and we could be very politically correct, but whether we like it or not, there is a problem and we have to be sure that muslims come in and report when they see something going on. When they see hatred going on, they have to report it.

In San Bernardino, many people saw the bombs all over the apartment of the two people that killed 14 and wounded many, many people. Horribly wounded. Never be the same. Muslims have to report the problems when they see them. And you know, there’s always a reason for everything. If they don’t do that, it’s a very difficult situation for our country because you look at Orlando. And you look at San Bernardino and the World Trade Center. Look at Paris. The horrible, these are radical islamic terrorists. And she won’t even mention the word and nor will President Obama.

He won’t use the term, “radical Islamic terrorism.” Now, to solve the problem, you have to be able to state what the problem is or at least say the name. She won’t say the name and President Obama won’t say the name. But the name is there. It’s “radical Islamic terror” and before you solve it, you have to say the name.

Moderator: Secretary Clinton.

HC: Thank you for asking your question, and I’ve heard this question from a lot of Muslim Americans across our country. Because unfortunately, there’s been a lot of very divisive, dark things said about Muslims.

And even someone like the young man who sacrificed himself defending our country from the United States army has been subject to attack by Donald. I want to say just a couple of things. First, we’ve had Muslims in America since George Washington. And we’ve had many successful Muslims.

We just lost a particular well-known one with Muhammad Ali. My vision of America is an America where everyone has a place. If you’re willing to work hard, you do your part, you contribute to the community. That’s what America is. That’s what we want America to be for, for our children and grandchildren. It’s also very short-sighted and even dangerous. To be engaging in the kind of rhetoric that Donald has about Muslims.

We need American Muslims to be part of our eyes and ears on our front lines. I’ve worked with a lot of different Muslim groups around America. I’ve met with a lot of them and heard how important it is for them to feel they are wanted and included and part of our country, part of our homeland security and that’s what I want to see. It’s also important I intend to defeat ISIS.

To do so, in a coalition with majority Muslim nations. Right now, a lot of those nations are hearing what Donald says and wondering, “why should we cooperate with the Americans?” and this is a gift to ISIS and the terrorists. Violent jihadist terrorist. We are not at war with Islam. And it is a mistake and it plays into the hands of the terrorists to act as though we are. So, I want a country where citizens like you and your family are just as welcome as anyone else.

MR: Thank you, Secretary Clinton.

Mr. Trump, in December, you said this. “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the united States until we can figure out what the hell is going on. We have no choice. We have no choice.” Your running mate said this week that the Muslim ban [is not your] position. Is that correct? And if it is, was it a mistake to have a religious test?

DT: First of all, Captain Kahn is an American hero and if I were president at this time, he would be alive today because unlike her, who voted for the war without knowing what she was doing, I would not have had our people in Iraq. Iraq was disaster. So he would have been alive today. The Muslim ban is something that in some form has morphed into a extreme vetting. From certain areas of the world. Hillary Clinton wants to allow —

MR: And why did it morph into that? Answer the question. Do you still believe —

DT: Why don’t you interrupt her?

MR: Would you please explain whether or not the ban still stands?

DT: It’s called extreme vetting. We are going to areas like Syria. Where they’re coming in by the tens of thousands because of Barack Obama. And Hillary Clinton wants to allow a 550 percent increase over Obama.

People are coming into our country like we have no idea who they are. Where they are from. What their feeling about our country is and she wants 550 percent more. This is going to be the great Trojan horse of all time. I believe in building safe zones, in having other people pay for them as an example, the gulf states who are not carrying their weight, but have nothing but money, and take care of people but I don’t want to have with all the problems this country has and all of the problems that you see going on, hundreds of thousands of people coming in from Syria when we know nothing about them. We know nothing about their values and we know nothing about their love for our country.

MR: And Secretary Clinton, let me ask you about that. Because you have asked for an increase from ten to 65,000 Syrian refugees. We know you want tougher vetting. That’s not a perfect system. So, why take the risk of having those refugees come into the country?

HC: First of all, I will not let anyone into our country that I think poses a risk to us. But there are a lot of refugees, women and children, think of that picture we all saw of that 4-year-old boy with the blood on his forehead because he had been bombed by the Russian and Syrian air forces. There are children suffering in this catastrophic war. Largely I believe because of Russian aggression. And we need to do our part.

We by no means are carrying anywhere near the load that Europe and others are. But we will have vetting that is as tough as it needs to be from our professionals, our intelligence experts and others. But it is important for us as a policy, you know, not to say as Donald has said, we’re going to ban people based on a religion. How do you do that? We are a country founded on religious freedom and liberty.

How do we do what he has advocated without causing great distress within our own country … are we going to have religious tests?

When people fly into our country? And how do we expect to be able to implement those? So, I thought that what he said was extremely unwise. And even dangerous. And indeed, you can look at the problem began da on a lot of the terrorists sites and what Donald Trump says about muslims is used to recruit fighters.

Because they want to create a war between us. And the final thing I would say, this is the tenth or 12th he’s denied being for the war in Iraq. We have it on tape. The entire press corps has looked at it. Never stops him from saying what he wants to say. You can see it.

DT: Has not been debunked.

MR: I’d like to move on.

DT: She just went about 25 second over her time. Could I just respond to this, please?

MR: Very quickly, please.

DT: Hillary Clinton in terms of having people come into our country, we have many criminal illegal aliens, when we want to send them back to their country, their country says we don’t want them. In some cases, they’re murders and they don’t want them. Hillary Clinton, when she was secretary of state, said that’s okay, we can’t force it. Let me tell you, I’m going to force them right back into their country. Their murderers and some very bad people. When Bernie Sanders said she had bad judgment, she has really bad judgment because we are letting people into this country that are going to cause problems and crime like you’ve never seen.

We’re letting drugs pour through our southern border at a record clip and it shouldn’t be allowed to happen. I.C.E. just endorsed me — 16,500 just endorsed me and they endorsed me because I understand the border. She doesn’t. She wants amnesty for everybody. Come right in. Come right over. It’s a horrible thing she’s doing. She’s got bad judgment. And honestly, so bad that she should never be president of the United States. That, I can tell you.

AC: I want to move op. This next question from the public through the bipartisan Open Debate, where Americans submitted questions that generated millions of votes. It was reported that excerpts of secretary Clinton’s paid speeches, in which she has refused to release, and one line, in which you say you need both a public and private position on certain issues. So, [Two], from Virginia asks, Is it okay for politicians to be two-faced? Is it acceptable for a politician to have a private stance?

HC: Right, as I recall, that was something I said about Abraham Lincoln, and after having seen the wonderful Steven Spielberg movie calledLincoln. It was a master class watching President Lincoln get the congress to approve the 13th amendment. It was principled and strategic. I was making the point that it is hard sometimes to get the congress to do what you want to do. To keep working at it. And yes, President Lincoln was trying to convince some people to use some arguments. That was a great I thought a great display of presidential leadership.

But you know, let’s talk about what’s really going on because our intelligence community said the Kremlin, meaning Putin and the Russian government, our directing the attacks, the hacking, on American accounts to influence our election. Other sites, where the Russians hack information. We don’t know if it’s accurate information and then they put it out. We have never in the history of our country been in a situation where an adversary, a foreign power, is working so hard to influence the outcome of the election. And believe me, they’re not doing it to get elected. They’re doing it to try to influence the election for Donald Trump. Now, maybe because he has praised Putin, maybe because he says he agrees with a lot of what Putin wants to do, maybe because he wants to do business in Moscow, I don’t know the reasons.

But we deserve answers. We should demand that will Donald release all of his tax returns so that people can see what are the entanglements and the financial relationships.

We should demand that will Donald release all of his tax returns so that people can see what are the entanglements and the financial relationships.

Moderator: We’re going to get to that later. Secretary, Clinton, you’re out of time.

DT: I think I should respond because so ridiculous. Now she’s blaming — she got caught in a total lie. Her papers went out to everybody at the banks, and she said things Wikileaks that just came out. She lied. Now she’s blaming the lie on the late great Abraham Lincoln. That’s one that I haven’t — okay, honest Abe never lied. That’s the good thing. That’s the big difference between Abraham Lincoln and you. That’s a big, big difference — we’re talking about some difference.

But as far as other elements of what she was saying, I don’t know Putin. I think it would be great if we got along with Russia because we could fight ISIS together as an example. But I don’t know Putin. I notice anytime anything wrong happens, they like to say the Russians — she doesn’t know if it’s the Russians doing the hacking. Maybe there is no hacking. But they always blame Russia and the reason is because they think they’re trying to tarnish me with Russia. I know about Russia but I know nothing about the inner workings of Russia. I have no businesses. I have no loans from Russia.

I have a very, very great balance sheet, so great when I did the old post office on Pennsylvania avenue, the united States government, because of my balance sheet which they actually know very well, chose me to do the old post office between the white house and congress, chose me to do the old post office. One of the primary area things, perhaps the primary thing was balance sheet. But I have no loans with Russia. You could go to the United States government and they would probably tell you that because they know my sheet very well in order to get that development. I had to have. Now the facts are very simple

First of all, I pay hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes. Many of her friends took bigger deductions, Warren Buffett took a massive deduction, Soros took a massive deduction. Many of the people giving her all this money that she can do many more commercials from me took massive deductions. I pay hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes, about you, but as soon as my routine audit is finished I’ll release my returns.

AC: We have a question from Spencer Moss. Spencer?

Spencer: Good evening. My question is, what specific tax provisions will you change to insure the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share intachs oo.

DT: One thing I would do is get rid of carried interest. One of the greatest provisions for people like me, I give up a lot when I run because I knock out the tax code. She could have done this be years ago. She’s a United States senator. She complains that Donald Trump took advantage of the tax code. Well, why didn’t she change it? Why didn’t you change it when you were a senator? The reason you didn’t is all your friends take the same advantage that I do. You have provisions in the tax code that frankly we could change. But you wouldn’t change it because all of these people give you the money so you can take negative ads on Donald Trump. But and I say that about a lot of things. I’ve heard Hillary complaining about so many different things over the years. I wish you would have done this. For 30 years, she’s been doing this stuff. She never changed and she never will change. We’re getting rid of carried interest provisions. I’m lowering taxes actually because I think it’s so important for corporations because we have corporations leaving massive corporations and little ones, little ones can’t form. We’re getting rid of regulations which goes hand in hand with the lowering of the taxes. We’re bringing the tax rate down from 35 percent to 15 percent. We’re cutting taxes for the middle class.

I will tell you we are cutting them big league for the middle class. I will tell you, Hillary Clinton is raising your taxes, folks. You can look at me. She’s raising your taxes really high. And what that’s going to do is a disaster for the country.

But she is raising your taxes and I’m lowering your taxes. That in itself is a big difference. We are going to be thriving again. We have no growth in this country. If China has a GDP of 7 percent, it’s like a national catastrophe. We’re down to 1 percent. And that’s like no growth. We’re going lower in my opinion. And a lot of it has to do with the fact that our taxes are so high. Just about the highest in the world. And I’m bringing them down to one of the lower in the world. And I think it’s so important, one of the most important things we can do. But she is raising everybody’s taxes massively.

Moderator: Secretary Clinton, you have two minutes. The question is, what specific tax provisions will you change to ensure the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share of taxes.

HC: Well, everything you’ve heard everywhere Donald just now is not true. I’m sorry I have to keep saying this, but he lives in an alternative reality. It is sort of amusing to hear somebody who hasn’t paid federal income taxes in maybe 20 years talking about what he’s going to do. I’ll tell you what he’s going to do. His plan will give the wealthy and corporations the biggest tax cuts they’ve ever had. More than the Bush tax cuts by at least a factor of two. Donald always takes care of Donald and people like Donald and this would be a massive gift. And indeed, the way that he talks about his tax cuts would end up raising taxes on middle class families, millions of middle class families. Here’s what I want to do. I have said nobody who makes less than $250,000 a year, and that’s the vast majority of Americans as you know, will have their taxes raised because we’ve got to go where the money is. The money is with people who have taken advantage of every single break in the tax code. Yes, when I was a senator, I did vote to close corporate loopholes.

I voted to close, I think one of the loopholes he took advantage of when he claimed a billion dollar loss that enabled him to avoid paying taxes. I want to have a tax on people who are making a million dollars called the Buffett rule. Yes, Warren Buffett has gone out and said somebody like him should not be paying a lower tax rate than his secretary. I want a surcharge on income above $5 million. I want to invest in you. I want to invest in hard-working families. I think it’s been unfortunate but it’s happened since the great recession, the gains have all gone to the top. We need to reverse that. People like Donald who paid zero in taxes, zero for our vets, zero for our military, zero for health and education, that is wrong. And we’re going to make sure that nobody, no corporation, and no individual can get away without paying his fair share to support our country.

AC: Mr. Trump, I want to give you the chance to respond. I want to tell viewers. In the last month, taxes were the number one issue on Facebook for the first time in the campaign. The New York Times published three pages of your 1995 tax returns. You claimed a $916 million loss which means you could have avoided paying personal income taxes for years.

You said you pay property taxes, real estate taxes. You have not answered a simple question. Did you use the loss to avoid paying personal federal income taxes?

DC: Of course I do. So do all of her donors or most of her donors. I know many of her donors. They took massive tax write-offs.

AC: Have you paid personal federal tax?

DT: A lot of my write-off was depreciation and that Hillary as a senator allowed. The people that give her all this money want it. I understand it the tax code better than anybody that’s run for president. Hillary Clinton, it’s extremely complex. Hockey has friends that want the carried interest provision which is very important to Wall Street people. But they really want the carried interest provision. Which I believe Hillary’s leaving. Very interesting why she’s leaving carried interest. Number one, I pay tremendous numbers of taxes. I absolutely used it. So did Warren Buffett and so did George Soros and so did many of the other people that Hillary is getting money from. Now, I won’t mention their names because they’re rich but they’re not famous. We don’t make them famous.

AC: Can you say how many years you have avoided paying personal federal income taxes?

DC: Of course I do. So do all of her donors or most of her donors. I know many of her donors. They took massive tax write-offs.

AC: Have you paid personal federal tax?

DT: A lot of my write-off was depreciation and that Hillary as a senator allowed. The people that give her all this money want it. I understand it the tax code better than anybody that’s run for president. Hillary Clinton, it’s extremely complex. Hockey has friends that want the carried interest provision which is very important to Wall Street people. But they really want the carried interest provision. Which I believe Hillary’s leaving. Very interesting why she’s leaving carried interest. Number one, I pay tremendous numbers of taxes. I absolutely used it. So did Warren Buffett and so did George Soros and so did many of the other people that Hillary is getting money from. Now, I won’t mention their names because they’re rich but they’re not famous. We don’t make them famous.

AC: Can you say how many years you have avoided paying personal federal income taxes?

DT: No, but I pay tax and pay federal tax, too. I have a write-off, a lot of it is depreciation. It’s a wonderful charge. If she had a problem for 30 years, she’s been doing this, Anderson. I say it all the time. She talks about health care. Why didn’t she do something about it? She talks about taxes. She doesn’t do anything about anything other than talk. With her, it’s all talk and no action. In the past — and again, Bernie Sanders, it’s really bad judgment. She has made bad judgment not only on taxes, she’s made bad judgments on Libya, on Syria. On Iraq. I mean, her and Obama, whether you like it or not, the way they got out of Iraq, the vacuum they’ve left, that’s why ISIS formed in the first place. They started from that little area and now they’re in 32 different nations, Hillary. Congratulations. Great job.

Moderator: I want you to be able to respond, secretary Clinton.

HC: Well, here we go again. I’ve been in favor of getting rid of carried interest for years. Starting when I was a senator from New York. But that’s not the point here.

DT: Why didn’t you do it? Why didn’t you do it.

HC: Because I was a senator with a Republican president. I will be the president.

DT: You could have done it if you were an effective —

HC: That’s exactly right.

DT: If you were an effective senator, could you have done it. But you were not an effective senator.

AC: Please allow her to respond. She didn’t interrupt you.

HC: Under our constitution, presidents have something called veto power. Look, he has now said repeatedly 30 years this and 30 years that. So let me talk about my 30 years in public service. I’m very glad to do so. Eight million kids, every year, have health insurance because when I was first lady, I worked with Democrats and Republicans to create the children’s health insurance program. Hundreds of thousands of kids now have a chance to be adopted because I worked to change our adoption and foster care system.

After 9/11, I went to work with Republican mayor, governor and president to rebuild New York and to get health care for our first responders who were suffering because they had run toward danger and gotten sickened by it. Hundreds of thousands of National Guard and reserve members have healthcare because of work that I did. And children [receive] safer medicines because I was able to pass a law that required the dosing to be more carefully done.

When I was secretary of state, I went around the world advocating for our country but also advocating for women’s rights to make sure that women had a decent chance to have a better life. And negotiated a treaty with Russia to lower nuclear weapons. Four-hundred pieces of legislation have my name on it as a sponsor or cosponsor when I was a senator for eight years. I worked very hard and was very proud to be re-elected in new York by an even bigger margin than I had been elected the first time. And as president, I will take that work, that bipartisan work, that finding common ground because you have to be able to get along with people to get things done in Washington.

MR: Thank you, secretary.

HC: I’ve proven that I can and for 30 years, I’ve produced results for people.

MR: Thank you, secretary.

MR: We’re going to move on to Syria. Both of you have mentioned that.

DT: She said a lot of things that were false. I think we should be allowed —

MR: Mr. Trump, this is about the audience.

DT: She’s been a disaster as a senator.

MR: We’re going to move on. The heart breaking video of a 5-year-old Syrian boy sitting in an ambulance after being pulled from the rubble after an air striking in Aleppo focused the world’s attention on the horrors of the war in Syria with 136 million views of on Facebook alone.

But there are much worse … coming out of Aleppo every day now where in the past few weeks alone, 400 people have been killed, at least 100 of them children. Days ago, the state department called for a war crimes investigation of the Syrian regime of Bashar Al Assad and Russia for their bombardment of Aleppo. This next question comes through social media through Facebook.

Diane from Pennsylvania asks, if you were president what would you do about Syria and the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo? Isn’t it a lot like the holocaust when the US waited too long before we helped? Secretary Clinton, we’ll begin with your two minutes.

HC: Well, the situation in Syria is catastrophic. And every day that goes by, we see the results of the regime by Assad in partnership with the Iranians on the grounds, the Russians in the air bombarding places in particular Aleppo where there are hundreds of thousands of people probably about 250,000 still left. And there is a determined effort by the Russian air force to destroy Aleppo in order to eliminate the last of the Syrian rebels who are really holding out against the Assad regime. Russia hasn’t paid any attention to ISIS. They’re interested in keeping Assad in power.

So I when I was secretary of state, advocated and I advocate today a no-fly zone and safe zones. We need to some leverage with the Russians because they are not going to come to the negotiating table for a diplomatic resolution unless there is some leverage over them. And we have to work more closely with our partners and allies on the ground. But I want to emphasize that what is at stake here is the ambitions and the aggressiveness of Russia. Russia has decided that it’s all in in Syria. And they’ve also decided who they want to see become president of the United States too, and it’s not me. I’ve stood up to Russia. I’ve taken on Putin and others and I would do that as president. I think wherever we can cooperate with Russia, that’s fine. And I did as secretary of state. That’s how we got a treaty reducing nuclear weapons. It’s how we got the sanctions on Iran that put a lid on the Iranian nuclear program without firing a single shot. So I would go to the negotiating table with more leverage than we have now but I do support the effort to investigate for crimes, war crimes committed by the Syrians and the Russians and try to hold them accountable.

Moderator: Thank you, Secretary Clinton.

DT: First of all, she’s there with the so-called line in the sand.

HC: No, I wasn’t. I was gone. I hate to interrupt you but at some point we needed to do some fact checking.

DT: You were in contact with the White House and perhaps sadly, Obama probably still listened to you. I don’t think he would listen to you very much anymore. Obama draws the line in the sand. It was laughed at all over the world what happened. Now, with that being said, she talks tough against Russia. But our nuclear program has fallen way behind and they’ve gone wild with their nuclear program. Not good. Our government shouldn’t have allowed that to happen.

Russia is new in terms of nuclear. We are old. We’re tired. We’re exhausted in terms of nuclear. A very bad thing. She talks tough, she talks really tough against Putin. And against Assad. She talks in favor of the rebels. She doesn’t even know who they are. Every time we take rebels, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else, we’re arming people, and you know what happens? They end up being worse than the people. Look what she did in Libya with Gaddafi. Gaddafi’s out. It’s a mess. ISIS has a good chunk of their oil. I’m sure you probably have heard that. It was a disaster. The fact is almost everything she’s done in foreign policy has been a mistake and it’s been a disaster. But if you look at Russia, just take a look at Russia, and look at what they did this week where I agree, she wasn’t there but possibly she’s consulted. We sign a peace treaty. Everyone’s excited.

What Russia did with Assad and with Iran who you made very powerful with the dumbest deal I’ve ever seen, the Iran deal with the $1.7 billion in cash which is enough to fill up this room. But look at — Iran now and Russia are now against us. So she wants to fight. She wants to fight for rebels. There’s only one problem. You don’t even know who the rebels are.

Moderator: Mr. Trump it, your two minutes is up.

DT: One thing I have to say. I don’t like Assad at all but Assad is killing ISIS. Russia is killing ISIS. And Iran is killing ISIS. And those three have now lined up because of our weak foreign policy.

MR: Mr. Trump, let me repeat the question. If you were president, what would you do about Syria and the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo? I want to remind you what your running mate said. He said provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength and if Russia continues to be involved in air-strikes along with the Syrian government forces of Assad, the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike the military targets of the Assad regime.

DT: Okay. He and I haven’t spoken and I disagree.

MR: You disagree with your running mate.

DT: Right now, Syria is fighting ISIS. We have people that want to fight both at the same time. But Syria is no longer Syria. Syria is Russia and Iran who she made strong and Kerry and Obama made into a very powerful nation and very rich nation, very, very quickly. Very, very quickly.

I believe we have to get ISIS. We have to worry about ISIS before we can get too much more involved. She had a chance to do something with Syria. They had a chance. That was the line.

MR: What do you think will happen if Aleppo falls.

DT: It is a disaster.

MR: What do you think will happen if it falls?

DT: I think it basically has fallen.

Let me tell you something. You take a look at Mosul. The biggest problem I have with the stupidity of our foreign policy, we have Mosul. We have … coming out of Washington and Iraq, we will be attacking mosul in three or four weeks. All of these bad leaders from ISIS are leaving Mosul. Why can’t they do it quietly? Why can’t they do the attack, make it a sneak attack and after the attack is made, inform the American public that we’ve knocked out the leaders, we’ve had a tremendous success. People leave. Why do they have to say we’re going to be attacking mosul within the next four to six weeks which is what they’re saying. How stupid is our country.

MR: There are sometimes reasons the military does that. Psychological warfare.

DT: I can’t think of any. I’m pretty good at it. We have general Flynn. I have 200 generals and admiral who’s endorse me. I have 21 congressional medal of honor recipients who endorse me.

We talk about it all the time. They understand, why can’t they do something secretively where they go in and they knock out the leadership. How — why would these people stay there? I’ve been reading now.

MR: Tell me what your strategy is.

DT: — for weeks about Mosul. It’s the harbor between Raqqah and Mosul, this is where they think the ISIS leaders would be. They’re gone. Because everybody’s talking about how Iraq which is us with our leadership goes into fight mosul. Now, with these 200 admirals and generals, they can’t believe it. All I say is this.

General George Patton, general Douglas MacArthur are spinning in their grave as the stupidity of what we’re doing in the Middle East.

MR: Secretary Clinton, you want Assad to go. You advocated arming rebels. It looks like that may be too late for Aleppo. You talk about diplomatic efforts. Those have failed. Cease fires have failed. Would you introduce the threat of U.S. Military force beyond a no-fly zone against the Assad regime to back up diplomacy?

HC: I would not use American ground forces in Syria. I think that would be a very serious mistake. I don’t think American troops should be holding territory which is what they would have to do as an occupying force. I don’t think that is a smart strategy.

I do think the use of special forces which we’re using, the use of enablers and trainers in Iraq which has had some positive effects are very much in our interests and so I do support what is happening, but let me just.

MR: What would you do differently than president Obama is doing?

HC: Martha, I hope by the time —

DT: Everything.

HC: I hope by the time I am president, that we will have pushed ISIS out of Iraq. I do think that there is a good chance that we can take Mosul. And you know, Donald says he knows more about ISIS than the generals. No, he doesn’t. There are a lot of very important planning going on and some of it is to signal to the Sunnis in the area as well as Kurdish Peshmerga fighters that we all need to be in this.

That takes a lot of planning and preparation. I would go after Baghdadi. I would specifically target Baghdadi because I think our targeting of Al Qaeda leaders — and I was involved in a lot of the those operations, highly classified ones — made a difference. That could help. I would also consider arming the Kurds. The Kurds have been our best partners in Syria as well as Iraq. And I know there’s a lot of concern about that in some circles but I think they should have the equipment they need so that kurdish and Arab fighters on the ground are the principal way that we take Raqqah after pushing ISIS out of Iraq.

MR: Thank you very much.

DT: It’s funny she went over a minute over and you don’t stop her. When I go one second over —

Moderators: You have had many answers.

DT: It’s very interesting.

Moderators: A question from James Carter. Mr. Carter?

James Carter: My question is, do you believe you can be a devoted president to all the people in the United States?

Moderator: That question begins for Mr. Trump.

DT: Absolutely. I mean, she calls our people deplorable. A large group and irredeemable. I will be a president for all of our people. And I’ll be a president that will turn our inner cities around and will give strength to people and will give economics to people and will bring jobs back because nafta signed by her husband is perhaps the greatest disaster trade deal in the history of the world. Not in this country. It stripped us of manufacturing jobs. We lost our jobs. We lost our money. We lost our plants. It is a disaster. Now she wants to sign tpp even though now she says she’s for it. She called it the gold standard. She lied. It turned out she did say the gold standard and she said she didn’t say it. They actually said that she lied and she lied. But she’s lied about a lot of things.

I would be a president for all of the people. African-Americans, the inner cities. Devastating what’s happening to our inner cities. She’s been talking about it for years. As usual, she talks about it, nothing happens. She doesn’t get it done. Same with the Latino Americans. The hispanic Americans. The same exact thing. They talk, they don’t get it done. You go into the inner cities and you see it’s 45 percent poverty. African-Americans now 45 percent poverty in the inner cities. The education is a disaster.

Jobs are essentially nonexistent. I mean, it’s — you know, and I’ve been saying big speeches where I have 20,000 and 30,000 people, what do you have to lose? It can’t get any worse. She’s been talking about the inner cities for 25 years. Nothing’s going to ever happen. Let me tell you, if she’s president of the United States, nothing’s going to happen. It’s going to be talk. All of her friends the taxes we were talking about, and I would just get it by osmosis. She’s not doing me any favors. By doing all the others favors, she’s doing me favors. She’s all talk. It doesn’t get done. Look at her senate run, take a look at upstate New York.

Moderator: Your two minutes is up. You have two minutes, Secretary Clinton.

HC: Well, 67 percent of the people voted to re-elect me when I ran for my second term. And I was very proud and very humbled by that. Mr. Carter, I have tried my entire life to do what I can to support children and families. You know, right out of law school, I went to work for the children’s defense fund. Donald talks a lot about you know, the 30 years I’ve been in public service. I’m proud of that.

You know, I started off as a young lawyer working against discrimination against African-American children in schools and in the criminal justice system. I worked to make sure that kids with disabilities could get a public education. Something that I care very much about. I have worked with Latinos, one of my first jobs in politics was down in south Texas registering Latino citizens to be able to vote. So I have a deep devotion to use your absolutely correct word.

To making sure that an every American feels like he or she has a place in our country. And I think when you look at the letters that I get, a lot of people are worried that maybe they wouldn’t have a place in Donald Trump’s America. They write me and one woman wrote me about her son Felix. She adopted him from Ethiopia. He’s 10 years old now. This is the only one country he’s known. He listens to Donald on TV and said to miss mother, will he send me back to Ethiopia if he gets elected. Children Liston what is being said, to go back to the very, very first question. And there’s a lot of fear in fact, teachers and parents are calling it the trump effect. Bullying is up. A lot of people are feeling uneasy, a lot of kids are expressing their concerns.

So first and foremost, I will do everything I can to reach out to everybody. Democrats, Republicans, independents, people across our country. If you don’t vote for me, I still want to be your president. I want to be the best president I can be for every American.

Moderator: Your two minutes is up.

I want to follow up on something Donald Trump actually said to you, a comment you made last month. You said that half his supporters are deplorables, racist, xenophobic, islamophobic. You later said you regretted saying half. You didn’t express regret for using the term deplorables. How can you unite a country if you’ve written off tens of millions of Americans.

HC: Within hours I said I was sorry about the way I talked about that. My argument is not with his supporters. It’s with him and with the hateful and divisive campaign he has run and the inciting of violence at his rallies and the very brutal kinds of comments about not just women, but all kinds of Americans. And what he has said about African-Americans and Latinos, about Muslims, about P.O.W.S, about immigrants, about people with disabilities, he’s never apologized for. And so, I do think that a lot of the tone and tenor that he has said, I’m proud of the campaign that Bernie Sanders and I ran. We ran a campaign based on issues, not insults. He is supporting me 100 percent.

Moderator: Thank you.

HC: Because we talked about what we wanted to do. We might have had some differences and we had a lot of debates but we believed that we could make the country better. I was proud of that.

Moderator: I give you a minute.

DT: We have a divided nation. We have a very divided nation. You look at Charlotte. You look at Baltimore. You look at the violence that’s taking place in the inner cities, Chicago, you take a look at Washington, D.C., we have an increase in murder within our cities. The biggest in 45 years. We have a divided nation because people like her, and believe me, she has tremendous hate in her heart. And when she said deplorables, she meant it. And when she said irredeemable, they’re irredeemable, you didn’t mention that, but when she said they’re irredeemable, that might have even been worse.

AC: She said some of them.

DT: She’s got tremendous hatred. And this country cannot take another four years of Barack Obama and that’s what you’re getting with her.

AC: Mr. Trump, let me follow up with you. In 2008, wrote in one of your books the most important characteristic of a good leader is discipline. You said if a leader doesn’t have it “He or she won’t be one for very long.” In the days after the first debate, you sent out a series of tweets from 3 am to 5 am, Including one that told people to check out a sex tape. Is that discipline.

DT: It was just take a look at the person she built up to be this wonderful girl scout who was no girl scout. Just so you understand, when she said 3:00 in the morning, take a look at Benghazi. She said who is going to answer it the call at 3:00 in the morning. Guess what, she didn’t answer because when ambassador Stevens.

AC: The question is, is that the discipline of a good leader?

DT: Six-hundred times. She said she was awake at 3:00 in the morning and she also sent a tweet out at 3:00 in the morning. She said she’ll be awake. Guess what happened.

Ambassador Stevens sent 600 requests for help. And the only one she talked to was Sidney Blumenthal who is her friend and not a good guy by the way. So you know, she shouldn’t be talking about that. Now, tweeting happens to be a modern day form of communication. I mean, you can like it or not like it. I have, between Facebook and Twitter, I have almost 25 million people. It’s a very effective way of communication. So you can put it down, but it is a very effective form of communication. I’m not unproud of it to be honest with you.

AC: Secretary Clinton, does Mr. Trump have the discipline to be a good leader

HC: No.

DT: I’m shocked to hear that.

HC: Well, it’s not only my opinion. It’s the opinion of many others. National security experts, Republicans, former Republican members of congress.

But it’s in part because those of us who have had the great privilege of seeing this job up close and know how difficult it is and it’s not just because I watched my husband take a $300 billion deficit and turn it into a $200 billion surplus and 23 million new jobs were created and incomes went up for everybody. Everybody. African-American incomes went up 33 percent.

And it’s not just because I worked with George W. Bush after 9/11. And I was very proud that when I told him what the city needed, what we needed to recover, he said you’ve got it and he never wavered. He stuck with me. And I have worked and I admire President Obama. He inherited the worst financial crisis since the great depression. That was a terrible time for our country.

We have to move along. Nine million people lost their jobs. Five million homes were lost and $13 trillion in family wealth was wiped out. We are back on the right track. He would send us back into recession with his tax plans.

Moderator: Secretary Clinton, we are moving to an audience question. We’re almost out of time.

DT: We have the slowest growth since 1929.

Moderator: We’re moving on to another question.

DT: Our country has the slowest growth.

Moderator: We want to get to the audience. Thank you very much both of you. We have another audience question. Beth Miller has a question for both candidates.

Beth Miller: Good evening. Perhaps the most important aspect of this election is the supreme court justice. What would you prioritize as the most important aspect of selecting a Supreme Court justice?

Moderator: We begin with your two minutes, secretary Clinton.

HC: You’re right. This is one of the most important issues in this election. I want to appoint supreme court justices who understand the way the world really works. Who have real life experience, who have not just been in a big law firm and maybe clerks for a judge and then gotten on the bench. Maybe they tried some more cases. They actually understand what people are up against because I think the current court has gone in the wrong direction. And so I would want to see the supreme court reverse Citizens United, and get dark unaccountable money out of our politics. Donald doesn’t agree with that.

I would like the supreme court to understand that voting rights are still a big problem in many parts of our country. That we don’t always do everything we can to making it possible for people of color and older people and young people to be able to exercise their franchise. I want a supreme court that will stick with Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose and I want a supreme court that will stick with marriage equality.

Now, Donald has put forth the names of some people that he would consider. And among the ones that he has suggested are people who would reverse Roe v. Wade and reverse marriage equality. I think that would be a terrible mistake and would take us backwards. I want a supreme court that doesn’t always side with corporate interests. I want a supreme court that understands because you’re wealthy and you can give more money to something doesn’t mean you have any more rights than anybody else. So I have very clear views about what I want to see to tend to change the balance on the supreme court, and I regret deeply that the senate has not done its job and they have not permitted a vote on the person that president Obama, a highly qualified person, they’ve not given him a vote to be able to be have the full complement of nine supreme court justices. I think that was a dereliction of duty.

I hope that they will see their way to doing it, but if I am an so fortunate enough as to be president, will immediately lid move to make sure that we fill that. We have nine justices on behalf of our people.

Moderator: You’re out of time. Mr. Trump?

DT: Justice Scalia, great judge. Died recently. And we have a vacancy.

I am looking to appoint judges very much in the mold of Justice Scalia. I’m looking for judges, and I’ve actually picked 20 of them. So that people would see highly respected, highly thought of, and actually very beautifully reviewed by just about everybody. But people that will respect the constitution of the United States. And I think that this is so important. Also, the second amendment which is totally under siege by people like Hillary Clinton. They’ll respect the second amendment. And what it stands for, what it represents.

So important to me. Hillary mentioned something about contributions just so you understand. I will have in my race more than $100 million put in of my money, meaning I’m not taking all of this big money from all of these different corporations like she’s doing. What I ask is this. I’m putting in more by the time it’s finished, I’ll have more than $100 million invested. Pretty much self-funding. We’re raising money for the Republican Party and we’re doing tremendously on the small donations — $61 average or so.

I ask Hillary, why doesn’t she make $250 million by being in office? She used the power of her office to make a lot of money. Why isn’t she funding not for $100 million but why don’t you put $10 million or $20 million or $25 million into your own campaign? It’s $30 million less for special interests that will tell you exactly what to do and it would be a nice sign to the American public. Why aren’t you putting some money in. You’ve made a lot of it because of the fact you’ve been in office. Made a lot of it while you were secretary of state. Why aren’t you putting money into your own campaign, I’m curious.

MR: We’re going to get on to one more question.

HC: The question was about the supreme court. I want to quickly say, I respect the second amendment. But I believe there should be comprehensive background checks and we should close the gun show loophole and close the online loophole.

Moderator: We have one more question, Mrs. Clinton. We have one more question from Ken Boone about energy policy. Ken?

Ken: What steps will your energy policy take to meet our energy needs? While at the same time, reminding environmentally friendly and minimizing it job loss for fossil power plant workers?

DT: Such a great question. Energy is under siege by the Obama administration. Absolute siege of the E.P.A — is killing these energy companies and foreign companies are now coming in, buying so many of our different plants and then rejiggering the plants so that they can take care of their oil. We are killing, absolutely killing our energy business in this country.

Now, I’m all for alternative forms of energy, including wind, solar, etcetera. But we need much more than wind and solar and you look at our miners. Hillary Clinton wants to put all the miners out of business. There say thing called clean coal. Coal lasts for thousands of years in this country. We have so many things — because of technology, we have unbelievable — of the last seven years, we have found tremendous wealth right under our feet. So much wealth. Especially when you have $20 billion in debt.

I will bring our companies back. They will make money. They will pay off our tremendous budget deficits which are tremendous. But we are putting our energy companies out of business. We have to bring back our workers. You take a look at what is happening to steal and — happening to steel and China dumping steel, which is killing our workers. We have to guard our energy companies. We have to make it possible. The EPA is so restrict it, they are putting our energy companies out of business. All you have to do is go to a great place like West Virginia or Ohio, which is phenomenal, or places like Pennsylvania, and you see what they are doing to the people — miners and others, in the energy business and it’s a disgrace. It’s an absolute disgrace.

AC: Two minutes.

HC: That was very interesting.

First of all, China is illegally dumping steel in the United States and Donald is buying it to build his buildings. That is something I fought against as a senator and I would have a trade prosecutor to make sure we don’t get taken advantage of by China, on steel or anything else. You know, because it sounds like you are in the business or are aware of people in the business. You know that we are now for the first time ever energy independent. We are not dependent on the Middle East. But the Middle East still controls a lot of the prices. The price of oil has been way down and that has had a damaging effect on a lot of the oil companies, right? We are, however, producing a lot of natural gas, which serves as a bridge to more renewable fuels. I think that is an important transition. We have got to remain energy independent.

It gives us much more power and freedom than to be worried about what goes on in the Middle East. We have enough worries about what goes on over there than having to worry about that. So I have a comprehensive energy policy, but it really does include fighting climate change, because I think that is a serious problem. And I support moving toward more clean, renewable energy as quickly as we can, because I think we can be the 21st century clean energy superpower and create millions of new jobs and businesses. I also want to make sure we do not leave people behind. That is why I am the only candidate, from the very beginning of this campaign, who had a plan to help us revitalize coal country. Because those coal miners and their grandfathers , they dug that coal out. A lot of them died, were injured. I don’t want to walk away from them. The power — the price of coal is down worldwide. We have to walk away. I hope you will go to hillaryclinton.com and see the entire policy.

MR: We have think then one more question and it comes from Carl Becker.

Carl: Good evening. My question to both of you is — regardless of the current rhetoric — would either of you name one positive thing that you respect in one another?

MR: Mr. Trump, would you like to go first?

HC: Well, I certainly will. Because I think that’s a very fair and important question. I respect his children. His children are incredibly able and devoted, and I think that says a lot about Donald. I don’t agree with nearly anything else he says or does, but I do respect that, and I think that is something that as a mother and her grandmother, is very important to me.

So, I believe that this election has become in part so conflict oriented, so intense because there’s a lot at stake. This is not an ordinary time. This is not an ordinary election. We are going to be choosing a president who will set policy for — not just four or eight years, but because of some of the important decisions we have to make here at home and around the world, from the supreme court to energy and so much else — so there is a lot at stake. It’s one of the most consequential elections we have had. And that is why I have tried to put forth specific policies and plans, trying to get it off of the personal and put it on to what it is I want to do as president. And that is why I hope people will check on that for themselves so they can see, yes, I have spent 30 years — actually may little more, working to help kids and families and I want to take that experience to the white house and do that every single day.

MR: Mr. Trump?

DT: I consider her statement about my children a very nice compliment. I don’t know if it was meant to be a compliment. I’m very proud of my children. They have been wonderful, wonderful kids. I consider that a compliment. I will say this about Hillary. She doesn’t quit. She doesn’t give up. I respect that. I tell it like it is. She is a fighter. I disagree with much of what she is fighting for. I do disagree with her judgment in many cases, but she does fight hard and she doesn’t quit and she doesn’t give up and I consider that to be a very good trait.

MR: Thanks to both of you. Anderson: Want to thank both of the candidates. We want to thank the university here. This concludes the town hall commission. Thank you to everyone who watched.

Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 October 4, 2016: The Mike Pence – Tim Kaine vice-presidential debate transcript

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & ELECTIONS

2016

The Mike Pence vs. Tim Kaine vice-presidential debate transcript

Source: WaPo, 10-4-16

Republican Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence is considered the winner of the debate, although he is criticized for defending his running mate, Donald Trump enough.  

QUIJANO: Good evening. From Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, and welcome to the first, and only, vice presidential debate of 2016, sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

QUIJANO: I’m Elaine Quijano, anchor at CBSN, and correspondent for CBS News. It’s an honor to moderate this debate between Senator Tim Kaine and Governor Mike Pence. Both are longtime public servants who are also proud fathers of sons serving in the U.S. Marines.

The campaigns have agreed to the rules of this 90-minute debate. There will be nine different segments covering domestic and foreign policy issues. Each segment will begin with a question to both candidates who will each have two minutes to answer. Then I’ll ask follow-up questions to facilitate a discussion between the candidates. By coin toss, it’s been determined that Senator Kaine will be first to answer the opening question.

QUIJANO: We have an enthusiastic audience tonight. They’ve agreed to only express that enthusiasm once at the end of the debate and right now as we welcome Governor Mike Pence and Senator Tim Kaine.

(APPLAUSE)

Gentlemen, welcome. It truly is a privilege to be with both of you tonight.

QUIJANO: I’d like to start with the topic of presidential leadership. Twenty-eight years ago tomorrow night, Lloyd Bentsen said the vice presidential debate was not about the qualifications for the vice presidency, but about how if tragedy should occur, the vice president has to step in without any margin for error, without time for preparation, to take over the responsibility for the biggest job in the world.

What about your qualities, your skills, and your temperament equip you to step into that role at a moment’s notice? Senator Kaine?

KAINE: Elaine, thank you for being here tonight, and, Governor Pence, welcome. It is so great to be back at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.

This is a very special place. Sixty-five years ago, a young, courageous woman, Barbara Johns, led a walkout of her high school, Moton High School. She made history by protesting school segregation. She believed our nation was stronger together. And that walkout led to the Brown v. Board of Education decision that moved us down the path toward equality.

I am so proud to be running with another strong, history-making woman, Hillary Clinton, to be president of the United States. I’m proud because her vision of stronger together, building an economy that works for all, not just those at the top, being safe in the world not only with a strong military, but also strong alliances to battle terrorism and climate change, and also to build a community of respect, just like Barbara Johns tried to do 65 years ago. That’s why I’m so proud to be her running mate.

Hillary told me why she asked me to be her running mate. She said the test of a Clinton administration will not be the signing of a bill or the passage of a bill. It’ll be whether we can make somebody’s life better, whether we can make a classroom better learning environment for schoolkids or teachers, whether we can make a safer — it’s going to be about results.

And she said to me, you’ve been a missionary and a civil rights lawyer. You’ve been a city councilman and mayor. You’ve been a lieutenant governor and governor and now a U.S. senator. I think you will help me figure out how to govern this nation so that we always keep in mind that the success of the administration is the difference we make in people’s lives.

And that’s what I bring to the ticket, that experience having served at all levels of government. But my primary role is to be Hillary Clinton’s right-hand person and strong supporter as she puts together the most historic administration possible. And I relish that role. I’m so proud of her.

KAINE: I’ll just say this: We trust Hillary Clinton, my wife and I, and we trust her with the most important thing in our life. We have a son deployed overseas in the Marine Corps right now. We trust Hillary Clinton as president and commander-in-chief, but the thought of Donald Trump as commander-in-chief scares us to death.

QUIJANO: Governor Pence?

PENCE: Well, first off, thank you, Elaine, and thank you to — thank you to Norwood University for their wonderful hospitality and the Commission on Presidential Debates. It’s deeply humbling for me to be here, to be surrounded by my — my wonderful family.

And, Senator Kaine, it’s an honor to be here with you, as well. And I just — I also want to say — I want to say thanks to everyone that’s looking in tonight, who understands what an enormously important time this is in the life of our nation.

For the last seven-and-a-half years, we’ve seen America’s place in the world weakened. We’ve seen an economy stifled by more taxes, more regulation, a war on coal, and a failing health care reform come to be known as Obamacare, and the American people know that we need to make a change. And so I want to thank all of you for being — being with us tonight.

PENCE: I also want to thank Donald Trump for making that call and inviting us to be a part of this ticket. I have to tell you, I’m a — I’m a small-town boy from a place not too different from Farmville. I grew up with a cornfield in my backyard. My grandfather had immigrated to this country when he was about my son’s age. My mom and dad built a — everything that matters in a small town in Southern Indiana. They built a family and — and a good name and a business. And they raised a family. And I dreamed some day of representing my home town in Washington, D.C., but I — honestly, Elaine, I never imagined — never imagined I’d have the opportunity to be governor of the state that I love, let alone be sitting at a table like this in this kind of a position.

So to answer your question, I would say I — I would hope that if — if the responsibility ever fell to me in this role, that I would meet it with the way that I’m going to meet the responsibility should I be elected vice president of the United States. And that’s to bring a lifetime of experience, a lifetime growing up in a small town, a lifetime where I’ve served in the Congress of the United States, where — where I’ve led a state that works in the great state of Indiana, and whatever other responsibilities might follow from this, I — I would hope and, frankly, I would pray to be able to meet that moment with that — that lifetime of experience.

QUIJANO: Senator Kaine, on the campaign trail, you praised Secretary Clinton’s character, including her commitment to public service, yet 60 percent of voters don’t think she’s trustworthy. Why do so many people distrust her? Is it because they have questions about her e-mails and the Clinton Foundation?

KAINE: Elaine, let me tell you why I trust Hillary Clinton. Here’s what people should look at as they look at a public servant. Do they have a passion in their life that showed up before they were in public life? And have they held onto that passion throughout their life, regardless of whether they were in office or not, succeeding or failing?

Hillary Clinton has that passion. From a time as a kid in a Methodist youth group in the suburbs of Chicago, she has been focused on serving others with a special focus on empowering families and kids. As a civil rights lawyer in the South, with the Children’s Defense Fund, first lady of Arkansas and this country, senator, secretary of state, it’s always been about putting others first. And that’s a sharp contrast with Donald Trump.

Donald Trump always puts himself first. He built a business career, in the words of one of his own campaign staffers, “off the backs of the little guy.” And as a candidate, he started his campaign with a speech where he called Mexicans rapists and criminals, and he has pursued the discredited and really outrageous lie that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States.

It is so painful to suggest that we go back to think about these days where an African-American could not be a citizen of the United States. And I can’t imagine how Governor Pence can defend the insult- driven selfish “me first” style of Donald Trump.

QUIJANO: Governor Pence, let me ask you, you have said Donald Trump is, quote, “thoughtful, compassionate, and steady.” Yet 67 percent of voters feel he is a risky choice, and 65 percent feel he does not have the right kind of temperament to be president. Why do so many Americans think Mr. Trump is simply too erratic?

PENCE: Well, let me — let me say first and foremost that, Senator, you and Hillary Clinton would know a lot about an insult- driven campaign. It really is remarkable. At a time when literally, in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, where she was the architect of the Obama administration’s foreign policy, we see entire portions of the world, particularly the wider Middle East, literally spinning out of control. I mean, the situation we’re watching hour by hour in Syria today is the result of the failed foreign policy and the weak foreign policy that Hillary Clinton helped lead in this administration and create. The newly emboldened — the aggression of Russia, whether it was in Ukraine or now they’re heavy-handed approach…

KAINE: You guys love Russia. You both have said…

PENCE: … their heavy-handed approach.

KAINE: You both have said — you both have said Vladimir Putin is a better leader than the president.

PENCE: Well…

(CROSSTALK)

QUIJANO: Well, we’re going to get to Russia in just a moment. But I do want to get back to the question at…

PENCE: But in the midst — Elaine, thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Senator, I’ll…

KAINE: These guys have praised Vladimir Putin as a great leader. How can that…

(CROSSTALK)

QUIJANO: Yes, and we will get to that, Senator. We do have that coming up here. But in the meantime, the questions…

PENCE: Well, Senator, I must have hit a…

(CROSSTALK)

PENCE: I must have hit a nerve here.

QUIJANO: Why the disconnect?

PENCE: Because at a time of great challenge in the life of this nation, where we’ve weakened America’s place in the world, stifled America’s economy, the campaign of Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine has been an avalanche of insults.

Look, to get to your question about trustworthiness, Donald Trump has built a business through hard times and through good times. He’s brought an extraordinary business acumen. He’s employed tens of thousands of people in this country.

KAINE: And paid few taxes and lost a billion a year.

(CROSSTALK)

QUIJANO: And why the disconnect with your running mate?

PENCE: But there’s a — there’s a reason why people question the trustworthiness of Hillary Clinton. And that’s because they’re paying attention. I mean, the reality is, when she was secretary of state, Senator, come on. She had a Clinton Foundation accepting contributions from foreign governments.

KAINE: You are Donald Trump’s apprentice. Let me talk about this…

(CROSSTALK)

PENCE: Senator, I think I’m still on my time.

KAINE: Well, I think — isn’t this a discussion?

QUIJANO: This is our open discussion.

KAINE: Yeah, let’s talk about the state of…

(CROSSTALK)

PENCE: Well, let me interrupt — let me interrupt you and finish my sentence, if I can.

KAINE: Finish your sentence.

PENCE: The Clinton Foundation accepted foreign contributions from foreign governments and foreign donors while she was secretary of state.

KAINE: OK, now I can weigh in. Now…

PENCE: She had a private server…

KAINE: Now, I get to weigh in. Now, let me just say this…

PENCE: … that was discovered…

(CROSSTALK)

QUIJANO: … Senator, you have an opportunity to respond.

PENCE: … keep that pay to play process out of the reach of the public.

KAINE: Governor Pence — Governor Pence doesn’t think the world’s going so well and he, you know, is going to say it’s everybody’s fault.

PENCE: Do you?

KAINE: Let me tell you this. When Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, Governor Pence, did you know that Osama bin Laden was alive?

PENCE: Yes.

KAINE: Do you know that we had 175,000 troops deployed in the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan? Do you know that Iran was racing toward a nuclear weapon and Russia was expanding its stockpile?

Under Secretary Clinton’s leadership, she was part of the national team, public safety team that went after and revived the dormant hunt against bin Laden and wiped him off the face of the Earth. She worked to deal with the Russians to reduce their chemical weapons stockpile. She worked a tough negotiation with nations around the world to eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program without firing a shot.

PENCE: Eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program?

KAINE: Absolutely, without firing a shot. And instead of 175,000 American troops deployed overseas, we now have 15,000.

PENCE: Right and…

KAINE: These are very, very good things.

PENCE: And Iraq has been overrun by ISIS, because Hillary Clinton failed to renegotiate…

KAINE: Well, if you want to put more American troops in Iraq, you can propose that.

PENCE: Hillary Clinton — Hillary Clinton — Hillary Clinton failed to renegotiate a status of forces agreement…

KAINE: No, that is incorrect. That’s incorrect.

PENCE: And so we removed — we removed all of our…

QUIJANO: Gentlemen, we’ll get to…

(CROSSTALK)

PENCE: … troops from Iraq, and ISIS was able to be conjured up in that vacuum.

KAINE: But I’d like to correct…

PENCE: … and overrun vast areas of Iraq.

KAINE: Governor, President Bush said we would leave Iraq at the end of 2011. And, Elaine, Iraq didn’t want our troops to stay, and they wouldn’t give us the protection for our troops. And guess what? If a nation where our troops are serving does not want us to stay, we’re not going to stay without their protection.

PENCE: It was a failure of the secretary of state…

QUIJANO: We need to move on to the next topic, gentlemen.

KAINE: If Governor Pence wants to put more troops back in Iraq, that’s…

QUIJANO: There are a lot of people wondering in this country about the economy. Let’s turn to the issue of the economy.

KAINE: OK.

QUIJANO: According to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, neither of your economic plans will reduce the growing $19 trillion gross national debt. In fact, your plans would add even more to it.

Both of you were governors who balanced state budgets. Are you concerned that adding more to the debt could be disastrous for the country. Governor Pence?

PENCE: I think the fact that — that under this past administration was of which Hillary Clinton was a part, we’ve almost doubled the national debt is atrocious. I mean, I’m very proud of the fact that — I come from a state that works. The state of Indiana has balanced budgets. We cut taxes, we’ve made record investments in education and in infrastructure, and I still finish my term with $2 billion in the bank.

That’s a little bit different than when Senator Kaine was governor here in Virginia. He actually — he actually tried to raise taxes by about $4 billion. He left his state about $2 billion in the hole. In the state of Indiana, we’ve cut unemployment in half; unemployment doubled when he was governor.

PENCE: But I think he’s a very fitting running mate for Hillary Clinton, because in the wake of a season where American families are struggling in this economy under the weight of higher taxes and Obamacare and the war on coal and the stifling avalanche of regulation coming out of this administration, Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine want more of the same. It really is remarkable that they actually are advocating a trillion dollars in tax increases, which I get that. You tried to raise taxes here in Virginia and were unsuccessful.

But a trillion dollars in tax increases, more regulation, more of the same war on coal, and more of Obamacare that now even former President Bill Clinton calls Obamacare a crazy plan. But Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine want to build on Obamacare. They want to expand it into a single-payer program. And for all the world, Hillary Clinton just thinks Obamacare is a good start.

Look, Donald Trump and I have a plan to get this economy moving again just the way that it worked in the 1980s, just the way it worked in the 1960s, and that is by lowering taxes across the board for working families, small businesses and family farms, ending the war on coal that is hurting jobs and hurting this economy even here in Virginia, repealing Obamacare lock, stock, and barrel, and repealing all of the executive orders that Barack Obama has signed that are stifling economic growth in this economy.

We can get America moving again. Put on top of that the kind of trade deals that’ll put the American worker first, and you’ve got a prescription for real growth. And when you get the economy growing, Elaine, that’s when you can deal with the national debt. When we get back to 3.5 percent to 4 percent growth with Donald Trump’s plan will do, then we’re going to have the resources to meet our nation’s needs at home and abroad, and we’re going to have the ability to bring down the national debt.

QUIJANO: Senator Kaine?

KAINE: Elaine, on the economy, there’s a fundamental choice for the American electorate. Do you want a “you’re hired” president in Hillary Clinton or do you want a “you’re fired” president in Donald Trump? I think that’s not such a hard choice.

Hillary and I have a plan that’s on the table that’s a “you’re hired” plan. Five components. First thing we do is we invest in manufacturing, infrastructure, and research in the clean energy jobs of tomorrow. Second thing is we invest in our workforce, from pre-K education to great teachers to debt-free college and tuition-free college for families that make less than $125,000 a year.

Third, we promote fairness by raising the minimum wage, so you can’t work full-time and be under the poverty level, and by paying women equal pay for equal work.

Fourth, we promote small business growth, just as we’ve done in Virginia, to make it easier to start and grow small businesses. Hillary and I each grew up in small-business families. My dad, who ran an iron working and welding shop, is here tonight.

And, fifth, we have a tax plan that targets tax relief to middle- class individuals and small businesses and asks those at the very top who’ve benefited as we’ve come out of recession to pay more.

KAINE: The Trump plan is a different plan. It’s a “you’re fired” plan. And there’s two key elements to it. First, Donald Trump said wages are too high. And both Donald Trump and Mike Pence think we ought to eliminate the federal minimum wage.

Mike Pence, when he was in Congress, voted against raising the minimum wage above $5.15. And he has been a one-man bulwark against minimum wage increases in Indiana.

The second component of the plan is massive tax breaks for the very top, trillions of dollars of tax breaks for people just like Donald Trump. The problem with this, Elaine, is that’s exactly what we did 10 years ago and it put the economy into the deepest recession — the deepest recession since the 1930s.

Independent analysts say the Clinton plan would grow the economy by 10.5 million jobs. The Trump plan would cost 3.5 million jobs. And Donald Trump — why would he do this? Because his tax plan basically helps him. And if he ever met his promise and he gave his tax returns to the American public like he said he would, we would see just how much his economic plan is really a Trump-first plan.

QUIJANO: On that point, Governor Pence, recently the New York Times released part of Mr. Trump’s 1995 tax return and reported that he could have avoided paying federal income taxes for years. Yesterday, Mr. Trump said he brilliantly used the laws to pay as little tax as legally possible. Does that seem fair to you?

PENCE: Well, first, let me say, I appreciated the “you’re hired,” “you’re fired” thing, Senator. You use that a whole lot. And I think your running mate used a lot of pre-done lines.

Look, what — what you all just heard out there is more taxes, $2 trillion in more spending, more deficits, more debt, more government. And if you think that’s all working, then you look at the other side of the table. I mean, the truth of the matter is, the policies of this administration, which Hillary Clinton and Senator Kaine want to continue, have run this economy into a ditch. We’re in the…

KAINE: Fifteen million new jobs?

PENCE: … slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression.

KAINE: Fifteen million new jobs?

QUIJANO: Governor… (CROSSTALK)

PENCE: There are millions more people living in poverty today than the day that Barack Obama with Hillary Clinton at his side…

KAINE: And the poverty level and the median income…

PENCE: … stepped into the Oval Office.

KAINE: … improved dramatically between 2014 and 2015.

PENCE: You — honestly, Senator, you can roll out the numbers and the sunny side, but I got to tell you, people in Scranton know different. People in Fort Wayne, Indiana, know different. I mean, this economy is struggling. The answer to this economy is not more taxes.

KAINE: But it’s not the giveaway tax relief to the folks at the top.

PENCE: It’s not more spending…

(CROSSTALK)

KAINE: I am interested to hear whether he’ll defend his running mate’s not releasing taxes and not paying taxes.

PENCE: Absolutely I will.

QUIJANO: Governor, with all due respect, the question was about whether it seems fair to you that Mr. Trump said he brilliantly used the laws to pay as little tax as legally possible.

PENCE: Well, this is probably the difference between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and Senator Kaine. And, I mean, Hillary Clinton and Senator Kaine — God bless you for it, career public servants, that’s great — Donald Trump is a businessman, not a career politician. He actually built a business.

Those tax returns that were — that came out publicly this week show that he faced some pretty tough times 20 years ago. But like virtually every other business, including the New York Times not too long ago, he used what’s called net operating loss. We have a tax code, Senator, that actually is designed to encourage entrepreneurship in this country.

KAINE: But why won’t he release his tax returns?

PENCE: Well, we’re answering the question about — about a business thing, is he…

KAINE: I do want to come back to that, but…

PENCE: His tax returns — his tax returns showed he went through a very difficult time, but he used the tax code just the way it’s supposed to be used. And he did it brilliantly. KAINE: How do you know that? You haven’t seen his tax returns.

PENCE: He created a runway — because he’s created a business that’s worth billions of dollars today.

KAINE: How do you know that?

PENCE: And with regard to paying taxes, this whole riff about not paying taxes and people saying he didn’t pay taxes for years, Donald Trump has created tens of thousands of jobs. And he’s paid payroll taxes, sales taxes, property taxes…

KAINE: Elaine, let me talk about something.

QUIJANO: Senator, I’m going to give you about 30 seconds to respond, and I have question on Social Security for you.

KAINE: OK.

PENCE: The only issue on taxes — Hillary Clinton is going to raise taxes, and Donald Trump and I are going to cut them.

KAINE: Donald Trump started this campaign in 2014 and he said, “If I run for president, I will absolutely release my taxes.” He’s broken his first…

PENCE: And he will.

KAINE: He’s broken his first promise. Second, he stood on the stage…

PENCE: He hasn’t broken his promise. He said he’s…

KAINE: He stood on the stage last week and when Hillary said, you haven’t been paying taxes, he said, “That makes me smart.” So it’s smart not to pay for our military? It’s smart not to pay for veterans? It’s smart not to pay for teachers? And I guess all of us who do pay for those things, I guess we’re stupid. And the last thing I’ll say is this…

PENCE: Senator, do you take all the deductions that you’re entitled to?

KAINE: The last thing — the last thing I want to ask Governor Pence is…

PENCE: I do.

KAINE: Governor Pence had to give Donald Trump his tax returns to show he was qualified to be vice president. Donald Trump must give the American public his tax returns to show that he’s qualified to be president. And he’s breaking his promise.

PENCE: Elaine, I have to respond to this.

QUIJANO: You get very little time, 20 seconds.

PENCE: I’ll be — I’ll be very respectful.

QUIJANO: Governor?

PENCE: Look, Donald Trump has filed over 100 pages of financial disclosure, which is what the law requires.

KAINE: But he said he would release his tax returns.

QUIJANO: All right, Gentlemen…

PENCE: The American people can review that. And he’s going — Senator, he’s going to release his tax returns when the audit is over…

QUIJANO: … I need to ask you about Social Security…

KAINE: Richard Nixon released tax returns when he was under audit.

PENCE: They’re going to raise your taxes. We’re going to cut your taxes.

QUIJANO: Gentlemen…

KAINE: If you can’t meet Nixon’s standard…

QUIJANO: The people at home cannot understand either one of you when you speak over each other. I would please ask you to wait until it is that the other is finished.

KAINE: All right. We’re having fun up here.

QUIJANO: Senator Kaine, on the issue of Social Security, in 18 years, when the Social Security Trust Funds run out of money, you’ll be 76. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates your benefits could be cut by as much as $7,500 per year. What would your administration do to prevent this cut?

KAINE: First, we’re going to protect Social Security, which is one of the greatest programs that the American government has ever done. It happened at a time when you would work your whole life, your whole life, raising your kids, working, being a Little League coach or a Sunday school teacher, and then you would retire into poverty. And Social Security has enabled people to retire with dignity and overwhelmingly not be in poverty.

We have to keep it solvent. And we will keep it solvent. And we’ll look for strategies like adjusting the payroll tax cap upward in order to do that.

Here’s what Hillary and I will not do. And I want to make this very plain. We will never, ever engage in a risky scheme to privatize Social Security. Donald Trump wrote a book and he said Social Security is a Ponzi scheme and privatization would be good for all of us.

And when Congressman Pence was in Congress, he was the chief cheerleader for the privatization of Social Security. Even after President Bush stopped pushing for it, Congressman Pence kept pushing for it. We’re going to stand up against efforts to privatize Social Security. And we’ll look for ways to keep it solvent going forward, focusing primarily on the payroll tax cap.

QUIJANO: Governor Pence, I’ll give you an opportunity to respond.

PENCE: Well, thanks, Elaine. There they go again. OK…

KAINE: Go read — go read the book.

PENCE: All Donald Trump — all Donald Trump and I have said about Social Security is we’re going to meet our obligations to our seniors. That’s it.

KAINE: Go read the book.

PENCE: We’ve said we’re going to meet the obligations of Medicare. That’s what this campaign is really about, Senator. And I get, this is — this is the old scare tactic that they roll out…

KAINE: But — but you have a voting record, Governor.

PENCE: And I get all of that. I just, look…

KAINE: I…

PENCE: There’s a question that you asked a little bit earlier that I want to go back to.

KAINE: I can’t believe that you won’t defend your own voting record.

PENCE: I have to go back to.

QUIJANO: We…

PENCE: Well, look, I — you’re running with Hillary Clinton, who wants to raise taxes by $1 trillion, increase spending by $2 trillion, and you say you’re going to keep the promises of Social Security. Donald Trump and I are going to cut taxes. We’re going to — we’re going to — we’re going to…

KAINE: You’re not going to cut taxes. You’re going to raise taxes on the middle class.

PENCE: … reform government programs so we can meet the obligations of Social Security and Medicare.

QUIJANO: All right. PENCE: Stay on the path that your party has us on, we’re going to be in a — in a mountain range of debt. And we’re going to face hard choices and…

(CROSSTALK)

QUIJANO: Gentleman, I want to move on now.

KAINE: You did ask this question about debt, and the debt explosion on the Trump plan is much, much bigger than anything on the Clinton side.

QUIJANO: All right. Let me move on now…

PENCE: Three hundred and five (ph) economists said your plan is bad for the economy.

QUIJANO: … to the issue of law enforcement and race relations. Law enforcement and race relations. After the Dallas police shooting, Police Chief David Brown said, quote, “We’re asking cops to do too much in this country. Every societal failure we put it off on the cops to solve. Not enough mental health funding, not enough drug addiction funding, schools fail, let’s give it to the cops.”

Do we ask too much of police officers in this country? And how would you specifically address the chief’s concerns? Senator Kaine?

KAINE: Elaine, I think that’s a very fair comment. I think we put a lot on police shoulders. And this is something I got a lot of scar tissue and experience on.

I was a city councilman and mayor in Richmond. And when I came in, we had one of the highest homicide rates in the United States. We fought very, very hard over the course of my time in local office with our police department, and we reduced our homicide rate nearly in half.

And then when I was governor of Virginia, we worked hard, too. And we did something we had really wanted to do. For the first time ever, we cracked the top 10, 10 safest states, because we worked together.

Here’s what I learned as a mayor and a governor. The way you make communities safer and the way you make police safer is through community policing. You build the bonds between the community and the police force, build bonds of understanding, and then when people feel comfortable in their communities, that gap between the police and the communities they serve narrows. And when that gap narrows, it’s safer for the communities and it’s safer for the police.

That model still works across our country, but there are some other models that don’t work, an overly aggressive, more militarized model. Donald Trump recently said we need to do more stop-and-frisk around the country. That would be a big mistake because it polarizes the relationship between the police and the community.

So here’s what we’ll do. We’ll focus on community policing. We will focus on — and Hillary Clinton has rolled out a really comprehensive mental health reform package that she worked on with law enforcement professionals, and we will also fight the scourge of gun violence in the United States.

I’m a gun-owner. I’m a strong Second Amendment supporter. But I’ve got a lot of scar tissue, because when I was governor of Virginia, there was a horrible shooting at Virginia Tech, and we learned that through that painful situation that gaps in the background record check system should have been closed and it could have prevented that crime, and so we’re going to work to do things like close background record checks. And if we do, we won’t have the tragedies that we did.

One of those killed at Virginia Tech was a guy named Liviu Librescu. He was a 70-plus-year-old Romanian Holocaust survivor. He had survived the Holocaust. Then he survived the Soviet Union takeover of his country. But then he was a visiting professor at Virginia Tech, and he couldn’t survive the scourge of gun violence.

We can support the Second Amendment and do things like background record checks and make us safer, and that will make police safer, too.

QUIJANO: Governor Pence?

PENCE: You know, my uncle was a cop, a career cop, on the beat in downtown Chicago. He was my hero when I was growing up. And we’d go up to visit my dad’s family in Chicago. My three brothers and I would marvel at my uncle when he would come out in his uniform, sidearm at his side.

Police officers are the best of us. And the men and women, white, African-American, Asian, Latino, Hispanic, they put their lives on the line every single day. And let my say, at the risk of agreeing with you, community policing is a great idea. It’s worked in the Hoosier state. And we fully support that.

Donald Trump and I are going to make sure that law enforcement have the resources and the tools to be able to really restore law and order to the cities and communities in this nation. It’s probably — probably why the 330,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Donald Trump as the next president of the United States of America, because they see his commitment to them. They see his commitment to law and order.

But they also — they also hear the bad mouthing, the bad mouthing that comes from people that seize upon tragedy in the wake of police action shootings as — as a reason to — to use a broad brush to accuse law enforcement of — of implicit bias or institutional racism. And that really has got to stop.

I mean, when an African-American police officer in Charlotte named Brentley Vinson, an all-star football player who went to Liberty University here in the state, came home, followed his dad into law enforcement, joined the force in Charlotte, joined the force in Charlotte in 2014, was involved in a police action shooting that claimed the life of Keith — Keith Lamont Scott, it was a tragedy. I mean, I — we — we mourn with those who mourn. We — we grieve with those who grieve. And we’re saddened at the loss of life.

But Hillary Clinton actually referred to that moment as an example of implicit bias in the police force, where — where she used — when she was asked in the debate a week ago whether there was implicit bias in law enforcement, her only answer was that there’s implicit bias in everyone in the United States. I just think…

KAINE: Can I — can I explain…

PENCE: … I just think what we ought to do is we ought to stop seizing on these moments of tragedy. We ought to assure the public that we’ll have a full and complete and transparent investigation whenever there’s a loss of life because of police action. But, Senator, please, you know, enough of this seeking every opportunity to demean law enforcement broadly by making the accusation of implicit bias every time tragedy occurs.

KAINE: Elaine — Elaine, people shouldn’t be afraid to bring up issues of bias in law enforcement. And if you’re afraid to have…

PENCE: I’m not afraid to bring that up.

KAINE: And if — if you’re afraid to have the discussion, you’ll never solve it. And so here’s — here’s an example, heartbreaking. We would agree this was a heartbreaking example.

The guy, Philando Castile, who was killed in St. Paul, he was a worker, a valued worker in a local school. And he was killed for no apparent reason in an incident that will be discussed and will be investigated.

But when folks went and explored this situation, what they found is that Philando Castile, who was a — they called him Mr. Rogers with Dreadlocks in the school that he worked. The kids loved him. But he had been stopped by police 40 or 50 times before that fatal incident. And if you look at sentencing in this country, African-Americans and Latinos get sentenced for the same crimes at very different rates.

PENCE: We need criminal justice reform.

KAINE: Well, we do.

PENCE: Indiana has passed criminal justice reform.

KAINE: But I just want to say, those who say that we should not…

PENCE: But that’s not what you’re talking about.

KAINE: … we should not be able to bring up and talk about bias in the system, we’ll never solve the problem…

QUIJANO: Governor Pence…

(CROSSTALK)

QUIJANO: Governor Pence…

PENCE: Senator, when African-American police officers involved in a police action shooting involving an African-American, why would Hillary Clinton accuse that African-American police officer of implicit bias?

KAINE: Well, I guess I can’t believe you are defending the position that there is no bias and it’s a topic we don’t even…

(CROSSTALK)

QUIJANO: Governor Pence, I have a question on that point.

PENCE: I did not make that statement. I…

QUIJANO: Your fellow Republican, Governor Pence, Senator Tim Scott, who is African-American, recently spoke on the Senate floor. He said he was stopped seven times by law enforcement in one year.

KAINE: A U.S. senator.

QUIJANO: He said, “I have felt the anger, the frustration, the sadness, and the humiliation that comes with feeling like you’re being targeted for nothing more than being just yourself.” What would you say to Senator Scott about his experiences?

PENCE: Well, I have the deepest respect for Senator Scott, and he’s a close friend. And what I would say is that we — we need to adopt criminal justice reform nationally. I — I signed criminal justice reform in the state of Indiana, Senator, and we’re very proud of it.

I worked when I was Congress on a second chance act. We have got to do a better job recognizing and correcting the errors in the system that do reflect on institutional bias in criminal justice. But what — what — what Donald Trump and I are saying is let’s not have the reflex of assuming the worst of men and women in law enforcement. We truly do believe that law enforcement is not a force for racism or division in our country…

KAINE: Elaine, can I…

QUIJANO: So what would you say to Senator Scott, Governor?

PENCE: Law enforcement in this country is a force for good. They are the — they truly are people that put their lives on the line every single day. But I would — I would suggest to you, what we need to do is assert a stronger leadership at the national level to support law enforcement. You just heard Senator Kaine reject stop-and-frisk. Well, I would suggest to you that the families that live in our inner cities that are besieged by crime…

KAINE: Elaine, let me — let me…

QUIJANO: Governor, the question is about Senator Scott. What would — what would you tell Senator Scott?

KAINE: Elaine, if I could — if I could jump in. I’ve heard Senator Scott make that eloquent plea. And look, criminal justice is about respecting the law and being respected by the law. So there is a fundamental respect issue here.

And I just want to talk about the tone that’s set from the top. Donald Trump during his campaign has called Mexicans rapists and criminals. He’s called women slobs, pigs, dogs, disgusting. I don’t like saying that in front of my wife and my mother. He attacked an Indiana-born federal judge and said he was unqualified to hear a federal lawsuit because his parents were Mexican. He went after John McCain, a POW, and said he wasn’t hero because he’d been captured. He said African-Americans are living in Hell. And he perpetrated this outrageous and bigoted lie that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen.

If you want to have a society where people are respected and respect laws, you can’t have somebody at the top who demeans every group that he talks about. And I just — again, I cannot believe that Governor Pence will defend the insult-driven campaign that Donald Trump has run.

QUIJANO: All right. I want to turn to our next segment now, immigration. Your running mates have both said that undocumented immigrants who have committed violent crimes should be deported. What would you tell the millions of undocumented immigrants who have not committed violent crimes? Governor Pence?

PENCE: Donald Trump’s laid out a plan to end illegal immigration once and for all in this country. We’ve been talking it to death for 20 years. Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine want to continue the policies of open borders, amnesty, catch and release, sanctuary cities, all the things that are driving — that are driving wages down in this country, Senator, and also too often with criminal aliens in the country, it’s bringing heartbreak.

But I — Donald Trump has a plan that he laid out in Arizona, that will deal systemically with illegal immigration, beginning with border security, internal enforcement. It’s probably why for the first time in the history of Immigration and Customs Enforcement their union actually endorsed Donald Trump as the next president of the United States, because they know they need help to enforce the laws of this country.

And Donald Trump has laid out a priority to remove criminal aliens, remove people that have overstayed their visas. And — and once we have accomplished all of that, which will — which will strengthen our economy, strengthen the rule of law in the country and make our communities safer once the criminal aliens are out, then we’ll deal with those that remain.

But I have to tell you, I just — I was listening to the avalanche of insults coming out of Senator Kaine a minute ago. KAINE: These were Donald’s — hold on a second, Governor.

(CROSSTALK)

PENCE: It’s my time, Senator.

QUIJANO: It is, in fact, the governor’s time.

KAINE: I apologize. It’s your two minutes. I apologize.

PENCE: Thanks. I forgive you. He says ours is an insult-driven campaign. Did you all just hear that? Ours is an insult-driven campaign?

I mean, to be honest with you, if Donald Trump had said all of the things that you’ve said he said in the way you said he said them, he still wouldn’t have a fraction of the insults that Hillary Clinton leveled when she said that half of our supporters were a basket of deplorables. It’s — she said they were irredeemable, they were not American.

I mean, it’s extraordinary. And then she labeled one after another “ism” on millions of Americans who believe that we can have a stronger America at home and abroad, who believe we can get this economy moving again, who believe that we can end illegal immigration once and for all. So, Senator, this — this insult-driven campaign, I mean…

QUIJANO: Governor…

PENCE: That’s small potatoes compared to Hillary Clinton…

QUIJANO: Senator Kaine?

PENCE: …. calling half of Donald Trump’s supporters a basket of deplorables.

KAINE: Hillary Clinton said something on the campaign trail, and the very next day, she said, you know what, I shouldn’t have said that.

PENCE: She said she shouldn’t have said half.

QUIJANO: Governor, this is Senator Kaine’s two minutes, please.

KAINE: Yeah, that’s right, so now we’re even.

PENCE: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

KAINE: Look for Donald trump apologizing to John McCain for saying he wasn’t a hero…

PENCE: Oh…

KAINE: … to Donald Trump apologizing for calling women slobs, pigs, dogs, disgusting.

PENCE: She apologized for saying “half.”

QUIJANO: Governor. It is his two minutes, please.

KAINE: Did Donald Trump apologize for taking after somebody in a Twitter war and making fun of her weight? Did he apologize for saying African-Americans are living in Hell? Did he apologize for saying President Obama was not even a citizen of the United States? You will look in vain to see Donald Trump ever taking responsibility for anybody and apologizing.

Immigration. There’s two plans on the table. Hillary and I believe in comprehensive immigration reform. Donald Trump believes in deportation nation. You’ve got to pick your choice. Hillary and I want a bipartisan reform that will put keeping families together as the top goal, second, that will help focus enforcement efforts on those who are violent, third, that will do more border control, and, fourth, that will provide a path to citizenship for those who work hard, pay taxes, play by the rules, and take criminal background record checks.

That’s our proposal. Donald Trump proposes to deport 16 million people, 11 million who are here without documents. And both Donald Trump and Mike Pence want to get rid of birthright citizenship. So if you’re born here, but your parents don’t have documents, they want to eliminate that. That’s another 4.5 million people.

These guys — and Donald Trump have said it — deportation force. They want to go house to house, school to school, business to business, and kick out 16 million people. And I cannot believe…

PENCE: That’s nonsense. That’s nonsense.

KAINE: I cannot believe that Governor Pence would sit here and defend his running mate’s claim that we should create a deportation force to — so that they’ll all be gone.

PENCE: Senator, we have a deportation force. It’s called Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. And the union for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement for the first time in their history endorsed Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States of America.

KAINE: So you like the 16 million deportations?

PENCE: Senator, that’s — that’s nonsense. Look, what you just heard is they have a plan for open borders, amnesty. That’s…

(CROSSTALK)

KAINE: Our plan is like Ronald Reagan’s plan from 1986.

PENCE: They call it comprehensive immigration reform — they call it comprehensive immigration reform on Capitol Hill. We all know the routine. It’s amnesty. And you heard one of the last things he mentioned was border security.

PENCE: That’s how Washington always plays it.

KAINE: No, I…

PENCE: They always say we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that, we’ll eventually get the border…

(CROSSTALK)

KAINE: … border security three years ago, and Governor Pence was against it.

QUIJANO: Governor, Mr. Trump has said…

PENCE: Ronald Reagan said a nation without borders is not a nation. Donald Trump is committed to restoring the borders of this nation and securing our nation, enforcing our laws.

QUIJANO: So, Governor, how would these millions of undocumented immigrants leave? Would they be forcibly removed?

PENCE: Well, I think Donald Trump laid out a series of priorities that doesn’t ends with border security. It begins with border security. And after we secure the border, not only build a wall, but beneath the ground and in the air, we do internal enforcement.

But he said the focus has to be on criminal aliens. We just — we just had a conversation about law enforcement. We just had a conversation about the — the violence that’s besetting our cities. The reality is that there’s heartbreak and tragedy that has struck American families because people that came into this country illegally are now involved in criminal enterprise and activity. And we don’t have the resources or the will to deport them systemically.

Donald Trump has said we’re going to move those people out, people who’ve overstayed their visas. We’re going to enforce the law of this country. We’re going to strengthen Immigrations and Customs Enforcements with more resources and more personnel to be able to do that. And then Donald Trump has made it clear, once we’ve done all of those things, that we’re going to reform the immigration system that we have…

KAINE: I just have to correct Governor Pence….

PENCE: … where people can come into this country.

KAINE: I have to…

PENCE: That’s the order that you should do it. Border security, removing criminal aliens, upholding with law, and then — but then, Senator, I’ll work you when you go back to the Senate, I promise you, we’ll work you to reform the immigration system.

KAINE: I look forward to working together in whatever capacities we serve in. But I just want to make it very, very clear that he’s trying to fuzz up what Donald Trump has said. When Donald Trump spoke in Phoenix, he looked the audience in the eye and he said, no, we’re building a wall, and we’re deporting everybody. He said, quote, “They will all be gone.” “They will all be gone.” And this is one of these ones where you can just go to the tape on it and see what Donald Trump has said. And to add…

PENCE: He’s talking about criminal aliens.

KAINE: And to add to it, and to add to it, and to add to it, we are a nation of immigrants. Mike Pence and I both are descended from immigrant families. Some things, you know, maybe weren’t said so great about the Irish when they came, but we’ve done well by absorbing immigrants, and it’s made our nation stronger.

When Donald Trump says Mexicans are rapists and criminals, Mexican immigrants, when Donald Trump says about your judge, a Hoosier judge, he said that Judge Curiel was unqualified to hear a case because his parents were Mexican, I can’t imagine how you could defend that.

QUIJANO: Gentleman, I’d like to shift now to the threat of terrorism. Do you think the world today is a safer or more dangerous place than it was eight years ago? Has the terrorist threat increased or decreased? Senator Kaine?

KAINE: The terrorist threat has decreased in some ways, because bin Laden is dead. The terrorist threat has decreased in some ways because an Iranian nuclear weapons program has been stopped. The terrorist threat to United States troops has been decreased in some ways because there’s not 175,000 in a dangerous part of the world. There’s only 15,000.

But there are other parts of the world that are challenging. Let me tell you this: To beat terrorism, there’s only one candidate who can do it, and it’s Hillary Clinton. Remember, Hillary Clinton was the senator from New York on 9/11. She was there at the World Trade Center when they were still searching for victims and survivors. That’s seared onto her, the need to beat terrorism.

And she’s got a plan to do it. She was part of the national security team that wiped out bin Laden. Here’s her plan to defeat ISIL. First, we’ve got to keep taking out their leaders on the battlefield. She was part of the team that got bin Laden, and she’ll lead the team that will get Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS.

Second, we’ve got to disrupt financing networks, third, disrupt their ability to recruit on the Internet, in their safe havens. But, fourth, we also have to work with allies to share and surge intelligence. That’s the Hillary Clinton plan; she’s got the experience to do it.

Donald Trump. Donald Trump can’t start a Twitter war with Miss Universe without shooting himself in the foot. Donald Trump doesn’t have a plan. He said, “I have a secret plan,” and then he said, “Um, I know more than all the generals about ISIL.” And then he said, “I’m going to call the generals to help me figure out a plan.” And finally he said, “I’m going to fire all the generals.” He doesn’t have a plan.

But he does have dangerous ideas. Here’s four. He trash talks the military. The military is a disaster, John McCain’s no hero, the generals need all to be fired, and I know more than them. He wants to tear up alliances. NATO is obsolete, and we’ll only work together with Israel if they pay “big league.”

Third, he loves dictators. He’s got kind of a personal Mount Rushmore, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, Moammar Gadhafi…

PENCE: Oh, please. Come on.

KAINE: … and Saddam Hussein. And last and most dangerously, Donald Trump believes — Donald Trump believes that the world will be safer if more nations have nuclear weapons. He’s said Saudi Arabia should get them, Japan should get them, Korea should get them. And when he was confronted with this, and told, wait a minute, terrorists could get those, proliferation could lead to nuclear war, here’s what Donald Trump said, and I quote: “Go ahead, folks, enjoy yourselves.”

I’d love to hear Governor Pence tell me what’s so enjoyable or comical about nuclear war.

QUIJANO: Governor Pence?

PENCE: Did you work on that one a long time? Because that had a lot of really creative lines in it.

KAINE: Well, I’m going to see if you can defend any of it.

PENCE: Well, look, I can defend — I — I — I can — I can make very clear to the American people, after traveling millions of miles as our secretary of state, after being the architect of the foreign policy of this administration, America is less safe today than it was the day that Barack Obama became president of the United States. It’s absolutely inarguable.

We’ve weakened America’s place in the world. It’s been a combination of factors, but mostly it’s been a lack of leadership. I mean, I will give you — and I was in Washington, D.C., on 9/11. I saw the clouds of smoke rise from the Pentagon.

KAINE: I was in Virginia where the Pentagon’s…

(CROSSTALK)

PENCE: I know you were. We all lived through that day as a nation. It was heartbreaking. And I want to give this president credit for bringing Osama bin Laden to justice.

But the truth is, Osama bin Laden led Al Qaida. Our primary threat today is ISIS. And because Hillary Clinton failed to renegotiate a status of forces agreement that would have allowed some American combat troops to remain in Iraq and secure the hard fought gains the American soldier had won by 2009, ISIS was able to be literally conjured up out of the desert, and it’s overrun vast areas that the American soldier had won in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

My heart breaks for the likes of Lance Cpl. Scott Zubowski. He fell in Fallujah in 2005. He fought hard through some of the most difficult days in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and he paid the ultimate sacrifice to defend our freedom and secure that nation. And that nation was secured in 2009.

But because Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama failed to provide a status of forces agreement and leave sufficient troops in there, we are back at war. The president just ordered more troops on the ground. We are back at war in Iraq. And Scott Zubowski, whose mom would always come to Memorial Day events in Newcastle, Indiana, to see me, and I’d give her a hug and tell her we’re never going to forget her son and we never will, Scott Zubowski and the sacrifices the American soldier made were squandered in Iraq because this administration created a vacuum in which ISIS was able to grow.

And a reference to the Iranian deal, the Iranian deal that Hillary Clinton initiated, $150 billion to the radical mullahs in Iran.

KAINE: Stopping a nuclear weapons program without firing a shot?

PENCE: You didn’t stop the nuclear weapons program.

KAINE: Yes, we did.

PENCE: You essentially…

KAINE: Even the Israeli military says it stopped.

PENCE: … guaranteed that Iran will someday become a nuclear power, because there’s no limitations once the period of time of the treaty comes off.

QUIJANO: Governor Pence, Mr. Trump has proposed extreme vetting of immigrants from parts of the world that export terrorism. But that does not address many of the recent terrorist attacks in the United States, such as the Orlando nightclub massacre and the recent bombings in New York and New Jersey. Those were homegrown, committed by U.S. citizens and legal residents. What specific tools would you use to prevent those kinds of attacks?

PENCE: Well, I think it’s — I think it’s a great question, Elaine, but it really does begin with us reforming our immigration system and putting the interests, particularly the safety and security of the American people, first.

I mean, Donald Trump has called for extreme vetting for people coming into this country so that we don’t bring people into the United States who are hostile to our Bill of Rights freedoms, who are hostile to the American way life.

But also, Donald Trump and I are committed to suspending the Syrian refugee program and programs and immigration from areas of the world that have been compromised by terrorism. Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine want to increase the Syrian refugee program by 500…

(CROSSTALK)

KAINE: Elaine, I want to…

(CROSSTALK)

QUIJANO: Governor, the question was about homegrown.

PENCE: Yeah, and so — but first, you know, let’s make sure we’re putting the safety and security of the American people first instead of Hillary Clinton expanding the Syrian refugee program…

KAINE: Or instead of you violating the Constitution by blocking people based on their national origin rather than whether they’re dangerous.

PENCE: That’s not — that’s absolutely false.

KAINE: That’s what the Seventh Circuit decided just — here’s the difference, Elaine.

PENCE: The Seventh Circuit…

KAINE: We have different views on — on refugee issues and on immigration. Hillary and I want to do enforcement based on, are people dangerous? These guys say all Mexicans are bad.

PENCE: That’s absolutely false.

KAINE: And with respect to refugees, we want to keep people out if they’re dangerous. Donald Trump said keep them out if they’re Muslim. Mike Pence…

PENCE: Absolutely…

KAINE: … put a program in place to keep them out if they’re from Syria. And yesterday an appellate court with three Republican judges struck down the Pence plan…

PENCE: Right. Right.

KAINE: … and said it was discriminatory…

PENCE: And those judges — those judges said…

KAINE: We should focus upon danger, not upon discrimination.

QUIJANO: Governor?

PENCE: Elaine, to your point, those judges said it was because there wasn’t any evidence yet that — that ISIS had infiltrated the United States. Well, Germany just arrested three Syrian refugees that were connected to ISIS.

(CROSSTALK)

KAINE: But they told you there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it.

PENCE: But, look, if you’re going to be critical of me on that, that’s fair game. I will tell you, after two Syrian refugees were involved in the attack in Paris that is called Paris’ 9/11, as governor of the state of Indiana, I have no higher priority than the safety and security of the people of my state.

KAINE: But, Governor Pence…

PENCE: So you bet I suspended that program.

KAINE: But, Governor Pence, I just…

PENCE: And I stand by that decision. And if I’m vice president of the United States or Donald Trump is president, we’re going to put the safety and security of the American people first.

KAINE: Sure. Can we just be clear — Hillary and I will do immigration enforcement and we’ll vet refugees based on whether they’re dangerous or not. We won’t do it based on discriminating against you from the country you come from or the religion that you practice.

PENCE: But the problem with that…

KAINE: That is completely antithetical to the Jeffersonian values of…

(CROSSTALK)

PENCE: Elaine, the director of the FBI, our homeland security, said we can’t know for certain who these people are coming from Syria.

KAINE: Yes, we can, and when we don’t let them know, we don’t let them in.

PENCE: So — the FBI…

KAINE: When we don’t know who they are, we don’t let them in.

PENCE: The FBI and homeland security said we can’t know for certain. You’ve got to err on the side of the safety and security of the American people, Senator. I understand the…

KAINE: By trashing all Syrians or trashing all Muslims?

PENCE: … the U.N. wants us to expand the Syrian refugee program…

QUIJANO: Senator Kaine, let me ask you this. Secretary Clinton…

PENCE: We’re going to put the safety and security of the American people first.

QUIJANO: … has talked about an intelligence surge.

KAINE: Yes.

QUIJANO: What exactly would an intelligence surge look like? And how would that help identify terrorists with no operational connection to a foreign terrorist organization?

KAINE: Intelligence surge is two-thirds, Elaine. It’s two things. It’s, first, dramatically expanding our intelligence capacities by hiring great professionals, but also we’ve got some of the best intel and cyber employees in the world right here in the United States working for many of our private sector companies.

So it involves increasing our own workforce, but striking great partnerships with some of our cyber and intel experts in the private sector so that we can, consistent with constitutional principles, gather more intelligence.

But the second piece of this is really, really important. It also means creating stronger alliances, because you gather intelligence and then you share your intelligence back and forth with allies. And that’s how you find out who may be trying to recruit, who may be trying to come to one country or the next. Alliances are critical.

That’s why Donald Trump’s claim that he wants to — that NATO is obsolete and that we need to get rid of NATO is so dangerous.

PENCE: That’s not his plan. KAINE: Well, he said NATO is obsolete. And, look, if you put aside — push aside your alliances, who you’re going to share intelligence with? Hillary Clinton is the secretary of state who knows how to build alliances. She built the sanctions regime around the word that stopped the Iranian nuclear weapons program. And that’s what an intelligence surge means. Better skill and capacity, but also better alliances.

QUIJANO: All right. I’d like to turn now to the tragedy in Syria. Two hundred fifty thousand…

PENCE: Can I speak about the cybersecurity surge at all?

QUIJANO: You can — you can have 30 seconds, Governor, quickly, please.

PENCE: First, Donald Trump just spoke about this issue this week. We have got to bring together the best resources of this country to understand that cyber warfare is the new warfare of the asymmetrical enemies that we face in this country. And I look forward if I’m privileged to be in this role of working with you in the Senate to make sure that we resource that effort.

KAINE: We will work together in whatever roles we inhabit.

PENCE: We have an intelligence, sir (ph). But I will also tell you that it’s important in this moment to remember that Hillary Clinton had a private server in her home that had classified information on it…

QUIJANO: And I don’t — 30 seconds is on up.

PENCE: … about drone strikes, e-mails from the president of the United States of America were on there.

QUIJANO: Right.

PENCE: Her private server was subject to being hacked by foreign…

(CROSSTALK)

QUIJANO: I’d like to ask you about Syria, Governor.

PENCE: We could put cybersecurity first if we just make sure the next secretary of state doesn’t have a private server.

(CROSSTALK)

KAINE: And all investigation concluded that not one reasonable prosecutor would take any additional step. You don’t get to decide the rights and wrongs of this. We have a justice system that does that. And a Republican FBI director did an investigation and concluded that…

(CROSSTALK) QUIJANO: All right, we are moving on now. Two hundred fifty thousand people…

PENCE: If your son or my son handled classified information the way Hillary Clinton did…

QUIJANO: … one hundred thousand of them children — Governor…

PENCE: … they’d be court martialed.

KAINE: That is absolutely false and you know that.

PENCE: Absolutely true.

KAINE: And you know that, Governor.

QUIJANO: Governor…

PENCE: It’s absolutely true.

QUIJANO: Gentlemen, please.

KAINE: Because the FBI did an investigation.

QUIJANO: Gentlemen.

KAINE: And they concluded that there was no reasonable prosecutor who would take it further. Sorry.

QUIJANO: Senator Kaine, Governor Pence, please.

KAINE: Syria.

QUIJANO: I want to turn now to Syria. Two hundred fifty thousand people, 100,000 of them children, are under siege in Aleppo, Syria. Bunker buster bombs, cluster munitions, and incendiary weapons are being dropped on them by Russian and Syrian militaries. Does the U.S. have a responsibility to protect civilians and prevent mass casualties on this scale, Governor Pence?

PENCE: The United States of America needs to begin to exercise strong leadership to protect the vulnerable citizens and over 100,000 children in Aleppo. Hillary Clinton’s top priority when she became secretary of state was the Russian reset, the Russians reset. After the Russian reset, the Russians invaded Ukraine and took over Crimea.

And the small and bullying leader of Russia is now dictating terms to the United States to the point where all the United States of America — the greatest nation on Earth — just withdraws from talks about a cease-fire while Vladimir Putin puts a missile defense system in Syria while he marshals the forces and begins — look, we have got to begin to lean into this with strong, broad-shouldered American leadership.

It begins by rebuilding our military. And the Russians and the Chinese have been making enormous investments in the military. We have the smallest Navy since 1916. We have the lowest number of troops since the end of the Second World War. We’ve got to work with Congress, and Donald Trump will, to rebuild our military and project American strength in the world.

But about Aleppo and about Syria, I truly do believe that what America ought to do right now is immediately establish safe zones, so that families and vulnerable families with children can move out of those areas, work with our Arab partners, real time, right now, to make that happen.

And secondly, I just have to tell you that the provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength. And if Russia chooses to be involved and continue, I should say, to be involved in this barbaric attack on civilians in Aleppo, the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike military targets of the Assad regime to prevent them from this humanitarian crisis that is taking place in Aleppo.

There’s a broad range of other things that we ought to do, as well. We ought to deploy a missile defense shield to the Czech Republic and Poland which Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama pulled back on out of not wanting to offend the Russians back in 2009.

QUIJANO: Governor, your two minutes are up.

PENCE: We’ve just got to have American strength on the world stage. When Donald Trump becomes president of the United States, the Russians and other countries in the world will know they’re dealing with a strong American president. QUIJANO: Senator Kaine?

KAINE: Hillary and I also agree that the establishment of humanitarian zones in northern Syria with the provision of international human aid, consistent with the U.N. Security Council resolution that was passed in February 2014, would be a very, very good idea.

And Hillary also has the ability to stand up to Russia in a way that this ticket does not. Donald Trump, again and again, has praised Vladimir Putin. And it’s clear that he has business dealings with Russian oligarchs who are very connected to Putin.

The Trump campaign management team had to be fired a month or so ago because of those shadowy connections with pro-Putin forces. Governor Pence made the odd claim, he said inarguably Vladimir Putin is a better leader than President Obama. Vladimir Putin has run his economy into the ground. He persecutes LGBT folks and journalists. If you don’t know the difference between dictatorship and leadership, then you got to go back to a fifth-grade civics class.

I’ll tell you what offends me…

PENCE: Well, that offended me.

KAINE: Governor Pence just said — Governor Pence just said that Donald Trump will rebuild the military. No, he won’t. Donald Trump is avoiding paying taxes. The New York Times story — and we need to get this — but the New York Times suggested that he probably didn’t pay taxes for about 18 years starting in 1995. Those years included the years of 9/11.

So get this. On 9/11, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s hometown was attacked by the worst terrorist attack in the history of the United States. Young men and women — young men and women signed up to serve in the military to fight terrorism. Hillary Clinton went to Washington to get funds to rebuild her city and protect first responders, but Donald Trump was fighting a very different fight. It was a fight to avoid paying taxes so that he wouldn’t support the fight against terror.

QUIJANO: The question was about Aleppo, Senator.

KAINE: He wouldn’t support troops. He wouldn’t — he wouldn’t support — this is important, Elaine. When a guy running for president will not support the troops, not support veterans, not support teachers, that’s really important.

QUIJANO: Right.

KAINE: And I said about Aleppo, we do agree the notion is we have to create a humanitarian zone in northern Syria. It’s very important.

QUIJANO: Governor Pence, you had mentioned no-fly zone. Where would you propose setting up a safe zone specifically? How would you keep it safe?

PENCE: Well, first and foremost, Donald Trump supports our troops. Donald Trump supports our veterans.

KAINE: He won’t pay taxes.

PENCE: Donald Trump has paid all the taxes that he’s — do you not take deductions? How does that work?

QUIJANO: Gentlemen, this is about Syria. I’d like to…

(CROSSTALK)

PENCE: Honestly, Senator. Honestly, Senator.

KAINE: It is about our troops. It is about our troops.

PENCE: I understand why you want to change — I understand why you want to change the subject.

KAINE: How can you support the troops if you won’t pay taxes?

PENCE: I understand why you want to change the subject. And let me be very clear on this Russian thing. The larger question here…

KAINE: Do you think Donald Trump is smart to not pay taxes?

QUIJANO: Gentlemen, we’re going to have time to get to Russia here.

PENCE: What we’re dealing with is the — you know, there’s an old proverb that says the Russian bear never dies, it just hibernates. And the truth of the matter is, the weak and feckless foreign policy of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama has awakened an aggression in Russia that first appeared a few years ago with their move in Georgia, now their move into Crimea, now their move into the wider Middle East.

And all the while, all we do is fold our arms and say we’re not having talks anymore. To answer your question, we just need American strength. We need to — we need to marshal the resources of our allies in the region, and in the immediate, we need to act and act now to get people out of harm’s way.

QUIJANO: And exactly how would those safe zones work? How would they remain safe?

PENCE: The — the safe zones would have to be — as the senator said, there’s already a framework for this that’s been recognized by the international community. The United States of America needs to be prepared to work with our allies in the region to create a route for safe passage and then to protect people in those areas, including with a no-fly zone.

But, look, this is very tough stuff. I served on the Foreign Affairs Committee for a decade. I traveled in and out of that region for 10 years. I saw what the American soldier won in Operation Iraqi Freedom. And to see the weak and feckless leadership that Hillary Clinton was the architect of and the foreign policy of the Obama administration…

KAINE: Well, let me — let me come back…

PENCE: … is deeply troubling to me. That will all change the day Donald Trump becomes president of the United States.

KAINE: … and talk about — let me talk about the things that Governor Pence doesn’t want to acknowledge, Elaine. He doesn’t want to acknowledge that we stopped the Iranian nuclear weapons program. He doesn’t want to acknowledge…

PENCE: We didn’t.

KAINE: … that Hillary was part of a team that got bin Laden. He doesn’t want to acknowledge…

PENCE: I just did. KAINE: … that it’s a good thing, not a bad thing, that it’s a good thing — not a bad thing — that we’re down from 175,000 troops deployed overseas to 15,000.

But let me tell you what will really make the Middle East dangerous. Donald Trump’s idea that more nations should get nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia, Japan, South Korea. Ronald Reagan said something really interesting about nuclear proliferation back in the 1980s. He said the problem with nuclear proliferation is that some fool or maniac could trigger a catastrophic event. And I think that’s who Governor Pence’s running mate is, exactly who Governor Reagan warned us about.

PENCE: And come on. Senator. Senator, that was even beneath you and Hillary Clinton. And that — that’s pretty low.

KAINE: But do you — do you think — do you think we should have — more nuclear weapons in the world will make us safer?

PENCE: Senator, the…

KAINE: That’s what Donald Trump thinks.

PENCE: Ronald Reagan also said nuclear war should never be fought because it can never be won. And the United States of America needs to make investments in modernizing our nuclear force for both deterrence…

KAINE: But can you defend Donald Trump’s claim that more nations should get nuclear weapons?

PENCE: … and assurance to our allies. But let me go back to this Iran thing. I mean, he keeps saying that they prevented — that Hillary Clinton started the deal with the Iranians prevented Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

(CROSSTALK)

KAINE: That’s what the Israeli joint chiefs of staff is saying right now.

PENCE: Well, that’s not what — that’s not what Israel thinks.

KAINE: Gadi Eizenkot, you can go check it.

PENCE: You wouldn’t necessarily know that.

KAINE: Go to the tape.

PENCE: I know you boycotted Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech when he came before the Congress.

KAINE: No, I visited him in his office. I visited him in his office.

PENCE: You boycotted the speech. The point is, what this Iran — so-called Iran deal did was essentially guarantee — I mean, when I was in Congress, I fought hard on a bipartisan basis with Republican and Democrat members to move forward the toughest sanctions, it — literally in the history of the United States, against Iran.

KAINE: And then Hillary used them to get a deal.

PENCE: We were bringing them to heel, but the goal was always that we would only lift the sanctions if Iran permanently renounced their nuclear ambitions.

KAINE: Elaine, let me just mention one thing.

(CROSSTALK)

PENCE: They have not — Elaine, let me finish a sentence. They have not renounced their nuclear ambitions. And when the deal’s period runs out, there’s no limitation on them obtaining weapons. That…

(CROSSTALK)

QUIJANO: And very quickly, Senator.

KAINE: Elaine…

PENCE: … and the fact that they got $1.7 billion in a ransom payment…

QUIJANO: We need to talk about Russia. Very quickly, though, Senator, please.

PENCE: … is astonishing to the American people.

KAINE: Six times tonight, I have said to Governor Pence I can’t imagine how you can defend your running mate’s position on one issue after the next. And in all six cases, he’s refused to defend his running mate.

PENCE: Well, let’s — no, no, don’t put words in my mouth.

QUIJANO: All right.

PENCE: He’s going…

(CROSSTALK)

KAINE: And yet he is asking everybody to vote for somebody that he cannot defend. And I just think that should be underlined.

PENCE: No, I’m — look…

(CROSSTALK)

QUIJANO: All right, gentlemen, let’s talk about Russia. This is a topic that has come up.

PENCE: I’m very, very happy to defend Donald Trump. If he wants to take these one at a time, I’ll take them one at a time.

QUIJANO: I will give you an opportunity to do that.

KAINE: More nations should get nuclear weapons. Try to defend that.

PENCE: Don’t put words in my mouth. Well, he never said that, Senator.

KAINE: He absolutely said it. Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Japan.

PENCE: Most of the stuffy you’ve said, he’s never said.

QUIJANO: Gentlemen, Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, annexed Crimea, and has provided crucial military support to the Assad regime. What steps, if any, would your administration take to counter these actions? Senator Kaine?

KAINE: You’ve got to be tough on Russia. So let’s start with not praising Vladimir Putin as a great leader. Donald Trump and Mike Pence have said he’s a great leader. And Donald Trump has business…

PENCE: No, we haven’t.

KAINE: … has business dealings — has business dealings with Russia that he refuses to disclose. Hillary Clinton has gone toe-to- toe with Russia. She went toe-to-toe with Russia as secretary of state to do the New START Agreement to reduce Russia’s nuclear stockpile. She’s had the experience doing it.

She went toe-to-toe with Russia and lodged protests when they went into Georgia. And we’ve done the same thing about Ukraine, but more than launching protests, we’ve put punishing economic sanctions on Russia that we need to continue.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, didn’t know that Russia had invaded the Crimea.

PENCE: Oh, that’s nonsense.

KAINE: He was on a TV show a couple months back, and he said, “I’ll guarantee you this, Russia’s not going into the Ukraine.” And he had to be reminded that they had gone into the Crimea two years before.

PENCE: He knew that.

KAINE: Hillary Clinton has gone toe-to-toe with Russia to work out a deal on New START. She got them engaged on a meaningful way to cap Iran’s nuclear weapons program. And yet she stood up to them on issues such as Syria and their invasion of Georgia. You’ve got to have the ability to do that, and Hillary does.

On the other hand, in Donald Trump, you have somebody who praises Vladimir Putin all the time. America should really wonder about a President Trump, who had a campaign manager with ties to Putin, pro- Putin elements in the Ukraine, who had to be fired for that reason. They should wonder — when Donald Trump is sitting down with Vladimir Putin, is it going to be America’s bottom line or is it going to be Donald Trump’s bottom line that he’s going to be worried about with all of his business dealings?

Now, this could be solved if Donald Trump would be willing to release his tax returns, as he told the American public that he would do. And I know he’s laughing at this, but every president…

PENCE: But what’s it got to do with Russia?

KAINE: Every president since Richard Nixon has done it, and Donald Trump has said I’m doing business with Russia. The only way the American public will see whether he has a conflict of interest…

PENCE: No, he hasn’t said that.

KAINE: He has, actually.

QUIJANO: Senator, your time is up. Governor?

PENCE: Well, thanks. I’m just trying to keep up with the insult-driven campaign on the other side of the table.

KAINE: You know, I’m just saying facts about your running mate.

PENCE: Yeah.

KAINE: And I know you can’t defend.

QUIJANO: Senator, please. This is the governor’s two minutes.

PENCE: I’m happy to defend him, Senator. Don’t put words in my mouth that I’m not defending him.

KAINE: You’re not.

PENCE: I’m happy to defend him. Most of what you said is completely false, and the American people know that.

KAINE: I’ll run through the list of things where you won’t defend…

PENCE: This isn’t the old days where you can just say stuff and people believe it.

QUIJANO: Senator, please. This is Governor Pence’s two minutes.

PENCE: Look, this is the alternative universe of Washington, D.C., versus reality. Hillary Clinton said her number-one priority was a reset with Russia. That reset resulted in the invasion of Ukraine, after they’d infiltrated with what are called little green men, Russian soldiers that were dressing up like Ukrainian dissidents, and then they moved all the way into Crimea, took over the Crimean Peninsula. Donald Trump knew that happened. He basically was saying it’s not going to happen again. The truth of the matter is that what you have in the rise of aggressive Russia, which has had — increased its influence in Iran, that’s now — now because of this deal is on a pathway in the future to obtain a nuclear — the leading state sponsor of terror in the world in Iran now has a closer working relationship with Russia because of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s foreign policy and $150 billion and sanctions all being lifted.

And then, of course, Syria, I mean, it really is extraordinary that — Syria is imploding. You just asked a very thoughtful question about the disaster in Aleppo. ISIS is headquartered in Raqqa. It is — ISIS from Raqqa has overrun vast areas that at great sacrifice the American soldier won in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and yet Senator Kaine still sits here, loyal soldier — I get all that — in saying that the foreign policy of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama somehow made the world more secure. I mean, it really is astonishing that on the day…

KAINE: We even wiped out the leader of Al Qaida.

PENCE: … on the day that Iran released four American hostages…

KAINE: We stopped Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

QUIJANO: Governor…

PENCE: … we delivered $400 million in cash as a ransom payment for Americans held by the radical mullahs in Tehran.

(CROSSTALK)

QUIJANO: Governor, yesterday, Mr. Trump said…

KAINE: And we stopped a nuclear weapons program without a shot.

QUIJANO: … quote, “Putin has no respect for Hillary Clinton and no respect for Obama.” Why do you think he’ll respect a Trump- Pence administration?

PENCE: Strength. Plain and simple.

KAINE: Business dealings.

PENCE: Donald Trump — that’s nonsense. Donald Trump is a strong leader…

KAINE: Donald Trump’s son says that the Trump organization…

PENCE: … who is going to lead with American strength.

QUIJANO: Please, Senator, I’ll give you a chance to respond.

PENCE: We’re going to rebuild our military. And let me — let me — this whole Putin thing. Look, America is stronger than Russia. Our economy is 16 times larger than the Russian economy. America’s political system is superior to the crony, corrupt capitalist system in Russia in every way.

When Donald Trump and I observe that, as I’ve said in Syria, in Iran, in Ukraine, that the small and bullying leader of Russia has been stronger on the world stage than this administration, that’s stating painful facts. That’s not an endorsement of Vladimir Putin. That’s an indictment of the weak and feckless leadership…

QUIJANO: Senator Kaine?

PENCE: … of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

KAINE: Well, this is one where we can just kind of go to the tape on it. But Governor Pence said, inarguably, Vladimir Putin is a better leader than President Obama.

PENCE: That is absolutely inaccurate.

KAINE: And — and — and I just think a guy who praises…

PENCE: He said he’s stronger — he’s been stronger on the world stage.

KAINE: No, he said leader. And if — and I’ll just say this, Governor.

PENCE: You just said better.

KAINE: If you mistake leadership for dictatorship, and you can’t tell the difference, a country that’s running its economy into the ground…

PENCE: Yeah, here we go. This is the grade school thing again?

KAINE: … persecuting journalists…

PENCE: Right, this is grade school.

KAINE: … if you can’t tell the difference, you shouldn’t be commander-in-chief.

PENCE: Yeah. KAINE: And with Donald Trump — Donald Trump’s sons say that they have all these business dealings with Russia. Those could be disclosed with tax returns, but they refuse to do them. Americans need to worry about whether Donald Trump will be watching out for America’s bottom line or his own bottom line.

QUIJANO: Senator Kaine, what went wrong with the Russia reset?

KAINE: Vladimir Putin. Vladimir Putin is a dictator.

QUIJANO: And what would do you differently?

KAINE: Vladimir Putin is a dictator. He’s not a leader. Anybody who thinks otherwise doesn’t know Russian history and they don’t know Vladimir Putin. Hillary Clinton knows exactly who this guy is. John McCain said, I look in his eyes and I see KGB. And Hillary kind of has that same feeling.

PENCE: Right.

KAINE: So how do deal with him? You’ve got to — we do have to deal with Russia in a lot of different ways. There are areas where we can cooperate. So it was Hillary Clinton who worked with Russia on the New START Treaty to reduce their nuclear weapons stockpile. It was Hillary Clinton that worked with Russia to get them engaged in a community of nations to stop the Iranian nuclear weapons without firing a shot.

She’s not going around praising Vladimir Putin as a great guy. But she knows how to sit down at a table and negotiate tough deals. This is a very challenging part of the world, and we ought to have a commander-in-chief who is prepared and done it, rather than somebody who goes around praising Vladimir Putin as a great leader.

QUIJANO: All right, I’d like to ask now about North Korea, Iran and the threat of nuclear weapons. North Korea recently conducted its fifth and most powerful nuclear test.

PENCE: Right.

QUIJANO: What specific steps would you take to prevent North Korea from developing a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching the United States? Governor Pence?

PENCE: Well, first, we need to — we need to make a commitment to rebuild our military, including modernizing our nuclear forces. And we also need — we also need an effective American diplomacy that will marshal the resources of nations in the Asian Pacific Rim to put pressure on North Korea, on Kim Jong-un, to abandon his nuclear ambitions. It has to remain the policy of the United States of America the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, plain and simple.

And when Donald Trump is president of the United States, we’re — we’re not going to have the — the kind of posture in the world that has Russia invading Crimea and Ukraine, that has the Chinese building new islands in the South China Sea, that has literally the world, including North Korea, flouting American power. We’re going to — we’re going to go back to the days of peace through strength.

But I have to tell you that — that all this talk about tax returns — and I get it, you know, you want to keep bringing that up. It must have — must have…

KAINE: Until he…

(CROSSTALK)

PENCE: … done well in some focus group. But here — Hillary Clinton and her husband set up a private foundation called the Clinton Foundation. While she was secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation accepted tens of millions of dollars from foreign governments and foreign donors.

Now, you all need to know out there, this is basic stuff. Foreign donors, and certainly foreign governments, cannot participate in the American political process. They cannot make financial contributions. But the Clintons figured out a way to create a foundation where foreign governments and foreign donors could donate millions of dollars. And then we found, thanks to the good work of the Associated Press, that more than half her private meetings when she was secretary of state were given to major donors of the Clinton Foundation. When you talk about all these — all these baseless rumors about Russia and the rest, Hillary Clinton — you asked the trustworthy question at the very beginning — the reason…

QUIJANO: Governor, your two minutes are up.

PENCE: … the reason the American people don’t trust Hillary Clinton is because they are looking at the pay to play politics that she operated with the Clinton Foundation through a private server…

QUIJANO: Governor, please.

PENCE: … while she’s secretary of state.

QUIJANO: Your two minutes are up, Governor.

PENCE: And they’re saying enough is enough.

QUIJANO: Senator Kaine?

KAINE: I’m going to talk about the foundation, and then I’ll talk about North Korea. So, on the foundation. I am glad to talk about the foundation. The Clinton Foundation is one of the highest- rated charities in the world. It provides AIDS drugs to about 11.5 million people. It helps Americans deal with opioid overdoses. It gets higher rankings for its charity than the American Red Cross does. The Clinton foundation does an awful lot of good work.

Hillary Clinton as secretary of state took no action to benefit the foundation. The State Department did an investigation, and they concluded that everything Hillary Clinton did as secretary of state was completely in the interest of the United States. So the foundation does good work. And Hillary Clinton as secretary of state acted in the interests of the United States.

But let’s compare this now with the Trump organization and the Trump Foundation. The Trump organization is an octopus-like organization with tentacles all over the world whose conflict of interests could only be known if Donald Trump would release his tax returns. He’s refused to do it.

His sons have said that the organization has a lot of business dealings in Russia. And remember, the Trump organization is not a non-profit. It’s putting money into Donald Trump’s pockets and into the pockets of his children, whereas the Clinton Foundation is a non- profit and no Clinton family member draws any salary.

PENCE: The Trump Foundation is non-profit.

KAINE: In addition, Donald Trump has a foundation. The foundation was just fined for illegally contributing foundation dollars to a political campaign of a Florida attorney general. They made an illegal contribution, and then they tried to hide it by disguising it to somebody else. And the person they donated to was somebody whose office was charged with investigating Trump University.

This is the difference between a foundation that does good work and a secretary of state who acted in accordance with American interest and somebody who is conflicted and doing work around the world and won’t share with the American public what he’s doing and what those conflicts are.

QUIJANO: Governor, I will give you 30 seconds to respond, because I know you want to, but, again, I would remind you both this was about North Korea.

(LAUGHTER)

PENCE: Well, Thank you. Thank you. The Trump Foundation is a private family foundation. They give virtually every cent in the Trump Foundation to charitable causes.

KAINE: Political contributions?

PENCE: Less than ten cents on the dollar in the Clinton Foundation has gone to charitable causes.

KAINE: A $20,000 portrait of Donald Trump? PENCE: Less than 10 cents on the dollar of the Clinton Foundation has gone to charitable causes.

KAINE: Ninety percent.

PENCE: It has been a platform for the Clintons to travel the world, to have staff. But honestly, Senator, we would know a lot more about it if Hillary Clinton would just turn over the 33,000 e-mails…

QUIJANO: All right, let’s turn back to North Korea…

PENCE: … that she refused to turn over in her private server…

QUIJANO: Senator Kaine…

PENCE: … and we’d have a much better picture of what the Clinton Foundation was about.

QUIJANO: Senator Kaine, if you had intelligence that North Korea was about to launch a missile, a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching the United States, would you take preemptive action?

KAINE: If we — look, a president should take action to defend the United States against imminent threat. You have to. A president has to do that. Now exactly what action, you would have to determine what your intelligence was, how certain you were of that intelligence, but you would have to take action.

You asked the question about how do we deal with a North Korea. I’m on the Foreign Relations Committee. We just did an extensive sanctions package against North Korea. And interestingly enough, Elaine, the U.N. followed and did this — virtually the same package. Often China will use their veto in the Security Council to veto a package like that. They’re starting to get worried about North Korea, too. So they actually supported the sanctions package, even though many of the sanctions are against Chinese firms, Chinese financial institutions.

So we’re working together with China, and we need to. China’s another one of those relationships where it’s competitive, it’s also challenging, and in times like North Korea, we have to be able to cooperate. Hillary understands that very well. She went once famously to China and stood up at a human rights meeting and looked them in the eye and said, “Women’s rights are human rights.” They didn’t want her to say that, but she did.

But she’s also worked on a lot of diplomatic and important diplomatic deals with China. And that’s what it’s going to take.

The thing I would worry a little bit about is that Donald Trump owes about $650 million to banks, including the Bank of China. I’m not sure he could stand up so tough to the people who have loaned him money.

QUIJANO: All right. I’d like to turn to our next segment now. And in this, I’d like to focus on social issues. You have both been open about the role that faith has played in your lives. Can you discuss in detail a time when you struggled to balance your personal faith and a public policy position? Senator Kaine?

KAINE: Yeah, that’s an easy one for me, Elaine. It’s an easy one. I’m really fortunate. I grew up in a wonderful household with great Irish Catholic parents. My mom and dad are sitting right here. I was educated by Jesuits at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City. My 40th reunion is in 10 days.

And I worked with Jesuit missionaries in Honduras, now nearly 35 years ago, and they were the heroes of my life. I try to practice my religion in a very devout way and follow the teachings of my church in my own personal life. But I don’t believe in this nation, a First Amendment nation, where we don’t raise any religion over the other, and we allow people to worship as they please, that the doctrines of any one religion should be mandated for everyone.

For me, the hardest struggle in my faith life was the Catholic Church is against the death penalty and so am I. But I was governor of a state, and the state law said that there was a death penalty for crimes if the jury determined them to be heinous. And so I had to grapple with that.

When I was running for governor, I was attacked pretty strongly because of my position on the death penalty. But I looked the voters of Virginia in the eye and said, look, this is my religion. I’m not going to change my religious practice to get one vote, but I know how to take an oath and uphold the law. And if you elect me, I will uphold the law.

And I was elected, and I did. It was very, very difficult to allow executions to go forward, but in circumstances where I didn’t feel like there was a case for clemency, I told Virginia voters I would uphold the law, and I did.

That was a real struggle. But I think it is really, really important that those of us who have deep faith lives don’t feel that we could just substitute our own views for everybody else in society, regardless of their views.

QUIJANO: Governor Pence?

PENCE: Well, it’s a wonderful question. And my Christian faith is at the very heart of who I am. I was also raised in a wonderful family of faith. It was a church on Sunday morning and grace before dinner.

PENCE: But my Christian faith became real for me when I made a personal decision for Christ when I was a freshman in college. And I’ve tried to live that out however imperfectly every day of my life since. And with my wife at my side, we’ve followed a calling into public service, where we’ve — we’ve tried to — we’ve tried to keep faith with the values that we cherish.

And with regard to when I struggle, I appreciate, and — and — and — I have a great deal of respect for Senator Kaine’s sincere faith. I truly do.

KAINE: That’s shared.

PENCE: But for me, I would tell you that for me the sanctity of life proceeds out of the belief that — that ancient principle that — where God says before you were formed in the womb, I knew you, and so for my first time in public life, I sought to stand with great compassion for the sanctity of life.

The state of Indiana has also sought to make sure that we expand alternatives in health care counseling for women, non-abortion alternatives. I’m also very pleased at the fact we’re well on our way in Indiana to becoming the most pro-adoption state in America. I think if you’re going to be pro-life, you should — you should be pro- adoption.

But what I can’t understand is with Hillary Clinton and now Senator Kaine at her side is to support a practice like partial-birth abortion. I mean, to hold to the view — and I know Senator Kaine, you hold pro-life views personally — but the very idea that a child that is almost born into the world could still have their life taken from them is just anathema to me.

And I cannot — I can’t conscience about — about a party that supports that. Or that — I know you’ve historically opposed taxpayer funding of abortion. But Hillary Clinton wants to — wants to repeal the longstanding provision in the law where we said we wouldn’t use taxpayer dollars to fund abortion.

So for me, my faith informs my life. I try and spend a little time on my knees every day. But it all for me begins with cherishing the dignity, the worth, the value of every human life.

KAINE: Elaine, this is a fundamental question, a fundamental question. Hillary and I are both people out of religious backgrounds, from Methodist church experience, which was really formative for her as a public servant.

But we really feel like you should live fully and with enthusiasm the commands of your faith. But it is not the role of the public servant to mandate that for everybody else.

So let’s talk about abortion and choice. Let’s talk about them. We support Roe v. Wade. We support the constitutional right of American women to consult their own conscience, their own supportive partner, their own minister, but then make their own decision about pregnancy. That’s something we trust American women to do that.

And we don’t think that women should be punished, as Donald Trump said they should, for making the decision to have an abortion.

Governor Pence wants to repeal Roe v. Wade. He said he wants to put it on the ash heap of history. And we have some young people in the audience who weren’t even born when Roe was decided. This is pretty important. Before Roe v. Wade, states could pass criminal laws to do just that, to punish women if they made the choice to terminate a pregnancy.

I think you should live your moral values. But the last thing, the very last thing that government should do is have laws that would punish women who make reproductive choices. And that is the fundamental difference between a Clinton-Kaine ticket and a Trump- Pence ticket that wants to punish women who make that choice.

PENCE: No, it’s really not. Donald Trump and I would never support legislation that punished women who made the heartbreaking choice to end a pregnancy.

KAINE: Then why did Donald Trump say that?

PENCE: We just never would.

KAINE: Why did he say that?

PENCE: Well, look, it’s — look, he’s not a polished politician like you and Hillary Clinton. And so…

KAINE: Well, I would admit that’s not a polished…

(CROSSTALK)

PENCE: You know, things don’t always come out exactly the way he means them.

KAINE: Well, can I say…

PENCE: But I’m telling you what the policy of our administration would be.

KAINE: Great line from the — great line from the gospel of Matthew. From the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks.

PENCE: Yeah. KAINE: When Donald Trump says women should be punished or Mexicans are rapists and criminals…

PENCE: I’m telling you…

KAINE: … or John McCain is not a hero, he is showing you who he is.

PENCE: Senator, you’ve whipped out that Mexican thing again. He — look…

KAINE: Can you defend it?

PENCE: There are criminal aliens in this country, Tim, who have come into this country illegally who are perpetrating violence and taking American lives.

KAINE: You want to — you want to use a big broad brush against Mexicans on that?

PENCE: He also said and many of them are good people. You keep leaving that out of your quote. And if you want me to go there, I’ll go there.

But here’s — there is a choice, and it is a choice on life. I couldn’t be more proud to be standing with Donald Trump, who’s standing for the right to life. It’s a principle that — Senator Kaine — and I’m very gentle about this, because I really do respect you — it’s a principle that you embrace.

And I have appreciated the fact that you’ve supported the Hyde amendment, which bans the use of taxpayer funding for abortion, in the past, but that’s not Hillary Clinton’s view. People need to understand, we can come together as a nation. We can create a culture of life. More and more young people today are embracing life because we know we are — we’re better for it. We can — like Mother Teresa said at that famous national prayer breakfast…

KAINE: This is important —

PENCE: … bring the — let’s welcome the children into our world. There are so many families around the country who can’t have children. We could improve adoption…

KAINE: But, Governor…

PENCE: … so that families that can’t have children can adopt more readily those children from crisis pregnancies.

KAINE: Governor, why don’t you trust women to make this choice for themselves? We can encourage people to support life. Of course we can. But why don’t you trust women? Why doesn’t Donald Trump trust women to make this choice for themselves?

That’s what we ought to be doing in public life. Living our lives of faith or motivation with enthusiasm and excitement, convincing other, dialoguing with each other about important moral issues of the day…

PENCE: Because there are…

KAINE: … but on fundamental issues of morality, we should let women make their own decisions.

PENCE: Because there is — a society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable, the aged, the infirm, the disabled, and the unborn. I believe it with all my heart. And I couldn’t be more proud to be standing with a pro-life candidate in Donald Trump.

QUIJANO: I do have one final question for you both tonight. It has been a divisive campaign. Senator Kaine, if your ticket wins, what specifically are you going to do to unify the country and reassure the people who voted against you?

KAINE: That’s a really important one. That may be the $64,000 question, because it has been a divisive campaign. And again, Hillary is running a campaign about stronger together, and Donald Trump — and this is — this is not directed at this man, except to the extent that he can’t defend Donald Trump — Donald Trump has run a campaign that’s been about one insult after the next.

But we do have to bring the country together. So here’s what we’ll do. Hillary Clinton was first lady, then senator for eight years and secretary of state. And I served in the Senate. And I’m really amazed, Elaine, as I talk to Republican senators, how well they regard and respect Hillary Clinton.

She was on the Armed Services Committee. She was on other committees. She worked across the aisle when she was first lady to get the CHIP program passed so that 8 million low-income kids have health insurance in this country, including 150,000 in Indiana.

She worked across the aisle after 9/11 to get health benefits for the first responders who bravely went into the towers and into the Pentagon. She worked to get benefits for — TRICARE benefits for National Guard members, including Hoosiers and Virginians in the National Guard.

She has a track record of working across the aisle to make things happen. And, you know, Elaine, I have the same track record. I was a governor of Virginia with two Republican houses. And in the Senate, I have good working relationships across the aisle.

Because I think it’s fine to be a Democrat or Republican or independent, but after Election Day, the goal is work together. And Hillary Clinton has a track record of accomplishment across the aisle that will enable her to do just that when we work with the new Congress in January.

QUIJANO: Governor, how will you unify the country if you win?

PENCE: Well, thank you, Elaine, and thanks for a great discussion…

KAINE: Absolutely.

PENCE: … tonight. Thank you, Senator.

This is a very challenging time in the life of our nation. Weakened America’s place in the world after the leadership of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on the world stage has been followed by an economy that is truly struggling, stifled by an avalanche of more taxes, more regulation, Obamacare, the war on coal, and the kind of trade deals that have put American workers in the back seat. I think the best way that we can bring people together is through change in Washington, D.C.

You know, I served in Washington, D.C., for 12 years in the Congress of the United States. And I served with many Republicans and Democrats, men and women of goodwill. The potential is there to really change the direction of this country, but it’s going to take leadership to do it.

The American people want to see our nation standing tall on the world stage again. They want to see us supporting our military, rebuilding our military, commanding the respect of the world, and they want to see the American economy off to the races again. They want to see an American comeback.

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Keeping up with politics is easy now.

And Donald Trump’s entire career has been about building. It’s been about — it’s going through hardship just like a businessperson does and finding a way through smarts and ingenuity and resilience to fight forward and — when Donald Trump becomes president of the United States, we’re going to have a stronger America.

When you hear him say he wants to make America great again, when we do that, I truly do believe the American people are going to be standing taller. They’re going to see that real change can happen after decades of just talking about it. And when that happens, the American people are going to stand tall, stand together, and we’ll have the kind of unity that’s been missing for way too long.

QUIJANO: All right, gentlemen, thank you so much.

This concludes the vice presidential debate. My thanks to the candidates, the commission, and to you for watching. Please tune in this Sunday for the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis and the final debate on October 19th at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

From Farmville, Virginia, I’m Elaine Quijano of CBS News. Good night.

Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 September 26, 2016: The first Trump-Clinton presidential debate transcript

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & ELECTIONS

2016

The first Trump-Clinton presidential debate transcript

Source: WaPo, 9-26-16

According to most news outlets and post-debate polls Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton won the debate.

LESTER HOLT: Good evening from Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. I’m Lester Holt, anchor of “NBC Nightly News.” I want to welcome you to the first presidential debate.

The participants tonight are Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. This debate is sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. The commission drafted tonight’s format, and the rules have been agreed to by the campaigns.

The 90-minute debate is divided into six segments, each 15 minutes long. We’llexplore three topic areas tonight: Achieving prosperity; America’s direction; and securing America. At the start of each segment, I will ask the same lead-off question to both candidates, and they will each have up to two minutes to respond. From that point until the end of the segment, we’ll have an open discussion.

The questions are mine and have not been shared with the commission or the campaigns. The audience here in the room has agreed to remain silent so that we can focus on what the candidates are saying.

I will invite you to applaud, however, at this moment, as we welcome the candidates: Democratic nominee for president of the United States, Hillary Clinton, and Republican nominee for president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: How are you, Donald?

(APPLAUSE)

HOLT: Good luck to you.

(APPLAUSE)

Well, I don’t expect us to cover all the issues of this campaign tonight, but I remind everyone, there are two more presidential debates scheduled. We are going to focus on many of the issues that voters tell us are most important, and we’re going to press for specifics. I am honored to have this role, but this evening belongs to the candidates and, just as important, to the American people.

Candidates, we look forward to hearing you articulate your policies and your positions, as well as your visions and your values. So, let’s begin.

We’re calling this opening segment “Achieving Prosperity.” And central to that is jobs. There are two economic realities in America today. There’s been a record six straight years of job growth, and new census numbers show incomes have increased at a record rate after years of stagnation. However, income inequality remains significant, and nearly half of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

Beginning with you, Secretary Clinton, why are you a better choice than your opponent to create the kinds of jobs that will put more money into the pockets of American works?

CLINTON: Well, thank you, Lester, and thanks to Hofstra for hosting us.

The central question in this election is really what kind of country we want to be and what kind of future we’ll build together. Today is my granddaughter’s second birthday, so I think about this a lot. First, we have to build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top. That means we need new jobs, good jobs, with rising incomes.

I want us to invest in you. I want us to invest in your future. That means jobs in infrastructure, in advanced manufacturing, innovation and technology, clean, renewable energy, and small business, because most of the new jobs will come from small business. We also have to make the economy fairer. That starts with raising the national minimum wage and also guarantee, finally, equal pay for women’s work.

CLINTON: I also want to see more companies do profit-sharing. If you help create the profits, you should be able to share in them, not just the executives at the top.

And I want us to do more to support people who are struggling to balance family and work. I’ve heard from so many of you about the difficult choices you face and the stresses that you’re under. So let’s have paid family leave, earned sick days.Let’s be sure we have affordable child care and debt-free college.

How are we going to do it? We’re going to do it by having the wealthy pay their fair share and close the corporate loopholes.

Finally, we tonight are on the stage together, Donald Trump and I. Donald, it’s good to be with you. We’re going to have a debate where we are talking about the important issues facing our country. You have to judge us, who can shoulder the immense, awesome responsibilities of the presidency, who can put into action the plans that will make your life better. I hope that I will be able to earn your vote on November 8th.

HOLT: Secretary Clinton, thank you.

Mr. Trump, the same question to you. It’s about putting money — more money into the pockets of American workers. You have up to two minutes.

TRUMP: Thank you, Lester. Our jobs are fleeing the country. They’re going to Mexico. They’re going to many other countries. You look at what China is doing to our country in terms of making our product. They’re devaluing their currency, and there’s nobody in our government to fight them. And we have a very good fight. And we have a winning fight. Because they’re using our country as a piggy bank to rebuild China, and many other countries are doing the same thing.

So we’re losing our good jobs, so many of them. When you look at what’s happening in Mexico, a friend of mine who builds plants said it’s the eighth wonder of the world. They’re building some of the biggest plants anywhere in the world, some of the most sophisticated, some of the best plants. With the United States, as he said, not so much.

So Ford is leaving. You see that, their small car division leaving. Thousands of jobs leaving Michigan, leaving Ohio. They’re all leaving. And we can’t allow it to happen anymore. As far as child care is concerned and so many other things, I think Hillary and I agree on that. We probably disagree a little bit as to numbers and amounts and what we’re going to do, but perhaps we’ll be talking about that later.

But we have to stop our jobs from being stolen from us. We have to stop our companies from leaving the United States and, with it, firing all of their people. All you have to do is take a look at Carrier air conditioning in Indianapolis. They left — fired 1,400 people. They’re going to Mexico. So many hundreds and hundreds of companies are doing this.

TRUMP: We cannot let it happen. Under my plan, I’ll be reducing taxes tremendously, from 35 percent to 15 percent for companies, small and big businesses. That’s going to be a job creator like we haven’t seen since Ronald Reagan. It’s going to be a beautiful thing to watch.

Companies will come. They will build. They will expand. New companies will start. And I look very, very much forward to doing it. We have to renegotiate our trade deals, and we have to stop these countries from stealing our companies and our jobs.

HOLT: Secretary Clinton, would you like to respond?

CLINTON: Well, I think that trade is an important issue. Of course, we are 5 percent of the world’s population; we have to trade with the other 95 percent.And we need to have smart, fair trade deals.

We also, though, need to have a tax system that rewards work and not just financial transactions. And the kind of plan that Donald has put forth would be trickle-down economics all over again. In fact, it would be the most extreme version, the biggest tax cuts for the top percent of the people in this country than we’ve ever had.

I call it trumped-up trickle-down, because that’s exactly what it would be. That is not how we grow the economy.

We just have a different view about what’s best for growing the economy, how we make investments that will actually produce jobs and rising incomes.

I think we come at it from somewhat different perspectives. I understand that.You know, Donald was very fortunate in his life, and that’s all to his benefit. He started his business with $14 million, borrowed from his father, and he really believes that the more you help wealthy people, the better off we’ll be and that everything will work out from there.

I don’t buy that. I have a different experience. My father was a small-businessman. He worked really hard. He printed drapery fabrics on long tables, where he pulled out those fabrics and he went down with a silkscreen and dumped the paint in and took the squeegee and kept going.

And so what I believe is the more we can do for the middle class, the more we can invest in you, your education, your skills, your future, the better we will be off and the better we’ll grow. That’s the kind of economy I want us to see again.

HOLT: Let me follow up with Mr. Trump, if you can. You’ve talked about creating 25 million jobs, and you’ve promised to bring back millions of jobs for Americans. How are you going to bring back the industries that have left this country for cheaper labor overseas? How, specifically, are you going to tell American manufacturers that you have to come back?

TRUMP: Well, for one thing — and before we start on that — my father gave me a very small loan in 1975, and I built it into a company that’s worth many, many billions of dollars, with some of the greatest assets in the world, and I say that only because that’s the kind of thinking that our country needs.

Our country’s in deep trouble. We don’t know what we’re doing when it comes to devaluations and all of these countries all over the world, especially China.They’re the best, the best ever at it. What they’re doing to us is a very, very sad thing.

So we have to do that. We have to renegotiate our trade deals. And, Lester, they’re taking our jobs, they’re giving incentives, they’re doing things that, frankly, we don’t do.

Let me give you the example of Mexico. They have a VAT tax. We’re on a different system. When we sell into Mexico, there’s a tax. When they sell in — automatic, 16 percent, approximately. When they sell into us, there’s no tax. It’s a defective agreement. It’s been defective for a long time, many years, but the politicians haven’t done anything about it.

Now, in all fairness to Secretary Clinton — yes, is that OK? Good. I want you to be very happy. It’s very important to me.

But in all fairness to Secretary Clinton, when she started talking about this, it was really very recently. She’s been doing this for 30 years. And why hasn’t she made the agreements better? The NAFTA agreement is defective. Just because of the tax and many other reasons, but just because of the fact…

HOLT: Let me interrupt just a moment, but…

TRUMP: Secretary Clinton and others, politicians, should have been doing this for years, not right now, because of the fact that we’ve created a movement. They should have been doing this for years. What’s happened to our jobs and our country and our economy generally is — look, we owe $20 trillion. We cannot do it any longer, Lester. HOLT: Back to the question, though. How do you bring back — specifically bring back jobs, American manufacturers? How do you make them bring the jobs back?

TRUMP: Well, the first thing you do is don’t let the jobs leave. The companies are leaving. I could name, I mean, there are thousands of them. They’re leaving, and they’re leaving in bigger numbers than ever.

And what you do is you say, fine, you want to go to Mexico or some other country, good luck. We wish you a lot of luck. But if you think you’re going to make your air conditioners or your cars or your cookies or whatever you make and bring them into our country without a tax, you’re wrong.

And once you say you’re going to have to tax them coming in, and our politicians never do this, because they have special interests and the special interests want those companies to leave, because in many cases, they own the companies. So what I’m saying is, we can stop them from leaving. We have to stop them from leaving. And that’s a big, big factor.

HOLT: Let me let Secretary Clinton get in here.

CLINTON: Well, let’s stop for a second and remember where we were eight years ago. We had the worst financial crisis, the Great Recession, the worst since the 1930s. That was in large part because of tax policies that slashed taxes on the wealthy, failed to invest in the middle class, took their eyes off of Wall Street, and created a perfect storm.

In fact, Donald was one of the people who rooted for the housing crisis. He said, back in 2006, “Gee, I hope it does collapse, because then I can go in and buy some and make some money.” Well, it did collapse.

TRUMP: That’s called business, by the way.

CLINTON: Nine million people — nine million people lost their jobs. Five million people lost their homes. And $13 trillion in family wealth was wiped out.

Now, we have come back from that abyss. And it has not been easy. So we’re now on the precipice of having a potentially much better economy, but the last thing we need to do is to go back to the policies that failed us in the first place.

Independent experts have looked at what I’ve proposed and looked at what Donald’s proposed, and basically they’ve said this, that if his tax plan, which would blow up the debt by over $5 trillion and would in some instances disadvantage middle-class families compared to the wealthy, were to go into effect, we would lose 3.5 million jobs and maybe have another recession.

They’ve looked at my plans and they’ve said, OK, if we can do this, and I intend to get it done, we will have 10 million more new jobs, because we will be making investments where we can grow the economy. Take clean energy. Some country is going to be the clean- energy superpower of the 21st century. Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. I think it’s real.

TRUMP: I did not. I did not. I do not say that.

CLINTON: I think science is real.

TRUMP: I do not say that.

CLINTON: And I think it’s important that we grip this and deal with it, both at home and abroad. And here’s what we can do. We can deploy a half a billion more solar panels. We can have enough clean energy to power every home. We can build a new modern electric grid. That’s a lot of jobs; that’s a lot of new economic activity.

So I’ve tried to be very specific about what we can and should do, and I am determined that we’re going to get the economy really moving again, building on the progress we’ve made over the last eight years, but never going back to what got us in trouble in the first place.

HOLT: Mr. Trump?

TRUMP: She talks about solar panels. We invested in a solar company, our country. That was a disaster. They lost plenty of money on that one.

Now, look, I’m a great believer in all forms of energy, but we’re putting a lot of people out of work. Our energy policies are a disaster. Our country is losing so much in terms of energy, in terms of paying off our debt. You can’t do what you’re looking to do with $20 trillion in debt.

The Obama administration, from the time they’ve come in, is over 230 years’ worth of debt, and he’s topped it. He’s doubled it in a course of almost eight years, seven-and-a-half years, to be semi- exact.

So I will tell you this. We have to do a much better job at keeping our jobs. And we have to do a much better job at giving companies incentives to build new companies or to expand, because they’re not doing it.

And all you have to do is look at Michigan and look at Ohio and look at all of these places where so many of their jobs and their companies are just leaving, they’re gone.

And, Hillary, I’d just ask you this. You’ve been doing this for 30 years. Why are you just thinking about these solutions right now? For 30 years, you’ve been doing it, and now you’re just starting to think of solutions.

CLINTON: Well, actually…

TRUMP: I will bring — excuse me. I will bring back jobs. You can’t bring back jobs.

CLINTON: Well, actually, I have thought about this quite a bit.

TRUMP: Yeah, for 30 years.

CLINTON: And I have — well, not quite that long. I think my husband did a pretty good job in the 1990s. I think a lot about what worked and how we can make it work again…

TRUMP: Well, he approved NAFTA…

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: … million new jobs, a balanced budget…

TRUMP: He approved NAFTA, which is the single worst trade deal ever approved in this country.

CLINTON: Incomes went up for everybody. Manufacturing jobs went up also in the 1990s, if we’re actually going to look at the facts.

When I was in the Senate, I had a number of trade deals that came before me, and I held them all to the same test. Will they create jobs in America? Will they raise incomes in America? And are they good for our national security? Some of them I voted for. The biggest one, a multinational one known as CAFTA, I voted against. And because I hold the same standards as I look at all of these trade deals.

But let’s not assume that trade is the only challenge we have in the economy. I think it is a part of it, and I’ve said what I’m going to do. I’m going to have a special prosecutor. We’re going to enforce the trade deals we have, and we’re going to hold people accountable.

When I was secretary of state, we actually increased American exports globally 30 percent. We increased them to China 50 percent. So I know how to really work to get new jobs and to get exports that helped to create more new jobs.

HOLT: Very quickly…

TRUMP: But you haven’t done it in 30 years or 26 years or any number you want to…

CLINTON: Well, I’ve been a senator, Donald…

TRUMP: You haven’t done it. You haven’t done it.

CLINTON: And I have been a secretary of state…

TRUMP: Excuse me.

CLINTON: And I have done a lot…

TRUMP: Your husband signed NAFTA, which was one of the worst things that ever happened to the manufacturing industry.

CLINTON: Well, that’s your opinion. That is your opinion.

TRUMP: You go to New England, you go to Ohio, Pennsylvania, you go anywhere you want, Secretary Clinton, and you will see devastation where manufacture is down 30, 40, sometimes 50 percent. NAFTA is the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere, but certainly ever signed in this country.

And now you want to approve Trans-Pacific Partnership. You were totally in favor of it. Then you heard what I was saying, how bad it is, and you said, I can’t win that debate. But you know that if you did win, you would approve that, and that will be almost as bad as NAFTA. Nothing will ever top NAFTA.

CLINTON: Well, that is just not accurate. I was against it once it was finally negotiated and the terms were laid out. I wrote about that in…

TRUMP: You called it the gold standard.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: You called it the gold standard of trade deals. You said it’s the finest deal you’ve ever seen.

CLINTON: No.

TRUMP: And then you heard what I said about it, and all of a sudden you were against it.

CLINTON: Well, Donald, I know you live in your own reality, but that is not the facts. The facts are — I did say I hoped it would be a good deal, but when it was negotiated…

TRUMP: Not.

CLINTON: … which I was not responsible for, I concluded it wasn’t. I wrote about that in my book…

TRUMP: So is it President Obama’s fault?

CLINTON: … before you even announced.

TRUMP: Is it President Obama’s fault?

CLINTON: Look, there are differences…

TRUMP: Secretary, is it President Obama’s fault?

CLINTON: There are…

TRUMP: Because he’s pushing it.

CLINTON: There are different views about what’s good for our country, our economy, and our leadership in the world. And I think it’s important to look at what we need to do to get the economy going again. That’s why I said new jobs with rising incomes, investments, not in more tax cuts that would add $5 trillion to the debt.

TRUMP: But you have no plan.

CLINTON: But in — oh, but I do.

TRUMP: Secretary, you have no plan.

CLINTON: In fact, I have written a book about it. It’s called “Stronger Together.” You can pick it up tomorrow at a bookstore…

TRUMP: That’s about all you’ve…

(CROSSTALK)

HOLT: Folks, we’re going to…

CLINTON: … or at an airport near you.

HOLT: We’re going to move to…

CLINTON: But it’s because I see this — we need to have strong growth, fair growth, sustained growth. We also have to look at how we help families balance the responsibilities at home and the responsibilities at business.

So we have a very robust set of plans. And people have looked at both of our plans, have concluded that mine would create 10 million jobs and yours would lose us 3.5 million jobs, and explode the debt which would have a recession.

TRUMP: You are going to approve one of the biggest tax cuts in history. You are going to approve one of the biggest tax increases in history. You are going to drive business out. Your regulations are a disaster, and you’re going to increase regulations all over the place.

And by the way, my tax cut is the biggest since Ronald Reagan. I’m very proud of it. It will create tremendous numbers of new jobs. But regulations, you are going to regulate these businesses out of existence.

When I go around — Lester, I tell you this, I’ve been all over. And when I go around, despite the tax cut, the thing — the things that business as in people like the most is the fact that I’m cutting regulation. You have regulations on top of regulations, and new companies cannot form and old companies are going out of business. And you want to increase the regulations and make them even worse.

I’m going to cut regulations. I’m going to cut taxes big league, and you’re going to raise taxes big league, end of story.

HOLT: Let me get you to pause right there, because we’re going to move into — we’re going to move into the next segment. We’re going to talk taxes…

CLINTON: That can’t — that can’t be left to stand.

HOLT: Please just take 30 seconds and then we’re going to go on.

CLINTON: I kind of assumed that there would be a lot of these charges and claims, and so…

TRUMP: Facts.

CLINTON: So we have taken the home page of my website, HillaryClinton.com, and we’ve turned it into a fact-checker. So if you want to see in real-time what the facts are, please go and take a look. Because what I have proposed…

TRUMP: And take a look at mine, also, and you’ll see.

CLINTON: … would not add a penny to the debt, and your plans would add $5 trillion to the debt. What I have proposed would cut regulations and streamline them for small businesses. What I have proposed would be paid for by raising taxes on the wealthy, because they have made all the gains in the economy. And I think it’s time that the wealthy and corporations paid their fair share to support this country.

HOLT: Well, you just opened the next segment.

TRUMP: Well, could I just finish — I think I…

(CROSSTALK)

HOLT: I’m going to give you a chance right here…

TRUMP: I think I should — you go to her website, and you take a look at her website.

HOLT: … with a new 15-minute segment…

TRUMP: She’s going to raise taxes $1.3 trillion.

HOLT: Mr. Trump, I’m going to…

TRUMP: And look at her website. You know what? It’s no difference than this. She’s telling us how to fight ISIS. Just go to her website. She tells you how to fight ISIS on her website. I don’t think General Douglas MacArthur would like that too much.

HOLT: The next segment, we’re continuing…

CLINTON: Well, at least I have a plan to fight ISIS.

HOLT: … achieving prosperity…

TRUMP: No, no, you’re telling the enemy everything you want to do.

CLINTON: No, we’re not. No, we’re not.

TRUMP: See, you’re telling the enemy everything you want to do. No wonder you’ve been fighting — no wonder you’ve been fighting ISIS your entire adult life.

CLINTON: That’s a — that’s — go to the — please, fact checkers, get to work.

HOLT: OK, you are unpacking a lot here. And we’re still on the issue of achieving prosperity. And I want to talk about taxes. The fundamental difference between the two of you concerns the wealthy.

Secretary Clinton, you’re calling for a tax increase on the wealthiest Americans. I’d like you to further defend that. And, Mr. Trump, you’re calling for tax cuts for the wealthy. I’d like you to defend that. And this next two-minute answer goes to you, Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: Well, I’m really calling for major jobs, because the wealthy are going create tremendous jobs. They’re going to expand their companies. They’re going to do a tremendous job.

I’m getting rid of the carried interest provision. And if you really look, it’s not a tax — it’s really not a great thing for the wealthy. It’s a great thing for the middle class. It’s a great thing for companies to expand.

And when these people are going to put billions and billions of dollars into companies, and when they’re going to bring $2.5 trillion back from overseas, where they can’t bring the money back, because politicians like Secretary Clinton won’t allow them to bring the money back, because the taxes are so onerous, and the bureaucratic red tape, so what — is so bad.

So what they’re doing is they’re leaving our country, and they’re, believe it or not, leaving because taxes are too high and because some of them have lots of money outside of our country. And instead of bringing it back and putting the money to work, because they can’t work out a deal to — and everybody agrees it should be brought back.

Instead of that, they’re leaving our country to get their money, because they can’t bring their money back into our country, because of bureaucratic red tape, because they can’t get together. Because we have — we have a president that can’t sit them around a table and get them to approve something.

And here’s the thing. Republicans and Democrats agree that this should be done, $2.5 trillion. I happen to think it’s double that. It’s probably $5 trillion that we can’t bring into our country, Lester. And with a little leadership, you’d get it in here very quickly, and it could be put to use on the inner cities and lots of other things, and it would be beautiful.

But we have no leadership. And honestly, that starts with Secretary Clinton.

HOLT: All right. You have two minutes of the same question to defend tax increases on the wealthiest Americans, Secretary Clinton.

CLINTON: I have a feeling that by, the end of this evening, I’m going to be blamed for everything that’s ever happened.

TRUMP: Why not?

CLINTON: Why not? Yeah, why not?

(LAUGHTER)

You know, just join the debate by saying more crazy things. Now, let me say this, it is absolutely the case…

TRUMP: There’s nothing crazy about not letting our companies bring their money back into their country.

HOLT: This is — this is Secretary Clinton’s two minutes, please.

TRUMP: Yes.

CLINTON: Yeah, well, let’s start the clock again, Lester. We’ve looked at your tax proposals. I don’t see changes in the corporate tax rates or the kinds of proposals you’re referring to that would cause the repatriation, bringing back of money that’s stranded overseas. I happen to support that.

TRUMP: Then you didn’t read it.

CLINTON: I happen to — I happen to support that in a way that will actually work to our benefit. But when I look at what you have proposed, you have what is called now the Trump loophole, because it would so advantage you and the business you do. You’ve proposed an approach that has a…

TRUMP: Who gave it that name? The first I’ve — who gave it that name?

(CROSSTALK)

HOLT: Mr. Trump, this is Secretary Clinton’s two minutes.

CLINTON: … $4 billion tax benefit for your family. And when you look at what you are proposing…

TRUMP: How much? How much for my family? CLINTON: … it is…

TRUMP: Lester, how much?

CLINTON: … as I said, trumped-up trickle-down. Trickle-down did not work. It got us into the mess we were in, in 2008 and 2009. Slashing taxes on the wealthy hasn’t worked.

And a lot of really smart, wealthy people know that. And they are saying, hey, we need to do more to make the contributions we should be making to rebuild the middle class.

CLINTON: I don’t think top-down works in America. I think building the middle class, investing in the middle class, making college debt-free so more young people can get their education, helping people refinance their — their debt from college at a lower rate. Those are the kinds of things that will really boost the economy. Broad-based, inclusive growth is what we need in America, not more advantages for people at the very top.

HOLT: Mr. Trump, we’re…

TRUMP: Typical politician. All talk, no action. Sounds good, doesn’t work. Never going to happen. Our country is suffering because people like Secretary Clinton have made such bad decisions in terms of our jobs and in terms of what’s going on.

Now, look, we have the worst revival of an economy since the Great Depression. And believe me: We’re in a bubble right now. And the only thing that looks good is the stock market, but if you raise interest rates even a little bit, that’s going to come crashing down.

We are in a big, fat, ugly bubble. And we better be awfully careful. And we have a Fed that’s doing political things. This Janet Yellen of the Fed. The Fed is doing political — by keeping the interest rates at this level. And believe me: The day Obama goes off, and he leaves, and goes out to the golf course for the rest of his life to play golf, when they raise interest rates, you’re going to see some very bad things happen, because the Fed is not doing their job. The Fed is being more political than Secretary Clinton.

HOLT: Mr. Trump, we’re talking about the burden that Americans have to pay, yet you have not released your tax returns. And the reason nominees have released their returns for decades is so that voters will know if their potential president owes money to — who he owes it to and any business conflicts. Don’t Americans have a right to know if there are any conflicts of interest?

TRUMP: I don’t mind releasing — I’m under a routine audit. And it’ll be released. And — as soon as the audit’s finished, it will be released.

But you will learn more about Donald Trump by going down to the federal elections, where I filed a 104-page essentially financial statement of sorts, the forms that they have. It shows income — in fact, the income — I just looked today — the income is filed at $694 million for this past year, $694 million. If you would have told me I was going to make that 15 or 20 years ago, I would have been very surprised.

But that’s the kind of thinking that our country needs. When we have a country that’s doing so badly, that’s being ripped off by every single country in the world, it’s the kind of thinking that our country needs, because everybody — Lester, we have a trade deficit with all of the countries that we do business with, of almost $800 billion a year. You know what that is? That means, who’s negotiating these trade deals?

We have people that are political hacks negotiating our trade deals.

HOLT: The IRS says an audit…

TRUMP: Excuse me.

HOLT: … of your taxes — you’re perfectly free to release your taxes during an audit. And so the question, does the public’s right to know outweigh your personal…

TRUMP: Well, I told you, I will release them as soon as the audit. Look, I’ve been under audit almost for 15 years. I know a lot of wealthy people that have never been audited. I said, do you get audited? I get audited almost every year.

And in a way, I should be complaining. I’m not even complaining. I don’t mind it. It’s almost become a way of life. I get audited by the IRS. But other people don’t.

I will say this. We have a situation in this country that has to be taken care of. I will release my tax returns — against my lawyer’s wishes — when she releases her 33,000 e-mails that have been deleted. As soon as she releases them, I will release.

(APPLAUSE)

I will release my tax returns. And that’s against — my lawyers, they say, “Don’t do it.” I will tell you this. No — in fact, watching shows, they’re reading the papers. Almost every lawyer says, you don’t release your returns until the audit’s complete. When the audit’s complete, I’ll do it. But I would go against them if she releases her e-mails.

HOLT: So it’s negotiable?

TRUMP: It’s not negotiable, no. Let her release the e-mails. Why did she delete 33,000…

HOLT: Well, I’ll let her answer that. But let me just admonish the audience one more time. There was an agreement. We did ask you to be silent, so it would be helpful for us. Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: Well, I think you’ve seen another example of bait-and- switch here. For 40 years, everyone running for president has released their tax returns. You can go and see nearly, I think, 39, 40 years of our tax returns, but everyone has done it. We know the IRS has made clear there is no prohibition on releasing it when you’re under audit.

So you’ve got to ask yourself, why won’t he release his tax returns? And I think there may be a couple of reasons. First, maybe he’s not as rich as he says he is. Second, maybe he’s not as charitable as he claims to be.

CLINTON: Third, we don’t know all of his business dealings, but we have been told through investigative reporting that he owes about $650 million to Wall Street and foreign banks. Or maybe he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes, because the only years that anybody’s ever seen were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license, and they showed he didn’t pay any federal income tax.

TRUMP: That makes me smart.

CLINTON: So if he’s paid zero, that means zero for troops, zero for vets, zero for schools or health. And I think probably he’s not all that enthusiastic about having the rest of our country see what the real reasons are, because it must be something really important, even terrible, that he’s trying to hide.

And the financial disclosure statements, they don’t give you the tax rate. They don’t give you all the details that tax returns would. And it just seems to me that this is something that the American people deserve to see. And I have no reason to believe that he’s ever going to release his tax returns, because there’s something he’s hiding.

And we’ll guess. We’ll keep guessing at what it might be that he’s hiding. But I think the question is, were he ever to get near the White House, what would be those conflicts? Who does he owe money to? Well, he owes you the answers to that, and he should provide them.

HOLT: He also — he also raised the issue of your e-mails. Do you want to respond to that?

CLINTON: I do. You know, I made a mistake using a private e- mail. TRUMP: That’s for sure.

CLINTON: And if I had to do it over again, I would, obviously, do it differently. But I’m not going to make any excuses. It was a mistake, and I take responsibility for that.

HOLT: Mr. Trump?

TRUMP: That was more than a mistake. That was done purposely. OK? That was not a mistake. That was done purposely. When you have your staff taking the Fifth Amendment, taking the Fifth so they’re not prosecuted, when you have the man that set up the illegal server taking the Fifth, I think it’s disgraceful. And believe me, this country thinks it’s — really thinks it’s disgraceful, also.

As far as my tax returns, you don’t learn that much from tax returns. That I can tell you. You learn a lot from financial disclosure. And you should go down and take a look at that.

The other thing, I’m extremely underleveraged. The report that said $650 — which, by the way, a lot of friends of mine that know my business say, boy, that’s really not a lot of money. It’s not a lot of money relative to what I had.

The buildings that were in question, they said in the same report, which was — actually, it wasn’t even a bad story, to be honest with you, but the buildings are worth $3.9 billion. And the $650 isn’t even on that. But it’s not $650. It’s much less than that.

But I could give you a list of banks, I would — if that would help you, I would give you a list of banks. These are very fine institutions, very fine banks. I could do that very quickly.

I am very underleveraged. I have a great company. I have a tremendous income. And the reason I say that is not in a braggadocios way. It’s because it’s about time that this country had somebody running it that has an idea about money.

When we have $20 trillion in debt, and our country’s a mess, you know, it’s one thing to have $20 trillion in debt and our roads are good and our bridges are good and everything’s in great shape, our airports. Our airports are like from a third world country.

You land at LaGuardia, you land at Kennedy, you land at LAX, you land at Newark, and you come in from Dubai and Qatar and you see these incredible — you come in from China, you see these incredible airports, and you land — we’ve become a third world country.

So the worst of all things has happened. We owe $20 trillion, and we’re a mess. We haven’t even started. And we’ve spent $6 trillion in the Middle East, according to a report that I just saw. Whether it’s 6 or 5, but it looks like it’s 6, $6 trillion in the Middle East, we could have rebuilt our country twice.

And it’s really a shame. And it’s politicians like Secretary Clinton that have caused this problem. Our country has tremendous problems. We’re a debtor nation. We’re a serious debtor nation. And we have a country that needs new roads, new tunnels, new bridges, new airports, new schools, new hospitals. And we don’t have the money, because it’s been squandered on so many of your ideas.

HOLT: We’ll let you respond and we’ll move on to the next segment.

CLINTON: And maybe because you haven’t paid any federal income tax for a lot of years. (APPLAUSE)

And the other thing I think is important…

TRUMP: It would be squandered, too, believe me.

CLINTON: … is if your — if your main claim to be president of the United States is your business, then I think we should talk about that. You know, your campaign manager said that you built a lot of businesses on the backs of little guys.

And, indeed, I have met a lot of the people who were stiffed by you and your businesses, Donald. I’ve met dishwashers, painters, architects, glass installers, marble installers, drapery installers, like my dad was, who you refused to pay when they finished the work that you asked them to do.

We have an architect in the audience who designed one of your clubhouses at one of your golf courses. It’s a beautiful facility. It immediately was put to use. And you wouldn’t pay what the man needed to be paid, what he was charging you to do…

TRUMP: Maybe he didn’t do a good job and I was unsatisfied with his work…

CLINTON: Well, to…

TRUMP: Which our country should do, too.

CLINTON: Do the thousands of people that you have stiffed over the course of your business not deserve some kind of apology from someone who has taken their labor, taken the goods that they produced, and then refused to pay them?

I can only say that I’m certainly relieved that my late father never did business with you. He provided a good middle-class life for us, but the people he worked for, he expected the bargain to be kept on both sides.

And when we talk about your business, you’ve taken business bankruptcy six times. There are a lot of great businesspeople that have never taken bankruptcy once. You call yourself the King of Debt. You talk about leverage. You even at one time suggested that you would try to negotiate down the national debt of the United States.

TRUMP: Wrong. Wrong.

CLINTON: Well, sometimes there’s not a direct transfer of skills from business to government, but sometimes what happened in business would be really bad for government.

HOLT: Let’s let Mr. Trump…

CLINTON: And we need to be very clear about that.

TRUMP: So, yeah, I think — I do think it’s time. Look, it’s all words, it’s all sound bites. I built an unbelievable company. Some of the greatest assets anywhere in the world, real estate assets anywhere in the world, beyond the United States, in Europe, lots of different places. It’s an unbelievable company.

But on occasion, four times, we used certain laws that are there. And when Secretary Clinton talks about people that didn’t get paid, first of all, they did get paid a lot, but taken advantage of the laws of the nation.

Now, if you want to change the laws, you’ve been there a long time, change the laws. But I take advantage of the laws of the nation because I’m running a company. My obligation right now is to do well for myself, my family, my employees, for my companies. And that’s what I do.

But what she doesn’t say is that tens of thousands of people that are unbelievably happy and that love me. I’ll give you an example. We’re just opening up on Pennsylvania Avenue right next to the White House, so if I don’t get there one way, I’m going to get to Pennsylvania Avenue another.

But we’re opening the Old Post Office. Under budget, ahead of schedule, saved tremendous money. I’m a year ahead of schedule. And that’s what this country should be doing.

We build roads and they cost two and three and four times what they’re supposed to cost. We buy products for our military and they come in at costs that are so far above what they were supposed to be, because we don’t have people that know what they’re doing.

When we look at the budget, the budget is bad to a large extent because we have people that have no idea as to what to do and how to buy. The Trump International is way under budget and way ahead of schedule. And we should be able to do that for our country.

HOLT: Well, we’re well behind schedule, so I want to move to our next segment. We move into our next segment talking about America’s direction. And let’s start by talking about race.

The share of Americans who say race relations are bad in this country is the highest it’s been in decades, much of it amplified by shootings of African-Americans by police, as we’ve seen recently in Charlotte and Tulsa. Race has been a big issue in this campaign, and one of you is going to have to bridge a very wide and bitter gap.

So how do you heal the divide? Secretary Clinton, you get two minutes on this.

CLINTON: Well, you’re right. Race remains a significant challenge in our country. Unfortunately, race still determines too much, often determines where people live, determines what kind of education in their public schools they can get, and, yes, it determines how they’re treated in the criminal justice system. We’ve just seen those two tragic examples in both Tulsa and Charlotte.

And we’ve got to do several things at the same time. We have to restore trust between communities and the police. We have to work to make sure that our police are using the best training, the best techniques, that they’re well prepared to use force only when necessary. Everyone should be respected by the law, and everyone should respect the law.

CLINTON: Right now, that’s not the case in a lot of our neighborhoods. So I have, ever since the first day of my campaign, called for criminal justice reform. I’ve laid out a platform that I think would begin to remedy some of the problems we have in the criminal justice system.

But we also have to recognize, in addition to the challenges that we face with policing, there are so many good, brave police officers who equally want reform. So we have to bring communities together in order to begin working on that as a mutual goal. And we’ve got to get guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.

The gun epidemic is the leading cause of death of young African- American men, more than the next nine causes put together. So we have to do two things, as I said. We have to restore trust. We have to work with the police. We have to make sure they respect the communities and the communities respect them. And we have to tackle the plague of gun violence, which is a big contributor to a lot of the problems that we’re seeing today.

HOLT: All right, Mr. Trump, you have two minutes. How do you heal the divide?

TRUMP: Well, first of all, Secretary Clinton doesn’t want to use a couple of words, and that’s law and order. And we need law and order. If we don’t have it, we’re not going to have a country.

And when I look at what’s going on in Charlotte, a city I love, a city where I have investments, when I look at what’s going on throughout various parts of our country, whether it’s — I mean, I can just keep naming them all day long — we need law and order in our country.

I just got today the, as you know, the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police, we just — just came in. We have endorsements from, I think, almost every police group, very — I mean, a large percentage of them in the United States.

We have a situation where we have our inner cities, African- Americans, Hispanics are living in he’ll because it’s so dangerous. You walk down the street, you get shot.

In Chicago, they’ve had thousands of shootings, thousands since January 1st. Thousands of shootings. And I’m saying, where is this? Is this a war-torn country? What are we doing? And we have to stop the violence. We have to bring back law and order. In a place like Chicago, where thousands of people have been killed, thousands over the last number of years, in fact, almost 4,000 have been killed since Barack Obama became president, over — almost 4,000 people in Chicago have been killed. We have to bring back law and order.

Now, whether or not in a place like Chicago you do stop and frisk, which worked very well, Mayor Giuliani is here, worked very well in New York. It brought the crime rate way down. But you take the gun away from criminals that shouldn’t be having it.

We have gangs roaming the street. And in many cases, they’re illegally here, illegal immigrants. And they have guns. And they shoot people. And we have to be very strong. And we have to be very vigilant.

We have to be — we have to know what we’re doing. Right now, our police, in many cases, are afraid to do anything. We have to protect our inner cities, because African-American communities are being decimated by crime, decimated.

HOLT: Your two — your two minutes expired, but I do want to follow up. Stop-and-frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York, because it largely singled out black and Hispanic young men.

TRUMP: No, you’re wrong. It went before a judge, who was a very against-police judge. It was taken away from her. And our mayor, our new mayor, refused to go forward with the case. They would have won an appeal. If you look at it, throughout the country, there are many places where it’s allowed.

HOLT: The argument is that it’s a form of racial profiling.

TRUMP: No, the argument is that we have to take the guns away from these people that have them and they are bad people that shouldn’t have them.

These are felons. These are people that are bad people that shouldn’t be — when you have 3,000 shootings in Chicago from January 1st, when you have 4,000 people killed in Chicago by guns, from the beginning of the presidency of Barack Obama, his hometown, you have to have stop-and-frisk.

You need more police. You need a better community, you know, relation. You don’t have good community relations in Chicago. It’s terrible. I have property there. It’s terrible what’s going on in Chicago.

But when you look — and Chicago’s not the only — you go to Ferguson, you go to so many different places. You need better relationships. I agree with Secretary Clinton on this.

TRUMP: You need better relationships between the communities and the police, because in some cases, it’s not good.

But you look at Dallas, where the relationships were really studied, the relationships were really a beautiful thing, and then five police officers were killed one night very violently. So there’s some bad things going on. Some really bad things.

HOLT: Secretary Clinton…

TRUMP: But we need — Lester, we need law and order. And we need law and order in the inner cities, because the people that are most affected by what’s happening are African-American and Hispanic people. And it’s very unfair to them what our politicians are allowing to happen.

HOLT: Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: Well, I’ve heard — I’ve heard Donald say this at his rallies, and it’s really unfortunate that he paints such a dire negative picture of black communities in our country.

TRUMP: Ugh.

CLINTON: You know, the vibrancy of the black church, the black businesses that employ so many people, the opportunities that so many families are working to provide for their kids. There’s a lot that we should be proud of and we should be supporting and lifting up.

But we do always have to make sure we keep people safe. There are the right ways of doing it, and then there are ways that are ineffective. Stop-and-frisk was found to be unconstitutional and, in part, because it was ineffective. It did not do what it needed to do.

Now, I believe in community policing. And, in fact, violent crime is one-half of what it was in 1991. Property crime is down 40 percent. We just don’t want to see it creep back up. We’ve had 25 years of very good cooperation.

But there were some problems, some unintended consequences. Too many young African-American and Latino men ended up in jail for nonviolent offenses. And it’s just a fact that if you’re a young African-American man and you do the same thing as a young white man, you are more likely to be arrested, charged, convicted, and incarcerated. So we’ve got to address the systemic racism in our criminal justice system. We cannot just say law and order. We have to say — we have to come forward with a plan that is going to divert people from the criminal justice system, deal with mandatory minimum sentences, which have put too many people away for too long for doing too little.

We need to have more second chance programs. I’m glad that we’re ending private prisons in the federal system; I want to see them ended in the state system. You shouldn’t have a profit motivation to fill prison cells with young Americans. So there are some positive ways we can work on this.

And I believe strongly that commonsense gun safety measures would assist us. Right now — and this is something Donald has supported, along with the gun lobby — right now, we’ve got too many military- style weapons on the streets. In a lot of places, our police are outgunned. We need comprehensive background checks, and we need to keep guns out of the hands of those who will do harm.

And we finally need to pass a prohibition on anyone who’s on the terrorist watch list from being able to buy a gun in our country. If you’re too dangerous to fly, you are too dangerous to buy a gun. So there are things we can do, and we ought to do it in a bipartisan way.

HOLT: Secretary Clinton, last week, you said we’ve got to do everything possible to improve policing, to go right at implicit bias. Do you believe that police are implicitly biased against black people?

CLINTON: Lester, I think implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just police.I think, unfortunately, too many of us in our great country jump to conclusions about each other. And therefore, I think we need all of us to be asking hard questions about, you know, why am I feeling this way?

But when it comes to policing, since it can have literally fatal consequences, I have said, in my first budget, we would put money into that budget to help us deal with implicit bias by retraining a lot of our police officers.

I’ve met with a group of very distinguished, experienced police chiefs a few weeks ago. They admit it’s an issue. They’ve got a lot of concerns. Mental health is one of the biggest concerns, because now police are having to handle a lot of really difficult mental health problems on the street.

CLINTON: They want support, they want more training, they want more assistance. And I think the federal government could be in a position where we would offer and provide that.

HOLT: Mr. Trump…

TRUMP: I’d like to respond to that.

HOLT: Please.

TRUMP: First of all, I agree, and a lot of people even within my own party want to give certain rights to people on watch lists and no- fly lists. I agree with you.When a person is on a watch list or a no-fly list, and I have the endorsement of the NRA, which I’m very proud of. These are very, very good people, and they’re protecting the Second Amendment.

But I think we have to look very strongly at no-fly lists and watch lists. And when people are on there, even if they shouldn’t be on there, we’ll help them, we’ll help them legally, we’ll help them get off. But I tend to agree with that quite strongly.

I do want to bring up the fact that you were the one that brought up the words super-predator about young black youth. And that’s a term that I think was a — it’s — it’s been horribly met, as you know. I think you’ve apologized for it. But I think it was a terrible thing to say.

And when it comes to stop-and-frisk, you know, you’re talking about takes guns away. Well, I’m talking about taking guns away from gangs and people that use them. And I don’t think — I really don’t think you disagree with me on this, if you want to know the truth.

I think maybe there’s a political reason why you can’t say it, but I really don’t believe — in New York City, stop-and-frisk, we had 2,200 murders, and stop-and-frisk brought it down to 500 murders. Five hundred murders is a lot of murders. It’s hard to believe, 500 is like supposed to be good?

But we went from 2,200 to 500. And it was continued on by Mayor Bloomberg. And it was terminated by current mayor. But stop-and- frisk had a tremendous impact on the safety of New York City. Tremendous beyond belief. So when you say it has no impact, it really did. It had a very, very big impact.

CLINTON: Well, it’s also fair to say, if we’re going to talk about mayors, that under the current mayor, crime has continued to drop, including murders. So there is…

TRUMP: No, you’re wrong. You’re wrong.

CLINTON: No, I’m not.

TRUMP: Murders are up. All right. You check it.

CLINTON: New York — New York has done an excellent job. And I give credit — I give credit across the board going back two mayors, two police chiefs, because it has worked. And other communities need to come together to do what will work, as well.

Look, one murder is too many. But it is important that we learn about what has been effective. And not go to things that sound good that really did not have the kind of impact that we would want. Who disagrees with keeping neighborhoods safe?

But let’s also add, no one should disagree about respecting the rights of young men who live in those neighborhoods. And so we need to do a better job of working, again, with the communities, faith communities, business communities, as well as the police to try to deal with this problem.

HOLT: This conversation is about race. And so, Mr. Trump, I have to ask you for five…

TRUMP: I’d like to just respond, if I might.

HOLT: Please — 20 seconds.

TRUMP: I’d just like to respond.

HOLT: Please respond, then I’ve got a quick follow-up for you.

TRUMP: I will. Look, the African-American community has been let down by our politicians. They talk good around election time, like right now, and after the election, they said, see ya later, I’ll see you in four years.

The African-American community — because — look, the community within the inner cities has been so badly treated. They’ve been abused and used in order to get votes by Democrat politicians, because that’s what it is. They’ve controlled these communities for up to 100 years.

HOLT: Mr. Trump, let me…

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: Well, I — I do think…

TRUMP: And I will tell you, you look at the inner cities — and I just left Detroit, and I just left Philadelphia, and I just — you know, you’ve seen me, I’ve been all over the place. You decided to stay home, and that’s OK. But I will tell you, I’ve been all over. And I’ve met some of the greatest people I’ll ever meet within these communities. And they are very, very upset with what their politicians have told them and what their politicians have done.

HOLT: Mr. Trump, I…

CLINTON: I think — I think — I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And, yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that’s a good thing.

(APPLAUSE)

HOLT: Mr. Trump, for five years, you perpetuated a false claim that the nation’s first black president was not a natural-born citizen. You questioned his legitimacy. In the last couple of weeks, you acknowledged what most Americans have accepted for years: The president was born in the United States. Can you tell us what took you so long?

TRUMP: I’ll tell you very — well, just very simple to say. Sidney Blumenthal works for the campaign and close — very close friend of Secretary Clinton. And her campaign manager, Patti Doyle, went to — during the campaign, her campaign against President Obama, fought very hard. And you can go look it up, and you can check it out.

TRUMP: And if you look at CNN this past week, Patti Solis Doyle was on Wolf Blitzer saying that this happened. Blumenthal sent McClatchy, highly respected reporter at McClatchy, to Kenya to find out about it. They were pressing it very hard. She failed to get the birth certificate.

When I got involved, I didn’t fail. I got him to give the birth certificate. So I’m satisfied with it. And I’ll tell you why I’m satisfied with it.

HOLT: That was…

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Because I want to get on to defeating ISIS, because I want to get on to creating jobs, because I want to get on to having a strong border, because I want to get on to things that are very important to me and that are very important to the country.

HOLT: I will let you respond. It’s important. But I just want to get the answer here. The birth certificate was produced in 2011. You’ve continued to tell the story and question the president’s legitimacy in 2012, ’13, ’14, ’15…

TRUMP: Yeah.

HOLT: …. as recently as January. So the question is, what changed your mind?

TRUMP: Well, nobody was pressing it, nobody was caring much about it. I figured you’d ask the question tonight, of course. But nobody was caring much about it. But I was the one that got him to produce the birth certificate. And I think I did a good job.

Secretary Clinton also fought it. I mean, you know — now, everybody in mainstream is going to say, oh, that’s not true. Look, it’s true. Sidney Blumenthal sent a reporter — you just have to take a look at CNN, the last week, the interview with your former campaign manager. And she was involved. But just like she can’t bring back jobs, she can’t produce.

HOLT: I’m sorry. I’m just going to follow up — and I will let you respond to that, because there’s a lot there. But we’re talking about racial healing in this segment. What do you say to Americans, people of color who…

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Well, it was very — I say nothing. I say nothing, because I was able to get him to produce it. He should have produced it a long time before. I say nothing.

But let me just tell you. When you talk about healing, I think that I’ve developed very, very good relationships over the last little while with the African-American community. I think you can see that.

And I feel that they really wanted me to come to that conclusion. And I think I did a great job and a great service not only for the country, but even for the president, in getting him to produce his birth certificate.

HOLT: Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: Well, just listen to what you heard.

(LAUGHTER)

And clearly, as Donald just admitted, he knew he was going to stand on this debate stage, and Lester Holt was going to be asking us questions, so he tried to put the whole racist birther lie to bed.

But it can’t be dismissed that easily. He has really started his political activity based on this racist lie that our first black president was not an American citizen. There was absolutely no evidence for it, but he persisted, he persisted year after year, because some of his supporters, people that he was trying to bring into his fold, apparently believed it or wanted to believe it.

But, remember, Donald started his career back in 1973 being sued by the Justice Department for racial discrimination because he would not rent apartments in one of his developments to African-Americans, and he made sure that the people who worked for him understood that was the policy. He actually was sued twice by the Justice Department.

So he has a long record of engaging in racist behavior. And the birther lie was a very hurtful one. You know, Barack Obama is a man of great dignity. And I could tell how much it bothered him and annoyed him that this was being touted and used against him.

But I like to remember what Michelle Obama said in her amazing speech at our Democratic National Convention: When they go low, we go high. And Barack Obama went high, despite Donald Trump’s best efforts to bring him down.

HOLT: Mr. Trump, you can respond and we’re going to move on to the next segment.

TRUMP: I would love to respond. First of all, I got to watch in preparing for this some of your debates against Barack Obama. You treated him with terrible disrespect. And I watched the way you talk now about how lovely everything is and how wonderful you are. It doesn’t work that way. You were after him, you were trying to — you even sent out or your campaign sent out pictures of him in a certain garb, very famous pictures. I don’t think you can deny that.

But just last week, your campaign manager said it was true. So when you tried to act holier than thou, it really doesn’t work. It really doesn’t.

Now, as far as the lawsuit, yes, when I was very young, I went into my father’s company, had a real estate company in Brooklyn and Queens, and we, along with many, many other companies throughout the country — it was a federal lawsuit — were sued. We settled the suit with zero — with no admission of guilt. It was very easy to do.

TRUMP: I notice you bring that up a lot. And, you know, I also notice the very nasty commercials that you do on me in so many different ways, which I don’t do on you. Maybe I’m trying to save the money.

But, frankly, I look — I look at that, and I say, isn’t that amazing? Because I settled that lawsuit with no admission of guilt, but that was a lawsuit brought against many real estate firms, and it’s just one of those things.

I’ll go one step further. In Palm Beach, Florida, tough community, a brilliant community, a wealthy community, probably the wealthiest community there is in the world, I opened a club, and really got great credit for it. No discrimination against African- Americans, against Muslims, against anybody. And it’s a tremendously successful club. And I’m so glad I did it. And I have been given great credit for what I did. And I’m very, very proud of it. And that’s the way I feel. That is the true way I feel.

HOLT: Our next segment is called “Securing America.” We want to start with a 21st century war happening every day in this country. Our institutions are under cyber attack, and our secrets are being stolen. So my question is, who’s behind it? And how do we fight it?

Secretary Clinton, this answer goes to you.

CLINTON: Well, I think cyber security, cyber warfare will be one of the biggest challenges facing the next president, because clearly we’re facing at this point two different kinds of adversaries. There are the independent hacking groups that do it mostly for commercial reasons to try to steal information that they can use to make money.

But increasingly, we are seeing cyber attacks coming from states, organs of states. The most recent and troubling of these has been Russia. There’s no doubt now that Russia has used cyber attacks against all kinds of organizations in our country, and I am deeply concerned about this. I know Donald’s very praiseworthy of Vladimir Putin, but Putin is playing a really…

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: … tough, long game here. And one of the things he’s done is to let loose cyber attackers to hack into government files, to hack into personal files, hack into the Democratic National Committee. And we recently have learned that, you know, that this is one of their preferred methods of trying to wreak havoc and collect information. We need to make it very clear — whether it’s Russia, China, Iran or anybody else — the United States has much greater capacity. And we are not going to sit idly by and permit state actors to go after our information, our private-sector information or our public-sector information.

And we’re going to have to make it clear that we don’t want to use the kinds of tools that we have. We don’t want to engage in a different kind of warfare. But we will defend the citizens of this country.

And the Russians need to understand that. I think they’ve been treating it as almost a probing, how far would we go, how much would we do. And that’s why I was so — I was so shocked when Donald publicly invited Putin to hack into Americans. That is just unacceptable. It’s one of the reasons why 50 national security officials who served in Republican information — in administrations…

HOLT: Your two minutes have expired.

CLINTON: … have said that Donald is unfit to be the commander- in-chief. It’s comments like that that really worry people who understand the threats that we face.

HOLT: Mr. Trump, you have two minutes and the same question. Who’s behind it? And how do we fight it?

TRUMP: I do want to say that I was just endorsed — and more are coming next week — it will be over 200 admirals, many of them here — admirals and generals endorsed me to lead this country. That just happened, and many more are coming. And I’m very proud of it.

In addition, I was just endorsed by ICE. They’ve never endorsed anybody before on immigration. I was just endorsed by ICE. I was just recently endorsed — 16,500 Border Patrol agents.

So when Secretary Clinton talks about this, I mean, I’ll take the admirals and I’ll take the generals any day over the political hacks that I see that have led our country so brilliantly over the last 10 years with their knowledge. OK? Because look at the mess that we’re in. Look at the mess that we’re in.

As far as the cyber, I agree to parts of what Secretary Clinton said. We should be better than anybody else, and perhaps we’re not. I don’t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. She’s saying Russia, Russia, Russia, but I don’t — maybe it was. I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?

TRUMP: You don’t know who broke in to DNC.

But what did we learn with DNC? We learned that Bernie Sanders was taken advantage of by your people, by Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Look what happened to her. But Bernie Sanders was taken advantage of. That’s what we learned.

Now, whether that was Russia, whether that was China, whether it was another country, we don’t know, because the truth is, under President Obama we’ve lost control of things that we used to have control over.

We came in with the Internet, we came up with the Internet, and I think Secretary Clinton and myself would agree very much, when you look at what ISIS is doing with the Internet, they’re beating us at our own game. ISIS.

So we have to get very, very tough on cyber and cyber warfare. It is — it is a huge problem. I have a son. He’s 10 years old. He has computers. He is so good with these computers, it’s unbelievable. The security aspect of cyber is very, very tough. And maybe it’s hardly doable.

But I will say, we are not doing the job we should be doing. But that’s true throughout our whole governmental society. We have so many things that we have to do better, Lester, and certainly cyber is one of them.

HOLT: Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: Well, I think there are a number of issues that we should be addressing. I have put forth a plan to defeat ISIS. It does involve going after them online. I think we need to do much more with our tech companies to prevent ISIS and their operatives from being able to use the Internet to radicalize, even direct people in our country and Europe and elsewhere.

But we also have to intensify our air strikes against ISIS and eventually support our Arab and Kurdish partners to be able to actually take out ISIS in Raqqa, end their claim of being a Caliphate.

We’re making progress. Our military is assisting in Iraq. And we’re hoping that within the year we’ll be able to push ISIS out of Iraq and then, you know, really squeeze them in Syria.

But we have to be cognizant of the fact that they’ve had foreign fighters coming to volunteer for them, foreign money, foreign weapons, so we have to make this the top priority.

And I would also do everything possible to take out their leadership. I was involved in a number of efforts to take out Al Qaida leadership when I was secretary of state, including, of course, taking out bin Laden. And I think we need to go after Baghdadi, as well, make that one of our organizing principles. Because we’ve got to defeat ISIS, and we’ve got to do everything we can to disrupt their propaganda efforts online.

HOLT: You mention ISIS, and we think of ISIS certainly as over there, but there are American citizens who have been inspired to commit acts of terror on American soil, the latest incident, of course, the bombings we just saw in New York and New Jersey, the knife attack at a mall in Minnesota, in the last year, deadly attacks in San Bernardino and Orlando. I’ll ask this to both of you. Tell us specifically how you would prevent homegrown attacks by American citizens, Mr. Trump?

TRUMP: Well, first I have to say one thing, very important. Secretary Clinton is talking about taking out ISIS. “We will take out ISIS.” Well, President Obama and Secretary Clinton created a vacuum the way they got out of Iraq, because they got out — what, they shouldn’t have been in, but once they got in, the way they got out was a disaster. And ISIS was formed.

So she talks about taking them out. She’s been doing it a long time. She’s been trying to take them out for a long time. But they wouldn’t have even been formed if they left some troops behind, like 10,000 or maybe something more than that. And then you wouldn’t have had them.

Or, as I’ve been saying for a long time, and I think you’ll agree, because I said it to you once, had we taken the oil — and we should have taken the oil — ISIS would not have been able to form either, because the oil was their primary source of income. And now they have the oil all over the place, including the oil — a lot of the oil in Libya, which was another one of her disasters.

HOLT: Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: Well, I hope the fact-checkers are turning up the volume and really working hard. Donald supported the invasion of Iraq.

TRUMP: Wrong.

CLINTON: That is absolutely proved over and over again.

TRUMP: Wrong. Wrong.

CLINTON: He actually advocated for the actions we took in Libya and urged that Gadhafi be taken out, after actually doing some business with him one time.

CLINTON: But the larger point — and he says this constantly — is George W. Bush made the agreement about when American troops would leave Iraq, not Barack Obama.

And the only way that American troops could have stayed in Iraq is to get an agreement from the then-Iraqi government that would have protected our troops, and the Iraqi government would not give that.

But let’s talk about the question you asked, Lester. The question you asked is, what do we do here in the United States? That’s the most important part of this. How do we prevent attacks? How do we protect our people?

And I think we’ve got to have an intelligence surge, where we are looking for every scrap of information. I was so proud of law enforcement in New York, in Minnesota, in New Jersey. You know, they responded so quickly, so professionally to the attacks that occurred by Rahami. And they brought him down. And we may find out more information because he is still alive, which may prove to be an intelligence benefit.

So we’ve got to do everything we can to vacuum up intelligence from Europe, from the Middle East. That means we’ve got to work more closely with our allies, and that’s something that Donald has been very dismissive of.

We’re working with NATO, the longest military alliance in the history of the world, to really turn our attention to terrorism. We’re working with our friends in the Middle East, many of which, as you know, are Muslim majority nations. Donald has consistently insulted Muslims abroad, Muslims at home, when we need to be cooperating with Muslim nations and with the American Muslim community.

They’re on the front lines. They can provide information to us that we might not get anywhere else. They need to have close working cooperation with law enforcement in these communities, not be alienated and pushed away as some of Donald’s rhetoric, unfortunately, has led to.

HOLT: Mr. Trump…

TRUMP: Well, I have to respond.

HOLT: Please respond.

TRUMP: The secretary said very strongly about working with — we’ve been working with them for many years, and we have the greatest mess anyone’s ever seen. You look at the Middle East, it’s a total mess. Under your direction, to a large extent.

But you look at the Middle East, you started the Iran deal, that’s another beauty where you have a country that was ready to fall, I mean, they were doing so badly. They were choking on the sanctions. And now they’re going to be actually probably a major power at some point pretty soon, the way they’re going.

But when you look at NATO, I was asked on a major show, what do you think of NATO? And you have to understand, I’m a businessperson. I did really well. But I have common sense. And I said, well, I’ll tell you. I haven’t given lots of thought to NATO. But two things.

Number one, the 28 countries of NATO, many of them aren’t paying their fair share. Number two — and that bothers me, because we should be asking — we’re defending them, and they should at least be paying us what they’re supposed to be paying by treaty and contract.

And, number two, I said, and very strongly, NATO could be obsolete, because — and I was very strong on this, and it was actually covered very accurately in the New York Times, which is unusual for the New York Times, to be honest — but I said, they do not focus on terror. And I was very strong. And I said it numerous times.

And about four months ago, I read on the front page of the Wall Street Journal that NATO is opening up a major terror division. And I think that’s great. And I think we should get — because we pay approximately 73 percent of the cost of NATO. It’s a lot of money to protect other people. But I’m all for NATO. But I said they have to focus on terror, also.

And they’re going to do that. And that was — believe me — I’m sure I’m not going to get credit for it — but that was largely because of what I was saying and my criticism of NATO.

I think we have to get NATO to go into the Middle East with us, in addition to surrounding nations, and we have to knock the hell out of ISIS, and we have to do it fast, when ISIS formed in this vacuum created by Barack Obama and Secretary Clinton. And believe me, you were the ones that took out the troops. Not only that, you named the day. They couldn’t believe it. They sat back probably and said, I can’t believe it. They said…

CLINTON: Lester, we’ve covered…

TRUMP: No, wait a minute.

CLINTON: We’ve covered this ground.

TRUMP: When they formed, when they formed, this is something that never should have happened. It should have never happened. Now, you’re talking about taking out ISIS. But you were there, and you were secretary of state when it was a little infant. Now it’s in over 30 countries. And you’re going to stop them? I don’t think so.

HOLT: Mr. Trump, a lot of these are judgment questions. You had supported the war in Iraq before the invasion. What makes your…

TRUMP: I did not support the war in Iraq.

HOLT: In 2002…

TRUMP: That is a mainstream media nonsense put out by her, because she — frankly, I think the best person in her campaign is mainstream media.

HOLT: My question is, since you supported it…

TRUMP: Just — would you like to hear…

HOLT: … why is your — why is your judgment…

TRUMP: Wait a minute. I was against the war in Iraq. Just so you put it out.

HOLT: The record shows otherwise, but why — why was…

TRUMP: The record does not show that.

HOLT: Why was — is your judgment any…

TRUMP: The record shows that I’m right. When I did an interview with Howard Stern, very lightly, first time anyone’s asked me that, I said, very lightly, I don’t know, maybe, who knows? Essentially. I then did an interview with Neil Cavuto. We talked about the economy is more important. I then spoke to Sean Hannity, which everybody refuses to call Sean Hannity. I had numerous conversations with Sean Hannity at Fox. And Sean Hannity said — and he called me the other day — and I spoke to him about it — he said you were totally against the war, because he was for the war.

HOLT: Why is your judgment better than…

TRUMP: And when he — excuse me. And that was before the war started. Sean Hannity said very strongly to me and other people — he’s willing to say it, but nobody wants to call him. I was against the war. He said, you used to have fights with me, because Sean was in favor of the war.

And I understand that side, also, not very much, because we should have never been there. But nobody called Sean Hannity. And then they did an article in a major magazine, shortly after the war started. I think in ’04. But they did an article which had me totally against the war in Iraq.

And one of your compatriots said, you know, whether it was before or right after, Trump was definitely — because if you read this article, there’s no doubt. But if somebody — and I’ll ask the press — if somebody would call up Sean Hannity, this was before the war started. He and I used to have arguments about the war. I said, it’s a terrible and a stupid thing. It’s going to destabilize the Middle East. And that’s exactly what it’s done. It’s been a disaster.

HOLT: My reference was to what you had said in 2002, and my question was…

TRUMP: No, no. You didn’t hear what I said.

HOLT: Why is your judgment — why is your judgment any different than Mrs. Clinton’s judgment?

TRUMP: Well, I have much better judgment than she does. There’s no question about that. I also have a much better temperament than she has, you know?

(LAUGHTER)

I have a much better — she spent — let me tell you — she spent hundreds of millions of dollars on an advertising — you know, they get Madison Avenue into a room, they put names — oh, temperament, let’s go after — I think my strongest asset, maybe by far, is my temperament. I have a winning temperament. I know how to win. She does not have a…

HOLT: Secretary Clinton?

TRUMP: Wait. The AFL-CIO the other day, behind the blue screen, I don’t know who you were talking to, Secretary Clinton, but you were totally out of control. I said, there’s a person with a temperament that’s got a problem.

HOLT: Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: Whew, OK.

(LAUGHTER)

Let’s talk about two important issues that were briefly mentioned by Donald, first, NATO. You know, NATO as a military alliance has something called Article 5, and basically it says this: An attack on one is an attack on all. And you know the only time it’s ever been invoked? After 9/11, when the 28 nations of NATO said that they would go to Afghanistan with us to fight terrorism, something that they still are doing by our side.

With respect to Iran, when I became secretary of state, Iran was weeks away from having enough nuclear material to form a bomb. They had mastered the nuclear fuel cycle under the Bush administration. They had built covert facilities. They had stocked them with centrifuges that were whirling away.

And we had sanctioned them. I voted for every sanction against Iran when I was in the Senate, but it wasn’t enough. So I spent a year-and-a-half putting together a coalition that included Russia and China to impose the toughest sanctions on Iran.

And we did drive them to the negotiating table. And my successor, John Kerry, and President Obama got a deal that put a lid on Iran’s nuclear program without firing a single shot. That’s diplomacy. That’s coalition-building. That’s working with other nations.

The other day, I saw Donald saying that there were some Iranian sailors on a ship in the waters off of Iran, and they were taunting American sailors who were on a nearby ship. He said, you know, if they taunted our sailors, I’d blow them out of the water and start another war. That’s not good judgment.

TRUMP: That would not start a war.

CLINTON: That is not the right temperament to be commander-in- chief, to be taunted. And the worst part…

TRUMP: No, they were taunting us.

CLINTON: … of what we heard Donald say has been about nuclear weapons. He has said repeatedly that he didn’t care if other nations got nuclear weapons, Japan, South Korea, even Saudi Arabia. It has been the policy of the United States, Democrats and Republicans, to do everything we could to reduce the proliferation of nuclear weapons. He even said, well, you know, if there were nuclear war in East Asia, well, you know, that’s fine…

TRUMP: Wrong.

CLINTON: … have a good time, folks.

TRUMP: It’s lies.

CLINTON: And, in fact, his cavalier attitude about nuclear weapons is so deeply troubling. That is the number-one threat we face in the world. And it becomes particularly threatening if terrorists ever get their hands on any nuclear material.So a man who can be provoked by a tweet should not have his fingers anywhere near the nuclear codes, as far as I think anyone with any sense about this should be concerned.

TRUMP: That line’s getting a little bit old, I must say. I would like to…

CLINTON: It’s a good one, though. It well describes the problem.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: It’s not an accurate one at all. It’s not an accurate one. So I just want to give a lot of things — and just to respond. I agree with her on one thing. The single greatest problem the world has is nuclear armament, nuclear weapons, not global warming, like you think and your — your president thinks.

Nuclear is the single greatest threat. Just to go down the list, we defend Japan, we defend Germany, we defend South Korea, we defend Saudi Arabia, we defend countries. They do not pay us. But they should be paying us, because we are providing tremendous service and we’re losing a fortune. That’s why we’re losing — we’re losing — we lose on everything. I say, who makes these — we lose on everything. All I said, that it’s very possible that if they don’t pay a fair share, because this isn’t 40 years ago where we could do what we’re doing. We can’t defend Japan, a behemoth, selling us cars by the million…

HOLT: We need to move on.

TRUMP: Well, wait, but it’s very important. All I said was, they may have to defend themselves or they have to help us out. We’re a country that owes $20 trillion. They have to help us out.

HOLT: Our last…

TRUMP: As far as the nuclear is concerned, I agree. It is the single greatest threat that this country has.

HOLT: Which leads to my next question, as we enter our last segment here (inaudible) the subject of securing America. On nuclear weapons, President Obama reportedly considered changing the nation’s longstanding policy on first use. Do you support the current policy? Mr. Trump, you have two minutes on that.

TRUMP: Well, I have to say that, you know, for what Secretary Clinton was saying about nuclear with Russia, she’s very cavalier in the way she talks about various countries. But Russia has been expanding their — they have a much newer capability than we do. We have not been updating from the new standpoint.

I looked the other night. I was seeing B-52s, they’re old enough that your father, your grandfather could be flying them. We are not — we are not keeping up with other countries. I would like everybody to end it, just get rid of it. But I would certainly not do first strike.

I think that once the nuclear alternative happens, it’s over. At the same time, we have to be prepared. I can’t take anything off the table. Because you look at some of these countries, you look at North Korea, we’re doing nothing there. China should solve that problem for us. China should go into North Korea. China is totally powerful as it relates to North Korea.

And by the way, another one powerful is the worst deal I think I’ve ever seen negotiated that you started is the Iran deal. Iran is one of their biggest trading partners. Iran has power over North Korea.

And when they made that horrible deal with Iran, they should have included the fact that they do something with respect to North Korea. And they should have done something with respect to Yemen and all these other places.

And when asked to Secretary Kerry, why didn’t you do that? Why didn’t you add other things into the deal? One of the great giveaways of all time, of all time, including $400 million in cash. Nobody’s ever seen that before. That turned out to be wrong. It was actually $1.7 billion in cash, obviously, I guess for the hostages. It certainly looks that way.

So you say to yourself, why didn’t they make the right deal? This is one of the worst deals ever made by any country in history. The deal with Iran will lead to nuclear problems. All they have to do is sit back 10 years, and they don’t have to do much.

HOLT: Your two minutes is expired.

TRUMP: And they’re going to end up getting nuclear. I met with Bibi Netanyahu the other day. Believe me, he’s not a happy camper.

HOLT: All right. Mrs. Clinton, Secretary Clinton, you have two minutes.

CLINTON: Well, let me — let me start by saying, words matter. Words matter when you run for president. And they really matter when you are president. And I want to reassure our allies in Japan and South Korea and elsewhere that we have mutual defense treaties and we will honor them.

It is essential that America’s word be good. And so I know that this campaign has caused some questioning and worries on the part of many leaders across the globe. I’ve talked with a number of them. But I want to — on behalf of myself, and I think on behalf of a majority of the American people, say that, you know, our word is good.

It’s also important that we look at the entire global situation. There’s no doubt that we have other problems with Iran. But personally, I’d rather deal with the other problems having put that lid on their nuclear program than still to be facing that.

And Donald never tells you what he would do. Would he have started a war? Would he have bombed Iran? If he’s going to criticize a deal that has been very successful in giving us access to Iranian facilities that we never had before, then he should tell us what his alternative would be. But it’s like his plan to defeat ISIS. He says it’s a secret plan, but the only secret is that he has no plan.

So we need to be more precise in how we talk about these issues. People around the word follow our presidential campaigns so closely, trying to get hints about what we will do. Can they rely on us? Are we going to lead the world with strength and in accordance with our values? That’s what I intend to do. I intend to be a leader of our country that people can count on, both here at home and around the world, to make decisions that will further peace and prosperity, but also stand up to bullies, whether they’re abroad or at home.

We cannot let those who would try to destabilize the world to interfere with American interests and security…

HOLT: Your two minutes is…

CLINTON: … to be given any opportunities at all.

HOLT: … is expired.

TRUMP: Lester, one thing I’d like to say.

HOLT: Very quickly. Twenty seconds.

TRUMP: I will go very quickly. But I will tell you that Hillary will tell you to go to her website and read all about how to defeat ISIS, which she could have defeated by never having it, you know, get going in the first place. Right now, it’s getting tougher and tougher to defeat them, because they’re in more and more places, more and more states, more and more nations.

HOLT: Mr. Trump…

TRUMP: And it’s a big problem. And as far as Japan is concerned, I want to help all of our allies, but we are losing billions and billions of dollars. We cannot be the policemen of the world. We cannot protect countries all over the world…

HOLT: We have just…

TRUMP: … where they’re not paying us what we need.

HOLT: We have just a few final questions…

TRUMP: And she doesn’t say that, because she’s got no business ability. We need heart. We need a lot of things. But you have to have some basic ability. And sadly, she doesn’t have that. All of the things that she’s talking about could have been taken care of during the last 10 years, let’s say, while she had great power. But they weren’t taken care of. And if she ever wins this race, they won’t be taken care of.

HOLT: Mr. Trump, this year Secretary Clinton became the first woman nominated for president by a major party. Earlier this month, you said she doesn’t have, quote, “a presidential look.” She’s standing here right now. What did you mean by that?

TRUMP: She doesn’t have the look. She doesn’t have the stamina. I said she doesn’t have the stamina. And I don’t believe she does have the stamina. To be president of this country, you need tremendous stamina.

HOLT: The quote was, “I just don’t think she has the presidential look.”

TRUMP: You have — wait a minute. Wait a minute, Lester. You asked me a question. Did you ask me a question?

You have to be able to negotiate our trade deals. You have to be able to negotiate, that’s right, with Japan, with Saudi Arabia. I mean, can you imagine, we’re defending Saudi Arabia? And with all of the money they have, we’re defending them, and they’re not paying? All you have to do is speak to them. Wait. You have so many different things you have to be able to do, and I don’t believe that Hillary has the stamina.

HOLT: Let’s let her respond. CLINTON: Well, as soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a cease-fire, a release of dissidents, an opening of new opportunities in nations around the world, or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: The world — let me tell you. Let me tell you. Hillary has experience, but it’s bad experience. We have made so many bad deals during the last — so she’s got experience, that I agree.

(APPLAUSE)

But it’s bad, bad experience. Whether it’s the Iran deal that you’re so in love with, where we gave them $150 billion back, whether it’s the Iran deal, whether it’s anything you can — name — you almost can’t name a good deal. I agree. She’s got experience, but it’s bad experience. And this country can’t afford to have another four years of that kind of experience.

HOLT: We are at — we are at the final question.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Well, one thing. One thing, Lester.

HOLT: Very quickly, because we’re at the final question now.

CLINTON: You know, he tried to switch from looks to stamina. But this is a man who has called women pigs, slobs and dogs, and someone who has said pregnancy is an inconvenience to employers, who has said…

TRUMP: I never said that.

CLINTON: …. women don’t deserve equal pay unless they do as good a job as men.

TRUMP: I didn’t say that.

CLINTON: And one of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest. He loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them. And he called this woman “Miss Piggy.” Then he called her “Miss Housekeeping,” because she was Latina. Donald, she has a name.

TRUMP: Where did you find this? Where did you find this?

CLINTON: Her name is Alicia Machado.

TRUMP: Where did you find this?

CLINTON: And she has become a U.S. citizen, and you can bet…

TRUMP: Oh, really? CLINTON: … she’s going to vote this November.

TRUMP: OK, good. Let me just tell you…

(APPLAUSE)

HOLT: Mr. Trump, could we just take 10 seconds and then we ask the final question…

TRUMP: You know, Hillary is hitting me with tremendous commercials. Some of it’s said in entertainment. Some of it’s said — somebody who’s been very vicious to me, Rosie O’Donnell, I said very tough things to her, and I think everybody would agree that she deserves it and nobody feels sorry for her.

But you want to know the truth? I was going to say something…

HOLT: Please very quickly.

TRUMP: … extremely rough to Hillary, to her family, and I said to myself, “I can’t do it. I just can’t do it. It’s inappropriate. It’s not nice.” But she spent hundreds of millions of dollars on negative ads on me, many of which are absolutely untrue. They’re untrue. And they’re misrepresentations.

And I will tell you this, Lester: It’s not nice. And I don’t deserve that.

But it’s certainly not a nice thing that she’s done. It’s hundreds of millions of ads. And the only gratifying thing is, I saw the polls come in today, and with all of that money…

HOLT: We have to move on to the final question.

TRUMP: … $200 million is spent, and I’m either winning or tied, and I’ve spent practically nothing.

(APPLAUSE)

HOLT: One of you will not win this election. So my final question to you tonight, are you willing to accept the outcome as the will of the voters? Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: Well, I support our democracy. And sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But I certainly will support the outcome of this election.

And I know Donald’s trying very hard to plant doubts about it, but I hope the people out there understand: This election’s really up to you. It’s not about us so much as it is about you and your families and the kind of country and future you want. So I sure hope you will get out and vote as though your future depended on it, because I think it does.

HOLT: Mr. Trump, very quickly, same question. Will you accept the outcome as the will of the voters? TRUMP: I want to make America great again. We are a nation that is seriously troubled. We’re losing our jobs. People are pouring into our country.

The other day, we were deporting 800 people. And perhaps they passed the wrong button, they pressed the wrong button, or perhaps worse than that, it was corruption, but these people that we were going to deport for good reason ended up becoming citizens. Ended up becoming citizens. And it was 800. And now it turns out it might be 1,800, and they don’t even know.

HOLT: Will you accept the outcome of the election?

TRUMP: Look, here’s the story. I want to make America great again. I’m going to be able to do it. I don’t believe Hillary will. The answer is, if she wins, I will absolutely support her.

(APPLAUSE)

HOLT: All right. Well, that is going to do it for us. That concludes our debate for this evening, a spirit one. We covered a lot of ground, not everything as I suspected we would.

The next presidential debates are scheduled for October 9th at Washington University in St. Louis and October 19th at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. The conversation will continue.

A reminder. The vice presidential debate is scheduled for October 4th at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. My thanks to Hillary Clinton and to Donald Trump and to Hofstra University for hosting us tonight. Good night, everyone.

Campaign Buzz 2016 September 23, 2015: 2016 General Election Debates’ dates and locations announced

ELECTION 2016

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2016

Commission On Presidential Debates announces sites and dates for 2016 general election debates

Source: Debates.org, 9-23-15

First presidential debate: Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio

Vice presidential debate: Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016, at Longwood University in Farmville, Va.

Second presidential debate: Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, at Washington University in St. Louis

Third presidential debate: Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas

October 22, 2012: Third Presidential Debate at Lynn University Boca Raton, Florida Transcript

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & ELECTIONS

2012 PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES

Presidential Debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida
October 22, 2012

BOB SCHIEFFER, MODERATOR: 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. (Applause.)

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 happened?

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

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 events.

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 advantage of.

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 societies.

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 East.

It’s wonderful that Libya seems to be making some progress, despite this terrible tragedy. But next door, of course, we have Egypt — Libya 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 forces agreement?

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 Iraq.

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 muddle.

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 remove Assad.

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 that?

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 ago.

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 that unravels.

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

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 budget.

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

And then of course, with regards to standing for our principles, when 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 cutting edge.

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 simple steps.

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, language opportunities.

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

And the kinds of budget proposals that you’ve put forward, when we don’t ask either you or me to pay a dime more in terms of reducing the deficit, but instead we slash support for education, that’s undermining our long-term competitiveness. That is not good for America’s position in the world — and the world notices.

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

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, Bob —

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 into office.

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 learning.

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 debt?

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 put forward.

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

But when it comes to our military, what we have to think about is not 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 power overseas.

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 budget.

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 work.

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.

Mr. President.

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 presidency.

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

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 table.

The disagreement I have with Governor Romney is that during the course of this campaign, he’s often talked as if we should take premature military action. I think that would be a mistake, because when I’ve sent young men and women into harm’s way, I always understand that that is the last 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 one.

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?

Mr. President.

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 welcome that.

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 meticulous.

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

There is a deal to be had, and that is that they abide by the rules that have already been established; they convince the international community they are not pursuing a nuclear program; there are inspections that are very intrusive, but over time what they can do is regain credibility.

In the meantime, though, we’re not going to let up the pressure until we have clear evidence that that takes place.

And one last thing, 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 is ticking.

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 weapon.

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 us.

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

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 crippling sanctions.

And with respect to our attitude about the Iranian Revolution, I was very clear about the murderous activities that had taken place and that was contrary to international law and everything that civilized people stand for. And 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 one.

Number two, Mr. President, the reason I call it an apology tour is because you went to the Middle East and you flew to 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 unbreakable.

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 after Qaddafi.

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 decisions.

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

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 program there.

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 office.

So those are the kinds of things that we can now do because we’re making that transition in Afghanistan.

MR. SCHIEFFER: All right, let me go to Governor Romney, because you talked about Pakistan and what needs to be done there. General Allen, our commander in Afghanistan, says that Americans continue to die at the hands of groups who are supported by Pakistan. We know that Pakistan has arrested the doctor who helped us catch Obama — 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 of drones?

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 demands.

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 years ago.

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

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 America.

I have to say that Governor Romney criticized me for being too tough in that tire case; said this wouldn’t be good for American workers and that it would 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 responsible.

Now, they look at us and say, is it a good idea to be with America? How strong are we going to be? How strong is our economy? They look at the fact that we owe them a trillion dollars and owe other people $16 trillion 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 unfair basis.

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 future.

And we believe China can be a partner, but we’re also sending a very clear signal that America is a Pacific power, that we are going to have a presence there. We are working with countries in the region to make sure, for example, that ships can pass through, that commerce continues. And we’re organizing trade relations with countries other than China so that China starts feeling more pressure about meeting basic international standards. That’s the kind of leadership we’ve shown in the region. That’s the kind of leadership that we’ll continue to show.

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 company —

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 someone else’s.

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 competitive.

Those are the kinds of choices that the American people face right now. Having a tax code that rewards companies that are shipping jobs overseas instead of companies that are investing here in the United States — that will not make us more competitive. And 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 hard.

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 hiring teachers.

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 teachers.

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.

October 16, 2012: Second Presidential Debate at Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York Transcript

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & ELECTIONS

2012 PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES

Presidential Debate in Hempstead, New York
October 16, 2012

Candy Crowley. Good evening from Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. I’m Candy Crowley from CNN “State of the Union.”We are here for the second Presidential Debate, a town hall sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. The Gallup organization chose 82 uncommitted voters from the New York area. Their questions will drive the night. My goal is to give the conversation direction and to ensure questions get answered.

The questions are known to me and my team only. Neither the commission, nor the candidates have seen them. I hope to get to as many questions as possible, and because I am the optimistic sort, I’m sure the candidates will oblige by keeping their answers concise and on point.

Each candidate has as much as 2 minutes to respond to a common question, and there will be a 2-minute follow-up. The audience here in the hall has agreed to be polite and attentive; no cheering, no booing, or outbursts of any sort.

We will set aside that agreement just this once to welcome President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney.

Gentlemen, thank you both for joining us here tonight. We have a lot of folks who have been waiting all day to talk to you, so I want to get right to it.

Governor Romney, as you know, you won the coin toss, so the first question will go to you. And I want to turn to a first-time voter, Jeremy Epstein, who has a question for you.

Education/College Affordability/Job Creation and Growth

Q. Mr. President, Governor Romney, as a 20-year-old college student, all I hear from professors, neighbors, and others is that when I graduate, I’ll have little chance to get employment. What can you say to reassure me, but more importantly, my parents, that I will be able to sufficiently support myself after I graduate?

Republican Presidential Nominee W. Mitt Romney. Thank you, Jeremy. I appreciate your question. And thank you for being here this evening. And to all of those from Nassau County here that have come, thank you for your time. Thank you to Hofstra University and to Candy Crowley for organizing and leading this event.

Thank you, Mr. President, also for being part of this debate.

Your question is one that’s being asked by college kids all over this country. I was in Pennsylvania with someone who had just graduated. This was in Philadelphia, and she said: “I’ve got my degree, I can’t find a job. I’ve got three part-time jobs; they’re just barely enough to pay for my food and pay for an apartment. I can’t begin to pay back my student loans.”

So what we have to do is two things. We have to make sure that we make it easier for kids to afford college and also make sure that when they get out of college there’s a job. When I was Governor of Massachusetts, to get a high school degree you had to pass an exam. If you graduated in the top quarter of your class, we gave you a John and Abigail Adams Scholarship: 4 years tuition free to the college of your choice in Massachusetts; it’s a public institution.

I want to make sure we keep our Pell grant program growing. We’re also going to have our loan program so that people are able to afford school. But the key thing is to make sure you can get a job when you get out of school. And what’s happened over the last 4 years has been very, very hard for America’s young people.

I want you to be able to get a job. I know what it takes to get this economy going. With half of college kids graduating this year without a college—excuse me—without a job and without a college-level job, that’s just unacceptable. And likewise, you got more and more debt on your back. So more debt and less jobs. I’m going to change that. I know what it takes to create good jobs again. I know what it takes to make sure that you have the kind of opportunity you deserve.

And kids across this country are going to recognize we’re bringing back an economy. It’s not going to be like the last 4 years. The middle class has been crushed over the last 4 years, and jobs have been too scarce. I know what it takes to bring them back, and I’m going to do that and make sure when you graduate—when do you graduate?

Q. 2014.

Gov. Romney. 2014. When you come out in 2014, I presume I’m going to be President; I’m going to make sure you get a job. Thanks, Jeremy.

Q. Thank you.

Gov. Romney. Yes, you bet.

Ms. Crowley. Mr. President.

Job Creation and Growth/Education/Domestic Energy Sources/Deficit and National Debt

The President. Jeremy, first of all, your future is bright. And the fact that you’re making an investment in higher education is critical not just to you, but to the entire Nation. Now, the most important thing we can do is to make sure that we are creating jobs in this country, but not just jobs, good-paying jobs, ones that can support a family.

And what I want to do is build on the 5 million jobs that we’ve created over the last 30 months in the private sector alone. And there are a bunch of things that we can do to make sure your future is bright.

Number one: I want to build manufacturing jobs in this country again. When Governor Romney said we should let Detroit go bankrupt, I said, we’re going to bet on American workers and the American auto industry, and it’s come surging back. I want to do that in industries not just in Detroit, but all across the country. And that means we change our Tax Code so we’re giving incentives to companies that are investing here in the United States and creating jobs here. It also means we’re helping them and small businesses to export all around the world to new markets.

Number two: We’ve got to make sure that we have the best education system in the world. And the fact that you’re going to college is great, but I want everybody to get a great education. And we’ve worked hard to make sure that student loans are available for folks like you. But I also want to make sure that community colleges are offering slots for workers to get retrained for the jobs that are out there right now and the jobs of the future.

Number three: We’ve got to control our own energy. Not only oil and natural gas, which we’ve been investing in, but also we’ve got to make sure we’re building the energy sources of the future, not just thinking about next year, but 10 years from now, 20 years from now. That’s why we’ve invested in solar and wind and biofuels, energy-efficient cars.

We’ve got to reduce our deficit, but we’ve got to do it in a balanced way, asking the wealthy to pay a little bit more along with cuts so that we can invest in education like yours. And let’s take the money that we’ve been spending on war over the last decade to rebuild America: roads, bridges, schools. We do those things, not only is your future going to be bright, but America’s future is going to be bright as well.

Job Losses/Job Creation and Growth/Automobile Industry

Ms. Crowley. Let me ask you for a more immediate answer, beginning with Mr. Romney. Just quickly, what can you do? We’re looking at a situation where 40 percent of the unemployed have been unemployed for 6 months or more. They don’t have the 2 years that Jeremy has. What about those long-term unemployed who need a job right now?

Gov. Romney. Well, what you’re seeing in this country is 23 million people struggling to find a job and a lot of them, as you say, Candy, have been out of work for a long, long, long time. The President’s policies have been exercised over the last 4 years, and they haven’t put Americans back to work. We have fewer people working today than we had when the President took office. If the—the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent when he took office; it’s 7.8 percent now. But if you calculated that unemployment rate taking back the people who dropped out of the workforce, it would be 10.7 percent.

We have not made the progress we need to make to put people back to work. That’s why I put out a five-point plan that gets America 12 million new jobs in 4 years and rising take-home pay. It’s going to help Jeremy get a job when he comes out of school. It’s going to help people across the country that are unemployed right now.

And one thing that the President said, which I want to make sure that we understand: He said that I said we should take Detroit bankrupt. And that’s right. My plan was to have the company go through bankruptcy like 7-Eleven did and Macy’s and Continental Airlines and come out stronger. And I know he keeps saying, you wanted to take Detroit bankrupt. Well, the President took Detroit bankrupt. You took General Motors bankrupt. You took Chrysler bankrupt. So when you say that I wanted to take the auto industry bankrupt, you actually did.

And I think it’s important to know that that was a process that was necessary to get those companies back on their feet so they could start hiring more people. That was precisely what I recommended and ultimately what happened.

Automobile Industry/Governor Romney’s Economic Platform

Ms. Crowley. Let me give the President a chance. Go ahead.

The President. Candy, what Governor Romney said just isn’t true. He wanted to take them into bankruptcy without providing them any way to stay open, and we would have lost a million jobs. And that—don’t take my word for it. Take the executives at GM and Chrysler, some of whom are Republicans, may even support Governor Romney, but they’ll tell you his prescription wasn’t going to work.

And Governor Romney says he’s got a five-point plan. Governor Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan; he has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules. That’s been his philosophy in the private sector. That’s been his philosophy as Governor. That’s been his philosophy as a Presidential candidate. You can make a lot of money and pay lower tax rates than somebody who makes a lot less. You can ship jobs overseas and get tax breaks for it. You can invest in a company, bankrupt it, lay off the workers, strip away their pensions, and you still make money.

That’s exactly the philosophy that we’ve seen in place for the last decade. That’s what’s been squeezing middle class families. And we have fought back for 4 years to get out of that mess. The last thing we need to do is to go back to the very same policies that got us there.

Ms. Crowley. Mr. President, the next question is going to be for you here. And Mr. Romney—Governor Romney, there’ll be plenty of chances here to go on, but I want to——

Gov. Romney. That Detroit answer——

Ms. Crowley. ——we have all these folks—I will let you absolutely——

Gov. Romney. ——that Detroit answer and the rest of the answer, way off the mark.

Ms. Crowley. Okay. We’ll—you certainly will have lots of time here coming up, because I want to move you on to something that’s sort of connected to cars here and go over—and we want to get a question from Phillip Tricolla.

Domestic Energy Sources/Alternative Energy Sources

Q. Your Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, has now been on record three times stating it’s not policy of his Department to help lower gas prices. Do you agree with Secretary Chu that this is not the job of the Energy Department?

The President. The most important thing we can do is to make sure we control our own energy. So here’s what I’ve done since I’ve been President. We have increased oil production to the highest levels in 16 years. Natural gas production is the highest it’s been in decades. We have seen increases in coal production and coal employment.

But what I’ve also said is we can’t just produce traditional sources of energy. We’ve also got to look to the future. That’s why we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars. That means that in the middle of the next decade, any car you buy, you’re going to end up going twice as far on a gallon of gas. That’s why we’ve doubled clean energy production like wind and solar and biofuels.

And all these things have contributed to us lowering our oil imports to the lowest levels in 16 years. Now, I want to build on that. And that means, yes, we still continue to open up new areas for drilling. We continue to make it a priority for us to go after natural gas. We’ve got potentially 600,000 jobs and a hundred years’ worth of energy right beneath our feet with natural gas. And we can do it in an environmentally sound way.

But we’ve also got to continue to figure out how we have efficient energy, because ultimately, that’s how we’re going to reduce demand and that’s what’s going to keep gas prices lower.

Now, Governor Romney will say he’s got an all-of-the-above plan. But basically, his plan is to let the oil companies write the energy policies. So he’s got the oil and gas part, but he doesn’t have the clean energy part.

And if we’re only thinking about tomorrow or the next day, and not thinking about 10 years from now, we’re not going to control our own economic future. Because China, Germany, they’re making these investments. And I’m not going to cede those jobs of the future to those countries. I expect those new energy sources to be built right here in the United States. That’s going to help Jeremy get a job. It’s also going to make sure that you’re not paying as much for gas.

Oil and Gas Production on Public Land/Domestic Energy Sources

Ms. Crowley. Governor, on the subject of gas prices?

Gov. Romney. Well, let’s look at the President’s policies, all right, as opposed to the rhetoric, because we’ve had 4 years of policies being played out. And the President’s right in terms of the additional oil production, but none of it came on Federal land.

As a matter of fact, oil production is down 14 percent this year on Federal land, and gas production is down 9 percent. Why? Because the President cut in half the number of licenses and permits for drilling on Federal lands and in Federal waters. So where did the increase come from? Well, a lot of it came from the Bakken range in North Dakota. What was his participation there? The administration brought a criminal action against the people drilling up there for oil, this massive new resource we have. And what was the cause? Twenty or 25 birds were killed, and they brought out a Migratory Bird Act to go after them on a criminal basis.

Look, I want to make sure we use our oil, our coal, our gas, our nuclear, our renewables. I believe very much in our renewable capabilities; ethanol, wind, solar will be an important part of our energy mix. But what we don’t need is to have the President keeping us from taking advantage of oil, coal, and gas. This has not been Mr. Oil or Mr. Gas or Mr. Coal. Talk to the people that are working in those industries.

I was in coal country. People grab my arms and say, please save my job. The head of the EPA said you can’t build a coal plant. He’ll virtually—it’s virtually impossible given our regulations. When the President ran for office, he said, if you build a coal plant, you can go ahead, but you’ll go bankrupt. That’s not the right course for America. Let’s take advantage of the energy resources we have as well as the energy sources for the future. And if we do that, if we do what I’m planning on doing, which is getting us energy independent—North America energy independence within 8 years—you’re going to see manufacturing jobs come back, because our energy is low cost. They’re already beginning to come back, because of our abundant energy.

I’ll get America and North America energy independent. I’ll do it by more drilling, more permits and licenses. We’re going to bring that pipeline in from Canada. How in the world the President said no to that pipeline I will never know. This is about bringing good jobs back for the middle class of America, and that’s what I’m going to do.

Oil and Gas Production on Public Land/Domestic Energy Sources

Ms. Crowley. Mr. President, let me just see if I can move you to the gist of this question, which is, are we looking at the new normal? I can tell you that tomorrow morning a lot of people in Hempstead will wake up and fill up and they will find that the price of gas is over $4 a gallon. Is it within the purview of the Government to bring those prices down, or are we looking at the new normal?

The President. Candy, there’s no doubt that world demand has gone up. But our production is going up. And we’re using oil more efficiently. And very little of what Governor Romney just said is true.

We’ve opened up public lands. We’re actually drilling more on public lands than in the previous administration, and my—the previous President was an oil man. And natural gas isn’t just appearing magically; we’re encouraging it and working with the industry.

And when I hear Governor Romney say he’s a big coal guy, I mean, keep in mind, when—Governor, when you were Governor of Massachusetts, you stood in front of a coal plant and pointed at it and said, “This plant kills,” and took great pride in shutting it down. And now suddenly, you’re a big champion of coal.

So what I’ve tried to do is be consistent. With respect to something like coal, we made the largest investment in clean coal technology to make sure that even as we’re producing more coal, we’re producing it cleaner and smarter. Same thing with oil. Same thing with natural gas.

And the proof is our oil imports are down to the lowest levels in 20 years. Oil production is up, natural gas production is up, and most importantly, we’re also starting to build cars that are more efficient. And that’s creating jobs. That means those cars can be exported because that’s the demand around the world, and it also means that it will save money in your pocketbook. That’s the strategy you need, an all-of-the-above strategy, and that’s what we’re going to do in the next 4 years.

Oil and Gas Production on Public Land/Gasoline Prices

Gov. Romney. But that’s not what you’ve done in the last 4 years. That’s the problem.

The President. Sure it is.

Mr. Romney. In the last 4 years, you cut permits and licenses on Federal land and Federal waters in half.

The President. Not true, Governor Romney.

Gov. Romney. So how much did you cut it by?

The President. It’s not true.

Gov. Romney. By how much did you cut them by then?

The President. Governor, we have actually produced more oil on——

Gov. Romney. No, no, how much did you cut licenses and permits——

The President. Governor——

Gov. Romney. ——on Federal land and Federal waters?

The President. Governor Romney, here’s what we did: There were a whole bunch of oil companies——

Gov. Romney. No, I had a question——

The President. No, you——

Gov. Romney. ——and the question was how much did you cut them by? How much did you cut them by?

The President. You want me to answer a question. I’m happy to answer the question.

Gov. Romney. All right, and it is?

The President. Here’s what happened: You had a whole bunch of oil companies who had leases on public lands that they weren’t using. So what we said was, you can’t just sit on this for 10, 20, 30 years, decide when you want to drill, when you want to produce, when it’s most profitable for you. These are public lands, so if you want to drill on public lands, you use it or you lose it.

Gov. Romney. Okay, now, that’s——

The President. And so what we did was take away those leases, and we are now reletting them so that we can actually make a profit.

Gov. Romney. And production on private—on Government lands——

The President. And production is up.

Gov. Romney. ——is down.

The President. No it isn’t.

Gov. Romney. Production on Government land of oil is down 14 percent——

The President. Governor——

Gov. Romney. ——and production of gas is down 9 percent.

The President. ——what you’re saying is just not true. It’s just not true.

Gov. Romney. It’s absolutely true. Look, there’s no question but that the people recognize that we have not produced more oil and gas——

The President. I’ll give you your time. Go ahead.

Gov. Romney. ——on Federal lands and in Federal waters. And coal? Coal production is not up; coal jobs are not up. I was just at a coal facility where some 1,200 people lost their jobs.

The right course for America is to have a true all-of-the-above policy. I don’t think anyone really believes that you’re a person who’s going to be pushing for oil and gas and coal. You’ll get your chance in a moment. I’m still speaking.

The President. Well, Governor, if you’re——

Gov. Romney. And the answer is, I don’t believe people think that’s the case because I——

The President. ——if you’re asking me a question, I’m going to answer it.

Gov. Romney. That wasn’t a question.

The President. Okay. Go ahead.

Gov. Romney. That was a statement. I don’t think the American people believe that. I will fight for oil, coal, and natural gas. And the proof of whether a strategy is working or not is what the price is that you’re paying at the pump. If you’re paying less than you paid a year or 2 ago, why, then, the strategy is working. But you’re paying more.

When the President took office, the price of gasoline here in Nassau County was about a buck-eighty-six a gallon. Now it’s 4 bucks a gallon. The price of electricity is up. If the President’s energy policies are working, you’re going to see the cost of energy come down.

I will fight to create more energy in this country to get America energy secure, and part of that is bringing in a pipeline of oil from Canada, taking advantage of the oil and coal we have here, drilling offshore in Alaska, drilling offshore in Virginia, where the people want it.

Ms. Crowley. Let me give——

Gov. Romney. Those things will get us the energy we need.

Gasoline Prices/Oil and Gas Production/Alternative Energy Sources

Ms. Crowley. Mr. President, could you address—because we did finally get to gas prices here—could you address what the Governor said, which is if your energy policy was working, the price of gasoline would not be $4 a gallon here. Is that true?

The President. Well, think about what the Governor just said. He said, when I took office the price of gasoline was $1.80, $1.86. Why is that? Because the economy was on the verge of collapse. Because we were about to go through the worst recession since the Great Depression, as a consequence of some of the same policies that Governor Romney is now promoting.

So it’s conceivable that Governor Romney could bring down gas prices, because with his policies we might be back in that same mess. [Laughter]

What I want to do is to create an economy that is strong and at the same time produce energy. And with respect to this pipeline that Governor Romney keeps on talking about—we’ve built enough pipeline to wrap around the entire Earth once. So I’m all for pipelines. I’m all for oil production. What I’m not for is us ignoring the other half of the equation.

So, for example, on wind energy, when Governor Romney says these are imaginary jobs, when you’ve got thousands of people right now in Iowa, right now in Colorado, who are working, creating wind power with good-paying manufacturing jobs, and the Republican Senator in that—in Iowa is all for it, providing tax credits to help this work. And Governor Romney says, I’m opposed, I’d get rid of it.

That’s not an energy strategy for the future. And we need to win that future.

Ms. Crowley. Mr. President——

The President. And I intend to win it as President of the United States.

Ms. Crowley. I got to move you along.

Gov. Romney. No, he got the first——

Ms. Crowley. And the next question is for you.

Gov. Romney. He actually got the first question, so I get the last question—last answer on that one.

Ms. Crowley. Actually, in the follow-up it doesn’t quite work like that. [Laughter]

Gov. Romney. Actually——

Ms. Crowley. But I’m going to give you a chance here. I promise you, I’m going to. And the next question is for you, so if you want to continue on. But I don’t want to leave all these guys sitting here, so——

Gov. Romney. Candy, I don’t have a policy of stopping wind jobs in Iowa. And they’re not phantom jobs, they’re real jobs.

Ms. Crowley. Okay.

Gov. Romney. I appreciate wind jobs in Iowa and across our country. I appreciate the jobs in coal and oil and gas. I’m going to make sure——

Ms. Crowley. And you’re—okay. Thank you, Governor.

Gov. Romney. ——that taking advantage of our energy resources will bring back manufacturing to America. We’re going to get through a very aggressive energy policy—3½ million more jobs in this country. It’s critical to our future.

The President. Candy, it’s okay, I’m used to being interrupted.

Ms. Crowley. We’re going to move you along to taxes.

The President. We——

Ms. Crowley. All right, we’re going to move you both along to taxes over here and all these folks that have been waiting. Governor, this question is for you. It comes from Mary Polono—Polano, sorry.

Gov. Romney. Hi, Mary.

Tax Rates and Deductions

Q. Governor Romney, you have stated that if you’re elected President you would plan to reduce the tax rates for all the tax brackets and that you would work with the Congress to eliminate some deductions in order to make up for the loss in revenue. Concerning these various deductions—the mortgage deduction, the charitable deductions, the child tax credit, and also the—oh, what’s that other credit? [Laughter] I forgot.

The President. You’re doing great.

Q. Oh, I remember—the education credits, which are important to me because I have children in college. What would be your position on those things, which are important to the middle class?

Gov. Romney. Thank you very much. And let me tell you, you’re absolutely right about part of that, which is I want to bring the rates down. I want to simplify the Tax Code, and I want to get middle income taxpayers to have lower taxes. And the reason I want middle income taxpayers to have lower taxes is because middle income taxpayers have been buried over the past 4 years.

You’ve seen, as middle income people in this country, incomes go down $4,300 a family, even as gasoline prices have gone up $2,000. Health insurance premiums up $2,500. Food prices up. Utility prices up. The middle income families in America have been crushed over the last 4 years, so I want to get some relief to middle income families. That’s part one.

Now, how about deductions? Because I’m going to bring rates down across the board for everybody, but I’m going to limit deductions and exemptions and credits, particularly for people at the high end, because I am not going to have people at the high end pay less than they’re paying now.

The top 5 percent of the taxpayers will continue to pay 60 percent of the income tax the Nation collects. So that will stay the same.

Middle income people are going to get a tax break. And so in terms of bringing down deductions, one way of doing that would be to say everybody gets—I’ll pick a number—$25,000 of deductions and credits, and you can decide which ones to use. Your home mortgage interest deduction, charity, child tax credit, and so forth, you can use those as part of—fill in that bucket, if you will, of deductions. But your rate comes down, and the burden also comes down on you for one more reason, and that is, every middle income taxpayer no longer will pay any tax on interest, dividends, or capital gains; no tax on your savings.

That makes life a lot easier. If you’re getting interest from a bank, if you’re getting a statement from a mutual fund, or any other kind of investments you have, you don’t have to worry about filing taxes on that because there will be no taxes for anybody making $200,000 a year and less on your interest, dividends, and capital gains.

Why am I lowering taxes on the middle class? Because under the last 4 years, they’ve been buried, and I want to help people in the middle class. And I will not—I will not under any circumstances reduce the share that’s being paid by the highest income taxpayers. And I will not under any circumstances increase taxes on the middle class.

The President’s spending, the President’s borrowing will cause this Nation to have to raise taxes on the American people, not just at the high end. A recent study has shown that people in the middle class will see $4,000 a year higher taxes as a result of the spending and borrowing of this administration. I will not let that happen. I’ll get us on track to a balanced budget, and I’m going to reduce the tax burden on middle income families. And what’s that going to do? It’s going to help those families, and it’s going to create incentives to start growing jobs again in this country.

Ms. Crowley. Thanks, Governor.

Gov. Romney. Thank you.

Tax Rates/Governor Romney’s Economic Platform

The President. My philosophy on taxes has been simple, and that is, I want to give middle class families and folks who are striving to get into the middle class some relief, because they have been hit hard, over the last decade, over the last 15, over the last 20 years.

So 4 years ago, I stood on a stage just like this one—actually, it was a town hall—and I said, I would cut taxes for middle class families, and that’s what I’ve done, by $3,600. I said I would cut taxes for small businesses, who are the drivers and engines of growth, and we’ve cut them 18 times. And I want to continue those tax cuts for middle class families and for small businesses.

But what I’ve also said is if we’re serious about reducing the deficit, if this is genuinely a moral obligation to the next generation, then in addition to some tough spending cuts, we’ve also got to make sure that the wealthy do a little bit more.

So what I’ve said is your first $250,000 worth of income, no change. And that means 98 percent of American families, 97 percent of small businesses, they will not see a tax increase. I’m ready to sign that bill right now. The only reason it’s not happening is because Governor Romney’s allies in Congress have held the 98 percent hostage, because they want tax breaks for the top 2 percent.

But what I’ve also said is for above $250,000, we can go back to the tax rates we had when Bill Clinton was President. We created 23 million new jobs. That’s part of what took us from deficits to surplus. It will be good for our economy, and it will be good for job creation.

Now, Governor Romney has a different philosophy. He was on “60 Minutes” just 2 weeks ago and he was asked, is it fair for somebody like you making $20 million a year to pay a lower tax rate than a nurse or bus driver, somebody making $50,000 a year. And he said, yes, I think that’s fair. Not only that, he said, I think that’s what grows the economy.

Well, I fundamentally disagree with that. I think what grows the economy is when you get that tax credit that we put in place for your kids going to college. I think that grows the economy. I think what grows the economy is when we make sure small businesses are getting a tax credit for hiring veterans who fought for our country. That grows our economy.

So we just have a different theory. And when Governor Romney stands here, after a year of campaigning, when during a Republican primary, he stood on stage and said, I’m going to give tax cuts—he didn’t say tax rate cuts, he said tax cuts—to everybody, including the top 1 percent, you should believe him, because that’s been his history. And that’s exactly the kind of top-down economics that is not going to work if we want a strong middle class and an economy that’s thriving for everybody.

Ms. Crowley. Governor Romney, I’m sure you’ve got a reply there. [Laughter]

Tax Rates/Job Creation and Growth

Gov. Romney. You’re absolutely right. You heard what I said about my tax plan. The top 5 percent will continue to pay 60 percent, as they do today. I’m not looking to cut taxes for wealthy people. I am looking to cut taxes for middle income people.

And why do I want to bring rates down and at the same time lower exemptions and deductions, particularly for people at the high end? Because if you bring rates down, it makes it easier for small business to keep more of their capital and hire people. And for me, this is about jobs. I want to get America’s economy going again. Fifty-four percent of America’s workers work in businesses that are taxed as individuals. So when you bring those rates down, those small businesses are able to keep more money and hire more people.

For me, I look at what’s happened in the last 4 years and say this has been a disappointment. We can do better than this. We don’t have to settle for—how many months?—43 months with unemployment above 8 percent, 23 million Americans struggling to find a good job right now. There are 3½ million more women living in poverty today than when the President took office. We don’t have to live like this.

We can get this economy going again. My five-point plan does it. Energy independence for North America in 5 years; opening up more trade, particularly in Latin America; cracking down on China when they cheat; getting us to a balanced budget; fixing our training programs for our workers; and, finally, championing small business.

I want to help small businesses grow and thrive. I know how to make that happen. I spent my life in the private sector. I know why jobs come and why they go. And they’re going now because of the policies of this administration.

Ms. Crowley. Governor, let me ask the President something about what you just said. The Governor says that he is not going to allow the top 5 percent—I believe is what he said—to have a tax cut, that it will all even out, that what he wants to do is give that tax cut to the middle class. Settled?

Budgetary Effects of Tax Cuts

The President. No, it’s not settled. Look, the cost of lowering rates for everybody across the board 20 percent, along with what he also wants to do in terms of eliminating the estate tax, along what he wants to do in terms of corporate changes in the Tax Code, it costs about $5 trillion.

Governor Romney then also wants to spend $2 trillion on additional military programs, even though the military is not asking for them. That’s $7 trillion. He also wants to continue the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. That’s another trillion dollars. That’s $8 trillion.

Now, what he says is he’s going to make sure that this doesn’t add to the deficit and he’s going to cut middle class taxes. But when he’s asked how are you going to do it, which deductions, which loopholes are you going to close, he can’t tell you. The fact that he only has to pay 14 percent on his taxes when a lot of you are paying much higher, he’s already taken that off the board. Capital gains are going to continue to be at a low rate, so we’re not going to get money that way.

We haven’t heard from the Governor any specifics beyond Big Bird and eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood in terms of how he pays for that.

Now, Governor Romney was a very successful investor. If somebody came to you, Governor, with a plan that said, here, I want to spend 7 or $8 trillion and then we’re going to pay for it, but we can’t tell you until maybe after the election how we’re going to do it, you wouldn’t have taken such a sketchy deal.

And neither should you, the American people, because the math doesn’t add up. And what’s at stake here is one of two things. Either, Candy, this blows up the deficit, because keep in mind, this is just to pay for the additional spending that he’s talking about—7, $8 trillion—that’s before we even get to the deficit we already have.

Or alternatively, it’s got to be paid for not only by closing deductions for wealthy individuals—that will pay for about 4 percent reduction in tax rates—you’re going to be paying for it. You’ll lose some deductions. And you can’t buy this sales pitch. Nobody who’s looked at it that’s serious actually believes it adds up.

Gender Discrimination/Wage Equality/Education

Q. In what new ways do you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?

The President. Well, Catherine, this is a great question. And I was raised by a single mom who had to put herself through school while looking after two kids. And she worked hard every day and made a lot of sacrifices to make sure we got everything we needed.

My grandmother, she started off as a secretary in a bank. She never got a college education even though she was smart as a whip. And she worked her way up to become a vice president at a local bank, but she hit the glass ceiling. She trained people who would end up becoming her bosses during the course of her career. She didn’t complain. That’s not what you did in that generation.

And this is one of the reasons why one of the first—the first bill I signed was something called the Lilly Ledbetter bill, and this is named after this amazing woman who had been doing the same job as a man for years, found out that she was getting paid less, and the Supreme Court said that she couldn’t bring suit because she should have found out about it earlier, when she had no way of finding out about it. So we fixed that.

And that’s an example of the kind of advocacy that we need, because women are increasingly the breadwinners in the family. This is not just a women’s issue. This is a family issue; this is a middle class issue. And that’s why we’ve got to fight for it.

It also means that we’ve got to make sure that young people like yourself are able to afford a college education. Earlier, Governor Romney talked about—he wants to make Pell grants and other education accessible for young people. Well, the truth of the matter is, is that that’s exactly what we’ve done. We’ve expanded Pell grants for millions of people, including millions of young women all across the country. We did it by taking $60 billion that was going to banks and lenders as middlemen for the student loan program, and we said, let’s just cut out the middleman. Let’s give the money directly to students. And as a consequence, we’ve seen millions of young people be able to afford college, and that’s going to make sure that young women are going to be able to compete in that marketplace.

But we’ve got to enforce the laws, which is what we are doing. And we’ve also got to make sure that in every walk of life, we do not tolerate discrimination. That’s been one of the hallmarks of my administration. I’m going to continue to push on this issue for the next 4 years.

Ms. Crowley. Governor Romney, pay equity for women.

Gender Discrimination/Wage Equality/National Economy

Gov. Romney. Thank you, an important topic and one which I learned a great deal about, particularly as I was serving as Governor of my State, because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet, and all the applicants seemed to be men. And I went to my staff, and I said, how come all the people for these jobs are all men? And they said, well, these are the people that have the qualifications. And I said, well, gosh, can’t we find some women that are also qualified? And so we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women’s groups and said, can you help us find folks? And they brought us whole binders full of women.

I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my cabinet and my senior staff, that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 States and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other State in America.

Now, one of the reasons I was able to get so many good women to be part of that team was because of our recruiting effort, but number two, because I recognize that if you’re going to have women in the workforce, that sometimes they need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school. She said, I can’t be here until 7 or 8 o’clock at night; I need to be able to get home at 5 o’clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said, fine, let’s have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.

We’re going to have to have employers in the new economy, in the economy I’m going to bring to play, that are going to be so anxious to get good workers, they’re going to be anxious to hire women.

In the last 4 years, women have lost 580,000 jobs. That’s the net of what’s happened in the last 4 years. We’re still down 580,000 jobs. I mentioned 3½ million women more now in poverty than 4 years ago.

What we can do to help young women and women of all ages is to have a strong economy, so strong that employers are looking to find good employees and bringing them into their workforce and adapting to a flexible work schedule that gives women the opportunities that they would otherwise not be able to afford.

This is what I’ve done. It’s what I look forward to doing. And I know what it takes to make an economy work. And I know what a working economy looks like. And an economy with 7.8 percent unemployment is not a real strong economy. An economy that has 23 million people looking for work is not a strong economy. An economy with 50 percent of kids graduating from college that can’t find a job, or a college-level job, that’s not what we have to have.

Ms. Crowley. Governor——

Gov. Romney. I’m going to help women in America get good work by getting a stronger economy and by supporting women in the workforce.

Wage Discrimination/Contraception and Family Planning/Women’s Health Issues

Ms. Crowley. Mr. President, why don’t you get in on this quickly, please?

The President. Catherine, I just want to point out that when Governor Romney’s campaign was asked about the Lilly Ledbetter bill, whether he supported it, he said, I’ll get back to you. And that’s not the kind of advocacy that women need in any economy.

Now, there are some other issues that have a bearing on how women succeed in the workplace, for example, their health care. A major difference in this campaign is that Governor Romney feels comfortable having politicians in Washington decide the health care choices that women are making. I think that’s a mistake.

In my health care bill, I said insurance companies need to provide contraceptive coverage to everybody who’s insured, because this is not just a health issue, it’s an economic issue for women. It makes a difference. This is money out of that family’s pocket.

Governor Romney not only opposed it, he suggested that, in fact, employers should be able to make the decision as to whether or not a woman gets contraception through her insurance coverage. That’s not the kind of advocacy that women need.

When Governor Romney says that we should eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, there are millions of women all across the country who rely on Planned Parenthood for not just contraceptive care, they rely on it for mammograms, for cervical cancer screenings. That’s a pocketbook issue for women and families all across the country, and it makes a difference in terms of how well and effectively women are able to work.

When we talk about child care and the credits that we’re providing, that makes a difference in terms of whether they can go out there and earn a living for their family.

These are not just women’s issues. These are family issues. These are economic issues. And one of the things that makes us grow as an economy is when everybody participates and women are getting the same, fair deal as men are.

Ms. Crowley. Mr. President——

The President. And I’ve got two daughters and I want to make sure that they have the same opportunities that anybody’s sons have. That’s a part of what I’m fighting for as President of the United States.

Ms. Crowley. I want to move us along here to Susan Katz who has a question. And, Governor, it’s for you.

Contraception and Family Planning/Administration of Former President George W. Bush/Energy/Trade/Federal Budget/Small Business Promotion Efforts

Q. Governor Romney, I am an undecided voter because I’m disappointed with the lack of progress I’ve seen in the last 4 years. However, I do attribute much of America’s economic and international problems to the failings and missteps of the Bush administration. Since both you and President Bush are Republicans, I fear a return to the policies of those years should you win this election. What is the biggest difference between you and George W. Bush? And how do you differentiate yourself from George W. Bush?

Gov. Romney. Great. Thank you. And I appreciate that question. I just want to make sure that—I think I was supposed to get that last answer, but I want to point out that I don’t believe——

The President. I don’t think so, Candy. I want to make sure our timekeepers are working here.

Gov. Romney. The time——

Ms. Crowley. The timekeepers are all working.

The President. All right.

Ms. Crowley. And let me tell you that the last part, it’s for the two of you to talk to one another, and it isn’t quite as ordered as you think. But go ahead and use this 2 minutes any way you’d like to, the question is on the floor.

Gov. Romney. I’d just note that I don’t believe that bureaucrats in Washington should tell someone whether they can use contraceptives or not, and I don’t believe employers should tell someone whether they could have contraceptive care or not. Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives. And the President’s statement of my policy is completely and totally wrong.

The President. Governor, that’s not true.

Gov. Romney. Let me come back and answer your question. President Bush and I are different people, and these are different times. And that’s why my five-point plan is so different than what he would have done.

I mean, for instance, we can now, by virtue of new technology, actually get all the energy we need in North America without having to go to the Arabs or the Venezuelans or anyone else. That wasn’t true in his time. That’s why my policy starts with a very robust policy to get all that energy in North America, become energy secure.

Number two, trade: I’ll crack down on China. President Bush didn’t. I’m also going to dramatically expand trade in Latin America. It’s been growing about 12 percent per year over a long period of time. I want to add more free trade agreements so we’ll have more trade.

Number three, I’m going to get us to a balanced budget. President Bush didn’t. President Obama was right: He said that that was outrageous to have deficits as high as half a trillion dollars under the Bush years. He was right. But then he put in place deficits twice that size for every one of his 4 years, and his forecast for the next 4 years is more deficits almost that large. So that’s the next area I’m different than President Bush.

And then let’s take the last one, championing small business. Our party has been focused on big business too long. I came through small business. I understand how hard it is to start a small business. That’s why everything I’ll do is designed to help small businesses grow and add jobs. I want to keep their taxes down, on small business. I want regulators to see their job as encouraging small enterprise, not crushing it.

And the thing I find most troubling about Obamacare—well, it’s a long list—but one of the things I find most troubling is that when you go out and talk to small businesses and ask them what they think about it, they tell you it keeps them from hiring more people.

My priority is jobs. I know how to make that happen. And President Bush had a very different path for a very different time. My path is designed in getting small businesses to grow and hire people.

Ms. Crowley. Thanks, Governor.

Mr. President.

Job Creation and Growth/Governor Romney’s Economic and Social Platforms

The President. Well, first of all, I think it’s important to tell you that we did come in during some tough times. We were losing 800,000 jobs a month when I started. But we have been digging our way out of policies that were misplaced and focused on the top doing very well and middle class folks not doing well. And we’ve seen 30 consecutive—31 consecutive months of job growth, 5.2 million new jobs created. And the plans that I talked about will create even more.

But when Governor Romney says that he has a very different economic plan, the centerpiece of his economic plan are tax cuts. That’s what took us from surplus to deficit. When he talks about getting tough on China, keep in mind that Governor Romney invested in companies that were pioneers of outsourcing to China and is currently investing in countries—in companies that are building surveillance equipment for China to spy on its own folks.

That’s—Governor, you’re the last person who is going to get tough on China.

And what we’ve done when it comes to trade is not only sign three trade deals to open up new markets, but we’ve also set up a task force for trade that goes after anybody who is taking advantage of American workers or businesses and not creating a level playing field. We’ve brought twice as many cases against unfair trading practices than the previous administration, and we’ve won every single one that’s been decided.

When I said that we had to make sure that China was not flooding our domestic market with cheap tires, Governor Romney said I was being protectionist, that it wouldn’t be helpful to American workers. Well, in fact, we saved a thousand jobs. And that’s the kind of tough trade actions that are required.

But the last point I want to make is this: There are some things where Governor Romney is different from George Bush. George Bush didn’t propose turning Medicare into a voucher. George Bush embraced comprehensive immigration reform; he didn’t call for self-deportation. George Bush never suggested that we eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood.

So there are differences between Governor Romney and George Bush, but they’re not on economic policy. In some ways, he’s gone to a more extreme place when it comes to social policy. And I think that’s a mistake. That’s not how we’re going to move our economy forward.

Ms. Crowley. I want to move you both along to the next question because it’s in the same wheelhouse so you will be able to respond. But the President does get this question. I want to call on Michael Jones.

The President’s Accomplishments/Governor Romney’s Economic and Social Platforms

Q. Mr. President, I voted for you in 2008. What have you done or accomplished to earn my vote in 2012? I’m not that optimistic as I was in 2012. Most things I need for everyday living are very expensive.

The President. Well, we’ve gone through a tough 4 years, there’s no doubt about it. But 4 years ago, I told the American people and I told you I would cut taxes for middle class families, and I did. I told you I’d cut taxes for small businesses, and I have. I said that I’d end the war in Iraq, and I did. I said we’d refocus attention on those who actually attacked us on 9/11, and we have gone after Al Qaida’s leadership like never before, and Usama bin Laden is dead.

I said that we would put in place health care reform to make sure that insurance companies can’t jerk you around and if you don’t have health insurance, that you’d have a chance to get affordable insurance, and I have.

I committed that I would rein in the excesses of Wall Street, and we passed the toughest Wall Street reforms since the 1930s.

We’ve created 5 million jobs—gone from 800,000 jobs a month being lost—and we are making progress. We saved an auto industry that was on the brink of collapse.

Now, does that mean you’re not struggling? Absolutely not. A lot of us are. And that’s why the plan that I’ve put forward for manufacturing and education and reducing our deficit in a sensible way, using the savings from ending wars to rebuild America and putting people back to work, making sure that we are controlling our own energy, but not just the energy of today, but also the energy of the future—all those things will make a difference.

So the point is the commitments I’ve made I’ve kept. And those that I haven’t been able to keep, it’s not for lack of trying, and we’re going to get it done in a second term. But you should pay attention to this campaign, because Governor Romney has made some commitments as well, and I suspect he’ll keep those too. When Members of the Republican Congress say, we’re going to sign a no-tax pledge so that we don’t ask a dime from millionaires and billionaires to reduce our deficit so we can still invest in education and helping kids go to college, he said, me too.

When they said, we’re going to cut Planned Parenthood funding, he said, me too. When they said, we’re going to repeal Obamacare—the first thing I’m going to do, despite the fact that it’s the same health care plan that he passed in Massachusetts and is working well—he said, me too.

That is not the kind of leadership that you need, but you should expect that those are promises he’s going to keep.

Ms. Crowley. Mr. President, let me let——

The President. And the choice in this election is going to be whose promises are going to be more likely to help you in your life, make sure your kids can go to college, make sure that you are getting a good-paying job, making sure that Medicare and Social Security will be there for you.

Ms. Crowley. Mr. President, thank you.

Governor.

Economic Concerns/Unemployment Rate

Gov. Romney. I think you know better. I think you know that these last 4 years haven’t been so good as the President just described and that you don’t feel like you’re confident that the next 4 years are going to be much better either. I can tell you that if you were to elect President Obama, you know what you’re going to get. You’re going to get a repeat of the last 4 years. We just can’t afford 4 more years like the last 4 years.

He said that by now we’d have unemployment at 5.4 percent. The difference between where it is and 5.4 percent is 9 million Americans without work. I wasn’t the one that said 5.4 percent. This was the President’s plan; didn’t get there.

He said he would have by now put forward a plan to reform Medicare and Social Security, because he pointed out they’re on the road to bankruptcy. He would reform them. He’d get that done. He hasn’t even made a proposal on either one. He said in his first year he’d put out an immigration plan that would deal with our immigration challenges; didn’t even file it.

This is a President who has not been able to do what he said he’d do. He said that he’d cut in half the deficit. He hasn’t done that either; in fact, he doubled it. He said that by now middle income families would have a reduction in their health insurance premiums by $2,500 a year. It’s gone up by 2,500 a year. And if Obamacare is passed—or implemented, it’s already been passed—if it’s implemented fully, it will be another 2,500 on top.

The middle class is getting crushed under the policies of a President who has not understood what it takes to get the economy working again. He keeps saying, look, I’ve created 5 million jobs. That’s after losing 5 million jobs. The entire record is such that the unemployment has not been reduced in this country. The unemployment, the number of people who are still looking for work, is still 23 million Americans. There are more people in poverty: one out of six people in poverty.

How about food stamps? When he took office, 32 million people were on food stamps. Today, 47 million people are on food stamps. How about the growth of the economy? It’s growing more slowly this year than last year and more slowly last year than the year before.

The President wants to do well, I understand. But the policies he’s put in place, from Obamacare to Dodd-Frank to his tax policies to his regulatory policies, these policies combined have not let this economy take off and grow like it could have. You might say, well, you got an example of when it worked better? Yes. In the Reagan recession, where unemployment hit 10.8 percent, between that period—the end of that recession and the equivalent period of time to today, Ronald Reagan’s recovery created twice as many jobs as this President’s recovery.

Five million jobs doesn’t even keep up with our population growth. And the only reason the unemployment rate seems a little lower today is because of all the people that have dropped out of the workforce.

The President has tried, but his policies haven’t worked. He’s great as a speaker and describing his plans and his vision. That’s wonderful, except we have a record to look at. And that record shows, he just hasn’t been able to cut the deficit, to put in place reforms for Medicare and Social Security to preserve them, to get us the rising incomes we need. Median incomes down $4,300 a family and 23 million Americans out of work, that’s what this election is about. It’s about who can get the middle class in this country a bright and prosperous future and assure our kids the kind of hope and optimism they deserve.

Ms. Crowley. Governor, I want to move you along. Don’t go away, and we’ll have plenty of time to respond. We are quite aware of the clock for both of you. But I want to bring in a different subject here. Mr. President, I’ll be right back with you. Lorraine Osario has a question for you about a topic we have not heard.

The President. This is for Governor Romney?

Ms. Crowley. Yes, this is for Governor Romney, and we’ll be right with you, Mr. President. Thanks.

Gov. Romney. Is it Lorena?

Q. Lorraine.

Gov. Romney. Lorraine.

Q. Lorraine. Yes. How are you doing? President.

Gov. Romney. Good, thanks.

Immigration Reform/Illegal Immigration

Q. President. Romney: What do you plan on doing with immigrants without their green card that are currently living here as productive members of society?

Gov. Romney. Thank you, Lorraine. Did I get that right? Good. Thank you for question. And let me step back and tell you what I’d like to do with our immigration policy broadly and include an answer to your question.

First of all, this is a nation of immigrants. We welcome people coming to this country as immigrants. My dad was born in Mexico of American parents; Ann’s dad was born in Wales and is a first-generation American. We welcome legal immigrants into this country.

I want our legal system to work better. I want it to be streamlined. I want it to be clearer. I don’t think you have to—shouldn’t have to hire a lawyer to figure out how to get into this country legally. I also think that we should give visas to people—green cards, rather, to people who graduate with skills that we need. People around the world with accredited degrees in science and math, get a green card stapled to their diploma; come to the U.S. of A. We should make sure that our legal system works.

Number two, we’re going to have to stop illegal immigration. There are 4 million people who are waiting in line to get here legally. Those who’ve come here illegally take their place. So I will not grant amnesty to those who’ve come here illegally. What I will do is I’ll put in place an employment verification system and make sure that employers that hire people who have come here illegally are sanctioned for doing so. I won’t put in place magnets for people coming here illegally. So for instance, I would not give driver’s licenses to those that have come here illegally, as the President would.

The kids of those that came here illegally, those kids I think should have a pathway to become a permanent resident of the United States. And military service, for instance, is one way they would have that kind of pathway to become a permanent resident.

Now, when the President ran for office, he said that he’d put in place in his first year a piece of legislation—he’d file a bill in his first year—that would reform our immigration system—protect legal immigration, stop illegal immigration. He didn’t do it. He had a Democrat House and Democrat Senate, supermajority in both Houses. Why did he fail to even promote legislation that would have provided an answer for those that want to come here legally and for those that are here illegally today? That’s a question I think the President will have a chance to answer to answer right now.

Immigration Reform/Illegal Immigration

The President. Good, I look forward to it. Was it Lorena? Lorraine. We are a nation of immigrants. I mean, we’re just a few miles away from Ellis Island. We all understand what this country has become because talent from all around the world wants to come here: people who are willing to take risks; people who want to build on their dreams and make sure their kids have even bigger dreams than they have.

But we’re also a nation of laws. So what I’ve said is, we need to fix a broken immigration system. And I’ve done everything that I can on my own and sought cooperation from Congress to make sure that we fixed the system.

First thing we did was to streamline the legal immigration system to reduce the backlog, make it easier, simpler, and cheaper for people who are waiting in line, obeying the law, to make sure that they can come here and contribute to our country. And that’s good for our economic growth. They’ll start new businesses. They’ll make things happen that create jobs here in the United States.

Number two, we do have to deal with our border, so we’ve put more Border Patrol on than any time in history, and the flow of undocumented workers across the border is actually lower than it’s been in 40 years.

What I’ve also said is, if we’re going to go after folks who are here illegally, we should do it smartly and go after folks who are criminals, gangbangers, people who are hurting the community, not after students, not after folks who are here just because they’re trying to figure out how to feed their families. And that’s what we’ve done.

And what I’ve also said is, for young people who come here, brought here oftentimes by their parents, have gone to school here, pledged allegiance to the flag, think of this as their country, understand themselves as Americans in every way except having papers, then we should make sure that we give them a pathway to citizenship. And that’s what I’ve done administratively.

Now, Governor Romney just said that he wants to help those young people too. But during the Republican primary he said, I will veto the “DREAM Act” that would allow these young people to have access. His main strategy during the Republican primary was to say, we’re going to encourage self-deportation: making life so miserable on folks that they’ll leave.

He called the Arizona law a model for the Nation. Part of the Arizona law said that law enforcement officers could stop folks because they suspected, maybe they looked like they might be undocumented workers and check their papers. And you know what? If my daughter or yours looks to somebody like they’re not a citizen, I don’t want to empower somebody like that.

So we can fix this system in a comprehensive way. And when Governor Romney says the challenge is, well, Obama didn’t try, that’s not true. I sat down with Democrats and Republicans at the beginning of my term, and I said, let’s fix this system, including Senators previously who had supported it on the Republican side. But it’s very hard for Republicans in Congress to support comprehensive immigration reform if their standard bearer has said that, this is not something I’m interested in supporting.

Ms. Crowley. Let me get the Governor in here, Mr. President. Let’s speak to, if you could, Governor——

Gov. Romney. Let’s——

Ms. Crowley. ——the idea of self-deportation.

Arizona’s Illegal Immigrant Enforcement Legislation/Immigration Reform/Investment in Foreign Firms

Gov. Romney. No, let me go back and speak to the points that the President made, and let’s get them correct. I did not say that the Arizona law was a model for the Nation in that aspect. I said that the E-Verify portion of the Arizona law, which is the portion of the law which says that employers could be able to determine whether someone is here illegally or not illegally, that that was a model for the Nation. That’s number one.

Number two, I asked the President a question, I think, Hispanics and immigrants all over the nation have asked. He was asked this on Univision the other day. Why, when you said you’d file legislation in your first year, didn’t you do it? And he didn’t answer. He doesn’t answer that question. He said the standard bearer wasn’t for it. I’m glad you thought I was a standard bearer 4 years ago, but I wasn’t. Four years ago, you said in your first year, you would file legislation. In his first year, I was just getting—licking my wounds from having been beaten by John McCain, all right. I was not the standard bearer. My view is that this President should have honored his promise to do as he said.

Now, let me mention one other thing, and that is self-deportation says, let people make their own choice. What I was saying is we’re not going to round up 12 million people, undocumented illegals, and take them out of the Nation. Instead, let people make their own choice. And if they find that they can’t get the benefits here that they want and they can’t find the job they want, then they’ll make a decision to go a place where they have better opportunities.

But I’m not in favor of rounding up people and taking them out of this country. I am in favor, as the President has said—and I agree with him—which is that if people have committed crimes, we’ve got to get them out of this country.

Let me mention something else the President said. It was a moment ago, and I didn’t get a chance to—when he was describing Chinese investments and so forth——

The President. Candy, hold on a second. At some point, we’ll pick that up.

Gov. Romney. Mr. President, I’m still speaking.

Ms. Crowley. I’m sorry——

Gov. Romney. Mr. President, why don’t you let me finish——

The President. Governor Romney, I’m used to being interrupted. I need to make sure——

Gov. Romney. I’m going to continue. I’m going to continue. The President made——

Ms. Crowley. Go ahead and finish, Governor Romney. Governor Romney, if you could make it short. See all these people, they’ve been waiting for you. Could you make it short and then——

Gov. Romney. Yes, just going to make a point. Any investments I have over the last 8 years have been managed by a blind trust. And I understand they do include investments outside the United States, including in Chinese companies.

Mr. President, have you looked at your pension?

The President. Candy——

Gov. Romney. Have you looked at your pension?

The President. Candy, I’ve got to say, I mean——

Gov. Romney. Mr. President, have you looked at your pension?

The President. You know, I don’t look at my pension. It’s not as big as yours, so it doesn’t take as long. [Laughter]

Gov. Romney. Let me give you some advice.

The President. I don’t check it that often.

Gov. Romney. Look at your pension. You also have investments in Chinese companies. You also have investments outside the United States. You also have investments through a Cayman’s trust.

Ms. Crowley. We are sort of way off topic here, Governor Romney.

The President. All right. Candy, we’re a little off topic here.

Ms. Crowley. We are completely off immigration.

The President. Come on. I thought we were talking about immigration.

Ms. Crowley. And we’ve—quickly, Mr. President——

The President. I do want to make sure——

Ms. Crowley. If I could have you sit down, Governor Romney. Thank you.

Arizona’s Illegal Immigrant Enforcement Legislation/Immigration Reform

The President. I do want to make sure that we just understand something. Governor Romney says he wasn’t referring to Arizona as a model for the Nation. His top adviser on immigration is the guy who designed the Arizona law, the entirety of it. Not E-Verify, the whole thing. That’s his policy. And it’s a bad policy. And it won’t help us grow.

Look, when we think about immigration, we have to understand, there are folks all around the world who still see America as the land of promise. And they provide us energy, and they provide us innovation. And they start companies like Intel and Google, and we want to encourage that.

Now, we’ve got to make sure that we do it in a smart way, in a comprehensive way, and we make the legal system better. But when we make this into a divisive political issue and when we don’t have bipartisan support—I can deliver, Governor, a whole bunch of Democrats to get comprehensive immigration reform done, and we can’t——

Gov. Romney. I’ll get it done.

The President. We can’t——

Gov. Romney. I’ll get it done the first year

The President. We can’twe have not seen Republicans serious about this issue at all.

Ms. Crowley. Mr. President, let me move you on here, please. Mr. President——

The President. And it’s time for them to get serious on it.

Ms. Crowley. Don’t go away, though.

The President. This used to be a bipartisan issue.

Ms. Crowley. Right. Don’t go away, because——

The President. I’m here. [Laughter]

Ms. Crowley. ——I want you to talk to Kerry Ladka, who has a—wants to switch a topic for us.

The President. Okay. Hi, Kara.

Q. Good evening, Mr. President.

The President. I’m sorry, what’s your name?

Q. It’s Kerry. Kerry Ladka.

The President. Great to see you here.

Attack on U.S. Mission in Benghazi, Libya/Terrorism

Q. This question actually comes from a brain trust of my friends at Global Telecom Supply in Mineola yesterday. We were sitting around talking about Libya, and we were reading and became aware of reports that the State Department refused extra security for our Embassy in Benghazi, Libya, prior to the attacks that killed four Americans. Who was it that denied enhanced security and why?

The President. Well, let me, first of all, talk about our diplomats, because they serve all around the world and do an incredible job in a very dangerous situation. And these aren’t just representatives of the United States, they’re my representatives. I send them there, oftentimes into harm’s way. I know these folks, and I know their families. So nobody is more concerned about their safety and security than I am.

So as soon as we found out that the Benghazi consulate was being overrun, I was on the phone with my national security team, and I gave them three instructions. Number one, beef up our security and procedures not just in Libya, but in every Embassy and consulate in the region. Number two, investigate exactly what happened, regardless of where the facts lead us, to make sure that folks are held accountable and it doesn’t happen again. And number three, we are going to find out who did this, and we are going to hunt them down, because one of the things that I’ve said throughout my Presidency is when folks mess with Americans, we go after them.

Now, Governor Romney had a very different response. While we were still dealing with our diplomats being threatened, Governor Romney put out a press release, trying to make political points. And that’s not how a Commander in Chief operates. You don’t turn national security into a political issue, certainly not right when it’s happening.

And people—not everybody agrees with some of the decisions I’ve made, but when it comes to our national security, I mean what I say. I said I’d end the war in Libya—in Iraq, and I did. I said that we’d go after Al Qaida and bin Laden, we have. I said we’d transition out of Afghanistan and start making sure that Afghans are responsible for their own security. That’s what I’m doing.

And when it comes to this issue, when I say that we are going to find out exactly what happened, everybody will be held accountable—and I am ultimately responsible for what’s taking place there, because these are my folks, and I’m the one who has to greet those coffins when they come home—you know that I mean what I say.

Ms. Crowley. Mr. President, I’ve got to move us along.

Governor.

Attack on U.S. Mission in Benghazi, Libya/National Security

Gov. Romney. Thank you, Kerry, for your question. It’s an important one, and I think the President just said correctly that the buck does stop at his desk, and he takes responsibility for that—for the failure in providing those security resources. And those terrible things may well happen from time to time. I feel very deeply sympathetic for the families of those who lost loved ones. And today there’s a memorial service for one of those that was lost in this tragedy. We think of their families and care for them deeply.

There were other issues associated with this tragedy. There were many days that passed before we knew whether this was a spontaneous demonstration or actually whether it was a terrorist attack. And there was no demonstration involved. It was a terrorist attack. And it took a long time for that to be told to the American people.

Whether there was some misleading or, instead, whether we just didn’t know what happened, I think you have to ask yourself, why didn’t we know 5 days later when the Ambassador to the United Nations went on TV to say that this was a demonstration? How could we have not known?

But I find more troubling than this that on the day following the assassination of the United States Ambassador—the first time that’s happened since 1979—when we have four Americans killed there, when apparently we didn’t know what happened, that the President, the day after that happened, flies to Las Vegas for a political fundraiser, then the next day to Colorado for another event, another political event. I think these actions taken by a President and a leader have symbolic significance and perhaps even material significance in that you’d hope that during that time we could call in the people who were actually eyewitnesses. We’ve read their accounts now about what happened. It was very clear, this was not a demonstration, this was an attack by terrorists.

And this calls into question the President’s whole policy in the Middle East. Look what’s happening in Syria, in Egypt, now in Libya. Consider the distance between ourselves and Israel. The President said that he was going to put daylight between us and Israel. We have Iran 4 years closer to a nuclear bomb.

Syria: Syria is not just the tragedy of 30,000 civilians being killed by a military, but also a strategically significant player for America. The President’s policies throughout the Middle East began with an apology tour, and pursue a strategy of leading from behind. And this strategy is unraveling before our very eyes.

Ms. Crowley. Because we’re closing in, I want to still get a lot of people in. I want to ask you something, Mr. President, and then have the Governor just quickly. Your Secretary of State, as I’m sure you know, has said that she takes full responsibility for the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi. Does the buck stop with your Secretary of State, as far as what went on here?

Attack on U.S. Mission in Benghazi, Libya

The President. Secretary Clinton has done an extraordinary job, but she works for me. I’m the President, and I’m always responsible. And that’s why nobody is more interested in finding out exactly what happened than I do.

The day after the attack, Governor, I stood in the Rose Garden, and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened, that this was an act of terror, and I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime. And then, a few days later, I was there greeting the caskets coming into Andrews Air Force Base and grieving with the families.

And the suggestion that anybody in my team—whether the Secretary of State, our U.N. Ambassador, anybody on my team—would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, Governor, is offensive. That’s not what we do. That’s not what I do as President. That’s not what I do as Commander in Chief.

Ms. Crowley. Governor, if you want to reply just quickly to this please.

Attack on U.S. Mission in Benghazi, Libya/The President’s Remarks of September 12, 2012

Gov. Romney. Yes, I certainly do. I certainly do. I think it’s interesting the President just said something, which is that on the day after the attack, he went in the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.

The President. That’s what I said.

Gov. Romney. You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack it was an act of terror? It was not a spontaneous demonstration?

The President. Please proceed.

Gov. Romney. Is that what you’re saying?

The President. Please proceed, Governor.

Gov. Romney. I want to make sure we get that for the record, because it took the President 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.

The President. Get the transcript.

Ms. Crowley. He did, in fact, sir. So let me—call it an act of terror in the Rose Garden. He used the word——

The President. Can you say that a little louder, Candy?

Ms. Crowley. He did call it an act of terror. It did, as well, take 2 weeks or so for the whole idea of there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that.

Gov. Romney. The administration indicated that this was a reaction to a video and was a spontaneous reaction.

Ms. Crowley. They did.

Gov. Romney. It took them a long time to say this was a terrorist act by a terrorist group. And to suggest—am I incorrect in that regard? On Sunday, the—your Secretary——

The President. Candy?

Gov. Romney. ——excuse me, the Ambassador to the United Nations went on the Sunday television shows and spoke about how this was a spontaneous reaction.

The President. Candy, I’m happy to have a longer conversation about foreign policy.

Ms. Crowley. Mr. President, let me—I know you—absolutely. But I want to move you on.

The President. Okay, I’m happy to do that too.

Ms. Crowley. And also, people can go to the transcripts and——

The President. I just want to make sure that——

Ms. Crowley. ——figure out what was said and when.

The President. ——all these wonderful folks are going to have a chance to get some of their questions answered.

Ms. Crowley. Because what I want to do, Mr. President, stand there for a second, because I want to introduce you to Nina Gonzalez, who brought up a question that we hear a lot both over the Internet and from this crowd.

Second Amendment Rights/Gun Control/Reducing Community Violence

Q. President Obama, during the Democratic National Convention in 2008, you stated you wanted to keep AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. What has your administration done or plan to do to limit the availability of assault weapons?

The President. We’re a nation that believes in the Second Amendment, and I believe in the Second Amendment. We’ve got a long tradition of hunting and sportsmen and people who want to make sure they can protect themselves.

But there have been too many instances during the course of my Presidency where I’ve had to comfort families who have lost somebody, most recently, out in Aurora. Just a couple of weeks ago—actually probably about a month—I saw a mother who I had met at the bedside of her son who had been shot in that theater. And her son had been shot through the head. And we spent some time, and we said a prayer. And remarkably, about 2 months later, this young man and his mom showed up, and he looked unbelievable, good as new. But there were a lot of families who didn’t have that good fortune and whose sons or daughters or husbands didn’t survive.

So my belief is that, A, we have to enforce the laws we’ve already got, make sure that we’re keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, those who are mentally ill. We’ve done a much better job in terms of background checks, but we’ve got more to do when it comes to enforcement.

But I also share your belief that weapons that were designed for soldiers in war theaters don’t belong on our streets. And so what I’m trying to do is to get a broader conversation about how do we reduce the violence generally. Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced, but part of it is also looking at other sources of the violence. Because, frankly, in my hometown of Chicago, there’s an awful lot of violence, and they’re not using AK-47s, they’re using cheap handguns.

And so what can we do to intervene, to make sure that young people have opportunity? That our schools are working? That if there’s violence on the streets, that working with faith groups and law enforcement, we can catch it before it gets out of control.

And so what I want is a comprehensive strategy. Part of it is seeing if we can get automatic weapons that kill folks in amazing numbers out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. But part of it is also going deeper and seeing if we can get into these communities and making sure we catch violent impulses before they occur.

Ms. Crowley. Governor Romney, the question is about assault weapons, AK-47s.

Gun Control/Reducing Community Violence/Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Fast and Furious Program

Gov. Romney. Yes, I’m not in favor of new pieces of legislation on guns and taking guns away or making certain guns illegal. We, of course, don’t want to have automatic weapons, and that’s already illegal in this country to have automatic weapons.

What I believe is, we have to do, as the President mentioned towards the end of his remarks there, which is to make enormous efforts to enforce the gun laws that we have and to change the culture of violence we have. And you ask, how are we going to do that? And there are a number of things. He mentioned good schools. I totally agree. We were able to drive our schools to be number one in the Nation in my State, and I believe if we do a better job in education, we’ll give people the hope and opportunity they deserve and perhaps less violence from that.

But let me mention another thing, and that is parents. We need moms and dads helping raise kids. Wherever possible, the benefit of having two parents in the home—and that’s not always possible, a lot of great single moms, single dads—but gosh, to tell our kids that before they have babies, they ought to think about getting married to someone, that’s a great idea, because if there’s a two-parent family, the prospect of living in poverty goes down dramatically. The opportunities that the child will be able to achieve increase dramatically. So we can make changes in the way our culture works to help bring people away from violence and give them opportunity and bring them in the American system.

The greatest failure we’ve had with regards to gun violence in some respects is what is known as Fast and Furious, which was a program under this administration. And how it worked exactly, I think we don’t know precisely, but where thousands of automatic and AK-47-type weapons were given to people that ultimately gave them to drug lords; they used those weapons against their own citizens and killed Americans with them. And this was a program of the Government. For what purpose it was put in place, I can’t imagine. But it’s one of the great tragedies related to violence in our society which has occurred during this administration, which I think the American people would like to understand fully.

It’s been investigated to a degree, but the administration has carried out executive privilege to prevent all the information from coming out. I’d like to understand, who it was that did this, what the idea was behind it, why it led to the violence. Thousands of guns going to Mexico——

The President. Candy.

Gov. Romney. ——drug lords——

Gun Control/Bipartisanship

Ms. Crowley. Governor, Governor, if I could, the question was about these assault weapons that once were banned and are no longer banned. I know that you signed an assault weapons ban when you were in Massachusetts. Obviously, with this question, you no longer do support that. Why is that? Given the kind of violence that we see, sometimes with these mass killings, why is that, that you’ve changed your mind?

Gov. Romney. Well, Candy, actually, in my State, the pro-gun folks and the anti-gun folks came together and put together a piece of legislation. And it’s referred to as an assault weapon ban, but it had, at the signing of the bill, both the pro-gun and the anti-gun people came together because it provided opportunities for both that both wanted. There were hunting opportunities, for instance, that hadn’t previously been available and so forth. So it was a mutually agreed-upon piece of legislation.

That’s what we need more of, Candy. What we have right now in Washington is a place that’s gridlocked.

Ms. Crowley. So if I could—if you could get people to agree to it, you’d be for it?

The President. Candy.

Gov. Romney. We haven’t had the leadership in Washington to work at a bipartisan basis. I was able to do that in my State and bring these two together.

The President. Candy.

Ms. Crowley. Go ahead, Mr. President.

Gun Control/Reducing Community Violence

The President. First of all, I think Governor Romney was for an assault weapons ban before he was against it. And he said that the reason he changed his mind was, in part, because he was seeking the endorsement of the National Rifle Association. So that’s on the record.

But I think that one area we agree on is the importance of parents and the importance of schools, because I do believe that if our young people have opportunity, then they’re less likely to engage in these kind of violent acts. We’re not going to eliminate everybody who is mentally disturbed—and we’ve got to make sure that they don’t get weapons—but we can make a difference in terms of ensuring that every young person in America, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, have a chance to succeed.

And, Candy, we haven’t had a chance to talk about education much, but I think it is very important to understand that the reforms we’ve put in place, working with 46 Governors around the country, are seeing schools that are some of the ones that are the toughest for kids starting to succeed; we’re starting to see gains in math and science.

When it comes to community colleges, we are setting up programs, including with Nassau Community College, to retrain workers, including young people who may have dropped out of school, but now are getting another chance, training them for the jobs that exist right now. And in fact, employers are looking for skilled workers, and so we’re matching them up, giving them access to higher education. As I said, we have made sure that millions of young people are able to get an education that they weren’t able to get before. Now——

Ms. Crowley. Mr. President, I have to move you along here.

The President. But——

Ms. Crowley. You said you wanted to hear this question, so we need to do it here.

The President. Just one second——

Ms. Crowley. One——

The President. ——because this is important. This is part of the choice in this election. When Governor Romney was asked whether teachers—hiring more teachers was important to growing our economy, Governor Romney said that doesn’t grow our economy. When he was asked, is—was class size——

Ms. Crowley. The question, of course, Mr. President, was guns here, so I need to move us along.

The President. I understand.

Ms. Crowley. The question was guns, so let me bring in another——

The President. But this will make a difference in terms of whether or not we can move this economy forward for these young people——

Ms. Crowley. I understand.

The President. ——and reduce our violence.

Ms. Crowley. Okay. Thank you so much.

I want to ask Carol Goldberg to stand up because she gets to a question that both these men have been passionate about. It’s for Governor Romney.

Global Competitiveness/Chinese Monetary Policy

Q. The outsourcing of American jobs overseas has taken a toll on our economy. What plans do you have to put back and keep jobs here in the United States?

Gov. Romney. Boy, great question, an important question, because you’re absolutely right. The place where we’ve seen manufacturing go has been China. China is now the largest manufacturer in the world, used to be the United States of America. A lot of good people have lost jobs. A half a million manufacturing jobs have been lost in the last 4 years; that’s total over the last 4 years. One of the reasons for that is that people think it’s more attractive in some cases to go offshore than to stay here. We have made it less attractive for enterprises to stay here than to go offshore from time to time.

What I will do as President is make sure it’s more attractive to come to America again. This is the way we’re going to create jobs in this country. It’s not by trickle-down government, saying we’re going to take more money from people and hire more government workers, raise more taxes, put in place more regulations. Trickle-down government has never worked here, has never worked anywhere.

I want to make America the most attractive place in the world for entrepreneurs, for small business, for big business, to invest and grow in America. Now, we’re going to have to make sure that as we trade with other nations that they play by the rules, and China hasn’t. One of the reasons—or one of the ways they don’t play by the rules is artificially holding down the value of their currency. Because if they put their currency down low, that means their prices on their goods are low, and that makes them advantageous in the marketplace. We lose sales, and manufacturers here in the U.S. making the same products can’t compete.

China has been a currency manipulator for years and years and years. And the President has a regular opportunity to label them as a currency manipulator, but refuses to do so. On day one, I will label China a currency manipulator, which will allow me as President to be able to put in place, if necessary, tariffs where I believe that they are taking unfair advantage of our manufacturers.

So we’re going to make sure that people we trade with around the world play by the rules. But let me not just stop there. Don’t forget: What’s key to bringing back jobs here is not just finding someone else to punish—and I’m going to be strict with people who we trade with to make sure they follow the law and play by the rules—but it’s also to make America the most attractive place in the world for businesses of all kinds. That’s why I want to bring down the tax rates on small employers, big employers, so they want to be here.

Canada’s tax rate on companies is now 15 percent. Ours is 35 percent. So if you’re starting a business, where would you rather start it? We have to be competitive if we’re going to create more jobs here. Regulations have quadrupled; the rate of regulations quadrupled under this President. I’ve talked to small businesses across the country. They say, we feel like we’re under attack from our own Government. I want to make sure that regulators see their job as encouraging small business, not crushing it. And there’s no question, but that Obamacare has been an extraordinary deterrent to enterprises of all kinds hiring people.

My priority is making sure that we get more people hired. If we have more people hired, if we get back manufacturing jobs, if we get back all kinds of jobs into this country, then you’re going to see rising incomes again. The reason incomes are down is because unemployment is so high. I know what it takes to get this to happen. And my plan will do that. And one part of it is to make sure that we keep China playing by the rules. Thank you.

Ms. Crowley. Mr. President, 2 minutes here because we are then going to go to our last question.

Corporate Tax Reform/Global Competitiveness

The President. We need to create jobs here. And both Governor Romney and I agree actually that we should lower our corporate tax rate. It’s too high. But there’s a difference in terms of how we would do it. I want to close loopholes that allow companies to deduct expenses when they move to China that allow them to profit offshore and not have to get taxed, so they have tax advantages offshore. All those changes in our Tax Code would make a difference.

Now, Governor Romney actually wants to expand those tax breaks. One of his big ideas when it comes to corporate tax reform would be to say if you invest overseas, you make profits overseas, you don’t have to pay U.S. taxes. But of course, if you’re a small business or a mom-and-pop business or a big business starting up here, you’ve got to pay even the reduced rate that Governor Romney is talking about. And it’s estimated that that will create 800,000 new jobs; the problem is they’ll be in China or India or Germany. That’s not the way we’re going to create jobs here.

The way we’re going to create jobs here is not just to change our Tax Code, but also to double our exports. And we are on pace to double our exports, one of the commitments I made when I was President. That’s creating tens of thousands of jobs all across the country. That’s why we’ve kept on pushing trade deals, but trade deals that make sure that American workers and American businesses are getting a good deal.

Now, Governor Romney talked about China. As I already indicated, in the private sector, Governor Romney’s company invested in what were called “pioneers of outsourcing.” That’s not my phrase. That’s what reporters called it. And as far as currency manipulation, the currency has actually gone up 11 percent since I’ve been President because we have pushed them hard. And we’ve put unprecedented trade pressure on China. That’s why exports have significantly increased under my Presidency. That’s going to help to create jobs here.

Ms. Crowley. Mr. President, we have a really short time for a quick discussion here. iPad, the Macs, the iPhones, they are all manufactured in China. One of the major reasons is labor is so much cheaper here. How do you convince a great American company to bring that manufacturing back here?

Chinese Monetary Policy/Global Competitiveness

Gov. Romney. The answer is very straightforward: We can compete with anyone in the world as long as the playing field is level. China has been cheating over the years: one, by holding down the value of their currency; number two, by stealing our intellectual property, our designs, our patents, our technology. There’s even an Apple store in China that’s a counterfeit Apple store selling counterfeit goods. They hack into our computers. We will have to have people play on a fair basis. That’s number one.

Number two, we have to make America the most attractive place for entrepreneurs, for people who want to expand a business. That’s what brings jobs in. The President’s characterization of my tax plan is——

The President. How much time you got, Candy?

Gov. Romney. ——is completely——

Ms. Crowley. Let me go to the——

Gov. Romney.——is completely false. Let me tell you.

Ms. Crowley. Let me go to the President here because we really are——

The President. All right, I’m——

Ms. Crowley. ——because we really are running out of time. And the question is, can we ever get—we can’t get wages like that. It can’t be sustained here.

Manufacturing Industry/Global Competitiveness

The President. Candy, there are some jobs that are not going to come back because they’re low-wage, low-skill jobs. I want high-wage, high-skill jobs. That’s why we have to emphasize manufacturing. That’s why we have to invest in advanced manufacturing. That’s why we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got the best science and research in the world.

And when we talk about deficits, if we’re adding to our deficit for tax cuts for folks who don’t need them and we’re cutting investments in research and science that will create the next Apple, create the next new innovation that will sell products around the world, we will lose that race. If we’re not training engineers to make sure that they are equipped here in this country, then companies won’t come here. Those investments are what’s going to help to make sure that we continue to lead this world economy not just next year, but 10 years from now, 50 years from now, 100 years from now.

Ms. Crowley. Thanks, Mr. President.

Gov. Romney. Government does not create jobs.

Ms. Crowley. Governor Romney.

Gov. Romney. Government does not create jobs.

Ms. Crowley. Governor Romney, I want to introduce you to Barry Green because he’s going to have the last question to you first.

Gov. Romney. Barry? Oh, there’s Barry. Hi, Barry.

2012 Presidential Election/Perception of Candidates

Q. Hi, Governor. I think this is a tough question. Each of you, what do you believe is the biggest misperception that the American people have about you as a man and a candidate? Using specific examples, can you take this opportunity to debunk that misperception and set us straight?

Gov. Romney. Thank you, and that’s an opportunity for me, and I appreciate it. In the nature of a campaign, it seems that some campaigns are focused on attacking a person rather than prescribing their own future and the things they’d like to do. In the course of that, I think the President’s campaign has tried to characterize me as someone who’s very different than who I am.

I care about 100 percent of the American people. I want 100 percent of the American people to have a bright and prosperous future. I care about our kids. I understand what it takes to make a bright and prosperous future for America again. I spent my life in the private sector, not in government. I’m a guy who wants to help, with the experience I have, the American people.

My passion probably flows from the fact that I believe in God and I believe we’re all children of the same God. I believe we have a responsibility to care for one another. I served as a missionary for my church. I served as a pastor in my congregation for about 10 years. I’ve sat across the table from people who were out of work and worked with them to try and find new work or to help them through tough times.

I went to the Olympics when they were in trouble to try and get them on track. And as Governor of my State, I was able to get 100 percent of my people insured, all my kids, about 98 percent of the adults; was able also to get our schools ranked number one in the Nation so 100 percent of our kids would have a bright opportunity for a future.

I understand that I can get this country on track again. We don’t have to settle for what we’re going through. We don’t have to settle for gasoline at $4. We don’t have to settle for unemployment at a chronically high level. We don’t have to settle for 47 million people on food stamps. We don’t have to settle for 50 percent of kids coming out of college not able to get work. We don’t have to settle for 23 million people struggling to find a good job.

If I become President, I’ll get America working again. I will get us on track to a balanced budget. The President hasn’t. I will. I’ll make sure we can reform Medicare and Social Security to preserve them for coming generations. The President said he would. He didn’t.

Ms. Crowley. Governor.

Gov. Romney. I’ll get our incomes up. And by the way, I’ve done these things. I served as Governor and showed I could get them done.

Ms. Crowley. Mr. President, last 2 minutes belong to you.

The President. Barry, I think a lot of this campaign, maybe over the last 4 years, has been devoted to this notion that I think government creates jobs, that that somehow is the answer. That’s not what I believe.

I believe that the free enterprise system is the greatest engine of prosperity the world has ever known. I believe in self-reliance and individual initiative and risk takers being rewarded. But I also believe that everybody should have a fair shot and everybody should do their fair share and everybody should play by the same rules, because that’s how our economy is grown. That’s how we built the world’s greatest middle class. And that is part of what’s at stake in this election. There’s a fundamentally different vision about how we move our country forward.

I believe Governor Romney is a good man, loves his family, cares about his faith. But I also believe that when he said, behind closed doors, that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims, who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about: folks on Social Security who have worked all their lives; veterans who have sacrificed for this country; students who are out there trying to, hopefully, advance their own dreams, but also this country’s dreams; soldiers who are overseas fighting for us right now; people who are working hard every day, paying payroll tax, gas taxes, but don’t make enough income.

And I want to fight for them. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last 4 years, because if they succeed, I believe the country succeeds.

And when my grandfather fought in World War II and he came back and he got a GI Bill and that allowed him to go to college, that wasn’t a handout, that was something that advanced the entire country. And I want to make sure that the next generation has those same opportunities. That’s why I’m asking for your vote, and that’s why I’m asking for another 4 years.

Ms. Crowley. President Obama, Governor Romney, thank you for being here tonight.

On that note, we have come to an end of this town hall debate. Our thanks to the participants for their time and to the people of Hofstra University for their hospitality.

The next and final debate takes place Monday night at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. Don’t forget to watch. Election Day is 3 weeks from today. Don’t forget to vote. Goodnight.


NOTE: The debate began at 9 p.m. in the David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex Debate Hall at Hofstra University. In his remarks, the President referred to Lilly Ledbetter, former employee, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company plant in Gadsden, AL; Kansas Secretary of State Kris W. Kobach, immigration policy adviser to Gov. Romney; U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens, Sean P. Smith, Foreign Service officer, and Glen A. Doherty and Tyrone S. Woods, security officers, Department of State, who were killed in an attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11; U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Susan E. Rice; and Amee Gharbi, mother of Yousef Gharbi, who sustained a gunshot to the head in the July 20 shootings at the Century 16 multiplex in Aurora, CO. The President also referred to his sister Maya Soetoro-Ng. Gov. Romney referred to Beth Myers, who served as chief of staff during his tenure as Governor of Massachusetts; and 2008 Republican Presidential nominee Sen. John S. McCain III. Gov. Romney also referred to his wife Ann L. Romney.

October 3, 2012: First Presidential Debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado Transcript

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & ELECTIONS

2012 PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES

Presidential Debate at the University of Denver
October 3, 2012

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

This debate and the next three — two presidential, one vice- presidential– are sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Tonight’s 90 minutes will be about domestic issues, and will follow a formatdesigned by the commission. There will be six roughly 15-minute segments, withtwo-minute answers for the first question, then open discussion for theremainder of each segment.

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

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

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

Gentlemen, welcome to you both.

Let’s start the economy, segment one. And let’s begin with jobs. What arethe major differences between the two of you about how you would go aboutcreating new jobs? You have two minutes — each of you havetwo minutes to start. The coin toss has determined, Mr. President, you go first.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, thank you very much, Jim, forthis opportunity. I want to thank Governor Romney and the University of Denverfor your hospitality.

There are a lot of points that I want to make tonight, but the mostimportant one is that 20 years ago I became the luckiest man on earth becauseMichelle Obama agreed to marry me. (Laughter.) And soI just want to wish, Sweetie, you happy anniversary and let you know that ayear from now, we will not be celebrating it in front of 40 million people. (Laughter.)

You know, four years ago we went through the worst financial crisis sincethe Great Depression. Millions of jobs were lost. The auto industry was on thebrink of collapse. The financial system had frozen up. And because of theresilience and the determination of the American people, we’ve begun to fightour way back.

Over the last 30 months, we’ve seen 5 million jobs in the private sectorcreated. The auto industry has come roaring back and housing has begun to rise.But we all know that we’ve still got a lot of work to do. And so the questionhere tonight is not where we’ve been but where we’re going. Governor Romney hasa perspective that says if we cut taxes, skewed towards the wealthy, and rollback regulations that we’ll be better off.

I’ve got a different view. I think we’ve got to invest in education andtraining. I think it’s important for us to develop new sources of energy herein America, that we change our tax code to make sure that we’re helping smallbusinesses and companies that are investing here in the United States, that wetake some of the money that we’re saving as we wind down two wars to rebuildAmerica and that we reduce our deficit in a balanced way that allows us to makethese critical investments.

Now, it ultimately is going to be up to the voters, to you, which path weshould take. Are we going to double down on the top-down economic policies thathelped to get us into this mess, or do we embrace a new economic patriotismthat says, America does best when the middle class does best? And I’m lookingforward to having that debate.

MR. LEHRER: Governor Romney, two minutes.

MR. ROMNEY: Thank you, Jim. It’s an honor to be here withyou, and I appreciate the chance to be with the president. I am pleased to beat the University of Denver, appreciatetheir welcome and also the presidential commission on these debates.

And congratulations to you, Mr. President, on youranniversary. I’m sure this was the most romantic place you could imaginehere — here with me, so I — (laughter) — congratulations.

This is obviously a very tender topic. I’ve had the occasion over the lastcouple of years of meeting people across the country. I was in Dayton, Ohio,and a woman grabbed my arm, and she said, I’ve beenout of work since May. Can you help me?

Ann yesterday was a rally in Denver, and a woman came up to her with a babyin her arms and said, Ann, my husband has had four jobs in three years,part-time jobs. He’s lost his most recent job, and we’ve now just lost ourhome. Can you help us?

And the answer is yes, we can help, but it’s going to take a different path,not the one we’ve been on, not the one the president describes as a top-down,cut taxes for the rich. That’s not what I’m going to do.

My plan has five basic parts. One, get us energy independent, North Americanenergy independent. That creates about four million jobs. Number two, open upmore trade, particularly in Latin America;crack down on Chinaif and when they cheat. Number three, make sure ourpeople have the skills they need to succeed and the best schools in the world.We’re far away from that now. Number four, get us to abalanced budget. Number five, champion small business.

It’s small business that creates the jobs in America. And over the last fouryears small-business people have decided that America may not be the place toopen a new business, because new business startups are down to a 30-year low. Iknow what it takes to get small business growing again, to hire people.

Now, I’m concerned that the path that we’re on has just been unsuccessful.The president has a view very similar to the view he had when he ran four yearsago, that a bigger government, spending more, taxing more, regulating more –if you will, trickle-down government would work. That’s not the right answerfor America.I’ll restore the vitality that gets America working again.

Thank you.

MR. LEHRER: Mr. President, please respond directly to whatthe governor just said about trickle-down — his trickle-down approach. He’s –as he said yours is.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, let me talk specifically about whatI think we need to do.

First, we’ve got to improve our education system. And we’ve made enormousprogress drawing on ideas both from Democrats and Republicans that are alreadystarting to show gains in some of the toughest-to- deal-with schools. We’ve gota program called Race to the Top that has prompted reforms in 46 states aroundthe country, raising standards, improving how we train teachers. So now I wantto hire another hundred thousand new math and science teachers and create 2million more slots in our community colleges so that people can get trained forthe jobs that are out there right now. And I want to make sure that we keeptuition low for our young people.

When it comes to our tax code, Governor Romney and I both agree that ourcorporate tax rate is too high. So I want to lower it, particularly formanufacturing, taking it down to 25 percent. But I also want to close thoseloopholes that are giving incentives for companies that are shipping jobsoverseas. I want to provide tax breaks for companies that are investing here inthe United States.

On energy, Governor Romney and I, we both agree that we’ve got to boostAmerican energy production.

And oil and natural gas production are higher than they’ve been in years.But I also believe that we’ve got to look at the energy source of the future,like wind and solar and biofuels, and make those investments.

So, all of this is possible. Now, in order for us to do it, we do have toclose our deficit, and one of the things I’m sure we’ll be discussing tonightis, how do we deal with our tax code, and how do we make sure that we arereducing spending in a responsible way, but also how do we have enough revenueto make those investments? And this is where there’s a difference becauseGovernor Romney’s central economic plan calls for a $5 trillion tax cut, on topof the extension of the Bush tax cuts, so that’s another $2 trillion, and $2trillion in additional military spending that the military hasn’t asked for.That’s $8 trillion. How we pay for that, reduce the deficit and make theinvestments that we need to make without dumping those costs on themiddle-class Americans I think is one of the central questions of thiscampaign.

MR. LEHRER: Both of you have spoken about a lot ofdifferent things, and we’re going to try to get through them in as specific away as we possibly can.

But first, Governor Romney, do you have a question that you’d like to askthe president directly about something he just said?

MR. ROMNEY: Well, sure. I’d like to clear up the record andgo through it piece by piece. First of all, I don’t have a $5 trillion tax cut.I don’t have a tax cut of a scale that you’re talking about. My view is that weought to provide tax relief to people in the middle class. But I’m not going toreduce the share of taxes paid by high- income people. High-income people aredoing just fine in this economy. They’ll do fine whether you’re president or Iam.

The people who are having the hard time right now are middle- incomeAmericans. Under the president’s policies, middle-income Americans have beenburied. They’re — they’re just being crushed. Middle-income Americans haveseen their income come down by $4,300. This is a — this is a tax in and ofitself. I’ll call it the economy tax. It’s been crushing. The same time,gasoline prices have doubled under the president, electric rates are up, foodprices are up, health care costs have gone up by$2,500 a family.

Middle-income families are being crushed. And so the question is how to getthem going again, and I’ve described it. It’s energyand trade, the right kind of training programs, balancing our budget andhelping small business. Those are the — the cornerstones of my plan.

But the president mentioned a couple of other ideas, and I’ll just note:first, education. I agree, education is key,particularly the future of our economy. But our training programs right now, wegot 47 of them housed in the federal government, reporting to eight differentagencies. Overhead is overwhelming. We got to get those dollars back to thestates and go to the workers so they can create their own pathways to gettingthe training they need for jobs that will really help them.

The second area: taxation. We agree; we ought to bring the tax rates down,and I do, both for corporations and for individuals. But in order for us not tolose revenue, have the government run out of money, I also lower deductions andcredits and exemptions so that we keep taking in the same money when you alsoaccount for growth.

The third area: energy. Energy is critical, and the president pointed outcorrectly that production of oil and gas in the U.S. is up. Butnot due to his policies. In spite of his policies.Mr. President, all of the increase in natural gas and oil has happened onprivate land, not on government land. On government land, your administrationhas cut the number of permits and license in half. If I’m president, I’lldouble them. And also get the — the oil from offshore and Alaska. And I’ll bring that pipeline in fromCanada.

And by the way, I like coal. I’m going to make sure we continue to burnclean coal. People in the coal industry feel like it’sgetting crushed by your policies. I want to get America and North America energy independent, so we can create those jobs.

And finally, with regards to that tax cut, look, I’m not looking to cutmassive taxes and to reduce the — the revenues going to the government. My –my number one principle is there’ll be no tax cut that adds to the deficit.

I want to underline that — no tax cut that adds to the deficit. But I dowant to reduce the burden being paid by middle-income Americans. And I — andto do that that also means that I cannot reduce the burden paid by high-incomeAmericans. So any — any language to the contrary is simply not accurate.

MR. LEHRER: Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think — let’s talk about taxesbecause I think it’s instructive. Now, four years ago when I stood on thisstage I said that I would cut taxes for middle-class families. And that’sexactly what I did. We cut taxes for middle-class families by about $3,600. Andthe reason is because I believe we do best when the middle class is doing well.

And by giving them those tax cuts, they had a little more money in theirpocket and so maybe they can buy a new car. They are certainly in a betterposition to weather the extraordinary recession that we went through. They canbuy a computer for their kid who’s going off to college, which means they’respending more money, businesses have more customers, businessesmake more profits and then hire more workers.

Now, Governor Romney’s proposal that he has been promoting for 18 monthscalls for a $5 trillion tax cut on top of $2 trillion of additional spendingfor our military. And he is saying that he is going to pay for it by closingloopholes and deductions. The problem is that he’s been asked a — over ahundred times how you would close those deductions and loopholes and he hasn’tbeen able to identify them.

But I’m going to make an important point here, Jim.

MR. LEHRER: All right.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: When you add up all the loopholes anddeductions that upper income individuals can — are currently taking advantageof — if you take those all away — you don’t come close to paying for $5trillion in tax cuts and $2 trillion in additional military spending. Andthat’s why independent studies looking at this said the only way to meetGovernor Romney’s pledge of not reducing the deficit — or — or — or notadding to the deficit, is by burdening middle-class families.

The average middle-class family with children would pay about $2,000 more.Now, that’s not my analysis; that’s the analysis of economists who have lookedat this. And — and that kind of top — top-down economics, where folks at thetop are doing well so the average person making 3 million bucks is getting a$250,000 tax break while middle- class families are burdened further, that’snot what I believe is a recipe for economic growth.

MR. LEHRER: All right. What is the difference?

MR. ROMNEY: Well —

MR. LEHRER: Let’s just stay on taxes for —

MR. ROMNEY: But I — but I — right, right.

MR. LEHRER: OK. Yeah, just — let’s just stay on taxes fora moment.

MR. ROMNEY: Yeah. Well, but — but —

MR. LEHRER: What is the difference?

MR. ROMNEY: — virtually every — virtually everything hejust said about my tax plan is inaccurate.

MR. LEHRER: All right, go —

MR. ROMNEY: So — so if — if the tax plan he describedwere a tax plan I was asked to support, I’d say absolutely not. I’m not lookingfor a $5 trillion tax cut. What I’ve said is I won’t put in place a tax cutthat adds to the deficit. That’s part one. So there’s no economist can say MittRomney’s tax plan adds 5 trillion (dollars) if I say I will not add to thedeficit with my tax plan.

Number two, I will not reduce the share paid by high-income individuals. I– I know that you and your running mate keep saying that, and I know it’s apopular things to say with a lot of people, but it’s just not the case. Look, Igot five boys. I’m used to people saying something that’s not always true, butjust keep on repeating it and ultimately hoping I’ll believe it — (scatteredlaughter) — but that — that is not the case, all right? I will not reduce thetaxes paid by high-income Americans.

And number three, I will not, under any circumstances, raise taxes onmiddle-income families. I will lower taxes on middle-income families. Now, youcite a study. There are six other studies that looked at the study you describeand say it’s completely wrong. I saw a study that came out today that saidyou’re going to raise taxes by 3(,000 dollars) to$4,000 on — on middle-income families. There are all these studies out there.

But let’s get to the bottom line. That is, I want to bring down rates. Iwant to bring down the rates down, at the same time lower deductions andexemptions and credits and so forth so we keep getting the revenue we need.

And you think, well, then why lower the rates? And the reason is becausesmall business pays that individual rate. Fifty-four percent of America’sworkers work in businesses that are taxed not at the corporate tax rate but atthe individual tax rate. And if we lower that rate, they will be able to hiremore people.

For me, this is about jobs.

MR. LEHRER: All right. That’s where we started.

MR. ROMNEY: This is about getting jobs for the Americanpeople.

MR. LEHRER: Yeah.

Do you challenge what the governor just said about his own plan?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, for 18 months he’s been running onthis tax plan. And now, five weeks before the election, he’s saying that hisbig, bold idea is “never mind.” And the fact is that if you are lowering therates the way you describe, Governor, then it is not possible to come up withenough deductions and loopholes that only affect high-income individuals toavoid either raising the deficit or burdening the middle class. It’s — it’s math. It’s arithmetic.

Now, Governor Romney and I do share a deep interest in encouragingsmall-business growth. So at the same time that my tax plan has already loweredtaxes for 98 percent of families, I also lowered taxes for small businesses 18times. And what I want to do is continue the tax rates — the tax cuts that weput into place for small businesses and families.

But I have said that for incomes over $250,000 a year that we should go backto the rates that we had when Bill Clinton was president, when we created 23million new jobs, went from deficit to surplus and created a whole lot ofmillionaires to boot.

And the reason this is important is because by doing that, we can not onlyreduce the deficit, we can not only encourage job growth through smallbusinesses, but we’re also able to make the investments that are necessary ineducation or in energy.

And we do have a difference, though, when it comes to definitions of smallbusiness. Now, under — under my plan, 97 percent of small businesses would notsee their income taxes go up. Governor Romney says, well, those top 3 percent,they’re the job creators. They’d be burdened.

But under Governor Romney’s definition, there are a whole bunch ofmillionaires and billionaires who are small businesses. Donald Trump is a smallbusiness. And I know Donald Trump doesn’t like to think of himself as smallanything, but — but that’s how you define small businesses if you’re gettingbusiness income. And that kind of approach, I believe, will not grow oureconomy because the only way to pay for it without either burdening the middle classor blowing up our deficit is to make drastic cuts in things like education,making sure that we are continuing to invest in basic science and research, allthe things that are helping America grow. And I think that would be a mistake.

MR. LEHRER: All right.

MR. ROMNEY: Jim, let me just come back on that — on thatpoint.

MR. LEHRER: Just for the — just for the record —

MR. ROMNEY: These small businesses we’re talking about —

MR. LEHRER: Excuse me. Just so everybody understands —

MR. ROMNEY: Yeah.

MR. LEHRER: — we’re way over our first 15 minutes.

MR. ROMNEY: It’s fun, isn’t it?

MR. LEHRER: It’s OK. It’s great.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: That’s OK.

MR. LEHRER: No problem. No, you don’t have — you don’thave a problem, I don’t have a problem, because we’re still on the economy, butwe’re going to come back to taxes and we’re going to move on to the deficit anda lot of other things, too.

OK, but go ahead, sir.

MR. ROMNEY: You bet.

Well, President, you’re — Mr. President, you’re absolutely right, which isthat with regards to 97 percent of the businesses are not — not taxed at the35 percent tax rate, they’re taxed at a lower rate. But those businesses thatare in the last 3 percent of businesses happen to employ half — half — of allof the people who work in small business. Those are the businesses that employone quarter of all the workers in America. And your plan is take their tax ratefrom 35 percent to 40 percent.

Now, I talked to a guy who has a very small business. He’s in the electronicsbusiness in — in St. Louis. He has four employees.

He said he and his son calculated how much they pay in taxes. Federal incometax, federal payroll tax, state income tax, state sales tax, state propertytax, gasoline tax — it added up to well over 50 percent of what they earned.

And your plan is to take the tax rate on successful small businesses from 35percent to 40 percent. The National Federation of Independent Businesses hassaid that will cost 700,000 jobs. I don’t want to cost jobs. My priority isjobs. And so what I do is I bring down the tax rates, lower deductions andexemptions — the same idea behind Bowles-Simpson, by the way. Get the ratesdown, lower deductions and exemptions to create more jobs, because there’snothing better for getting us to a balanced budget than having more peopleworking, earning more money, paying — (chuckles) — more taxes. That’s by farthe most effective and efficient way to get this budget balanced.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Jim, I — you may want to move on to anothertopic, but I would just say this to the American people. If you believe that wecan cut taxes by $5 trillion and add $2 trillion in additional spending thatthe military is not asking for — $7 trillion, just to give you a sense, over10 years that’s more than our entire defense budget — and you think that byclosing loopholes and deductions for the well-to-do, somehow you will not endup picking up the tab, then Governor Romney’s plan may work for you.

But I think math, common sense and our history shows us that’s not a recipefor job growth.

Look, we’ve tried this — we’ve tried both approaches. The approach thatGovernor Romney’s talking about is the same sales pitch that was made in 2001and 2003. And we ended up with the slowest job growth in 50 years. We ended upmoving from surplus to deficits. And it all culminated in the worst financialcrisis since the Great Depression.

Bill Clinton tried the approach that I’m talking about. We created 23million new jobs. We went from deficit to surplus, and businesses did verywell.

So in some ways, we’ve got some data on which approach is more likely tocreate jobs and opportunity for Americans, and I believe that the economy worksbest when middle-class families are getting tax breaks so that they’ve got somemoney in their pockets and those of us who have done extraordinarily wellbecause of this magnificent country that we live in, that we can afford to do alittle bit more to make sure we’re not blowing up the deficit.

MR. LEHRER: OK. (Inaudible) —

MR. ROMNEY: Jim, the president began this segment, so Ithink I get the last word, so I’m going to take it. Allright? (Chuckles.)

MR. LEHRER: Well, you’re going to get the first word in thenext segment.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, but — but he gets the first word of thatsegment. I get the last word of that segment, I hope. Let me just make thiscomment.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (Chuckles.) He can — you can have it. Hecan —

MR. ROMNEY: First of all —

MR. LEHRER: That’s not how it works.

MR. ROMNEY: Let me — let me repeat — let me repeat what Isaid — (inaudible). I’m not in favor of a $5 trillion tax cut. That’s not myplan. My plan is not to put in place any tax cut that will add to the deficit.That’s point one. So you may keep referring to it as a $5 trillion tax cut, butthat’s not my plan.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: OK.

MR. ROMNEY: Number two, let’s look at history. My plan isnot like anything that’s been tried before. My plan is to bring down rates butalso bring down deductions and exemptions and credits at the same time so therevenue stays in, but that we bring down rates to get more people working. Mypriority is putting people back to work in America. They’re suffering in thiscountry. And we talk about evidence — look at the evidence of the last fouryears. It’s absolutely extraordinary. We’ve got 23 million people out of workor stop looking for work in this country.

MR. LEHRER: All right.

MR. ROMNEY: It’s just — it’s — we’ve got — we got –when the president took office, 32 million people on food stamps; 47 million onfood stamps today. Economic growth this year slower than lastyear, and last year slower than the year before. Going forward with thestatus quo is not going to cut it for the American people who are strugglingtoday.

MR. LEHRER: All right. Let’s talk — we’re still on theeconomy. This is, theoretically now, a second segment still on the economy, andspecifically on what do about the federal deficit, the federal debt. And thequestion — you each have two minutes on this — and, Governor Romney you gofirst because the president went first on segment one. And the question isthis: What are the differences between the two of you as to how you would goabout tackling the deficit problem in this country?

MR. ROMNEY: Well, good. I’m glad you raised that. And it’sa — it’s a critical issue. I think it’s not just an economic issue. I thinkit’s a moral issue. I think it’s, frankly, not moral for my generation to keepspending massively more than we take in, knowing those burdens are going to bepassed on to the next generation. And they’re going to be paying the interestand the principle all their lives. And the amount of debt we’re adding, at atrillion a year, is simply not moral.

So how do we deal with it? Well, mathematically there are — there are threeways that you can cut a deficit. One, of course, is to raise taxes. Number twois to cut spending. And number three is to grow the economy because if morepeople work in a growing economy they’re paying taxes and you can get the jobdone that way.

The presidents would — president would prefer raising taxes. I understand.The problem with raising taxes is that it slows down the rate of growth and youcould never quite get the job done. I want to lower spending and encourageeconomic growth at the same time.

What things would I cut from spending? Well, first of all, I will eliminateall programs by this test — if they don’t pass it: Is the program so criticalit’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it? And if not, I’ll get ridof it. “Obamacare” is on my list. I apologize, Mr. President. I use that termwith all respect.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I like it.

MR. ROMNEY: Good. OK, good. (Laughter.)So I’ll get rid of that. I’m sorry, Jim. I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS.I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually likeyou too. But I’m not going to — I’m not going to keep on spending money onthings to borrow money from China to pay for it. That’s number one.

Number two, I’ll take programs that are currently good programs but I thinkcould be run more efficiently at the state level and send them to state.

Number three, I’ll make government more efficient, and to cut back thenumber of employees, combine some agencies and departments. My cutbacks will bedone through attrition, by the way.

This is the approach we have to take to get America to a balanced budget.The president said he’d cut the deficit in half. Unfortunately, he doubled it. Trillion-dollar deficits for the last four years. Thepresident’s put it in place as much public debt — almost as much debt held byby the public as all prior presidents combined.

MR. LEHRER: Mr. President. twominutes.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: When I walked in the Oval Office, I hadmore than a trillion dollar deficit greeting me, and we know where it camefrom. Two wars that were paid for on a credit card.Two tax cuts that were not paid for, and a whole bunch of programs that werenot paid for. And then a massive economic crisis.

And despite that, what we’ve said is, yes, we had to take some initialemergency measures to make sure we didn’t slip into a Great Depression. Butwhat we’ve also said is, let’s make sure that we are cutting out those thingsthat are not helping us grow.

So, 77 government programs — everything from aircrafts that the Air Forcehad ordered but weren’t working very well. Eighteen government– 18 government programs for education that were well- intentioned but weren’thelping kids learn. We went after medical fraud in Medicare and Medicaid veryaggressively — more aggressively than ever before, and have saved tens ofbillions of dollars. Fifty billion dollars of waste taken outof the system.

And I worked with Democrats and Republicans to cut a trillion dollars out ofour discretionary domestic budget. That’s the largest cut in the discretionarydomestic budget since Dwight Eisenhower.

Now, we all know that we’ve got to do more. And so I’ve put forward aspecific $4 trillion deficit-reduction plan.

It’s on a website. You can look at all the numbers, what cuts we make andwhat revenue we raise.

And the way we do it is $2.50 for every cut, we ask for a dollar ofadditional revenue, paid for, as I indicated earlier, by asking those of us whohave done very well in this country to contribute a little bit more to reducethe deficit.

And Governor Romney earlier mentioned the Bowles-Simpson commission. Well,that’s how the commission — bipartisan commission that talked about how weshould move forward suggested we have to do it — in a balanced way with somerevenue and some spending cuts. And this is a major difference that GovernorRomney and I have.

Let — let me just finish this point because you’re looking for contrast.You know, when Governor Romney stood on a stage with other Republicancandidates for the nomination, and he was asked, would you take $10 of spendingcuts for just $1 of revenue, and he said no. Now, if you take such anunbalanced approach, then that means you are going to be gutting ourinvestments in schools and education. It means that — Governor Romney talkedabout Medicaid and how we could send it back to the states, but effectivelythis means a 30 percent cut in the primary program we help for seniors who arein nursing homes, for kids who are with disabilities —

MR. LEHRER: Mr. President, I’m sorry —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: And that is not a right strategy for us tomove forward.

MR. LEHRER: Way over the two minutes.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Sorry.

MR. LEHRER: Governor, what about Simpson-Bowles. Will yousupport Simpson-Bowles?

MR. ROMNEY: Simpson-Bowles, the president should havegrabbed that.

MR. LEHRER: No, I mean do you support Simpson-Bowles?

MR. ROMNEY: I have my own plan. It’s not the same asSimpson- Bowles. But in my view, the president should have grabbed it. If youwanted to make some adjustments to it, take it, go to Congress, fight for it.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: That’s what we’ve done, made someadjustments to it; and we’re putting it forward before Congress right now, a $4trillion plan, (a balanced ?) —

MR. ROMNEY: But you’ve been — but you’ve been presidentfour years. You’ve been president four years. You said you’d cut the deficit inhalf. It’s now four years later. We still have trillion- dollar deficits.

The CBO says we’ll have a trillion-dollar deficit each of the next fouryears. If you’re re-elected, we’ll get to a trillion-dollar debt. You have saidbefore you’d cut the deficit in half. And this four — I love this idea of 4trillion (dollars) in cuts. You’ve found $4 trillion of ways to reduce or toget closer to a balanced budget, except we still show trillion dollar deficitsevery year. That doesn’t get the job done.

Let me come back and say, why is that I don’t want to raise taxes? Why don’tI want to raise taxes on people? And actually, you said it back in 2010. Yousaid, look, I’m going to extend the tax policies that we have. Now, I’m notgoing to raise taxes on anyone because when the economy’s growing slow likethis, when we’re in recession you shouldn’t raise taxes on anyone.

Well, the economy is still growing slow. As a matter of fact, it’s growingmuch more slowly now than when you made that statement. And so if you believethe same thing, you just don’t want to raise taxes on people. And the realityis it’s not just wealthy people — you mentioned Donald Trump — it’s not justDonald Trump you’re taxing; it’s all those businesses that employ one-quarterof the workers in America. These small businesses that aretaxed as individuals. You raise taxes and you kill jobs. That’s why theNational Federation of Independent Businesses said your plan will kill 700,000jobs. I don’t want to kill jobs in this environment.

Let me make one more point. And that’s — and that —

MR. LEHRER: Let’s let him answer the taxes thing for amoment, OK?

MR. ROMNEY: OK.

MR. LEHRER: Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, we’ve had this discussion before.

MR. LEHRER: No, about the idea that in order to reduce thedeficit there has to be revenue in addition to cuts.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: There has to be revenue in addition tocuts. Now, Governor Romney has ruled out revenue. He’s — he’s ruled outrevenue.

MR. LEHRER: That’s true, right?

MR. ROMNEY: Absolutely.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: OK, so —

MR. LEHRER: Completely?

MR. ROMNEY: I — look, the revenue I get is by more peopleworking, getting higher pay, paying more taxes. That’s how we get growth andhow we balance the budget. But the idea of taxing people more, putting morepeople out of work — you’ll never get there. You never balance the budget byraising taxes.

Spain — Spain spends 42 percent of their total economy on government. We’renow spending 42 percent of our economy on government.

I don’t want to go down the path to Spain. I want to go down the path ofgrowth that puts Americans to work, with more money coming in because they’reworking.

MR. LEHRER: Yeah.

But Mr. President, you’re saying in order to get it — the job done, it’sgot to be balanced. You’ve got to have —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: If we’re serious, we’ve got to take abalanced, responsible approach. And by the way, this is not just when it comesto individual taxes.

Let’s talk about corporate taxes. Now, I’ve identified areas where we can,right away, make a change that I believe would actually help the economy. The– the oil industry gets $4 billion a year in corporate welfare. Basically,they get deductions that those small businesses that Governor Romney refers to,they don’t get. Now, does anybody think that ExxonMobil needs some extra moneywhen they’re making money every time you go to the pump? Why wouldn’t we wantto eliminate that?

Why wouldn’t we eliminate tax breaks for corporate jets? My attitude is ifyou got a corporate jet, you can probably afford to pay full freight, not get aspecial break for it.

When it comes to corporate taxes, Governor Romney has said he wants to, in arevenue-neutral way, close loopholes, deductions — he hasn’t identified whichones they are — but thereby bring down the corporate rate. Well, I want to dothe same thing, but I’ve actually identified how we can do that.

And part of the way to do it is to not give tax breaks to companies that areshipping jobs overseas. Right now you can actually take a deduction for movinga plant overseas. I think most Americans would say that doesn’t make sense. Andall that raises revenue.

And so if we take a balanced approach, what that then allows us to do isalso to help young people, the way we already have during my administration,make sure that they can afford to go to college. It means that the teacher thatI met in Las Vegas, wonderful young lady, who describes to me — she’s got 42kids in her class.

The first two weeks, she’s got them — some of them sitting on the flooruntil finally they get reassigned. They’re using textbooks that are 10 yearsold. That is not a recipe for growth; that’s not how America was built.

And so budgets reflect choices. Ultimately we’re going to have to make somedecisions. And if we’re asking for no revenue, then that means that we’ve gotto get rid of a whole bunch of stuff, and the magnitude of the tax cuts thatyou’re talking about, Governor, would end up resulting in severe hardship forpeople, but more importantly, would not help us grow.

As I indicated before, when you talk about shifting Medicaid to states,we’re talking about potentially a — a 30 — a 30 percent cut in Medicaid overtime. Now, you know, that may not seem like a big deal when it just is — youknow, numbers on a sheet of paper, but if we’re talking about a family who’sgot an autistic kid and is depending on that Medicaid, that’s a big problem.And governors are creative. There’s no doubt about it. But they’re not creativeenough to make up for 30 percent of revenue on something like Medicaid. Whatends up happening is some people end up not getting help.

MR. ROMNEY: Jim, let’s — we — we’ve gone on a lot oftopics there, and — so I’ve got to take — it’s going to take a minute to gofrom Medicaid to schools to —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (Inaudible.)

MR. LEHRER: Come back to Medicaid, here, yeah, yeah, right.

MR. ROMNEY: — oil to tax breaks and companies overseas. Solet’s go through them one by one. First of all, the Department of Energy hassaid the tax break for oil companies is $2.8 billion a year. And it’s actuallyan accounting treatment, as you know, that’s been in place for a hundred years.Now —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: It’s time to end it.

MR. ROMNEY: And — and in one year, you provided $90billion in breaks to the green energy world. Now, I like green energy as well,but that’s about 50 years’ worth of what oil and gas receives, and you sayExxon and Mobil — actually, this $2.8 billion goes largely to small companies,to drilling operators and so forth.

But you know, if we get that tax rate from 35 percent down to 25 percent,why, that $2.8 billion is on the table. Of course it’s on the table. That’sprobably not going to survive, you get that rate downto 25 percent.

But — but don’t forget, you put $90 billion — like 50 years worth ofbreaks — into solar and wind, to — to Solyndra and Fisker and Tesla andEner1. I mean, I — I had a friend who said, you don’t just pick the winnersand losers; you pick the losers. All right? So — sothis is not — this is not the kind of policy you want to have if you want toget America energy-secure.

The second topic, which is you said you get a deduction for getting a plantoverseas. Look, I’ve been in business for 25 years. I have no idea what you’retalking about. I maybe need to get a new accountant.

MR. LEHRER: Let’s —

MR. ROMNEY: But the — the idea that you get a break forshipping jobs overseas is simply not the case.

MR. LEHRER: Let’s have —

MR. ROMNEY: What we do have right now is a setting —

MR. LEHRER: Excuse me.

MR. ROMNEY: — where I’d like to bring money from overseasback to this country.

And finally, Medicaid to states, I’m not quite sure where that came in,except this, which is, I would like to take the Medicaid dollars that go tostates and say to a state, you’re going to get what you got last year plusinflation — inflation — plus 1 percent. And then you’re going to manage yourcare for your poor in the way you think best.

And I remember as a governor, when this idea was floated by Tommy Thompson,the governors, Republican and Democrats, said, please let us do that. We cancare for our own poor in so much better and more effective a way than havingthe federal government tell us how to care for our poor.

So let states — one of the magnificent things about this country is thewhole idea that states are the laboratories of democracy. Don’t have the federalgovernment tell everybody what kind of training programs they have to have andwhat kind of Medicaid they have to have. Let states do this.

And by the way, if a states get — gets in trouble,why, we could step in and see if we could find a way to help them. But —

MR. LEHRER: Let’s go.

MR. ROMNEY: But — but the right — the right approach isone which relies on the brilliance —

MR. LEHRER: Two seconds.

MR. ROMNEY: — of our people and states, not the federalgovernment.

MR. LEHRER: Two seconds and we’re going on, still on theeconomy on another — but another part of it.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: OK.

MR. LEHRER: All right? All right, this is this is segmentthree, the economy, entitlements.

First answer goes to you. It’s two minutes. Mr.President, do you see a major difference between the two of you on SocialSecurity?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, Isuspect that on Social Security, we’ve got a somewhat similar position. SocialSecurity is structurally sound. It’s going to have to be tweaked the way it wasby Ronald Reagan and Speaker — Democratic Speaker Tip O’Neill. But it is –the basic structure is sound. But — but I want to talk about the values behindSocial Security and Medicare and then talk about Medicare, because that’s thebig driver —

MR. LEHRER: Sure — it — you bet.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: — of our deficits right now.

You know, my grandmother, some of you know, helped to raise me. Mygrandparents did. My grandfather died awhile back. My grandmother died threedays before I was elected president. And she was fiercely independent. Sheworked her way up, only had a high school education, startedas a secretary, ended up being the vice president of a local bank. And sheended up living alone by choice. And the reason she could be independent wasbecause of Social Security and Medicare. She had worked all her life, put inthis money and understood that there was a basic guarantee, a floor under whichshe could not go.

And that’s the perspective I bring when I think about what’s calledentitlements. You know, the name itself implies some sense of dependency on thepart of these folks. These are folks who’ve worked hard, like my grandmother.And there are millions of people out there who are counting on this.

So my approach is to say, how do we strengthen the system over the longterm? And in Medicare, what we did was we said, we aregoing to have to bring down the costs if we’re going to deal with our long-term deficits, but to do that, let’s look where some of the money is going.Seven hundred and sixteen billion dollars we were able to save from theMedicare program by no longer overpaying insurance companies, by making surethat we weren’t overpaying providers.

And using that money, we were actually able to lower prescription drug costsfor seniors by an average of $600, and we were also able to make a — make asignificant dent in providing them the kind of preventive care that willultimately save money through the — throughout the system.

So the way for us to deal with Medicare in particular is to lower healthcare costs. But when it comes to Social Security, as I said, you don’t need amajor structural change in order to make sure that Social Security is there forthe future.

MR. LEHRER: We’ll follow up on this.

First, Governor Romney, you have two minutes on Social Security andentitlements.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, Jim, our seniors depend on theseprograms. And I know any time we talk about entitlements, people becomeconcerned that something’s going to happen that’s going to change their lifefor the worst, and the answer is, neither the president nor I are proposing anychanges for any current retirees or near retirees, either to Social Security orMedicare. So if you’re 60 or around 60 or older, you don’tneed to listen any further.

But for younger people, we need to talk about what changes are going to beoccurring.

Oh, I just thought about one, and that is in fact I was wrong when I saidthe president isn’t proposing any changes for current retirees. In fact, he ison Medicare. On Social Security, he’s not.

But on Medicare, for current retirees he’s cutting $716 billion from theprogram. Now, he says by not overpaying hospitals and providers, actually justgoing to them and saying we’re going to reduce the rates you get paid acrossthe board, everybody’s going to get a lower rate. That’s not just going afterplaces where there’s abuse, that’s saying we’re cutting the rates. Some 15percent of hospitals and nursing homes say they won’t take anymore Medicarepatients under that scenario.

We also have 50 percent of doctors who say they won’t take more Medicarepatients. This — we have 4 million people on Medicare Advantage that will loseMedicare Advantage because of those $716 billion in cuts. I can’t understandhow you can cut Medicare $716 billion for current recipients of Medicare.

Now, you point out, well, we’re putting some back; we’re going to give abetter prescription program. That’s one — that’s $1 for every 15 (dollars)you’ve cut. They’re smart enough to know that’s not a good trade.

I want to take that $716 billion you’ve cut and put it back into Medicare.By the way, we can include a prescription program if we need to improve it, butthe idea of cutting $716 billion from Medicare to be able to balance theadditional cost of “Obamacare” is, in my opinion, a mistake. And with regardsto young people coming along, I’ve got proposals to make sure Medicare andSocial Security are there for them without any question.

MR. LEHRER: Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: First of all, I think it’s important forGovernor Romney to present this plan that he says will only affect folks in thefuture. And the essence of the plan is that he would turn Medicare into avoucher program. It’s called premium support, but it’s understood to be a voucherprogram. His running mate —

MR. LEHRER: And you — and you don’t support that?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I don’t. And — and let me explain why.

MR. ROMNEY: Again, that’s for future people —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I understand.

MR. ROMNEY: — right, not for current retirees.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: For — for — so if you’re — if you –you’re 54 or 55, you might want to listen, because this — this will affectyou. The idea, which was originally presented by Congressman Ryan, your runningmate, is that we would give a voucher to seniors, and they could go out in theprivate marketplace and buy their own health insurance. The problem is thatbecause the voucher wouldn’t necessarily keep up with health care inflation, itwas estimated that this would cost the average senior about $6,000 a year.

Now, in fairness, what Governor Romney has now said is he’ll maintaintraditional Medicare alongside it. But there’s still a problem, because whathappens is those insurance companies are pretty clever at figuring out who arethe younger and healthier seniors.

They recruit them leaving the older, sicker seniors in Medicare. And everyhealth care economist who looks at it says over time what’ll happen is thetraditional Medicare system will collapse. And then what you’ve got is folkslike my grandmother at the mercy of the private insurance system, precisely atthe time when they are most in need of decent health care.

So I don’t think vouchers are the right way to go. And this is not my own –only my opinion. AARP thinks that the — the savings that we obtained fromMedicare bolster the system, lengthen the Medicare trust fund by 8 years.Benefits were not affected at all and ironically if you repeal “Obamacare” –and I have become fond of this term, “Obamacare” — (laughter) — if you repealit, what happens is those seniors right away are going to be paying $600 morein prescription care. They’re now going to have to be paying copays for basiccheck-ups that can keep them healthier.

And the primary beneficiary of that repeal areinsurance companies that are estimated to gain billions of dollars back whenthey aren’t making seniors any healthier. And I — I don’t think that’s rightapproach when it comes to making sure that Medicare is stronger over the longterm.

MR. LEHRER: We’ll talk about — specifically about healthcare in a moment, but what is — do you support the voucher system, Governor?

MR. ROMNEY: What I support is no change for currentretirees and near-retirees to Medicare and the president supports taking $716billion out of that program.

MR. LEHRER: What about the vouchers?

MR. ROMNEY: So that’s — that’s number one.

MR. LEHRER: OK. All right.

MR. ROMNEY: Number two is for people coming along that areyoung. What I’d do to make sure that we can keep Medicare in place for them isto allow them either to choose the current Medicare program or a private plan– their choice. They get to — and they’ll have at least two plans that willbe entirely at no cost to them. So they don’t have to pay additional money, no additional$6,000. That’s not going to happen.

They’ll have at least two plans.

And by the way, if the government can be as efficient as the private sectorand offer premiums that are as low as the private sector, people will be happyto get traditional Medicare, or they’ll be able to get a private plan. I knowmy own view is I’d rather have a private plan. I — I’d just as soon not havethe government telling me what kind of health care I get. I’d rather be able tohave an insurance company. If I don’t like them, I can get rid of them and finda different insurance company. But people will make their own choice.

The other thing we have to do to save Medicare, we have to have the benefitshigh for those that are low-income, but for higher-income people, we’re goingto have to lower some of the benefits. We have to make sure this program isthere for the long term. That’s the plan that I’ve put forward.

And by the way, the idea came not even from Paul Ryan or — or SenatorWyden, who’s a co-author of the bill with — with Paul Ryan in the Senate, butalso it came from Bill Clinton’s — Bill Clinton’s chief of staff. This is anidea that’s been around a long time, which is saying, hey,let’s see if we can’t get competition into the Medicare world so that peoplecan get the choice of different plans at lower cost, better quality. I believein competition.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Jim, if I — if I can just respond veryquickly, first of all, every study has shown that Medicare has loweradministrative cost than private insurance does, which is why seniors aregenerally pretty happy with it. And private insurers have to make a profit. Nothing wrong with that; that’s what they do. And so you’vegot higher administrative costs, plus profit on top of that, and if you are goingto save any money through what Governor Romney’s proposing, what has to happenis is that the money has to come from somewhere.

And when you move to a voucher system, you are putting seniors at the mercyof those insurance companies. And over time, if traditional Medicare hasdecayed or fallen apart, then they’re stuck. And this is the reason why AARPhas said that your plan would weaken Medicare substantially, and that’s whythey were supportive of the approach that we took.

One last point I want to make. We do have to lower the cost of health care.Not just in Medicare and —

MR. LEHRER: We’ll talk about that in a minute.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: — but — but overall.

MR. LEHRER: Go. OK.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: And so —

MR. ROMNEY: That’s — that’s a big topic. Could we — couldwe stay on Medicare?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Is that a — is that a separate topic? I’msorry.

MR. LEHRER: Yeah, we’re going to — yeah. I want to get toit, but all I want to do is very quickly —

MR. ROMNEY: Let’s get back to Medicare.

MR. LEHRER: — before we leave the economy —

MR. ROMNEY: Let’s get back to Medicare.

MR. LEHRER: No, no, no, no —

MR. ROMNEY: The president said that the government canprovide the service at lower —

MR. LEHRER: No.

MR. ROMNEY: — cost and without a profit.

MR. LEHRER: All right.

MR. ROMNEY: If that’s the case, then it will always be thebest product that people can purchase. But my experience —

MR. LEHRER: Wait a minute, Governor.

MR. ROMNEY: My experience is the private sector typicallyis able to provide a better product at a lower cost.

MR. LEHRER: Can we — can the two of you agree that thevoters have a choice, a clear choice between the two of you —

MR. ROMNEY: Absolutely.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yes.

MR. LEHRER: — on Medicare?

MR. ROMNEY: Absolutely.

MR. LEHRER: All right. So, to finish quickly, briefly, onthe economy, what is your view about the level of federal regulation of theeconomy right now? Is there too much, and in your case, Mr. President, is there– should there be more? Beginning with you — this is not a new two-minutesegment — to start, and we’ll go for a few minutes and then we’re going to goto health care. OK?

MR. ROMNEY: Regulation is essential. You can’t have a freemarket work if you don’t have regulation. As a business person, I had to have– I needed to know the regulations. I needed them there. You couldn’t havepeople opening up banks in their — in their garage and making loans. I mean,you have to have regulations so that you can have an economy work. Every freeeconomy has good regulation.

At the same time, regulation can become excessive.

MR. LEHRER: Is it excessive now, do you think?

MR. ROMNEY: In some places, yes, in other places, no.

MR. LEHRER: Like where?

MR. ROMNEY: It can become out of date. And what’s happenedin — with some of the legislation that’s been passed during the president’sterm, you’ve seen regulation become excessive and it’s hurt the — it’s hurtthe economy. Let me give you an example. Dodd- Frank was passed, and it includeswithin it a number of provisions that I think have some unintended consequencesthat are harmful to the economy. One is it designates a number of banks as toobig to fail, and they’re effectively guaranteed by the federal government.

This is the biggest kiss that’s been given to — to New York banks I’ve everseen. This is an enormous boon for them. There’s been — 122 community andsmall banks have closed since Dodd-Frank. So there’s one example.

Here’s another. In Dodd-Frank, it says that —

MR. LEHRER: You want to repeal Dodd-Frank?

MR. ROMNEY: Well, I would repeal it and replace it. You –we’re not going to get rid of all regulation. You have to have regulation. And there’s some parts of Dodd-Frank that make all the sense inthe world. You need transparency, you need to haveleverage limits for institutes —

MR. LEHRER: Well, here’s a specific — let’s — excuse me–

MR. ROMNEY: Let me mention the other one. Let’s talk the —

MR. LEHRER: No, no, let’s do — right now, let’s not. Let’slet him respond.

MR. ROMNEY: OK.

MR. LEHRER: Let’s let him respond to this specific onDodd-Frank and what the governor just said.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think this is a great example. Thereason we have been in such a enormous economic crisiswas prompted by reckless behavior across the board. Now, it wasn’t just on WallStreet. You had — loan officers were — they were giving loans and mortgagesthat really shouldn’t have been given, because they’re — the folks didn’tqualify. You had people who were borrowing money to buy a house that theycouldn’t afford. You had credit agencies that were stamping these as A-1 (ph)great investments when they weren’t. But you also had banks making moneyhand-over-fist, churning out products that the bankers themselves didn’t evenunderstand in order to make big profits, but knowing that it made the entiresystem vulnerable.

So what did we do? We stepped in and had the toughest reforms on Wall Streetsince the 1930s. We said you’ve got — banks, you’ve got to raise your capitalrequirements. You can’t engage in some of this risky behavior that is puttingMain Street at risk. We’re going to make sure that you’ve got to have a livingwill, so — so we can know how you’re going to wind things down if you make abad bet so we don’t have other taxpayer bailouts.

In the meantime, by the way, we also made sure that all the help that weprovided those banks was paid back, every single dime, with interest.

Now, Governor Romney has said he wants to repeal Dodd-Frank, and, you know,I appreciate, and it appears we’ve got some agreement that a marketplace towork has to have some regulation, but in the past, Governor Romney has said hejust wants to repeal Dodd-Frank, roll it back. And so the question is doesanybody out there think that the big problem we had is that there was too muchoversight and regulation of Wall Street? Because if you do,then Governor Romney is your candidate. But that’s not what I believe.

MR. ROMNEY: (Inaudible) — sorry, Jim. That — that’s justnot — that’s just not the facts. Look, we have to have regulation of WallStreet.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yeah.

MR. ROMNEY: That — that’s why I’d have regulation. But Iwouldn’t designate five banks as too big to fail and give them a blank check.That’s one of the unintended consequences of Dodd-Frank. It wasn’t thoughtthrough properly. We need to get rid of that provision, because it’s killingregional and small banks. They’re getting hurt.

Let me mention another regulation of Dodd-Frank. You say we were givingmortgages to people who weren’t qualified. That’s exactly right. It’s one ofthe reasons for the great financial calamity we had. And so Dodd-Frankcorrectly says we need to —

MR. LEHRER: All right.

MR. ROMNEY: — have qualified mortgages, and if you give amortgage that’s not qualified, there are big penalties. Exceptthey didn’t ever go on to define what a qualified mortgage was.

MR. LEHRER: All right.

MR. ROMNEY: It’s been two years. We don’t know what aqualified mortgage is yet. So banks are reluctant to make loans, mortgages. Tryand get a mortgage these days. It’s hurt the housing market —

MR. LEHRER: All right —

MR. ROMNEY: — because Dodd-Frank didn’t anticipate puttingin place the kinds of regulations you have to have. It’s not that Dodd- Frankalways was wrong with too much regulation. Sometimes they didn’t come out witha clear regulation.

MR. LEHRER: OK.

MR. ROMNEY: I will make sure we don’t hurt the functioningof our — of our marketplace and our businesses, because I want to bring backhousing and get good jobs.

MR. LEHRER: All right, I think we have another cleardifference between the two of you. Now let’s move to health care, where I knowthere is a clear difference — (laughter) — and that has to do with theAffordable Care Act, “Obamacare.”

And it’s a two-minute new segment, and it’s — that means two minutes each.And you go first, Governor Romney. You wanted repeal. You want the AffordableCare Act repealed. Why?

MR. ROMNEY: I sure do. Well, in part, it comes, again, frommy experience. I was in New Hampshire. A woman came to me, and she said, look,I can’t afford insurance for myself or my son. I met a couple in Appleton,Wisconsin, and they said, we’re thinking of dropping our insurance; we can’tafford it. And the number of small businesses I’vegone to that are saying they’re dropping insurance because they can’t afford it– the cost of health care is just prohibitive. And — and we’ve got to dealwith cost.

And unfortunately, when — when you look at “Obamacare,” the CongressionalBudget Office has said it will cost $2,500 a year more than traditionalinsurance. So it’s adding to cost. And as a matter of fact, when the presidentran for office, he said that by this year he would have brought down the costof insurance for each family by $2,500 a family. Instead, it’s gone up by thatamount. So it’s expensive. Expensive things hurt families. Sothat’s one reason I don’t want it.

Second reason, it cuts $716 billion from Medicare to pay for it. I want toput that money back in Medicare for our seniors.

Number three, it puts in place an unelected board that’s going to tellpeople, ultimately, what kind of treatments they can have. I don’t like thatidea.

Fourth, there was a survey done of small businesses across the country. Itsaid, what’s been the effect of “Obamacare” on your hiring plans? Andthree-quarters of them said, it makes us less likelyto hire people. I just don’t know how the president could have come intooffice, facing 23 million people out of work, rising unemployment, an economiccrisis at the — at the kitchen table and spent his energy and passion for twoyears fighting for “Obamacare” instead of fighting for jobs for the Americanpeople.

It has killed jobs. And the best course for health care is to do what we didin my state, craft a plan at the state level that fits the needs of the state.And then let’s focus on getting the costs down for people rather than raisingit with the $2,500 additional premium.

MR. LEHRER: Mr. President, the argument against repeal.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, four years ago when I was runningfor office I was traveling around and having those same conversations thatGovernor Romney talks about. And it wasn’t just that small businesses wereseeing costs skyrocket and they couldn’t get affordable coverage even if theywanted to provide it to their employees; it wasn’t just that this was thebiggest driver of our federal deficit, our overall health care costs. But itwas families who were worried about going bankrupt if they got sick — millionsof families, all across the country.

If they had a pre-existing condition they might not be able to get coverageat all. If they did have coverage, insurance companies might impose anarbitrary limit. And so as a consequence, they’re paying their premiums,somebody gets really sick, lo and behold they don’t have enough money to paythe bills because the insurance companies say that they’ve hit the limit. So wedid work on this alongside working on jobs, because this is part of making surethat middle-class families are secure in this country.

And let me tell you exactly what “Obamacare” did. Number one, if you’ve gothealth insurance it doesn’t mean a government takeover. You keep your own insurance. You keep your own doctor. But it does sayinsurance companies can’t jerk you around. They can’t impose arbitrary lifetimelimits. They have to let you keep your kid on their insurance — your insurance plan till you’re 26 years old. And it also saysthat they’re — you’re going to have to get rebates if insurance companies arespending more on administrative costs and profits than they are on actual care.

Number two, if you don’t have health insurance, we’re essentially setting upa group plan that allows you to benefit from group rates that are typically 18percent lower than if you’re out there trying to get insurance on theindividual market.

Now, the last point I’d make before —

MR. LEHRER: Two minutes —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: — before —

MR. LEHRER: Two minutes is up, sir.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: No, I — I think I’ve — I had fiveseconds before you interrupted me — was — (laughter) — that the irony isthat we’ve seen this model work really well in Massachusetts, because GovernorRomney did a good thing, working with Democrats in the state to set up what isessentially the identical model. And as a consequence, people are coveredthere. It hasn’t destroyed jobs. And as a consequence, we now have a system inwhich we have the opportunity to start bringing down cost, as opposed to just–

MR. LEHRER: Your five —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: — leaving millions of people out in thecold.

MR. LEHRER: Your five seconds went away a long time ago. (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: That —

MR. LEHRER: All right, Governor. Governor, tell the — tellthe president directly why you think what he just said is wrong about“Obamacare.”

MR. ROMNEY: Well, I did with my first statement.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You did.

MR. ROMNEY: But I’ll go on.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Please elaborate.

MR. ROMNEY: I’ll elaborate.

Exactly right.

First of all, I like the way we did it in Massachusetts. I like the factthat in my state, we had Republicans and Democrats come together and worktogether. What you did instead was to push through a plan without a singleRepublican vote. As a matter of fact, when Massachusetts did something quiteextraordinary, elected a Republican senator to stop “Obamacare,” you pushed itthrough anyway. So entirely on a partisan basis, instead of bringing Americatogether and having a discussion on this important topic, you pushed throughsomething that you and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid thought was the best answerand drove it through.

What we did, in a legislature 87 percent Democrat, we worked together. Twohundred legislators in my legislature — only two voted against the plan by thetime we were finished.

What were some differences?

We didn’t raise taxes. You’ve raised them by a trillion dollars under“Obamacare.” We didn’t cut Medicare. Of course, we don’t have Medicare, but wedidn’t cut Medicare by $716 billion. We didn’t put in place a board that cantell people ultimately what treatments they’re going to receive.

We didn’t — we didn’t also do something that I think a number of peopleacross this country recognize, which is put — put people in a position wherethey’re going to lose the insurance they had and they wanted. Right now, theCBO says up to 20 million people will lose their insurance as “Obamacare” goesinto effect next year. And likewise, a study by McKinsey & Company ofAmerican businesses said 30 percent of them are anticipating dropping peoplefrom coverage. So for those reasons, for the tax, for Medicare, for this boardand for people losing their insurance, this is why the American people don’twant — don’t want “Obamacare.” It’s why Republicans said, do not do this.

And the Republicans had a — had a plan. They put a plan out. They put out aplan, a bipartisan plan. It was swept aside. I think something this big, thisimportant has to be done in a bipartisan basis. And we have to have a presidentwho can reach across the aisle and fashion important legislation with the inputfrom both parties.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Governor Romney said this has to be doneon a bipartisan basis. This was a bipartisan idea. In fact, it was a Republicanidea.

And Governor Romney, at the beginning of this debate, wrote and said, whatwe did in Massachusetts could be a model for the nation. And I agree that theDemocratic legislators in Massachusetts might have given some advice toRepublicans in Congress about how to cooperate, but the fact of the matter is,we used the same advisers, and they say it’s the same plan.

It — when Governor Romney talks about this board, for example — unelectedboard that we’ve created — what this is, is a group of health care experts,doctors, et cetera, to figure out how can we reduce the cost of care in thesystem overall, because the — there are two ways of dealing with our healthcare crisis.

One is to simply leave a whole bunch of people uninsured and let them fendfor themselves, to let businesses figure out how longthey can continue to pay premiums until finally they just give up and theirworkers are no longer getting insured, and that’s been the trend line. Or,alternatively, we can figure out how do we make thecost of care more effective. And there are ways of doing it.

So at — at Cleveland Clinic, one of the best health care systems in theworld, they actually provide great care cheaper than average. And the reasonthey do is because they do some smart things. They — they say, if a patient’scoming in, let’s get all the doctors together at once, do one test instead ofhaving the patient run around with 10 tests. Let’s make sure that we’reproviding preventive care so we’re catching the onset of something likediabetes. Let’s — let’s pay providers on the basis of performance as opposedto on the basis of how many procedures they’ve — they’ve engaged in. Now, sowhat this board does is basically identifies best practices and says, let’s usethe purchasing power of Medicare and Medicaid to help to institutionalize allthese good things that we do.

And the fact of the matter is that when “Obamacare” is fully implemented,we’re going to be in a position to show that costs are going down. And over thelast two years, health care premiums have gone up, it’s true, but they’ve goneup slower than any time in the last 50 years. So we’re already beginning to seeprogress. In the meantime, folks out there with insurance, you’re alreadygetting a rebate.

Let me make one last point. Governor Romney says we should replace it. I’mjust going to repeal it, but we can replace it with something. But the problemis he hasn’t described what exactly we’d replace it with other than sayingwe’re going to leave it to the states.

But the fact of the matter is that some of the prescriptions that he’soffered, like letting you buy insurance across state lines, there’s noindication that that somehow is going to help somebody who’s got a pre-existingcondition be able to finally buy insurance. In fact, it’s estimated that byrepealing “Obamacare,” you’re looking at 50 million people losing healthinsurance at a time when it’s vitally important.

MR. LEHRER: Let’s let the governor explain what you woulddo if “Obamacare” is repealed. How would you replace it? What do you have inmind?

MR. ROMNEY: Let — well, actually — actually it’s — it’s– it’s a lengthy description, but number one, pre-existing conditions arecovered under my plan. Number two, young people areable to stay on their family plan. That’s already offered in the privatemarketplace; you don’t have — have the government mandate that for that tooccur.

But let’s come back to something the president — I agree on, which is the– the key task we have in health care is to get the costs down so it’s moreaffordable for families, and — and then he has as a model for doing that aboard of people at the government, an unelected board, appointed board, who aregoing to decide what kind of treatment you ought to have.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: No, it isn’t.

MR. ROMNEY: In my opinion, the government is not effectivein — in bringing down the cost of almost anything. As a matter of fact, freepeople and free enterprises trying to find ways to do things better are able tobe more effective in bringing down the costs than the government will ever be.Your example of the Cleveland clinic is my case in point, along with severalothers I could describe. This is the private market. These are small — theseare enterprises competing with each other, learning how to do better and betterjobs.

I used to consult to businesses — excuse me, to hospitals and to healthcare providers. I was astonished at the creativity and innovation that existsin the American people. In order to bring the cost of health care down, we don’tneed to have a — an — a board of 15 people telling us what kinds oftreatments we should have. We instead need to put insurance plans, providers,hospitals, doctors on targets such that they have an incentive, as you say,performance pay, for doing an excellent job, for keeping costs down, and that’shappening.

Intermountain Health Care does it superbly well.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: They do.

MR. ROMNEY: Mayo Clinic is doing it superbly well,Cleveland Clinic, others. But the right answer is not to have the federalgovernment take over health care and start mandating to the providers acrossAmerica, telling a patient and a doctor what kind of treatment they can have.That’s the wrong way to go. The private market and individual responsibilityalways work best.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Let me just point out, first of all, thisboard that we’re talking about can’t make decisions about what treatments aregiven. That’s explicitly prohibited in the law.

But let’s go back to what Governor Romney indicated,that under his plan he would be able to cover people with pre-existingconditions. Well, actually, Governor, that isn’t what your plan does. What yourplan does is to duplicate what’s already the law, which says if you are out ofhealth insurance for three months then you can end up getting continuouscoverage and an insurance company can’t deny you if you’ve — if it’s beenunder 90 days.

But that’s already the law. And that doesn’t help the millions of people outthere with pre-existing conditions. There’s a reason why Governor Romney set upthe plan that he did in Massachusetts. It wasn’t a government takeover ofhealth care. It was the largest expansion of private insurance. But what itdoes say is that insurers, you’ve got to take everybody. Now, that also means thatyou’ve got more customers.

But when Governor Romney says that he’ll replace it with something but can’tdetail how it will be in fact replaced, and the reason he set up the system hedid in Massachusetts is because there isn’t a better way of dealing with thepre-existing conditions problem, it — it just reminds me of — you know, hesays that he’s going to close deductions and loopholes for his tax plan.

That’s how it’s going to be paid for. But we don’t know the details. He saysthat he’s going to replace Dodd-Frank, Wall Street reform. But we don’t knowexactly which ones. He won’t tell us. He now says hes going to replace“Obamacare” and assure that all the good things that are in it are going to bein there and you don’t have to worry.

And at some point, I think the American people have to ask themselves, isthe reason that Governor Romney is keeping all these plans to replace secretbecause they’re too good? Is — is it because that somehow middle-classfamilies are going to benefit too much from them? No, the — the reason isbecause when we reform Wall Street, when we tackle the problem of pre-existingconditions, then, you know, these are tough problems, and we’ve got to makechoices. And the choices we’ve made have been ones that ultimately arebenefiting middle-class families all across the country.

MR. LEHRER: All right, we’re going to move to a —

MR. ROMNEY: No, I — I have to respond to that —

MR. LEHRER: No, but —

MR. ROMNEY: — which is — which is my experience as agovernor is if I come in and — and lay down a piece of legislation and sayit’s my way or the highway, I don’t get a lot done.What I do is the same way that Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan worked togethersome years ago. When Ronald Reagan ran for office, he laid out the principlesthat he was going to foster. He said he was going to lower tax rates. He saidhe was going to broaden the base. You’ve said the same thing: You’re going tosimplify the tax code, broaden the base. Those are my principles.

I want to bring down the tax burden on middle-income families. And I’m goingto work together with Congress to say, OK, what are the various ways we couldbring down deductions, for instance? One way, for instance, would be to have asingle number. Make up a number — 25,000 (dollars), $50,000. Anybody can havedeductions up to that amount. And then that number disappears for high-incomepeople. That’s one way one could do it. One could follow Bowles-Simpson as amodel and take deduction by deduction and make differences that way.

There are alternatives to accomplish the objective I have, which is to bringdown rates, broaden the base, simplify the code and create incentives forgrowth.

And with regards to health care, you had remarkable details with regards tomy pre-existing condition plan. You obviously studied up on — on my plan. Infact, I do have a plan that deals with people with pre-existing conditions.That’s part of my health care plan. And what we did in Massachusetts is a modelfor the nation, state by state. And I said that at that time. The federalgovernment taking over health care for the entire nation and whisking aside the10th Amendment, which gives states the rights for these kinds of things, is notthe course for America to have a stronger, more vibrant economy.

MR. LEHRER: That is a terrific segueto our next segment, and is the role of government. And let’s see, role ofgovernment and it is — you are first on this, Mr. President. The question isthis. Do you believe — both of you — but you have the first two minutes onthis, Mr. President — do you believe there’s a fundamental difference betweenthe two of you as to how you view the mission of the federal government?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I definitely think there aredifferences.

MR. LEHRER: And — yeah.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: The first role of the federal governmentis to keep the American people safe. That’s its most basic function. And ascommander in chief, that is something that I’ve worked on and thought aboutevery single day that I’ve been in the Oval Office.

But I also believe that government has the capacity — the federalgovernment has the capacity to help open up opportunity and create ladders ofopportunity and to create frameworks where the American people can succeed.Look, the genius of America is the free enterprise system, and freedom, and thefact that people can go out there and start a business, work on an idea, make their own decisions.

But as Abraham Lincoln understood, there are also some things we do bettertogether.

So in the middle of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln said, let’s help tofinance the Transcontinental Railroad. Let’s start the National Academy ofSciences. Let’s start land grant colleges, because we want to give thesegateways of opportunity for all Americans, because if all Americans are gettingopportunity, we’re all going to be better off. That doesn’t restrict people’sfreedom; that enhances it.

And so what I’ve tried to do as president is to apply those same principles.And when it comes to education, what I’ve said is we’ve got to reform schoolsthat are not working. We use something called Race to the Top. Wasn’t atop-down approach, Governor. What we’ve said is tostates, we’ll give you more money if you initiate reforms. And as aconsequence, you had 46 states around the country whohave made a real difference.

But what I’ve also said is let’s hire another hundred thousand math andscience teachers to make sure we maintain our technological lead and our peopleare skilled and able to succeed. And hard-pressed states right now can’t all dothat. In fact, we’ve seen layoffs of hundreds of thousands of teachers over thelast several years, and Governor Romney doesn’t think we need more teachers. Ido, because I think that that is the kind of investment where the federalgovernment can help. It can’t do it all, but it can make a difference, and as aconsequence, we’ll have a better-trained workforce, and that will create jobs,because companies want to locate in places where we’ve got a skilled workforce.

MR. LEHRER: Two minutes, Governor, on the role ofgovernment, your view.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, first, I love great schools.Massachusetts, our schools are ranked number one of all 50 states. And the keyto great schools: great teachers. So I reject the idea that I don’t believe ingreat teachers or more teachers. Every school district, every state should makethat decision on their own.

The role of government — look behind us: the Constitution and theDeclaration of Independence.

The role of government is to promote and protect the principles of thosedocuments. First, life and liberty. We have aresponsibility to protect the lives and liberties of our people, and that meansthe military, second to none. I do not believe in cutting our military. Ibelieve in maintaining the strength of America’s military.

Second, in that line that says, we are endowed by our Creator with ourrights — I believe we must maintain our commitment to religious tolerance andfreedom in this country. That statement also says that we are endowed by ourCreator with the right to pursue happiness as we choose. I interpret that as,one, making sure that those people who are less fortunate and can’t care forthemselves are cared by — by one another.

We’re a nation that believes we’re all children of the same God. And we carefor those that have difficulties — those that are elderly and have problemsand challenges, those that disabled, we care for them. And we look fordiscovery and innovation, all these thing desired outof the American heart to provide the pursuit of happiness for our citizens.

But we also believe in maintaining for individuals the right to pursue theirdreams, and not to have the government substituteitself for the rights of free individuals. And what we’re seeing right now is,in my view, a — a trickle-down government approach which has governmentthinking it can do a better job than free people pursuing their dreams. Andit’s not working.

And the proof of that is 23 million people out ofwork. The proof of that is one out of six people inpoverty. The proof of that is we’ve gone from 32 million on food stamps to 47million on food stamps. The proof of that is that 50 percent of collegegraduates this year can’t find work.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (Inaudible) —

MR. ROMNEY: We know that the path we’re taking is notworking. It’s time for a new path.

MR. LEHRER: All right, let’s go through some specifics interms of what — how each of you views the role of government. How do –education. Does the federal government have a responsibility to improve thequality of public education in America?

MR. ROMNEY: Well, the primary responsibility for educationis — is of course at the state and local level. But the federal governmentalso can play a very important role. And I — and I agree with Secretary ArneDuncan. He’s — there’s some ideas he’s put forward on Race to the Top — notall of them but some of them I agree with, and congratulate him for pursuingthat. The federal government can get local and — and state schools to do abetter job.

My own view, by the way, is I’ve added to that. I happen to believe — Iwant the kids that are getting federal dollars from IDEA or — or Title I –these are disabled kids or — or poor kids or — or lower-income kids, rather.I want them to be able to go to the school of their choice. So all federalfunds, instead of going to the — to the state or to the school district, I’dhave go — if you will, follow the child and let the parent and the childdecide where to send their — their — their student.

MR. LEHRER: How do you see the federal government’sresponsibility to — as I say, to improve the quality of public education inthis country?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, as I’ve indicated, I think that ithas a significant role to play. Through our Race to the Top program, we’veworked with Republican and Democratic governors to initiate major reforms, andthey’re having an impact right now.

MR. LEHRER: Do you think you have a difference with yourviews and those of Governor Romney on — about education and the federalgovernment?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, this iswhere budgets matter because budgets reflect choices. So when Governor Romneyindicates that he wants to cut taxes and potentially benefit folks like me andhim, and to pay for it, we’re having to initiatesignificant cuts in federal support for education, that makes a difference.

You know, his running mate, Congressman Ryan, put forward a budget thatreflects many of the principles that Governor Romney’s talked about. And itwasn’t very detailed. This seems to be a trend. But — but what it did do is to– if you extrapolated how much money we’re talking about, you’d look atcutting the education budget by up to 20 percent.

When it comes to community colleges, we are seeing great work done out thereall over the country because we have the opportunity to train people for jobsthat exist right now. And one of the things I suspect Governor Romney and Iprobably agree on is getting businesses to work with community colleges so thatthey’re setting up their training programs —

MR. LEHRER: Do you agree, Governor?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Let — let — let me just finish thepoint.

MR. ROMNEY: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I suspect it’ll be a small agreement.

MR. ROMNEY: It’s going over well in my state, by the way,yeah.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: The — where their partnering so that –they’re designing training programs, and people who are going through them knowthat there’s a job waiting for them if they complete them. That makes a bigdifference. But that requires some federal support.

Let me just say one final example. When it comes to making collegeaffordable — whether it’s two-year or four-year — one of the things that Idid as president was we were sending $60 billion to banks and lenders as middlemen for the student loan program, even though the loans were guaranteed. Sothere was no risk for the banks or the lenders but they were taking billionsout of the system.

And we said, why not cut out the middle man? And as a consequence, whatwe’ve been able to do is to provide millions more studentsassistance, lower or keep low interest rates on student loans. And this is anexample of where our priorities make a difference. Governor Romney, I genuinelybelieve, cares about education. But when he tells a student that, you know, youshould borrow money from your parents to go to college, you know, thatindicates the degree to which, you know, there may not be as much of a focus onthe fact that folks like myself, folks like Michelle, kids probably who attendUniversity of Denver just don’t have that option.

And for us to be able to make sure that they’ve got that opportunity andthey can walk through that door, that is vitally important — not just to thosekids. It’s how we’re going to grow this economy over the long term.

MR. LEHRER: We’re running out of time.

MR. ROMNEY: Jim, Jim —

MR. LEHRER: I’m certainly going give you a chance torespond to that. Yes, sir, Governor.

MR. ROMNEY: Mr. — Mr. President, you’re entitled, as thepresident, to your own airplane and to your own house, but not to your ownfacts — (laughter) — all right? I’m — I’m not going to cut educationfunding. I don’t have any plan to cut education funding and grants that go topeople going to college. I’m planning on continuing to grow, so I’m notplanning on making changes there.

But you make a very good point, which is that the — the place you put yourmoney makes a pretty clear indication of where your heart is. You put $90billion into — into green jobs. And — and I — look, I’m all in favor ofgreen energy. Ninety billion (dollars) — that — that would have — that wouldhave hired 2 million teachers. Ninety billion dollars.And these businesses — many of them have gone out of business. I think abouthalf of them, of the ones have been invested in,they’ve gone out of business. A number of them happened to be owned by — bypeople who were contributors to your campaigns.

Look, the right course for — for America’s government — we were talkingabout the role of government — is not to become the economic player pickingwinners and losers, telling people what kind of health treatment they canreceive, taking over the health care system that — that has existed in thiscountry for — for a long, long time and has produced the best health recordsin the world. The right answer for government is to say, how do we make theprivate sector become more efficient and more effective?

How do we get schools to be more competitive? Let’s grade them. I propose wegrade our schools so parents know which schools are succeeding and failing, sothey can take their child to a — to a school that’s being more successful. Idon’t — I don’t want to cut our commitment to education; I wanted to make itmore effective and efficient.

And by the way, I’ve had that experience. I don’t just talk about it. I’vebeen there. Massachusetts schools are ranked number one in the nation. This isnot because I didn’t have commitment to education. It’s because I care abouteducation for all of our kids.

MR. LEHRER: All right, gentlemen, look —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Jim, I — (inaudible) —

MR. LEHRER: Excuse me, one sec — excuse, me sir. (Laughter.) We’ve got — we’ve got — barely have threeminutes left. I’m not going to grade the two of you and say you’ve — youranswers have been too long or I’ve done a poor job —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You’ve done a great job, Jim.

MR. LEHRER: Oh, well, no. But the fact is, government –the role of government and governing, we’ve lost a (pod ?), in other words, sowe only have three minutes left in the — in the debate before we go to yourclosing statements. And so I want to ask finally here — and remember, we’vegot three minutes total time here.

And the question is this: Many of the legislative functions of the federalgovernment right now are in a state of paralysis as a result of partisangridlock. If elected in your case, if re-elected in your case, what would youdo about that?

Governor?

MR. ROMNEY: Jim, I had the great experience — it didn’tseem like it at the time — of being elected in a state where my legislaturewas 87 percent Democrat, and that meant I figured outfrom day one I had to get along and I had to work across the aisle to getanything done. We drove our schools to be number one in the nation. We cuttaxes 19 times.

MR. LEHRER: Well, what would you do as president?

MR. ROMNEY: We — as president, I will sit down on day one– actually the day after I get elected, I’ll sit down with leaders — theDemocratic leaders as well as Republican leaders and — as we did in my state.We met every Monday for a couple hours, talked about the issues and thechallenges in the — in the — in our state, in that case. We have to work on acollaborative basis — not because we’re going to compromise our principle(s),but because there’s common ground.

And the challenges America faces right now — look, the reason I’m in thisrace is there are people that are really hurting today in this country, and weface — this deficit could crush the future generations. What’s happening inthe Middle East? There are developments around the world that are of realconcern. And Republicans and Democrats both love America, but we need to haveleadership — leadership in Washington that will actually bring people togetherand get the job done and could not care less if it’s a Republican or aDemocrat. I’ve done it before. I’ll do it again.

MR. LEHRER: Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, I think GovernorRomney’s going to have a busy first day, because he’s also going to repeal“Obamacare,” which will not be very popular among Democrats as you’re sittingdown with them.

(Laughter.)

But look, my philosophy has been I will take ideas from anybody, Democrat orRepublican, as long as they’re advancing the cause of making middle-classfamilies stronger and giving ladders of opportunity into the middle class.That’s how we cut taxes for middle-class families and small businesses. That’show we cut a trillion dollars of spending that wasn’t advancing that cause.That’s how we signed three trade deals into law that are helping us to doubleour exports and sell more American products around the world. That’s how werepealed “don’t ask, don’t tell.” That’s how we ended the war in Iraq, as Ipromised, and that’s how we’re going to wind down the war in Afghanistan.That’s how we went after al-Qaida and bin Laden.

So we’ve — we’ve seen progress even under Republican control of the Houseor Representatives. But ultimately, part of being principled, part of being a leaderis, A, being able to describe exactly what it is thatyou intend to do, not just saying, I’ll sit down, but you have to have a plan.

Number two, what’s important is occasionally you’ve got to say now to — to– to folks both in your own party and in the other party. And you know, yes,have we had some fights between me and the Republicans when they fought backagainst us, reining in the excesses of Wall Street? Absolutely,because that was a fight that needed to be had. When — when we werefighting about whether or not we were going to make sure that Americans hadmore security with their health insurance and they said no, yes, that was afight that we needed to have. And so part of leadership and governing is bothsaying what it is that you are for, but also being willing to say no to somethings.

And I’ve got to tell you, Governor Romney, when it comes to his own partyduring the course of this campaign, has not displayed that willingness to sayno to some of the more extreme parts of his party.

MR. LEHRER: That brings us to closing statements. There wasa coin toss. Governor Romney, you won the toss, and you elected to go last.

So you have a closing two minutes, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, Jim, I want to thank you and I wantto thank Governor Romney, because I think this was a terrific debate and I verymuch appreciate it.

And I want to thank the University of Denver.

You know, four years ago we were going through a major crisis, and yet myfaith and confidence in the American future is undiminished. And the reason isbecause of its people. Because of the woman I met in North Carolina who decidedat 55 to go back to school because she wanted to inspire her daughter, and nowhas a new job from that new training that she’s gotten. Because of the companyin Minnesota who was willing to give up salaries and perks for their executivesto make sure that they didn’t lay off workers during a recession. The autoworkers that you meet in Toledo or Detroit take such pride in building the bestcars in the world — not just because of a paycheck, but because it gives themthat sense of pride, that they’re helping to build America.

And so the question now is, how do we build on those strengths? Andeverything that I’ve tried to do and everything that I’m now proposing for thenext four years in terms of improving our education system, or developingAmerican energy, or making sure that we’re closing loopholes for companies thatare shipping jobs overseas and focusing on small businesses and companies thatare creating jobs here in the United States, or — or closing our deficit in aresponsible, balanced way that allows us to invest in our future — all thosethings are designed to make sure that the American people, their genius, theirgrit, their determination is — is channeled, and — and — and they have anopportunity to succeed.

And everybody’s getting a fair shot and everybody’s getting a fair share.Everybody’s doing a fair share and everybody’s playing by the same rules.

You know, four years ago I said that I’m not a perfect man and I wouldn’t bea perfect president. And that’s probably a promise that Governor Romney thinksI’ve kept. But I also promised that I’d fight every single day on behalf of theAmerican people and the middle class and all those who are striving to get inthe middle class.

I’ve kept that promise and if you’ll vote for me, then I promise I’ll fightjust as hard in a second term.

MR. LEHRER: Governor Romney, your two-minute closing.

MR. ROMNEY: Thank you, Jim and Mr. President. And thank youfor tuning in this evening. This is a — this is an important election. And I’mconcerned about America. I’m concerned about the direction America has beentaking over the last four years. I know this is bigger than election about thetwo of us as individuals. It’s bigger than our respective parties. It’s anelection about the course of America — what kind of America do you want tohave for yourself and for your children.

And there really are two very different paths that we began speaking aboutthis evening. And over the course of this month we’re going to have two morepresidential debates and vice presidential debate. We’ll talk about those twopaths. But they lead in very different directions. And it’s not just looking toour words that you have to take in evidence of where they go; you can look atthe record.

There’s no question in my mind that if the president were to be re-electedyou’ll continue to see a middle-class squeeze with incomes going down andprices going up. I’ll get incomes up again. You’ll see chronic unemployment.We’ve had 43 straight months with unemployment above 8 percent. If I’mpresident, I will create — help create 12 million new jobs in this countrywith rising incomes.

If the president’s re-elected, “Obamacare” will be fully installed. In myview, that’s going to mean a whole different way of life for people who countedon the insurance plan they had in the past. Many will lose it. You’re going tosee health premiums go up by some $2,500 per — per family. If I’m elected, wewon’t have “Obamacare.” We’ll put in place the kind of principles that I put inplace in my own state and allow each state to craft their own programs to getpeople insured. And we’ll focus on getting the cost of health care down.

If the president were to be re-elected, you’re going to see a $716 billioncut to Medicare. You’ll have 4 million people who will lose Medicare advantage.You’ll have hospitals and providers that’ll no longer accept Medicare patients.

I’ll restore that $716 billion to Medicare.

And finally, military. If the president’sre-elected, you’ll see dramatic cuts to our military. The secretary of defensehas said these would be even devastating. I will not cut our commitment to ourmilitary. I will keep Americastrong and get America’smiddle class working again.

Thank you, Jim.

MR. LEHRER: Thank you, Governor.

Thank you, Mr. President.

The next debate will be the vice presidential event on Thursday, October11th at Center College in Danville, Kentucky.For now, from the University of Denver, I’m JimLehrer. Thank you, and good night. (Cheers, applause.)