Campaign 2012 | Second presidential debate
What did you think of the candidates' debate responses?
In the second presidential debate, Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama participated in a town-hall-style event, minus the podiums used in their first debate. (Read Glen Johnson's analysis) Below, you'll find the questions asked this time by audience members, and the candidates' initial responses to each question. Read the questions and the candidates' answers, then respond to the corresponding surveys indicating whether or not you were satisfied with the candidates' responses.
Q. As a 20-year-old college student, all I hear from professors, neighbors, and others is that when I graduate, I will 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?
And what I want to do, is build on the five million jobs that weve created over the last 30 months in the private sector alone. And there are a bunch of things we can do to make sure your future is bright.
Number one, I want to build manufacturing jobs in this country again. Now when Governor Romney said we should let Detroit go bankrupt. I said were going to bet on American workers and the American auto industry and its 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 were giving incentives to companies that are investing here in the United States and creating jobs here.
It also means were helping them and small businesses to export all around the world to new markets.
Number two, weve got to make sure that we have the best education system in the world. And the fact that youre going to college is great, but I want everybody to get a great education and weve 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, weve got to control our own energy. Now, not only oil and natural gas, which weve been investing in; but also, weve got to make sure were building the energy source of the future, not just thinking about next year, but ten years from now, 20 years from now. Thats why weve invested in solar and wind and biofuels, energy efficient cars.
Weve got to reduce our deficit, but weve 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 lets take the money that weve 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 Americas future is going to bright as well.
Thank you, Mr. President, also for being part of this -- this debate.
Your question -- 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, theres 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 airlines, we gave you a John and Abigail Adams scholarship, four years tuition free in the college of your choice in Massachusetts, its a public institution.
I want to make sure we keep our Pell grant program growing. Were 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 whats happened over the last four years has been very, very hard for Americas 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, thats just unacceptable.
And likewise youve got more and more debt on your back. So more debt and less jobs. Im 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, were bringing back an economy.
Its not going to be like the last four years. The middle-class has been crushed over the last four years, and jobs have been too scarce. I know what it takes to bring them back, and Im going to do that, and make sure that when you graduate -- when do you graduate?
ROMNEY: 2014. When you come out in 2014, I presume Im going to be president. Im going to make sure you get a job. Thanks Jeremy. Yeah, you bet.
Q. Your energy secretary, Steven Chu, has now been on record three times stating its 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?
Natural gas production is the highest its been in decades. We have seen increases in coal production and coal employment. But what Ive also said is we cant just produce traditional source of energy. Weve also got to look to the future. Thats why we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars. That means that in the middle of the next decade, any car you buy, youre going to end up going twice as far on a gallon of gas. Thats why we doubled clean -- 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. Weve got potentially 600,000 jobs and 100 years worth of energy right beneath our feet with natural gas.
And we can do it in an environmentally sound way. But weve also got to continue to figure out how we have efficiency energy, because ultimately thats how were going to reduce demand and thats whats going to keep gas prices lower.
Now, Governor Romney will say hes got an all-of-the-above plan, but basically his plan is to let the oil companies write the energy policies. So hes got the oil and gas part, but he doesnt have the clean energy part. And if we are only thinking about tomorrow or the next day and not thinking about 10 years from now, were not going to control our own economic future. Because China, Germany, theyre making these investments. And Im 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.
Thats going to help Jeremy get a job. Its also going to make sure that youre not paying as much for gas.
And the presidents 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 was 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 whered 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 cost? 20 or 25 birds were killed and 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 dont 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 grabbed my arms and said, Please save my job. The head of the EPA said, You cant build a coal plant. Youll virtually -- its virtually impossible given our regulations. When the president ran for office, he said if you build a coal plant, you can go ahead, but youll go bankrupt. Thats not the right course for America.
Lets 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 Im planning on doing, which is getting us energy independent, North America energy independence within eight years, youre going to see manufacturing jobs come back. Because our energy is low cost, that are already beginning to come back because of our abundant energy. Ill get America and North America energy independent. Ill do it by more drilling, more permits and licenses.
Were 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 thats what Im going to do.
Q. Governor Romney, you have stated that if youre 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 the -- these various deductions, the mortgage deductions, the charitable deductions, the child tax credit and also the ... 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?
So four 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 thats what Ive done, by $3,600.00. I said I would cut taxes for small businesses, who are the drivers and engines of growth. And weve cut them 18 times. And I want to continue those tax cuts for middle-class families, and for small business.
But what Ive also said is, if were serious about reducing the deficit, if this is genuinely a moral obligation to the next generation, then in addition to some tough spending cuts, weve also got to make sure that the wealthy do a little bit more.
So what Ive said is, your first $250,000.00 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. Im ready to sign that bill right now. The only reason its not happening is because Governor Romneys allies in Congress have held the 98 percent hostage because they want tax breaks for the top 2 percent.
But what Ive also says 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. Thats 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 two 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 a bus driver, somebody making $50,000 year? And he said, Yes, I think thats fair. Not only that, he said, I think thats 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 Im going to give tax cuts -- he didnt say tax rate cuts, he said tax cuts to everybody, including the top 1 percent, you should believe him because thats been his history.
And thats exactly the kind of top-down economics that is not going to work if we want a strong middle class and an economy thats striving for everybody.
And the reason I want middle-income taxpayers to have lower taxes is because middle-income taxpayers have been buried over the past four years. Youve 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 four years. So I want to get some relief to middle-income families. Thats part -- thats part one.
Now, how about deductions? Cause Im going to bring rates down across the board for everybody, but Im 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 theyre paying now.
The top 5 percent of taxpayers will continue to pay 60 percent of the income tax the nation collects. So thatll 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 say everybody gets -- Ill 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 filling 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 youre getting interest from a bank, if youre getting a statement from a mutual fund or any other kind of investment you have, you dont have to worry about filing taxes on that, because therell be no taxes for anybody making $200,000.00 per year and less, on your interest, dividends and capital gains. Why am I lowering taxes on the middle-class? Because under the last four years, theyve 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 thats being paid by the highest income taxpayers. And I will not, under any circumstances increase taxes on the middle-class. The presidents spending, the presidents borrowing will cost this nation to have to raise taxes on the American people. Not just at the high end. A recent study has shown the people in the middle-class will see $4,000.00 per year in higher taxes as a result of the spending and borrowing of this administration.
I will not let that happen. I want to get us on track to a balanced budget, and Im going to reduce the tax burden on middle income families. And whats that going to do? Its going to help those families, and its going to create incentives to start growing jobs again in this country.
Q. In what new ways to you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?
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 of 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 didnt complain. Thats 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 Lily Ledbetter bill. And its 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 couldnt bring suit because she should have found about it earlier, whereas she had no way of finding out about it. So we fixed that. And thats an example of the kind of advocacy that we need, because women are increasingly the breadwinners in the family. This is not just a womens issue, this is a family issue, this is a middle-class issue, and thats why weve got to fight for it.
It also means that weve 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 thats exactly what weve done. Weve 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, lets just cut out the middleman. Lets give the money directly to students.
And as a consequence, weve seen millions of young people be able to afford college, and thats going to make sure that young women are going to be able to compete in that marketplace.
But weve got to enforce the laws, which is what we are doing, and weve also got to make sure that in every walk of life we do not tolerate discrimination.
Thats been one of the hallmarks of my administration. Im going to continue to push on this issue for the next four years.
And I -- and I went to my staff, and I said, How come all the people for these jobs are -- are all men. They said, Well, these are the people that have the qualifications. And I said, Well, gosh, cant we -- cant we find some -- some women that are also qualified?
And -- and so we -- 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 womens 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 recognized that if youre going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school.
She said, I cant be here until 7 or 8 oclock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 oclock 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. Lets have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.
Were going to have to have employers in the new economy, in the economy Im going to bring to play, that are going to be so anxious to get good workers theyre going to be anxious to hire women. In the -- in the last women have lost 580,000 jobs. Thats the net of whats happened in the last four years. Were still down 580,000 jobs. I mentioned 31/2 million women, more now in poverty than four 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 that are looking to find good employees and bringing them into their workforce and adapting to a flexible work schedule that gives women opportunities that they would otherwise not be able to afford.
This is what I have done. Its 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 cant finds a job, or a college level job, thats not what we have to have.
Im going to help women in America get good work by getting a stronger economy and by supporting women in the workforce.
Q. Governor Romney, I am an undecided voter, because Im disappointed with the lack of progress Ive seen in the last four years. However, I do attribute much of Americas 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?
Now, weve 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. Thats 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.
Thats -- Governor, youre the last person whos going to get tough on China. And what weve done when it comes to trade is not only sign three trade deals to open up new markets, but weve 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. Weve brought twice as many cases against unfair trading practices than the previous administration and weve won every single one thats 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 wouldnt be helpful to American workers. Well, in fact we saved 1,000 jobs. And thats the kind of tough trade actions that are required.
But the last point I want to make is this. You know, there are some things where Governor Romney is different from George Bush. George Bush didnt propose turning Medicare into a voucher. George Bush embraced comprehensive immigration reform. He didnt 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 theyre not on economic policy. In some ways, hes gone to a more extreme place when it comes to social policy. And I think thats a mistake. Thats not how were going to move our economy forward.
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 -- the Arabs or the Venezuelans or anyone else. That wasnt true in his time, thats why my policy starts with a very robust policy to get all that energy in North America -- become energy secure.
Number two, trade -- Ill crack down on China, President Bush didnt. Im also going to dramatically expand trade in Latin America. Its been growing about 12 percent per year over a long period of time. I want to add more free trade agreements so well have more trade.
Number three, Im going to get us to a balanced budget. President Bush didnt. 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 four years. And his forecast for the next four years is more deficits, almost that large. So thats the next area Im different than President Bush.
And then lets take the last one, championing small business. Our party has been focused too long. I came through small business. I understand how hard it is to start a small business. Thats why everything Ill 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 the most troubling about Obama Care, well its 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 has a very different path for a very different time. My path is designed in getting small businesses to grow and hire people.
Q. Mr. President, I voted for you in 2008. What have you done or accomplished to earn my vote in 2012? Im not that optimistic as I was in 2012. Most things I need for everyday living are very expensive.
I said that Id end the war in Iraq, and I did. I said wed refocus attention on those who actually attacked us on 9/11, and we have gone after Al Qaedas leadership like never before and Osama bin Laden is dead.
OBAMA: I said that we would put in place health care reform to make sure that insurance companies cant jerk you around and if you dont have health insurance, that youd 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. Weve created five million jobs, and gone from 800 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 youre not struggling? Absolutely not. A lot of us are. And thats why the plan that Ive 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 only the energy of today, but also the energy of the future. All of those things will make a difference, so the point is the commitments Ive made, Ive kept.
And those that I havent been able to keep, its not for lack of trying and were 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 hell keep those too. You know when members of the Republican Congress say, Were going to sign a no tax pledge, so that we dont ask a dime for 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, Were going to cut Planned Parenthood funding. He said, Me too. When he said, Were going to repeal Obamacare. First thing Im going to do, despite the fact that its 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 hes going to keep.
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.
I can tell you that if you were to elect President Obama, you know what youre going to get. Youre going to get a repeat of the last four years. We just cant afford four more years like the last four years.
He said that by now wed have unemployment at 5.4 percent. The difference between where it is and 5.4 percent is 9 million Americans without work.
I wasnt the one that said 5.4 percent. This was the presidents plan. Didnt get there.
He said he would have by now put forward a plan to reform Medicare and Social Security, because he pointed out theyre on the road to bankruptcy. He would reform them. Hed get that done. He hasnt even made a proposal on either one.
He said in his first year hed put out an immigration plan that would deal with our immigration challenges. Didnt even file it.
This is a president who has not been able to do what he said hed do. He said that hed cut in half the deficit. He hasnt 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. Its gone up by $2,500 a year. And if Obamacare is passed, or implemented -- its already been passed -- if its implemented fully, itll 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, Ive created 5 million jobs. Thats 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? Its 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 hes 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 one that worked better? Yeah, in the Reagan recession where unemployment hit 10.8 percent, between that period -- the end of that recession and the equivalent of time to today, Ronald Reagans recovery created twice as many jobs as this presidents recovery. Five million jobs doesnt 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 havent worked. Hes great as a -- as a -- as a speaker and describing his plans and his vision. Thats wonderful, except we have a record to look at. And that record shows he just hasnt 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 income is down $4,300 a family and 23 million Americans out of work. Thats what this election is about. Its 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.
Q. Mr. Romney, what do you plan on doing with immigrants without their green cards that are currently living here as productive members of society?
People are willing to take risks. People who want to build on their dreams and make sure their kids have an even bigger dreams than they have.
But were also a nation of laws. So what Ive said is we need to fix a broken immigration system and Ive done everything that I can on my own and sought cooperation from Congress to make sure that we fix the system.
The 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 thats good for our economic growth.
Theyll start new businesses. Theyll make things happen to create jobs here in the United States.
Number two, we do have to deal with our border so we put more border patrol on the -- any time in history and the flow of undocumented works across the border is actually lower than its been in 40 years.
What Ive also said is if were going to go after folks who are here illegally, we should do it smartly and go after folks who are criminals, gang bangers, people who are hurting the community, not after students, not after folks who are here just because theyre trying to figure out how to feed their families. And thats what weve done. And what Ive also said is for young people who come here, brought here often times by their parents. Had 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. And we should make sure that we give them a pathway to citizenship.
And thats what Ive done administratively. Now, Governor Romney just said, you know 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, Were going to encourage self-deportation. Making life so miserable on folks that theyll 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.
You know what? If my daughter or yours looks to somebody like theyre not a citizen, I dont want -- I dont 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 didnt try. Thats not true. I have sat down with Democrats and Republicans at the beginning of my term. And I said, lets fix this system. Including Senators previously who had supported it on the Republican side. But its very hard for Republicans in Congress to support comprehensive immigration reform, if their standard bearer has said that, this is not something Im interested in supporting.
But 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; Anns 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 dont think you have to -- shouldnt 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 our legal system works.
Number two, were going to have to stop illegal immigration. There are 4 million people who are waiting in line to get here legally. Those whove come here illegally take their place. So I will not grant amnesty to those who have come here illegally.
What I will do is Ill 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 wont put in place magnets for people coming here illegally. So for instance, I would not give drivers 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 hed put in place, in his first year, a piece of legislation -- hed file a bill in his first year that would reform our -- our immigration system, protect legal immigration, stop illegal immigration. He didnt do it.
He had a Democrat House, a Democrat Senate, super majority in both Houses. Why did he fail to even promote legislation that would have provided an answer for those that want to come legally and for those that are here illegally today? Whats a question I think the -- the president will have a chance to answer right now.
Q. This question actually comes from a brain trust of my friends at Global Telecom Supply in Minneola 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?
I send them there, oftentimes into harms 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 at every embassy and consulate in the region.
Number two, investigate exactly what happened, regardless of where the facts lead us, to make sure folks are held accountable and it doesnt happen again.
And number three, we are going to find out who did this and were going to hunt them down, because one of the things that Ive 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 thats not how a commander in chief operates. You dont turn national security into a political issue. Certainly not right when its happening. And people -- not everybody agrees with some of the decisions Ive made. But when it comes to our national security, I mean what I say. I said Id end the war in Libya -- in -- in Iraq, and I did.
I said that wed go after al-Qaeda and bin Laden, we have. I said wed transition out of Afghanistan, and start making sure that Afghans are responsible for their own security, thats what Im 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 whats taking place there because these are my folks, and Im the one who has to greet those coffins when they come home. You know that I mean what I say.
I -- Im -- I feel very deeply sympathetic for the families of those who lost loved ones. And today theres a memorial service for one of those that was lost in this tragedy. We -- we think of their families and care for them deeply. There were other issues associated with this -- 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 didnt know what happened, you have to ask yourself why didnt we know five 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 -- on the day following the assassination of the United States ambassador, the first time thats happened since 1979, when -- when we have four Americans killed there, when apparently we didnt know what happened, that the president, the day after that happened, flies to Las Vegas for a political fund-raiser, then the next day to Colorado for another event, other political event.
I think these -- these actions taken by a president and a leader have symbolic significance and perhaps even material significance in that youd hope that during that time we could call in the people who were actually eyewitnesses. Weve 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 presidents whole policy in the Middle East. Look whats happening in Syria, in Egypt, now in Libya. Consider the distance between ourselves and -- and Israel, the president said that -- that he was going to put daylight between us and Israel.
We have Iran four years closer to a nuclear bomb. Syria -- Syrias not just a tragedy of 30,000 civilians being killed by a military, but also a strategic -- strategically significant player for America.
The presidents policies throughout the Middle East began with an apology tour and -- and -- and pursue a strategy of leading from behind, and this strategy is unraveling before our very eyes.
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 planned to do to limit the availability of assault weapons?
But there have been too many instances during the course of my presidency, where Ive had to comfort families who have lost somebody. Most recently out in Aurora. You know, 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 two 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 didnt have that good fortune and whose sons or daughters or husbands didnt survive. So my belief is that, (A), we have to enforce the laws weve already got, make sure that were keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, those who are mentally ill. Weve done a much better job in terms of background checks, but weve 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 dont belong on our streets. And so what Im 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 home town of Chicago, theres an awful lot of violence and theyre not using AK-47s. Theyre using cheap hand guns.
And so what can we do to intervene, to make sure that young people have opportunity; that our schools are working; that if theres 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 -- 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.
We, of course, dont want to have automatic weapons, and thats 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 that we have.
And you ask how -- 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, well -- well give people the -- 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 to raise kids. Wherever possible the -- the benefit of having two parents in the home, and thats 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, thats a great idea.
Because if theres a two parent family, the prospect of living in poverty goes down dramatically. The opportunities that the child will -- 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 -- the greatest failure weve had with regards to -- to gun violence in some respects is what -- what is known as Fast and Furious. Which was a program under this administration, and how it worked exactly I think we dont know precisely, where thousands of automatic, and AK-47 type weapons were -- were given to people that ultimately gave them to -- to drug lords.
They used those weapons against -- against their own citizens and killed Americans with them. And this was a -- this was a program of the government. For what purpose it was put in place, I cant imagine. But its 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, its been investigated to a degree, but -- but the administration has carried out executive privilege to prevent all of the information from coming out.
Id 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 Mexican drug lords.
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?
But theres 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 dont have to pay U.S. taxes.
But, of course, if youre a small business or a mom-and-pop business or a big business starting up here, youve got to pay even the reduced rate that Governor Romneys talking about.
And its estimated that that will create 800,000 new jobs. The problem is theyll be in china. Or India. Or Germany.
Thats not the way were going to create jobs here. The way were 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. Thats creating tens of thousands of jobs all across the country. Thats why weve 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 Romneys company invested in what were called pioneers of outsourcing. Thats not my phrase. Thats what reporters called it.
And as far as currency manipulation, the currency has actually gone up 11 percent since Ive been president because we have pushed them hard. And weve put unprecedented trade pressure on China. Thats why exports have significantly increased under my presidency. Thats going to help to create jobs here.
China is now the largest manufacturer in the world. It 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 four years. Thats total over the last four years.
One of the reasons for that is that people think its 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 its more attractive to come to America again.
This is the way were going to create jobs in this country. Its not by trickle-down government, saying were 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, were going to have to make sure that as we trade with other nations that they play by the rules. And China hasnt. One of the reasons -- or one of the ways they dont 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 cant 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 were going to make sure that people we trade with around the world play by the rules. But let me -- let me not just stop there. Dont forget, whats key to bringing back jobs here is not just finding someone else to punish, and Im going to be strict with people who we trade with to make sure they -- they follow the law and play by the rules, but its also to make America the most attractive place in the world for businesses of all kinds.
Thats why I want to down the tax rates on small employers, big employers, so they want to be here. Canadas tax rate on companies is now 15 percent. Ours is 35 percent. So if youre starting a business, where would you rather start it? We have to be competitive if were going to create more jobs here.
Regulations have quadrupled. The rate of regulations quadrupled under this president. I talk to small businesses across the country. They say, We feel like were under attack from our own government. I want to make sure that regulators see their job as encouraging small business, not crushing it. And theres 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 youre 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.
Q. Hi, Governor. I think this is a tough question. To 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?
Thats not what I believe. I believe that the free enterprise system is the greatest engine of prosperity the worlds 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 thats how our economys grown. Thats how we built the worlds greatest middle class.
And -- and that is part of whats at stake in this election. Theres 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 whove worked all their lives. Veterans whove sacrificed for this country. Students who are out there trying to hopefully advance their own dreams, but also this countrys dreams. Soldiers who are overseas fighting for us right now. People who are working hard every day, paying payroll tax, gas taxes, but dont make enough income.
And I want to fight for them. Thats what Ive been doing for the last four years. Because if they succeed, I believe the country succeeds.
When my grandfather fought in World War II and he came back and he got a G.I. Bill and that allowed him to go to college, that wasnt a handout. That was something that advanced the entire country. And I want to make sure that the next generation has those same opportunities. Thats why Im asking for your vote and thats why Im asking for another four years.
In the course of that, I think the presidents campaign has tried to characterize me as -- as someone whos 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. Im a guy who wants to help with the experience I have, the American people.
My -- my passion probably flows from the fact that I believe in God. And I believe were all children of the same God. I believe we have a responsibility to care for one another. I -- I served as a missionary for my church. I served as a pastor in my congregation for about 10 years. Ive 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. I 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 dont have to settle for what were going through. We dont have to settle for gasoline at four bucks. We dont have to settle for unemployment at a chronically high level. We dont have to settle for 47 million people on food stamps. We dont have to settle for 50 percent of kids coming out of college not able to get work. We dont have to settle for 23 million people struggling to find a good job.
If I become president, Ill get America working again. I will get us on track to a balanced budget. The president hasnt. I will. Ill make sure we can reform Medicare and Social Security to preserve them for coming -- coming generations. The president said he would. He didnt ... Ill get our incomes up. And by the way, Ive done these things. I served as governor and showed I could get them done.