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Transcript: 2012 second presidential debate

Posted Wednesday, October 17, 2012

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Hemstead, NY - President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney met in Hempstead, New York Tuesday evening, October 16, for the second of three presidential debates. The event was moderated by CNN correspondent Candy Crowley.
CROWLEY: Good evening from Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. I'm Candy Crowley from CNN's "State of the Union." We are here for the second presidential debate, a town hall, sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

CROWLEY: 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.

CROWLEY: 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 two minutes to respond to a common question, and there will be a two-minute follow-up. The audience here in the hall has agreed to be polite and attentive - no cheering or 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've 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.

QUESTION: 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 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?

ROMNEY: Thank you, Jeremy. I appreciate your - your question,
and thank you for being here this evening and to all of those from
Nassau County that have come, thank you for your time. Thank you to
Hofstra University and to Candy Crowley for organizing and leading
this - this event.

Thank you, Mr. President, also for being part of this - this

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.

ROMNEY: 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 airlines, we gave you a John and Abigail Adams
scholarship, four years tuition free in 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 four 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

And likewise you've 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 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 I'm 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 I'm going to
be president. I'm going to make sure you get a job. Thanks Jeremy.
Yeah, you bet.

CROWLEY: Mr. President?

OBAMA: 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.

OBAMA: And what I want to do, is build on the five million jobs
that we've 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 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. Now, 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 source of the future, not
just thinking about next year, but ten 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 bright as well.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you for more immediate answer and begin with
Mr. Romney just quickly what - what can you do? We're looking at a
situation where 40 percent of the unemployed have been unemployed have
been unemployed for six months or more. They don't have the two years
that Jeremy has.

What about those long term unemployed who need a job right now?

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 four 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 four 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 Condell (ph)
Airlines and come out stronger.

And I know he keeps saying, you want 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.

CROWLEY: Let me give the president a chance.

Go ahead.
OBAMA: 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's 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 four 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.

CROWLEY: Mr. President, the next question is going to be for you

And, Mr. Romney - Governor Romney - there'll be plenty of
chances here to go on, but I want to...

ROMNEY: That - that Detroit - that Detroit answer...

CROWLEY: We have all these folks.

ROMNEY: ... that Detroit answer...

CROWLEY: I will let you absolutely...

ROMNEY: ... and the rest of the answer, way off the mark.

CROWLEY: OK. Will - will - 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 - and go over. And we want to get a
question from Phillip Tricolla.

QUESTION: 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?

OBAMA: 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 source 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 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. We've 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 we've also
got to continue to figure out how we have efficiency 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 are 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.

CROWLEY: Governor, on the subject of gas prices?

ROMNEY: Well, let's look at the president's policies, all right,
as opposed to the rhetoric, because we've had four 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 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 where'd 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 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 grabbed my arms and said,
"Please save my job." The head of the EPA said, "You can't build a
coal plant. You'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 eight years, you're 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.
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.
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?

OBAMA: Candy, there's no doubt that world demand's 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

And that's creating jobs. That means those cars can be exported,
'cause that's the demand around the world, and it also means that
it'll save money in your pocketbook.

OBAMA: That's the strategy you need, an all-of-the-above
strategy, and that's what we're going to do in the next four years.

ROMNEY: But that's not what you've done in the last four years.
That's the problem. In the last four years, you cut permits and
licenses on federal land and federal waters in half.

OBAMA: Not true, Governor Romney.

ROMNEY: So how much did you cut (inaudible)?

OBAMA: Not true.

ROMNEY: How much did you cut them by, then?

OBAMA: Governor, we have actually produced more oil –

ROMNEY: No, no. How much did you cut licenses and permits on
federal land and federal waters?

OBAMA: Governor Romney, here's what we did. There were a whole
bunch of oil companies.


ROMNEY: No, no, I had a question and the question was how much
did you cut them by?

OBAMA: You want me to answer a question –

ROMNEY: How much did you cut them by?

OBAMA: I'm happy to answer the question.

ROMNEY: All right. And it is –

OBAMA: 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.

ROMNEY: OK, (inaudible) –

OBAMA: And so what we did was take away those leases. And we
are now reletting them so that we can actually make a profit.

ROMNEY: And production on private - on government land –

OBAMA: Production is up.

ROMNEY: - is down.

OBAMA: No, it isn't.

ROMNEY: Production on government land of oil is down 14 percent.

OBAMA: Governor –

ROMNEY: And production on gas –


OBAMA: It's just not true.

ROMNEY: It's absolutely true. Look, there's no question but the
people recognize that we have not produced more (inaudible) 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.

OBAMA: Well –

ROMNEY: And the answer is I don't believe people think that's
the case –

OBAMA: - (inaudible).

ROMNEY: That wasn't the question.


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, 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 two 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 $1.86 a gallon. Now, it's
$4.00 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. Those things will get us the
energy we need.

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?

OBAMA: Well, think about what the governor - 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's 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.

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 - 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 breaks (ph) 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. And I intend to win it as President of the United

CROWLEY: I got to - I got to move you on –

ROMNEY: He gets the first –

CROWLEY: - and the next question –

ROMNEY: He actually got –

CROWLEY: - for you –

ROMNEY: He actually got the first question. So I get the last
question - last answer –

CROWLEY: (Inaudible) in the follow up, it doesn't quite work
like that. 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, you know,
continue on - but I don't want to leave all –

ROMNEY: Candy, Candy –

CROWLEY: - sitting here –

ROMNEY: Candy, I don't have a policy of stopping wind jobs in
Iowa and that - they're not phantom jobs. They're real jobs.


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


ROMNEY: - we're taking advantage of our energy resources.
We'll bring back manufacturing to America. We're going to get through
a very aggressive energy policy, 31/2 million more jobs in this
country. It's critical to our future.

OBAMA: Candy, it's not going to –

CROWLEY: We're going to move you along –

OBAMA: Used to being interrupted.

CROWLEY: 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 Follano
– Follano, sorry.

ROMNEY: Hi, Mary.

QUESTION: 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 the - these various deductions, the mortgage
deductions, the charitable deductions, the child tax credit and also
the - oh, what's that other credit? I forgot.

OBAMA: You're doing great.

QUESTION: 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?

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 four
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

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. That's part - that's part one.

Now, how about deductions? 'Cause 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 taxpayers will continue to pay 60 percent of
the income tax the nation collects. So that'll 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 - 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 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 you're getting interest from a bank, if you're getting a
statement from a mutual fund or any other kind of investment you have,
you don't have to worry about filing taxes on that, because there'll
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, 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 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 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.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Governor.

OBAMA: 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 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 that's what I've done, by $3,600.00. 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 business.

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 $250,000.00 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. 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 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. 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

Now, Governor Romney has a different philosophy. He was on 60
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 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

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
striving for everybody.

CROWLEY: Governor Romney, I'm sure you've got a reply there.

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

[cnn video=""]

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 four 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

There are 3.5 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 five 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 make 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.

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, 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?

OBAMA: 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
corporates, 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's 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 middleclass taxes.

deductions, which loopholes are you going to close? He can't tell

The - 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 - 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 take such a sketchy deal and neither should you, the American
people, because the math doesn't add up.

And - 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
trillion – $8 trillion 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 - that will pay for about 4
percent reduction in tax rates.

You're going to be paying for it. You're going to lose some
deductions, and you can't buy the sales pitch. Nobody who's looked at
it that's serious, actually believes it adds up.

CROWLEY: Mr. President, let me get - let me get the governor in
on this. And Governor, let's - before we get into a...

ROMNEY: I - I...

CROWLEY: ...vast array of who says - what study says what, if it
shouldn't add up. If somehow when you get in there, there isn't
enough tax revenue coming in. If somehow the numbers don't add up,
would you be willing to look again at a 20 percent...

ROMNEY: Well of course they add up. I - I was - I was someone
who ran businesses for 25 years, and balanced the budget. I ran the
Olympics and balanced the budget. I ran the - the state of
Massachusetts as a governor, to the extent any governor does, and
balanced the budget all four years. When we're talking about math
that doesn't add up, how about $4 trillion of deficits over the last
four years, $5 trillion? That's math that doesn't add up. We have –
we have a president talking about someone's plan in a way that's
completely foreign to what my real plan is.

ROMNEY: And then we have his own record, which is we have four
consecutive years where he said when he was running for office, he
would cut the deficit in half. Instead he's doubled it. We've gone
from $10 trillion of national debt, to $16 trillion of national debt.
If the president were reelected, we'd go to almost $20 trillion of
national debt. This puts us on a road to Greece. I know what it
takes to balance budgets. I've done it my entire life. So for
instance when he says, "Yours is a $5 trillion cut." Well, no it's
not. Because I'm offsetting some of the reductions with holding down
some of the deductions.


CROWLEY: Governor, I've gotta - gotta - actually, I need to
have you both (inaudible).


CROWLEY: I understand the stakes here. I understand both of
you. But I - I will get run out of town if I don't...


ROMNEY: And I just described - I just described to you, Mr.
President - I just described to you precisely how I'd do it which is
with a single number that people can put - and they can put they're
– they're deductions and credits...


CROWLEY: Mr. President, we're keeping track, I promise you. And
Mr. President, the next question is for you, so stay standing.

OBAMA: Great. Looking forward to it.

And it's Katherine Fenton, who has a question for you.

QUESTION: 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?

OBAMA: Well, Katherine, that's a great question. And, you know,
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 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 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 Lily Ledbetter bill. And it's 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 about
it earlier, whereas 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

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 four years.

CROWLEY: Governor Romney, pay equity for women?

ROMNEY: Thank you. And 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 - 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, can't we - can't we find some - some women that are also

ROMNEY: 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 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 recognized that if you're 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 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 –
in the last women have lost 580,000 jobs. That's the net of what's
happened in the last four years. We're 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. 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 finds a job, or a college level job, that's not what we have to
CROWLEY: Governor?

ROMNEY: I'm going to help women in America get good work by
getting a stronger economy and by supporting women in the workforce.

CROWLEY: Mr. President why don't you get in on this quickly,

OBAMA: Katherine, I just want to point out that when Governor
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 healthcare. You know 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 is insured. Because this is not just a - 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 whether they can go out there
and - 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

CROWLEY: Mr. President...

OBAMA: 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
part of what I'm fighting for as president of the United States.

CROWLEY: I want to move us along here to Susan Katz, who has a

And, Governor, it's for you.
QUESTION: Governor Romney, I am an undecided voter, because I'm
disappointed with the lack of progress I've seen in the last four
years. However, I do attribute much of America's economic and
international problems to the failings and missteps of the Bush

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?

ROMNEY: 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 that I don't believe...

OBAMA: I don't think so, Candy.

ROMNEY: ... I don't believe...

OBAMA: I want to make sure our timekeepers are working here.

ROMNEY: The time - the time...

CROWLEY: OK. The timekeepers are all working. 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 (inaudible) you think.

But go ahead and use this two minutes any way you'd like to, the
question is on the floor.

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 of not. Every woman in America should
have access to contraceptives. And - and the - and the president's
statement of my policy is completely and totally wrong.

OBAMA: Governor...

ROMNEY: Let me come back and - and answer your question.

President Bush and I are - 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 - 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

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

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 four years. And his forecast for
the next four 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 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 the most troubling about Obama Care, 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 has a very different path for a very different time.
My path is designed in getting small businesses to grow and hire

CROWLEY: Thanks, Governor.

Mr. President?

OBAMA: 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 had 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.

Now, 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's 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 1,000 jobs. And that's 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 didn't propose turning Medicare into a voucher. George
Bush embraced comprehensive immigration reform. He didn't call for

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.

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

QUESTION: 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

OBAMA: Well, we've gone through a tough four years. There's no
doubt about it. But four 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 Qaeda's 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 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 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 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 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 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.
You know when members of the Republican Congress say, "We're going to
sign a no tax pledge, so that we don't 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, "We're going to cut Planned Parenthood funding."
He said, "Me too." When he said, "We're going to repeal Obamacare.
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.


CROWLEY: Mr. President, let me let...


OBAMA: ...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...

CROWLEY: Mr. President. Thank you.


OBAMA: ...will be there for you.

CROWLEY: Thank you. Governor?

ROMNEY: I think you know better. I think you know that these
last four years haven't been so good as the president just described
and that you don't feel like your confident that the next four 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 four years. We just can't afford four more years like the last
four 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'll be another $2,500 on top.

ROMNEY: 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

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 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 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 - as a - 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 income is 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.

CROWLEY: Governor, I want to move you along. Don't - 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

Mr. President, I'll be right back with you.

Lorraine Osorio has a question for you about a topic we have

OBAMA: This is for Governor Romney?

CROWLEY: It's for Governor Romney, and we'll be right with you,
Mr. President. Thanks.

ROMNEY: Is it Loraina?

QUESTION: Lorraine.

ROMNEY: Lorraine?

QUESTION: Yes, Lorraine.

ROMNEY: Lorraine.

QUESTION: How you doing?

ROMNEY: Good, thanks.

QUESTION: Mr. Romney, what do you plan on doing with immigrants
without their green cards that are currently living here as productive
members of society?

ROMNEY: Thank you. Lorraine? Did I get that right? Good.
Thank you for your question. And let me step back and tell you what I
would like to do with our immigration policy broadly and include an
answer to your question.

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; Ann's dad was born in Wales and is a
first-generation American. We welcome legal immigrants into this

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 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 have 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.

ROMNEY: 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 - our immigration
system, protect legal immigration, stop illegal immigration. He
didn't 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? What's a question I think the –
the president will have a chance to answer right now.

OBAMA: Good, I look forward to it.

Was - Lorranna - 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 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 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 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 that's good for our
economic growth.

They'll start new businesses. They'll 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 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, gang bangers, 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 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 that's what I've 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, "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.

You know what? If my daughter or yours looks to somebody like
they're not a citizen, I don't want - 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 have 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 Republican's in Congress to
support comprehensive immigration reform, if their standard bearer has
said that, this is not something I'm interested in supporting.

CROWLEY: Let me get the governor in here, Mr. President. Let's
speak to, if you could...


CROWLEY: ...the idea of self-deportation?

ROMNEY: No, let - let - let me go back and speak to the points
that the president made and - and - 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 - 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.

Univision the other day. Why, when you said you'd filed legislation
in your first year didn't you do it? And he didn't answer. He - he
doesn't answer that question. He said the standard bearer wasn't for

I'm glad you thought I was a standard bearer four years ago, but
I wasn't.

Four years ago you said in your first year you would file

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

My - 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 - if they find that - that they can't get the
benefits here that they want and they can't - and they can't find the
job they want, then they'll make a decision to go a place where –
where they have better opportunities.

But I'm not in favor of rounding up people and - and - 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 got to get them out of this country.

ROMNEY: 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.

OBAMA: Candy?

Hold on a second. The...

ROMNEY: Mr. President, I'm still speaking.


ROMNEY: Mr. President, let me finish.


ROMNEY: I've gotta continue.


CROWLEY: Governor Romney, you can make it short. See all these
people? They've been waiting for you. (inaudible) make it short

ROMNEY: Just going to make a point. Any investments I have over
the last eight years have been managed by a blind trust. And I
understand they do include investments outside the United States,
including in - in Chinese companies.

Mr. President, have you looked at your pension? Have you looked
at your pension?

OBAMA: I've got to say...

ROMNEY: Mr. President, have you looked at your pension?

OBAMA: You know, I - I don't look at my pension. It's not as
big as yours so it doesn't take as long.

ROMNEY: Well, let me give you some advice.

OBAMA: I don't check it that often.

ROMNEY: Let me give you some advice. 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.


CROWLEY: We're way off topic here, Governor Romney.


OBAMA: I thought we were talking about immigration.


OBAMA: I do want to make sure that...

CROWLEY: If I could have you sit down, Governor Romney. Thank

OBAMA: I do want to make sure that - 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 and 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

ROMNEY: I'll get it done. I'll get it done. First year...

OBAMA: ... we can't - we have not seen Republicans serious
about this issue at all. And it's time for them to get serious on it.

CROWLEY: Mr. President, let me move you on here please. Mr.
President, (inaudible).

OBAMA: This used to be a bipartisan issue.


CROWLEY: Don't go away, though - right. Don't go away because
I - I want you to talk to Kerry Ladka who wants to switch the topic
for us.


Hi, Kerry.

QUESTION: Good evening, Mr. President.

OBAMA: I'm sorry. What's your name?

QUESTION: It's Kerry, Kerry Ladka.

OBAMA: Great to see you.

QUESTION: This question actually comes from a brain trust of my
friends at Global Telecom Supply (ph) in Minneola yesterday.


QUESTION: 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?

OBAMA: 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 are 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 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 doesn't happen again.

And number three, we are going to find out who did this and we're
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.


OBAMA: 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 - in Iraq,
and I did.

I said that we'd go after al-Qaeda 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.

CROWLEY: Mr. President, I'm going to move us along. Governor?

ROMNEY: Thank you Kerry for your question, it's an important
one. And - and I - I think the president just said correctly that
the buck does stop at his desk and - and he takes responsibility for
– for that - for the failure in providing those security resources,
and - and those terrible things may well happen from time to time. I
– I'm - 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 - 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.

ROMNEY: 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, you have to ask yourself
why didn't 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 that's happened since 1979, when - 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 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 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 - 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 –
Syria's not just a tragedy of 30,000 civilians being killed by a
military, but also a strategic - strategically significant player for

The president's 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.

CROWLEY: Because we're - 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?

OBAMA: 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's 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 in 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.

CROWLEY: Governor, if you want to...

ROMNEY: Yes, I - I...

CROWLEY: ... quickly to this please.

ROMNEY: I - I think interesting the president just said
something which - which is that on the day after the attack he went
into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.

OBAMA: That's what I said.

ROMNEY: You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it
was an act of terror.

It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you're

OBAMA: Please proceed governor.

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.

OBAMA: Get the transcript.

CROWLEY: It - it - it - he did in fact, sir.
So let me - let me call it an act of terror...

OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?

CROWLEY: He - he did call it an act of terror. It did as well
take - it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea there
being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct
about that.

ROMNEY: This - the administration - the administration
indicated this was a reaction to a video and was a spontaneous

CROWLEY: It did.

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 –

OBAMA: Candy?

ROMNEY: Excuse me. The ambassador of the United Nations went on
the Sunday television shows and spoke about how –

OBAMA: Candy, I'm –

ROMNEY: - this was a spontaneous –

CROWLEY: Mr. President, let me –

OBAMA: I'm happy to have a longer conversation –

CROWLEY: I know you –

OBAMA: - about foreign policy.

CROWLEY: Absolutely. But I want to - I want to move you on and
also –

OBAMA: OK. I'm happy to do that, too.

CROWLEY: - the transcripts and –

OBAMA: I just want to make sure that –

CROWLEY: - figure out what we –

OBAMA: - all of these wonderful folks are going to have a
chance to get some of their questions answered.

CROWLEY: Because what I - what I want to do, Mr. President,
stand there 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.

QUESTION: 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?

OBAMA: 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. 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 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 home town of Chicago,
there's an awful lot of violence and they're not using AK-47s.
They're 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 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 - 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.

CROWLEY: Governor Romney, the question is about assault weapons,

ROMNEY: Yeah, I'm not in favor of new pieces of legislation on
– 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 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, we'll –
we'll 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 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

Because if there's 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 we've 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 don't 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 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 - but the administration has carried
out executive privilege to prevent all of the information from coming

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
Mexican drug lords.
OBAMA: Candy?

CROWLEY: Governor, Governor, if I could, the question was about
these assault weapons that once were once banned and are no longer

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 it that you have changed your mind?

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 haven'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.

CROWLEY: So I could - if you could get people to agree to it,
you would be for it?

ROMNEY: We have –

OBAMA: Candy?

ROMNEY: - we haven't had the leadership in Washington to work
on a bipartisan basis. I was able to do that in my state and bring
these two together.

CROWLEY: Quickly, Mr. President.

OBAMA: The - 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

But I think that one area we agree on is the important of parents
and the importance of schools, because I do believe that if our young
people have opportunity, then they are less likely to engage in these
kinds of violent acts. We're not going to eliminate everybody who is
mentally disturbed and we have got to make sure they don't get


OBAMA: 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 they don't get weapons. But we can make a
difference in terms 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.


CROWLEY: Mr. President, I have to - I have to move you along
here. You said you wanted to...


CROWLEY: We need to do it here.

OBAMA: But - but it'll - it'll - it'll be...


OBAMA: ... just one second.


OBAMA: Because - because this is important. This is part of
the choice in this election.

teachers was important to growing our economy, Governor Romney said
that doesn't grow our economy.


CROWLEY: The question, Mr. President, was guns here, so I need
to move us along.

OBAMA: I understand.

CROWLEY: You know, the question was guns. So let me - let me
bring in another...

OBAMA: But this will make a difference in terms of whether or
not we can move this economy forward for these young people...

CROWLEY: I understand.

OBAMA: ... and reduce our violence.

CROWLEY: OK. 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.

QUESTION: 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?

ROMNEY: Boy, great question and 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.
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. That's total over the last four 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

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

So we're 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.
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 - 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 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 talk 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

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.

CROWLEY: Mr. President, two minutes here, because we are then
going to go to our last question.

OBAMA: OK. 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's 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.

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

ROMNEY: The answer is very straightforward. We can compete with
anyone in the world as long as the playing field is level. China's
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 their business. That's
what brings jobs in. The president's characterization of my tax


ROMNEY: completely...


ROMNEY: completely false. Let me tell you...

CROWLEY: Let me to go the president here 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.

OBAMA: Candy, there are some jobs that are not going to come
back. Because they are 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.

CROWLEY: Thanks Mr. President.


CROWLEY: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: Government does not create jobs. Government does not
create jobs.

CROWLEY: Governor Romney, I want to introduce you to Barry
Green, because he's going to have the last question to you first?

ROMNEY: Barry? Where is Barry?

QUESTION: 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?

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 - 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 - 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 - 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. 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.

ROMNEY: 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 four bucks. 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 - coming generations. The president said he would.
He didn't.

CROWLEY: Governor...

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.

CROWLEY: Mr. President, last two minutes belong to you.

OBAMA: Barry, I think a lot of this campaign, maybe over the
last four years, has been devoted to this nation 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's 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's grown.
That's how we built the world's greatest middle class.

And - and that is part of what's at stake in this election.
There's a fundamentally different vision about how we move our country

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've worked all their lives. Veterans
who've 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 four years. Because if they succeed, I believe the country

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 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 four years.

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 (ph)
University in Boca Raton, Florida. Don't forget to watch. Election
Day is three weeks from today. Don't forget to vote.

Good night.

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Transcript: 2012 second presidential debate
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney