SCHIEFFER: We'll give you -- we'll catch up.
The United States is scheduled to turn over responsibility for security in Afghanistan to the Afghan government in 2014. At that point, we will withdraw our combat troops, leave a smaller force of Americans, if I understand our policy, in Afghanistan for training purposes. It seems to me the key question here is: What do you do if the deadline arrives and it is obvious the Afghans are unable to handle their security? Do we still leave?
And I believe, Governor Romney, you go first?
ROMNEY: Well, we're going to be finished by 2014, and when I'm president, we'll make sure we bring our troops out by the end of 2014. The commanders and the generals there are on track to do so.
We've seen progress over the past several years. The surge has been successful and the training program is proceeding apace. There are now a large number of Afghan Security Forces, 350,000 that are ready to step in to provide security and we're going to be able to make that transition by the end of 2014.
So our troops will come home at that point.
I can tell you at the same time, that we will make sure that we look at what's happening in Pakistan, and recognize that what's happening in Pakistan is going to have a major impact on the success in Afghanistan. And I say that because I know a lot of people that feel like we should just brush our hands and walk away.
And I don't mean you, Mr. President, but some people in the -- in our nation feel that Pakistan is being nice to us, and that we should walk away from them. But Pakistan is important to the region, to the world and to us, because Pakistan has 100 nuclear warheads and they're rushing to build a lot more. They'll have more than Great Britain sometime in the -- in the relatively near future.
They also have the Haqqani Network and the Taliban existent within their country. And so a Pakistan that falls apart, becomes a failed state, would be of extraordinary danger to Afghanistan and to us.
And so we're going to have to remain helpful in encouraging Pakistan to move towards a more stable government and rebuild the relationship with us. And that means that our aid that we provide to Pakistan is going to have to be conditioned upon certain benchmarks being met.
ROMNEY: So for me, I look at this as both a need to help move Pakistan in the right direction, and also to get Afghanistan to be ready, and they will be ready by the end of 2014.
SCHIEFFER: Mr. President?
OBAMA: When I came into office, we were still bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan had been drifting for a decade. We ended the war in Iraq, refocused our attention on Afghanistan, and we did deliver a surge of troops. That was facilitated in part because we had ended the war in Iraq.
And we are now in a position where we have met many of the objectives that got us there in the first place.
Part of what had happened is we'd forgotten why we had gone. We went because there were people who were responsible for 3,000 American deaths. And so we decimated Al-Qaida's core leadership in the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
We then started to build up Afghan forces. And we're now in a position where we can transition out, because there's no reason why Americans should die when Afghans are perfectly capable of defending their own country.
Now, that transition has to take place in a responsible fashion. We've been there a long time, and we've got to make sure that we and our coalition partners are pulling out responsibly and giving Afghans the capabilities that they need.
But what I think the American people recognize is after a decade of war it's time to do some nation building here at home. And what we can now do is free up some resources, to, for example, put Americans back to work, especially our veterans, rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our schools, making sure that, you know, our veterans are getting the care that they need when it comes to post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, making sure that the certifications that they need for good jobs of the future are in place.
OBAMA: You know, I was having lunch with some -- a veteran in Minnesota who had been a medic dealing with the most extreme circumstances. When he came home and he wanted to become a nurse, he had to start from scratch. And what we've said is let's change those certifications. The first lady has done great work with an organization called Joining Forces putting our veterans back to work. And as a consequence, veterans' unemployment is actually now lower than general population. It was higher when I came into office.
So those are the kinds of things that we can now do because we're making that transition in Afghanistan.
SCHIEFFER: All right. Let me go to Governor Romney because you talked about Pakistan and what needs to be done there.
General Allen, our commander in Afghanistan, says that Americans continue to die at the hands of groups who are supported by Pakistan. We know that Pakistan has arrested the doctor who helped us catch Obama (sic) bin Laden. It still provides safe haven for terrorists, yet we continue to give Pakistan billions of dollars.
Is it time for us to divorce Pakistan?
ROMNEY: No, it's not time to divorce a nation on Earth that has 100 nuclear weapons and is on the way to double that at some point, a nation that has serious threats from terrorist groups within its nation, as I indicated before, the Taliban, Haqqani Network.
It's a nation that's not like -- like others and it does not have a civilian leadership that is calling the shots there. You have the ISI, their intelligence organization, is probably the most powerful of the -- of three branches there. Then you have the military and then you have the civilian government.
This is a nation, which, if it falls apart, if it -- if it becomes a failed state, there are nuclear weapons there and you've got -- you've got terrorists there who could grab their -- their hands onto those nuclear weapons.
ROMNEY: This is -- this is an important part of the world for us. Pakistan is -- is technically an ally, and they're not acting very much like an ally right now. But we have some work to do. And I -- I don't blame the administration for the fact that the relationship with Pakistan is strained. We -- we had to go into Pakistan. We had to go in there to get Osama bin Laden. That was the right thing to do. And -- and that upset them, but obviously there was a great deal of anger even before that. But we're going to have to work with the -- with the people in Pakistan to try and help them move to a more responsible course than the one that they're on. And it's important for them. It's important for the nuclear weapons.
It's important for the success of Afghanistan. Because inside Pakistan, you have a -- a large group of Pashtun that are -- that are Taliban. They're going to come rushing back in to Afghanistan when we go. And that's one of the reasons the Afghan Security Forces have so much work to do to be able to fight against that. But it's important for us to recognize that we can't just walk away from Pakistan. But we do need to make sure that as we -- as we send support for them, that this is tied to them making progress on -- on matters that would lead them to becoming a civil society.
SCHIEFFER: Let -- let me ask you, Governor because we know President Obama's position on this, what is -- what is your position on the use of drones?
ROMNEY: Well I believe we should use any and all means necessary to take out people who pose a threat to us and our friends around the world. And it's widely reported that drones are being used in drone strikes, and I support that and entirely, and feel the president was right to up the usage of that technology, and believe that we should continue to use it, to continue to go after the people that represent a threat to this nation and to our friends. But let me also note that as I said earlier, we're going to have to do more than just going after leaders and -- and killing bad guys, important as that is.
ROMNEY: We're also going to have to have a farm more effective and comprehensive strategy to help move the world away from terror and Islamic extremism. We haven't done that yet. We talk a lot about these things, but you look at the -- the record, you look at the record. You look at the record of the last four years and say is Iran closer to a bomb? Yes. Is the Middle East in tumult? Yes. Is -- is Al-Qaida on the run, on its heels? No. Is -- are Israel and the Palestinians closer to reaching a peace agreement?
No, they haven't had talks in two years. We have not seen the progress we need to have, and I'm convinced that with strong leadership and an effort to build a strategy based upon helping these nations reject extremism, we can see the kind of peace and prosperity the world demands.
OBAMA: Well, keep in mind our strategy wasn't just going after bin Laden. We created partnerships throughout the region to deal with extremism in Somalia, in Yemen, in Pakistan.
And what we've also done is engaged these governments in the kind of reforms that are actually going to make a difference in people's lives day to day, to make sure that their governments aren't corrupt, to make sure that they're treating women with the kind of respect and dignity that every nation that succeeds has shown and to make sure that they've got a free market system that works.
So across the board, we are engaging them in building capacity in these countries. And we have stood on the side of democracy.
One thing I think Americans should be proud of, when Tunisians began to protest, this nation -- me, my administration -- stood with them earlier than just about any country.
In Egypt we stood on the side of democracy.
In Libya we stood on the side of the people.
And as a consequence, there's no doubt that attitudes about Americans have changed. But there are always going to be elements in these countries that potentially threaten the United States. And we want to shrink those groups and those networks and we can do that.
OBAMA: But we're always also going to have to maintain vigilance when it comes to terrorist activities. The truth, though, is that Al-Qaida is much weaker than it was when I came into office. And they don't have the same capacities to attack the U.S. homeland and our allies as they did four years ago.
SCHIEFFER: Let's -- let's go to the next segment, because it's a very important one. It is the rise of China and future challenges for America. I want to just begin this by asking both of you, and Mr. President, you -- you go first this time.
What do you believe is the greatest future threat to the national security of this country?
OBAMA: Well, I think it will continue to be terrorist networks. We have to remain vigilant, as I just said. But with respect to China, China is both an adversary, but also a potential partner in the international community if it's following the rules. So my attitude coming into office was that we are going to insist that China plays by the same rules as everybody else.
I know Americans had seen jobs being shipped overseas; businesses and workers not getting a level playing field when it came to trade. And that's the reason why I set up a trade task force to go after cheaters when it came to international trade. That's the reason why we have brought more cases against China for violating trade rules than the other -- the previous administration had done in two terms. And we've won just about every case that we've filed, that has been decided.
OBAMA: In fact, just recently steelworkers in Ohio and throughout the Midwest -- Pennsylvania -- are in a position now to sell steel to China because we won that case. We had a tire case in which they were flooding us with cheap domestic tires -- or -- or cheap Chinese tires. And we put a stop to it and as a consequence saved jobs throughout America. I have to say that Governor Romney criticized me for being too tough in that tire case; said this wouldn't be good for American workers and that it would be protectionist.
But I tell you, those workers don't feel that way. They feel as if they had finally an administration who was going to take this issue seriously.
Over the long term, in order for us to compete with China, we've also got to make sure, though, that we're taking -- taking care of business here at home. If we don't have the best education system in the world, if we don't continue to put money into research and technology that will allow us to create great businesses here in the United States, that's how we lose the competition.
And, unfortunately, Governor Romney's budget and his proposals would not allow us to make those investments.
SCHIEFFER: All right. Governor?
ROMNEY: Well, first of all, it's not government that makes business successful. It's not government investments that makes businesses grow and hire people.
Let me also note that the greatest threat that the world faces, the greatest national security threat is a nuclear Iran.
Let's talk about China. China has an interest that's very much like ours in one respect, and that is they want a stable world. They don't want war. They don't want to see protectionism. They don't want to see the world break out into -- into various forms of chaos, because they have to -- they have to manufacture goods and put people to work and they have about 20,000 -- 20 million, rather, people coming out of the farms every year coming into the cities, needing jobs.
So they want the economy to work and the world to be free and open. And so we can be a partner with China. We don't have to be an adversary in any way, shape or form. We can work with them, we can collaborate with them, if they're willing to be responsible.
Now, they look at us and say, Is it a good idea to be with America? How strong are we going to be? How strong is our economy? They look at the fact that we owe 'em a trillion dollars and owe other people $16 trillion in total, including that.
ROMNEY: They look at our -- our decision to -- to cut back on our military capabilities. A trillion dollars. The secretary of defense called these trillion dollars of cuts to our military devastating. It's not my term, it's the president's own secretary of defense called these trillion dollars of cuts to our military devastating. It's not my term, it's the president's own Secretary of Defense, called them devastating.
They look at America's commitments around the world and they see what's happening, and they say, well, OK. Is America going to be strong? And the answer is, yes, if I'm president, America will be very strong.
We'll also make sure that we have trade relations with China that work for us. I've watched year in and year out as companies have shut down and people have lost their jobs because China has not played by the same rules, in part by holding down artificially the value of their currency. It holds down the prices of their goods. It means our goods aren't as competitive and we lose jobs. That's got to end.
They're making some progress; they need to make more. That's why on day one, I will label them a currency manipulator, which allows us to apply tariffs where they're taking jobs. They're stealing our intellectual property, our patents, our designs, our technology, hacking into our computers, counterfeiting our goods.
They have to understand we want to trade with them. We want a world that's stable. We like free enterprise, but you got to play by the rules.
SCHIEFFER: Well, Governor, let me just ask you. If you declare them a currency manipulator on day one, some people are -- say you're just going to start a trade war with China on day one. Is that -- isn't there a risk that that could happen?
ROMNEY: Well, they sell us about this much stuff every year, and we sell them about this much stuff every year. So it's pretty clear who doesn't want a trade war. And there's one going on right now, which we don't know about it. It's a silent one. And they're winning.
We have enormous trade imbalance with China, and it's worse this year than last year, and it's worse last year than the year before. And so we have to understand that we can't just surrender and lose jobs year in and year out. We have to say to our friend in China, look, you guys are playing aggressively. We understand it. But this can't keep on going. You can't keep on holding down the value of your currency, stealing our intellectual property, counterfeiting our products, selling them around the world, even to the United States.
I was with one company that makes valves and -- and process industries and they said, look, we were -- we were having some valves coming in that -- that were broken and we had to repair them under warranty and we looked them and -- and they had our serial number on them. And then we noticed that there was more than one with that same serial number. They were counterfeit products being made overseas with the same serial number as a U.S. company, the same packaging, these were being sold into our market and around the world as if they were made by the U.S. competitor. This can't go on.
I want a great relationship with China. China can be our partner, but -- but that doesn't mean they can just roll all over us and steal our jobs on an unfair basis.
OBAMA: Well, Governor Romney's right, you are familiar with jobs being shipped overseas because you invested in companies that were shipping jobs overseas.
And, you know, that's -- you're right. I mean that's how our free market works. But I've made a different bet on American workers.
If we had taken your advice Governor Romney about our auto industry, we'd be buying cars from China instead of selling cars to China.
If we take your advice with respect to how we change our tax codes so that companies that earn profits overseas don't pay U.S. taxes compared to companies here that are paying taxes. Now that's estimated to create 800,000 jobs, the problem is they won't be here, they'll be in places like China.
And if we're not making investments in education and basic research, which is not something that the private sector is doing at a sufficient pace right now and has never done, then we will lose the (inaudible) in things like clean energy technology.
Now with respect to what we've done with China already, U.S. exports have doubled since I came into office, to China and actually currencies are at their most advantageous point for U.S. exporters since 1993.
We absolutely have to make more progress and that's why we're going to keep on pressing.
And when it comes to our military and Chinese security, part of the reason that we were able to pivot to the Asia-Pacific region after having ended the war in Iraq and transitioning out of Afghanistan, is precisely because this is going to be a massive growth area in the future.
And we believe China can be a partner, but we're also sending a very clear signal that America is a Pacific power; that we are going to have a presence there. We are working with countries in the region to make sure, for example, that ships can pass through; that commerce continues. And we're organizing trade relations with countries other than China so that China starts feeling more pressure about meeting basic international standards.
That's the kind of leadership we've shown in the region. That's the kind of leadership that we'll continue to show.
ROMNEY: I just want to take one of those points, again, attacking me as not talking about an agenda for -- for getting more trade and opening up more jobs in this country. But the president mentioned the auto industry and that somehow I would be in favor of jobs being elsewhere. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I'm a son of Detroit. I was born in Detroit. My dad was head of a car company. I like American cars. And I would do nothing to hurt the U.S. auto industry. My plan to get the industry on its feet when it was in real trouble was not to start writing checks. It was President Bush that wrote the first checks. I disagree with that. I said they need -- these companies need to go through a managed bankruptcy. And in that process, they can get government help and government guarantees, but they need to go through bankruptcy to get rid of excess cost and the debt burden that they'd -- they'd built up.
OBAMA: Governor Romney, that's not what you said...
OBAMA: Governor Romney, you did not...
ROMNEY: You can take a look at the op-ed...
OBAMA: You did not say that you would provide government help.
ROMNEY: I said that we would provide guarantees, and -- and that was what was able to allow these companies to go through bankruptcy, to come out of bankruptcy. Under no circumstances would I do anything other than to help this industry get on its feet. And the idea that has been suggested that I would liquidate the industry, of course not. Of course not.
OBAMA: Let's check the record.
ROMNEY: That's the height of silliness...
OBAMA: Let -- let -- let's...
ROMNEY: I have never said I would liquidate...
OBAMA: ...at the record.
ROMNEY: ...I would liquidate the industry.
OBAMA: Governor, the people in Detroit don't forget.
ROMNEY: ...and -- and that's why I have the kind of commitment to ensure that our industries in this country can compete and be successful. We in this country can -- can compete successfully with anyone in the world, and we're going to. We're going to have to have a president, however, that doesn't think that somehow the government investing in -- in car companies like Tesla and -- and Fisker, making electric battery cars. This is not research, Mr. President, these are the government investing in companies. Investing in Solyndra. This is a company, this isn't basic research. I -- I want to invest in research. Research is great. Providing funding to universities and think tanks is great. But investing in companies? Absolutely not.
ROMNEY: That's the wrong way to go.
OBAMA: The fact of the matter is...
ROMNEY: I'm still speaking. So I want to make sure that we make -- we make America more competitive.
ROMNEY: And that we do those things that make America the most attractive place in the world for entrepreneurs, innovators, businesses to grow. But you're investing in companies doesn't do that. In fact it makes it less likely for them to come here...
ROMNEY: ...because the private sector's not going to invest in a...
OBAMA: I'm -- I'm -- I'm happy.
OBAMA: ...to respond to you...
ROMNEY: ...if -- if you're...
OBAMA: ...you've had the floor for a while.
ROMNEY: ...get someone else's. OBAMA: The -- look, I think anybody out there can check the record. Governor Romney, you keep on trying to, you know airbrush history here. You were very clear that you would not provide, government assistance to the U.S. auto companies, even if they went through bankruptcy. You said that they could get it in the private marketplace. That wasn't true. They would have gone through a...
ROMNEY: You're wrong...
OBAMA: ...they would have gone through a...
ROMNEY: ...you're wrong.
OBAMA: No, I am not wrong. I am not wrong.
ROMNEY: People can look it up, you're right.
OBAMA: People will look it up.
OBAMA: But more importantly it is true that in order for us to be competitive, we're going to have to make some smart choices right now.
Cutting our education budget, that's not a smart choice. That will not help us compete with China.
Cutting our investments in research and technology, that's not a smart choice. That will not help us compete with China.
Bringing down our deficit by adding $7 trillion of tax cuts and military spending that our military is not asking for, before we even get to the debt that we currently have, that is not going to make us more competitive.
Those are the kinds of choices that the American people face right now. Having a tax code that rewards companies that are shipping jobs overseas instead of companies that are investing here in the United States, that will not make us more competitive.
And the one thing that I'm absolutely clear about is that after a decade in which we saw drift, jobs being shipped overseas, nobody championing American workers and American businesses, we've now begun to make some real progress. What we can't do is go back to the same policies that got us into such difficulty in the first place. That's why we have to move forward and not go back.
ROMNEY: I couldn't agree more about going forward, but I certainly don't want to go back to the policies of the last four years. The policies of the last four years have seen incomes in America decline every year for middle income families, now down $4,300 during your term. Twenty-three million Americans still struggling to find a good job.
When you came to office 32 million people on food stamps. Today, 47 million people on food stamps.
When you came to office, just over $10 trillion in debt, now $16 trillion in debt. It hasn't worked.
You said by now we'd be at 5.4 percent unemployment. We're 9 million jobs short of that. I've met some of those people. I've met them in Appleton, Wisconsin. I met a young woman in -- in Philadelphia who's coming out of -- out of college, can't find work.
I've been -- Ann was with someone just the other day that was just weeping about not being able to get work. It's just a tragedy in a nation so prosperous as ours, that the last four years have been so hard.
And that's why it's so critical, that we make America once again the most attractive place in the world to start businesses, to build jobs, to grow the economy. And that's not going to happen by just hiring teachers.
Look, I love to -- I love teachers, and I'm happy to have states and communities that want to hire teachers do that. By the way, I don't like to have the federal government start pushing its weight deeper and deeper into our schools. Let the states and localities do that. I was a governor. The federal government didn't hire our teachers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor?
ROMNEY: But I love teachers. But I want to get our private sector growing and I know how to do it.
SCHIEFFER: I think we all love teachers.
SCHIEFFER: Gentlemen, thank you so much for a very vigorous debate. We have come to the end. It is time for closing statements,
I believe you're first, Mr. President.
OBAMA: Well, thank you very much, Bob, Governor Romney, and to Lynn University. You've now heard three debates, months of campaigning and way too many TV commercials. And now you've got a choice. Over the last four years we've made real progress digging our way out of policies that gave us two prolonged wars, record deficits and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
And Governor Romney wants to take us back to those policies, a foreign policy that's wrong and reckless, economic policies that won't create jobs, won't reduce our deficit, but will make sure that folks at the very top don't have to play by the same rules that you do.
And I've got a different vision for America. I want to build on our strengths. And I've put forward a plan to make sure that we're bringing manufacturing jobs back to our shores by rewarding companies and small businesses that are investing here, not overseas.
I want to make sure we've got the best education system in the world. And we're retaining our workers for the jobs of tomorrow.
I want to control our own energy by developing oil and natural gas but also the energy sources of the future.
Yes, I want to reduce our deficit by cutting spending that we don't need but also by asking the wealthy to do a little bit more so that we can invest in things like research and technology that are the key to a 21st century economy.
As Commander in Chief, I will maintain the strongest military in the world, keep faith with our troops and go after those who would do us harm. but after a decade of war, I think we all recognize we've got to do some nation building here at home, rebuilding our roads, our bridges and especially caring for our Veterans who sacrificed so much for our freedom.
And we've been through tough times but we always bounce back because of our character, because we pull together and if I have the privilege of being your president for another four years, I promise you I will always listen to your voices. I will fight for your families and I will work every single day to make sure that America continues to be the greatest nation on earth.
ROMNEY: Thank you.
Bob, Mr. President, folks at Lynn University, good to be with you. I'm optimistic about the future. I'm excited about our prospects as a nation. I want to see peace. I want to see growing peace in this country. It's our objective.
We have an opportunity to have real leadership. America's going to have that kind of leadership and continue to promote principles of peace to make a world a safer place and make people in this country more confident that their future is secure. I also want to make sure that we get this economy going. And there are two very different paths the country can take. One is a path represented by the president, which at the end of four years would mean we'd have $20 trillion in debt heading towards Greece. I'll get us on track to a balanced budget.
The president's path will mean continuing declining in take-home pay. I want to make sure our take-home pay turns around and starts to grow.
The president's path will mean continuing declining in take-home pay. I want to make sure take-home pay turns around and starts to grow. The president's path means 20 million people out of work struggling for a good job. I'll get people back to work with 12 million new jobs.
I'm going to make sure that we get people off of food stamps, not by cutting the program, but by getting them good jobs.
America's going to come back, and for that to happen, we're going to have to have a president who can work across the aisle. I was in a state where my legislature was 87 percent Democrat. I learned how to get along on the other side of the aisle. We've got to do that in Washington. Washington is broken. I know what it takes to get this country back, and will work with good Democrats and good Republicans to do that.
This nation is the hope of the earth. We've been blessed by having a nation that's free and prosperous thanks to the contributions of the greatest generation. They've held a torch for the world to see -- the torch of freedom and hope and opportunity. Now, it's our turn to take that torch. I'm convinced we'll do it.
We need strong leadership. I'd like to be that leader with your support. I'll work with you. I'll lead you in an open and honest way, and I ask for your vote. I'd like to be the next president of the United States to support and help this great nation and to make sure that we all together remain America as the hope of the earth.
Thank you so much.
SCHIEFFER: Gentlemen, thank you both so much. That brings an end to this year's debates and we want to thank Lynn University and its students for having us. As I always do at the end of these debates, I leave you with the words of my mom, who said: "Go vote; it'll make you feel big and strong."
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