Watch our full three-and-a-half-hour “Expanding the Debate” special featuring Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and Justice Party nominee Rocky Anderson responding to the same questions posed to President Obama and Mitt Romney in the final debate of the campaign. In addition, we speak to Ai-jen Poo of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, University of San Francisco Professor Stephen Zunes, and Norman Solomon, co-founder of RootsAction.org.
AMY GOODMAN: From San Rafael, California, this is Democracy Now!
MITT ROMNEY: We had an ambassador assassinated. We had a Muslim Brotherhood elect—a member elected to the presidency of Egypt. Twenty thousand people have been killed in Syria. We have tumult in Pakistan. And, of course, Iran that much closer to having the capacity to build a nuclear weapon.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: 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.
ROCKY ANDERSON: Do we allow one person to act as a dictator and determine whether our country goes to war, or do we, in compliance with the War Powers Clause of the United States Constitution, seek a determination from Congress that there is reason for our country to engage in acts of war?
DR. JILL STEIN: We need a foreign policy based not on tough-guy militarism, but on international law and respect for human rights, not on wars for oil.
AMY GOODMAN: “Expanding the Debate.” As President Obama and Mitt Romney face off for the last time before the general election, we break the sound barrier by inserting third-party candidates Jill Stein and Rocky Anderson into the debate. All that and more, coming up.
Welcome to Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re broadcasting from the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center in San Rafael, California. We are less than 30 minutes from the final presidential debate of the 2012 race. At 9:00 p.m. Eastern, President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, face off in debate, moderated by Bob Schieffer of CBS News in Boca Raton, Florida, at Lynn University. Once again, third-party candidates have been barred from participating. Tonight we expand the debate by giving Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and Justice Party nominee Rocky Anderson a chance to respond to the same questions put to the major-party candidates in real time. Beginning at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, we’ll air the entire Obama-Romney debate, pausing the video for responses from Stein and Anderson. Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson declined our invitation to participate.
But first, we’re joined by three guests here at the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center in San Rafael, California. Ai-jen Poo is a labor organizer and director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Stephen Zunes is with us, professor of politics and international studies and also chair of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco. And Norman Solomon, longtime activist, co-founder of RootsAction.org, author of many books, including War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.
Well, we welcome you all to Democracy Now! in this pre-game coverage. Pre-game—I should say “pre-debate,” but that is the obsession here in San Francisco as the Giants and the Cardinals are facing off at AT&T Park. Who, Stephen Zunes, since you’re a fan, is going to be watched more, the debate or the game?
STEPHEN ZUNES: In the Bay Area, I think it may just be the game. But I have a feeling a lot of people will be recording the debate.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, at least we know where everyone’s priorities are. What do you expect? This is the debate that is going to focus on foreign policy. What do you want to see addressed? And what do you expect will not be addressed?
STEPHEN ZUNES: Well, I’d like to see some of the bigger questions about the United States’ role in the world addressed. Are we really part of a community of nations, or do we continue the kind of unilateralism that both Republican and Democratic administrations, to varying degrees, have—have pursued, often in violation of international legal norms? Are human rights going to be a centerpiece, as it should be, whether it be on trade—in negotiating trade agreements, whether it be on arms transfers, whether it be on critical issues involving the international relations of the United States through international organizations and the like, where the Obama administration has at times actually blocked the UNHRC and others from enforcing international humanitarian law.
AMY GOODMAN: Norman Solomon, are the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates—President Obama and Mitt Romney—are they that far apart on foreign policy when it comes to what they would do as opposed to their rhetoric?
NORMAN SOLOMON: I think they have tactical differences. They both agree that it’s the United States’ prerogative to work its will on the world. They may give lip service even to international law. But the neocons that for eight years ruled the roost, in terms of George W. Bush’s administration, would firmly be in control, I think, if Romney wins, whereas there’s a difference of opinion between them and the base constituency and policymakers of the Obama administration. So, ultimately, they both believe that the U.S. should have its way in the world, but I think it’s fair to say that the Romney team is appreciably more militaristic.
AMY GOODMAN: When it comes to Iran, since that seems to be the news today, for example, the word that there’s going to be face-to-face negotiations between Iran and the United States.
NORMAN SOLOMON: Yeah, for—I think that’s a good example where there is bellicosity that’s come from Romney as well as from the Obama White House, but as Daniel Ellsberg has pointed out, Romney is much more aggressive in his rhetoric towards Iran. And so, frankly, if Romney is elected, then we have the specter of a White House in lockstep with the most extreme right-wing Netanyahu regime in Israel for an attack on Iran, whereas, frankly, the Obama administration is very hesitant. And so, the question for progressives is, are we in a position to influence each of those prospective administrations? I think it’s clear that we’re in better shape with an Obama administration.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s interesting you mention Romney and Netanyahu, because in fact Romney said he had worked with Netanyahu at Boston Partners decades ago, though Netanyahu said that he did not particularly remember Romney, though he has—
NORMAN SOLOMON: He had Romnesia, I guess, about Romnesia.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, this is the new word of President Obama, right?
NORMAN SOLOMON: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Is talking about Romnesia?
NORMAN SOLOMON: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: The etch-a-sketch moments.
NORMAN SOLOMON: Indeed, and I think it’s an example where we have a confluence of worldview, not only in so-called foreign policy, but of course that’s of a piece with a sort of rapacious corporate view. And people in Israel have been subjected to the right-wing Likud austerity program, just as we have a lot of that coming down in the U.S., as well.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to talk more about foreign policy, but first I want to bring Ai-jen Poo in, because the fact is this is the final debate. This is it for the issues debated before the public in these debates that are watched by tens of millions of people. Talk about the work that you do and whether you feel that these debates have addressed the issues of workers and domestic workers in this country.
AI-JEN POO: I talk to women every day who are really suffering in this economy, working hard and still suffering, and I want to hear more about what we’re going to do to improve the quality of low-wage jobs, to make those jobs better, to improve wages and working conditions for the millions of low-wage workers out there, particularly because most of the jobs that are being created are low-wage jobs. I want to hear concrete ideas for how we’re going to create the jobs that we need, and I want to hear how we’re going to expand access to care for the millions of aging Americans and people with disabilities who need it. And given the fact that the debate is in Florida, I think it’s a—it’s an issue that should be addressed, absolutely.
AMY GOODMAN: And what about how these candidates, including the vice-presidential candidates, have addressed these issues?
AI-JEN POO: I haven’t heard enough about how low-wage work is going to be addressed. How are we going to improve real pathways to economic opportunity in the middle class in this country? There’s a lot of talk about job creation, but all I’ve heard is tax breaks for corporations. And there are some real solutions out there for how we can create the jobs that we need that I just haven’t heard addressed.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re here in California. Can you talk about legislation that Governor Brown just vetoed?
AI-JEN POO: In California, Governor Brown had the opportunity to make history by passing the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. It passed through both houses of the legislature, and it would have brought inclusion to over 200,000 women workers into basic labor protections. And he vetoed that legislation. And we think that it’s another example of how Chambers of Commerce and the interests of industry are really standing in the way of basic rights and dignity for millions of American workers.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain what this Domestic Workers Bill of Rights actually said.
AI-JEN POO: It actually would have made sure that there were overtime protections for caregivers. It would have ensured meal and rest breaks for caregivers, and it would have ensured uninterrupted sleep time for live-in caregivers. We’re talking about basic, basic rights and protections that other workers take for granted.
AMY GOODMAN: And Governor Brown’s arguments against?
AI-JEN POO: Well, he is saying that there were questions, but a lot of those questions came straight from the industry lobby’s talking points. And I think that at the end of the day, the Chamber of Commerce opposition is the side that he took instead of that of domestic workers.
AMY GOODMAN: In New York, where you come from, it did pass.
AI-JEN POO: It did pass in 2010.
AMY GOODMAN: And what does it mean in New York?
AI-JEN POO: In New York now, domestic workers have basic rights, protection from discrimination. It means that 200,000 workers can go to work knowing that they have rights, under the labor law, and respect.
AMY GOODMAN: You ran for the Democratic nomination for Congress in your district. Where is your district, Norman Solomon?
NORMAN SOLOMON: It includes Marin County and goes from the Golden Gate to the Oregon border.
AMY GOODMAN: You narrowly lost the Democratic nomination. But these kinds of issues, how do you bridge domestic policy and foreign policy?
NORMAN SOLOMON: Well, first, I think, breaking down the categories, because whether it’s trade, whether it’s the corporate power that’s felt from the influence over trade deals abroad to, as we just heard about, in the States here, we’ve got to talk clearly and, I believe, not leave the field to corporate Democrats and Republicans. One of the takeaways that I got—
AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean by “corporate Democrats and Republicans”?
NORMAN SOLOMON: Well, most of the Democratic Party is corporate. And that’s driven policy during the Clinton administration, during the Obama administration. And yet it’s up for grabs. There’s a power struggle going on. And I believe it’s very important for progressives, rather than to leave the power field to those corporate Democrats and Republicans, to insert ourselves, to organize, to use the grassroots techniques of neighborhood-by-neighborhood organizing to show that we have power, and we just have clout, as well. We just mourned the passing of George McGovern. He was a principled person, part of a principled campaign made possible only because people hunkered down. And in contrast to those who would like to get our 1 percent in a race through a third or fourth party, when it comes to president or Congress, I think it’s clear that our pathway as progressives to power, including electoral power, is to expand our organizing and see that we’ve got to challenge in the electoral arena, just as George McGovern did, just as the left has done throughout Latin America.
AMY GOODMAN: Steve Zunes, you knew George McGovern?
STEPHEN ZUNES: Yes, and it was—it’s a real sad passing of someone who came out of that Great Plains populist tradition who really spoke truth to power in some very profound ways. He’s best known, of course, for his principled opposition to the Vietnam War. But he was also a leading advocate for the poor, especially on food and hunger issues, both domestically and overseas. He was director of Kennedy’s Food for Peace program, and he served in the Clinton administration as the U.S. ambassador to the—to the FAO and World Food Program and related U.N. agencies in Rome.
But the key thing about McGovern was that he stood fast to his principles. He was, for example, one of the very first prominent Democrats just to—to support Palestinian statehood alongside Israel. He was—he was very, very critical of support for dictatorships in Latin America and elsewhere. He believed the United States did have an important global role to play, but as a model of support for the values we supposedly believe in, in terms of human rights, democracy, rule of law, and was very disturbed not just from the horror of the carpet bombing of Vietnam, but the support for death squads in Latin America and support for, you know, dictatorships elsewhere in the world, and believed the United States could have a positive role to play.
AMY GOODMAN: And what was your interaction with George McGovern, with the former senator, presidential candidate? Famously ran against Richard Nixon in 1972 and lost in a landslide, which has become a lesson to Democrats. He only took Massachusetts, not even his own state—oh, and the District of Columbia—but that this is what won’t win in America.
STEPHEN ZUNES: Well, I think it’s a bit misplaced in a number of areas. First of all, we know the dirty tricks of the Nixon administration in efforts to discredit McGovern. Indeed, public opinion polls taken exactly one year after this landslide defeat showed, if the election had been held then, McGovern would have won.
We also, of course, had the attacks by the mainstream of the Democratic Party. Hubert Humphrey and Scoop Jackson were particularly vicious in mischaracterizing his positions, giving fodder in fact to the—to the Republicans in the fall. In fact, I was able to convince Senator McGovern to withdraw his support for Hillary Clinton and endorse Barack Obama late in the primaries, because Clinton had started using the very same tactics on Obama that Humphrey had used against McGovern. For example, she was the one who raised the whole Bill Ayers issue. And similarly, you know, he tried—she tried to ex post facto rewrite the delegate selection rules from the Florida and Michigan primaries, and similarly, Humphrey had tried to rewrite the rules for California after the event. And in recognizing this, he then switched his support to Obama, and a number of others—others followed.
But I think—but most of what I worked with him on was actually issues of common concern around food issues, around Middle East peace, around nonproliferation issues. We co-taught a course at the University of San Francisco, which was amazing to—because he’s a history—he was a history professor before becoming a politician. And if he had won, he would have been the only Ph.D. in the White House besides Woodrow Wilson. But so, not only was he a natural teacher, but he lived so much of foreign policy in the post-World-War-II era, 18 years in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and leadership in other ways after he left office.
NORMAN SOLOMON: Amy, if I could, you know, I think George McGovern and that entire era is a lesson for how social movements need to be struggling inside and outside the electoral arena. And I think that’s very much where we are today. You know, progressives have a responsibility to be present with the historical moment and recognize where we are. And here we are today, we’re two weeks out from an election that will determine who’s in the White House for the next four years.
I think we’re at a moment in many ways very similar to 1980, where we had a president who became more and more militaristic, named Jimmy Carter. We had a Republican nominee who came in, and some folks said, including me, in 1980, “Oh, they won’t be different. Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan won’t be different. So what difference does it make?” In point of fact, we discovered, and are still discovering, the ramifications of what difference it made to have the right-wing Reagan administration for eight years.
And if I could, I’d like to mention that people have been very critical, properly so, of this Obama administration—its militarism, its corporatism, its sellout on civil liberties. Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Frances Fox Piven, Jeff Cohen and myself and others have issued a call that’s at RootsAction.org. We urge people in swing states, 13 states—we know the list, Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, etc.—to vote for Obama, while recognizing that his administration has been atrocious in many ways. And we can walk and chew gum at the same time. As true as that is, Romney would be worse.
AMY GOODMAN: On the issue of women, Ai-jen Poo, the way the Republicans, Democrats, third-party candidates have dealt with the issues that you’ve been working on—famously, the candidates talk a great deal about the middle class. When it comes to poverty, there is hardly a mention, as more and more people are falling into poverty.
AI-JEN POO: Mm-hmm, that’s right. And in general, the way that women are talked about is inadequate. I mean, I think with women being more than half of the electorate, more than half of the paid workforce, and still doing the lion’s share of caregiving work, we need much more, actually, women. Talking about women is not a special interest issue; it’s about what’s in the best interest of the whole and how—
AMY GOODMAN: Binders full of women doesn’t satisfy you?
AI-JEN POO: It doesn’t satisfy me. So we need to be talking about workplace flexibility policy, paid family leave, paid sick days legislation. We need to be talking about supports, economic supports and opportunity for women workers, especially low-income and poor women.
AMY GOODMAN: So how do you buck this trend, that Governor Brown certainly represents, that you don’t regulate business in this way?
AI-JEN POO: I think we have to bring this country together in new ways. This is a moment where so many people are suffering in this economy. There are so many opportunities to make connections and to build the kind of movement for economic justice and equity that we need.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s something that Norman Solomon was just talking about, this building of movements. How are you building movements?
AI-JEN POO: Actually, as we speak, we have partners who are doing outreach to voters, and five—500,000 senior voters are going to be reached this year around the issues of care, both the value of care workers and the importance of Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security, and the need for more care going into the future. Workers are mobilizing. Immigrant communities are mobilizing. And we’re pushing for policies that can bring the country together around an economy and a democracy that works for everyone and that takes care of all of us.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to welcome one of the members of the Osher Jewish Community Center here tonight. Hank Holter is here at the event. He turns 105 on November 20th, is a big Democracy Now! fan. Quite remarkable.
I also wanted to comment on another South Dakota resident who passed just today. Russell Means died at the age of 72 in South Dakota, co-founder of the AIM, the American Indian Movement. He was key in organizing the occupation of Wounded Knee in South Dakota in 1980. South Dakota has lost two major figures: George McGovern, Russell Means. Russell Means, who later became an actor.
The issue of drones has not been raised at all in these debates. Is that because the Republicans are not critical of President Obama, who has escalated the drone war to a level we have not seen before?
NORMAN SOLOMON: Well, I think this is a pattern, that when the news media and the major two parties are in unison on an issue, it just doesn’t get brought up. So, unfortunately, our society has been in love with technological means of killing. The great biologist George Wald, the Nobel winner, in 1969 at a speech in Massachusetts said, “Our government is in the business of killing.” That was true in '69; it's true in 2012. And technological killing has held a special attraction to the mass media and those in the White House, unfortunately including the man in the White House today, who think it’s a more sanitary way to kill: bring the troops home and kill even more from their air. That is our problem, including with drones.
AMY GOODMAN: Stephen Zunes?
STEPHEN ZUNES: Yeah, indeed. It reminds me a lot of Vietnamization, when President Nixon started to withdraw U.S. troops from South Vietnam, meaning that less Americans are being killed, draft rolls are reduced, antiwar protests decline. Yet the number of Vietnamese dying dramatically escalated, both because we were, you know, training Asians to kill Asians through supporting the Saigon government in its conscription, but also the automated air war dramatically increased—you know, the bombings in both South and later North Vietnam, as well, of course, as Laos and Cambodia.
And we really need to challenge this, for a whole number of reasons—obviously the moral reasons, obviously the legal reasons. There are very serious questions on legality of this sort of thing. But ultimately, this comes back to—back to haunt us, because you better believe, if someone was not supporting extremist groups before, if a drone kills members of their families, they’re going to be among the strongest and quickest recruits. And this is the very kind of thing that can come back to haunt us. Similarly, these drones, it’s very easy to reverse-engineer. Other countries, including—and, in fact, other—terrorist groups could appropriate these technologies and attack us here, as well. So there are a whole number of serious questions, both on humanitarian grounds but also on very practical national security grounds, why we should really be seriously questioning this policy.
AMY GOODMAN: Africa is hardly raised. I don’t know if it was during the presidential debates so far. Tonight is the debate on foreign policy. Can you talk about, Professor Zunes, the militarization of Africa?
STEPHEN ZUNES: Well, the emergence of AFRICOM is very disturbing, getting a whole new region of direct command for U.S. intervention. Not coincidentally, it—it coincides with the increasing dependence on oil from various West African sources, and we’re already seeing the ramifications of this. The coup in Mali was done by a young officer who had been trained by the—by the U.S. government. In the chaos after the overthrow of one of the most longstanding democracies in West Africa, separatists, Tuareg separatists, seized the northern part of that country, and they were quickly overrun by al-Qaeda sympathizers, who got a hold of sophisticated U.S. technology and equipment that we had provided the Malian military. They’re now in the hands of al-Qaeda allies. In other words, we’re seeing the same kind of mistakes we did during the Cold War: in the name of anti-Communism, supporting dictatorships, which actually end up creating more extremist, more anti-American sentiment and greater instability.
AMY GOODMAN: I—Norman?
NORMAN SOLOMON: I was going to say, one of our great failures, in terms of this country, is our failure to force our government to adhere to a single standard of human rights. We’re not going to hear it in this debate tonight. Those policy changes for international law and a single standard of human rights can only come from the grassroots. That’s what social movements are all about.
STEPHEN ZUNES: Indeed, that’s how the great advances in democracy in the past 30 years have come, is not from voluntary reforms from above, except for a few cases, only a handful of cases from armed struggle from below, virtually never from foreign intervention, but from democratic civil society movements engaged in massive, nonviolent struggle, from the Philippines to Poland, from Chile to Serbia, and most recently in Egypt and Tunisia. This is how change takes place. It has to be from the people themselves. And any effort to try to impose it from the outside, not to mention, of course, supporting these dictatorships in the first place, is totally contrary to—to advancing the very kind of freedom and democracy our country professes to believe in.
AMY GOODMAN: Ai-jen Poo, how does the issue of immigration and low-wage work intersect?
AI-JEN POO: I think all of us know that immigrants are already a central part of the fabric of this economy. They’re part of our lives, our communities. And we need to create a pathway for the 12 million people who are undocumented to be able to legalize and get on a pathway to citizenship. I mean, they’re already an integral part of the economy, and we need to create an opportunity, such that we don’t have this downward gravitational pull pulling down working conditions, creating more holes in the protection and the safety net in this economy.
AMY GOODMAN: And your assessment of President Obama when it comes to policies around low-wage work?
AI-JEN POO: You know, I think we’ve made a lot of progress. This Department of Labor has done more to enforce labor laws than—
AMY GOODMAN: This is Hilda Solis.
AI-JEN POO: Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis’s mother was a domestic worker, and I think she’s been committed to vulnerable workers and really making sure that she does her job, which is to enforce the labor laws. So we’ve been able to do a lot of work with the Department of Labor, but of course much more needs to be done.
AMY GOODMAN: Mitt Romney uses his business experience first and foremost as a qualification to be president, more than being governor of Massachusetts. Your assessment of what his business plan is for low-wage workers?
AI-JEN POO: All I know is that I’ve heard a lot about tax incentives and tax breaks for corporations, and that has not been working, either to create jobs or to improve the economy. We need a new direction. We need investment in low-wage workers. We need investment in job creation, that is about an investment in people and the potential of American people to—to come together and to really create wealth and prosperity for everyone.
AMY GOODMAN: Last quick comment, Norm Solomon, Professor Zunes, before we go to the debate, which is just a minute away. And we will go to Lynn University and then bring in the third-party candidates.
NORMAN SOLOMON: Well, whatever we can point to in progress is the result, I think, of a combination of organizing at the grassroots and having people in office who are not totally committed to a corporate status quo. And if I could—pardon the pugilistic analogy—we need a one-two punch in the next weeks and months. We’ve got to punch out the far right in terms of Romney, and then we’ve got to really go after the Obama administration, because left to its own devices, it’s going to be more of the same.
AMY GOODMAN: Steve Zunes, 10 seconds.
STEPHEN ZUNES: I hope tonight they’ll bring up the single most important national security issue for the United States and the world, and that’s climate change. It has not come up in the previous debates, even though it’s been in every other debate in the past 20 years. And so, that’s what I’m going to be looking for and hoping for more than anything else.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you all for being with us. Ai-jen Poo, labor organizer and director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Also want to thank Norman Solomon, longtime activist, co-founder of RootsAction.org, author of many books, including War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. He ran for Democratic nomination in Congress in this area, barely lost. And Steve Zunes is professor of politics and international studies, also chair of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco.
As we broadcast to you from the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center here in Marin before a live audience, we are just moments away from the debate in Boca Raton, Florida, between President Obama and the Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. They will be debating in Lynn University in Boca Raton. The moderator will be CBS News’ Bob Schieffer. What we plan to do, as we move forward, is to bring in two third-party presidential candidates, expanding the debate, broadcasting the entire Obama-Mitt Romney debate, pausing the tape to give Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and Justice Party nominee Rocky Anderson a chance to respond to the same questions. Stein and Anderson are here with us in San Rafael, California, and they will be seated, as we turn now to tonight’s debate moderator in Boca Raton, Florida, Bob Schieffer of CBS News.
We are just about to turn to Boca Raton. Again, this has not been done before, as we expand the debate, breaking the sound barrier. The presidential debates are brought to you by a private corporation called the Commission on Presidential Debates. Control of the debates was wrested from the League of Women Voters several decades ago, when they refused to sign a secret contract with the Republican and Democratic parties and held a press conference instead, releasing the contract. Let’s go right now to Bob Schieffer in Florida.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Good evening from the campus of Lynn University here in Boca Raton, Florida. This is the fourth and last debate of the 2012 campaign, brought to you by the Commission on Presidential Debates. This one’s on foreign policy. I’m Bob Schieffer of CBS News. The questions are mine, and I have not shared them with the candidates or their aides. The audience has taken a vow of silence—no applause, no reaction of any kind, except right now, when we welcome President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney.
Gentlemen, your campaigns have agreed to certain rules, and they are simple. They’ve asked me to divide the evening into segments. I’ll pose a question at the beginning of each segment. You will each have two minutes to respond, and then we will have a general discussion until we move to the next segment.
Tonight’s debate, as both of you know, comes on the 50th anniversary of the night that President Kennedy told the world that the Soviet Union had installed nuclear missiles in Cuba, perhaps the closest we’ve ever come to nuclear war. And it is a sobering reminder that every president faces at some point an unexpected threat to our national security from abroad.
So let’s begin.
The first segment is the challenge of a changing Middle East and the new face of terrorism. I’m going to put this into two segments so you’ll have two topic questions within this one segment on the subject. The first question—and it concerns Libya. The controversy over what happened there continues. Four Americans are dead, including an American ambassador. Questions remain: What happened? What caused it? Was it spontaneous? Was it an intelligence failure? Was it a policy failure? Was there an attempt to mislead people about what really happened?
Governor Romney, you said this was an example of an American policy in the Middle East that is unraveling before our very eyes. I’d like to hear each of you give your thoughts on that. Governor Romney, you won the toss. You go first.
MITT ROMNEY: Thank you, Bob. And thank you for agreeing to moderate this debate this evening. Thank you to Lynn University for welcoming us here. And Mr. President, it’s good to be with you again. We were together at a humorous event a little earlier, and it’s nice to maybe be funny this time, not on purpose. We’ll see what happens.
This is obviously an area of great concern to the entire world, and to America, in particular, which is to see a complete change in the—the structure and the—the environment in the Middle East.
With the Arab Spring came a great deal of hope that there would be a change towards more moderation and opportunity for greater participation on the part of women in public life and in economic life in the Middle East. But instead, we’ve seen, in nation after nation, a number of disturbing events.
Of course, we see in Syria 30,000 civilians having been killed by the military there. We see in—in Libya, an attack apparently by—I think we know now—by terrorists of some kind against—against our people there, four people dead. Our hearts and—and minds go to them. Mali has been taken over, the northern part of Mali, by al-Qaeda-type individuals. We have in—in Egypt, a Muslim Brotherhood president. And so, what we’re seeing is a pretty dramatic reversal in the kind of hopes we had for that region. And, of course, the greatest threat of all is Iran, four years closer to a nuclear weapon.
And—and we’re going to have to recognize that we have to do as the president has done. I congratulate him on—on taking out Osama bin Laden and going after the leadership in al-Qaeda. But we can’t kill our way out of this mess. We’re going to have to put in place a very comprehensive and robust strategy to help the—the world of Islam and other parts of the world reject this radical violent extremism, which is—it’s certainly not on the run. It’s certainly not hiding. This is a group that is now involved in 10 or 12 countries, and it presents an enormous threat to our friends, to the world, to America, long term, and we must have a comprehensive strategy to help reject this kind of extremism.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Mr. President.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, my first job as commander-in-chief, Bob, is to keep the American people safe. And that’s what we’ve done over the last four years. We ended the war in Iraq, refocused our attention on those who actually killed us on 9/11. And as a consequence, al-Qaeda’s core leadership has been decimated. In addition, we’re now able to transition out of Afghanistan in a responsible way, making sure that Afghans take responsibility for their own security. And that allows us also to rebuild alliances and make friends around the world to combat future threats.
Now, with respect to Libya, as I indicated in the last debate, when we received that phone call, I immediately made sure that, number one, we did everything we could to secure those Americans who were still in harm’s way; number two, that we would investigate exactly what happened; and number three, most importantly, that we would go after those who killed Americans, and we would bring them to justice. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
But I think it’s important to step back and think about what happened in Libya. And keep in mind that I and Americans took leadership in organizing an international coalition that made sure that we were able to, without putting troops on the ground, at the cost of less than what we spent in two weeks in Iraq, liberate a country that had been under the yoke of dictatorship for 40 years, got rid of a despot who had killed Americans. And as a consequence, despite this tragedy, you had tens of thousands of Libyans after the events in Benghazi marching and saying, “America is our friend. We stand with them.”
Now, that represents the opportunity we have to take advantage of. And, you know, Governor Romney, I’m glad that you agree that we have been successful in going after al-Qaeda, but I have to tell you that, you know, your strategy previously has been one that has been all over the map and is not designed to keep Americans safe or to build on the opportunities that exist in the Middle East.
AMY GOODMAN: Third-party candidate, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, you have two minutes to respond to the question about the situation in Libya.
DR. JILL STEIN: Yes, thank you, Amy, and thank you so much to Democracy Now! for expanding this debate in a way that’s absolutely essential. And as we are getting set up here, I couldn’t hear all of the comments of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, but I’ll respond generally to the issue of Libya and the tragic events at the embassy.
And, you know, it’s very clear that there is blowback going on now across the Middle East, not only the unrest directed at the Libyan embassy, likewise at the embassies really across the Middle East, including in Egypt. We are seeing in Afghanistan our soldiers are being shot at by the police forces that they are supposed to be training in Afghanistan. We’re seeing in Pakistan that 75 percent of Pakistanis actually identify the United States now as their enemy, not as their supporter or their ally. And, you know, in many ways, we’re seeing a very ill-conceived, irresponsible and immoral war policy come back to haunt us, where United States foreign policies have been based, unfortunately, on brute military force and wars for oil.
Under my administration, we will have a foreign policy based on international law and human rights and the use of diplomacy. And instead of fighting wars for oil, we will be leading—as America, we will be leading the fight to put an end to climate change. In Afghanistan and Iraq, we have spent about $5 trillion. We have seen thousands and thousands of American lives lost, hundreds of thousands of civilian lives lost, about a trillion dollars a year being spent on a massive, bloated military-industrial-security budget. Instead, we need to cut that military budget, rightsize it to year 2000 levels, and build true security here at home, bringing our war dollars home.
AMY GOODMAN: Rocky Anderson, presidential candidate of the Justice Party, you have two minutes.
ROCKY ANDERSON: Thank you.
The question was whether the killings at the embassy in Libya were a policy failure, whether they reflected a policy failure. And it is so clear to everyone that the policy failure has been in the way the United States has treated so many nations in the Middle East. We’re like the bully that never got counseling, and we keep wondering, why don’t they like us?
We invaded Iraq and occupied that country. It was completely illegal. Two United Nations secretaries-general declared that it was illegal. It was a war of aggression, and it was all done on a pack of lies. Now, we aggravate the situation by keeping bases in so many other nations, including Saudi Arabia, bolstering these tyrants and, at the same time, engaging in direct, unmanned drone strikes in at least four sovereign nations, killing, in the process, hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent men, women and children. That is the policy failure: our belligerence, our efforts to control, to dominate and to make certain that we will always have that control over the resources in these nations. That’s what this is all about.
We took over the government. We overthrew the Mosaddegh government in Iran in 1953. We’re still paying a heavy price for that. We have a history of doing that in this country. And I think that the American people have finally got it, that we need to start building friendly relationships with these nations and not go around with the kinds of belligerence where not only do we attack these countries, but Mitt Romney calling Russia our greatest geopolitical foe, for heaven’s sakes, when we ought to be working with Russia to bring about a peaceful resolution of what’s happening in Syria. So, this is a holistic problem with a—an imperialist foreign policy that we have to turn around, and the American people can see to it if we join together.
AMY GOODMAN: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
MITT ROMNEY: Well, my strategy is pretty straightforward, which is to go after the bad guys, to make sure we do our very best to interrupt them, to—to kill them, to take them out of the picture. But my strategy is broader than that. That’s—that’s important, of course. But the key that we’re going to have to pursue is a—is a pathway to get the Muslim world to be able to reject extremism on its own. We don’t want another Iraq. We don’t want another Afghanistan. That’s not the right course for us. The right course for us is to make sure that we go after the—the people who are leaders of these various anti-American groups and these—these jihadists, but also help the Muslim world.
And how do we do that? The group of Arab scholars came together, organized by the U.N., to look at how we can help the—the world reject these—these terrorists. And the answer they came up with was this: one, more economic development. We should key our foreign aid, our direct foreign investment, and that of our friends, we should coordinate it to make sure that we—we push back and give them more economic development. Number two, better education. Number three, gender equality. Number four, the rule of law. We have to help these nations create civil societies.
But what’s been happening over the last couple of years is, as we’ve watched this tumult in the Middle East, this rising tide of chaos occur, you see al-Qaeda rushing in, you see other jihadist groups rushing in. And—and they’re throughout many nations in the Middle East. It’s wonderful that Libya seems to be making some progress, despite this terrible tragedy. But next door, of course, we have Egypt. Libya has six million population; Egypt, 80 million population. We want—we want to make sure that we’re seeing progress throughout the Middle East, with Mali now having North Mali taken over by al-Qaeda, with Syria having Assad continuing to—to kill, to murder his own people, this is a region in tumult.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well—
MITT ROMNEY: And, of course, Iran—
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let’s see what the—
MITT ROMNEY: —on the path to a nuclear weapon, we’ve got real problems in the region.
BOB SCHIEFFER: We’ll get to that, but let’s give the president a chance.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Governor Romney, I’m glad that you recognize that al-Qaeda is a threat, because a few months ago, when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia, not al-Qaeda. You said Russia. And the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because, you know, the Cold War has been over for 20 years. But, Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s.
You say that you’re not interested in duplicating what happened in Iraq. But just a few weeks ago, you said you think we should have more troops in Iraq right now. And the—the challenge we have—I know you haven’t been in a position to actually execute foreign policy, but every time you’ve offered an opinion, you’ve been wrong. You said we should have gone into Iraq, despite the fact that there were no weapons of mass destruction. You said that we should still have troops in Iraq to this day. You indicated that we shouldn’t be passing nuclear treaties with Russia, despite the fact that 71 senators, Democrats and Republicans, voted for it. You’ve said that, first, we should not have a timeline in Afghanistan; then you said we should. Now you say maybe, or it depends, which means not only were you wrong, but you were also confusing and sending mixed messages both to our troops and our allies.
So, what—what we need to do with respect to the Middle East is strong, steady leadership, not wrong and reckless leadership that is all over the map. And, unfortunately, that’s the kind of opinions that you’ve offered throughout this campaign, and it is not a recipe for American strength or keeping America safe over the long haul.
BOB SCHIEFFER: I’m going to add a couple of minutes here to give you a chance to respond.
MITT ROMNEY: Well, of course, I don’t concur with what the president said about my own record and the things that I’ve said. They don’t happen to be accurate. But—but I can say this, that we’re talking about the Middle East and how to help the Middle East reject the kind of terrorism we’re seeing and the rising tide of tumult and—and confusion. And—and attacking me is not an agenda. Attacking me is not talking about how we’re going to deal with the challenges that exist in the Middle East and take advantage of the opportunity there and stem the tide of this violence.
But I’ll respond to a couple of things you mentioned. First of all, Russia, I indicated, is a geopolitical foe, not a—
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Number one geopolitical—
MITT ROMNEY: Excuse me. It’s a geopolitical foe. And I said in the same—in the same paragraph, I said, “And Iran is the greatest national security threat we face.” Russia does continue to battle us in the U.N. time and time again. I have clear eyes on this. I’m not going to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to Russia or Mr. Putin. And I’m certainly not going to say to him, “I’ll give you more flexibility after the election.” After the election, he’ll get more backbone.
Number two, with regards to Iraq, you and I agreed, I believe, that there should have been a status of forces agreement.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: That’s not true.
MITT ROMNEY: Oh, you didn’t—you didn’t want a status of forces agreement?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: No, what I—what I would not have had done is left 10,000 troops in Iraq that would tie us down. That certainly would not help us in the Middle East. Look—
MITT ROMNEY: I’m sorry, you actually—there was a—there was an effort on the part of the president to have a status of forces agreement—
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Here is—here is—here is—
MITT ROMNEY: —and I concurred in that and said that we should have some number of troops that stayed on. That was something I concurred with.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Governor—
MITT ROMNEY: That was your posture; that was my posture, as well. You thought it should have been 5,000 troops.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Governor—
MITT ROMNEY: I thought it should have been more troops. But you know what? The answer was, we got—
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is just a few weeks ago.
MITT ROMNEY: —no troops through whatsoever. This is—
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is just a few weeks ago that you indicated that we should still have troops in Iraq.
MITT ROMNEY: No, I didn’t.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Now, that—
MITT ROMNEY: I’m sorry, that’s a—
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: You made it in a major speech.
MITT ROMNEY: I indicated that you—I indicated that you failed to put in place a status of forces—
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Governor—
MITT ROMNEY: —agreement at the end of the conflict that existed.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Governor, here—here’s—here’s one thing I’ve—
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let him answer, please.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Here’s one thing I’ve—here’s one thing I’ve learned as commander-in-chief. You’ve got to be clear, both to our allies and our enemies, about where you stand and what you mean. Now, you just gave a speech a few weeks ago in which you said we should still have troops in Iraq. That is not a recipe for making sure that we are taking advantage of the opportunities and meeting the challenges of the Middle East.
Now, it is absolutely true that we cannot just meet these challenges militarily. And so, what I’ve done throughout my presidency and will continue to do is, number one, make sure that these countries are supporting our counterterrorism efforts. Number two, make sure that they are standing by our interests in Israel’s security, because it is a true friend and our greatest ally in the region. Number three, we do have to make sure that we’re protecting religious minorities and women, because these countries can’t develop unless all the population, not just half of it, is developing. Number four, we do have to develop their economic—their economic capabilities.
But number five, the other thing that we have to do is recognize that we can’t continue to do nation building in these regions. Part of American leadership is making sure that we’re doing nation building here at home. That will help us maintain the kind of American leadership that we need.
AMY GOODMAN: Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, continue on this issue of Libya and the overall question of the Middle East. And you and Rocky Anderson can go back and forth.
DR. JILL STEIN: Great. So, some of what I heard in that discussion was a question about our troops in Iraq and how many there should or shouldn’t be. And I just want to point out and to clarify that President Obama actually worked very hard to extend the immunity of U.S. troops in order to prolong the war in Iraq, in order to keep large numbers of forces there. He was ultimately forced to take our troops back—most of them, at any rate, not the private security contractors and State Department officials—but the vast majority of the troops were removed from Iraq because the president’s hand was forced—ironically, by a date of withdrawal that had been arranged by George Bush. So, strangely enough, it was George Bush who actually brought the troops home from Iraq under Barack Obama. Had he had his way, they might still be there, with the—with the immunity that the president sought to create.
And also, on this question of nuclear treaties with Russia, it’s—it’s very important to point out that the vast bulk of nuclear weapons now are in the hands of the United States and—and Russia. And while much is made about the potential threat from Iran, let’s remember that nuclear weapons, illegitimate nuclear weapons not permitted by the Non-Proliferation Treaty, are already in the hands of Israel and Pakistan and India. So, while the president and Mitt Romney make much about the threat from Iran, it’s very important to have an inclusive solution here that actually brings a nuclear-free Middle East to the table and that we pursue that as the true solution to the threat of a potential nuclear weapon in Iran. We already have nuclear weapons to be worried about. And, in fact, in order to achieve nonproliferation—that is, to stop the threat—the spread of nuclear weapons, not only to Iran, but other countries, as well—we must re-engage nuclear disarmament. There is no stop to the spread of nuclear weapons unless those who have them also proceed with the original agreement, which was to get rid of all nuclear weapons as the basis for other countries not having them.
ROCKY ANDERSON: It’s really remarkable, when you listen to these debates, how constrained the debate really is. It seems like there are so many accepted premises between the militarist Republican and Democratic parties that nobody is talking about building friendly relationships.
Nobody’s talking about—well, we heard Mitt Romney refer to the rule of law, but do you ever hear either of these candidates talk about how the Iraq War was absolutely in contravention of our own laws and also of our treaty obligations, certainly was in contravention of the United Nations Charter. And under the War Power Clause of the United States Constitution, it must be Congress; the Congress has the sole prerogative to determine, based on the contemporaneous facts, whether the United States should go to war. Congress didn’t do that with regard to Iraq. They basically wrote a blank check out to President Bush and said, “Here, you decide.” And it was for political cover. Even our present secretary of state wouldn’t even bother to go down to a secured room in the Capitol Building to read the National Security Estimate, which certainly she and every other senator would have—there were only six of them that actually did. But if they were making that determination, they would have found out that there were huge disagreements within our intelligence community as to whether Saddam Hussein even had weapons of mass destruction and whether he was building up a nuclear capability.
The same thing happened with regard to Libya. This president decided, on his own, we would join with NATO forces and bomb Libya. And then he and the likes of John McCain made the excuses that, well, we don’t have any boots on the ground, and it’s going to be over with quickly, so these really aren’t major hostilities. Well, under those criterion, the dropping of an atom bomb wouldn’t be a major hostility. Of course this was war making. It was acts—these were all acts of war. They required action by Congress. If we’re going to abide by the rule of law, the most basic requirement under the War Powers Clause is that Congress makes the determination. And that hasn’t been done with respect to either Iraq under President Bush and then continued by President Obama, and it certainly wasn’t done with regard to Libya. We, the American people, need to insist of our Congress and of our president that they abide by the law and by these most fundamental requirements of the United States Constitution.
AMY GOODMAN: Back to debate moderator Bob Schieffer at Lynn University in Boca Raton.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me interject the second topic question in this segment about the Middle East and so on, and that is, you both mentioned—alluded to this, and that is Syria. War in Syria has now spilled over into Lebanon. We have, what, more than a hundred people that were killed there in a bomb. There were demonstrations there, eight people dead.
Mr. President, it’s been more than a year since you saw—you told Assad he had to go. Since then, 30,000 Syrians have died. We’ve had 300,000 refugees. The war goes on. He’s still there. Should we reassess our policy and see if we can find a better way to influence events there? Or is that even possible? And it’s you—you go first, sir.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: What we’ve done is organize the international community, saying Assad has to go. We’ve mobilized sanctions against that government. We have made sure that they are isolated. We have provided humanitarian assistance. And we are helping the opposition organize, and we’re particularly interested in making sure that we’re mobilizing the moderate forces inside of Syria.
But ultimately, Syrians are going to have to determine their own future. And so, everything we’re doing, we’re doing in consultation with our partners in the region, including Israel, which obviously has a huge interest in seeing what happens in Syria; coordinating with Turkey and other countries in the region that have a great interest in this.
Now, this—what we’re seeing taking place in Syria is heartbreaking. And that’s why we are going to do everything we can to make sure that we are helping the opposition. But we also have to recognize that, you know, for us to get more entangled militarily in Syria is a serious step, and we have to do so making absolutely certain that we know who we are helping, that we’re not putting arms in the hands of folks who eventually could turn them against us or our allies in the region.
And I am confident that Assad’s days are numbered. But what we can’t do is to simply suggest that, as Governor Romney at times has suggested, that giving heavy weapons, for example, to the Syrian opposition is a simple proposition that would lead us to be safer over the long term.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Governor?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, let’s step back and talk about what’s happening in Syria and how important it is. First of all, 30,000 people being killed by their government is a humanitarian disaster.
Secondly, Syria is an opportunity for us, because Syria plays an important role in the Middle East, particularly right now. Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world. It’s their route to the sea. It’s the route for them to arm Hezbollah in Lebanon, which threatens, of course, our ally, Israel. And so, seeing Syria remove Assad is a very high priority for us. Number two, seeing a—the replacement government being responsible people is critical for us. And finally, we don’t want to have military involvement there. We don’t want to get drawn into a military conflict.
And so, the right course for us is working through our partners and with our own resources to identify responsible parties within Syria, organize them, bring them together in a—in a form of—not—if not government, a form of—of council that can take the lead in Syria, and then make sure they have the arms necessary to defend themselves. We do need to make sure that they don’t have arms that get into the—the wrong hands. Those arms could be used to hurt us down the road. We need to make sure, as well, that we coordinate this effort with our allies, and particularly with—with Israel. But the Saudis and the Qatari and—and the Turks are all very concerned about this. They’re willing to work with us.
We need to have a very effective leadership effort in Syria, making sure that the—the insurgents there are armed and that the insurgents that become armed are people who will be the responsible parties. Recognize—I believe that Assad must go. I believe he will go. But I believe we want to make sure that we have the relationships of friendship with the people that take his place, such that in the years to come we see Syria as a—as a friend and Syria as a responsible party in the Middle East.
This—this is a critical opportunity for America. And what I’m afraid of is that we’ve watched, over the past year or so, first the president saying, “Well, we’ll let the U.N. deal with it.” And Assad—excuse me, Kofi Annan came in and said, “We’re going to try to have a ceasefire.” That didn’t work. Then it looked to the Russians and said, “Let’s see if you can do something.” We should be playing the leadership role there, not on the ground with military.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right.
MITT ROMNEY: But play the leadership role.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We are playing the leadership role.
AMY GOODMAN: …of Syria—first to Rocky Anderson, Justice Party presidential candidate.
ROCKY ANDERSON: We probably just heard the greatest example of why we need to open up these presidential debates, because the premises under which both of these candidates are operating—the constricted debate does such a disservice to the people of this country.
What do we hear? We hear President Obama say we’ve got to do everything we can to help the opposition, and Mitt Romney is saying we ought to be shipping them heavy arms. This is a call for a bloodbath in Syria. Many in the internal opposition in Syria—and I’m not talking about the outsiders, the Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who are helping arm them, and even the Salafis, who are associated with al-Qaeda, going in and helping build bombs for the opposition. Is this really what we want as a country?
We have no business doing anything other than working with Russia and helping to bring about a peaceful resolution. And it can be done. There are many in the internal opposition in Syria that want exactly that approach. And they’re saying—and I think probably the best thing that’s been written about this recently is Jonathan Steele’s excellent article in the latest Nation magazine. What they want is for the international community to butt out, except for helping bring about a diplomatic, peaceful resolution. And as so many of them say, you’re not going to get any democratic advances through more violence in Syria.
AMY GOODMAN: Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein.
DR. JILL STEIN: Yes, and it’s as if there’s collective amnesia here, as if we didn’t just go through a decade, $5 trillion and thousands of U.S. soldiers whose lives have been sacrificed, and far more civilians whose lives have been lost, in an attempted military resolution to these civil and religious strife. And we see that in spite of putting the full force of the United States military and NATO and trillions of dollars in a decade, we have not, with all the power of that force, been able to resolve these conflicts on the ground in Iraq and in Afghanistan. So, how in the world, with a far smaller commitment—given the colossal failure of the war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan, how in the world are they thinking that a lesser degree of military intervention is going to solve the problem?
ROCKY ANDERSON: But I don’t think that the problem here is that we failed. I think the problem is that we’re trying to assert our will and dictate the result. Can you imagine if there were Muslim countries coming into the United States and occupying us, invading us, telling us how—where to run our government and then running unmanned drones over Canada, Mexico, the United States, determining who is going to live and who’s going to die, and in the process killing hundreds, if not thousands—we don’t know how many—innocent men, women and children? It’s an outrage. And our national security is at risk long-term, because of the hostility and hatred that we’re generating throughout that part of the world. We have got to turn this around. And we, the American people, can do it.
DR. JILL STEIN: Absolutely. And, in fact, this is a failed policy from the get-go. It’s not only failed in its impact; it’s failed from its very conception. As the human rights head for the United Nations, Navi Pillay, points out, that with arms flowing in to both sides in Syria, you have really a catastrophe in the making. We need to stop the flow of the arms. And in fact, the United States and the Obama government, in fact, undermined an international treaty that would have begun to slow down the international flow of arms. So the American role here has actually been to throw gasoline on the fires of virtually every ethnic, religious and national conflict around the Middle East through its—through its militaristic export of arms and the profiteering war industry.
AMY GOODMAN: President Obama.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We are playing the leadership role. We organized the Friends of Syria. We are mobilizing humanitarian support and support for the opposition. And we are making sure that those we help are those who will be friends of ours in the long term and friends of our allies in the region over the long term.
But, you know, going back to Libya, because this is an example of how we make choices, when we went in to Libya, and we were able to immediately stop the massacre there, because of the unique circumstances and the coalition that we had helped to organize, we also had to make sure that Muammar Gaddafi didn’t stay there.
And to the governor’s credit, you supported us going into Libya and the coalition that we organized. But when it came time to making sure that Gaddafi did not stay in power, that he was captured, Governor, your suggestion was that this was mission creep, that this was mission muddle. Imagine if we had pulled out at that point. You know, Muammar Gaddafi had more American blood on his hands than any individual other than Osama bin Laden. And so, we were going to make sure that we finished the job. That’s part of the reason why the Libyans stand with us.
But we did so in a careful, thoughtful way, making certain that we knew who we were dealing with, that those forces of moderation on the ground were ones that we could work with. And we have to take the same kind of steady, thoughtful leadership when it comes to Syria. That’s exactly what we’re doing.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Governor, can I just ask you, would you go beyond what the administration would do, like, for example, would you put in no-fly zones over Syria?
MITT ROMNEY: I don’t—I don’t want to have our military involved in Syria. I don’t think there’s a necessity to put our military in Syria at this stage. I don’t anticipate that in the future.
As I indicated, our objectives are to replace Assad and to have in place a new government, which is friendly to us, a responsible government, if possible. And I want to make sure they get armed and they have the arms necessary to defend themselves, but also to—to remove—to remove Assad. But I do not want to see a military involvement on the part of—of our—of our troops.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well—
MITT ROMNEY: And this isn’t—this isn’t going to be necessary. We—we have—with our partners in the region, we have sufficient resources to support those groups. But look, this has been going on for a year. This is a time—this should have been a time for American leadership. We should have taken a leading role, not militarily, but a leading role, organizationally, governmentally, to bring together the parties there, to find responsible parties.
As you hear from intelligence sources even today, the—the insurgents are highly disparate. They haven’t come together. They haven’t formed a unity group, a council of some kind. That needs to happen. America can help that happen. And we need to make sure they have the arms they need to carry out the very important role, which is getting rid of Assad.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Could we get a quick response, Mr. President, because I want to ask about each of the—
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, I’ll be—I’ll be very quick. What you just heard Governor Romney said is he doesn’t have different ideas. And that’s because we’re doing exactly what we should be doing to try to promote a moderate Syrian leadership and a—an effective transition so that we get Assad out. That’s the kind of leadership we’ve shown. That’s the kind of leadership we’ll continue to show.
BOB SCHIEFFER: May I ask you—you know, during the Egyptian turmoil, there came a point when you said it was time for President Mubarak to go.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Right.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Some in your administration thought perhaps we should have waited a while on that. Do you have any regrets about that?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: No, I don’t, because I think that America has to stand with democracy. The notion that we would have tanks run over those young people who were in Tahrir Square, that is not the kind of American leadership that John F. Kennedy talked about 50 years ago.
But what I’ve also said is that now that you have a democratically elected government in Egypt, that they have to make sure that they take responsibility for protecting religious minorities, and we have put significant pressure on them to make sure they’re doing that; [to recognize the rights of women, which is critical throughout the region. These countries can’t develop if young women are not given the kind of education that they need.]
They have to abide by their treaty with Israel. That is a red line for us, because not only is Israel’s security at stake, but our security is at stake if that unravels.
They have to make sure that they’re cooperating with us when it comes to counterterrorism.
And we will help them with respect to developing their own economy, because ultimately what’s going to make the Egyptian revolution successful for the people of Egypt, but also for the world, is if those young people who gathered there are seeing opportunities. Their aspirations are similar to young people’s here. They want jobs. They want to be able to make sure their kids are going to a good school. They want to make sure that they have a roof over their heads and that they have the prospects of a better life in the future. And so, one of the things that we’ve been doing is—is, for example, organizing entrepreneurship conferences with these Egyptians to give them a sense of how they can start rebuilding their economy in a way that’s noncorrupt, that’s transparent.
But what is also important for us to understand is, is that for America to be successful in this region, there are some things that we’re going to have to do here at home, as well. You know, one of the challenges over the last decade is we’ve done experiments in nation building in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, and we’ve neglected, for example, developing our own economy, our own energy sectors, our own education system. And it’s very hard for us to project leadership around the world when we’re not doing what we need to do here.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Governor Romney, I want to hear your response to that, but I would just ask you, would you have stuck with Mubarak?
MITT ROMNEY: No. I believe, as the president indicated, and said at the time that I supported his—his action there. I felt that—I wish we’d have had a better vision of the future. I wish that, looking back at the beginning of the president’s term and even further back than that, that we’d have recognized that there was a growing energy and passion for freedom in that part of the world and that we would have worked more aggressively with our—our friend and with other friends in the region to have them make the transition towards a more representative form of government, such that it didn’t explode in the way it did.
But once it exploded, I felt the same as the president did, which is these—these freedom voices in the streets of Egypt were the people who were speaking of our principles, and the president, Mubarak, had done things which were unimaginable, and the idea of him crushing his people was not something that we could possibly support.
Let me—let me step back and talk about what I think our mission has to be in the Middle East and even more broadly, because our purpose is to make sure the world is more—is peaceful. We want a peaceful planet. We want people to be able to enjoy their lives and know they’re going to have a bright and prosperous future, not be at war. That’s our purpose. And the mantle of leadership for the—promoting the principles of peace has fallen to America. We didn’t ask for it. But it’s an honor that we have it.
But for us to be able to promote those principles of peace requires us to be strong. And that begins with a strong economy here at home. And unfortunately, the economy is not stronger. When the—when the president of Iraq—excuse me, of Iran, Ahmadinejad, says that our debt makes us not a great country, that’s a frightening thing. The former chief of—chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said that—Admiral Mullen said that our debt is the biggest national security threat we face. This—we have weakened our economy. We need a strong economy.
We need to have, as well, a strong military. Our military is second to [none in the world. We’re blessed with terrific soldiers and extraordinary] technology and intelligence. But the idea of a trillion dollars in cuts through sequestration and budget cuts to the military would change that.
We need to have strong allies. Our association and connection with our allies is essential to America’s strength. We’re the—the great nation that has allies, 42 allies and friends around the world.
And finally, we have to stand by our principles. And if we’re strong in each of those things, American influence will grow. But unfortunately, in nowhere in the world is America’s influence greater today than it was four years ago.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Bob, I think—
MITT ROMNEY: And that’s because we’ve become weaker on each of those four dimensions.
BOB SCHIEFFER: This is perfect. You’re going to get a chance—
AMY GOODMAN: Justice Party presidential candidate Rocky Anderson.
ROCKY ANDERSON: Freedom and democracy mean to both of these candidates, President Obama and Mitt Romney, countries’ governments doing what we want them to do. What you just heard could be said of any of the signatories to the Project for the New American Century plan, where these people, including Donald Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney and the like, all these neocons that helped lead us into this disaster in Iraq, they said basically that in the—this century, we, the United States, need to build up our military and become engaged everywhere we can to exercise and maintain our military and economic dominance. And it is time that that kind of thinking come to an end. And unfortunately, in the Republican and Democratic Party, that’s where they both are. They may have different ways of doing it. There may be different degrees—small arms, large arms to Syria. But what they are talking about today, in the most bloodless terms, is equivalent to calling for an absolute bloodbath, a civil war in Syria. It is absolutely irresponsible.
And we, the American people, need to finally say, “We won’t put up with it anymore.” We put up with it for too long under George Bush. We put up with it for way too long these last four years under Barack Obama, in large part because so many Democrats, instead of principle guiding their stand on these issues, it’s become partisanship. And that’s why I left the Democratic Party, and I’m glad I did, because I wouldn’t want to be part of this party that is in collusion with the Republicans in causing so much mayhem, so much death, so much tragedy around the world.
And one other thing I need to mention. Did you notice how it always comes down to Israel? They have to throw that out there. No two people could be more obsequious to Israel or AIPAC than President Barack Obama, who perpetrated—perpetuated the lie when he [inaudible] that Israel should be wiped off the map, and then Mitt Romney saying in one of the primary debates that he disagreed with one of his opponents, and what he would do with regard to Israel and Palestinians is call his old friend Bibi Netanyahu and ask him, “What should I do?” This man running for president of the United States saying he’d call the prime minister of Israel and ask, “What should I do?” Neither [inaudible].
We, the people, have to provide the leadership. And we can do this. No matter who’s going to be the president, we need to take to the streets. We need to rise up in every way and say that we, as a people, will not allow our nation to engage in these outrages internationally anymore in our name.
AMY GOODMAN: Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein.
DR. JILL STEIN: Yes, absolutely. And by the same token, we need to say that we will no longer permit the violation of our constitutional rights here at home, as well, which have been so badly violated, not only by George Bush, but also by Barack Obama, who has embraced the policies of George Bush on so many fronts, who has codified the violations of our civil liberties by George Bush, and then even gone on to extend those violations to where the president claims the right of indefinite detention, to put us, at his pleasure, into prison indefinitely without charge and without trial, that the president has assumed the right of assassination, not only of foreign nationals, but of our own citizens, as well.
And it’s time for us to say no to these unconstitutional wars, which are squandering our precious tax dollars. A trillion dollars every year and more is what we are now spending on this bloated military-industrial-security complex, which is not making us more secure, but which is adding to the national debt, contributing to the violation of international law and incredible suffering and chaos around the world, and in fact also is the largest driver of climate change. The biggest source of greenhouse gases is also coming from the U.S. military.
So, on so many fronts, it is time to say no to these backwards policies, which are being promoted by Democrats and by Republicans alike. That is why I have not been ever a member of the Democratic or Republican Party. That’s why the Green Party exists as a national party. We are on the ballot for 85 percent of voters. And we provide a way, right now, to say no to these ongoing wars for oil and to say yes to a foreign policy based on international law and human rights and to move from this fight and wars for oil to a fight to stop the truly greatest threat that we are now facing, and that is the threat to climate.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go back to Bob Schieffer at Lynn University.
BOB SCHIEFFER: What is America’s role in the world? And that is the question. What do each of you see as our role in the world? And I believe, Governor Romney, it’s your turn to go first.
MITT ROMNEY: Well, I absolutely believe that America has a responsibility and the privilege of helping defend freedom and promote the principles that—that make the world more peaceful. And those principles include human rights, human dignity, free enterprise, freedom of expression, elections, because when there are elections, people tend to vote for peace. They don’t vote for war. So we want to promote those principles around the world. We recognize that there are places of conflict in the world. We want to end those conflicts to the extent humanly possible.
But in order to be able to fulfill our role in the world, America must be strong. America must lead. And for that to happen, we have to strengthen our economy here at home. You can’t have 23 million people struggling to get a job. You can’t have an economy that over the last three years keeps slowing down its growth rate. You can’t have kids coming out of college, half of whom can’t find a job today or a job that’s commensurate with their college degree. We have to get our economy going.
And our military—we’ve got to strengthen our military long-term. We don’t know what the world is going to throw at us down the road. We make decisions today in a military that—that will confront challenges we can’t imagine. In the 2000 debates, there was no mention of terrorism, for instance. And a year later, 9/11 happened. So we have to make decisions based upon uncertainty, and that means a strong military. I will not cut our military budget.
We have to also stand by our allies. I think the tension that existed between Israel and the United States was very unfortunate. I think also that pulling our missile defense program out of Poland in the way we did was also unfortunate in terms of, if you will, disrupting the relationship in some ways that existed between us.
And then, of course, with regards to standing for our principles, when—when the students took to the streets in Tehran and the people there protested, the Green Revolution occurred, for the president to be silent, I thought, was an enormous mistake. We have to stand for our principles, stand for our allies, stand for a strong military and stand for a stronger economy.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Mr. President.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: America remains the one indispensable nation. And the world needs a strong America, and it is stronger now than when I came into office. Because we ended the war in Iraq, we were able to refocus our attention on not only the terrorist threat, but also beginning a transition process in Afghanistan. It also allowed us to refocus on alliances and relationships that had been neglected for a decade.
And, Governor Romney, our alliances have never been stronger—in Asia, in Europe, in Africa, with Israel, where we have unprecedented military and intelligence cooperation, including dealing with the Iranian threat.
But what we also have been able to do is position ourselves so we can start rebuilding America. And that’s what my plan does, making sure that we’re bringing manufacturing back to our shores so that we’re creating jobs here, as we’ve done with the auto industry, not rewarding companies that are shipping jobs overseas; making sure that we’ve got the best education system in the world, including retraining our workers for the jobs of tomorrow; doing everything we can to control our own energy. We’ve cut our oil imports to the lowest level in two decades, because we’ve developed oil and natural gas, but we also have to develop clean energy technologies that will allow us to cut our exports in half by 2020. That’s the kind of leadership that we need to show.
And we’ve got to make sure that we reduce our deficit. Unfortunately, Governor Romney’s plan doesn’t do it. We’ve got to do it in a responsible way, by cutting out spending we don’t need, but also by asking the wealthiest to pay a little bit more. That way, we can invest in the research and technology that’s always kept us at the cutting edge.
Now, Governor Romney has taken a different approach throughout this campaign. You know, both at home and abroad, he has proposed wrong and reckless policies. He’s praised George Bush as a good economic steward and Dick Cheney as somebody who shows great wisdom and judgment. And taking us back to those kinds of strategies that got us into this mess are not the way that we are going to maintain leadership in the 21st century.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Governor Romney, “wrong and reckless” policies?
AMY GOODMAN: Presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein, the issue of the role of America in the world?
DR. JILL STEIN: Yes. It’s hard to parse the differences exactly, from what I’m hearing. We hear them both talking about maintaining our strong military or growing that military. This is a military that’s now six times the size of the next biggest spender, which is as large as the next some many dozens of countries, their defense budgets all put together. This is a military budget that has doubled in size since the year 2000. But it’s clear we are not twice as secure for having doubled the military budget. If anything, we are less secure for draining a trillion dollars a year from our budget here at home. And we could cut that military budget in half and still be three times the size of the next biggest spender.
And yes, we absolutely must strengthen our economy here at home. This is where our true national security lies. With one out of every two Americans in poverty or low-income heading for poverty, with 36 million students and recent graduates effectively indentured servants who are trapped in these high, unforgiving debts, with a 50 percent unemployment rate, we have an economic emergency here at home.
And fortunately, we can [inaudible] economic emergency at the same time that we make wars for oil obsolete and at the same time that we put a halt to climate change. That’s why my campaign and the Green Party are calling for a Green New Deal now, an emergency program that actually puts our dollars, including hundreds of billions of our war dollars, into actually creating true security here at home. It’s based on the New Deal. In the New Deal that got us out of the Great Depression, we created four million jobs in the first two months. There is no excuse for us to be sitting here with the economy continuing to be in a tailspin. When Barack Obama talks about the jobs that are coming back, first, there is no insourcing. That is a public relations trick. Those jobs are not coming back. And, in fact, the free trade agreements, which he is continuing to negotiate, which Mitt Romney will likewise push, in fact keep sending our jobs overseas and will continue to do that and undermine our wages here at home.
So we need to say no to the expanding war for oil, this attack on working people here, and instead say yes to a Green New Deal that will solve the climate emergency, the economic emergency and put a halt to these wars for oil.
AMY GOODMAN: Rocky Anderson.
ROCKY ANDERSON: The question was, what is our role in the world? Look at the role we played at the Nuremberg Tribunal following World War II. Justice Robert Jackson of the United States Supreme Court, in his opening statement at Nuremberg, pointed out that there were people being prosecuted there—and they ultimately were convicted—people being prosecuted for engaging in wars of aggression. And war of aggression is simply attacking and trying to occupy or occupying a nation that has not attacked you or is not imminently about to attack your country. And he said, “These people are being prosecuted here today. But if these international prohibitions against wars of aggression are to have any meaning at all, they must be applied against every other nation in the future, including those sitting in judgment of aggressor Germany.” No higher duty of any nation than to comply with that prohibition. And at the time, there was one treaty, the Kellogg-Briand Pact; since then, the United Nations Charter absolutely prohibits wars of aggression. And we have violated that, time and time again, as well as violating our own War Power Clause under the United States Constitution.
Our role in the world is to abide by our other sacred treaty obligations. And we’ve done nothing but treat them as if they are optional, as if our exceptionalism as the United States allows us to simply ignore those treaties. We saw George Bush do it with the Geneva Convention, and we certainly saw it with the Convention Against Torture. But the Convention Against Torture, as Ronald Reagan pointed out, after the Senate, the United States Senate, ratified the Convention Against Torture, every signatory, including the United States, has an absolute obligation to prosecute those responsible for torture as they prosecute all other serious offenses. Every single day that isn’t done by President Obama, he is in violation of the Convention Against Torture.
And the most important issue, in terms of the long-term impacts on the greatest number of people, an absolute tragedy in the making, is the climate crisis. And our nation—although scientists are—every science academy in the world agrees that this is a huge problem with horrendous consequences, our government continues to abdicate its highest responsibility to provide international leadership on the climate crisis. And the most tragic part of this is, the window of opportunity was very, very small the last 10 years to do anything about it to save our children and later generations from experiencing the most catastrophic consequences of climate change, and we still fail under Barack Obama, who promised to do otherwise. We still fail to provide that essential leadership internationally, and the consequences will be horrendous. Later generations will look back and ask, “What in the world were the American people thinking to allow these people to continue to violate their responsibilities and to continue drilling and caving in to the fossil fuel industry?” the way our federal government, both Republicans and Democrats, are doing.
AMY GOODMAN: Debate moderator Bob Schieffer.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Governor Romney?
MITT ROMNEY: I’ve got a policy for the future and an agenda for the future. And when it comes to our economy here at home, I know what it takes to create 12 million new jobs and rising take-home pay. And what we’ve seen over the last four years is something I don’t want to see over the next four years. The president said by now we’d be a 5.4 percent unemployment. We’re nine million jobs short of that.
I will get America working again and see rising take-home pay again, and I’ll do it with five simple steps. Number one, we are going to have North American energy independence. We’re going to do it by taking full advantage of oil, coal, gas, nuclear and our renewables.
Number two, we’re going to increase our trade. Trade grows about 12 percent per year. It doubles about every—every five or so years. We can do better than that, particularly in Latin America. The opportunities for us in Latin America, we have just not taken advantage of fully. As a matter of fact, Latin America’s economy is almost as big as the economy of China. We’re all focused on China. Latin America is a huge opportunity for us—[time zone, language opportunities.]
Number three, we’re going to have to have training programs that work for our workers and schools that finally put the parents and the teachers and the kids first, and the teachers’ union is going to have to go behind.
And then we’re going to have to get to a balanced budget. We can’t expect entrepreneurs and businesses large and small to take their life savings or their company’s money and invest in America if they think we’re headed to the road to Greece. And that’s where we’re going right now unless we finally get off this spending and borrowing [binge. And I’ll get us on track to a balanced budget.
And finally, number five,] we’ve got to champion small business. Small business is where jobs come from. Two-thirds of our jobs come from small businesses. New business formation is down to the lowest level in 30 years under this administration. I want to bring it back and get back good jobs and rising take-home pay.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, let’s talk about what we need to compete. First of all, Governor Romney talks about small businesses. But, Governor, when you were in Massachusetts, [small businesses] development ranked about 48th, I think out of 50 states in Massachusetts, because the policies that you’re promoting actually don’t help small businesses. And the way you define small businesses include folks at the very top, and they include you and me. That’s not the kind of small business promotion we need.
But let’s take an example that we know is going to make a difference in the 21st century, and that’s our education policy. We didn’t have a lot of chance to talk about this in the last debate. You know, under my leadership, what we’ve done is reformed [education, working with governors,] 46 states. We’ve seen progress and gains in schools that were having a terrible time. And they’re starting to finally make progress. And what I now want to do is to hire more teachers, especially in math and science, because we know that we’ve fallen behind when it comes to math and science. And those teachers can make a difference.
Now, Governor Romney, when you were asked by teachers whether or not this would help the economy grow, you said this isn’t going to help the economy grow. When you were asked about reduced class sizes, you said class sizes don’t make a difference. But I tell you, if you talk to teachers, they will tell you it does make a difference. And if we’ve got math teachers who are able to provide the kind of support that they need for our kids, that’s what’s going to determine whether or not the new businesses are created here. Companies are going to locate here depending on whether we’ve got the most highly skilled workforce.
And the kinds of budget proposals that you’ve put forward, when we don’t ask either you or me to pay a dime more in terms of reducing the deficit, but instead we slash support for education, that’s undermining our long-term competitiveness. That is not good for America’s position in the world. And the world notices.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me get back to foreign policy.
MITT ROMNEY: Well, look—
BOB SCHIEFFER: Can I just get back—
MITT ROMNEY: Well, I need to speak a moment—
BOB SCHIEFFER: OK.
MITT ROMNEY: —if you’ll let me, Bob, just about education—
BOB SCHIEFFER: OK.
MITT ROMNEY: —because I’m—I’m so proud of the state that I had the chance to be governor of.
We have every two years tests that look at how well our kids are doing. Fourth graders and eighth graders are tested in English and math. While I was governor, I was proud that our fourth graders came out number one of all 50 states in English, and then also in math, and our eighth graders, number one in English and also in math. First time one state had been number one in all four measures.
How did we do that? Well, Republicans and Democrats came together on a bipartisan basis to put in place education principles that focused on having great teachers in the classroom.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Ten years earlier—
MITT ROMNEY: And that was—that was—that was what allowed us to become the number one [state] in the nation.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: But that was 10 years, though, before you took office.
MITT ROMNEY: And this is—and we were—and we—
BOB SCHIEFFER: Gentlemen.
MITT ROMNEY: Absolutely. The first—
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: And then you cut education spending when you came into office.
MITT ROMNEY: The first—the first—and we kept our schools number one in the nation. They’re still number one today.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right.
MITT ROMNEY: And the principles that we put in place, we also gave kids not just a graduation exam that determined whether they were up to the skills needed to—to be able to compete, but also if they graduated the top quarter of their class, they got a four-year tuition-free ride at any Massachusetts public institution of higher learning.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: That happened before you came into office.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Governor—
MITT ROMNEY: That was actually mine, actually, Mr. President. [You got that fact wrong.]
BOB SCHIEFFER: [Let me get–I want to] try to shift it, because we have heard some of this in the other debates. Governor, you say you want a bigger military. You want a bigger Navy. You don’t want to cut defense spending. What I want to ask you—we were talking about financial problems in this country. Where are you going to get the money?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, let’s—let’s come back and talk about the military, but all the way—all the way through. First of all—I’m going through, from the very beginning—we’re going to cut about 5 percent of the discretionary budget, excluding military. That’s number one. All right? And that’s—
BOB SCHIEFFER: But can you do this without—
MITT ROMNEY: You know, the good—the good news is—
BOB SCHIEFFER: —driving us deeper into debt?
MITT ROMNEY: I’ll—I’ll be happy to have you take a look. Come on our website. You look at how we get to a balanced budget within eight to 10 years. We do it by getting—by reducing spending in a whole series of programs. By the way, number one I get rid of is “Obamacare.” There are a number of things that sound good, but frankly, we just can’t afford them. And that one doesn’t sound good, and it’s not affordable. So I’d get rid of that one from day one. To the extent humanly possible, we get that out. We take program after program that we don’t absolutely have to have, and we get rid of them.
Number two, we take some programs that we are going to keep, like Medicaid, which is a program for the poor—we’re—take that healthcare program for the poor, and we give it to the states to run, because states run these programs more efficiently. As a governor, I thought, please, give me this program. I can—
BOB SCHIEFFER: Can he do that, Mr. President?
MITT ROMNEY: I can run this more efficiently than the federal government. And states, by the way, are proving it. States like Arizona, Rhode Island have taken these—these Medicaid dollars, have shown [they can run these programs more cost-effectively.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Bob, but—
MITT ROMNEY: And so, I want to do those two things and get this—get this to a balanced budget with eight—in eight to 10] years.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Bob—
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let’s—
MITT ROMNEY: But the military—let’s—let’s get back to the military, though.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well—
BOB SCHIEFFER: That’s what I’m trying to find out about.
MITT ROMNEY: Well, let’s—let’s talk about the military.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I want to—you should have answered the first question.
Look, Governor Romney has called for $5 trillion of tax cuts that he says he’s going to pay for by closing deductions. Now, the math doesn’t work, but he continues to claim that he’s going to do it. He then wants to spend another $2 trillion on military spending that our military is not asking for.
Now, keep in mind that our military spending has gone up every single year that I’ve been in office. We spend more on our military than the next 10 countries combined—China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, you name it, next 10. And what I did was work with our Joint Chiefs of Staff to think about what are we going to need in the future to make sure that we are safe. And that’s the budget that we’ve put forward.
But what you can’t do is spend $2 trillion in additional military spending that the military is not asking for, $5 trillion on tax cuts. You say that you’re going to pay for it by closing loopholes and deductions, without naming what those loopholes and deductions are. And then somehow you’re also going to deal with the deficit that we’ve already got. The math simply doesn’t work.
But when it comes to our military, what we have to think about is not, you know, just budgets; we’ve got to think about capabilities. We need to be thinking about cyber security. We need to be thinking about space. That’s exactly what our budget does, but it’s driven by strategy. It’s not driven by politics. It’s not driven by members of Congress and what they would like to see. It’s driven by what are we going to need to keep the American people safe. That’s exactly what our budget does. And it also then allows us to reduce our deficit, which is a significant national security concern, because we’ve got to make sure that our economy is strong at home so that we can project military power overseas.
MITT ROMNEY: Bob, I’m pleased that I’ve balanced budgets. I was in the world of business for 25 years. If you didn’t balance your budget, you went out of business. I went to the Olympics, that was out of balance, and we got it on balance and made a success there. I had the chance to be governor of a state. Four years in a row, Democrats and Republicans came together to balance the budget. We cut taxes 19 times, balanced our budget. The president hasn’t balanced a budget yet. I expect to have the opportunity to do so myself.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right.
MITT ROMNEY: I’m going to be able to balance the budget.
Let’s talk about military spending. And that’s this.
BOB SCHIEFFER: About 30 seconds.
MITT ROMNEY: Our Navy—our Navy is older—excuse me, our Navy is smaller now than any time since 1917. The Navy said they needed 313 ships to carry out their mission. We’re now down to 285. We’re headed down to the—to the low 200s if we go through a sequestration. That’s unacceptable to me. I want to make sure that we have the ships that are required by our Navy. Our Air Force is older and smaller than any time since it was founded in 1947. We’ve changed, for the first time since FDR, we—since FDR, we had the—we’ve always had the strategy of saying we could fight in two conflicts at once. Now we’re changing to one conflict.
Look, this, in my view, is the highest responsibility of the president of the United States, which is to maintain the safety of the American people. And I will not cut our military budget by a trillion dollars, which is a combination of the budget cuts that the president has, as well as the sequestration cuts. That, in my view, is making—is making our future less certain and less secure, and I won’t do it.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Bob, I just need to comment on this.
First of all, the sequester is not something that I proposed. It’s something that Congress has proposed. It will not happen. The budget that we’re talking about is not reducing our military spending; it’s maintaining it.
But I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works. You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military has changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. And so, the question is not a game of Battleship where we’re counting ships; it’s what are our capabilities.
And so, when I sit down with the secretary of the Navy and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, we determine how are we going to be best able to meet all of our defense needs in a way that also keeps faith with our troops, that also makes sure that our veterans have the kind of support that they need when they come home. And that is not reflected in the kind of budget that you’re putting forward, because it just doesn’t work.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: And, you know, we visited the website quite a bit, and it still doesn’t work.
BOB SCHIEFFER: A lot to cover. I’d like—I’d like—
AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate, on this issue of military spending.
DR. JILL STEIN: Yeah, well, I think they both made the case for us, that the numbers just don’t add up. We cannot continue spending a trillion dollars a year on this bloated military-industrial-security complex without having to really pay the price here at home. And they’re talking about, you know, a balanced budget. They’re talking about needing to educate our students.
You know, let’s look at where that money is going. We are spending trillions every year not only on the bloated military budget, but on the wars for oil as part of that, as well as the bailouts for Wall Street and tax breaks for the very wealthy. And unfortunately, we don’t see either of these candidates—not the Democrats and not the Republicans—really changing any of those really serious problems. Right now, the Federal Reserve is again bailing out Wall Street, effectively for the fourth time. This is the third quantitative easing on top of the TARP program, which was $700 billion. But that $700 billion under George Bush has become many, many trillions under Barack Obama. So these bailouts continue, and now we’re doing a quantitative easing to the tune of $40 billion every month, again to bail out the banks. It’s time to be breaking up the big banks and bailing out the students instead. They’ve got it the other way around: they’re breaking up the students and bailing out the banks. And we need to put an end to that.
Likewise, we are squandering trillions of dollars over the coming decade on a massive, wasteful health insurance, private health insurance bureaucracy. And the alternative to austerity is actually moving to a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system, which makes austerity unnecessary. So, in fact, by moving to a single-payer, Medicare-for-all system, we get a system that people are happy with, that they love and want to defend from government tampering, in fact, and that system covers everyone comprehensively, puts you back in charge of your healthcare, and, in addition, it actually saves us trillions over the coming decade, equivalent to that austerity plan that they were talking about. And the way it does that is by changing—what we have right now is 30 percent of every healthcare dollar is being spent on bureaucracy, red tape and paper pushing. Under Medicare, that 30 percent shrinks down to 2 to 3 percent. That’s enough to cover everybody. And—and we deserve that.
Now, in addition, under Medicare for all, this healthcare inflation, which is going like this on the curve of expenses over time, much faster—it’s inflating much faster than a inflation in the economy. But what happens when you move to a Medicare-for-all system is that that hyperinflation in healthcare, with your premiums and your co-pays going up practically every month, that is put an end to. So we go back to an inflation level like the level of the economy, and that saves us trillions of dollars over the coming decade.
So, these are the ways that we should be spending our tax dollars, not on the military, but on what we need here at home. And by conserving those dollars instead of squandering them, we can actually spend them on the things that we need, on bailing out the students and on creating public higher education, which is free, tuition-free, the way that it should be.
AMY GOODMAN: Justice Party presidential candidate, former Salt Lake City mayor, Rocky Anderson.
ROCKY ANDERSON: Well, we’ve heard another great example of how the Republican and Democratic candidates for president, just like their cohorts in Congress, are basically one and the same in terms of their corporatism and their militarism. It’s just a matter of degree.
President Obama is bragging about increasing military spending these last four years? Well, this is how it works. The F-22 weapons program, Republicans and Democrats alike tried to keep it alive, even though the secretary of defense said it’s an outmoded system, we’ve never used it, we’re not going to use it—billions of dollars going into the system just for maintenance and repair. And it was Republicans and Democrats fighting for continued funding. And then you wonder, why would they do that? It’s because the general contractor for that weapon system—they know what they’re doing when it comes to Congress—they put in place contractors or subcontractors in 44 different states. So you had Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer and the Republican from Utah’s 1st Congressional District all fighting for continued funding, because they wanted to take the bacon back home so they could brag about it when they run the next time. That is treasonous conduct, when people are looking out for their own political interests and hammering the American people, especially when there are so many unmet needs in this country.
Mitt Romney is one of the greatest flim-flam mans—men of all time. He says we’re going to start with a $16 trillion debt, we’re going to give everybody a 20 percent tax cut, and then we’re going to do away with some deductions. But have you noticed he’s never identified what those deductions are going to be? Well, the studies say—people have taken a look at this—really, even if he did away with mortgage deductions and charitable deductions, which he’s not likely to do, if you take all of those deductions, you can’t give more than 4 percent in tax cuts without adding to our deficit, so there is no way that he could meet anywhere near these promises of balancing the budget. Instead, we would see more like we saw under the Reagan and the second Bush administrations, with record deficits with these Republican presidents.
Now, in terms of jobs, our employers in this country are at a huge competitive disadvantage with their competitors overseas, because we are the only nation in the entire developed world that doesn’t provide insurance coverage for everyone, and we’re paying more than twice the average of the rest of the industrialized world. And we’re getting far worse medical outcomes. More than 70 percent of the American people and the majority of doctors during the healthcare debate said they wanted to see a single-payer, Medicare-for-all system in place. And this president wouldn’t even let the proposal see the light of day, because he, like the rest of the members in Congress, with the exception of a handful who were courageous enough, at least for a while, to stand up against the corrupting money, they caved in to the for-profit insurance industry and the pharmaceutical companies. And once again, we end up getting shafted, the American people, again. We can’t stand for it anymore. We need to send a message: there are going to be political consequences every time the corporate sector wins out over the interests of the American people.
AMY GOODMAN: We return to debate moderator Bob Schieffer in Boca Raton.
BOB SCHIEFFER: I’d like to move to the [next segment: red lines,] Israel and Iran. Would either of you—and you’ll have two minutes—and, President Obama, you have the first go at this one. Would either of you be willing to declare that an attack on Israel is an attack on the United States, which of course is the same promise that we give to our close allies like Japan? And if you made such a declaration, would not that deter Iran? It’s certainly deterred the Soviet Union for a long, long time, when we made that—we made—we made that promise to our allies. Mr. President?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, first of all, Israel is a true friend. It is our greatest ally in the region. And if Israel is attacked, America will stand with Israel. I’ve made that clear throughout my presidency.
BOB SCHIEFFER: So you’re—
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: And—
BOB SCHIEFFER: You’re saying we’ve already made that declaration.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I will stand with Israel if they are attacked. And this is the reason why, working with Israel, we have created the strongest military and intelligence cooperation between our two countries in history. In fact, this week we’ll be carrying out the largest military exercise with Israel in history, this very week.
But to the issue of Iran, as long as I’m president of the United States, Iran will not get a nuclear weapon. I made that clear when I came into office. We then organized the strongest coalition and the strongest sanctions against Iran in history, and it is crippling their economy. Their currency has dropped 80 percent. Their oil production has plunged to the lowest levels since they were fighting a war with Iraq 20 years ago. So their economy is in a shambles.
And the reason we did this is because a nuclear Iran is a threat to our national security, and it’s a threat to Israel’s national security. We cannot afford to have a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region of the world. Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism. And for them to be able to provide nuclear technology to non-state actors, that’s unacceptable. And they have said that they want to see Israel wiped off the map.
So, the work that we’ve done with respect to sanctions now offers Iran a choice: they can take the diplomatic route and end their nuclear program, or they will have to face a united world and a United States president, me, who said [we’re not going to take] any options off the table.
The disagreement I have with Governor Romney is that, during the course of this campaign, he’s often talked as if we should take premature military action. I think that would be a mistake, because when I’ve sent young men and women into harm’s way, I always understand that that is the last resort, not the first resort.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Two minutes.
MITT ROMNEY: Well, first of all, I want to underscore the same point the president made, which is that if I’m president of the United States—when I’m president of the United States, we will stand with Israel. And if Israel is attacked, we have their back, not just diplomatically, not just culturally, but militarily. That’s number one.
Number two, with regards to—to Iran and the threat of Iran, there’s no question but that a nuclear Iran, a nuclear-capable Iran is unacceptable to America. It presents a threat not only to our friends, but ultimately a threat to us, to have Iran have nuclear material, nuclear weapons that could be used against us or to use to be threatening to us.
It’s also essential for us to understand what our mission is in Iran, and that is to dissuade Iran from having a nuclear weapon through peaceful and diplomatic means. And crippling sanctions are something I called for five years ago, when I was in Israel, speaking at the Herzliya Conference. I laid out seven steps. Crippling sanctions were number one. And they do work. You’re seeing it right now in the economy. It’s absolutely the right thing to do, to have crippling sanctions. I would have put them in place earlier, but it’s good that we have them.
Number two, something I would add today is I would tighten those sanctions. I would say that ships that carry Iranian oil can’t come into our ports. I imagine the EU would agree with this, as well. Not only ships couldn’t, I’d say companies that are moving their oil can’t, people who are trading in their oil can’t. I would tighten those sanctions further.
Secondly, I’d take on diplomatic isolation efforts. I’d make sure that Ahmadinejad is indicted under the Genocide Convention. His words amount to genocide incitation. I would indict him for it. I would also make sure that their diplomats are treated like the pariah they are around the world, the same way we treated the apartheid diplomats of South Africa.
We need to increase pressure, time and time again, on Iran because anything other than a—a solution to this, which says—which stops this—this nuclear folly of theirs, is unacceptable to America. And, of course, a military action is the last resort. It is something one would only—only consider if all of the other avenues had been—had been tried to their full extent.
AMY GOODMAN: Justice Party presidential candidate Rocky Anderson, you have two minutes.
ROCKY ANDERSON: This is so predictable. Once again, President Obama repeats the lie that President Ahmadinejad in Iran stated that he wanted to wipe Israel off the map. He never said it. He referred to the regime in Israel one day being in the dustbin of history. It was a misinterpretation, and it is so warmongering of both of these candidates to talk about how they will basically blow Iran away.
Romney wants to impose crippling sanctions. Who would he be crippling? He’d be crippling, among others, some of the hundreds of thousands of people who stood in Tehran in a candlelight vigil in sympathy for the victims of the 9/11 attacks on the United States. And by the way, the people in the United States have stood in solidarity with the Iranian people after their last election with candlelight vigils in this country. It’s time that the people of both nations express their solidarity with one another and express our disdain, our disgust with these leaders who are engaging in this conduct that is ultimately going to lead to utter tragedy for the people of Iran.
Would Mitt Romney say that we should go over and attack North Korea because they have a nuclear bomb? How about Pakistan? How about China? How about Russia? We have an obligation, number one, to start reducing the number of nuclear weapons and provide that kind of leadership, because it’s the United States who has led the way for other nations to build up their nuclear armaments. And if Iran feels like they’re going to be attacked—and that’s all they’re hearing nowadays—of course they’re going to consider building a nuclear capability to deter an attack. But there is no evidence that they have any nuclear capability. And it’s an utter lie, totally baseless, for Mitt Romney to say that Iran is four years closer to building a nuclear weapon.
AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Jill Stein.
DR. JILL STEIN: And here again, we’re seeing the candidates very similar to each other. They’re both saber-rattling about Iran. They’re both vowing their obedience to the right-wing government in Israel. And they are both saying that they will stop at nothing, but that war will be the last result. So, once again, we’re seeing shades of gray here between the Democratic and Republican candidates, but we’re not seeing what the American people really need and what international security really needs.
In fact, Iran recently hosted the non-aligned nations. It’s not just Iran. It was all the non-aligned nations with them—Brazil and Argentina and many others—that together put forward a proposal for eliminating nuclear weapons throughout the Middle East and, in fact, eliminating nuclear weapons throughout the world. That is the true solution that we should be getting behind. And in fact, I should add that—
AMY GOODMAN: Ten seconds.
DR. JILL STEIN: —this—this slave-like mentality towards Israel is absolutely unjustified. We need to start raising the bar for Israel and holding them to an equal standard for supporting human rights and international law and ending occupations and illegal settlements and apartheid.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re expanding the debate. Our feed to the PBS satellite and PBS stations is ending now. For those of you watching on those stations, you can catch the final hour and a half of this exclusive Democracy Now! inclusive “Expand the Debate” coverage at our website, democracynow.org. We are staying with this debate, however, on all other TV and radio stations.
This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. As we turn right now to Bob Schieffer, the debate moderator.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me ask both of you, there—as you know, there are reports that Iran and the United States as part of an international group have agreed in principle to talks about Iran’s nuclear program. What is the deal, if there are such talks? What is the deal that you would accept, Mr. President?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, first of all, those are reports in the newspaper. They are not true. But our goal is to get Iran to recognize it needs to give up its nuclear program and abide by the U.N. resolutions that have been in place, because they have the opportunity to re-enter the community of nations, and we would welcome that. There are—there are people in Iran who have the same aspirations as people all around the world for a better life. And we hope that their leadership takes the right decision. But the deal we’ll accept is they end their nuclear program. It’s very straightforward.
And, you know, I’m glad that Governor Romney agrees with the steps that we’re taking. You know, there have been times, Governor, frankly, during the course of this campaign, where it sounded like you thought that you’d do the same things we did, but you’d say them louder, and somehow that—that would make a difference.
And it turns out that the work involved in setting up these crippling sanctions is painstaking. It’s meticulous. We started from the day we got into office. And the reason it was so important—and this is a testament to how we’ve restored American credibility and strength around the world—is we had to make sure that all the countries participated, even countries like Russia and China, because if it’s just us that are imposing sanctions—we’ve had sanctions in place for a long time. It’s because we got everybody to agree that Iran is seeing so much pressure. And we’ve got to maintain that pressure.
There is a deal to be had, and that is that they abide by the rules that have already been established. They convince the international community they are not pursuing a nuclear program. There are inspections that are very intrusive. But over time, what they can do is regain credibility. In the meantime, though, we’re not going to let up the pressure until we have clear evidence that that takes place.
And one last thing, just—just to make this point. The clock is ticking. We’re not going to allow Iran to perpetually engage in negotiations that lead nowhere. And I’ve been very clear to them. You know, because of the intelligence coordination that we do with a range of countries, including Israel, we have a sense of when they would get breakout capacity, which means that we would not be able to intervene in time to stop their nuclear program. And that clock is ticking. And we’re going to make sure that if they do not meet the demands of the international community, then we are going to take all options necessary to make sure they don’t have a nuclear weapon.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Governor?
MITT ROMNEY: I think, from the very beginning, one of the challenges we’ve had with Iran is that they have looked at this administration and felt that the administration was not as strong as it needed to be. I think they saw weakness where they had expected to find American strength.
And I say that because from the very beginning the president in his campaign some four years ago said he’d meet with all the world’s worst actors in his first year, he’d sit down with Chávez and Kim Jong-il, with Castro and with President Ahmadinejad of Iran. And I think they looked and thought, “Well, that’s an unusual honor to receive from the president of the United States.” And then the president began what I’ve called an apology tour, of going to various nations in the Middle East and criticizing America. I think they looked at that and saw weakness.
Then, when there were dissidents in the streets of Tehran, a Green Revolution, holding signs saying, “Is America with us?” the president was silent. I think they noticed that, as well. [And I think that when the president said he was going to create daylight between ourselves and Israel, that they noticed that, as well.]
All of these things suggested, I think, to the Iranian mullahs that, hey, you know, we can keep on pushing along here, we can keep talks going on, but we’re just going to keep on spinning centrifuges. Now there are some 10,000 centrifuges spinning uranium, preparing to create a nuclear threat to the United States and to the world. That’s unacceptable for us, and it’s essential for a president to show strength, from the very beginning, to make it very clear what is acceptable and not acceptable.
And an Iranian nuclear program is not acceptable to us. They must not develop nuclear capability. And the way to make sure they understand that is by having, from the very beginning, the tightest sanctions possible. They need to be tightened. Our diplomatic isolation needs to be tougher. We need to indict Ahmadinejad. We need to put the pressure on them as hard as we possibly can, because if we do that, we won’t have to take the military action.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Bob, let me just respond.
Nothing Governor Romney just said is true, starting with this notion of me apologizing. This has been probably the biggest whopper that’s been told during the course of this campaign. And every fact checker and every reporter who’s looked at it, Governor, has said this is not true.
And when it comes to tightening sanctions, look, as I said before, we’ve put in the toughest, most crippling sanctions ever. And the fact is, while we were coordinating an international coalition to make sure these sanctions were effective, you were still invested in a Chinese state oil company that was doing business with the Iranian oil sector. So I’ll let the American people decide, judge, who is going to be more effective and more credible when it comes to imposing crippling sanctions.
And with respect to our attitude about the Iranian revolution, I was very clear about the murderous activities that had taken place and that was contrary to international law and everything that civilized people stand for. And—and so, the strength that we have shown in Iran is shown by the fact that we’ve been able to mobilize the world.
When I came into office, the world was divided. Iran was resurgent. Iran is at its weakest point, economically, strategically, militarily, then since—then in many years. And we are going to continue to keep the pressure on to make sure that they do not get a nuclear weapon. That’s in America’s national interest, and that will be the case so long as I’m president.
MITT ROMNEY: We’re four years closer to a nuclear Iran. We’re four years closer to a nuclear Iran. And—and we should not have wasted these four years to the extent they—they continue to be able to spin these centrifuges and get that much closer. That’s number one.
Number two, Mr. President, the reason I call it an apology tour is because you went to the Middle East, and you flew to Egypt and to Saudi Arabia and to Turkey and Iraq. And, by the way, you skipped Israel, our closest friend in the region, but you went to the other nations. And by the way, they noticed that you skipped Israel. And then in those nations and on Arabic TV, you said that America had been dismissive and derisive. You said that on occasion America had dictated to other nations.
Mr. President, America has not dictated to other nations. We have freed other nations from dictators.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Bob, let me—let me respond.
You know, if we’re going to talk about trips that we’ve taken, when I was a candidate for office, first trip I took was to visit our troops. And when I went to Israel as a candidate, I didn’t take donors. I didn’t attend fundraisers. I went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum there, to remind myself the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be unbreakable.
And then I went down to the border towns of Sderot, which had experienced missiles raining down from Hamas. And I saw families there who showed me there where missiles had come down near their children’s bedrooms. And I was reminded of what that would mean if those were my kids, which is why, as president, we funded an Iron Dome program to stop those missiles.
So, that’s how I’ve used my travels, when I traveled to Israel and when I traveled to the region. And the—the central question at this point is going to be, who’s going to be credible to all parties involved? And they can look at my track record, whether it’s Iran sanctions, whether it’s dealing with counterterrorism, whether it’s supporting democracy, whether it’s supporting women’s rights, whether it’s supporting religious minorities, and they can say that the president of the United States and the United States of America has stood on the right side of history. And that kind of credibility is precisely why we’ve been able to show leadership on a wide range of issues facing the world right now.
BOB SCHIEFFER: What if—what if the prime minister of Israel called you on the phone and said, “Our bombers are on the way. We’re going to bomb Iran.” What do you—
MITT ROMNEY: Bob, let’s not go into hypotheticals of that nature. Our relationship with Israel, my relationship with the prime minister of Israel, is such that we would not get a call saying our bombers are on the way, or their fighters are on the way. This is the kind of thing that would have been discussed and thoroughly evaluated well before that kind of last-minute—
BOB SCHIEFFER: So, you’d say it just wouldn’t happen?
MITT ROMNEY: That’s just not—that’s just not—
BOB SCHIEFFER: OK. Well, let’s see what the president—let’s just see what the president—
MITT ROMNEY: But let me—let me—let me come back—let’s come back and go back to what the president was speaking about, which is what’s happening in the world and the president’s statement that things are going so well.
Look, I look at what’s happening around the world, and I see Iran four years closer to a bomb. I see the Middle East with a rising tide of violence, chaos, tumult. I see jihadists continuing to spread. Whether they’re rising or just about the same level, hard to—hard to precisely measure, but it’s clear they’re there. They’re very, very strong. I see Syria with 30,000 civilians dead, Assad still in power.
I see our trade deficit with China larger than it’s—growing larger every year, as a matter of fact. I look around the world, and I don’t feel that—you see North Korea continuing to export their nuclear technology. Russia said they’re not going to follow Nunn-Lugar anymore. They’re back away from a nuclear proliferation treaty that we had with them.
I look around the world, I don’t see our influence growing around the world. I see our influence receding, in part because of the failure of the president to deal with our economic challenges at home, in part because of our withdrawal from our commitment to our military in the way I think it ought to be, in part because of the—the turmoil with Israel.
I mean, the president received a letter from 38 Democrat senators saying that tensions with Israel were a real problem. They asked him, please repair the tension—Democrat senators—please repair the—
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right.
MITT ROMNEY: —damage in his—in his own party.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Governor, the problem is, is that on a whole range of issues, whether it’s the Middle East, whether it’s Afghanistan, whether it’s Iraq, whether it’s now Iran, you’ve been all over the map.
I mean, I’m—I’m pleased that you now are endorsing our policy of applying diplomatic pressure and potentially having bilateral discussions with the Iranians to end their nuclear program, but just a few years ago, you said that’s something you’d never do—in the same way that you initially opposed a timetable in Afghanistan: now you’re for it, although it depends; in the same way that you say you would have ended the war in Iraq but recently gave a speech saying that we should have 20,000 more folks in there; the same way that you said that it was mission creep to go after Gaddafi.
When it comes to going after Osama bin Laden, you said, “Well, any president would make that call.” But when you were a candidate in 2008, as I was, and I said if I got bin Laden in our sights I would take that shot, you said we shouldn’t move heaven and earth to get one man. And you said we should ask Pakistan for permission. And if we had asked Pakistan permission, we would not have gotten him. And it was worth moving heaven and earth to get him.
You know, after we killed bin Laden, I was at Ground Zero for a memorial and talked to a young woman who was four years old when 9/11 happened. And the last conversation she had with her father was him calling from the Twin Towers, saying, “Payton, I love you, and I will always watch over you.” And for the next decade, she was haunted by that conversation. And she said to me, “You know, by finally getting bin Laden, that brought some closure to me.”
And when we do things like that, when we bring those who have harmed us to justice, that sends a message to the world, and it tells Payton that we did not forget her father.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: And I make that point because that’s the kind of clarity of leadership—and those decisions are not always popular. Those decisions genuinely—generally are not poll-tested. And even some in my own party, including my current vice president, had the same critique as you did. But what the American people understand is, is that I look at what we need to get done to keep the American people safe and to move our interests forward, and I make those decisions.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right, let’s go. And that leads us—this takes us right to the next segment—
AMY GOODMAN: You—we are now going to this issue of Iran agreeing in principle to talks. What would you accept, Dr. Jill Stein?
DR. JILL STEIN: Yes, well, you know, Iran has agreed to talks. Prior to agreeing to talks, Iran actually launched a program, a proposal for regional and global nuclear disarmament, you know, so I think there’s every reason to proceed with the talks and to proceed in good faith.
The sanctions, you know, have put Iran in a very difficult position. The economy is crashing. Iran is in desperate straits. There is enormous room to move. And, you know, I think when Romney talks about the centrifuges spinning, this is actually allowed under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The signatories to that treaty actually have a right to undertake the refinement of fuel for nuclear power, and there is nothing to distinguish Iran’s current program from legitimate development of nuclear energy.
I would add, to really obtain security on nuclear weapons—and, by the way, the clock is ticking on nuclear weapons, as well, and it’s not just that Iran has the potential to get nuclear weapons, but that nuclear weapons are proliferating in many places around the world, and the more places that have them, the more difficult they are to obtain. But the clock isn’t ticking just because of nuclear weapons. It’s also ticking on account of nuclear power plants. And, in fact, to look at the crisis in Fukushima, that crisis is by no means resolved, and in fact every nuclear power plant is itself a source of enough nuclear fuel to create approximately 100 nuclear weapons from every nuclear power plant around the world. And we currently have over 100 such nuclear power plants in this country. And as long as we’re engaged in continuing to have these nuclear power plants with their very dangerous nuclear waste, which will not go away no matter where it goes—and that waste is on site because there’s no place to put it—this is an extremely dangerous situation on account of nuclear power here at home, the proliferation of nuclear power around the world, and its connection to nuclear weapons around the world.
So, in fact, where we want to go with [Iran] is not only to stop [Iran] from developing a nuclear weapon, but to have a nuclear-weapon-free Middle East, as well as a nuclear-power-free Middle East and, in fact, a nuclear-weapon- and -power-free world.
AMY GOODMAN: Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party.
ROCKY ANDERSON: The initial question was, what deal would be acceptable? And did you notice not either of these men ever said anything about it being a two-way deal? What would we offer? Would we offer to immediately normalize relations? Would we immediately offer trade? Would we help build up the relations between Iran and other nations in the Middle East? And would we demand that Israel finally sign the nuclear nonproliferation agreement?
And then, ultimately, we have got to provide leadership. If you read Jonathan Schell’s excellent, The Seventh Decade, about the history of the buildup of the nuclear arms race, it’s so clear it was the United States that started, and then we see Russia, China, Israel. We—now North Korea has nuclear weapons, and we’re not going in and threatening to bomb North Korea. Pakistan, India—Pakistan, we tried to get them not to build nuclear weapons, and they said, “But Russia and India have them, and Russia and India won’t give them up, because China and the United States won’t give them up.” So it all comes back to the United States once again failing to provide that important international leadership. That is why we’re in the fix we’re in, facing such a nuclear, explosive world. And we need the leadership to move in a very different direction. It can be done, but not the way we’re going with either the Democratic or Republican parties and their candidates.
Now, secondly, the question was asked, what if Bibi Netanyahu called and said the bombers are on their way? And then, of course, Mitt Romney wouldn’t answer, but he always refers to what great friends he and Bibi are because they did business together years ago. But don’t forget, Mitt Romney has stated on the record, he would ask Bibi Netanyahu, “What should I do?” That’s how obsequious he is. And when these Democrats wrote the letter to President Obama trying to put the heat on him to go along with this prime minister of Israel who’s making peace impossible by continuing these outrageous settlement developments in Israel, and now in Jerusalem, this president, President Obama, and Mitt Romney both would fall slavishly in line with whatever Israel says. If you noticed, not one of these candidates have mentioned Palestine tonight, the rights of the Palestinian people or what can be done to bring about real peace between Israel and the Palestinian people.
DR. JILL STEIN: And the president made the claim to being on the right side of history. But in fact, you know, while Mitt Romney makes him look good, there—there should be no mistake that it is not the right side of history to have been bombing Pakistan on day three of his administration. He chose to intensify the bombing in Pakistan as the prelude to surging the troops into Afghanistan and then expanding the drone wars into Yemen and Somalia. And it is so clear that this blowback that we are seeing across the Middle East now, you know, is not going to be solved by a greater use of force, a greater show of brute military force. In fact, that is the problem to start with, because dropping bombs on weddings and funerals out of drones is not the way to win the hearts and minds of the Middle East.
And, in fact, this policy of brute military force has been an abysmal failure, after a decade, with many thousands of lives lost from American soldiers, hundreds of thousands of civilian lives lost, trillions of American dollars spent on this ever-expanding war for oil, this ever-expanding war against the nebulous concept of terror, which is forever becoming more complicated and more vague and more broad. You know, this is not what the right side of history looks like. And we need to say no to this endless war for oil, this endless war on nebulous terror, and begin instead to bring our resources home to create true security here in America, creating jobs and putting an end to climate change by using our dollars to do so.
AMY GOODMAN: Rocky Anderson.
ROCKY ANDERSON: Well, I just want to say that people can come up with their reasons for U.S. policy, but we know, just like with our miserable healthcare system being dictated by the corrupting influence of money from the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry, and the influence of the military-industrial complex on our military spending, AIPAC, one of the strongest lobbies in this country, are dictating to our politicians. And I’ve seen it happen. I’ve seen the breakfasts and the lunches they have, and they get these people to stand up and vow their loyalty to Israel and everything that AIPAC wants them to do. And all you have to do is read President Obama’s speech the last time he appeared before AIPAC. It is embarrassing that the president of the United States kept saying over and over, essentially, “I’m doing everything you want me to do. I’m doing everything that is in Israel’s favor,” and never, once again, mentioning the Palestinian people.
So, once again, these Democrats sign off on these letters to the president, trying to put him further and further into that camp, which is contrary to our own security interests and long-term security interests of the Middle East. What’s behind that is the same thing that’s behind all of the other major failures in public policy. And that is the corrupt lobbying and the corruption of money in our political process.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s turn back to Bob Schieffer, the debate moderator.
BOB SCHIEFFER: America’s longest war, Afghanistan and Pakistan—
MITT ROMNEY: Bob—
BOB SCHIEFFER: Governor, you get to go first.
MITT ROMNEY: You can’t—you can’t—OK, but you can’t have the president just lay out a whole series of items without giving me a chance to respond.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, with respect, sir, you had laid out quite a program that—
MITT ROMNEY: Well, that’s probably true.
BOB SCHIEFFER: We’ll give you—we’ll give you—
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We’ll agree on that.
BOB SCHIEFFER: We’ll catch up.
The United States is scheduled to turn over responsibility for security in Afghanistan to the Afghan government in 2014. At that point, we will withdraw our combat troops, leave a smaller force of Americans, if I understand our policy, in Afghanistan for training purposes. It seems to me the key question here is, what do you do if the deadline arrives and it is obvious the Afghans are unable to handle their security? Do we still leave? And I believe, Governor Romney, you go first.
MITT 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—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 a hundred 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 to rebuild a relationship with us. And that means that our aid that we provide to Pakistan is going to have to be conditioned upon certain benchmarks being met.
So, for me, I look at this as both a need to help move Pakistan in the right direction and also to get Afghanistan to be ready. And they will be ready by the end of 2014.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Mr. President.
PRESIDENT BARACK 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-Qaeda’s core leadership in the border regions between] Afghanistan and Pakistan. We then [started] to build up Afghan forces. And we’re now in a position where we can transition out, because there’s no reason why Americans should die when Afghans are perfectly capable of defending their own country. 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.
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.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right.
AMY GOODMAN: The U.S. is scheduled to pull out of Afghanistan in 2014. The question put to the candidates: what happens if the Afghans are not ready to handle their own security? Let’s put that question to Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party.
DR. JILL STEIN: You know, I don’t think we should be waiting until 2014 to bring the troops home. We should bring them home now. We should have brought them home years ago, in fact. Currently, the CIA estimates there might be 50 to 100 al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan, yet we have 70,000 U.S. troops, at least as many NATO troops, there. And in addition—I’m sorry, it’s about 90,000 U.S.-paid contractors in addition to 70,000 U.S. troops, plus another 40,000 NATO troops.
The point is, there really is no exit strategy here, because this turning over of the war effort to Afghanistan is not working, in the same way that the effort to turn over the policing in Iraq is not working. And, in fact, the U.S. program to train Iraqi military and police has been cut down to 10 percent of what was intended, because it’s just not working. And in Afghanistan, we actually saw recently the U.S. passed the 2,000 level for military deaths. And that person, that soldier who was killed as number 2,000, in fact died at the hands of Afghan police forces that he was supposedly training. And we’re seeing more and more of such a problem now.
And in the same way in Pakistan that 75 percent of Pakistanis now identify the U.S. as the enemy, this policy of military intervention to try to stabilize a country, to try to create a democracy, it’s just not working. There is no democracy now in Afghanistan. It continues to teeter on the bring of civil war. Women’s rights have not been restored in Afghanistan. This—you know, the war effort has essentially been a failure. We should move out, and we should move out now. Barack Obama, in fact, negotiated an additional decade to have to keep contractors and troops and training officers on the ground, so there is no guarantee whatsoever that either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, under the current arrangements, would even come out in 2014. There is no exit strategy. It’s time to put an end to this ongoing misguided and harmful war.
AMY GOODMAN: Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party.
ROCKY ANDERSON: Let’s not forget that four years ago Barack Obama, the candidate, promised that he would get us out of Afghanistan. He supported the surge, sent 30,000 additional troops, and I have yet to hear a coherent explanation as to why we’re there. What is our mission? And tonight he said we’ve forgotten why we’re there. And I think that is true.
Now, what is magic about a 2014 withdrawal date? If it were my son or daughter, I would be outraged that they’ve set what seems to be a capricious time for withdrawal, while we’re still exposing our armed forces to what is going on in Afghanistan, exposing the Afghani people to more of this tragedy. We are hated more and more all the time because of our perceived—and it’s a real occupation in Afghanistan. How could they perceive it to be any different? And now, the troops that we’re supposed to be training are killing our troops. The defections are greater day by day in Afghanistan. It’s an utter failure, and we’re not getting anywhere. I think it’s a real betrayal by our president to simply say there’s a time in the future, after this election, where will withdraw. And now we hear Mitt Romney just basically saying the same thing.
Now, Mitt Romney noted that Pakistan is a nuclear-armed country. I’m glad he realizes that. One just wonders, though, why would you turn the population of a nation that is nuclear-armed against you by engaging in the kinds of belligerent conduct that we have, including killing innocent men, women and children with unarmed—unmanned drones in Pakistan, as well as three other sovereign nations?
So, let’s end the wasteful spending. Let’s end the waste of lives and all the other horrible injuries that have been suffered, both psychological and physically, and invest the money that we’re wasting there now in jobs, invest the money in education, and build our own nation and restore our own economy, because that can be done. And we will look back, once again, in history and say, “Why weren’t we out of there earlier and attending to what we need to do to build up our nation and give the people of this country what they deserve?”
DR. JILL STEIN: And likewise, we should recognize what is actually the greatest threat to our troops and the American military right now. It’s not only the risk of being shot and killed by Afghani forces, but it’s actually the risk of suicide both for our soldiers in the field as well as the soldiers who have come home and those who have not gone over, that this war is a tragedy, not only for the Iraqis who are caught in the crossfire, but it’s very much a tragedy for our soldiers, so many of whom have been conscripted by the economic draft and by the failure to provide education and to provide jobs for our own soldiers who are going into this thankless and disastrous war with high rates of war crimes and civilian deaths. This is an extremely tragic situation for the Afghanis who are victims of that war, but also for our own soldiers, who very much do not want to be there.
So it’s yet another reason why we need to be on the right side of history to bring our troops home now and to bring our war dollars home now, as well as bringing our troops home from over 1,000 bases around the world in over 140 countries, where we do not need to be. We need to bring those forces and resources home now to build true security here at home by creating a Green New Deal and creating those jobs that our soldiers need so that they’re not conscripted into the Army out of desperation, to start with, and a Green New Deal that creates a green economy that makes these wars for oil obsolete, to start with.
AMY GOODMAN: Very quickly, Rocky Anderson, to respond.
ROCKY ANDERSON: This is all another sign of long-term empire building by the United States. We’ve got to put this in a historical context. In 1953, the CIA overthrew the Mosaddegh government in Iran. It was a democratically elected government. And then, the next year, we went up to Guatemala and did the same thing and put in place a military government, at the behest of United Fruit Company. This has been a matter of corporate interests betraying the interests of the American people and our government falling in line with those who had the money and the influence to get our government to do their bidding. It is time that it stops once and for all, we end that empire building, and we end this hostility toward so many people that is, in the long run, undermining our nation’s security. Our children and later generations deserve far better than that.
AMY GOODMAN: You are tuned into Democracy Now! “Expanding the Debate” coverage, as we include third-party candidates in the third and final presidential debate: Jill Stein of the Green Party, Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party. We’re in San Rafael, California. We’re going back to debate moderator Bob Schieffer in Florida.
BOB SCHIEFFER: 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?
MITT ROMNEY: No, it’s not time to divorce a nation on earth that has a hundred 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’ve got 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.
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 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 there was obviously 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 large group of Pashtuns 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.
BOB SCHIEFFER: 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?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, I believe that we should use any and all means necessary to take out people who pose a threat to us and our friends around the world. And it’s widely reported that drones are being used in drone strikes, and I support that entirely, and feel the president was right to up the usage of that technology, and believe that we should continue to use it, to continue to go after the people who represent a threat to this nation and to our friends.
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. We’re also going to have to have a far more effective and comprehensive strategy to help move the world away from terror and Islamic extremism. We haven’t done that yet. We talk a lot about these things, but you look at the—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-Qaeda 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.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, keep in mind our strategy wasn’t just going after bin Laden. We’ve created partnerships throughout the region to deal with extremism—in Somalia, in Yemen, in Pakistan.
And what we’ve also done is 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 are treating women with the kind of respect and dignity that every nation that succeeds has shown, and to make sure that they’ve got a free market system that works. So, across the board, we are engaging them in building capacity in these countries. And we 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 other country. In Egypt, we stood on the side of democracy. In Libya, we stood on the side of the people. And as a consequence, there is no doubt that attitudes about Americans have changed.
But there are always going to be elements in these countries that potentially threaten the United States. And we want to shrink those groups and those networks, and we can do that. But we’re always also going to have to maintain vigilance when it comes to terrorist activities. The truth, though, is that al-Qaeda is much weaker than it was when I came into office, and they don’t have the same capacities to attack the U.S. homeland and our allies as they did four years ago.
AMY GOODMAN: We’ll put this question to Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party.
ROCKY ANDERSON: Once again, we see the Republicans and Democrats joining together, colluding and advocating for killings by unmanned drones in four sovereign nations: Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. How could that not drive up the hatred and hostility toward the United States and undermine our long-term security?
And for those Democrats who have lined up blindly behind the president simply because he’s wearing a “D” on his jersey and he’s on their team, imagine if this were President Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld sitting in the Oval Office, going through baseball-card-like biographies and deciding who is going to live and who’s going to die, knowing that in the process there are going to be hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent men, women and children killed along the way. It is absolutely immoral. It’s got to come to an end, and it’s for we, the American people, to demand it, because these two and their parties are not going to do the job.
AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party.
DR. JILL STEIN: Yes, and no matter who is in the Oval Office—if it’s not one of us—we need to be out on the street, even if there is someone with a “D” on his shirt, who is continuing these wars, who is continuing the drone wars, which we’ve just been told are about to expand into North Africa now, as well, under the auspices of the CIA, that has requested a major expansion in drone capacity. No matter who is sitting in the Oval Office, we need to be standing up and demanding the kind of foreign policy we deserve. That is a foreign policy based on international law and human rights.
The drone wars are dreadful. It’s said that they are actually hitting—about 2 percent of their victims, in fact, are thought to be actually key operatives within al-Qaeda or associated groups. So the vast majority of the people who are being killed are not significant operatives. So, when Barack Obama talks about creating coalitions with Yemen and Somalia, whatever his coalitions are doing, unfortunately, they are vastly overwhelmed by what his drones are doing, because we are seeing, in fact, people being driven into the camp of the avowed enemies of the United States because of the impact of these drone wars. So, they need to be put to an end.
And it’s important to know that in so many cases, the United States has not been on the side of democracy; they’ve been on the side of dictatorships, on the side of Saudi Arabia, which has cruelly and brutally suppressed not only women’s rights—talk about women’s rights, look at what’s going on in Saudi Arabia—but has also suppressed the democracy demonstrations. Demonstrations against the government are absolutely outlawed in Saudi Arabia.
And in Bahrain, you have an outrageous repressive government that’s actually putting medical service people into jail for having assisted with wounded demonstrators who were attacked by the Bahraini government as part of their Arab Spring. And where has Obama’s, you know, right side of history been in speaking out against Bahrain?
So, we deserve a government that will speak out and support democracy, because if we want to avert the proliferation of dictatorships and the creation of violence and warring factions within the states around the Middle East, we need to be supporting democracies and not dictatorships as this administration is doing.
AMY GOODMAN: Back to Bob Schieffer at Lynn University in Boca Raton.
BOB SCHIEFFER: …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?
PRESIDENT BARACK 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.
And I know Americans have—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.
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.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Governor?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, first of all, it’s not government that makes business successful. It’s not government investments that make businesses grow and hire people.
Let me also note that the greatest threat that the world faces, the greatest national security threat, is a nuclear Iran.
Let’s talk about China. China has an interest that’s very much like ours, in one respect, and that is they want a stable world. They don’t want war. They don’t want to see protectionism. They don’t want to see the world break out into—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 them. 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 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.
AMY GOODMAN: Rocky Anderson, the question was two parts: the rise of China, future challenges to America, and what do you believe is the greatest future threat to this country?
ROCKY ANDERSON: Well, I think what we need to talk about is what we do to turn this relationship around and cooperate with China and learn from what they are doing. I went to China and spoke to 40 mayors or vice mayors. I was mayor of Salt Lake City for eight years. We had world-renowned climate protection and energy programs in Salt Lake City during my term. We reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 31 percent in city operations in three years, showing that this can be done.
Well, I went to China, having just, you know, heard about all their coal-burning power plants and how many more cars they have on the roads. And, in fact, because their mayors were instructed—and they’re not elected, they’re appointed, and they’re not going to have a job if they don’t do what they’re instructed to do—but they were instructed to reach certain very aggressive levels in reducing the amount of energy used and transforming their economy over into a clean, renewable energy economy. And that’s exactly what they’re doing.
China now is building more than half of all of the world’s solar panels, more than half of all the world’s wind turbines. They are going so far beyond what the United States is doing, and they’re—they’re able to produce, for instance, solar panels to the extent that the United States increased tariffs dramatically, as to Chinese imports in the United States, of their solar panels. So when you go out to buy solar panels and you see how expensive they are, in large part it’s because we have targeted China with respect to the solar panels that they’re producing and sending into the United States.
We can do a lot in sharing technologies and cooperating with China. And what we need to do is join with China and lead the rest of the world in the next stage after the Kyoto Protocol with binding goals for the reduction of greenhouse gases, because everything in the future depends on it. Our children and later generations will be absolutely baffled as to why it is that we know about climate change and the catastrophe that’s being set up for them, and we sat on our hands, like President Obama has done, supporting nothing but voluntary goals instead of the kinds of compulsory, mandatory goals that are the only way we, as an international community, are going to get to where we need to be with respect to climate change, the greatest tragedy facing the earth’s inhabitants.
AMY GOODMAN: Green Party’s Jill Stein.
DR. JILL STEIN: And, in fact, the Obama administration not only failed to support the international climate accords in South Africa two years ago, they actually obstructed the accords and prevented them from going forward, saying that we could wait until 2020. But it’s abominably clear that we cannot wait until 2020. The past 12 months have been the hottest on record. We have protracted drought across 60 percent of continental U.S. We are seeing record forest fires. The Arctic, far ahead of schedule, is down to one-quarter of the size that it just was, in terms of the ice sheet expanse, from just a couple of decades ago. So, we are in a climate emergency. And this has happened with less than one degree Centigrade warming over the last several hundred years, but now we’re looking at six degrees Centigrade warming over the coming century. That is why we cannot wait. That is why we need not only a climate accord internationally, but we also need to be voting Green in this election. That means it’s not just OK to stand up and do the right thing for climate. It’s absolutely job-saving and life-saving and planet-saving.
AMY GOODMAN: Debate moderator Bob Schieffer.
BOB SCHIEFFER: If you declare them a 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?
MITT 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 friends in China, “Look, you guys are playing aggressively. We understand it. But this can’t keep on going. You can’t keep on holding down the value of your currency, stealing our intellectual property, counterfeiting our products, selling them around the world, even into the United States.”
I was with one company that makes valves in—in 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 up, 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.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, Governor Romney is 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. You know, 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, you know, that’s estimated to create 800,000 jobs. The problem is, they won’t be here; they’ll be in places like China. And if we’re not making investments in education and basic research, which is not something that the private sector is doing at a sufficient pace right now, and has never done, then we will lose the lead in things like clean energy technology.
Now, with respect to what we’ve done with China already, U.S. exports have doubled since I came into office, to China. And actually, currencies are at their most advantageous point for U.S. exporters since 1993. We absolutely have to make more progress, and that’s why we’re going to keep on pressing.
And when it comes to our military and Chinese security, part of the reason that we were able to pivot to the Asia-Pacific region, after having ended the war in Iraq and transitioning out of Afghanistan, is precisely because this is going to be a massive growth area in the future. And we believe China can be a partner, but we’re also sending a very clear signal that America is a Pacific power, that we are going to have a presence there. We are working with countries in the region to make sure, for example, that ships can pass through, that commerce continues. And we’re organizing trade relations with countries other than China so that China starts feeling more pressure about meeting basic international standards. That’s the kind of leadership we’ve shown in the region. That’s the kind of leadership that we’ll continue to show.
MITT 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.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Governor Romney, that’s not what you said.
MITT ROMNEY: —the president took—fortunately, the president—you could take—
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Governor Romney, you did not—
MITT ROMNEY: You could take a look at the op-ed. You could take a look at the op-ed.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: You did not say that you would—
MITT ROMNEY: You know, I’m still speaking.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: —provide governor help.
MITT 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.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Let’s check the record.
MITT ROMNEY: That’s the height of silliness.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Let’s check—let’s check the record.
MITT ROMNEY: I have never said I would—I would liquidate the industry.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Governor—
MITT ROMNEY: I want to keep the industry growing and thriving.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The people of Detroit don’t forget.
MITT ROMNEY: And—and that’s why I have the kind of commitment to make sure that our industries in this country can compete and be successful. We in this country can compete successfully with anyone in the world. And we’re going to. We’re going to have to have a president, however, that doesn’t think that somehow the government investing in—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, great. But investing in companies? Absolutely not.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Governor—
MITT ROMNEY: That’s the wrong way to go.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The fact of the matter is—
MITT ROMNEY: I’m still—I’m still speaking.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well—
MITT ROMNEY: So I want to make sure that we make—we make America more competitive.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Yeah.
MITT ROMNEY: And that we do those things that make America the most attractive place in the world for entrepreneurs, innovators, businesses to grow. But your investing in companies doesn’t do that. In fact, it makes it less likely for them to come here—
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Governor?
MITT ROMNEY: —because the private sector’s not going to invest in a—
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I’m happy—I’m—I’m happy to respond—
MITT ROMNEY: —in a—in a solar company. If—if you’re investing government money—
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: You’ve held the floor for a while.
MITT ROMNEY: —it’s someone else’s.
PRESIDENT BARACK 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—
MITT ROMNEY: You’re wrong.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I—
MITT ROMNEY: You’re wrong, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: No, I am not wrong.
MITT ROMNEY: You’re wrong.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I am not wrong.
MITT ROMNEY: People can look it up, you’re right.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: People will look it up.
MITT ROMNEY: Good.
PRESIDENT BARACK 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.
MITT ROMNEY: I couldn’t agree—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; 23 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 nine 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 these last four years have been so hard.
And that’s why it’s so critical that we make America once again the most attractive place in the world to start businesses, to build jobs, to grow the economy. And that’s not going to happen by—by just hiring teachers. Look, I love to hire—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. But I—I love teachers.
AMY GOODMAN: This will be the last question before the final statements here in San Rafael, California. And just for our live audience here, I guess you should know that the Giants are winning nine-to-zero in the ninth, two outs from going to the World Series. But that’s not what’s important here. I wanted to turn to Jill Stein, answering the question about—that was put to Governor Romney: if you declare China a currency manipulator on the first day, aren’t you going to start a trade war?
DR. JILL STEIN: Yeah. You know, it’s important to recognize that things are not as simple as they are trying to frame them here. In fact, the United States, by undertaking these quantitative easings, is effectively manipulating our currency, as well, and is effectively devaluing our currency. So, in fact, we’re not so different from China here after all. And I think that that’s a point that bears making here, because the presumption is that you got China over here and you got the United States over here, and that the things that we’re trading represent real ownership in the countries where the names are attached. But, in fact, U.S. companies are now so invested, have so many subsidiaries and partners in China, that in fact half of our imports coming from China are actually based out of U.S. partnerships and subsidiaries. So, it’s not quite so simple.
And in many ways, the struggles of the Chinese people aren’t so terribly different—they’re different in magnitude; they’re very similar in—in value and in quality to the struggles of the American people here. The Chinese people are likewise struggling to have real unions that are recognized. They’re struggling to raise their wages, which are now somewhere, you know, at the unthinkable level of 30 or 50 cents an hour. They are struggling to raise their wages. They are struggling to protect their environment. The same thing that our workers and Americans are struggling for here, to have decent working conditions and security and good wages for our workers and to protect our environment. So, you know, in many ways, this is a struggle against a multinational corporate elite which is as powerful in China as it is here in the United States. So, to simply frame this as U.S. versus China is—is really not—the wrong way to approach it.
And we don’t want to go at this undermining a relationship with China. We want to be able to build a relationship with China, strengthening human rights and workers’ rights and environmental protections.
What Barack Obama is doing is enabling what Mitt Romney is doing. Mitt Romney is moving jobs to China. We know that right now Sensata Corporation in Freeport, Illinois, is looking at the loss of all of their jobs. Bain Capital, started by and still invested in by Mitt Romney, is moving these jobs. Even though their profits are skyrocketing, they are moving to China. They are losing their jobs. Bain Capital and Mitt Romney’s investments are sending jobs to China right now. But, in fact, Barack Obama is negotiating a trade agreement right now that will continue to offshore our jobs and undermine our wages, and in fact undermine American security and sovereignty, as well. This is through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is being negotiated behind closed doors by 600 corporate representatives, that is effectively NAFTA on steroids.
We need a fair trade agreement, not a free trade agreement. And we need to go back and renegotiate not only NAFTA but the other free trade agreements that Barack Obama has brought us under his watch. We need to get to free trade which is fair, not just free for corporations and expensive and devastating for people and the environment and workers. We need truly fair trade agreements.
And we need a relationship with China where we can partner with them to—to basically work with the expertise that they have. They have enormous expertise right now in solar energy, in wind energy, in clean manufacturing. We need to work with them so that we are bringing a Green New Deal not just here at home to the United States, but that we’re working with China to develop a global Green New Deal, as well, and to spearhead an effort to revive the international climate accords that were basically ended until 2020 by Barack Obama.
AMY GOODMAN: Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party.
ROCKY ANDERSON: Because of our federal government’s policies for years, and it started at least—it was at its worst during the Clinton administration, and it keeps coming. Every year, more trade agreements. We started with NAFTA. We saw American workers getting shafted while multinational corporations benefited. And then, you see the kinds of conditions that foreign workers are living under. There was a CEO of a company in my hometown who told me they were buying products from China. So they went over there to see what was going on in the factory. They found that toxic fumes were being emitted during the manufacturing process, with no ventilation and Chinese workers sleeping on cots in the factory and not allowed to leave. This is the kind of inhumane treatment of foreign workers that our federal government, through these trade agreements, are helping to foster. It has got to come to an end.
Millions of jobs have been lost, not only to China, but to so many other nations. And we’ve got people—you know, Barack Obama talks about his great recovery since 2008. Sixty percent of the jobs that were lost were mid-level, mid-skill, mid-paying jobs, and only 22 percent of the new jobs during the so-called recovery are of that category. Most of the new jobs that he brags about are low-level, low-skill, low-paying jobs, as with the food sector or retail sales. And this is going to have horrendous long-term impacts.
What we need to do is put employers on the same playing field, the level playing field. Those employers who are employing those in other countries need to observe the same kinds of rights for workers and also the kinds of environmental protections that employers in the United States have to comply with. And we need to get back to the basics again. If we had a decent single-payer, Medicare-for-all system in this country, our employers seeking to hire United States workers would be far more competitive, and everyone would benefit dramatically.
Now, as to the—the path—the path toward regaining—not retaining, because we’ve lost our competitive advantage with respect to most of the rest of the developed world, and even the developing world—but the path to getting back on track to regaining our competitive edge is to put people to work, get good job training. We can put in place a WPA-like project where millions of people are employing, and we’re investing in the future by rebuilding our nation’s rapidly deteriorating infrastructure. And we need to ramp it up in terms of our education, provide a free, or at least highly affordable, higher education, where we finally meet the goal of equal educational opportunities for everyone.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go back to debate moderator Bob Schieffer.
BOB SCHIEFFER: 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.
PRESIDENT BARACK 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 sacrifice 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.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Governor?
MITT 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 that will make the 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 means 20 million people out of work struggling for a good job. I’ll get people back to work with 12 million new jobs. I’m going to make sure that we get people off of food stamps, not by cutting the program, but by getting them good jobs.
America is going to come back. And for that to happen, we’re going to have to have a president who can work across the aisle. I was in a state where my legislature was 87 percent Democrat. I learned how to get along on the other side of the aisle. We’ve got to do that in Washington. Washington is broken. I know what it takes to get this country back and 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, a torch of freedom and hope and opportunity. Now it’s our turn to take that torch. I’m convinced we’ll do it.
We need strong leadership. I’d like to be that leader, with your support. I’ll work with you. I’ll lead you in an open and honest way. And I ask for your vote. I’d like to be the next president of the United States to support and help this great nation and to make sure that we all together maintain America as the hope of the earth.
Thank you so much.
AMY GOODMAN: Justice Party presidential candidate, Rocky Anderson.
ROCKY ANDERSON: No candidate was included in the Obama-Romney debates to challenge our plutocracy, our government that is run by and for the benefit of monstrous corporations, not a government of, by and for the people. The Republican and Democratic parties may have some differences, but they have both morphed into a militarist, corporatist, anti-democratic force that betrays the most basic human and civil rights.
Everybody knows that these two candidates are bought and paid for. Otherwise, one of them at least would be advocating for a healthcare system where everybody is covered, like in the rest of the industrialized world. And because they’re bought and paid for, they’re not advocating the end of the stranglehold of the military-industrial complex over our nation or the essential leadership on climate change, the greatest tragedy facing earth’s inhabitants.
Neither Romney nor Obama ever talk about the corrupting influence of money flowing from Wall Street, banks, insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry, the fossil fuel industry or military contractors, because they are the recipients of that corrupting money. And neither of these dominant-party candidates will stand for federal protection, for marriage equality, for an end to poverty—they don’t even mention poverty—to an end to this insane war on drugs or for the implementation of a WPA-like project that will hire millions of American workers.
So, thank you, Amy and Democracy Now!, for this opportunity to present democratic solutions in the public interest that we can all pursue together, far beyond this election.
AMY GOODMAN: And Green Party—Green Party presidential candidate, Jill Stein, your final comments.
DR. JILL STEIN: Yes. So, it’s time for a reality check. Now that it is election time again, we’re hearing warm and friendly and fuzzy talk from the president, and we’re seeing Mitt Romney move all over the map to offer very similar warm and fuzzy talk now that he’s in the general election. But, you know, it’s very important to realize that we don’t want to just look at the talk; we want to look at the walk, because there’s a saying that goes, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” And in this case, it’s fool me for four years.
It’s very clear. There is a track record for Barack Obama. There is a track record for Mitt Romney, as well, with Bain Capital and with his “buy it, strip it, flip it” approach to the economy and his investments. So it’s really important to look at where this has taken us, these policies that have come from both Democrats and Republicans.
Basically, you know, we are in crisis. The American people are losing jobs, decent wages, our homes by the millions, affordable healthcare and higher education. Our civil liberties are under attack, and the climate is in crisis, while the wealthy few are rolling in more dough than ever. And the political establishment, Democratic and Republican, continues to inflict austerity on the American people, while they continue squandering trillions of dollars on wars for oil, Wall Street bailouts, tax breaks for the wealthy, and enormous private health insurance waste.
We can actually put an end to this waste. We can redirect those resources and put them into the things that we need. And we can stand up for those things right now in this election. And doing so, whether we win the White House and turn the White House into a greenhouse, which would be a great day for America and the world, but we can also win this election by standing up and driving these solutions forward, by standing up and being counted.
Right now, we move forward a Green New Deal that can create 25 million jobs right now, put an end to unemployment, and jump-start the green economy that makes wars for oils obsolete. We can have healthcare as a human right, right now, and save trillions of dollars over the coming decade. At the same time we provide healthcare to everyone as a human right, we can provide public higher education which is free. It pays for itself—seven dollars returned for every dollar we, the taxpayers, invested during the GI Bill. It made sense then; it makes sense now. We need free public higher education, and we need to downsize the military and bring home hundreds of billions of dollars, as well as our troops, to build true security here at home.
These are the solutions that the American people support by substantial majorities on poll after poll. So it’s time for us to recognize what Alice Walker says: the biggest way we give up power is by not recognizing we have it to start with. We have it, like the people in Tahrir Square, like the students in Tunisia who decided they were going to stand up. If the students alone, who are 35 million voters, if they alone decided to come out to the polls and vote for forgiving student debt, and the free public higher education they deserve, we could turn the outcome of this election on its head.
And whether we win the office or we win the day, by building this movement for peace, justice and democracy, and the political framework, the political party, in the Green Party, to keep driving that forward, this is what we can do on Election Day, and we should not shrink with that. Replace the politics of fear with the politics of courage. Our time has come. Thank you for making it so.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you all for joining us, Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate; Rocky Anderson, Justice Party presidential candidate. And that concludes our coverage of “Expanding the Debate” series.
We’ve been broadcasting from San Rafael, California. The presidential major-party candidates were broadcasting from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. You can go to highlights of the coverage of our “Expanding the Debate” debate tonight, tomorrow on democracynow.org.
Many thanks for tonight’s “Expand the Debate” coverage are due to the Kanbar Center for the Performing Arts here at the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center, including Linda Bolt and Kiara Canales and Josh Korbel, Tina Johnson, Shawn Porter [phon.], and to the OMJCC’s oldest member here in the front row, 104-year-old Hank Holter. We also owe great thanks to the staff and volunteers of the Community Media Center of Marin, home of Marin TV, including Michael Eisenmenger and Brad Flaherty, Tom McAfee and Damian Brown, Peggy Day, Ginger Souders-Mason, Megan Loretz and Sam Long, Jake Nicol. Special thanks to John Hamilton, Rob Murphy, Denis Moynihan, Robby Karran, Amy Littlefield. Democracy Now! produced by Mike Burke, Renée Feltz, Aaron Maté, Nermeen Shaikh, Steve Martinez, Sam Alcoff, Hany Massoud, Deena Guzder, Martyna Starosta, Nemo Allen. Mike DiFilippo, Miguel Nogueira, our engineers. Special thanks to Becca Staley, Julie Crosby, Hugh Gran, Jessica Lee and John Wallach.
Our 100-city Silenced Majority Election 2012 tour continues Tuesday in Palo Alto, California, the First Presbyterian Church at 7:00 p.m.; on Wednesday, the Marines Memorial Club and Hotel in San Francisco at 7:00 p.m., the World Affairs Council. On Thursday, we’ll be in Portland at 7:00 p.m. at the historic Bob White Theatre; then on Friday, noon, in Olympia, Washington; 7:30 in Seattle at Town Hall; then on to Everett and Spokane on Saturday. On Sunday, we’ll travel to Bend, Oregon, at noon; Ashland at 7:00 p.m.—Salt Lake City; Peoria, Illinois; Freeport, Illinois; St. Louis; Kansas City; Houston; and finally, New York City the night before the election. Thanks to everyone here. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks so much for joining us.