President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney squared off in Denver Wednesday night in the first of three presidential debates. Trailing Obama in the polls of several battleground states, Romney sought to rejuvenate his campaign with a spirited attack on what he called President Obama’s policies of “trickle-down government.”
Mitt Romney: “I’m concerned that the path that we’re on has just been unsuccessful. The president has a view very similar to the view he had when he ran four years ago, that a bigger government, spending more, taxing more, regulating more — if you will, trickle-down government — would work. That’s not the right answer for America. I will restore the vitality that gets America working again.”
President Obama was more subdued in his comments, failing to make one mention of Romney’s infamous “47 percent” comments and his background at Bain Capital. Addressing Romney’s tax plan, Obama said Romney’s effort to cut taxes for the wealthy would lead to the gutting of essential government programs.
President Obama: “Well, for 18 months, he’s been running on this tax plan. And now, five weeks before the election, he’s saying that his big, bold idea is 'never mind.' And the fact is that if you are lowering the rates the way you describe, Governor, then it is not possible to come up with enough deductions and loopholes that only affect high-income individuals to avoid either raising the deficit or burdening the middle class. It’s math. It’s arithmetic.”
In last night’s presidential debate, Mitt Romney challenged President Obama’s assertion that his tax plan would cost the country $5 trillion in revenue but did acknowledge he would cut spending on government programs while drastically increasing funding for the military. In a jab that quickly exploded on Twitter, Romney told moderator Jim Lehrer he would cut funds to his employer, PBS, despite his love for a certain Sesame Street character.
Mitt Romney: “I’m sorry, Jim. I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too. But I’m not going to — I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for.”
Turkey has launched strikes inside Syria after a bomb fired from Syrian territory killed five Turkish civilians. The victims were a family of five in a village near the Syrian border. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said his government had every right to respond with force.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc: “There has been an attack on Turkey’s mainland, and its citizens lost their lives. There is definitely a response to it in international law. Turkey is a NATO member. Certain NATO treaty articles bring about certain responsibilities when one of its members is attacked. We are not blinded by rage, but we will protect our rights to the end in the face of such an attack on our soil that killed our people.”
Wednesday’s violence marked the deadliest cross-border flare-up between the two countries since the uprising in Syria began nearly two years ago. There have been unconfirmed reports that Syrian troops were killed overnight. Syrian Information Minister Omran Zoabi said his government is investigating the attack inside Turkey and offered condolences to the Turkish victims.
Syrian Information Minister Omran Zoabi: “The authorities are investigating the fire source that led to the death of the mother and her children near the Syrian-Turkish borders. We console the family of the martyr and Turkish people who will remain brothers and friends.”
The border violence between Turkey and Syria came hours after dozens of people were killed in a series of bombings in the restive Syrian city of Aleppo. Activists say the death toll stands at over 40 people, with another 90 wounded, most of them Syrian government forces.
Scores of Iranians rallied in Tehran on Wednesday to protest the collapse of the country’s currency. The rial has hit an all-time low amidst a worsening financial crisis brought upon by Western sanctions, falling 40 percent against the dollar in just one week. Iranian forces reportedly clashed with the demonstrators and fired gas to disperse them. In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Iranian government has only itself to blame for its economic problems.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “I think the Iranian government deserves responsibility for what is going on inside Iran, and that is who should be held accountable. And I think they have made their own government decisions having nothing to do with the sanctions that have had an impact on the economic conditions inside the country. And, of course, the sanctions have had an impact, as well, but those could be remedied in short order if the Iranian government were willing to work with the P5+1 and the rest of the international community in a sincere manner.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is vowing a full investigation of the alleged security lapses that led to the killing of four Americans at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last month. House Republicans have set a hearing for next week following claims the State Department rebuffed pleas from U.S. officials in Libya for more security before the attack. On Wednesday, Clinton vowed a thorough probe.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “The men and women who serve this country as diplomats deserve no less than a full and accurate accounting, wherever that leads. And I am committed to seeking that for them and for those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation. No one wants to determine what happened that night in Benghazi more than the president and I do. No one is more committed to ensuring it doesn’t happen again. And nobody will hold this department more accountable than we hold ourselves.”
Public school teachers in Chicago have voted to ratify the agreement that ended their historic strike last month. The deal calls for a double-digit salary increase over the next three years, as well as compromises over the contentious issues of teacher evaluations and job security. The ratification vote officially ends the strike, the first by Chicago teachers in 25 years.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has upheld the stay of execution granted to a death row prisoner convicted of murdering his sexual abuser. Terrance “Terry” Williams was scheduled to be executed this week for the 1984 murder of Amos Norwood. Norwood had sexually abused Williams over a number of years up until the night before Williams took revenge by ending Norwood’s life. But last week, a state court halted the execution and ordered a new sentencing hearing over evidence prosecutors had withheld evidence of Norwood’s molestation of Williams and other minors. Williams was convicted based on the prosecution’s contention that he had been trying to rob Norwood before the murder, not seeking revenge for sexual abuse. Prosecutors had challenged that ruling, but on Wednesday Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court affirmed the stay. In a statement, Williams’ attorney Shawn Nolan said: “The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office should stop its pursuit to execute Terry Williams. The time has now come for them to heed the call from the victim’s widow, jurors, child advocates, victim’s rights advocates, and over 380,000 [petitioners] who do not want Terry executed.”
Workers at a Freeport, Illinois, factory set for closure by Bain Capital have begun blockades to stop the removal of equipment from their workplace. Workers at Sensata Technologies have set up a three-week encampment called “Bainport” across the street from the facility to protest plans to close the plant and move it to China, taking 170 jobs with it. Sensata is owned by Bain Capital, the private equity firm co-founded by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. The workers say they plan to continue the blockades of trucks removing their equipment.
A Muslim-American man who was wrongfully detained after the 9/11 attacks has won the right to be tried. Abdullah al-Kidd was jailed for 15 nights under the federal material witness statute before being released. During his ordeal, he was repeatedly strip-searched and left naked in his cell. A federal appeals court later ruled then-Attorney General John Ashcroft circumvented the Constitution after the 9/11 attacks to hold al-Kidd and other innocent men without charge. On Friday, a federal judge ruled al-Kidd was wrongly imprisoned and is entitled to challenge the government’s misuse of the law in court.