Third Presidential Debate: Full Transcript

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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 are promoting actually don't help small businesses.

And the way you define small businesses includes 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.

OBAMA: 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.

SCHIEFFER: Let me get back to foreign policy.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHIEFFER: Can I just get back...

ROMNEY: Well -- well, I need to speak a moment...

SCHIEFFER: OK.

ROMNEY: ... if you'll let me, Bob, just about education...

SCHIEFFER: OK.

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.

OBAMA: Ten years earlier...

ROMNEY: And that was -- that was -- that was what allowed us to become the number one state in the nation.

OBAMA: But that was 10 years before you took office.

(CROSSTALK)

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