Third Presidential Debate: Full Transcript

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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.

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's 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.

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.

OBAMA: Bob, let me -- let me respond.

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 Beshef (ph), 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 Storok (ph), which had experienced missiles raining dowm 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.

OBAMA: So that's how I've used my travels, when I travel to Israel and when I travel to the region. And the -- the central question at this point is going to be: Who is 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.

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 --

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 --

(CROSSTALK)

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