Third Presidential Debate: Full Transcript

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ROMNEY: ... the damage in his -- in his own party.

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 Gadhafi.

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.

OBAMA: 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 women 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 "Peyton (ph), 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 Peyton (ph) that we did not forget her father. And I make that point because that's the kind of clarity of leadership, and those decisions are not always popular. Those decisions generally -- 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 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.

SCHIEFFER: All right, let's go. And that leads us -- this takes us right to the next segment, Governor, America's longest war, Afghanistan and Pakistan...

ROMNEY: Bob...

SCHIEFFER: Governor, you get to go first.

ROMNEY: You can't -- but you can't have the president just lay out a whole series of items without giving me a chance to respond.

SCHIEFFER: With respect, sir, you had laid out quite a program...

ROMNEY: Well, that's probably true.

SCHIEFFER: We'll give you -- we'll catch up.

The United States is scheduled to turn over responsibility for security in Afghanistan to the Afghan government in 2014. At that point, we will withdraw our combat troops, leave a smaller force of Americans, if I understand our policy, in Afghanistan for training purposes. It seems to me the key question here is: What do you do if the deadline arrives and it is obvious the Afghans are unable to handle their security? Do we still leave?

And I believe, Governor Romney, you go first?

ROMNEY: Well, we're going to be finished by 2014, and when I'm president, we'll make sure we bring our troops out by the end of 2014. The commanders and the generals there are on track to do so.

We've seen progress over the past several years. The surge has been successful and the training program is proceeding apace. There are now a large number of Afghan Security Forces, 350,000 that are ready to step in to provide security and we're going to be able to make that transition by the end of 2014.

So our troops will come home at that point.

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