Transcript: Robin Roberts ABC News Interview With President Obama

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So had we followed his advice, at that time, GM and Chrysler would have gone under. And we would have lost probably a million jobs throughout the Midwest. So the people who are in the Midwest-- you know, you go take a poll of folks in Detroit who buy that argument-- I don't think-- they're gonna be persuaded. But this goes to-- a larger issue. Which is that-- there are gonna be two very different visions about how we move this country forward, how we move this economy forward, how we provide middleclass security that's been slipping away for more than a decade now.

And-- Mr. Romney is basically resuscitating-- all the-- old dogmas of-- you know, the Bush years and the Republican Party that say if we cut taxes for high-- high end-- individuals, that folks like him-- are unconstrained by things like regulations or unions, that somehow the economy's gonna go gangbusters.

And what I believe is the free market is-- the greatest force-- for economic prosperity on earth. But that it only works well when we're making investments in great education for our kids, when we're rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our broadband lines, when we-- are absolutely committed to-- making sure that-- we have a tax code that's fair and that-- we're balancing our-- our budgets and-- and-- and bringing down our deficit in a way that-- that is balanced.

And we're not just cuttin' our way-- particularly on those things that are gonna-- like science and technology that are gonna help us grow in the future. So the-- there is gonna be a fundamental difference. I think the auto example is just one of many differences that we're gonna have on the economy. And I think ultimately this is gonna be-- the decisive debate that we have during the course of this election.

ROBIN ROBERTS: Terrorism also-- an issue, especially on the heels of the one-year anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden. And our top story was like-- a spy novel, the double agent and-- Al Qaeda is able to-- fool them and come away with the so-called underwear bomb. What have you learned-- the government learned about that operation and also about this type of-- of-- explosive that's very concerning to people?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, keep in mind, I-- I was briefed on this-- in April. We were on top of this the entire time. At no point w-- were American lives in danger or American aircraft in danger. I'm not gonna comment on the specifics of the operation. But-- I can tell you that we do have now the device in our custody. And we're evaluating it and learning lessons from it.

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