Romney: 'Middle East in Chaos' as Al Qaeda Remains a Threat

GOP presidential candidate cites Libya, Egypt as he attacks president's policies.
3:00 | 10/23/12

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Transcript for Romney: 'Middle East in Chaos' as Al Qaeda Remains a Threat
America's longest war Afghanistan and Pakistan. Bob and governor are you skeptical security can't rocket but you can't have that the president just lay out a whole series what add items -- -- give me a chance that went -- respect -- you had laid out quite. A program that's probably true will I don't act -- -- We'll give you will agree we'll catch up. United States is scheduled to turn over responsibility for security in Afghanistan to the Afghan government and twentieth fourteen at that point we will withdraw our combat troops. Leave a smaller force Americans -- I understand our policy in Afghanistan for training purposes. It seems to me the key question here years. What do you do if the deadline arrives and it is obvious the Afghans or on able to him home -- security. Do we still leave I believe governor Romney -- Well we're gonna be finished by 2014. And when I'm president will make sure we bring our troops out by the end of 2014. The commanders in 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 -- -- 2000. That are are are ready to step in to provide security and and we're going to be able to make that transition by the end of a 2014. So our troops come home at that point. I can't tell you at the same time. That that we will make sure that what we we look at what's happening in Pakistan. And recognize that what's happening in Pakistan is can have a major impact on the success. It in Afghanistan. And I say that because I know a lot of people this feel like -- -- this brush her hands and walk away and I don't mean you Mr. President but some people in the in and our nation. Feel that Pakistan is being nice to us and that we should just walk away from -- but Pakistan is important to the region of the world and us. Because Pakistan has a hundred nuclear warheads. And the Russian and build a lot more they'll have more the Great Britain sometime and -- in the relatively near future. They also have the Haqqani Network and and the Taliban. It existent within their country and so 88 Pakistan the falls apart becomes a failed state would be of extraordinary danger. To Afghanistan and us and so we're gonna have to remain. Helpful in encouraging Pakistan to move -- say a a more stable government and and rebuild a relationship of us and that means that. That that our aid that we provide to Pakistan is gonna have to be conditioned upon certain. And benchmarks being met. So for me I look at this as both 88 need to help. Move Pakistan in the right direction and also to get Afghanistan. To have to be ready and they will be ready by the end of 2004 mr. press. When I came and office we were still bogged down in Iraq. And Afghanistan had been drifting for decades. We end of the war in Iraq refocused our attention. On Afghanistan and we did deliver a surge of troops that was facilitated in part because we had ended. The war in Iraq. And we are now in a position where we have met many in the objectives that got us there in the first place. Part of what would happen as we've forgotten why we've gone. We -- because. There were people who are responsible for 3000 American deaths. So we decimated. Al qaeda's core leadership in the border regions between now Afghanistan pockets. We then started to build up Afghan forces. And we're now on a position where we can transition out. Because there's no reason why Americans. Should die when Afghans are perfectly capable of defending their own country. Transitions has to take place in a responsible fashion. We've been there a long time. We've got to make sure that we -- our coalition partners. Are pulling -- responsibly and giving Afghans have capabilities that they -- But what I think the American people recognize this after a decade of war it's time to do some nation building here -- -- And what we can -- do is free up some resources. To for example put Americans back to work especially our veterans. Rebuilding our roads our bridges. -- schools. Making sure that you know our veterans are getting the care that they need when it comes to post traumatic stress disorder. And traumatic brain injury making sure that the certifications. That they. Need for good jobs of the future are in place I I was having lunch with some a veteran Minnesota who had been a medic. Now dealing with the most extreme circumstances. When he came home anyone to become a nurse get the start from scratch. And what we've said is let's change those certifications. The first -- done great work with the organization called joining forces putting our veterans back to work. And and as a consequence veterans and unemployment has actually now lower than the general population it was higher when I came in office so those are the kinds of things that. We can now do because we're making that transition in Afghanistan. All right let me go to governor Romney. Because you talked about Pakistan and what needs to be done there general -- Our commander in Afghanistan says that Americans continue to dock at the hands of groups who are supported by Pakistan. We know that Pakistan has arrested the Doctor Who helped us petrol -- -- bin Laden. It still provide safe haven for terrorists. And yet we continue to give Pakistan billions of dollars. Is it time for us to divorce Pakistan. Now it's not time to divorce. A nation on -- that has -- hundred. Nuclear weapons and is on the way to the double that at some point a nation that has as serious threats from. Terror -- terrorist groups within -- nation. As I indicated before the Taliban Haqqani Network. It's a nation that's not like it like others that does not have a civilian leadership that is calling the shots there you've got the ISI either intelligence organization is probably the most powerful of the of three branches there the -- the military and then you have the the civilian government. This is a a nation which if it falls apart. If it if it becomes a failed state. There -- nuclear weapons there. And you've got you've got terrorists there who could grabbed their their hands -- of those nuclear weapons that this is that this is an important. -- part of the world force a Pakistan is is that technically an ally. And and they're not acting very much like an ally right now but we have some work to do and I I don't blame the administration for. The fact that that her relationship with Pakistan -- strained. We we had -- going to Pakistan we had to go in there to get a -- -- that was the right thing to do. And and that upset them but that was obviously a great deal of anger even before that. But we're gonna have to work with that with -- the people in Pakistan to try and help them move to a more responsible. A course than the one that -- on and it's important for them it's important for the nuclear weapons it's important for the success of Afghanistan. Because inside Pakistan. You have. An at large with pashtuns that are that are Taliban that they're gonna come rushing back again. To Afghanistan when we go. That's one of the reasons the Afghan security forces have so much work to do. To be able to fight against that but but it's important for us to recognize that we can't just walk away from Pakistan. But we do need to make sure that as weak as we send support for them. That that this is tied to them making progress on on matters that would lead them to becoming a civil society. Let me ask you -- governor because we know president Obama's position on this what is it what is sure position on the news homes. Well I believe that we should use any and all means necessary to take out people who put a pose a threat to us and our friends around the world. And it's widely reported the drones are being used in drone strikes and I support that entirely. And feel the president was right to up the usage of that technology and believe that we should continue to use it to continue to go after the people who represent a threat to this nation. And to our friends let me also note that. As I said earlier we're gonna have to do more than just going after leaders -- and killing bad guys. Important -- that is. We're also gonna have to have a far more effective and comprehensive strategy to help move the world away from terror and Islamic extremists. We haven't done that yet. We talk a lot about these things but you look at that the record you look at the record of the last four years and say. Is Iran closer to a bomb yes. Is a Middle East and -- yes he is it is al-Qaeda on the run. On its heels now. It is are our Israel and the Palestinians closer to reaching a peace agreement no they haven't had talks in two years. We have not seen the progress we need to have -- I'm convinced that -- strong leadership. And an effort to build a strategy. Based upon helping these nations reject extremism we can see the kind of peace and prosperity the world demands. What can remind. Our strategy wasn't just going after -- -- We've created partnerships. Throughout the region to deal with extremists in Somalia and Yemen. In -- -- And what we've also done is engage these governments in the kind of reforms that are actually gonna make a difference in people's lives day -- day. To make sure that their governments are corrupt. To make sure that they are treating women with the kind of respect and dignity that every nation that succeeds has -- And to make sure that they've got a free market system. That works so across the board we are engaging them in building capacity in these countries and we've stored on the side of democracy. -- one thing I think Americans should be proud up. When two lesions began to protest. This nation. Me. My administration stood win them earlier than just about any other country. In Egypt we stood on the side of democracy in Libya we stood on the side of the people and as a consequence. There is no doubt that attitudes about Americans. Have changed. But there always going to be elements in these. Countries that potentially threaten the United States and we want to shrink. Those groups and those networks and we can do that. But were always also gonna have to maintain vigilance when it comes to terrorist activities the truth though is that al-Qaeda. Is much weaker than it was when -- -- in office and they don't have the same capacities to attack the US homeland and our allies as they did four years ago.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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