Presidential town hall debate excerpts – Obama & Romney’s exchange on Libya

Edited by Jenny Jiang

Excerpts from the presidential town hall debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on Oct. 16, 2012

Transcript of President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney’s exchange on Libya

Moderator Candy Crowley: Your secretary of state, as I’m sure you know, has said that she takes full responsibility for the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi. Does the buck stop with your secretary of state as far as what went on here?

President Barack Obama: Secretary Clinton has done an extraordinary job. But she works for me. I’m the president and I’m always responsible, and that’s why nobody’s more interested in finding out exactly what happened than I do.

The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people in the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror and I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime.

And then a few days later, I was there greeting the caskets coming into Andrews Air Force Base and grieving with the families.

And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the Secretary of State, our U.N. Ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, governor, is offensive. That’s not what we do. That’s not what I do as president, that’s not what I do as Commander in Chief.

Moderator Candy CrowleyGovernor, if you want to…

Gov. Mitt Romney: Yes, I — I…

Moderator Candy Crowley: … quickly to this please.

Gov. Mitt Romney: I — I think interesting the president just said something which — which is that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.

President Barack Obama: That’s what I said.

Gov. Mitt Romney: You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you’re saying?

President Barack Obama: Please proceed governor.

Gov. Mitt Romney: I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.

President Barack Obama: Get the transcript.

Moderator Candy Crowley: It — it — it — he did in fact, sir. So let me — let me call it an act of terror…

President Barack Obama: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?

Moderator Candy Crowley: He — he did call it an act of terror. It did as well take — it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that.


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