Third presidential debate transcript: Obama & Romney’s exchange on China & American jobs

Edited by Jenny Jiang

Excerpts from the third and final presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida on Oct. 22, 2012

Transcript of President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney’s exchange on China and American jobs: 

President Barack:  Well, Governor Romney’s right, you are familiar with jobs being shipped overseas because you invested in companies that were shipping jobs overseas.

And, you know, that’s — you’re right. I mean that’s how our free market works. But I’ve made a different bet on American workers.

If we had taken your advice Governor Romney about our auto industry, we’d be buying cars from China instead of selling cars to China.

If we take your advice with respect to how we change our tax codes so that companies that earn profits overseas don’t pay U.S. taxes compared to companies here that are paying taxes. Now that’s estimated to create 800,000 jobs, the problem is they won’t be here, they’ll be in places like China.

And if we’re not making investments in education and basic research, which is not something that the private sector is doing at a sufficient pace right now and has never done, then we will lose the (inaudible) in things like clean energy technology.

Now with respect to what we’ve done with China already, U.S. exports have doubled since I came into office, to China and actually currencies are at their most advantageous point for U.S. exporters since 1993.

We absolutely have to make more progress and that’s why we’re going to keep on pressing.

And when it comes to our military and Chinese security, part of the reason that we were able to pivot to the Asia-Pacific region after having ended the war in Iraq and transitioning out of Afghanistan, is precisely because this is going to be a massive growth area in the future.

And we believe China can be a partner, but we’re also sending a very clear signal that America is a Pacific power; that we are going to have a presence there. We are working with countries in the region to make sure, for example, that ships can pass through; that commerce continues. And we’re organizing trade relations with countries other than China so that China starts feeling more pressure about meeting basic international standards.

That’s the kind of leadership we’ve shown in the region. That’s the kind of leadership that we’ll continue to show.

Gov. Mitt Romney: I just want to take one of those points, again, attacking me as not talking about an agenda for — for getting more trade and opening up more jobs in this country. But the president mentioned the auto industry and that somehow I would be in favor of jobs being elsewhere. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I’m a son of Detroit. I was born in Detroit. My dad was head of a car company. I like American cars. And I would do nothing to hurt the U.S. auto industry. My plan to get the industry on its feet when it was in real trouble was not to start writing checks. It was President Bush that wrote the first checks. I disagree with that. I said they need — these companies need to go through a managed bankruptcy. And in that process, they can get government help and government guarantees, but they need to go through bankruptcy to get rid of excess cost and the debt burden that they’d — they’d built up.

And fortunately…


President Barack:   Governor Romney, that’s not what you said…


President Barack:   Governor Romney, you did not…

Gov. Mitt Romney: You can take a look at the op-ed…


President Barack:  You did not say that you would provide government help.

Gov. Mitt Romney: I said that we would provide guarantees, and — and that was what was able to allow these companies to go through bankruptcy, to come out of bankruptcy. Under no circumstances would I do anything other than to help this industry get on its feet. And the idea that has been suggested that I would liquidate the industry, of course not. Of course not.


President Barack:   Let’s check the record.


Gov. Mitt Romney: That’s the height of silliness…


President Barack: Let — let — let’s…


Gov. Mitt Romney: I have never said I would liquidate…


President Barack:   …at the record.


Gov. Mitt Romney: …I would liquidate the industry.


President Barack:  Governor, the people in Detroit don’t forget.


Gov. Mitt Romney: …and — and that’s why I have the kind of commitment to ensure that our industries in this country can compete and be successful. We in this country can — can compete successfully with anyone in the world, and we’re going to. We’re going to have to have a president, however, that doesn’t think that somehow the government investing in — in car companies like Tesla and — and Fisker, making electric battery cars. This is not research, Mr President, these are the government investing in companies. Investing in Solyndra. This is a company, this isn’t basic research. I — I want to invest in research. Research is great. Providing funding to universities and think tanks is great. But investing in companies? Absolutely not.


President Barack:  Governor?

Gov. Mitt Romney: That’s the wrong way to go.


President Barack Obama:  The fact of the matter is…


Gov. Mitt Romney: I’m still speaking. So I want to make sure that we make — we make America more competitive.

President Barack Obama: Yeah.

Gov. Mitt Romney: And that we do those things that make America the most attractive place in the world for entrepreneurs, innovators, businesses to grow. But you’re investing in companies doesn’t do that. In fact it makes it less likely for them to come here…

President Barack Obama: Governor?

Gov. Mitt Romney: …because the private sector’s not going to invest in a…


President Barack Obama:  I’m — I’m — I’m happy.


Gov. Mitt Romney: …company…


President Barack Obama:  …to respond to you…


Gov. Mitt Romney: …if — if you’re…


President Barack Obama:  …you’ve had the floor for a while.


Gov. Mitt Romney: …get someone else’s.

President Barack Obama: The — look, I think anybody out there can check the record. Governor Romney, you keep on trying to, you know airbrush history here. You were very clear that you would not provide, government assistance to the U.S. auto companies, even if they went through bankruptcy. You said that they could get it in the private marketplace. That wasn’t true. They would have gone through a…


Gov. Mitt Romney: You’re wrong…


President Barack Obama:  …they would have gone through a…


Gov. Mitt Romney: …you’re wrong.


President Barack Obama:  No, I am not wrong. I am not wrong.


Gov. Mitt Romney: People can look it up, you’re right.

President Barack Obama:  People will look it up.

Gov. Mitt Romney: Good.

President Barack Obama:  But more importantly it is true that in order for us to be competitive, we’re going to have to make some smart choices right now.

Cutting our education budget, that’s not a smart choice. That will not help us compete with China.

Cutting our investments in research and technology, that’s not a smart choice. That will not help us compete with China.

Bringing down our deficit by adding $7 trillion of tax cuts and military spending that our military is not asking for, before we even get to the debt that we currently have, that is not going to make us more competitive.

Those are the kinds of choices that the American people face right now. Having a tax code that rewards companies that are shipping jobs overseas instead of companies that are investing here in the United States, that will not make us more competitive.

And the one thing that I’m absolutely clear about is that after a decade in which we saw drift, jobs being shipped overseas, nobody championing American workers and American businesses, we’ve now begun to make some real progress. What we can’t do is go back to the same policies that got us into such difficulty in the first place. That’s why we have to move forward and not go back.


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One Comment on “Third presidential debate transcript: Obama & Romney’s exchange on China & American jobs

  1. Pingback: Third presidential debate: Mitt Romney on Israel & Iran | What The Folly?!

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