What did the candidates promise? Where do they stand?
Some actual campaign pledges were tucked in the rhetoric and spin of the three presidential debates between Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
However, the candidates did not always answer the questions, and sometimes just went completely off topic.
Human Events has summarized the candidates’ stances and their pledges as well as the specific questions from which they sprang.
The final debate Monday night specifically focused on foreign affairs and was moderated by Bob Schieffer who questioned the candidates about America’s role in the world, the war in Afghanistan and the situation in Pakistan, Israel and Iran, Terrorism and the Middle East, and “the rise of China and tomorrow’s world.”
Question: Libya, questions remain, what caused it, was it spontaneous, was there a policy or intelligence failure, and was there attempt to mislead people about what happened?
Obama: After he received the phone call reporting the incident, said he did all he could, without specifying, to secure those still in harms way. Pledged to go after those who killed Americans. Did not answer the other questions.
Question: Syria, should we reassess our policy and see if we can find a better way to influence events there and is that even possible?
Obama: Assad has to go. Syrians have to determine their own future. “For us to get more entangled in Syria is a serous step.” Does not support arming insurgents.
Romney: High priority to remove Assad but we don’t want to have our military involved there. Would make sure insurgents are armed.
Question: would you put in military to enforce no-fly zones?
Romney: Does not want military involvement in Syria.
Obama: Did not answer.
Question: Egypt, do you have any regrets about Mubarak?
Question: Would you have stuck with Mubarak?
Question: What do each of you see as our role in the world?
Romney: Defend freedom and promote the principles that make the world more peaceful, including human rights, human dignity, free enterprise, freedom of expression, and elections.
Obama: Rebuild America with manufacturing jobs, stronger education and alternative energy, and hire more math and science teachers.
Question: Where will you get the money to build a bigger military?
Romney: Cut five percent of discretionary spending. Get rid of ObamaCare. Give Medicaid to states to operate.
Obama: Romney’s math doesn’t work. Our budget keeps us safe.
Question: Israel and Iran, would you be willing to declare that an attack on Israel is an attack on the U.S.?
Obama: America will stand with Israel. As long as I am president of the U.S., Iran will not get a nuclear weapon. Supports sanctions against Iran.
Romney: We will stand with Israel. Would tighten sanctions against Iran, diplomatic isolation for Ahmadinejad
Question: Iran’s nuclear program, what deal would you accept in talks?
Obama: Newspaper reports are not true. The deal we will accept is for them to end their nuclear program.
Romney: Would not conduct an apology tour, nuclear program not acceptable.
Question: If the prime minister of Israel called on the phone and said we are going to bomb Iran, how would you respond?
Romney: Said he would not engage in that hypothetical question.
Question: The U.S. is set to turn security in Afghanistan back over to the government in 2014, what do you do if the deadline arrives and it is obvious that Afghanistan is unable to handle security, do we still leave?
Romney: We will finish by 2014 and leave. Would make future foreign aid to Pakistan conditional.
Obama: We are in the position to transition out and must pull out responsibly and strengthen the home front by building roads, bridges, schools and care for veterans.
Question: Is it time for us to divorce Pakistan?
Romney: No, they have too many nuclear weapons.
Question: Would you support using drones?
Romney: I support the use entirely.
Question: What is the greatest future threat to the national security of this country, and address China.
Obama: Terrorist networks. China is an adversary but a potential partner, and must play by the same rules as everyone else.
Romney: Nuclear Iran. On China, we don’t have to be an adversary; we can have trade relations with China that works for us.
Question: If we declare China a currency manipulator, is there a risk we will start a trade war with China?
Romney: We can’t just surrender. China can be our partner, but it does not mean they can roll all over us and steal jobs.
Obama: Didn’t answer the question, but said China should be pressured to meet certain standards.
Candy Crowley moderated the second debate Oct. 22, but a pre-selected studio audience of undecided voters selected by Gallup submitted questions.
AUDIENCE QUESTION: “Mr. President, Gov. Romney, as a 20-year-old college student, all I hear from professors, neighbors and others is that when I graduate, I will have little chance to get employment. What can you say to reassure me, but more importantly my parents, that I will be able to sufficiently support myself after I graduate?”
Romney: “Make it easier for kids to afford college” through Pell grants. “I’m going to make sure you get a job.”
Obama: Said he would increase exports, create new jobs for community colleges, invest in solar, wind, biofuels and energy efficient cars, reduce the deficit, spend more tax dollars on roads, bridges and schools.
Crowley: “What about those long term unemployed who need a job right now?”
Romney: Has a five-point plan to create 12 million new jobs in four years.
Obama: did not answer
AUDIENCE QUESTION: “Your energy secretary, Steven Chu, has now been on record three times stating it’s not policy of his department to help lower gas prices. Do you agree with Secretary Chu that this is not the job of the Energy Department?”
Obama: Did not answer the question but said the government should allow more drilling for oil.
Romney: Did not answer the question but said his plan to increase permits and allow more drilling would make American energy independent in eight years.
Crowley: “Mr. President, let me just see if I can move you to the gist of this question … Is it within the purview of the government to bring those (gas) prices down, or are we looking at the new normal?”
Obama: Did not answer the question.
Romney: Did not answer the question.
Crowley: “Mr. President, could you address, because we did finally get to gas prices here, could you address what the governor said, which is if your energy policy was working, the price of gasoline would not be $4 a gallon here. Is that true?”
Obama: Gas prices were $1.86 a gallon when he took office “because the economy was on the verge of collapse.” Added that he was “all for pipelines” such as Keystone, but added “We’ve built enough pipeline to wrap around the entire earth once.”
AUDIENCE QUESTION: “Gov. Romney, you have stated that if you’re elected president you would plan to reduce the tax rates for all the tax brackets and that you would work with the Congress to eliminate some deductions in order to make up for the loss on revenue. Concerning these various deductions, the mortgage deductions, the charitable deductions, the children tax credit … the education credits, which are important to me, because I have children in college. What would be your position on those things, which are important to the middle class?”
Romney: “I’m going to bring rates down across the board for everybody, but I’m going to limit deductions and exemptions and credits, particularly for people at the high end, because I am not going to have people at the high end pay less than they’re paying now.”
Obama: Did not answer the question
Crowley: “The governor says that he is not going to allow the top five percent… to have a tax cut, that it will all even out, and that what he wants to do is give that tax cut to the middle class. Settled?”
AUDIENCE QUESTION: “In what new ways to you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?”
OBAMA: Supports Lily Ledbetter Act, which changes the status of limitations in discrimination lawsuits and supports Planned Parenthood.
Romney: Supports flexible work schedules for working moms and access to contraceptives.
AUDIENCE QUESTION: “Governor Romney, I am an undecided voter, because I’m disappointed with the lack of progress I’ve seen in the last four years. However, I do attribute much of America’s economic and international problems to the failings and missteps of the Bush administration.”
Romney: “President Bush and I are different people … I’ll crack down on China, President Bush didn’t … I’m going to get us to a balanced budget, President Bush didn’t … President Bush has a very different path for a very different time. My path is designed in getting small businesses to grow and hire people.”
Obama: Agreed it was Bush’s fault, and that he (Obama) will be tough on China on trade issues.
AUDIENCE QUESTION: “Mr. President, I voted for you in 2008. What have you done or accomplished to earn my vote in 2012? I’m not that optimistic as I was in 2012. Most things I need for everyday living are very expensive.”
Obama: Accomplishments include tax cuts for middle class families, small business, ended the war in Iraq and killed Osama bin Laden, ObamaCare, created five million jobs, reformed Wall Street.
Romney: Obama did not address immigration or reduce the deficit, crushed the middle class, increased health insurance premiums, lost five million jobs, increased food stamp recipients by 15 million, did not reform Social Security or Medicare.
AUDIENCE QUESTION: “Mr. Romney, what do you plan on doing with immigrants without their green cards that are currently living here as productive members of society?”
Romney: Give green cards to graduates with needed skills, no amnesty to illegal aliens, supports an employment verification system, deny drivers licenses to illegal aliens, create pathway to citizenship for “kids of those that came here illegally.”
Obama: Streamline the legal process to reduce backlog, more border patrol officers, focus deportation on criminals only, pathway to citizenship for juveniles who came to country illegally.
AUDIENCE QUESTION: Libya, “Who was it that denied enhanced security and why?”
Obama: “I am ultimately responsible for what’s taking place there because these are my folks, and I’m the one who has to greet those coffins when they come home.”
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?”
Obama: Reiterated that he was responsible.
AUDIENCE QUESTION: “President Obama, during the Democratic National Convention in 2008, you stated you wanted to keep AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. What has your administration done or planned to do to limit the availability of assault weapons?”
Obama: Enforce the laws on the books, keep “automatic” guns away from mentally ill and criminals, enforce background checks, “seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced,” and “catch violent impulses before they occur.”
Romney: Does not favor any new legislation, enforce gun laws on the books, and encourage marriage.
Crowley: “I know that you signed an assault weapons ban when you were in Massachusetts, obviously with this question, you no longer do support that. Why is that, given the kind of violence that we see sometimes with these mass killings? Why is it that you have changed your mind?”
Romney: pro-gun and anti-gun forces supported Bill.
Obama: Romney changed mind to get endorsement of NRA, reiterated his record on increasing science and math scores in schools, retraining workers through community colleges,
AUDIENCE QUESTION: “The outsourcing of American jobs overseas has taken a toll on our economy. What plans do you have to put back and keep jobs here in the United States?”
Romney: Lower tax rates, label China as a currency manipulator, and eliminate ObamaCare, ease regulations.
Obama: Lower corporate tax rate, not give tax breaks for moving business to China, double exports, unspecified trade deals.
CROWLEY: “iPad, the Macs, the iPhones, they are all manufactured in China. One of the major reasons is labor is so much cheaper here. How do you convince a great American company to bring that manufacturing back here?”
Romney: Tell China to play on a fair basis, make the U.S. attractive for entrepreneurs.
AUDIENCE QUESTION: “What do you believe is the biggest misperception that the American people have about you as a man and a candidate? Using specific examples, can you take this opportunity to debunk that misperception and set us straight?”
Romney: He cares about America, believes in God, spent time as a missionary and pastor, spent his life in the private sector.
Obama: Does not believe government creates jobs, believes in free enterprise, but that everyone should have a fair shot, grandfather fought in WWII.
The first debate Oct. 3 was moderated by Jim Lehrer and covered the economy, health care, role of government and governing.
The first question was actually a follow-up to Romney’s opening statement in which he described the president’s economic plan as “bigger government, spending more, taxing more, regulating more — if you will, trickle-down government.”
Lehrer: Please respond to what the governor just said about his trickle-down approach, and yours.
Obama: Pledged to hire 100,000 new math and science teachers and two million new workers for community colleges, lower the corporate tax rate to 25 percent, raise taxes on companies that send jobs overseas, and lower taxes on companies that “invest” in the U.S., continue investments in wind, solar and biofuels, and reduce spending “in a responsible way.”
Lehrer: “Governor Romney, do you have a question that you’d like to ask the president directly about something he just said?”
Romney: Would strengthen the economy through trade and energy, training programs, balancing the budget, reducing the tax rate on corporations and individuals, keep revenue coming into the Treasury by eliminating unspecified tax deductions, credits and exemptions. He segued into energy and said he would approve the Keystone pipeline, double the number of permits and licenses on public lands to develop natural gas and oil.
Lehrer: “What are the differences between the two of you as to how you would go about tackling the deficit problem in this country?”
Obama: Cut taxes for middle-class families by $3,600.
Romney: Will not cut taxes by $5 trillion and said “I will not under any circumstances raise taxes on middle income families. I will lower taxes on middle income families.”
Lehrer: “Do you (Mr. President) challenge what the governor just said about his own plan?”
Obama: Restated his own plan to raise taxes on those making $250,000 or more to create 23 million new jobs.
Lehrer: “What are the differences between the two of you as to how you would go about tackling the deficit problem in this country?”
Romney: Cut programs by this test: “Is the program so critical it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?” He would eliminate ObamaCare and cut the subsidy to PBS. Direct states to fund unspecified programs, cut federal employees through attrition and combine unspecified federal agencies.
Obama: “Put forward a specific $4 trillion deficit reduction plans. It’s on a website.”
For every $2.50 cut, raise revenues $1 through new taxes on the rich.
Lehrer: “Do you support Simpson-Bowles?”
Romney: Has his own plan, which he did not present, but believes the president should have passed it.
Obama: Did not answer the question
Lehrer: (Expound on the) “idea that in order to reduce the deficit, there has to be revenue in addition to cuts.”
Obama: Raise taxes on oil companies
Romney: Increase revenue by creating more jobs, which in turn would provide more tax dollars.
Lehrer: “Do you see a major difference between the two of you on Social Security?”
Obama: Did not answer the question, said “you don’t need a major structural change in order to make sure that Social Security is there for the future.”
Romney: No changes for those 60 or older, for those younger, has a proposal but did not elaborate.
Lehrer: Do you support a voucher system for Medicare?
Romney: No change for current retirees, younger retirees should have a private plan choice.
Obama: Did not answer the question, but did not appear to support vouchers.
Lehrer: Do you want to repeal Dodd-Frank?
Obama: Did not answer directly, but asked if “anybody out there think(s) that the big problem we had is that three was too much oversight and regulation of Wall Street? … That’s not what I believe.”
Lehrer: Asked Romney to make a case for repealing ObamaCare, and asked what he would replace it with., asked Obama to defend his health care law.
Romney: Pledged individual changes rather than one massive overhaul, including coverage of preexisting conditions, allowing children to stay on parents’ plan longer.
Lehrer: “Do you believe there’s a fundamental difference between the two of you as to how you view the mission of the federal government?
Obama: Restated pledge to hire 100,000 math and science teachers.
Romney: “We must maintain our commitment to religious tolerance and freedom in this country.”
Lehrer: “Does the federal government have a responsibility to improve the quality of public education in America?”
Romney: “Federal government also can play a very important role.” School choice for disabled children and children from low-income families.
Obama: “I think that is has a significant role to play.” Cited the role of the government in securing student loans.
Lehrer: “Many of the legislative functions of the federal government right now are in a state of paralysis as a result of partisan gridlock … what would you do about that?”
Romney: Will work with Democrats as well as Republicans.
Obama: Will work with anyone as long as they advance his cause.