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QUOTES: Obama vs Romney on US foreign policy

Last updated on: October 23, 2012 09:27 IST

QUOTES: Obama vs Romney on US foreign policy

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In the crucial third and last encounter between the two, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney fought fiercely over the topic of the future of foreign policy of the United States

Here are some highlights of what the two candidates said:

On Iran

Romney: "I think from the very beginning, one of the challenges we've had with Iran is that they have looked at this administration and felt that the administration was not as strong as it needed to be. I think they saw weakness where they had expected to find American strength.

"We're four years closer to a nuclear Iran and we should not have wasted these four years."

Obama: "There have been times, Governor, frankly, during the course of this where it sounded like you thought that you'd do the same things we did but you'd say them louder and somehow that would make a difference."

"We are not going to allow Iran to perpetually engage in negotiations that lead nowhere and I've been very clear to them."

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Image: US President Barack Obama debates with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney as moderator Bob Schieffer listens at the Keith C and Elaine Johnson Wold Performing Arts Centre at Lynn University
Photographs: Marc Serota/Getty Images

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On China

Romney: "China has an interest that's very much like ours, in one respect, and that is they want a stable world, they don't want war, they don't want to see protectionism, they don't want to see the world break out into various forms of chaos.

"We can be a partner with China. We don't have to be an adversary in any way shape or form, we can work with them, we can collaborate with them if they're willing to be responsible."

Obama: "China is both an adversary but also a potential partner in the international community if it's following the rules. So my attitude coming into office was that we're going to insist that China plays by the same rules as everybody else."

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Photographs: Rick Wilking-Pool/Getty Images

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QUOTES: Obama vs Romney on US foreign policy

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On Terrorism

Romney: "We're going to have to do more than just going after leaders and killing the bad guys, as important as that is. We're also going to have to have a far more effective and comprehensive strategy to help move the world away from terror and Islamic extremism. We haven't done that yet... We have not seen the progress we need."

Obama: "Our strategy was not just going after bin Laden. We've created partnerships through the region to deal with extremism, in Somalia, in Yemen, in Pakistan. And what we've also done is engage these governments in the kind of reforms that are actually going to make a difference in people's lives day to day. ... We've stood on the side of democracy."

Romney: "We can't kill our way out of this mess. We're going to have to put in place a very comprehensive and robust strategy to help the world of Islam and other parts of the world to reject this radical violent extremism."

"The key that we're going to have to pursue as a pathway is to get the Muslim world to be able reject extremism on its own."

Obama: "When it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s. 

"What we need to do with respect to the Middle East is strong and steady leadership, not wrong and reckless leadership that is all over the map, and unfortunately that's the kind of opinions that you've offered throughout the campaign and it is not a recipe for American strength."

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Photographs: Rick Wilking-Pool/Getty Images

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A word on the US soldier

Romney: "Our military is second to none in the world. We're blessed with terrific soldiers, and extraordinary technology and intelligence. But the idea of a trillion dollars in cuts through sequestration and budget cuts to the military would change that."

Obama: "I think Governor Romney maybe hasn't spent enough time looking at how our military works. You mention the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we had in 1916. Well Governor, we also have also fewer horses and bayonets. Because the nature of the military has changed; the question is not a game of battleship or counting ships, it's what our capabilities are."

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Photographs: Rick Wilking-Pool/Getty Images
Tags: Romney , QUOTES , Obama , US

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QUOTES: Obama vs Romney on US foreign policy

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On Syria

Romney: "I don't want our military involved in Syria. I don't think there's a necessity to put the military there at this stage, I don't anticipate that in the future."

Obama: "Governor Romney said he doesn't have different ideas and that's because we're doing exactly what we should be doing, which is try to promote a moderate Syrian leadership and an effective transition so that we get (Syrian President Bashar al-) Assad out. That's the kind of leadership we've shown and that's the kind of leadership we'll continue to show."

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Photographs: McNamee/Getty Images
Tags: Romney , QUOTES , Syria , Assad

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On Russia

 

Obama: Governor Romney, I'm glad that you recognize that Al Qaida is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what's the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia, not Al Qaida; you said Russia, in the 1980s, they're now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War's been over for 20 years.

 

You indicated that we shouldn't be passing nuclear treaties with Russia despite the fact that 71 senators, Democrats and Republicans, voted for it. You said that, first, we should not have a timeline in Afghanistan. Then you said we should. Now you say maybe or it depends, which means not only were you wrong, but you were also confusing in sending mixed messages both to our troops and our allies.

 

First of all, Russia I indicated is a geopolitical foe. Not...

 

Romney: Excuse me. It's a geopolitical foe, and I said in the same --in the same paragraph I said, and Iran is the greatest national security threat we face. Russia does continue to battle us in the UN time and time again. I have clear eyes on this. I'm not going to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to Russia, or Mr Putin. And I'm certainly not going to say to him, I'll give you more flexibility after the election. After the election, he'll get more backbone. Number two, with regards to Iraq, you and I agreed I believe that there should be a status of forces agreement.

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Photographs: Marc Serota/Getty Images

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On defence spending

Obama: We spend more on our military than the next 10 countries combined; China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, you name it. The next 10. And what I did was work with our joint chiefs of staff to think about, what are we going to need in the future to make sure that we are safe?

And that's the budget that we've put forward. But, what you can't do is spend $2 trillion in additional military spending that the military is not asking for, $5 trillion on tax cuts. You say that you're going to pay for it by closing loopholes and deductions, without naming what those loopholes and deductions are. And then somehow you're also going to deal with the deficit that we've already got. The math simply doesn't work. But when it comes to our military, what we have to think about is not, you know just budgets, we have got to think about capabilities.

Romney: Our Navy is old -- excuse me, our Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917. The Navy said they needed 313 ships to carry out their mission. We're now at under 285. We're headed down to the low 200s if we go through a sequestration. That's unacceptable to me.

I want to make sure that we have the ships that are required by our Navy. Our Air Force is older and smaller than at any time since it was founded in 1947.

And I will not cut our military budget by a trillion dollars, which is a combination of the budget cuts the president has, as well as the sequestration cuts. That, in my view, is making -- is making our future less certain and less secure.

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Photographs: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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On Pakistan

Romney: I don't mean you, Mr. President, but some people in the — in our nation feel that Pakistan is being nice to us, and that we should walk away fro mthem. But Pakistan is important to the region, to the world and to us, because Pakistan has 100 nuclear warheads and they're rushing to build a lot more. They'll have more than Great Britain sometime in the — in the relatively near future.

They also have the Haqqani Network and the Taliban existent within their country. And so a Pakistan that falls apart, becomes a failed state, would be of extraordinary danger to Afghanistan and to us.

And so we're going to have to remain helpful in encouraging Pakistan to move towards a more stable government and rebuild the relationship with us. And that means that our aid that we provide to Pakistan is going to have to be conditioned upon certain benchmarks being met.

Obama: And you said we should ask Pakistan for permission (for Osama operation). And if we had asked Pakistan permission, we would not have gotten him. And it was worth moving heaven and earth to get him.


Photographs: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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