Excerpts from the Barack Obama-Mitt Romney debate
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THE MIDDLE EAST
Romney: I congratulate him [Obama] on taking out Osama bin Laden and going after the leadership in al-Qaida. But we can't kill our way out of this mess . . . My strategy's pretty straightforward, which is to go after the bad guys, to make sure we do our very best to interrupt them, to -- to kill them, to take them out of the picture.
Obama: My first job as commander-in-chief . . . is to keep the American people safe, and that's what we've done over the last four years. We ended the war in Iraq, refocused our attention on those who actually killed us on 9/11. And as a consequence, al-Qaida's core leadership has been decimated.
Obama:What we've done is organize the international community, saying [Syrian president] Assad has to go. We've mobilized sanctions against that government. We have made sure that they are isolated. We have provided humanitarian assistance, and we are helping the opposition organize, and we're particularly interested in making sure that we're mobilizing the moderate forces inside of Syria.
Romney: I don't want to have our military involved in Syria. I don't think there's a necessity to put our military in Syria at this stage. Recognize I believe that Assad must go . . . But I believe we want to make sure that we have the relationships of friendship with the people that take his place . . .
IN THE WORLD
Romney: I absolutely believe that America has a responsibility and the privilege of helping defend freedom and promote the principles that make the world more peaceful. And those principles include human rights, human dignity, free enterprise, freedom of expression, elections . . .
Obama: America remains the one indispensable nation. And the world needs a strong America. And it is stronger now than when I came into office. Because we ended the war in Iraq . . . And, Governor Romney, our alliances have never been stronger. In Asia, in Europe, in Africa, with Israel where we have unprecedented military and intelligence cooperation, including dealing with the Iranian threat.
ISRAEL AND IRAN
Obama: Israel is a true friend. It is our greatest ally in the region. And if Israel is attacked, America will stand with Israel. I've made that clear throughout my presidency . . . We cannot afford to have a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region of the world.
Romney: When I'm president of the United States, we will stand with Israel. And -- and if Israel is attacked, we have their back, not just diplomatically, not just culturally, but militarily . . .