Obama, without addressing the differences in the administrations accounts, agreed that hed called the assault an act of terror in the Rose Garden, as did the moderator, Candy Crowley.
Yet the transcript of the statement shows that all three misspoke. Obama did not directly and specifically call the assault an act of terror.
Instead, he appeared to be speaking generically about how acts of terror wouldnt change the values of the country and its people:
Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe. No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.
The candidates argued over China, with Romney saying he would label China a currency manipulator on his first day in office. Doing so, he said, would allow him to impose penalties on Chinese goods. The penalties would actually be limited, and Democrats in the Senate have proposed a bill that would give the right to take tough actions to prod China. Candidate Obama in 2008 supported such legislation but as president did not push for it. What Romney did not say Tuesday is that such a move would also make imported goods more expensive, and China would be sure to retaliate against U.S. exports, which have grown sharply to China.
Obama, in defending his record on China, said tough actions on China have resulted in the Asian power allowing its currency to appreciate 11 percent. China has allowed its currency to appreciate, a process that followed a dialogue started under the Bush administration by then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. Obama also suggested his pressure on China has resulted in more exports to China, which seems dubious since U.S. exports to China have grown steadily since China fully came under the umbrella of global trading rules in 2001.
Romney said Iran is four years closer to a nuclear bomb. Iran surmounted the most difficult facet of developing a nuclear weapon enriching uranium in high-speed centrifuges years before Obama became president. Moreover, the U.S. intelligence community said in a 2007 unclassified report that Iran stopped work on developing a nuclear warhead in 2003, but that it retained the ability to revive the effort.
The U.S. intelligence community said with high confidence that Iran already has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity to produce nuclear weapons if it decides to do so. What that says is that basically there isnt a damn thing we can do aside from invading to stop them from getting a nuclear weapon if they decide to do so, said Greg Thielman, a former State Department intelligence analyst now with the Arms Control Association. Its just a question of how long it would take them.
Iran had the capability before Obama became president, he said, adding that Iran has shortened the time it would take to produce bomb-grade uranium since Obama took office. But, he said, Irans stockpiles of low- and medium-enriched uranium are under constant monitoring by U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors and cameras.
If they chose to break out, they would be completely exposed not for weeks, but months before they had the ability to threaten us with a nuclear weapon, said Thielman.
At the same time, Obamas strategy has not only failed to force Iran to halt uranium enrichment, but Tehran has continued expanding its enrichment capacity and refuses to answer U.N. questions about an alleged warhead development program.
Romney said that Obama failed to put forth an immigration overhaul plan in his first term. Its true that the Obama administration hasnt authored a specific immigration proposal, in large part because it knew that one wouldnt get through a Republican-controlled House of Representatives and would likely die a procedural death in the Senate. Obama did sign an executive order in June to stop deporting young illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children, if they meet certain requirements.
Romney has said he doesnt support the DREAM Act, a measure that would have allowed illegal immigrants under 30, who entered the United States before age 16 and lived in the country for five years without committing a serious crime, to be eligible for legal residency. However, Romney said he supports one provision in the act that allows a path to residency for illegal immigrants who serve in the U.S. military.
Obama charged that Romney embraced the controversial Arizona immigration law and called it a model," but fact checkers have said that Romney at a Republican primary debate was referring to an earlier state law that required employers in the state to use the E-Verify system to determine whether someone is in the country legally, a point the Republican made in the debate.
Jonathan S. Landay, Lesley Clark and Kevin G. Hall contributed.