Campaign 2012: Obama vs. Romney

In separate interviews, President Barack Obama and his challenger, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, discuss the election year's hot-button issues

Pelley: --the concerns of Republicans--

Romney: That's not...that's not the campaign. That was me, right? I-- that's not a campaign.

Pelley: You are the campaign--

Romney: I've got a very effective campaign. It's doing a very good job. But not everything I say is elegant. And I want to make it very clear, I want to help 100 percent of the American people.

President Obama with Steve Kroft when we return.


Four years ago, as a young senator, Barack Obama offered the country more inspiration than experience.

Campaign 2012, part 2

Today, the graying president runs with all the advantages of incumbency, and all the encumbrances of a record -- dogged by a sluggish recovery and chronically high unemployment.

For nearly two years now, a Republican House has blocked almost every initiative he's offered.

His signature domestic achievements -- rescuing the auto industry and reforming healthcare -- remain controversial. Yet six weeks before the election, President Obama maintains a small lead in the polls.

We spoke on September 12th in the White House Blue Room.

Steve Kroft: Mr. President, you were elected four years ago, promising hope and change for the better. Your opponent argues that you have achieved neither. The country has rarely been so divided politically. And people are afraid for their jobs. I know you know that. People are fearful about the future for their families. How do you respond to that?

President Barack Obama: I think it's important to know where we've been and how far we've traveled. The month I was sworn into office, we were losing 800,000 jobs a month. We ultimately would lose nine million jobs during the height of that great recession. We came in, made some tough decisions. Everything from stabilizing the financial system to making sure that the auto industry survived, to making sure that we cut taxes for middle class families so they had more money in their pockets, to helping states avoid massive layoffs of teachers and firefighters and police officers. And because of that, we've now had 30 months of job growth, four and a half million new jobs, half a million jobs in manufacturing alone. And the question now for the American people is, "Do we keep moving forward and continue to make progress or do we go backwards to the very policies that got us into this mess in the first place?" We probably have not seen a clearer choice in an election in my lifetime.

Kroft: On the campaign trail, Gov. Romney has been portraying you as a nice guy who doesn't have a clue about the economy or how the country works. That private enterprise is the engine of growth in this country. And that's what creates jobs, not big government. And that you're crushing economic freedom with taxes, regulations, and high-cost health care.

Obama: Well, it's a lot of rhetoric, but there aren't a lot of facts supporting it. Taxes are lower on families than they've been probably in the last 50 years. So I haven't raised taxes. I've cut taxes for middle class families by an average of $3,600 per typical family. When it comes to regulations, I've issued fewer regulations than my predecessor, George Bush, did during that same period in office. So it's kind of hard to argue that we've overregulated. Now, I don't make any apologies for putting in place regulations to make sure banks don't make reckless bets and then expect taxpayers to bail them out. I don't make any apologies for regulating insurance companies, so that they can't drop a family's coverage, just when somebody in their family needs it most. And, you know, the problem that Gov. Romney has is that he seems to only have one note: tax cuts for the wealthy and rolling back regulations as a recipe for success. Well, we tried that vigorously between 2001 and 2008. And it didn't work out so well.

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