“My passion probably flows from the fact that I believe in God, and I believe we’re all children of the same God,” Romney said. “I believe we have a responsibility to care for one another. I served as a missionary for my church. I served as a pastor in my congregation for about 10 years. I’ve sat across the table from people who were out of work and worked with them to try and find new work or to help them through tough times.”
Romney, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, has only occasionally talked about his Mormon faith. Though he did not mention Mormonism, his pronounced faith in God and reference to an active role in his church was made in front of one of the biggest audiences of the entire election season.
Romney said in the course of his response, “I care about 100 percent of the American people. I want 100 percent of the American people to have a bright and prosperous future.”
This was in apparent anticipation that Obama would bring up a previous reference at a Florida fundraiser in May when Romney seemed to write off the possibility of getting 47 percent of voters.
Obama said the biggest misperception about him was that he believes government creates jobs.
“That’s not what I believe,” said Obama. “I believe that the free enterprise system is the greatest engine of prosperity the world’s ever known.”
Obama made no reference to faith, but made a short reference to Romney’s faith and family life.
“I believe Governor Romney is a good man, loves his family, cares about his faith,” Obama said. “But I also believe that when he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about.”
Below is the transcript of the question and answer from both candidates:
Candy Crowley: “Governor Romney, I want to introduce you to Barry Green because he’s going to have the last question to you first.”
Green: “Hi, Governor. I think this is a tough question. To each of you. 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: “Thank you, and that’s an opportunity for me, and I appreciate it.
“In the nature of a campaign, it seems that some campaigns are focused on attacking a person rather than prescribing their own future and the things they’d like to do. In the course of that, I think the president’s campaign has tried to characterize me as — as someone who’s very different than who I am.
“I care about 100 percent of the American people. I want 100 percent of the American people to have a bright and prosperous future. I care about our kids. I understand what it takes to make a bright and prosperous future for America again. I spent my life in the private sector, not in government. I’m a guy who wants to help with the experience I have, the American people.
“My — my passion probably flows from the fact that I believe in God. And I believe we’re all children of the same God. I believe we have a responsibility to care for one another. I — I served as a missionary for my church. I served as a pastor in my congregation for about 10 years. I’ve sat across the table from people who were out of work and worked with them to try and find new work or to help them through tough times.
“I went to the Olympics when they were in trouble to try and get them on track. And as governor of my state, I was able to get 100 percent of my people insured, all my kids, about 98 percent of the adults. I was able also to get our schools ranked number one in the nation, so 100 percent of our kids would have a bright opportunity for a future.
“I understand that I can get this country on track again. We don’t have to settle for what we’re going through. We don’t have to settle for gasoline at four bucks. We don’t have to settle for unemployment at a chronically high level. We don’t have to settle for 47 million people on food stamps. We don’t have to settle for 50 percent of kids coming out of college not able to get work. We don’t have to settle for 23 million people struggling to find a good job.
“If I become president, I’ll get America working again. I will get us on track to a balanced budget. The president hasn’t. I will. I’ll make sure we can reform Medicare and Social Security to preserve them for coming — coming generations. The president said he would. He didn’t.”
Crowley: “Governor …”
Romney: “I’ll get our incomes up. And by the way, I’ve done these things. I served as governor and showed I could get them done.”
Crowley: “Mr. President, last two minutes belong to you.”
Obama: “Barry, I think a lot of this campaign, maybe over the last four years, has been devoted to this nation that I think government creates jobs, that that somehow is the answer.
“That’s not what I believe. I believe that the free enterprise system is the greatest engine of prosperity the world’s ever known.
“I believe in self-reliance and individual initiative and risk takers being rewarded. But I also believe that everybody should have a fair shot and everybody should do their fair share and everybody should play by the same rules, because that’s how our economy’s grown. That’s how we built the world’s greatest middle class.
“And — and that is part of what’s at stake in this election. There’s a fundamentally different vision about how we move our country forward.
“I believe Governor Romney is a good man. Loves his family, cares about his faith. But I also believe that when he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about.
“Folks on Social Security who’ve worked all their lives. Veterans who’ve sacrificed for this country. Students who are out there trying to hopefully advance their own dreams, but also this country’s dreams. Soldiers who are overseas fighting for us right now. People who are working hard every day, paying payroll tax, gas taxes, but don’t make enough income.
“And I want to fight for them. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last four years. Because if they succeed, I believe the country succeeds.
“When my grandfather fought in World War II and he came back and he got a G.I. Bill and that allowed him to go to college, that wasn’t a handout. That was something that advanced the entire country. And I want to make sure that the next generation has those same opportunities. That’s why I’m asking for your vote and that’s why I’m asking for another four years.”