FOX 13 Political Editor Craig Patrick spoke with President Barack Obama Tuesday in a rare, election day interview the president did with only a handful of media outlets.
They talked about the different visions he and Governor Mitt Romney have for America, and why the stakes this election year couldn't be higher.
Pres. Obama: This has been a heated debate because the stakes are high, and the differences are significant. Governor Romney and I have different visions for how to move America forward. Governor Romney has a different vision, of top-down economics that goes back to the kind of policies that we've been cleaning up after for the last four years.
Craig Patrick: Do you consider Mitt Romney to be a man of integrity, and if so, when was the last time you saw him show it?
Pres. Obama: I will say that Governor Romney is a very talented individual. Obviously, he has been very successful in his life, and I think his commitment to his family, his community and his church are powerful.
But what I can say is when you look at my track record for the last four years, I have done what I've said. I have said what I've meant. I said I'd end the war in Iraq, and I did. I said I'd cut taxes for middle class families and I have, by about $3,600. I said I would make sure people in America don't go bankrupt when they get sick. We have passed health care reform. I said I'd reign in Wall Street so we don't have another taxpayer funded bailout -- we did that. I said we'd go after bin Laden, we did. I said we'd make sure we save the American auto industry and get it back on its feet, and that's what we've done.
So, I think the one thing I'll claim is that regardless of whether people agree with every decision I've made, people can have confidence that I tell the American people what I believe, where I stand, and I'm fighting for middle class families and everyone who is trying to get in the middle class every single day, and I hope that earns me a second term.
Craig Patrick: Who would you say was your strongest campaign surrogate in Florida, your most valuable player?
Pres. Obama: The MVPs are a bunch of folks that people don't know. They are volunteers in campaign offices, every single day, unbelievable work they have done, knocking on doors, making phone calls, just doing the day-to-day labor to carry our message forward. I could not be more grateful to them for the great work that they have done.
Obviously, Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been terrific and that's true nationally, not just in Florida. My great friend Bill Nelson, who I served with in the Senate has been wonderful, even though he's got a race of his own. And I'm very grateful to Governor Crist, who has been a wonderful supporter, and shows that the ideas we are talking about -- making sure everyone has opportunity, making sure we have an economy that works for the middle class -- those aren't just partisan ideas, those are American ideas, and Republicans and Democrats can support them.
Craig Patrick: Do you think that Democrats have tilted too far to the left? And if not, how do you explain the Democratic party's slide over the past 20 years here in the South?
Pres. Obama: Democrats haven't gone too far to the left…since Bill Clinton and his presidency, what you've seen is Democrats putting forth common sense ideas. And what Republicans, I think have argued are ideas that are too far to the left, actually just a few years ago would have been considered centrist or even Republican ideas. And that includes my health care bill, which was based on Republican ideas and implemented by Governor Romney in Massachusetts.
I think what the American people are concerned about is not left or right, they are more concerned about, does it work? And what I know is that an economy that is built on a great education system, helping young people go to college, rewarding manufacturers who are investing in America, controlling our own energy, reducing our deficit in a balanced way, protecting Medicare, making sure it doesn't turn into a voucher --that that is the path to growth. And that tax cuts for the wealthy and having folks at the top play by different rules, that hasn't worked, and we've tested both ideas, and so now is an opportunity for Florida voters to weigh in.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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