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“Let’s talk about what we need to compete”

The presidential debate tonight provided the final opportunity for the American people to see President Obama and Governor Romney sit side-by-side and debate their plans for the nation for the next four years.  One of the important takeaways from this debate is that both candidates recognize that our foreign policy success is directly entwined with our economic success — for us to be a strong leader globally requires a strong economy locally.

About half-way through the debate, in response to a question about America's role in the world, both candidates offered responses focused on our nation's economic health.  President Obama, for example, pivoted to that economic policy-foreign policy link, when he said, “Let’s talk about what we need to compete.”  And even with the serious discussions about America’s ability to respond to global hot spots and the threat of terror, the two candidates put forward ideas on what we need to compete, and how innovation is key to our nation’s success.

Expanded trade, market access that does not force innovation offshore, education that focuses on science and math, energy innovation – these are the building blocks for job creation and lasting economic growth here at home.  And in this debate, we heard both candidates embrace those ideas.  Now the challenge is turning that high-level bipartisan agreement into real-world policies and approaches that create jobs and drive innovation. 

Throughout these debates, we have been urging the candidates to adopt an all-of-the-above economic policy.  Tonight, they came the closest yet to hitting that mark.  They both talked about the mix of smart choices that need to be made to accelerate job creation and ensure America’s global leadership in innovation and technology development.

It’s important that tonight is not the end of this conversation.  The man elected president and the hundreds elected to Congress will face major challenges in 2013, and none more central to American families than our ability to spark renewed economic strength.  A national jobs and innovation strategy needs to be at the top of our policy priority list in 2013, and we look to the next president and the next Congress to work together on a bipartisan basis to enact policies that will drive lasting economic growth.


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