Keith Koffler’s (Un)Official Transcription of the Debate

This is a very special White House Dossier transcript of the second presidential debate. Please excuse us if it’s not a perfect rendering, but we believe it is basically accurate.


Candy Crowley: I want to thank all of you here at Hofstra University for joining us for the second debate between the presidential candidates, Councilman Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama. The debate will be –

Mitt Romney: Candy, thank you, that’s Governor Mitt Romney.

Crowley: I’m sorry. Councilman Mitt Romney.

Romney: No, governor.

Barack Obama: Already beating up on the moderator.

Crowley: The debate will be a town hall format, with average citizens who can’t make up their minds about anything asking the questions. Audience, I ask that you hold your applause until after President Obama is finished speaking.

Romney: What?

Crowley: And now, the first question is for you, Congressman Romney. Joshua, go ahead.

Joshua: When will you release your tax returns?

Romney: Mai întâi de toate, aș dori să le mulțumesc tuturor pentru (pauses)

Am spus că aș dori să le mulțumesc tuturor de tine (turns off his microphone)

Hey – that’s better – hey, something’s wrong with this microphone.

Crowley: There’s nothing wrong with your microphone.

Romney: No, there is. I’m not making any sense.

Obama: Nothing unusual about that.

Crowley: As you know, you will be speaking in Romanian during tonight’s debate.

Romney: What? Why is that?

Crowley: Well, you drew the Romanian straw, and President Obama drew the English straw. So you will be speaking in Romanian, and President Obama will be speaking in English.

Romney: We didn’t draw any straws!

Crowley: Of course we drew straws.

Obama: Listen, I’m willing to allow Mayor Romney to speak in English during the debate. I want to be fair, and besides, I don’t want him launching any sneak attacks in Romanian that I don’t understand.

Crowley: Okay, President Obama has agreed to be big about this. Please switch Comrade Romney’s microphone to English.

Romney: Well thank you Candy.

Crowley: You’re welcome. Now, the next question is for President Obama. Sylvia, please go ahead.

Sylvia: President Obama, why is Corporal Romney such a pathological liar?

Obama: Sylvia, thank you for your question. Corporal Romney is good to his family, and he’s a nice man. But he lies all the time. If you ask him about my record for the last four years, he’ll give you George Bush’s record and pretend it’s mine. If he had pancakes for breakfast, he’ll tell you he had waffles. Again, there’s nothing wrong with him, except that he lies all the time. And steals.

Romney: Now wait a second this is –

Crowley: Please don’t interrupt the president of the United States. I’m docking a minute off your next answer.

Romney: But he’s calling me a liar and a thief, and it’s just not –

Crowley: You are a liar. It’s in the transcript.

Romney: What transcript? What are you talking about?

Crowley: You lied repeatedly. It’s in the transcript. It took you two weeks to tell the truth.

Romney: When?

Crowley: Two weeks after you lied.

Romney: I’m appalled. Nu pot să cred ce se întâmplă aici ID-ul de . . .

Crowley: If you argue with me you’ll be spending the evening talking to the American people in Romanian, do you understand?

Romney: Bine

Crowley: Now, Mr. President, the final question is for you. Eleanor?

Romney: Wait a second, he just had a –

Crowley: Romanian, Mr. Romney. Romanian. Go ahead Eleanor.

Eleanor: Mr. President, I’m just a tiny bit disappointed in you. What can you say to make me love you again.

Obama: Well thank you Eleanor. I’m a basketball player, as you know, and I just love getting the chance to shoot like this from two feet out.

If I’m reelected, I’m going to force rich people to clean your house. I’ll send a rocket to Venus on ethanol, make other people pay for your birth control, guarantee that your children graduate from law school with high honors, and make the Taliban love us.

Eleanor: Oh that’s wonderful, Mr. President. I love you again. I want to party like it’s 2008.

Romney: If I could just respond –

Crowley: No, you can’t. Remember, I docked you a minute.

Romney: But I have two minutes.

Crowley: No, we drew straws and you chose the one minute closing response. So now you have nothing.

Romney: I can’t believe this! You’ve got to be kidding me! Acest lucru este total nedrept si eu un protest depunerea cu . . .

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Award winning journalist Keith Koffler has 16 years of experience covering Washington. As a reporter for CongressDaily, National Journal magazine, and Roll Call, Keith wrote primarily from the White House, covering three presidents and learning as few have the intricacies of the West Wing and the behavior and motivations of its occupants. While mainly stationed at the White House, he also extensively covered Congress and Washington’s lobbyists. Keith has also written for a variety of other publications, including Politico, The Daily Caller, and The London Observer. He currently writes regular opinion columns for Politico. He blogs at

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