A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

FactChecking Debate No. 2

Summary

McCain and Obama debated for the second time, in Nashville. We noted some misleading statements and mangled facts:

McCain proposed to write down the amount owed by over-mortgaged homeowners and claimed the idea as his own: “It’s my proposal, it’s not Sen. Obama’s proposal, it’s not President Bush’s proposal.” But the idea isn’t new. Obama had endorsed something similar two weeks earlier, and authority for the treasury secretary to grant such relief was included in the recently passed $700 billion financial rescue package.

Sadly, Mostly True

Summary
On the eve of their second presidential debate, McCain and Obama released TV ads accusing one another of untruthful attacks. Both are essentially accurate, though each tells only half the story.
McCain’s ad cites Obama spots that have falsely accused him of supporting a 50 percent cut in Social Security benefits, that twisted his words about deregulating health insurance markets and that falsely accused him of opposing stem-cell research.
Obama’s ad says McCain is resorting to "smears that have been proven false."

‘Dishonorable’

Summary
A McCain-Palin ad calls Obama "dishonorable," while distorting his words and votes on troop funding.

It accuses him of saying "our troops in Afghanistan" are just bombing villages and killing civilians. What Obama said, in context, was a criticism of U.S. military strategy, and not of American troops.
It accuses Obama and "Congressional liberals" of voting repeatedly to cut off funding for troops, "increasing the risk on their lives." In fact, the votes were for bringing the troops home,

FactChecking Biden-Palin Debate

Summary
Biden and Palin debated, and both mangled some facts.

Palin mistakenly claimed that troop levels in Iraq had returned to “pre-surge” levels. Levels are gradually coming down but current plans would have levels higher than pre-surge numbers through early next year, at least.
Palin repeated a false claim that Obama once voted in favor of higher taxes on “families” making as little as $42,000 a year. He did not. The budget bill in question called for an increase only on singles making that amount,

More Social Security Spin

Summary
An Obama-Biden TV ad once again twists McCain’s position on Social Security.

It claims he backed a "plan to risk your Social Security in the stock market." In fact, the plan McCain endorsed in 2005 would have been voluntary, and workers could have put only one-third of their Social Security pension fund taxes into private accounts.

The new ad also asks viewers to imagine "your future retirement benefits" invested in Lehman Brothers, AIG or Merrill Lynch,

Who Caused the Economic Crisis?

Summary
A MoveOn.org Political Action ad plays the partisan blame game with the economic crisis, charging that John McCain’s friend and former economic adviser Phil Gramm “stripped safeguards that would have protected us.” The claim is bogus. Gramm’s legislation had broad bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Clinton. Moreover, the bill had nothing to do with causing the crisis, and economists – not to mention President Clinton – praise it for having softened the crisis.

Obama’s Stem Cell Spinning

Summary
An Obama-Biden radio ad hammers McCain for being opposed to stem cell research. Not true. Meanwhile two spots from the McCain-Palin campaign, together with the Republican National Committee, describe McCain’s support for the research; they’re largely accurate.
By saying that "John McCain has stood in the way – he’s opposed stem cell research," the Obama ad seriously misstates the view that McCain has held on this issue since 2001, when he began backing embryonic stem cell research,

Not Coming Clean on Coal

Summary
The McCain-Palin campaign is airing radio ads in four states claiming that the Obama-Biden ticket "oppose[s] clean coal." That's false:

Obama's energy plan, which he began promoting well over a year ago, calls for investing in "low emissions coal plants" and creating "5 'first-of-a-kind' commercial scale coal-fired plants with carbon capture and sequestration." His position in support of clean coal has been clear.
The ad's claim rests solely on a remark Biden made when questioned while shaking hands on a rope line in Ohio.

FactChecking Debate No. 1

Summary
McCain and Obama contradicted each other repeatedly during their first debate, and each volunteered some factual misstatements as well. Here’s how we sort them out:

Obama said McCain adviser Henry Kissinger backs talks with Iran “without preconditions,” but McCain disputed that. In fact, Kissinger did recently call for “high level” talks with Iran starting at the secretary of state level and said, “I do not believe that we can make conditions.” After the debate the McCain campaign issued a statement quoting Kissinger as saying he didn’t favor presidential talks with Iran.

Obama’s Trade Trickery

Summary
An Obama-Biden ad ties McCain to the closing of a plant in Pennsylvania. Its assertions are misleading and false:

The ad says McCain "sold … out" workers whose factory closed. But there was nothing McCain, or anyone could have done. The factory was making parts for televisions that are becoming obsolete. The company in question has called the ad "misleading."
It implies jobs were sent to China by saying that workers were paid to "disassemble the plant and ship the equipment to China"