A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Closing Arguments: McCain

With just hours remaining before Election Day, both the Obama-Biden and McCain-Palin campaigns are making their final pitch for your votes. Sen. Barack Obama hopes to hold off a late-inning McCain rally by repeating several unlikely promises, which we examine in another article, “Closing Arguments: Obama.” Meanwhile, hoping to prove the pollsters wrong, John McCain and Sarah Palin flog some new attempts to cast doubt on Obama’s character; one concerns a seven-year-old interview and another, a five-year-old video.

Sleaze Sells

When we ran an article yesterday calling the first TV spot from The National Republican Trust PAC one of the sleaziest false ads we’ve seen, the group had reported spending just under $1 million. But it seems that the attack, which featured Mohammed Atta, may have helped the upstart group strike gold: In an Oct. 29 fundraising e-mail NRT PAC claims to have raised more than $3 million.
The ad flashes an image of the 9/11 terrorist’s Florida driver’s license while falsely charging that Obama has a “plan”

A License to Kill

Summary
An upstart group calling itself the "National Republican Trust PAC" mixes a pile of false claims and the image of 9/11 mastermind Mohammed Atta to create one of the sleaziest false TV ads of the campaign.

The spot falsely claims Obama has a "plan" to issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. In fact, Obama has said quite specifically, "I am not proposing that that’s what we do."
The ad implies such licenses would enable terrorist attacks.

Truth Invaders

If you’re like us, you just can’t live without 1) fact-checking and 2) ’80s arcade games. So you can imagine how psyched we were to find Truth Invaders, which lets us use our mad Space Invaders skills to shoot down some of our favorite false claims. And there’s a special bonus for those who blast the bogusness: links to FactCheck.org and our fellow fact-checkers-in-arms at PolitiFact.com, the Washington Post and CNN.
You should check it out.

Joe the Plumber

He certainly got plenty of airtime.
For those of you who don’t know what that exchange was all about, McCain and Obama were referring to an impromptu encounter between Obama and Toledo, Ohio, plumber Joe Wurzelbacher. Jake Tapper, at ABC News, has the full video.
The short version: Wurzelbacher is a plumber looking to buy a company. He’s concerned that Obama’s tax plan will raise his taxes. That may well be true. As we’ve written before,

The $79 Billion Iraqi Surplus, Reconsidered

We’ve criticized both Barack Obama and Joe Biden several times now for claiming that the U.S. is spending $10 billion a month to Iraq while that nation is sitting on a $79 billion surplus. We wrote that the $79 billion figure was out of date because Iraq had since passed a $22.3 billion supplemental spending bill. Our criticism was based on a report from the Government Accountability Office. But we misread the report. The figure that Obama and Biden use is probably still too high,

Oversimplifying the Fiscal Crisis

It’s finger-pointing time again, with each candidates blaming the other for the financial crisis. McCain called Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac the “catalyst” for the crisis and blamed Obama for failing to sign on to a bill to rein in the FMs. Obama countered that it’s a culture of deregulation and lack of oversight that caused the problem.
We’ve been here before. Both candidates have a point: Democrats really have fought regulation of the FMs and McCain has in fact been in favor of deregulation.

Earmark Numbers

Obama’s right about earmark amounts. According to the budget watchdog group, Taxpayers for Common Sense, earmarks totaled just $18.3 billion in 2008. Citizens Against Government Waste came in with a slightly smaller number of $17.2 billion, and the Office of Management and Budget smaller still at $16.9 billion.

The Return of the Oil Slick

McCain accused Obama of voting for a “Bush and Cheney” energy bill that gave away billions to oil companies. McCain is referring to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which Obama did in fact vote for. Sen. Clinton raised this same charge against Obama during the Democratic primaries. It was misleading then and it’s equally misleading now.
In fact, according to a Congressional Research Service report, more tax breaks were taken away from oil companies than were given. 

‘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,