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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

The Facts About ‘NAFTA-Gate’

Clinton’s spokesman says a newly surfaced memo proves that Obama’s campaign issued false denials about sending a private message to Canadian officials to disregard his criticisms of NAFTA. The Obama camp says it’s all a misunderstanding, and the Canadian embassy in Washington says it regrets the whole thing.

Cleveland Clinkers

The Clinton-Obama showdown debate in Cleveland produced several false, twisted or dubious claims, most of which we’ve heard and debunked before. Both Obama and Clinton claimed their health care plans would cut costs more than the other’s, and that experts back them up on that. But experts we talked to said the plans are too similar to predict which would save more, and two experts said neither plan can save nearly as much as the candidates claim.

Clinton Edits ‘The Truth’

Hillary Clinton, stung by an Obama mailer that painted her as a supporter of the North American Free Trade agreement, is responding in kind with a barrage of postcards saying, “Ohio needs to know the truth about Obama’s position on Protecting American Workers and NAFTA.” But the mailer gives less than the whole truth.

Obama Mailings ‘False’?

Clinton said “every Democrat should be outraged” at two “false” mailers that Obama sent to voters in Ohio. We find that a mailer criticizing her position on trade is indeed misleading. One that attacks her health care plan we have previously described as straining the facts, though not exactly “false.”

Clinton-Obama Pillow Fight

The most recent Obama-Clinton debate drew little blood, but we noted a few factual claims that could use correcting or clarifying: Clinton wrongly implied that Obama had little or no accomplishments to his credit. Obama recited a list of achievements at both the state and federal level, which we found to be accurate.

They’ve Got You Covered?

In television ads, Clinton’s campaign says her health care plan is the only one that will provide universal coverage, while Obama says his plan will cover all Americans, too. We find: Obama is being misleading when he says his proposal would “cover everyone.” It would make coverage available to all, but experts we consulted estimate that 15 million to 26 million wouldn’t take it up unless required to do so.

Monday Night Quibbles

In separate, 30-minute question-and-answer sessions sponsored by The Politico and a Washington, D.C., television station, Obama and Clinton for the most part stuck to the facts – or, often, to statements that were matters of judgment and thus out of our bailiwick. But, our mission being to point out the diminutive distortions as well as the big, fat slabs of baloney, we bring you flubs we found in last night’s non-debate:

You’ve Got Mailers!

A direct-mail piece sent to voters by the Clinton campaign twists Obama’s words and gives a false picture of his proposals: It says he “wants to raise Social Security taxes by a trillion dollars,” a big distortion. Obama has said a “good option” would be to apply Social Security payroll taxes to incomes over $97,500 a year, but that would only affect taxes paid by 6.5 percent of individuals and couples. And he hasn’t formally proposed such a move anyway.

Harry & Louise Again?

An Obama mailer stretches the differences between the candidates on health care. Specifically: It touts measures included in Obama’s plan to help low-income individuals buy insurance but fails to mention that Clinton would provide similar financial assistance. It says Obama’s plan would save the average family $2,500 per year – an estimate provided by experts at the campaign’s request – but doesn’t say that Clinton estimates hers will save $2,200 per year.

L.A. Lovefest

Clinton and Obama left their recent bitterness behind at the Democratic debate prior to a nationwide series of primaries and caucuses on Feb. 5. They emphasized their areas of agreement and looked more like running mates than rivals for the nomination. By the end, both were ducking a question about whether the other would be their pick for vice president, and afterward they practically embraced in front of the cameras.