A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Taking Liberties in Philadelphia

Summary

Clinton and Obama both strained the facts at times during their debate in Philadelphia.

Clinton said "people died" in 1970s bombings by a radical group of which an Obama acquaintance was a member. In fact, the deaths were of three members of the Weather Underground itself, who died when their own bombs accidentally exploded.
Obama said, "I have never said that I don’t wear flag pins or refuse to wear flag pins." Actually,

More Speaking Time: Obama or Clinton?

Q: Who gets more time during debates, Obama or Clinton?
A: Obama spoke longer in their two February debates, but Clinton had more time in their January meeting.

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.

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.

Simi Valley Showdown

Summary

With a nationwide wave of nominating contests looming next week, Republican presidential candidates held their last scheduled debate against the backdrop of Ronald Reagan’s retired Air Force One. But we found some of the candidates' facts just won’t fly.

Romney complained that McCain used "the wrong data" about job creation to support his assertion that Massachusetts had ranked 47th among the 50 states while Romney was governor. Romney was wrong;

Bogus Claims in Boca

Summary
In last night's debate, held days before Tuesday's Republican primary in the Sunshine State, the remaining GOP candidates came up with a few new factual distortions and repeated several old ones. Among them:

McCain said he had won the Republican vote in both the South Carolina and New Hampshire primaries, where independent voters also participate. One exit poll showed him narrowly prevailing with Republicans in New Hampshire, while another didn’t. And the same poll that favored him in that state had him losing the GOP vote to Huckabee in South Carolina.

Clinton-Obama Slugfest

Summary
In one of the liveliest debates of the 2008 presidential campaign, the three top Democrats slugged it out in Myrtle Beach, S.C. We noted some low blows:

Clinton falsely accused Obama of saying he "really liked the ideas of the Republicans" including private Social Security accounts and deficit spending. Not true. The entire 49-minute interview to which she refers contains no endorsement of private Social Security accounts or deficit spending, and Obama specifically scorned GOP calls for tax cuts.

Stacking the Deck

Summary
The three leading Democratic presidential candidates debated in Las Vegas and we noted the following:

Clinton once again mischaracterized the 2005 energy bill, saying it had "enormous giveaways" to oil and gas companies. In truth, the measure raised taxes on those industries.
Obama accused the Bush administration of failing to make "any serious effort" to encourage use of alternative fuels or raise fuel efficiency of automobiles. In fact, President Bush has signed major bills that do both.

Myrtle Beach Blarney

Summary

Another debate, another round of fact-checking. The GOP meeting in South Carolina was the third for Republican candidates in a week, but they haven’t run out of exaggerations or misstatements:

Romney claimed Massachusetts gained jobs "every single month" he was governor after hitting a low point. In fact the job gains seesawed, with seven of 36 months producing job losses.
Huckabee escalated his misleading claims about cutting taxes, saying he cut taxes for the first time in the history of the state of Arkansas,

One-Two Punch for GOP

Summary

In the final debate before New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary election, five Republican candidates appeared on Fox News. We found no shortage of recycled bunk, and a new twist or two:

Huckabee repeated his claim to have made 94 tax cuts including the "first broad-based tax cut" in the history of Arkansas, though he actually signed tax bills that resulted in a net increase in taxes of $500 million.
Romney said his increases in "fees"