Fact-Checking the Presidential Debate

By Calvin Woodward

WASHINGTON (AP) - Voters didn't always get the straight goods when President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney made their case for foreign policy and national security leadership Monday night before their last super-sized audience of the campaign. A few of their detours into domestic issues were problematic too.

A look at some of their statements and how they compare with the facts:

ROMNEY on Syria: "What I'm afraid of is we've watched over the past year or so, first the president saying, 'Well, we'll let the U.N. deal with it.' And Assad - excuse me, Kofi Annan - came in and said we're going to try to have a cease-fire. That didn't work. Then it went to the Russians and said, 'Let's see if you can do something.' We should be playing the leadership role there."

OBAMA: "We are playing the leadership role."

THE FACTS: Under Obama, the United States has taken a lead in trying to organize Syria's splintered opposition, even if the U.S. isn't interested in military intervention or providing direct arms support to the rebels. The administration has organized dozens of meetings in Turkey and the Middle East aimed at rallying Syria's political groups and rebel formations to agree on a common vision for a democratic future after Syrian President Bashar Assad is defeated. And Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton brought dozens of nations together as part of the Friends of Syria group to combine aid efforts to Syria's opposition and help it win the support of as many as Syrians as possible. The U.S. also is involved in vetting recipients of military aid from America's Arab allies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Romney is partly right in pointing out Obama's failure to win U.N. support for international action in Syria. But the Friends of Syria group has helped bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid and other forms of assistance to Syrian civilians and the political opposition.

In trying to describe the strategic importance of seeing Assad defeated, Romney stumbled in saying Syria was Iran's "route to the sea." Iran has a large southern coastline with access to the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. It has no land border with Syria.


ROMNEY: Said that when he was Massachusetts governor, high-school students who graduated in the top quarter "got a four-year, tuition-free ride at any Massachusetts public institution of higher learning."

OBAMA: "That happened before you came into office."

ROMNEY: "That was actually mine, actually, Mr. President. You got that fact wrong."

THE FACTS: Romney was right. The John and Abigail Adams scholarship program began in 2004 when he was governor.


ROMNEY: "In the 2000 debates, there was no mention of terrorism."

THE FACTS: There was passing mention of terrorism in the 2000 debates. In the Oct. 17, 2000, debate between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush, Gore talked about his work in Congress to "deal with the problems of terrorism and these new weapons of mass destruction." And in the vice presidential debate, Democrat Joe Lieberman defended the Clinton administration's record of preparing the armed forces to "meet the threats of the new generation of tomorrow, of weapons of mass destruction, of ballistic missiles, terrorism, cyber warfare." Romney's larger point, that the U.S. did not anticipate anything on the scale of terrorist threat that existed, is supported by the light attention paid to the subject in the debates.


OBAMA: "What I would not have had done was left 10,000 troops in Iraq that would tie us down. And that certainly would not help us in the Middle East."

THE FACTS: Obama was suggesting that he had never favored keeping U.S. troops in Iraq beyond the December 2011 withdrawal deadline that the Bush administration had negotiated with the Iraqi government. Actually, the Obama administration tried for many months to win Iraqi agreement to keeping several thousand American troops there beyond 2011 to continue training and advising the Iraqi armed forces. The talks broke down over a disagreement on legal immunity for U.S. troops.


Associated Press writers Bradley Klapper and Robert Burns contributed to this report.

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the moron page

October 25 2012 at 2:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to URQ196's comment

The liberal moron page.

October 25 2012 at 8:36 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

Obama lied about Lybia. See Huffington Post news. Romney 2012.

October 24 2012 at 11:15 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

its is sad everbody talking about the polls being tied but none one talk about the polls heree it go Obama is tied ok but here is romey breakdown he got about 30 % white how will never vote for a black man 10 % hardcore republican and 8 % of low information voters thats his base if Obama was white this would be a blow out

October 24 2012 at 9:27 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Obama lied and America died.

October 24 2012 at 8:37 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to freethedems2012's comment
Albert F

I think you meant to say W lied and troops died.

October 24 2012 at 10:00 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Albert F's comment

No, I meant what I posted.

October 24 2012 at 9:18 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down
patriot liberal

America is still the greatest country on earth. It DIDNT die and all you Republicans pretending to be patriots should turn off the fox news propaganda and start paying attention., Fact is Obama cut taxes, the economy has NOT shrunk it has grown, There is no gov. takeover of anything, not healthcare, not the auto industry. We are no more socialist now than we were before Obama. And all that B.S. about death panels, birth certificates, debates about Obama being the antichrist, "Obama's a muslim", evangelicals holding prayer meetings for God to kill Obama, well that just makes Republicans look like the goofballs most of them are. Time to face reality.

October 29 2012 at 11:21 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Are both these guys Politicians? Ans-YES. Watch mouth and see definition of Lie, untruth, prevarication,fabricated, not telling all you know.....that is all.

October 24 2012 at 7:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Practical Nomad


October 24 2012 at 5:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

from another fact checker...Romney described the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship program in Massachusetts as an example of his concern for promoting education. He accurately explained that the scholarship covered full in-state tuition for Massachusetts students who score in the top 25 percent on standardized tests in their school districts. What he left out was that the scholarship doesn’t cover fees, which in the Massachusetts state university system are greater than tuition. At the flagship University of Massachusetts (Amherst), one semester of in-state tuition is $857. Fees each semester, meanwhile, can total more than $5,700. And that doesn’t include one-time fees.

October 24 2012 at 5:21 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to djock's comment

Now that's funny, I bet you are the only one who complains about getting $857 towards collage paid by the state.

October 24 2012 at 6:24 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Just consider the quality of the man, his dignity, his openness. Think about the conception and history of this great nation. Do we really want to be transformed into a Godless socialist state? Romney is a Godsend, and if he loses this crucial election, we lose our once great nation.

October 24 2012 at 4:55 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Carolyn's comment
Ike Reeves

His OPENNESS?! He has no specifics to his 5-point plan, his tax records which he conceals from us, were shown to McCain who then chose Palin? What was there? We'll never know, will we? Worse, he doesn't think we can handle it.
You do realize that this supposed 'man of God' is a Bishop in an organization that prevented Black people from serving in the priesthood until 1978? That he avoided serving his country in time of a war he supported?
Ask one of the workers whose job was lost to Bain's tactics and try to convince him that Romney was a dignified man.
PLEASE think again. And check out Adelson, his source of millions. Is THAT a dignified man?
He's being investigated by our government for shady and illegal international business practices. Hardly a Godsend. Probably sent 'from elsewhere'.

October 24 2012 at 5:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
patriot liberal

You mean Mr. flip flop? Mr. Swiss bank account? Mr. outsource? What planet are you from Carolyn, this dude is a fake and Republicans are choking on his Koolaid. And where is all this Socialism that you are so afraid of? its not in the auto industry or in healthcare. Where are you getting all this B.S. from????

October 29 2012 at 11:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Economy has improved since Obama took office...just not as fast as everyone would like. Newsflash, it will take way more than 4 years to fix the mess that the US was in. Whichever candidate is elected will just have to continue digging us out of that hole. After another 4 years we still won't be out of this mess, but hopefully there will be some improvement. It's a gradual process. Everyone is all for quick fixes. Our economy just isn't one of them.

October 24 2012 at 3:46 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Aimee's comment

Newsflash, Aimee, the economy has not improved. We have more unemployed, more underemployed, more no longer looking for employment (estimates are abut 15% unemployment), more businesses going out, increasing taxes (Obama's brilliant plan) will only spiral us further down, his stimulus has failed, our enemies view us as weaker (Obama's made plans with Russia to dismantle our missile defense system), he's slashing military funding, which will further impact our already depleted military. He also promised to cut our deficit in half, and he has added to it, from 10 trillion to 16 trillion.
Here's a big clue for you: Reagan inherited a worse economy from Carter and turned it around in less than 4 years, to the most prosperous era's in history. He didn't blame Carter for the next 8 years. He brought Russia down without us having to go to war by building our military to the greatest in history (dems have been slashing it ever since).He has no plan for changing anything except our constitution, our wealth and our democracy. VOTE HIM OUT IN 2012!!

October 24 2012 at 5:25 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

"Economy improved". Another lie.

October 24 2012 at 8:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to freethedems2012's comment
patriot liberal

Lie? Last time we had a Republican president we were losing hundreds of thousands of jobs a month with 750,000 lost in the January that Obama was sworn in. And you say he didnt inherit anything? Since then the stock market has more than doubled, that should make anyone with a 401K happy. Wall street bonuses have broken records, and last year corporate earnings broke records. Unemployment??? Well a quarter of the economy, the housing market, is still winding itself out of a hole. and NOTHING the president can do will help that, but on all the other fronts the economy isn't all that bad. Manufacturing has returned as well but not strong enough to replace all the construction workers, realtors, assessors, loan officers, etc that lost work because of housing. And Romneys plan?????? deregulate something and create another bubble perhaps?

October 29 2012 at 11:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down
Diana V. Farnham

I decided to watched the movie 2016 before I go to vote so that I could be more informed about such an important matter. I'm glad I did. Please everyone watch the movie before you go to vote. You can download it on line for 3.99 and its worth every penny.

October 24 2012 at 2:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Diana V. Farnham's comment
patriot liberal

So you decided to watch some propaganda to make yourself more informed? Now thats a true Republican move

October 29 2012 at 11:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply