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Oh, yeah? Fact-checking the presidential candidates

Did you hear the one about Romney? Fact-checking journalists found some of the assertions in Saturday night's Republican debate to be at least a little wobbly and in some cases outright false.

By Staff writer / December 11, 2011

Republican presidential candidate Texas Governor Rick Perry makes a point as former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney looks on during the Republican Party presidential candidates debate at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, Saturday night.

Jeff Haynes/Reuters

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“Fact-checking” the assertions of debaters in the presidential race has become a small industry. Newspapers and wire services do it. So do special websites dedicated to holding candidates accountable for their claims – especially the ones they make about their rivals.

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Among others, the Washington Post, USA Today, the Boston Globe, and PolitiFact.com took a look at Saturday night’s Republican debate in Des Moines, Iowa, and found some of the assertions to be at least a little wobbly and in some cases outright false.

Some examples:

In response to a charge by Michele Bachmann about controlling the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, Newt Gingrich said, “I oppose cap and trade, I testified against it, the same day that Al Gore testified for it. I helped defeat it in the Senate.”

Bzzz!

What Gingrich said four years ago, is this: “I think if you have mandatory carbon caps combined with a trading system, much like we did with sulfur, and if you have a tax-incentive program for investing in the solutions, that there’s a package there that’s very, very good. And frankly, it’s something I would strongly support.”

Mitt Romney said President Obama “decided he was going to try and negotiate for Israel by saying, let’s go back to the '67 borders.”

Bzzz!

What Obama actually said was, “We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states…. It means that the parties themselves – Israelis and Palestinians – will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. That's what mutually agreed-upon swaps means. It is a well-known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation.”

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On health care, Rick Perry turned to Romney and said, “I read your first book, and it said in there that your mandate in Massachusetts, which should be the model for the country – and I know it came out of the reprint of the book, but, you know, I'm just saying, you were for individual mandates, my friend.”

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