Fact Checking the New Hampshire Debate

By ABC News

Jan 7, 2012 9:35pm

Fact Check 1 - Romney created 100,000 jobs at Bain Capital
Fact Check 2 - Santorum’s Ethics Record and Lobbyist Cash
Fact Check 3Perry: Defense Cuts will compromise America’s freedoms
Fact Check 4Perry: Obama Is Waging War on Religion
Fact Check 5Send the troops back to Iraq?
Fact Check 6No state is trying to ban contraceptives?
Fact Check 7Utah was the No. 1 job creating state when Huntsman was governor
Fact Check 8Government regulations keep America’s manufacturing sector from being competitive
Fact Check 9Obama called the Iranian election “legitimate”
Fact Check 10When Is the BCS Football Championship Game?

Fact or Fiction Number 1 - Mitt Romney created 100,000 jobs while heading Bain Capital

ABC News’s Matt Negrin reports:

Newt Gingrich raced out of the gate in tonight’s debate by being skeptical of Mitt Romney’s claim that Bain was responsible for creating 100,000 jobs, and he pointed to scrutiny of the firm in a recent New York Times article and a documentary.

In response, Romney repeated a familiar talking point – that Bain, under his leadership, was responsible for creating 100,000 jobs at companies in which it invested. Romney was asked tonight if the 100,000 jobs are discounting the number of jobs that were lost at companies backed by Bain. He said the figure includes “both” and that it’s a “net” tally. He rattled off some talking points on companies that added jobs, like Sports Authority and Staples.

Bain was not the sole investor in Staples (which Romney said added 90,000 jobs) nor Sports Authority (which he said added 15,000). In 2002, for example, Staples founder Tom Stemberg wrote on CNN Money that Bain “gave us a boost.” Though the company also had help from two other firms. Sports Authority, too, was started with financial help from a few other investors.

Democrats were quick to respond to Romney’s claim tonight. In an email to reporters, the party pointed to a number of quotes the candidate has made years ago about that figure — including this part from a 1994 Boston Globe article: ”In a telephone interview late yesterday, Romney dismissed the characterization of Staples and his other investments as streamlining, saying that what he has done is ‘build and grow businesses,’ not shrink them. He asserted that there is no way to calculate whether jobs have been lost or gained economy-wide as a result of his ventures, and noted his 10,000-job figure simply measures what happened to employment at companies in which Bain invested.”

FactCheck.org checked Romney’s 100,000 jobs claim earlier this week and found it to be “unproven and questionable.”

Rick Santorum, standing to Romney’s left on the stage, was asked early in the debate whether his comment that the United States doesn’t need a CEO (it needs a leader) was directed at Romney; he confirmed that, yes, it was.

Fact or Fiction Number 2 -  Santorum was called “corrupt” and took the most lobbyist cash of any lawmaker in Washington

ABC News’ Chris Good reports:

During the debate, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum sparred over Santorum’s ethics record. Who characterized it more accurately?

Moderator George Stephanopoulos asked Ron Paul about this ad, which the Texas congressman’s campaign will begin airing in South Carolina on Monday:

The ad accuses Santorum of corruption and states that he took the most money from lobbyists of any member of Congress, during his time in Washington.

Paul stood by the ad tonight, noting that the “corruption” allegation originally came from an independent group. Santorum protested that the group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), had leveled “ridiculous” charges against him and that CREW disproportionately makes such charges against conservatives.

Both are (mostly) right.

On the topic of lobbyist cash: Santorum did receive the most contributions from lobbyists and lobbying groups in the 2006 election cycle, when he lost to Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Santorum’s objection—that the total was based on PAC donations—is partly true. Center for Responsive Politics counts both PAC and individual (over $200) donations, according to its listed methodology.

On the topic of corruption, CREW did file a complaint against Santorum, and it did list Santorum on its “most corrupt” members of Congress list in 2006. But the complaint was never taken up by the Senate Ethics Committee and Santorum lost his reelection campaign, as noted in this ABC News story. CREW’s complaint alleged that a loan violated the Senate gift rule and that Santorum appeared to have traded legislative action for donations. Santorum did write a letter to Pennsylvania newspaper protesting the allegations.

As for CREW’s partisanship: Santorum is probably right about CREW’s reputation among Republicans, but the group focuses its criticism on both parties. Its current “most corrupt” list includes 10 Republicans and four Democrats.

When Santorum made the list, in an election cycle marked by GOP ethics scandals, the list included 21 Republicans and four Democrats.

Fact or Fiction Number 3 - Perry: Defense Cuts will compromise America’s freedoms

ABC News’ Elizabeth Hartfield reports:

“You can’t cut $1 trillion from DOD and expect America’s freedoms aren’t going to be compromised.”

That was the claim stated by Texas Governor Rick Perry in response to a question from WMUR’s political director Josh McElveen about the role of President as a commander-in-chief. The claim, was in reference to Obama’s shrinking of the military, as outlined to the Pentagon earlier this week.

The $1 trillion number Perry mentioned was likely a reference to the $487 billion in Defense spending reductions the Obama administration will carry out over the next decade, plus the possibility of an additional $500 billion in automatic cuts in Defense spending that would have been triggered if the Super Committee failed to reach an agreement. Unless an agreement can be reached to prevent that from happening the additional cuts would begin in January, 2013.

Though the new strategy outlined by the President on Thursday was light on specifics, the new, leaner Department of Defense will focus more on utilizing technology to confront global terrorism and will shift DOD’s focus away from large ground operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and more towards operations in the Pacific.

Many military officials have been skeptical about these cuts, but Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey offered his support of the plan on Thursday.

“There will be people who think it goes too far. Others will say it doesn’t go nearly far enough” the general said. “That probably makes it about right. It gives us what we need.”

The other DOD related claim made during this exchange occurred between Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, when Paul criticized Gingrich for not serving in Vietnam. Gingrich claimed he was not eligible for the draft. During the years of the Vietnam war Gingrich was a student, earning his M.A. followed by his Ph.D in modern European history in 1971.

Under the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 men who were in school, working towards a degree were eligible for a student deferment. Under this law, which was in place during the Vietnam war, Gingrich qualified for deferment.

Fact or Fiction Number 4 - Perry: Obama Is Waging War on Religion

Rick Perry accused President Obama of battling religion — Catholicism in particular — in tonight’s debate, saying those battles would “stop” if the Texas governor is elected president.

In particular, Perry cited the Obama administration’s decision in September to deny funding to Catholic charities for victims of sex trafficking. Perry opined that Obama did so because he disagrees with Catholics over abortion.

The Christian Post wrote that the Obama administration made the decision “because it does not provide clients with access to abortion and birth control services.”

“This administration’s war on religion is what bothers me greatly,” Perry said at the debate.

Perry’s rhetoric might be an exaggeration, though it’s certainly reminiscent of an ad he released in which he said: “You don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school. As president, I’ll end Obama’s war on religion.”

Most respondents in a poll by Yahoo! don’t agree with Perry’s assessment of the White House’s stance on religion. Out of nearly 20,000 votes in a real-time poll conducted by Yahoo.com during the debate, 58 percent of voters said they didn’t agree with the Texas governor.

Fact or Fiction Number 5 - U.S. could send troops back into Iraq, civil war is around the corner in Afghanistan

ABC News’ Chris Good reports:

Rick Perry floated a new idea in tonight’s debate: Sending troops back into Iraq.

“I would send troops back into Iraq because I will tell you, I think we start talking with the Iraqi individuals there,” Perry said. “The idea that we allow the Iranians to come back into Iraq and take over that country with all of the treasure both in blood and money that we have spent in Iraq because this president wants to kowtow to this liberal leftist base and move out those men and women.”

Republicans like Mitt Romney cautioned, as the last U.S. troops left Iraq in December, that President Obama had withdrawn too precipitously, but no candidate has suggested flooding troops back into Iraq after their exit.

The question about Perry’s comment: If the U.S. wanted to send troops back to Iraq, could it?

The answer: probably not. While a U.S. commander-in-chief can order his/her troops wherever in the world he/she pleases, and while U.S. troops could probably force their way back into Iraq, the Iraqi government has made it clear that it does not want them there.

U.S. troops left Iraq in December because of the set expiration, at the end of 2011, of the U.S.-Iraqi “Status of Forces Agreement” to keep them there. The Obama administration had engaged in talks with Iraq to keep some U.S. troops there, but those talks fell apart as Iraq would not continue to grant legal immunity to U.S. troops within its borders, as ABC’s Jake Tapper reported in October. Since the exit of U.S. troops, Iraq has seen a wave of violence.

Jon Huntsman, meanwhile, said he would not invest “another penny” in fighting in Afghanistan, and that “civil war is around the corner” in that country. It’s worth noting the state of affairs between the U.S., the Afghan government, and the Taliban. U.S. negotiations with the Taliban have the support of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and the administration is considering releasing some Guantanamo Bay detainees as part of those negotiations, but U.S. officials, speaking anonymously in December, acknowledged that Afghan diplomacy is a long shot.

Fact or Fiction Number 6 - No states are trying to ban contraceptives

ABC News’ Greg Krieg reports:

Mitt Romney thinks contraception is “working just fine.”

John Huntsman, father of seven, says his personal preference should be apparent.

Rick Santorum has a more nuanced view on the use, and right to use, condoms and birth control. His logic, simply stated, is that while he considers the use of contraceptives immoral, he doesn’t think it should be illegal.

“The states have a right to do a lot of things. That doesn’t mean they should do it, ” Santorum told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. “Someone asked me if the states have the right to do it? Yes. They have the right to do it, they shouldn’t do it.”

Simple, right? Not exactly. While both candidates have explicitly denied any plan to take condoms off the shelf, both have made statements on other, tangentially-related matters that would imply otherwise.

Romney backed Mississippi’s ultimately failed (it was voted down in a referendum) Personhood Amendment, which if passed would have defined life as having begun at the point of conception.

Such language “could potentially ban common forms of contraception like the birth control pill, as well as prevent a pregnant woman experiencing complications that threaten her life or health to obtain safe abortion care,” Molly A.K. Connors wrote in New Hampshire’s Concord Monitor.

In 2005, Romney, then the governor of Massachusetts, vetoed a bill meant to expand emergency access to the “morning after pill.” The law would have required hospitals to offer the pill to rape survivors and allowed for certain state-sanctioned pharmacists to sell it without asking for a prescription.

“The bill does not involve only the prevention of conception: The drug it authorizes would also terminate life after conception,” Romney wrote, defending the veto in this op-ed piece.

For his part, Santorum has often spoken out against the Supreme Court’s ruling in Griswold vs. Connecticut (1965). That decision, which stated that the constitution protected “the right to privacy,” was inspired by an ultimately overturned state ban on contraception.

Santorum and many anti-Abortionists feel that the ruling paved the way for Roe v. Wade.
The Griswold case, he said yesterday, “created a new Constitutional right, which in my opinion is judicial activism.”

So while it would be unfair to say Santorum wants to ban contraception, he has been and remains a vocal opponent of the most prominent court ruling in its favor.

Fact or Fiction Number 7 - Utah was the No. 1 job creating state when Huntsman was governor

FactCheck.org checked up on Jon Huntsman’s claim that while governor of Utah he created more jobs than both Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. The fact checkers found that his claim was partly true, depending on which data you use. Utah’s job growth was definitely above the national average under Huntsman’s term, but using Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Texas’ job growth ranked higher.

Check out all the details from FactCheck.org here.

Fact or Fiction Number 8 – Government regulations are the biggest barrier to making America’s manufacturing sector competitive

ABC News’ Elizabeth Hartfield reports:
Former Senator Rick Santorum, who frequently cites his roots as the grandson of a coal-miner, asserted that America’s manufacturing sector has been devastated in recent years because we are uncompetitive in a global economy.

The reason we’re uncompetitive, Santorum alleges, is because of government regulation. Santorum claims that the U.S. corporate tax rate- 35 percent- is the highest in the world.

That fact is actually incorrect- the U.S. tax rate is the second highest in the world, Japan is the highest at 39.5 percent. Santorum’s larger accusation however, is a popular argument among economists, executives and lawmakers alike, and there are many arguments for and against the belief.

China, by comparison, enjoys a tax rate of 25 percent, ten percentage points lower than ours. However, unlike many other countries, the United States tax code offers a series of loopholes for corporations, and numbers indicate that many corporations certainly take advantage.

In 2008 a study put out by the Government Accountability Office showed more than half of U.S. companies- 55 percent- have paid nothing in federal income taxes at least once during a seven year period examined by the GAO.

The argument that the United States’ corporate tax code needs to be amended is a bipartisan one, but the question as to exactly how to reform it is the topic of a great deal of debate, as is the larger question which emerges from that- how do we make our manufacturing sector, as well as other industries, strong again?

Fact or Fiction Number 9 - President Obama said the Iranian election was “legitimate”

Rick Santorum said at tonight’s debate that President Obama “tacitly supported” the 2009 re-election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and called the elections “legitimate.”

FactCheck.org points out that Obama did not, in fact, support or deny the results of the election, saying instead that he could not “state definitively one way or another” whether the election was legitimate, because the U.S. did not have election monitors in Iran.

Fact or Fiction Number 10 - If they weren’t debating, candidates would be at home watching an NCAA football (or basketball) championship

ABC News’ Greg Krieg’s Instant Fact Check: There is no college football championship game being played tonight. There is an NFL playoff game. But no college ball.

ABC News’ Chris Good reports:

America loves sports, and for a politicians, fanship is a good way to prove you’re just one of the guys or gals. Most of the time.

Asked by moderator George Stephanopoulos what they’d be doing on Saturday night if they weren’t debating, three candidates said they’d be at home watching a national-championship college sports game.

Unfortunately, no such game was being played. Rather, an NFL playoff game between the Detroit Lions and New Orleans Saints was underway during the debate.

“Watching the national-championship college basketball game,” Newt Gingrich said in response to  Stephanopoulos’s final debate question. “Football,” he adjusted, when corrected on the sport.

Santorum agreed: He’d be at home watching the national-championship NCAA football game.

“It’s football,” Mitt Romney said, also agreeing. “I love it.”

False: It’s neither. Badly as they may have wanted to, no candidate could have been watching a football or basketball championship game tonight.

Alabama and LSU will play on Monday for the BCS championship–in football–in a much-anticipated rematch of the overtime slugfest held in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 6, which LSU won 9-6.

Note to Gingrich, Santorum, and Romney: The game will be broadcast at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. Monday.

Fact Check compiled by ABC News’ Amy Bingham.

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