Democratic Debate: Fact Check

Setting the record straight on claims made during Thursday night's debate.

ByABC News via logo
January 31, 2008, 5:49 PM

Feb. 1, 2008 — -- Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were gracious during Thursday night's debate, but the facts they ran up against were stubborn.

Clinton for years has attempted to rewrite history about her Iraq War vote. Thursday night was no different. She said of her October 2002 vote to authorize use of force against Iraq that she "warned at the time it was not authority for a preemptive war."

A review of her speech on the Senate floor, however, shows that she said that her vote was not one in favor of a broad change in U.S. policy.

"My vote is not, however, a vote for any new doctrine of preemption, or for unilateralism, or for the arrogance of American power or purpose," she said, "all of which carry grave dangers for our nation, for the rule of international law and for the peace and security of people throughout the world."

Moreover, regardless of whatever she warned, the legislation was called Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq. And the other comments she made in her floor speech indicated she knew full well what her vote meant. "It is a vote that puts awesome responsibility in the hands of our president," she said then. "And we say to him, 'Use these powers wisely and as a last resort.'"

The Clinton campaign maintains that there is nothing inconsistent with the senator's statement, or her vote, and that she had been given assurances by the White House that the vote was merely one to give the president the proper tools to force Saddam Hussein to let in U.N. weapons inspectors.

Thursday night Clinton also claimed that there are "20,000 National Guard and Reserve members in California who have access to health care because I teamed up with Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to get that done."

That's a misleading figure, one Clinton often overstates, applying it to every National Guardsman and not just those who benefit from her law. As has pointed out, all National Guardsmen and women, and reservists have health insurance while on duty and for a short time afterward. According to a Pentagon survey, four out of five of the soldiers have health insurance when they're off duty as well, because of their job or spouse. Clinton's legislation gives these soldiers the opportunity to purchase health insurance called TriCare when not on active duty.