Fact check: Debate claims get second look

ByABC News
January 31, 2008, 7:04 PM

WASHINGTON -- The Republican presidential candidates debated Wednesday night in California, less than a week before the Super Tuesday contests that could decide the GOP nomination. Some of the claims and counterclaims made by the leading candidates, Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney:

The claim:Romney criticized McCain during the debate for voting against tax cuts backed by President Bush and passed by Congress in 2001 and 2003.

The facts:McCain did vote against both tax bills, saying Bush's plan cut taxes too much for the wealthy and not enough for everyone else. "I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us, at the expense of middle-class Americans who most need tax relief," McCain said in 2001.

During debate in 2004 on a different, smaller tax cut package that he supported, McCain said: "I support extending this tax relief to American families, but we have got to wake up and take a long, hard look at how we are going to pay for all of this." He has since voted to make the Bush tax cuts permanent.

As governor, Romney opposed broad-based tax hikes but signed legislation closing what he called corporate tax "loopholes" that resulted in some businesses paying more taxes. Romney also raised some fees for state services. During the debate, McCain said Romney had raised fees by $730 million, while Romney said the total was $240 million.

The claim:McCain said Romney supported setting a timetable to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.

The facts:McCain bases his claim on a Romney interview that aired on ABC's Good Morning America last April.

Asked whether the United States should set a timetable to withdraw troops from Iraq, Romney said: "Well, there's no question that the president and Prime Minister (Nouri) al-Maliki have to have a series of timetables and milestones that they speak about. But those shouldn't be for public pronouncement. You don't want the enemy to understand how long they have to wait in the weeds until you're going to be gone. You want to have a series of things you want to see accomplished in terms of the strength of the Iraqi military and the Iraqi police, and the leadership of the Iraqi government."