Politics

October 12, 2012

In the heat of debate, facts often suffer

So how did Vice President Biden and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan do when it came to getting their facts right?

By CALVIN WOODWARD The Associated Press

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Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., shake hands before the start of the vice presidential debate at Centre College in Danville, Ky., on Thursday night.

The Associated Press

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FORIDA VOTERS FLOCK TO ROMNEY

Republican Mitt Romney has opened a large, 7 percentage-point lead over President Obama in must-win Florida, according to a new poll of likely voters conducted for The Miami Herald and the Tampa Bay Times.

Romney’s 51 percent to 44 percent advantage is just on the cusp of the poll’s error margin – and it marks a dramatic 8-point shift since last month.

“Obama’s now swimming upstream,” said Brad Coker, pollster with Mason Dixon Polling & Research, which conducted the survey of 800 likely Florida voters this month and last for the Herald and its news partners, including Bay News 9 and Central Florida News 13.

The previous poll, which showed Obama with an inside-the-error-margin lead, was before last week’s debate when Obama gave a lackluster performance while Romney appeared to excel. This latest poll showed that 5 percent of those who said they were undecided before the debate say they will vote for Romney. And 4 percent of those who said they favored Obama pre-debate moved away from the president – 2 percent toward Romney and 2 percent undecided.

Even Democrats were upset with Obama’s performance.

“I was disappointed,” said Phyllis Apple, a 90-year-old Democrat from Aventura. “He didn’t look like he was ready to fight. Maybe the president thought it wouldn’t look presidential.”

A top political adviser to the president, David Plouffe, acknowledged that the debate was a “wakeup call” and that the race has tightened. But, he said, he believes in the campaign’s message and its vast volunteer army that can turn out nontraditional voters who don’t necessarily get picked up in polls such as this one.

– The Miami Herald

BIDEN, when asked who would pay more taxes in Obama's second term: "People making a million dollars or more."

THE FACTS: Obama's proposed tax increase reaches farther down the income ladder than millionaires. He wants to roll back Bush-era tax cuts for individuals making over $200,000 and couples making more than $250,000.

RYAN: "We cannot allow Iran to gain a nuclear weapons capability. Now, let's take a look at where we've gone — come from. When Barack Obama was elected, they had enough fissile material — nuclear material — to make one bomb. Now they have enough for five. They're racing toward a nuclear weapon. They're four years closer toward a nuclear weapons capability."

THE FACTS: Ryan's claim is misleading. Iran isn't believed to have produced any of the highly enriched uranium needed to produce even one nuclear weapon, let alone five. That point isn't even disputed by Israel, whose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu implored the world at the United Nations last month to create a "red line" at enrichment above 20 percent. Iran would have to enrich uranium at much higher levels to produce a weapon. There is intelligence suggesting that Iran has worked on weapon designs, but not that it has developed a delivery system for any potential nuclear warhead.

BIDEN: "What we did is, we saved $716 billion and put it back, applied it to Medicare."

THE FACTS: Contrary to Biden's assertion, not all the money cut from Medicare is going back into the program in some other way. The administration is cutting $716 billion over 10 years in Medicare payments to providers and using some of the money to improve benefits under the program. But most of the money is being used to expand health care coverage outside of Medicare.

RYAN: "What troubles me more is how this administration has handled all of these issues. Look at what they're doing through Obamacare with respect to assaulting the religious liberties of this country. They're infringing upon our first freedom, the freedom of religion, by infringing on Catholic charities, Catholic churches, Catholic hospitals."

THE FACTS: The requirement under the health care law that most employers cover birth control free of charge to female employees does not apply to churches, houses of worship, or other institutions directly involved in propagating a religious faith. It does apply to church-affiliated institutions such as hospitals and charities that serve the general public.

BIDEN: "Romney said 'No, let Detroit go bankrupt.'"

THE FACTS: GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has gotten endless grief through the campaign for the headline put on his November 2008 opinion essay that he wrote for The New York Times. But his point was never that he wanted the auto industry to go down the tubes.

Romney opposed using government money to bail out Chrysler and General Motors, instead favoring privately financed bankruptcy restructuring. His prescription seemed improbable. Automakers were hemorrhaging cash and the banking system was in crisis, so private money wasn't available. Without the government money, it's likely both companies would have gone out of business. Romney did propose government-guaranteed private loans for both companies after bankruptcy.

RYAN: "We should have spoken out right away when the green revolution was up and starting, when the mullahs in Iran were attacking their people. We should not have called Bashar Assad a reformer when he was turning his Russian-provided guns on his own people.

THE FACTS: Neither President Barack Obama nor anyone else in his administration ever considered the Syrian leader a "reformer." The oft-repeated charge stems from an interview Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gave in March 2011 noting that "many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he's a reformer." She did not endorse that view. The comment was widely perceived to be a knock at senators such as John Kerry of Massachusetts who maintained cordial relations with Assad in the months leading up to his crackdown on protesters.

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