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

(Continued from page 2)

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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

Related headlines

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

RYAN: "This one tax would actually tax about 53 percent of small-business income."

BIDEN: "Ninety-seven percent of the small businesses in America pay less — make less than $250,000."

THE FACTS: Both are correct, but incomplete, when sizing up the effect on small business of raising taxes for individuals making more than $200,000 and married couples making more than $250,000, as Obama wants to do. Republicans say that would hit small-business owners who report business income on their individual income tax; Democrats say the overwhelming majority of small businesses would not be affected.

According to a 2010 report by the Joint Committee on Taxation, the official scorekeeper for Congress, about 3 percent of people who report business income would face a tax increase under Obama's plan. That support's Biden's point.

The same report says those business owners account for about half of all business income. That supports Ryan.

RYAN: Notes that there have been four rounds of U.N. sanctions on Iran to deter its nuclear program, three during the Bush administration and one under Obama. "And the only reason we got it is because Russia watered it down and prevented the sanctions from hitting the central bank. Mitt Romney proposed these sanctions in 2007. In Congress, I've been fighting for these sanctions since 2009. The administration was blocking us every step of the way." He also noted the administration has granted 20 waivers to the sanctions.

THE FACTS: The argument that the administration was watering down or delaying sanctions is misleading. For sanctions to work, they need maximum global agreement and cooperation. Russia watered down U.N. sanctions not only under Obama, but also under Bush. And it's highly unlikely that a Romney administration, particularly led by a candidate who says Russia is the biggest geostrategic threat to the U.S., would be able to get Russia completely on board with what the U.S. wants to — either in Iran or Syria.

The more absolute U.S. sanctions that Ryan and others have pushed in Congress would have punished U.S. allies, including most countries in Europe as well as Japan and South Korea, along with good friends like India and Singapore — without the exemptions that were put in place.

The administration has indeed granted 20 waivers, to countries that made significant reductions in Iranian oil imports. And the sanctions are pinching; Iran has been convulsed over the past week with protests over the collapse of its currency, which most people say is a direct result of the sanctions that the U.S. and others have imposed.

Associated Press writers Bradley Klapper, Tom Raum, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Stephen Ohlemacher, Tom Krisher and Matthew Lee contributed to this report.

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