FACT CHECK: Stumbles in latest presidential debate
WASHINGTON (AP) — In the rough-and-tumble of a town hall-style presidential debate, the facts took something of a beating Tuesday night.
Mitt Romney wrongly claimed that it took 14 days for President Barack Obama to brand the assault on the U.S. Consulate in Libya a terrorist act. Obama yet again claimed that ending the Afghanistan and Iraq wars makes money available to ‘‘rebuild America,’’ even though it doesn't.
A look at some of their claims:
OBAMA: The day after last month’s attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, ‘‘I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror and I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime.’’
ROMNEY: ‘‘I want to make sure we get that for the record, because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.’’
OBAMA: ‘‘Get the transcript.’’
THE FACTS: Obama is correct in saying that he referred to Benghazi as an act of terrorism on Sept. 12, the day after the attack. From the Rose Garden, he said: ‘‘No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. ... We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.’’
But others in his administration repeated for several days its belief that the violence stemmed from protests over an American-made video ridiculing Islam. It took almost a month before officials acknowledged that those protests never occurred. And Romney is right in arguing that the administration has yet to explain why it took so long for that correction to be made or how it came to believe that the attack evolved from an angry demonstration.
OBAMA: ‘‘Let’s take the money that we've been spending on war over the last decade to rebuild America, roads, bridges, schools. We do those things, not only is your future going to be bright, but America’s future is going to be bright as well.’’
THE FACTS: What Obama didn’t mention is that much of the money that has been paying for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was borrowed. In fact, the government borrows nearly 40 cents for every dollar it spends. Thus, using money that had been earmarked for wars to build schools and infrastructure would involve even more borrowing, adding to the federal deficit.
ROMNEY: ‘‘As a matter of fact, oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land, and gas production was down 9 percent. Why? Because the president cut in half the number of licenses and permits for drilling on federal lands and in federal waters.’’
OBAMA: ‘‘Very little of what Governor Romney just said is true. We've opened up public lands. We’re actually drilling more on public lands than in the previous administration and my — the previous president was an oilman.’’
THE FACTS: Both statements ring true, as far as they go. Obama more correctly describes the bigger picture.
According to an Energy Department study published in the spring, sales of oil from federal areas fell 14 percent between 2010 and 2011 and sales of natural gas production fell 9 percent, supporting Romney’s point. The lower oil production was a result mainly of a moratorium on offshore drilling imposed by the Obama administration after the April 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
According to the same report, though, oil production from federal areas is up 13 percent since Obama took office despite last year’s dip, and analysts say Gulf oil production is expected to soon exceed its pre-spill levels.
Natural gas production from federal areas has been declining for years because drillers have found vast reserves of natural gas in formations under several states that are cheaper to access than most federally controlled areas.
OBAMA: ‘‘For young people who've come here, brought here oftentimes by their parents, have gone to school here, pledged allegiance to the flag, think of this as their country and understand themselves as Americans in every way except having papers, we should make sure we give them a pathway to citizenship. And that’s what I've done administratively.’’
THE FACTS: His administrative actions do not provide a pathway to citizenship. The administration is allowing as many as 1.7 million young illegal immigrants to apply to avoid deportation for up to two years and get a work permit. And the government has begun a policy of prosecutorial discretion under which illegal immigrants with longstanding ties to the U.S. and no criminal history are generally not arrested and deported by immigration authorities. But these steps do not extend legal status or a process resulting in citizenship.Continued...