January 17th, 2012
06:45 AM ET

Truth Squad: 3 checks on Monday's GOP debate

CNN examines three statements by Republican presidential candidates during Monday night's Fox News-Wall Street Journal debate in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Romney on releasing his tax returns

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said he probably would release a tax return in April - though he declined to commit - asserting that recent GOP nominees waited until tax season in election years.

Romney's statement about his tax return came after Texas Gov. Rick Perry pushed him to release his tax information, saying his was already out.

"Mitt, we need for you to release your income tax so the people of this country can see how you made your money, and I think that's a fair thing," Perry said.

"Listen ... as Republicans, we cannot fire our nominee in September. We need to know now. So I hope you'll put your tax records out there this week so the people of South Carolina can take a look and decide if we've got a flawed candidate or not."

The statement: "You know, I looked at what has been done in campaigns in the past with Sen. McCain and President George W. Bush and others. They have tended to release tax records in April or tax season. I hadn't planned on releasing tax records because the law requires us to release all of our assets, all the things we own. That I have already released. It's a pretty full disclosure. But, you know, if that's been the tradition and I'm not opposed to doing that, time will tell. ... I sort of feel like we are showing a lot of exposure at this point. And if I become our nominee, and what's happened in history is people have released them in about April of the coming year, and that's probably what I would do." - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney

The facts: A presidential candidate is not required by election law to disclose tax returns, though most voluntarily do. During the 2008 GOP presidential battle, Romney did not release a tax return. Of the candidates who do release them, a few do so relatively early in the year. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who, like Perry, has been pushing Romney to release his returns, has said he would release his own on Thursday, two days before the South Carolina primary. In 2008, Sen. John McCain released his tax information in mid-April, by which time he had virtually wrapped up the GOP nomination. Sen. Barack Obama released his 2000-2006 tax returns in late March; his main rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, released hers in mid-April. Sen. John Kerry, who won the Democratic nomination in 2004 also released his in mid-April. By this time, President George W. Bush was releasing his information yearly, as presidents generally do. In mid-April 2000, Bush's campaign released figures for his earnings and the amount he paid in taxes in 1999, but didn't have his tax return at the time, because the blind trust that was responsible for the return needed to file for an extension. In 1996, eventual GOP nominee Sen. Bob Dole released tax returns in January.

The verdict: True. McCain and George W. Bush released their tax information in April of the first year they became their party's nominee.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry on whether Turkey should remain within the NATO alliance

The statement: "Obviously when you have a country that is being ruled by, what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists, when you start seeing that type of activity against their own citizens, then yes - not only is it time for us to have a conversation about whether or not they belong to be in NATO, but it's time for the United States, when we look at their foreign aid, to go to zero with it." - Texas Gov. Rick Perry. He went on to put Turkey in the same league as neighboring Syria and Iran, warning that the United States needs to show Ankara "that we're going to have to be dealt with."

The facts: Turkey is not ruled by "Islamic terrorists." It is led by a party with Islamist roots, the Justice and Freedom Party, or AKP, which has ruled Turkey since 2002. Its leader, Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan, was once jailed for reading an Islamic poem in public in a country where the ruling establishment has long enforced a strict secularism. But Erdogan said the AKP was formed in an effort to create a new, centrist force in Turkish society.  The AKP's history and its appeal to religious supporters have unnerved many voters, but Turkey's economy prospered under its rule. Erdogan won a third term in June and appeared to come out on top of a confrontation with the country's powerful military, which staged coups in 1960, 1971 and 1980. Ankara has maintained good relations with both its NATO allies and Iran, now the subject of intense international pressure to halt its nuclear fuel program. It refused to assist the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, its southern neighbor, in 2003. But Turkish commanders have led NATO's peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan four times since that war began in 2001. In November, Erdogan has called on embattled Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, Iran's leading ally, to step down in the face of a 10-month-old revolt. He warned that al-Assad risked the same fate as slain Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi if he continued trying to crush his opposition.

The verdict: False. Perry is taking a broad swing at an ally he says is "moving far away" from an alliance with the United States and with Israel, which has seen ties with Ankara strained over a 2010 raid on a Turkish aid ship that attempted to run the Israeli blockade of Gaza. But the facts aren't in his corner.

Newt Gingrich on his previous statements concerning the food stamp program

The statement: "The fact is that more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history. Now, I know among the politically correct, you're not supposed to use facts that are uncomfortable."  - Gingrich, responding to a questions about whether his invocation of the federal food-aid program was intended "to belittle the poor and racial minorities."

The facts:  The number of people receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as the food stamp program is now known, skyrocketed when the U.S. economy nosedived in 2007 and 2008. In 2007, an average of 26.3 million people received food stamps every month, according to Agriculture Department figures. In 2011, that figure had climbed to 44.7 million, a nearly 70 percent increase. Unemployment roughly doubled during that period and has remained high. More than 42% of unemployed workers have been out of a job for six months or more, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared to 33% during the recession of the early 1980s, when unemployment also topped 10%. With long-term unemployment lingering, the numbers of people receiving food stamps have climbed even though the 2007 recession officially ended in mid-2009. Upon taking office in January 2009, the Obama administration increased benefits and expanded eligibility for food stamps as part of its economic stimulus act. Agriculture Department officials estimated the moves would boost the economy by generating more spending as well as keeping people fed. The trend was up in the years before the recession, however, as reforms enacted in 1998 and 2002 allowed more children, the disabled and elderly and even some immigrants to receive food stamps. Between the 2001 and 2007 recessions, the number of people receiving food stamps grew by more than 8 million, according to the USDA. Gingrich, meanwhile has been criticized not only for singling out Obama as the "food stamp president" but for specifically linking the program to minorities. The NAACP and the National Urban League sharply criticized him for comments in early January that "the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps," accusing him of feeding stereotypes about the black poor. In fact, 22% of SNAP recipients are black, compared to 36% for whites, 10% for Latinos and 18% from unknown racial backgrounds.

The verdict: True, but incomplete. The number of people on food stamps is indeed up sharply under the Obama administration. But that's largely the result of the economic crisis that began before Obama took office, though the administration pushed Congress to allow more people onto the program during the crunch.

Five things we learned from Monday's debate

Huntsman drops out

Rivals push Romney

soundoff (156 Responses)
  1. Scottish Mama

    I think the GOP fight is going to get bloody. Newt really wants it bad. By the time one of them get the nomination they will be in triage. I think the constant white lies they tell about each other will hinder all of their chances. I thought Newt Gingrich said he was going to run a friendly campaign? That is out the window. Putting kids to work, hmmm, I just do not see child labor as a fix to the family financial problems. I just think about the families that do not have addresses, how do they get food stamps? (with the foreclosures)

    January 17, 2012 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
  2. Thomas

    Anyway. It's between Romney and Gingrich. I wouldn't be surprised if they run on the same ticket. My guess? Gingrich president, Romney vice president. Chance over Obama? Decent.

    January 17, 2012 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Conventgirl

      Thomas: Heaven help us all if you are right!

      January 17, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  3. Scottish Mama

    President Obama -the most honest president we have had in years. Chances the congress goes democrat-decent.

    January 17, 2012 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Dennis C. Pence

      Dream on Mamma! Most honest – hell, we don't know what he meant when he said "open and transparent" – his words – and he has been anything but. If we go with him again and a Democratic Congress – I'm tking my money and heading to Canada – por anywhere else. After the collapse of the US under that administration – I will think about coming back and helping rebuild what they destroy!

      January 17, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      @Dennis What has he lied about? You forgot to blog it. Are you talking about the dirty oil from Canada?

      January 17, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • AreWeTherYet

      @Momma

      A short list of "Inaccuracies" from our current President....

      NO lobbyists in his cabinet
      30 day public comment period on any bill before he signs it
      "Shovel Ready" jobs.
      He will cut the deficit in half during his first term in office (HIS WORDS)
      No more Pork Barrel Politics (In reference to earmarks on bills-did anyone READ TARP????)

      Those are a few that come readily to mind. Before you start with "Spin" or "FOX News", I heard HIM say these things during his speeches. These are based on his words – and they're all BS. There's a lot more, I just can't think of them right now, and I don't have the time or energy to dig more up.

      That being said, I am not a republican. I am also not a democrat. Obama is a politician He lies. All of them do. However, some lies are just bigger and have more impact than others. He isn't the first to lie about the big stuff, and he won't be the last. However, I have serious doubts about his ability to lead this country in an upward direction.

      Now if EITHER party (Or ideally, a 3rd party) could nominate someone worth electing, I'd be excited. As it is, I'm weighing in on who will do the least amount of damage over the next 4 years.....

      January 17, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Gilbert

    I see Obama pitted against Gingrich. I see Obama winning a second term unless they do what they did to Al Gore. I don't have a crystal ball, just a feeling and what I read.

    January 17, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mk54

    How do you tell if a Republican is lying? Their mouth is open.

    January 17, 2012 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Jariv

      Same for Democrats. Especially for Democrats. I still can't believe how Democrats stay away from the truth and people still agree with them.

      January 17, 2012 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
  6. Venita

    Quit blaming Bush and blame Obama for the increase in food stamps and welfare. Obama has had 3 years to turn this country around and he has made it worse. He needs to go in 2012.

    January 17, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      With no help from congress. If you are going to put a man in the white house give him something he can work with. GOP wants to cut stamps, not create jobs, and give tax breaks to the wealthy, since 2000 insurance has gone up 78%, (with bush deregulation of Pharma). Turn it around with the party in congress that put us here. Pah-leeeeeease. Just the facts mam.

      January 17, 2012 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Zeke2112

      "With no help from congress."

      The Democratic majority from 2008-2010 would like a word with you.

      January 17, 2012 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Tuesday in SC

      If a ship sinks (Bush and the housing bubble and unemployment) and then a rescue takes place (Obama and food stamps), would you blame the rescuer for the shipwreck? I'll bet you would.

      January 17, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
  7. Gilbert

    8:30 post. I read it. I understood the original author's point. But true. Got me rotflmao.

    January 17, 2012 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
  8. myspaceyourface

    No hate, but thanks for the accusations. In one video he says one thing and in the debate he says something different. What would you call that?

    January 17, 2012 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
  9. David Mann

    "Fact Check" is not as entertaining now that Bachmann is no longer in the race. NOBODY can compete with her outrageous blunders.

    January 17, 2012 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  10. Tom

    Republicans don't have a clue when it comes to running the government of the USA. They should all just shut up and go play with their wealth.

    January 17, 2012 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  11. Venita

    Obama had complete control of the House and Senate for 2 years so he had plenty to work with. He just ran out of time trying to ruin this country. Now he needs 4 more years to finish the job. Just facts mam.

    January 17, 2012 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      No facts here. Name one Idea that the republicans came up with? Bush debt 10 trillion. Obama to try and get us out 4 trillion. He made it so the tarp ok'd under Bush would be paid back. Some of the trillion on Obama was the tarp Bush ok'd on his watch. 1st year Obama was Bush Budget. It took 8 years to put us to our knees. How long do you think it will take without the house and senate of one party?

      January 17, 2012 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      Name one thing he passed and what in it ruined the country.

      January 17, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • SteveX

      Yup. He sure did have 2 yrs. 2yrs of do-nothing Repugs in Congress, most of which was spent tracking the TARP bailout that went to who knows which wealthy elitists that didn't need it. But that is not a fact is it Venita. The right wouldn't want truth to get in the way of fact, now would they.

      January 17, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      I agree 100% Scottish Mama! Took 8 years for the Bush Admin. under mostly Republican control. Bish got everything he wanted... and brought the country to its knees. How long to you think it will take to un-do? Only 2 years of Democrat control?) REALLY!!

      January 17, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Gbird

    It's funny how when someone from the right says, "Just facts" They're leaving out at least half the facts.

    January 17, 2012 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Durundal

      thats why usually the people that have a handle involving 'truth' 'freedom' 'patriotism' or some kind of religious relation are usually the slack jawed i d i o t s who talk about things way above their heads, and result in the same tired line of misinformation and conspiracy theories. Its almost become a game of spot the yokel...

      January 17, 2012 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  13. Scottish Mama

    @ Sorry-Tom E to Kenny- your facts are liar liar pants on fire, every administration almost has pilfered the SS. That is why it is broke not because we did not put in enough. So look up who has taken out of SS. It would still be a viable program. Who took the most? The Bush Gang? for the tax cuts. Robbing Peter to appear to give to Paul.

    January 17, 2012 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  14. Mike from CT

    Perry's statement
    " it time for us to have a conversation about whether or not they belong to be in NATO"

    CNN Verdict: False

    But only after they posted a long paragraph (conversation) as to what is going on in Turkey

    That is irony at its best.

    January 17, 2012 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
  15. Mike from CT

    But that's largely the result of the economic crisis that began before Obama took office,

    ..... But he has been unable to fix in 3.5 years, so... give the man another shot?

    January 17, 2012 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      Democratic Senate + Republican Congress = GRIDLOCK

      January 17, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
    • hahaney

      Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Have you forgotten who started the two wars that are going to cost well over $2 trillion and a Medicare drug bill that will cost over a trillion dollars that was practically written by the pharmaceutical industry, all unpaid for? When the GOP controlled both houses and the Presidency, pork barrel spending skyrocketed, corporations were found to have the same rights as people and can give unlimited money to politicians in secret, lobbyists essentially wrote legislation (an ex-oil company lobbyist even sat in the White House editing scientific reports on global warming), oh yeah, the world financial markets collapsed, jobs in the US were being lost by the hundreds of thousands per month and the bail out of banks began. ($800 Billion TARP signed by G.W. Bush) That's only a small sampling of what the GOP has done for us. GOP politicians increased spending to its current level (Not Obama. The 2009 budget that he inherited from Bush had a $1.4 trillion deficit before he even took office.) and, as usual in government; once you increase spending it's very difficult to lower it again. So you give Obama two or three years to fix all the problems that you created, even as the rest of the world is in a financial crisis, and if he doesn't immediately fix everything, your solution is to vote for the very people who caused the crisis in the first place along with their promise to deregulate Wall Street and lower taxes for the rich even more. Brilliant.

      January 17, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      @hahaney-Thank you. I could not have explained it better.

      January 17, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike from CT

      Where do I make the statement

      "solution is to vote for the very people who caused the crisis in the first place"

      Second once president you can not run again. Don't confuse one republican with all republicans. Or do I need to go off on what Reagan did for the country that Bush and Clinton benefited from.... its not voodoo anymore.

      But why stay with what doesn't work was my comment.

      January 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
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