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. Jeff

    That's it, CNN? Three question/answers fact checked from a 2 hour debate? None of which are really important issues for voters to consider for the upcoming elections....no wonder you're satirized as much as you are & no wonder you're considered entertainment rather than news by 84% of the country. Fact check that statistic, it's vital to our national security, I promise.

    January 17, 2012 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      below the 3 question truth thing. Links to They also have 5 things about the debate which tells some more about questions and answers at the debate. huntsman drops out, Rivals push romney. I think they should have all the questions and answers.

      January 17, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  2. Scottish Mama

    Venita-Chirp.... look up what President Obama did in his 1st 100 days. Bush was the 1st president in 176 years that "never" vetoed a bill. Look up his bill on deregulation of the banks and deregulation of the insurance companies.(How the men involved became CEO's of insurance companies and got rich)( Billy Taupin) None of which helped the average working people. The wealthy get tax shelters that they pay less than the average working person.
    I just wish we could have given President Obama 4 years to see if he could fix it. After that the government needs to be revamped.

    January 17, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  3. gung hoe

    @tuesday in s c sorry but theres alot you can blame bush for but not the houseing bubble,that was caused by barney the toothless frank and chris I gettin out of here dodd.They are the ones that forced the banks to make houseing loans that couldnt be paid back.@scottish moma he has had 3 of his 4yrs
    To spend us into oblivian.He has spent more in 3yrs than any president from washington thru clinton combined.

    January 17, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      I agree with you once again Scottish Mama!! 100%!! BUSH DID deregulate the Banking system that caused the housing bubble. Of course we're back to the... "Whatever you do!! Don't look behind the curtain... it's your future going down the toilet after many sacrifices by the middle class.. Us richie riches needs more cash... so we can secure your place as a slave to the Robber Barons at the top"

      January 17, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Scottish Mama

    @Gung- Sorry friend you are incorrect. Bush did deregulate the Banking system that caused the housing bubble. Barney and Frank actually wrote the bill they passed to put more regulations on banks. Many said it did not go far enough. What bill are you talking about gung and how was the housing caused by Barney and Frank?
    No Gung he has had a Democratic house and senate for 2 and republican house and senate for 2. He is also the only president who had a president in front of him since Roosevelt that brought us to our knees gung. Guess we are back to being on opposite sides?lol

    January 17, 2012 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  5. Scottish Mama

    @gung Sorry the second one should sayRepublican house and Democratic senate.

    January 17, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  6. Kandi

    *sigh* NOT ME AT 7:26 am!! George Patton, i told you yesterday, get a DAMN life, and please quit moochin off mine! And if Romney didnt have something to hide he would show his tax returns to the American people!

    January 17, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  7. Scottish Mama

    @Kandi- I think he is sweet on you.lol I think Romney is going to show them in April or early May. He does not want the republicans to judge him by his insane wealth.

    January 17, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jaun in El Paso

    Are these same people going to fact check anything Obama or his team says? Nope! We are not allowed to challenge Obamas' policies, comments, broken promises or anything he does or we will be labled as r*cists! R*ce Card and Class War is all Obama has and it is working. America is more divided than ever.

    January 17, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • hahaney

      They fact check every one of his speeches. Pay attention.

      January 17, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. George Patton

    Good grief Kandi,you must be a fan of Sarah Palin with such Tea Party lingo. Another blind supporter for those right-wing thugs in Washington. What a shameful display of misplaced loyalty.

    January 17, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      I suggest you watch whose names you steal.
      You are not fooling anyone.
      Make up some names, it doesn't matter...but quit stealing established usernames.
      Your message, such as it is, gets lost in the ridiculous games you play.

      January 18, 2012 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
  10. Kandi

    And you go mama, with your bad self! You rock! But...And i cant believe im doing this, gung hoe didnt forget what Bush did, he did say thru Clinton, so in reality he just skirted around what Bush did! lmao Thats probably because itsa battle he would lose!

    January 17, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Juan in El Paso

    If you can name something in his policies, comments, a specific promise or any thing he has done that you disagree with? He has class warfare because the 99% are tiried of paying for the 1% 's fun.

    January 17, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • max

      So, because the 1% (a BS segmentation made up by OWS) dont pay the tax rate you think they should the rest of us are paying for their "fun"?

      Amazing how succeptible to propaganda some folks are in the US....

      January 17, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Scottish Mama

    @Kandi- I like gung. I just did not get what he was saying. Uh, Oh I just saw Patton reply. I see Patton you used the word thug,hmmm. Are you trollin Kandi?

    January 17, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kandi

    Omg GP sarah palin is dumb as a post, which is why she isnt running! But as much as YOU bring her up i would say tis YOU who wants her in office! Then we can ALL see Russia from *our house*! And gung hoe, Clinton was a great POTUS! Best economy ever!!!!!!

    January 17, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • mmac

      As a tea party member, I CAN SEE NOVEMBER FROM MY FRONT PORCH!!!!!!!!!!

      January 17, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. facefur

    "The Congressman's statements were not intended to be factual."

    January 17, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kandi

    Clinton was definitely wrong cheating on his wife and lying about it, but, he still took care of business! And furthermore he wasnt the first nor probably the last POTUS to do that, but thats between him, his wife, daughter and GOD! He still did his job!

    January 17, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • BC

      Its funny how its ok for the Liberals that Clinton was a cheater on his wife because you say he still got the job done but when a conservative like Herman Cane has relationships outside of his marriage you have to get him removed from running for president? !

      January 17, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      @BC It is funny how you go for Clintons throat, when Gingrich went after Clinton he was cheating on his wife at that very time. Liberals do not pretend that we hold our truth in god and country and hold everyone up to these standards, all the while they have skeletons in their closets.

      January 19, 2012 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
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