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. gung hoe

    @kandi anybody couldve ran the economy when cliinton was in office,he ran reagonnomics into the ground.When reagon took office believe it or not I voted for him twice carter that is.Dont know why the second time blind faith I guess.But anyways when reagoN took office couldnt get a job,when he left great economy

    January 17, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Chet

    Yet again nothing on Ron Paul. You can't ignore him forever you media wh0re$. You scared that he'll take your precious money away?

    January 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. IO

    I would like a fact check on the question of whether or not CNN, MSNBC, or Fox news is biasing the Republican Nomination process by consistantly ignoring positive news, and running hit pieces on Ron Paul. Case and Point, Ron Paul was just endorsed by Sen. Tom Davis, and just today, 3 more SC Senators publicly endorsed him. WHERE ARE THE HEADLINES?
    You want to fact check something, start there!

    January 17, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. IO

    It's really hard to turn a profit by running corporate raiding, and ponzy schemes with the millions that your daddy left you! Romney makes me want to vomit blood until I die. What a spoiled little rich kid! I disown any hard working American that stands with that POS! That's not my country! Blllaaaahhhhhhh!

    January 17, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • ALD5

      If you want to vomit and die, nobody is stopping you. You are sick in the head and need medical attention. ROMNEY is the only Sane choice. Romney 2012!

      January 17, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • mike

      Whether or not you agree with a political candidate if you are an America Citizen it is still your country. That is why tea baggers and wannabe homeless park occupiers get to waste their votes on candidates who will never win.

      January 17, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kandi

    Ok gung hoe, perhaps you want to re-check that last post because you didnt make much sense! And are you sayin now that Reagon-nomics was a bad thing? I only stated CLINTON did a great job, i never said he didnt use *ideas* from prior greatness!

    January 17, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. saywhat

    Another pearl of wisdom dropped yesterday from the lips of Romney " we should not negotiate with Talibans". Says this 'wise' man.
    He probably forgets that there is no option available to us seeking an exit strategy unless of course he is a devout disiple of another 'wise' & 'great' man – Dick Cheney who predicted that we would be there for " a hundredd years" sacrificing our men & women, killing & be killed and pouring our national treasure ( which we no longer have).
    He also forgets the time that Ronald Reagan hosted Taliban leaders at the White House and compared them to our Founding Fathers.
    Or the time that Talibans offered to hand over Osama Bin Laden to us twice but one more 'wise' & 'great' man George Bush rejected right away.
    God we have so many wise folks guiding our destiny or wanting to.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really

      Wow, talk about needing a fact check. The Taliban offered to extradite Bin Laden in 1998! Under Clinton! Go gits yerself edgemecated.

      January 17, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Kandi

    I guess what it really boils down too, is are we a country that are, all for the best (the l%) or best for the all (the 99%)???

    January 17, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • saywhat

      @ Really

      Pl brush up on your own info. In 2001 Taliban offered to hand over Osama to US and then again in 2009.

      January 17, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. gung hoe

    @kandi I stated that for some reason I voted for carter two times.And that when carter left office couldnt get a job.Unemployment sky high interest rates 25 percent.Then when reagon left office great economy then clinton got office ran on reagonomics till the recession at the end of his 2nd term. There hope you understood that better sorry.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. gung hoe

    @are we there yet I can think of another lie oboma told.Was if I dont turn economy around in first term I will be a one term president.Now with that said he should step aside and let hillary run.That would be a person that I would have no problem voting for.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • BC

      Hillary for president??/ I dont think so!!

      January 17, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. tigrr

    "The owners of the Washington D.C. Corporation have already decided on Mitt Romney as the new President of the United States. They have been rigging opinion polls and primary results to make sure their decision is enforced. The corporate media propaganda machine is also in on the decision. The Asian creditors to the Western nations do not interfere in the politics of other countries so they will take no stand on this issue. They say this is an internal matter for the American people to resolve on their own...." - from latest Benjamin Fulford Report

    "The greatest conspiracy is that there are no conspiracies.' – General/ President Eisenhower

    January 17, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • BC

      Its not that thye have decided on Mitt Romney as the new president....They are waiting until he gets the nominee and then you will see CNN, MSNBC, The View, Oprah, Acorn, And all of the extreme left wing medias tear him down to size. Because they think he will be the easiest for Obama to beat. It doesnt matter if this clown is the worst president ever!!

      January 17, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kandi

    Hillary huh? Lmao i would vote for her myself but am surprised that you would! I dont think shes interested in that avenue of politics anymore tho!

    January 17, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Nodack

    This was the second worse recession in American History second only to the Great Depression. I don't even know if they had food stamps during the Great Depression so it makes sense to me that a lot of people would be on food stamps now more than any other time. Is Newt saying that if he was President he would have cut off all those food stamps and let people go hungry while he makes tons of money lobbying for Freddy Mac, Fanny Mae and then bashes them too?

    Is he trying to get votes or turn people off? I guess that depends on what partygoer are pandering to.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • mac

      When Newt first started talking about "paychecks instead of hand outs" he connected it with poor people who live in "neighborhoods." He knows that a "dog whistle" for conservatives who resent paying taxes because they think it goes to people (ie, blacks) who don't want to work. Now, he talks about it general terms so no one can accuse him of being a racist. Here's what I suggest to Speaker Gingrich. Hold a town hall meeting in a very poor part of Kentucky where the people on welfare are overwhelmingly white and tell that audience that their lazy and don't want to work and are not teaching their children good values about work and then see if you get out of town alive.

      January 17, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • BCass

      That is exactly what he is saying. All of the rebuplicans would like to see minorities and those who "can't do for themselves" to starve and die in the street. To them, its thier own fault if they do, or its Obama's fault. In some obscure, abstract way...

      January 17, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. D

    Sorry CNN, Newt's statement should have been judged "Mostly False" or "Barely True"

    January 17, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. gung hoe

    And also if clinton had done his job when the world trade center was bombed the first time and took the fight to the taliban there may not been more attacks on our homeland

    January 17, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • marc

      So you don't remember Slick Willie sending over some large amount of Intellegent Cruise missles at Osama Bin Laden? You don't remember the Republican controlled house and Senate forceing him to stop sending missles because it "cost too much" I don't know about you but I think it was 700 million for the missles, but we are up at 5 Trillion for the wars since...I'd take the smaller price tag. No offense to the house or senate they can't see the future...

      January 17, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Scott F

    None of the Republican candidates could pass a polygraph test nor a complete psychiatric exam!!!!!

    January 17, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eagle35

      And Obama would pass a polygraph test!? He is the biggest liar in history!

      January 17, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
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