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. Kandi

    We didnt have Herman Caine removed, his party did that! And his party IS corporate America, which i will say again, IS THE 1%! And very good post tigrr!

    January 17, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. BPTSJ

    X happened and Obama was President therefore Obama is responsible for X happening. True or False? If you answer TRUE your are either an idiot or in the GOP.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eagle35

      If you vote false you are a certifiable moron!

      January 17, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Charlie

    In fact, 22% of SNAP recipients are black, compared to 36% for whites, 10% for Latinos and 18% from unknown racial backgrounds.

    While Whites make up 72% of the population and blacks make up 12% (according to the census).

    January 17, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • mac

      And a big percentage of food stamp recipients are children. That would make a great campaign slogan for Gingrich...Elect Me, Starve Children." I suggest the Speaker hold a town hall meeting in a poor section of Kentucky where the food stamp recipients are overwhelmingly white and tell them they're lazy and don't want to work and taxes shouldn't be used to feed them. Then let's see if he can get out of town alive.

      January 17, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kandi

    @ Nodack, the *great depression* which is an oxy moron, there was NOTHING great about it, had food ration coupons, and very good point btw! Many people starved during that time, because having these *coupons* didnt mean you got food, if the food ran out!

    January 17, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Brenda

    I'm a conservative republican and I don't blame Obama for more people being on food stamps today than ever before. This is the worst recession since the Great Depression. There was no food stamp program then. With the increase in population and being in the worst recession since the Great Depression, it only stands to reason this would be the case. You can fault Obama for allowing the recession to drag on, for not helping to create jobs, for increasing the size of government, but you can't jump all over him for allowing people to qualify to EAT. Mitt Romney is chided because his ideas aren't bold enough, but he goes far enough into fixing the economy within REASON. Also, he's not asking for China to give us more money to overhaul social security. Mitt Romney is still the only reasonable headed person to help fix the economy. It's not as "exciting" to be reasonable, but reasonable is what I like.

    January 17, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • mac

      If you can figure out what he really stands for and therefore what he would do as President. I'm afraid that if Romney is elected he will be beholden to the take-no-prisoners tea party faction in the House of Representatives and then this country is really in trouble.

      January 17, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. gung hoe

    @kandi I already did vote for her during our last primary.And thats what she says now but I think thats because she dont in any way clash with oboma.we Will see in four years my money says she will run then

    January 17, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Roshambo

    I'd like to request in advance that this year's State of the Union speech be fact checked as well. It seems to me that this website has a serious left-leaning bias.

    January 17, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. SG

    "In fact, 22% of SNAP recipients are black, compared to 36% for whites, 10% for Latinos and 18% from unknown racial backgrounds"

    IN FACT (based on 2010 census): ~70% of people in the US are white while ~25% of people are black.
    The fact that 36% of food stamp recipients are white and 22% are black means.....


    If whites and blacks used foodstamps equally, then the statistics would be:
    ~70% of food stamp recipients are White
    ~25% of food stamp recipients are Black

    I wish someone out there understood statistics.

    January 17, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • 40acres

      Are you implying that only 5% of the people are not either black or white? I think your numbers are a bit skewed (or maybe the census is skewed). If you knew that much about statistics you should have caught that little blip in the numbers.

      January 17, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. animal48

    Has anybody noticed...the Tea Party congress has accomplished nothing, and as much as the Tea Party wants anybody but Romney, all of their clowns have been beaten by Romney. A word comes to mind...can you say 'failure'? I knw you can, Tsar Norquist and his Tea Party goons have failed completely.

    January 17, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eagle35

      And Obama is successful? The man is a joke! He a had the House and Senate for 2 years see what that got us. Unemployment- up, debt- up, deficits- up, credit rating-down, GNP down! Obama e dismal failure!

      January 17, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. sielingfan

    "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."

    Well, I don't wanna take Rick Perry's side - no, really, I don't, I really don't - but Turkey certainly has taken steps to "move away from" an alliance with Israel certainly, and to a lesser-but-still-absolutely-present extent, with the US of A. Are they "Ruled by Islamic muslim middle-eastern arab terrorists?" No, that's silly. But a lot of experts - including former ambassadors to the country - expect Turkey to continue its efforts to become a Middle East - and not a NATO - country.

    January 17, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kandi

    Ty mac and marc!!! Awesome posting both of you and mac, very funny analogy! Lmao! Sad but true!! And gung hoe even if you dont agree with OBAMA, you can at least be decent enough to spell his name right!

    January 17, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ConservativeTubeHater

    CNN On Blatant Bias

    Statement: CNN continues to exclude Ron Paul even as it threatens to completely destroy their credibilty and further undermine their relevance. The world of social media and online news outlets have become increasingly trusted to consistently deliver uncensored accurate news.

    The Facts: See the above article or look for Ron Paul's name mentioned anywhere in the headlines on CNN's political page.

    The Verdict: Whether or not you agree with his views on foreign policy and ending the fed, it should scare you how blatantly the major networks and even Reuters go out of their way to avoid even mentioning Ron Paul. Why?

    Keep the media honest and join in to let Jan Crawford know how you feel if you agree!


    January 17, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • nugun

      Agreed....I've read about 1/2 dozen articles on the primary and debate today. And basically zero coverage from Ron Paul. I think I saw one article about "Ron Paul's" back up plan B.

      Essentially trying to make it look like he's lost already. Bias is unbelievable. And yet, he's the second ranking candidate. Not that you'd EVER know that from CNN.com

      CNN.com = We Lie to you, because we like it!

      January 17, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • elgatoblanco

      Let's see here... Ron Paul is neither the frontrunner, nor is he spouting the wild, sometimes fantastic, mostly untrue comments that his opponents do. He is consistent, he is intelligent, and he usually backs up his arguments with logic and fact. I have read plenty of articles which mention Ron Paul on CNN. If you're concerned about him not being mentioned, it's probably because he doesn't do enough to earn the negative attention that his colleagues do. I can't say that's a bad thing. Same thing with Huntsman. Intelligent, consistent, moral, not prone to outbursts of negative nonsene... But not so much media attention.. So don't worry about it.

      January 17, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. gung hoe

    Sorry kandi oboma there i hope thats better,as i know you NEVER make a mistake!

    January 17, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOB

      Grow up.

      January 17, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      It's O B A M A.

      January 18, 2012 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  14. Kandi

    @ Mg, if this were being an *equal* debate, there would be no RACIST comments! That needs to go in the garbage! Yes im white, but i know racism when i hear it and see it, white people are hired above blacks most of the time! And not every state has SNAP!!

    January 17, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mike from MI

    "True, but incomplete". So, True? Why the disclaimer? The comment was a statement of fact, as you have confirmed. Why does CNN feel the need to temper the truth with "But, but"?

    I guess Ron Paul wasn't at the debate.

    Boy CNN, you are leaning further and further from the middle. Are you a News organization?

    January 17, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
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