January 24th, 2012
03:47 AM ET

Truth Squad: Fact checking Monday's debate

CNN examines statements by Republican presidential candidates during Monday night's CNN Republican debate in Tampa, Florida.

Mitt Romney said Newt Gingrich lobbied during Medicare Part D battle

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney accused former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of having lobbied in favor of Medicare Part D, the federal program that provides drugs for senior citizens. Romney said other congressmen said they were lobbied by Gingrich at the time.

The exchange between the two candidates included the following  statements: "You have congressmen who say that you came and lobbied them with regards to Medicare Part D." - Romney

"I didn't lobby them." - Gingrich

"It is not correct to describe public citizenship, having public advocacy as lobbying. Every citizen has the right to do that." - Gingrich

"If you're getting paid by health companies, if your entities are getting paid by health companies that could benefit from a piece of legislation and you then meet with Republican congressmen and encourage them to support that legislation, you can call it whatever you'd like. I call it influence peddling. It's not right." - Romney

The facts: Romney was likely referring to a number of media reports in which at least three lawmakers spoke of Gingrich's actions to get a yes vote from them on the Medicare legislation. The New York Times also reported last month that the world's largest insulin maker, Novo Nordisk, had hired Gingrich to help "position itself as a thought leader" to raise awareness about diabetes.

Former Colorado Rep. Marilyn Musgrave told CNN last month that Gingrich called her at the height of the 2003 debate urging her to vote for the bill.

"Newt called me to vote yes," said Musgrave, who is now director at the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List.

"He asked for a yes vote on a Medicare prescription drug benefit," she said. "Dick Armey" - a former House majority leader - "called me and wanted a no. But I had already made up my mind to vote not to expand an entitlement that we were going to have to pay for down the road."

Musgrave, who is neutral in the presidential race, said she was not sure if Gingrich was technically "lobbying" when he called her, because she did not know if he was working for anyone else at the time.

"All I know is he wanted a yes," Musgrave said.

Musgrave was one of 19 House Republicans who voted against the plan, which passed 220-215.

Two other Republicans who served in Congress at the time, Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake and Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, told the Des Moines Register last month that they interpreted Gingrich's actions as lobbying.

"He told us, 'If you can't pass this bill, you don't deserve to govern as Republicans,' " Flake told the paper. "If that's not lobbying, I don't know what is."

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the bill is projected to cost nearly $1 trillion from 2010 through 2020. The price tag for Medicare Part D was added to the nation's deficit.

"It was a huge entitlement" that left the insurance and drug industries as big winners, said Uwe Reinhardt, a professor of health economics at Princeton.

The verdict: Misleading. It is true that at least two lawmakers, Flake and Otter said Gingrich's actions amounted to lobbying, but Gingrich and his spokesman say what he did was not lobbying. Romney did not offer any hard evidence that Gingrich lobbied for any company. Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond said the former speaker publicly supported the Medicare proposal at the time and was speaking for himself and not on behalf of any client. Gingrich cited as "terrible" the fact that Medicare did not pay for insulin for diabetics, but did pay for dialysis when their kidneys failed. He said he had always favored a stronger Medicare program, but that did not mean he was lobbying. Gingrich says he was motivated by his own values and beliefs.

Romney said Gingrich resigned as House Speaker after ethics probe

The statement: "But the truth is that the members of his own team, his congressional team, after his four years of leadership, they moved to replace him. They also took a vote, and 88 percent of Republicans voted to reprimand the speaker. And he did resign in disgrace after that. This was the first time in American history that a speaker of the House has resigned from the House."

The facts: The January 1997 vote on the bill titled "In the Matter of Representative Newt Gingrich," the body acted with overwhelming bipartisanship. Voting in favor were 196 Republicans, 198 Democrats and one independent. Voting against were 26 Republicans and two Democrats. That's 88%.

Of the 53 individuals who have served as speaker, two resigned and Gingrich was not one of them. Henry Clay of Kentucky resigned three times - on January 19, 1814; November 15, 1820; and December 5, 1825. James C. Wright Jr. resigned in 1989, the result of a complaint initiated by Gingrich over charges of ethics violations.

Gingrich himself, though re-elected to the 106th Congress, did not take his seat for a third term as speaker. Instead, J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois took the job.

Gingrich reimbursed U.S. taxpayers $300,000 for legal expenses and costs incurred by the investigation by the Select Committee on Ethics into his use of tax-exempt funds to promote Republican causes and lying about it to the committee.

Though the committee allowed him to hold onto his post, its vote marked the first time the House had disciplined a sitting speaker.

The verdict: True, but incomplete. It is true that his fellow party members voted overwhelmingly to reprimand him, but not true that his failure to show up for a third term marked the first time in history that a speaker has resigned. Others had resigned. And, though the result was the same, Gingrich himself technically did not resign - he simply did not take his seat.

soundoff (131 Responses)
  1. Chris

    Unless someone comes out of right field the choices $uck! I want BO out but the GOP choices are pitiful; is this really the best we have? None of them can unseat him, especially the way the nomination is going plus the way the GOP leaders (mis)handled the budget and payroll tax battles. So, my presidential election hopes have been reduced to hoping for a battle between BO and Newt simply because it will make for great (un)reality TV.

    January 24, 2012 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
    • GreenCollarWorker

      Give BO another shot with a Democratic Congress. Despite serious obstructionism from the the R's, he's still accomplished some things and not all of them have been bad. He's not my ideal President, but he's vastly preferable than the alternatives we're being offered.

      January 24, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrew in AZ

      We can't afford to give BO another chance. He has racked up more debt in 3 years than all the other presidetns combined. Obama is insulting, devicive and unfit to lead... and his wife still hates America. Who elected these clowns anyway?

      January 24, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • kevin

      Wake up America!!! Trickle down republican agenda has put America at the breaking point. Taxes are not the issue. America had higher taxes at the time of our greatest prosperity. Beside the top companies and the rich pay liitle to zero taxes. Deregulation allowed greed in the finiancial sector and big business to run rampent. Hello to the collapse of Wall Street. The middle class is where the buying volume and power is. No rich man is going to build widgets with consumers to buy them. Industry and big business is the key to our economy. Small business cannot afford midlde class wages and service based economy is not substainable. Stick a fork in "vodoo" reaganomcis.

      Wake up Jesus would not have been a Republican.......

      January 24, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • HOWARD

      Romney EARNED this money, pursuing opportunities available to ALL Americans. The taxes he paid will be used to buy food stamps for thousands of Americans who are dependent on obama's socialist policies ... and will also help pay for Obama's 'over paid' salary. ABO ... Anybody but obama !!!

      January 24, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry

      This shows WHY, we must get money out of politics. You get dog crap and horse crap to choose from, because they have money.

      January 24, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Former Democrat

      GreenCollarWorker – The democrats controlled the congress from 2006 – 2010. Several politicians including McCain & Bush warned Barney Frank about the imminent mortgage debacle. What did Frank do? Nothing. He wanted the economy to tank so that the democrats could come to power which they did in 2008 elections. The Washington insiders are all about power and do not care about the country because they get their retirement benefits including pensions and Cadillac health insurance. Obama had a democratic congress for 2 years and what did he do during that time? He wasted time on Obamacare that the majority of citizens do not want. The biggest issues were jobs and the economy. The guy can't even prioritize! What makes you think if Obama gets reelected and democrats control the congress things are going to be different? Obama will waste his time on some irrelevant issue adding more debt our kids will be saddled with. Who wants 4 more years of the same failed presidency?

      January 24, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • xvet

      Andrew show me a republican who isn't insulting divisive and unfit to lead.


      January 24, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. DC Observer

    CNN's Truth Squad should be hit for misleading answers and meddling It is clear that CNN is trying to help Gingrich as CNN and Obama do not want to face Romney who they fear but wish to face Gingrich who they know they can beat with hings like these issues. You can bet your last dollar that if Gingrich wins the nomination and faces Obama, and this issue surfaces again - CNN will report that Newt both lobbied and also was forced to resign in disgrace - Ron Paul confirmed this last night and he was there

    CNN - anything but the truth and anything that helps Obama and hurts or smears the GOP. Our name says it all CNN = "Certainly Not News"

    January 24, 2012 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Ronald

      If your going to be fair then you should write the same to Fox and tell them to stop their endless parade of lies.

      January 24, 2012 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
    • B Civil

      Then why do you even post on here? In fact, why even read CNN's website?! Instead of criticizing, why not find a more reputable news source?

      January 24, 2012 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
    • westward

      Newt's $1.6M paycheck, that he paid taxes on, is PEANUTS compared to what Romney has routinely off shored to weasel out of paying American taxes on. Speaks loudly to his priorities and concerns about America.

      January 24, 2012 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
    • FrankSD

      You fail to mention anything that CNN has said which is untrue.

      January 24, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Ken in MO

      Listen, anyone that would vote for Gingrich or Romney must hold their nose and close their eyes while doing it. These are two of the most sleazy people in history. Actually, I shouldnt say that....Romney is not sleazy, he just worships the dollar and Joseph Smith...nothing wrong with that but not a Christian, Gingrich is TRULY SUPER SLEAZY. What in the world are Republicans thinking? Santorum-Nut job!, Bachman-Nut Job!, Cain-Big joke!, Paul-Totally Crazy!

      January 24, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      Get real! Even my own wife who is a Republican believes that CNN is more fair and balanced than Faux News.
      Tax dollars also go to subsidize companies who do not need it, not only social programs for the poor.
      People who dislike the President will try to justify their hatred any way. We went from loosing 250,000 jobs a month under Bush, to adding jobs currently. If Tax cuts for the wealthy worked, we would not be in this situation.

      January 24, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Former Democrat

      westward – Please don't broadcast your ignorance in public. Any American who invests offshore needs to pay taxes on the earnings and Romney did. Please get your facts right before embarrassing yourself here.

      January 24, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Scottish Mama

    President Obama looks like a choir boy compared to these candidates. Dems will have a field day with all their pasts. Ethics violations, resignations, lobbyist, womanizing, and working for insurance companies to hurt the elderly, stick a fork in Gingrich, he's done.

    January 24, 2012 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
    • ditty1991

      Ron paul would destroy obama. noone has given me a logical reason why this man should not be in office. all i hear is "hes crazy." well why is he crazy?

      January 24, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
    • comeon

      Paulbot's keep saying that he would destroy Obama in a debate, but he hasn't done anything in these debates.

      January 24, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • KatR

      Ditty1991.....Paul is providing a voice for the libertarian ideology of governing but doing it on the republican ticket. If Paul's ideas are feasible then why after more than a decade in Congress have none of his bills made it out of the committee stage? It's because his ideas won't work. More importantly, if he can't convince his Congressional colleagues to agree with any of his ideas then what makes anyone think he would be able to do convince them as president?

      January 24, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Ron Paul

      The reason why none of his bill's get passed is because what you and 50% of all American's cannot seem to grasp is that our government has been hijacked by neo-cons(Gingrich) and Neo-Liberals(Obama). It has been this way for many years. So why his bill don't pass? Because they would upset the planned police state that is upon us. I mean, after all the consitution is just a piece of paper(G. W. Bush neo-con) It's so obvious that it is staring you right in the face mocking you yet you do nothing! NOTHING to FREE yourself! Shame on you all. You will get whats coming to you for your ignorance soon. Obama has the power to make disenters and protesters vanish! HOW IS THIS AMERICA THIS IS GEOGRE ORWELL'S 1984!

      January 24, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • GreenCollarWorker

      Ditty, for proof on the accusations of "crazy" take a look at Ron Paul's response to this thread.

      January 24, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan, TX

      Ron Paul would not lie down for the big corporations. That's why he'll not make it. Tell me why we don't require foreign companies to comply with US environmental regulations in their manufacturing or face tariffs. It is perfectly legal to require such tariffs, but it would slightly raise the cost of goods produced in China if we didn't let Apple pollute the hell out of China. China is going to regret its pollution soon enough and have to pay $100s of Billions to clean it. We are getting the goods at low price, but China's people are getting cancer and poisoned because of their desperation. China's government will regret their short-sightedness when they are left with a polluted country and no one but themselves to pay for the cleanup.

      January 24, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • irbsod

      Why the discussion of Ron Paul? It's over for him, done. Like arguing the Saints are a better team and will win the Super Bowl. He, like the Saints, is not even in the game and actually never was.

      January 24, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. IO

    It's kind of funny that people actually come here in an attempt to get "the truth." If they want the truth, they should never listen to the likes of Romney, Gingrich, or Santorum. Everyone wants to downplay conviction, and honesty when considering the candidates. yet, if the candidates are not honest, and principled, how can you believe one word out of their mouths? It's like buying a car from a sleezy used car salesman, and taking the approach that "if there were something wrong with it, He'd tell me." Foolishness at best. The truth is very simple. There is only one presidential candidate who has proved his conviction, dedication, principles, and honest time and time again for over 30 years in service to our nation. If you listen to the neverending question dodging, and double talk from the other candidates, then you choose to listen to a source which has been proven to be unreliable. Every one of these candidates (save for one) has been caught in their lies, or their flip flops. If you continue to listen to them, then you continue to desire to be lied to. The choice is yours America. The truth is right in front of you. Whose fault is it if you ignore it?

    January 24, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  5. concernedjoy

    I'll be interested in seeing if CNN's "truth squad" follows Obama during his campaign (maybe start with tonight's State of the Union" addres) and "factcheck" everything he says.

    January 24, 2012 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
    • BLKvotingAmerican

      WHY..................this is about N.G. not President Obama..................dayummmmmmmmmmmmmm do you dislike my President that much where you won't keep with the subject at hand.

      January 24, 2012 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Roger

      Great idea and after that fact check the commercial he is running on cnn between each segment. The one that says he is resposible for the fuel alternatives industry creating 2.7 million more jobs when in realtiy only 2.7 work in the whole industry long before he came along. Or how about he got us to import below 50% of our oil when in reality it is because the economy has tanked that we are importing less. Tell us how long does it take for him to make a decision? Tell us where the $4T went and why are we still flat lining?

      January 24, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
    • lmoore

      I am quite sure CNN's "Truth Squad" will fact check Obama as well. Unfortunately, people don't want facts unless they reinforce what they already believe to be true. I appreciate when news organizations shine a light on the statements made by the candidates and not just repeat sound bites as if they were true. Thanks CNN! Keep up the good work!

      January 24, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Risky

      Before the flat-lining, we were on a downward spiral. Getting to flat-line is where most of the 4t was spent. When you're ready to say thanks, Obama will immediately say "you're welcome."

      January 24, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan, TX

      Roger, we are not flatlining. Maybe you are, but America is not. We are doing better than Europe (they cut spending and had less stimulus). Looks like Obama's conservative fiscal policy paid off.

      January 24, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • PM Ohio

      The GOP will have thier retort but i doubt they will find any lies in his address tonight. I challenge any and all conservatives to point out any and all lies from tonight's speach. Just because what he says doesn't jive with your "reality" doesn't make it a lie. Just the truth you don't want to admit is true...

      January 24, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • PM Ohio

      Rodger, the $4T that was spent in stimulus avoided a total global economic meltdown and world depression. Obama was loth to continue Bush's bailout plan, but in the end it was a lessor evil than letting the whole economy collapse. You do know that Bush gave away most of that stimulus money before Obama took office, right? By the way, a bunch of the stimulus money has been paid back and those companies are still employing thousands of people making good wages. What would have happened if both parties hadn't decided to do the right thing in this case? I hate to think where we'd be right now...

      January 24, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. usamerica777


    January 24, 2012 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
    • kevin

      Amen... That is why no one should vote Republican... The movement of I and my pocket. Please take look at history for our greatest times. "We the people"... the greater good, the big picture, America the greatest nation of all.... Wake up America.

      January 24, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Real American

      When "under God" was added it showed the first signs of weakness and pyranoia in this country. The Patriot Act was almost the final nail in the coffin.

      January 24, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jariv

    The Solution to our problems is Romney. Please stand with him.

    January 24, 2012 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan, TX

      Obama is more conservative than Romney is.

      January 24, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Former Democrat

      Agree. An outsider who is trained and experienced in taking on sinking ships like our government, analyze it, come up with a list of actions, prioritize them, get rid of fluff and hold the remaining people accountable. That is exactly what this country needs at this crucial time. An insider will never be able to do that.

      January 24, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. westward

    Something incredibly ironic to watch Romney quibble over $1.6 million dollars that Newt paid taxes on, when Romney, himself has off shored hundreds of millions in recent years – if not into the billions – that he has avoided paying taxes on.

    Face it Romney – that is PETTY CASH to you, you weasel.

    January 24, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Heather

      It's where Newt got that $1.6 million that matters.

      January 24, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • CBT

      This is where people get stupid. Really stupid. Also shows that envy is alive and well in teh USA, and that class warfare is OK for people with lesser wealth, when it isn't. Envy is a sin, my friend.

      Romney took money offshore. Now show me that he didn't pay 15% on those amounts, as required under the Internal Revenue Code? Because you can't and he did. Who cares where it was held, so long as the taxes required were paid? It was not a tax shelter, just a less costly place to do banking. Because US Banks suck.

      January 24, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • vatoloke

      At CBT:

      "It was not a tax shelter, just a less costly place to do banking. Because US Banks suck."

      OK America, let's all take our money overseas because US banks suck. Yeah right! Very lame.
      Romney's only loyalty is to the all mighty dollar, not the U.S.A.

      January 24, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Former Democrat

      westward – you know nothing about offshore investments and associated taxes. Romney paid taxes on the income from his offshore investments. Gingrich got paid out of tax payer’s money unlike Romney. Gingrich used his political connections as the former speaker to get that consulting position which is the point of contention. Please stop accusing Romney of avoiding paying taxes by investing offshore. It is pretty evident that you are ignorant about the subject!

      January 24, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. comeon

    Another Newt lie – “When I was speaker, we had four consecutive balanced budgets, the only time in your lifetime, Brian, that we’ve had four consecutive balanced budgets.”
    He resigned in 99 but the surplus lasted until 01. He was there for 2 out of the 4 years, but Newt takes credit for everything.

    January 24, 2012 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  10. Ron Smyth

    It is funny how President Obama buys his house for $200,000 under market value from a known felon, but no Dems seem to care. He changes his voice and his views depending on what group he is speaking with – he is just a liar.

    There is no perfect candidate – they are all flawed, but I would take any of the Republicans or a different Democrat over President Obama. His supporters repeat bs lies so much that they don't even know what the truth it anymore.

    January 24, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • comeon

      Bloomberg News reported that "t]he couple who sold Barack Obama his Chicago home said the Illinois senator's $1.65 million bid 'was the best offer' and they didn't cut their asking price because a campaign donor bought their adjacent land, according to e-mails between Obama's presidential campaign and the seller." The Obamas bought a portion of the lot next door for $104,166, while the property was appraised at $40,500.

      January 24, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • PM Ohio

      Ron, where are your facts...don't you think if this was realllllly true, everyone would know about it? Just like the Birther Issue...make you look petty and of low intelligence.

      January 24, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. westward

    America – how can you take Romney seriously as a candidate. His parking of his assets overseas ALONE tells you where his priorities do not lie.

    January 24, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Heather

      The wealthy all have money spread across the globe. It's safer that way.

      January 24, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan, TX

      I am trying to figure out how to open a bank account in China, it is not easy. But I will do it because I can get paid in China and keep it there and not repatriate and I get paid under the table, so no taxes at all.

      January 24, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • PM Ohio

      Dan TX, The IRS has provisions to collect income taxes from people who work overseas...sometimes people have to pay the country they are working in and the US also. The rich don't ususally claim much in "income" on thier tax filings...they "earn" it from investments which aren't taxed at the same rate, if at all.

      January 24, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Heather

    Four witnesses hold up in a court of law, so why would the four politicians cited here, saying Gingrich was lobbying, not hold up as fact?

    January 24, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bobaluchowdury

    I watched the debates last night. Ron Paul said we were committing an act of war by blockading Iran. Of course we are not blockading at all. We are boycotting. China and other countries are and will continue to buy their oil. It's scary that Paul doesn't even know current events that effect our national security. And of course none of the other candidates corrected him.

    January 24, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Risky

      They want it to be real.

      January 24, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. I Wish the Moderators Would Ask...

    The debate moderators should ask each candidate this question: "What is the exact mechanism by which lowered taxes on a C-Corporations will cause that business to hire more people?... and how, exactly, will reduced taxes on income from S-Corporations cause a business owner to hire more people?" My experience is that a dollar extra simply goes into the owners' pockets. If you believe this strategy will stimulate jobs, then you are a proponent of the discredited concept of trickle-down economics.

    January 24, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mike

    Hmm, what's lobbying and what's not lobbying... sounds like Clinton-esque hair-splitting to me. Gingrich can certainly take hints from his political enemies. Depends on what your definition of "is" is, Newt?

    January 24, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
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