January 27th, 2012
04:32 AM ET

Truth Squad: Fact checking Thursday's debate

CNN examines statements by Republican presidential candidates during Thursday night's CNN/Republican Party of Florida debate in Jacksonville, Florida.

Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich both accused each other of having financial interests in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

The statements: "We discovered, to our shock, Gov. Romney owns shares of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Governor Romney made $1 million off of selling some of that. Governor Romney has an investment in Goldman Sachs, which is, today, foreclosing on Floridians." - Gingrich

"First of all, my investments are not made by me. My investments, for the last 10 years, have been in a blind trust, managed by a trustee. Secondly, the investments that they have made, we learned about this as we made our financial disclosure, have been in mutual funds and bonds. I don't own stock in either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. There are bonds that the investor has held through mutual funds. And, Mr. Speaker, I know that sounds like an enormous revelation, but have you checked your own investments? You also have investments through mutual funds that also invest in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac." - Romney

The facts: Romney's blind trust holds Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-backed housing lenders, according to his public financial disclosure report filed last August with the Federal Election Commission. The financial holdings that are held in a blind trust are overseen by a trustee and are not known to Romney. The same report cites holdings that are not in his blind trust - including a mutual fund that contains Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The report does not say how much money he has in them. It says only that the mutual fund holding represented between $250,001 and $500,000, which makes up a small portion of Romney's holdings. It was not clear where Gingrich got his claim that Romney had made $1 million by "selling some of that."

According to Gingrich's disclosure report, he had holdings in four mutual funds that included Fannie Mae and other financial institutions that were part of the 2008 financial meltdown.

Specifically, he had $500,001 to $1,000,000 in Alliance Bernstein 2010 Retirement Strategy Fund, which includes Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Citigroup, and Goldman Sachs; $15,001 – $50,000 holdings in Franklin-Templeton's Franklin Income Fund, which includes Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac; $15,001 – $50,000 holdings in Pimco's Total Returns Fund, which includes Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase; 50,001 – $100,000 in Alliance Bernstein 2030 Retirement Strategy Fund, which includes Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Goldman Sachs.

The verdict, part one (did Romney and Gingrich invest in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae?): True. Both men have holdings in the companies, though the reports do not specify the degree of their involvement. Also, Freddie Mac told CNN on Wednesday that Gingrich was a consultant for the government-sponsored enterprise.

The verdict, part two (were all of Romney's Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae investments in a blind trust?): False. Some of Romney's investments in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were outside of his trust, which means he could have known about them.

Gingrich accused Romney of taking out of context comments he made about bilingual education

The speaker's comments are referenced in a Spanish-language political ad. Moderator Wolf Blitzer asked Romney about it, "You've had an ad running saying that Speaker Gingrich called Spanish - quote - 'The language of the ghetto.' What do you mean by that?"

The statements: "I haven't seen the ad, so I'm sorry, I don't get to see all the TV ads. Did he say that? Did you say that?" - Romney, first to Blitzer, then to Gingrich.

"No, what I said was, we want everybody to learn English - I didn't use the word 'Spanish.' We do not want anyone trapped in a situation where they cannot get a commercial job, they cannot rise." - Gingrich

"I doubt that's my ad, but we'll take a look and find out." - Romney

The facts: The advertisement in question is a Spanish-language radio ad airing in Florida. The ad says, "Reagan never would have offended the Hispanics as Gingrich did when he said that Spanish is the language of the ghetto." At the end of the ad is the phrase, "Paid for by Romney for President, Incorporated," followed by a voice that sounds like Romney's that says, in halting Spanish, "I'm Mitt Romney. I'm running for president and I approve this message."

The advertisement was an apparent reference to a speech that Gingrich delivered on March 31, 2007, to the National Federation of Republican Women in Washington in which he said, "We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country and so they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto."

After his "ghetto" comment stirred criticism, Gingrich made a video in which he said his words "were not the best."

The verdict: Misleading. While Romney says he doubted the ad was his, a news release sent by his press office one day before the debate, includes a link to the Spanish-language radio ad and offers highlights of the ad's major themes, including the, "Spanish is the language of the ghetto" accusation. The ad, entitled, "Hechos," or "Facts," includes examples that attempt to show that Gingrich is not a "Reagan conservative." It is clear from both the news release and the ad itself that it was "Paid For by Romney for President, Incorporated."

While Spanish is the largest single language other than English used in bilingual education in the United States, Gingrich is correct that he did not specifically refer to Spanish as the language of the ghetto. However, he did release the video later saying his word choice in the March 31 speech was not the best.

soundoff (166 Responses)
  1. Observer

    To invest in a stock of a company as an ordinary common stock investor is entirely different from receiving $1.5 million from this company as a "historian".

    January 27, 2012 at 5:01 am | Report abuse |
    • sick of republican phonies

      I see the commenter named "."- yes, just .- based his handle on his brain size. Even smaller than a pea.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Katie

      It's true – Gingrich has claimed that the money he received from Freddie Mac was for consulting as an historian. That's verifiable.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:45 am | Report abuse |
  2. Observer

    Newt's $1.5 million fee makes "historian"the most admired profession in US.

    January 27, 2012 at 5:02 am | Report abuse |
    • .

      Kind of like having half your house paid for by a Chicago financier who is now serving time in prison?

      January 27, 2012 at 6:11 am | Report abuse |
  3. Clydster

    He has more than me ,thats not fare mommy!!

    January 27, 2012 at 5:12 am | Report abuse |
  4. Judi Rustin

    I am really appalled at CNN.....during this debate you found it necessary to search for proof and gave it on the air against Mitt Romney but you failed to look for the proof of Newts statement pertaining to Spanish being a language of the Ghetto and that is readily available as it came out several times including in an earlier debate. If I didnt like Wolf Blitzer and find him a fair man I wouldnt of even watched as the Media (FOX) being the worse is so bias its sickening. Why is it so hard to just tell the truth? The Media is losing so much of it's credibility, couldnt at least one station stand behind the truth and report the true facts whether its what they believe or not.

    January 27, 2012 at 5:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Joi Gibson

      Judi,
      You are so right about the media. It really is a shame that they cannot bring themselves to report the news accurately without their "perception" of what was said. These folks could take lessons from Walter Cronkite and Tim Russert.

      January 27, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mb2010a

    This one is not going to go well for the Newtster...

    January 27, 2012 at 5:31 am | Report abuse |
  6. Edzepp

    It should be blindingly clear to anyone with an open mind that these two guys will say anything to get the nomination-even things that they know to be completely false or misleading. Why would you want a President who is a complete and utter liar and hypocrite?...or is that Job Requirement #1 in the GOP?

    January 27, 2012 at 5:35 am | Report abuse |
    • .

      It's a job requirement for the Obama Administration.

      Or have you forgotten Van Jones?

      January 27, 2012 at 6:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Rachel

      Did you happen to hear Obama's state of the Union address???? LIES and misleading. I really think its a politician thing. They tell people what they want to hear.

      January 27, 2012 at 7:13 am | Report abuse |
    • db

      I would say it is a sign of the political times and not limited to either Republican or Democratic Party. The question on why anyone would want to be President, who earns $200K a year and payout millions of dollars to get there only says one thing, all the runners of either party are meglamaniacs that are power thirsty and have hidden agenda's, every last one of them on both sides. None of the Republicans nor Democrats, and Obama is one of them, is not guilty of these.

      January 27, 2012 at 7:24 am | Report abuse |
  7. Bob in Downsville, NY

    Why do the Republicans keep airing all the Obama infomercials?

    January 27, 2012 at 5:50 am | Report abuse |
    • .

      Because the Obama informercials say exactly what Obama wants for Amerika: Socialism and economic malaise.

      And by the looks of things, he's succeeding.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Katie

      Obama 2012 – the only man willing to work for the American people.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:46 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Our country's name is spelled A M E R I C A.
      Just thought you'd want to know before you misspelled it again, therefore giving credence to the preception that you have no idea of what you're talking about.

      January 27, 2012 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      *perception

      January 27, 2012 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
  8. Hinterarsch

    What did Newt deliver for the 1.5 Mio dollars???? How can a historian make 3.1 million a year? He steals it.

    January 27, 2012 at 5:51 am | Report abuse |
  9. .

    The truth: CNN is a liberal rag.

    But we already knew that.

    January 27, 2012 at 6:07 am | Report abuse |
    • steve harnack

      CNN doesn't publish a newspaper. You can't get anything right, can you? It seems that your pseudonym represents your IQ.

      January 27, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  10. nytw

    Why do conservatives hate rich people so much?

    January 27, 2012 at 6:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Katie

      Now, now, be fair. A lot of conservatives are rich. Conservatives only hate rich people if they think they're too liberal or vote that way.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:48 am | Report abuse |
    • .

      The question should be why do liberals hate everybody? Look what they've done to Detroit, Chicago, LA, San Francisco, Baltimore, Philadelphia - and just about every urban center dominated by liberal idiot policies, where it isn't even safe to stop for a red light.

      You can't blame THAT on the Republicans.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:51 am | Report abuse |
  11. joej

    These comments on these issues show one thing-just how disconnected from their own campaign they are. When your name is on something shouldn't you know what it is are what it is about? This has been a theme throughout the campaigns and really lets the people know just how big each campaign really is. Lot's of different people and groups working for each candidate and the candidate has no control.

    January 27, 2012 at 6:54 am | Report abuse |
  12. American

    Truth squad? Fact checking a Republican? Are you kidding? Let's face it, there's absolutely nothing truthful about a Republican. Never was and never will be! I just wish they would come out of the closet and finally tell the American people, the United Nations and the world community what ever happened to the WMD's in Iraq. Republicans are lacking in integrity and common decency and there's no way these people should ever be elected to any public office whatsoever.

    January 27, 2012 at 6:59 am | Report abuse |
  13. joej

    I really would like to hear a debate on the issues we are facing as a nation. I haven't watched each debate in its entirety, but what I have watched, I haven't heard a lot about jobs, economy, deficit, or debt. They do touch on these issues but nothing in depth that can truly give the people insight to how candidate plans to work these problems.

    January 27, 2012 at 7:03 am | Report abuse |
  14. American

    The GOP hasn't talked much about jobs, the economy, and deficit in dept at these debates simply because they don't have a clue. They can't talk about job creation and re-growing the American economy because after all, they created the economic crisis in the first place. For three years President Obama has said to the opposition if you have a better plan or solution to improve the economy and create jobs, then step forward with it. Well guess what? Three plus years later the GOP is yet to respond! And the GOP/Tea Party's House of Rep? They haven't created one single job in two years. And I believe if the GOP really had any answers to job creation and re-growing the American economy, we wouldn't have been in this crisis in the first place.

    January 27, 2012 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |
    • JustWho

      I also haven't heard one instance of HOW to create a job other than tax the upper incomes LESS and let more pollution spew. Trickle down economics is known not to work. Those who have it just sock it away.

      January 27, 2012 at 8:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Jean

      Thumbs up! Must agree with you. The GOP is just worried about the next election and keeping their jobs in Washington, they could care less about creating jobs for the rest of us. They also spend much of their time in Washington, working against Obama, to prevent him from getting anything done to make him look bad, and to keep him from getting re-elected. So much wasted time in Washington that could have been spent creating jobs. Instead they play games.

      January 27, 2012 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  15. Gonzo

    stop being a puppet of the Ruling Banking Class.

    You mean, like Romney, Gingrich, Santorum and Paul ?

    January 27, 2012 at 7:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Jesse from KC

      ... I hardly think you can call Paul a "puppet of the banking ruling class". He wants to disband the Fed, and keep banks from gaining even more power than they have now. So, no, he's not part of the "ruling, banking class".

      That being said, the other 3, undoubtebly are. So is Obama, so are almost ALL politicians.

      When you get down to it, Dem's and Repub's only disagree on a very few things, and those are the things we must decide to vote them in/out on. Everything else is part of the mold that you have to fit to become a politician.

      January 27, 2012 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
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