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. michiganmoon

    If you are a government employee and get a pension – you almost certainly have investments in Fannie and Freddie. If you have a 401K and buy mutual funds, the odds are you have an investment in Fannie and Freddie. I think this is ridiculous to act like owning a mutual fund that holds stock in company ______ is a big deal.

    January 27, 2012 at 7:51 am | Report abuse |
  2. Anonymous010

    According to the CNN fact check of the SOTU address, Obama was far more truthful than any of the GOP candidates have been. Nearly all of Obama's claims were true; only one was 'true, but imcomplete'. So, please elaborate on what "lies" he told, because I don't think you know what you're talking about.

    January 27, 2012 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
  3. Anonymous010

    Sorry, but my personal position on investments is that if it's your money and your profit, it's your responsibility, no matter who your investor is or whether you use a blind trust or not. People should never be allowed to profit without personal responsibility. So, Mitt and Newt can claim they never knew about their holdings, but I still hold them responsible for what is done with their money.

    January 27, 2012 at 8:25 am | Report abuse |
    • michiganmoon

      If you are saving for retirement and have a pension or mutual funds – then you almost certainly have an investment with Fannie and Fredie. Wake Up!

      January 27, 2012 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
  4. Nick

    Anonymous10, that's because CNN only published what it wanted to. AP also did a fact check and Obama didn't fair nearly as well. Regardless, SOTU was nothing more than a campaign speech, as proven by his immediate departure from Washington instead of staying and actually trying to work with Congress.

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

      Nick, I believe that it is quite normal that the sitting president visits areas of the country to amplify his Ideas and gain support for them from the citizens of this country whether it's an election year or not. Don't 'spin' it to imply this is happening because President Obama is only interested in his re-election, which, based on the calibre of the GOP field, is a foregone conclusion.

      January 27, 2012 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  5. KoeyKoala


    State socialized medicine is no different than federal socialized medicine.

    A moon base is a socialized program which takes away funds which could be used to rebuild our socialized roads or to help the needy like those who declared bankruptcy due to out-of-control capitalized health care costs.

    January 27, 2012 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Simon Says

      When asked what the difference was between Romneycare & Obamacare,
      Mittens says he didnt have to raise taxes to pass it.
      Truth is, Romney didnt have to raise taxes because he got the money from the fed.
      Do you understand this ?
      The other 49 states paid for Romneycare.
      So Romneycare is good, but Obamacare is bad,
      But they are almost identical.
      Auto insurance is ok, but health insurance is not ?
      Republicans are out of thier freaking minds.

      January 27, 2012 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
  6. Duck Dodgers

    Bad news for repubs.

    U.S. economy grows at 2.8% annual rate in 4th quarter, strongest since 2nd quarter of 2010,

    January 27, 2012 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
  7. Franky

    Nick please point to link. I went the politifact.org, thruthcheck.org both bi-partisan and Obama consistently scores much higher than other politicians on their truth-o-meters. Also, specifically, what were his lies in your mind?

    January 27, 2012 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Jean

      Good to hear Franky

      January 27, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
  8. Simon Says

    Newt wants a moon colony so we can mine for precious resources.
    And who will make money from these resources ?
    Tax dollars to build this colony, and then some private company
    makes millions from it ?
    Sounds like a job for Haliburton.

    January 27, 2012 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
  9. gung hoe

    @ annoymus 010 I Agree wholeheartedly.So do yourself a favor and check out the difference of biden and romney to charitable giving.You may be surprised

    January 27, 2012 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  10. Clegg Thorple

    Gingrich has the honesty factor in his favor. I prefer that to the 'cheat until they catch you then cheat again' mantra. What are the funding facts of the 2002 Olympics?

    January 27, 2012 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
    • DeTamble

      *** Clegg Thorple

      Gingrich has the honesty factor in his favor,,,,,

      This just may be the funniest post i have ever read.
      I just spit my coffee out.

      January 27, 2012 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
    • mrsfoorce

      I bet his wife just spit her coffee out too

      January 27, 2012 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
  11. Pedro Sanchez.

    Now we can see candidate Newt has dominate Mitt's idiologies , and there is no dought Mitt Romney is a sinic hypocrete and antiemmigrant individual .Mitt's inrichments comes from pork invesments . And by not paying his fare share tax money , his violating tax code policies . It is ilegal for a investor to walk away from a lamp sum of money profit ,with out paying the fare share of Sams tax . Thanks .

    January 27, 2012 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
  12. gung hoe

    @simon says What do you think china is doing,theyre ahead of us

    January 27, 2012 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Simon Says

      **** gung hoe

      @simon says What do you think china is doing,theyre ahead of us

      Good for them.
      What does that have to do with my post ?
      We dont own the moon.
      Or is this some sad way to defend Newt ?

      January 27, 2012 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
  13. American


    And where are the WMD's? And where are the jobs the GOP promised? Let's face it, all the remaining GOP candidates supported the previous administration's illegitimate invasion of Iraq and they continue to support the very same GOP policies that led to our economic downfall at home. Therefore if any presidential candidates need fact or truth checking its the republican candidates.

    January 27, 2012 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
    • eman

      everyone except ron paul. get your facts straight.

      January 27, 2012 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
  14. Sammy

    Who is the hell writes this CRAP!!!

    Which language was Gingrich referring to? Well?
    Did he mean French is the language of the ghetto?

    If people are so dumb they cannot read between the lines, they do not need to be writing articles for news organizations online.

    Was he referring to Aramaic? Is that the language of the ghetto?

    Gingrich meant Spanish, and anyone with one brain cell can see this. So his words did reflect that Spanish is the language of the ghetto. which means HE SAID IT.

    Whoever wrote this defending Gingrich, Is obviously a conservative.


    January 27, 2012 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
    • newton

      duh. He was referring to hebrew, since jewish ghettos were the first ghettos ever to be called "ghettos". American Jews absolutely have to learn English, or else they wont ever learn to make a decent income.

      ..wait. .where am i

      January 27, 2012 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  15. Bush's Food Stamp Economy

    This article says that racists are stupider and more conservative on average than non-racists. It's not news to me that racists are generally morons. And we all know that the entire South suddenly switched over to the Republican party the day LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act. If you watched the S. Carolina Republican debate, you heard the way the South Carolina crowd howled with delight when Newt Gingrich called President Obama "the food stamp president". The leader of the Tea Party Express calling the Manhattan borough president a "Jewish Uncle Tom" and President Obama an "Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug" was another conservative low point. There are a lot of conservative low points.

    January 27, 2012 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Bush's Food Stamp Economy

      Replying to link to article: "Low IQ & Conservative Beliefs Linked to Prejudice"

      January 27, 2012 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
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