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. MidRanger

    Why do keep expecting your posts to rhyme??

    January 27, 2012 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
  2. American

    @Bush's Food Stamp Economy

    Thank you!

    January 27, 2012 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
  3. Pedro Sanchez.

    I believe on the Will of America . Therefore we must elect the right element Intelectual Person to run this great nation of USA . We can not support those candidates who lien on midle east war conflicts , and Mr. Romney is one of them , this candidate should focus more in his Country , and to invest time on him self correcting mistakes of tax invasions , I think the wake up call is on alert for those who oleee , The bull " on the tax terms . " Thanks .

    January 27, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  4. Reason

    "language of the ghetto" Which language was Gingrich referring to? Since he doesn't tell, stadistically he means mostly Spanish (just a fact), but in reallity doesn't mater, this shows the deep mental impariment this person has. He is unable to think or see beyond his borders, and implies that the whole planet must speak English to talk to us, otherwise we don't need anybody else. And THAT is freaking ignorant and scary. The problem is the amout of people that can follow and listen to this individual. No wonder USA, as a nation, is becaming a joke more and more. It is incredible how this guy and alikes are pushing to blow the opportunity to economically conquer new frontiers. All Latino America is a raw mine waiting the right moment... Who you think is going to have a better chance to do business with them? Even W Bush could see that!

    January 27, 2012 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
  5. Dave

    Here are some facts about health care in MA:

    1. The feds are already paying for health care when others do not.
    2. MA did not get additional funds for health care, and Romney has stopped the free rider problem (a conservative principle).
    3. Romney's plan maintains private insurance, whereas Obama's plan paves way for a single payer system to do away with private insurance.

    Romney's plan is much better than Obama's (even though he had to flight the dems in MA to get it).

    January 27, 2012 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
    • s kel

      How can you lying republicans keep lying to others and to yourselfs. Do you really hate that black man in the white house so much that you would have a wall street criminal rich boy, or a self deluded ,criminal wife cheating lier in the white house just because they are not of your party and are not black. How really SICK are you red state white america? I would say extreamly sick.

      January 27, 2012 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
    • jimm

      huh? Where in Obama's plan is an indication of single payer? Romney's won advisors helped craft the ACA law, and it was based on the Mass law.

      January 27, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Peggy


      American Care, the one Obama fought for is better for Americans and the GOP nominees proved that last night when an unemployed worker told them she had no job and health care. They all went into spinning but not one had any information or consolation for that woman. Nobody said here is what to do. Nobody asked, how she lived, whether she had shelter or food. Were it a Democratic debate the answer would have been more helpful, considerate and direct. So all total, the Democrats seem to be better for ordinary Americans. The strength of a great nation Dave, lies in its ability to care for its people and that includes those in the southern GOP states with little education, poor housing and poor or no healthcare. The GOP is truly out of touch with ordinary Americans and the state of the global economic community.

      January 27, 2012 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  6. Shawn

    I enjoy the fact check (truth squad) after each debate. My concenr is how any canidate can stand on stage and basically lie or severly distort the facts in order to knock someone else or make yourself look good. It would be nice the way the moderator called Romeny out last night if the Truth squad could check facts while the debates are on and call each canidate out right there. Easy to poi9nt out someone else's fault and failures.

    January 27, 2012 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
    • jimm

      Becausemost viewers don't bother to look at the fact check articles after the debates.

      January 27, 2012 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  7. Tannim

    The ads show that Romney is not in control of his own campaign. How can he be expected to lead the nation if he can't lead his own campaign?

    January 27, 2012 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
    • comeon

      This isn't uncommon at all. Often times, in large campaigns, these sort of things happen. But it's not like it was a lie. Gingrich said those things and feels that way. Mitt shouldn't feel bad about the ad at all.

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

    Well, that is the GOP's modus operandi! It is to manipulate and brainwash the American people with fear mongering tactics to score political points and win votes. To the GOP candidates, Hispanics, Blacks, Asians and other ethnicity did not contribute to the building of America. Yes, that kind of hateful and divisive tatic may have worked during the midterm elections but it will not work in the general election. Never!

    January 27, 2012 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jean

    I felt from the beginning that this was all amusing and entertaining, to watch these last 4 duke it out. But I have grown tired of it all now and just wish it were all over. Please God, bring this to a quick end. They all, except for Ron Paul, have connections to the Koch Brothers and other elites that want Americans to work for them under their terms which are not good for us. Luckily the residents of Wisconsin are winning their battle against one of the Koch Brothers paid patsies, Scott Walker. An ongoing investigation in that state has so far, charged 5 of Walkers aides with corruption and embezzlement. I'm sure if every state could do some digging, we could find so much corruption that it would shock us all. It is so sad what has become of our political system and we the voters are some what responsible for that. For voting for these people simply because they want to stay LOYAL to their party, even if it means voting for someone corrupt or for someone that is only interested in serving the elite of this country.

    January 27, 2012 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  10. Independent

    What the author of this article does NOT add is that after stating that America does not need to be using the language of the ghetto Gingrich adds that the only language we should be printing on a ballot is English. Hmmm, I wonder what language he was referring to? Also, if it wasn't spanish he was referring to then why the need to issue an apology for his word choice to the latin people on you tube dir.ectly afterwards? Check the facts for yourself people, Romney's add was not false.

    January 27, 2012 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  11. Tom

    The 2012, republican candidates for president of the USA are all losers. The debates they are participating in prove it.

    January 27, 2012 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jean

    I would also like to see an end to big money contributions to campaigns. If we could add up all the amounts given so far for ads during this GOP campaign, I'm sure we could pay for the college tuition of almost every first year college student in this country or pay off the medical bills for many people who are uninsured in this country. Instead it is blown away in a disgusting way. :/

    January 27, 2012 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
  13. David

    RON PAUL 2012. That's your answer.

    January 27, 2012 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  14. Revolution 2012

    RON PAUL for president 2012!!!

    January 27, 2012 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
    • dabruster

      I'm definitely voting for Ron Paul in my state's caucus. If Ron Paul doesn't get the nomination, screw whoever does get the nomination, and I'm writing in Vermin Supreme.

      January 27, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  15. Justin

    Ron Paul or Nothing At All

    January 27, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Saboth

      I like it! And it's the truth. Really...a straight shooter with some good ideas (and a few bad ones), vs a tax cheat 1%er that views Americans as cogs in a machine to swap out for the cheapest labor he can find that states "hey, I only paid 15%, because that is what the law requires", when his company was one of the organizations lobbying the HARDEST against a change to make capital gains tax 35% years ago, vs a multiple adulterer lobbyist war-monger, civil liberty and privacy destroyer.

      January 27, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
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