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. WE THE PEOPLE

    A question to Newt...what percentage of success do you think our Navy SEALS would have had at OBL's compound if we didn't have an Arabic speaking American on board to help to facilitate and provide Arabic translation critical to making this sensive and very risky operation a success?

    January 27, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. palintwit

    With all the office space available to lease right now, I'm wondering why Obama isn't organizing all those Death Panels that Sarah Palin was predicting.

    January 27, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill_FL

      @Palin-dem-wit

      Not 2013 yet. That is when BHO care kicks in.

      Just wait, they will be calling you for help soon. Sounds like you are ready to implement that plan now.

      Keep you execututioners hood ready.

      January 27, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. gung hoe

    @ dom well I praise you for raising your family that way of learning two languages,but not every family is like yours.I worked for a mexican back in the eighties,and both he and his wife didnt let their children learn spanish so that they could speak to each other and the kids had no idea what they were saying.In fact my wife is of hungarian decent,and her parents did the same for the same reason.

    January 27, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. WE THE PEOPLE

    Then perhaps we should just shut down all our embassies in foreign countries and end trade with foreign countries that do not speak english. O' and while we are at it, we should deport the 1/3 of all the neurological and cardiovascular surgeons from Asian and other foreign countries that are saving lives in America simply because they speak two languages. And O' yes, we should also deport all the foreign born college and university professors who are educating our people in math, science and just about every subject matter in the universe. You must be a conservative!

    January 27, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill_FL

      And your point?

      America is made of job stealers from other countries who have no interest in becoming a USA citizen. Check those facts.

      They earn here and send it back to their home country.

      Live in Florida and you would know this already.

      Stay here, spend here, or leave.

      Don't bring up US citizens on vacations in other countries.

      We are talking about wage earners taking US funds and making their home countries. We need to make America better 1st.

      January 27, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeremiah

      What do you care what they do with their money? If they are not paying taxes, that's a problem. After that, butt the eff out. It's not your money, it's not your call. You no doubt want the government to keep their hands off your money. Now walk the talk.

      January 27, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. WE THE PEOPLE

    And what about the millions of Americans working in foreign countries? Don't you think they do the same? And by the way, do you drive a foreign or American car? And does everything in your home say made in America? A matter of fact, why don't you look at the name tag on the shirt or pants you're wearing and see where it was made?

    January 27, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill_FL

      @We the "Ron Paul" People.

      Good try... Isolationism... China tried that... How's that going?

      We import way too much, trade imbalance. True.

      What is your solution. Then, run for president, and I will vote for you.

      January 27, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. hightid123

    How much does Obama have? Do his mutual funds invest in fannie and freddie? Who paid for his college costs? Who were his friends? He said they were the radicals. Did the media ever ask any of these questions? Were they ever answered?

    January 27, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Roberts

      The Fannie/Freddie squabble is a purity test for the right. There's no point in asking Obama about them because his supporters don't care if he owns Fannie or Freddie stock. They don't care if Mitt or Newt does either, except that it's kind of amusing since those guys bash the agencies.

      January 27, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. WE THE PEOPLE

    @Bill_Florida

    Don't bring up US citizens on vacations in other countries? What if you were vacationing in a foreign country and you had a medical emergency, wouldn't it be a blessing if the people providing you medical assiatance could also speak english and understand what is ailing you? Well, perhaps you're a conservative too! Perhaps you people think the world is flat and civilization started in America!

    January 27, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill_FL

      Amazing, apparently you have never been out of the US.

      Every country has a required national language. We need to takw similiar steps. Respect English is the required languafe in America.

      January 27, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Breeze

      I am disgusted by the constant reference to "European Welfare Society" as if everyone in Europe is on public assistance. Santorum said some months ago that Europeans are more upwardly mobile than Americans. Add that to their 6 weeks of paid vacation, health care, child care, free college and elder care and life across the pond looks pretty darned good. And there are plenty of wealthy people in Europe too. So what else to do but demonize European society so that it will appear that Obama's vision is scary?

      January 27, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. WE THE PEOPLE

    @Bill_Florida

    No, I'm not smart enough to be president! But my solution would be for every American to be allowed the opportunity to play a part in helping to define our culture and to have an input in how far we go a diverse nation regardless of their heritage or ethnic background.

    January 27, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ray in Illinois

    I appreciate that fact check blog. However, now that Obama is out there on the campaign trail it would be nice to see some fact checking from the State of the Union on. I noted yesterday that very few were covering the "middle class" secretary of Warren Buffet who was pointed out sitting with the First Lady who was said to make $60K per year but paying over 35% for taxes. She and her husband just bought a second home in AZ and the tax lawyers are estimating that she makes between $300k-$500K. I am sure there are many more of these fun things to play with so lets also put a bit pressure on the other side too.

    January 27, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. mac

    Republicans are conservative. They like to look back at other periods of American history, like the 1950s, and say that things were better. In the 1950s we did have a much more robust economy because middle class wages were rising steadily, union membership was high, the rich were paying double if not triple the tax rate they are now, and there is NO WAY that men like Newt Gingrich with his "scorched earth" political career and "consulting" arrangements and Romney with his Bain Capital career and off-shore bank accounts would have ever run let alone be elected. Americans in the 1950s would have thought them both self-serving, immoral, and un-American.

    January 27, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ben

    Where's the fact check from the State of the Union? I can't seem to find it. In fact, I don't remember CNN fact checking any of the State of the Unions of this president of his 2008 debates. I must be wrong as this is the fourth GOP debate fact check they have run.

    January 27, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • June

      There are plenty of fact checks on the state of the Union. Google it!
      Obama for the next 4 years!!!! Yes.

      January 27, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • mac

      Ben, maybe CNN hasn't done it but check out the Politifact Web site. They seem to be fair about how they evaluate what the candidates and the President say. And I know you probably don't want to hear this, but they usually find that Obama can stretch the facts too, but not nearly as much as the Republican candidates. All politicians re-arrange the facts to suit their purposes, it's just a question of how much and on what topics.

      January 27, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. TEA PARTY

    A white Connecticut man was just sentenced to death by lethal injection for tying up a Connecticut family and setting their house on fire, murdering them in the process. His accomplice also a white male was sentenced to death by lethal injection in 2010. You conservatives still think only blacks and hispanics commit outrageous crimes?

    January 27, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • mac

      Come on people!!!! Stop it. Race DOES NOT determine someone chances of committing crime, it's mostly determined by economic situations, education, what they were taught at home, they people they hang out with, etc. NOT RACE!!!!

      January 27, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. saywhat

    We don't want the likes of you here Pastor. I have read the Scriptures, Judaic, Christian & Islamic. Three religions stemming from the same source- Abraham.

    Without getting into a lengthy discourse on the their respective traditions, suffice to say that enough seeds of fear and hatred have been sown on this soil of ours to have one more getting on with the same.
    May the Good Lord guide you – Amen.

    January 27, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Trezenia

    Too much talk about money & finances, not enough about the real issures, Jobs, Affordable Health Care, Lowing Gas
    Prices & unemployment given to people who are capable of working & choice to stay unemployed & Social Security given to spouses who didn't pay a dime into it, just because their spouses start drawing it and get as much
    as I do, when I worked for 40 years! What's up with That? Please no more talk about the Candiates Income, more
    focus on the Everyday Worker & Home Makers trying to make ends meet!

    January 27, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. como1

    How about fact checking Obama's state of the union speech? No guts no glory.

    January 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheProtagoni

      Because most anti-Obama people limit their news to what they want to hear, ie., Fox News, Talk Radio, Republican candidates; they become confused when people say things that don't match up to what they've heard and start calling Obama a liar. Truth is his speech was pretty dead on. But don't take my word for it, check it out for yourself. The non-partisan Factcheck.org is a good resource.

      January 27, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • OHREALLY

      Pepe, you are proving once again that a Conservative when faced with facts will resort to foolish coments. Bravo.

      January 27, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7