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. Brenda

    Way to mislead TRUTH SQUAD on Romney owning Fannie/Freddie. By your own admission; The same report cites holdings that are not in his blind trust – including a mutual fund that contains Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This is a mutual fund. Mitt Romney DOES NOT own any Fannie and Freddie Mac stock. Mitt Romney does not have a say in what the fund manager of a mutual fund purchases! The only thing you can cite him on is that not 100% of his investments are made by him. You even say it's a small percent of his holdings. But they ARE IN MUTUAL FUNDS!

    January 27, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brenda

      I meant to say not 100% of his invesments are in blind trust. But you even say it's a small percentage that is not in the blind trust and it is infact in an investment – a mutual fund – that Mitt Romney has NO control over.

      January 27, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • johnnytwoshoes

      Brenda... when you buy/purchase a part of a mutual fund, it is public knowledge as to what specific companies are involved within those mutual funds. The fact that these 'bail-out' companies were all within the same fund is actually not a surprise as the fund most likely had to do with banking or insurance related programs. The question now is... when were these purchased and why was the decision made by him at the time to purchase them?

      January 27, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • svann

      Owning companies in a fund is significantly different from owning them outright. It matters.

      January 27, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ivan

      Maybe he can invest the US treasury money in these Blind Trusts and get us out of debt.

      January 27, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Former Democrat

      Ivan – He has invested a lot on treasury bonds through the blind trust. Investing on treasury bonds does not write off our debt. The government is borrowing money and has to pay interest on it.

      January 27, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jkv372

    The fact is both are liars. Vote for Ron Paul the only candidate that is telling the truth.

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

    While Gingrich may never have singled out Spanish he did say "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." I would take that to mean that any language other than English, is the language of the ghetto! He offended everyone, not just the Spanish speaking.

    January 27, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Martin

    Here is a Fact from Barack Hussein Obama, State of the Union Address –
    Republican Mitch Daniels says The President ..."Blew $800Billion+ with Stimulus package and that Steve Jobs from apple had created more jobs... Lies lies lies. Fact is Apple creates less jobs that HP and Dell... and Stimulus created between 1.4 and 3.3Million jobs. Just the Facts Mitch, just the Facts

    January 27, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ivan

      Really? He did that
      What kind of jobs?
      where ?
      I Still see people that are unemployed.

      January 27, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kev

    Why not fact check Ron Paul's comment about sending politicians to the moon? It should be true.

    January 27, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Zach

    It is hard for presidential candidates to talk about legitimate issues because the president has a surprisingly small amount of domestic policy power. The government does not have the ability or even the influence to stimulate job growth. Job growth comes from demand. People have learned to live with less, so demand for products is not rising even while more people are finding income. Also, companies have found that they can function with a smaller staff and maintain, therefore they are not motivated to hire more people when they no longer feel it is necessary. Demand will not go up until more people have jobs and income, and jobs will not go up until we have more demand. This is why liberal thinking prefers keynsian policies of using government money to artificially sustain or increase demand so that the above catch-22 is broken. But as long as people are willing to live with less and work harder than ever, the economy will remain unchanged.

    January 27, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. johnnytwoshoes

    That is a very good point Zach. Again, it comes down to why he chose to purchase them at the time he did. Was it because he felt the company was doing well and would continue to do well... or was it because he knew there was going to be a turn-around in the company because they were "too big to fail"? Ultimately it makes a very fine line when it comes to insider trading and federal legislators having the ability to know what will happen before they happen.

    January 27, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JoePub

    Who fact checks the "truth squad"? I've caught them in misleading conclusions, so I'll take their "truth" with a grain of salt.

    January 27, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. RLG

    Two more out of touch, conceited, arrogant snobs, trying in vai n to show "they're just like us."
    Perfect representatives for the Party of NO. Looking forward to watching them rip the GOP apart and will cheer as it is in its death throes....is that a fat lady I hear singing?
    FOUR MORE YEARS!

    January 27, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Pepe

    .. I wonder if it is a requirement to be really ignorant about anything and everything discussed here in order to be a Democrat... by the comments I've read so far, that seems to be the main criteria...

    January 27, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. GordonGecko

    Both were making money from Fannie & Freddie while we the U.S. taxpayers bailed them out.

    January 27, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. OHREALLY

    All the GOP candidates have been less then honest and sadly the media never calls them on it. Why does the media allow this to continue? Because controversy drives ratings. They don't care about facts. They care about ratings.

    January 27, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. saywhat

    I don't know why my above post landed here, I was replying to a man of cloth on another thread.

    January 27, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. loki

    Truth Squad....focus on OBAMA for a change. The guy who is actually doing damage to our economy.

    January 27, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Obama wasn't in the debate. What have you been smoking?

      January 27, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. McBain05

    Makes me feel good to be an American, actually.

    January 27, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
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