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Fact-checking the CNN debate in Florida

By Bill Adair, Angie Drobnic Holan
Published on Friday, January 27th, 2012 at 5:28 p.m.

Thursday's CNN debate was another contentious affair with lots of back and forth between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.

Romney and Gingrich got into a back and forth about an ad from Romney that claimed Gingrich once said Spanish was the "language of the ghetto." We rated a Romney ad on that Mostly True.

Romney attacked President Barack Obama, saying "This president went before the United Nations and castigated Israel for building settlements. He said nothing about thousands of rockets being rained in on Israel from the Gaza Strip." We examined Obama's remarks, though, and found that wasn't the case. We rated Romney's statement False

Gingrich boasted about his fiscal record, saying, "We balanced the budget with the 1997 Balanced Budget Act, and ultimately had four consecutive balanced budgets." That wording is more accurate than his previous claims, which have indicated they all occurred when he was speaker. His new wording earned a Mostly True.

Rick Santorum, meanwhile, attacked both candidates for having supported health care plans similar to that of President Barack Obama. Gingrich, for example, advocated a mandate that people buy insurance "for 20 years." We looked into a similar statement previously and rated it Mostly True.

Santorum also called the Massachusetts health care plan supported by Romney "a top-down, government-run helth care system." While there are some elements of the law that opponents might view as "top-down," including the mandate that everyone must buy insurance or pay a penalty and the requirement that most employers offer insurance, other elements are not. As for a "government-run health care system," government run systems have doctors on the payroll, and Massachusetts does not. We rated it Mostly False.

Romney said he "never voted for a Democrat when there was a Republican on the ballot."Romney has a point that the ballot he was handed didn’t include any Republicans. On the other hand, Romney had a right to request a GOP ballot that day and opted not to. We rated the statement Half True.

We'll be checking other claims from the debate today and will link to them from this story.

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