They call it "Iowa nice," the tendency of Iowans to be friendly and civil — and expect the same from their presidential candidates. That may explain why the Dec. 12 Republican debate was so bland (the New York Times called it a "sleepy affair;" the Washington Post headline called it "lifeless"). The Dec. 13 Democratic debate was more of the same.
With the campaigns preparing for an unofficial cease-fire over the holidays, the candidates played it safe. After all, Iowans know who's been naughty and who's been nice.
We checked the candidates' claims:
* Rudy Giuliani found a new way to exaggerate his record on adoptions. Instead of reciting the 65-70 percent increase he's used before, this time he said he'd boosted them by 135 percent. We find that claim to be Barely True .
* Fred Thompson made a bold statement on taxes, including saying that "40 percent of Americans pay no income taxes." Would you believe it? That's True .
* Chris Dodd was practically quoting a U.S. Census report when he said 37-million Americans are living in poverty. No surprise, we ruled his claim True .