Of hecklers and heating oil

SUMMARY: Obama's town hall focuses on economic issues; protestors add to the mix.

With bad economic news in the headlines, Sen. Barack Obama hosted a town hall meeting in St. Petersburg, Fla., to unveil a new economic stimulus proposal: $500 for individuals and $1,000 for families to offset increasing energy costs.

"This rebate will be enough to offset the increased cost of gas for a working family over the next four months," Obama said Aug. 1, 2008. "Or, if you live in a state where it gets very cold in the winter, it will be enough to cover the entire increase in your heating bills. Or you could use the rebate for any of your other bills, or even to pay down debt."

We decided to run the numbers on that claim and found that Obama is correct. Those numbers would be enough to offset increased gas costs or heating oil bills. We ruled that statement True .

A small group of St. Petersburg activists interrupted Obama's speech, unfurling a banner behind him that read "What about the black community, Obama?"

After calming the crowd, Obama said he would take a question from the activists after his remarks, which he did. The questioner mentioned the subprime mortgage crisis, the Jena 6 civil rights case in Louisiana and the shooting of Sean Bell in New York City, asking Obama why he failed to "speak to the interests and even speak on behalf of the oppressed and exploited African community or the black community in this country."

Obama said he didn't agree with the young man's charge, and went through a lengthy response on those issues.

We checked Obama's statement about the subprime crisis: "I have repeatedly said that many of the predatory loans that were made in the mortgage system did target African-American and Latino communities."

We looked in his past speeches and records and found he has said this several times, so we rated this statement True as well.