Sunday, December 21st, 2014

Hope . . . and the facts

SUMMARY: In a Virginia speech, Barack Obama said polls show he could beat John McCain by 6 points. We find he's right about the polls, but wrong about gas prices and he misstates what Hillary Clinton said about a bankruptcy bill.

At a campaign appearance at T.C. Williams High School (the Alexandria, Va., school made famous in the movie Remember the Titans ), Sen. Barack Obama gave his trademark speech about hope and drew some sharp distinctions with Sen. Hillary Clinton.

He said voters don't want "the same old cast of characters" running Washington and he reminded the packed crowd that Democrats lost control of Congress when Clinton's husband was president. Obama described Sen. Clinton as a talented but divisive figure who would have a difficult time passing major legislation.

"Let me say this about Sen. Clinton," Obama said. "She is a smart person, she is a capable person. She would be a vast improvement over the incumbent. But what is also true is that I think it's very hard for Sen. Clinton to break out of the politics of the last 15 years. And that politics is basically a politics where 47 percent of the country on one side and 47 percent on the other, and you have five percent in the middle – and they all live in Florida and Ohio, apparently."

We checked four of Obama's claims from the speech:

• He cited "six polls, including this week's Time magazine," that show him beating McCain by 6 or 7 points. He's right about the Time poll and two others that show him that far ahead of McCain, but we couldn't find the others. We gave him a Mostly True.

• Obama said Clinton's negative ratings are so high that she "starts off with 47 percent of the country against her." We found he's right that polls show her negative rating in that range and gave him a True.

• We found his claim about gas prices was low on fuel. He's wrong that gas prices have never been higher. Depending how you measure them, they peaked last May — or in 1981. We gave him a False.

• He misquoted Sen. Clinton about a bankruptcy bill. He claimed that she said "I voted for it, but I hoped it wouldn't pass," but she never said that. We gave him a False.

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