Saturday, November 1st, 2014

Mistakes on the lake

SUMMARY: In the final scheduled debate between the Democrats, Obama and Clinton get fast and loose with the facts. We find Clinton is right that Obama didn't hold subcommittee hearings but is wrong that he wants to bomb Pakistan.

Sen. Hillary Clinton had challenged Sen. Barack Obama to duke it out in Cleveland ("Meet me in Ohio!"), and the result was a lively debate, particularly if you're interested in the details of trade policy and universal (or not universal) health care.

The candidates spent the first 20 minutes arguing about Obama's fliers, which had attacked Clinton on health care and the North American Free Trade Agreement. That was followed by a spirited back-and-forth on Iraq, energy, terrorism and whether Obama had denounced and rejected Louis Farrakhan's support. (He had only denounced, but at Clinton's request, he also rejected it).

We previously addressed the argument over NAFTA. We found Obama was wrong to say that Clinton called NAFTA a "boon" to the economy but was correct that Clinton had changed her tune on the trade agreement.

Here are some claims that we checked from the debate:

• Clinton was right that Obama hasn't held substantive hearings as chairman of the European Affairs Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, so we gave her a True.

• Obama, defending one of his campaign fliers, said Clinton's health plan "forces" people to buy health insurance. We find that's misleading and rate it Half True.

• Clinton took a line from Sen. John McCain and President Bush with her claim that Obama "basically threatened to bomb Pakistan," which is nearly identical to recent comments by McCain and Bush. She is distorting Obama's remarks just as they did and we give her a Pants on Fire.

• We found Clinton took Obama's comments out of context when she contended that he said in 2004 "that he basically agreed with the way George Bush was conducting the war." We rated that Half True.

• Finally, Clinton was right that she has most often been asked the first questions in recent debates. We rated that True, although we're not sure that it's the disadvantage she makes it out to be.

And a final note: Much of the debate involved the question of just how similar, or different, the Clinton and Obama Senate voting records are. We've done a Fact Sheet comparing their records, and find they are nearly identical. Read the Fact Sheet here.