Fumbled facts in Florida

SUMMARY: We find some exaggerations and mistakes at the Republican debate in Boca Raton.

The Republican debate in Boca Raton lacked the fireworks that we saw at the Democratic showdown in Myrtle Beach, S.C., three nights earlier. Indeed, the debate was probably the most light-hearted of the long campaign, with the candidates needling each other with jokes about Chuck Norris, John McCain's mom and the inheritance of the Romney boys.

But despite the civil tones, the candidates managed to fumble many facts and stretch the truth on some others.

* Rudy Giuliani repeated his allegation that Bill Clinton is to blame for shrinking the nation's military. We found his claim Half True.

* But Rudy had his facts straight about the coal reserves in the United States. We gave that a True.

* John McCain claimed he won the majority of the Republican vote in the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries, but exit polls showed him in a statistical tie. We gave that claim a False.

* McCain claimed that Hillary Clinton's position on Iraq withdrawal was the equivalent of waving "the white flag of surrender." We checked her actual comments, studied the definition of white surrender flags and rated his claim Half True.

* Mitt Romney had his facts straight when he described McCain's flip-flop on the Bush tax cuts. We rated that a True.

* Mike Huckabee recalled a scene from an October debate in which he was the lone voice for working people battered by the economy. It was a powerful scene . . . except it didn't happen. We gave him a Barely True.

* Huckabee also stretched the truth with his claim about "tax freedom day." We rated it Half True.



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