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Bill Adair
By Bill Adair January 6, 2008
SUMMARY: We find some truth, some exaggerations and a Pants-on-Fire falsehood at the dual debates in New Hampshire.

ABC News billed Saturday night's dual debates as "Two Parties, One Night," which conjures images of friendly get-togethers with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. But they were more like raucous family dinners where the kids can't stop heaving insults at each other.

At the Republican debate, John McCain and Mike Huckabee took turns making wisecracks about Mitt Romney's flip-flops. (McCain sarcastically called Romney "the candidate of change.")

At the Democratic debate, Barack Obama and John Edwards teamed up against Hillary Clinton, who in turn called Obama a flip-flopper.

We fact-checked many of their claims:

* Romney earned our Pants-On-Fire rating for his ridiculous claim that his TV ads do not accuse McCain of supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants. Perhaps Romney should look at his own ads, which say McCain "wrote the amnesty bill." Or the Romney for president news release that says "Senator McCain has ... supported amnesty."

* Romney was also way off with his claim that Obama "wants the government to take over health care." That's a distortion of Obama's plan, which keeps the free-market health care system intact. We gave Romney a Barely True.

* We give Mike Huckabee a False for claiming that Romney was late to support the surge of troops in Iraq. We find Romney and Huckabee both supported it from the start.

* Rudy Giuliani continues to blame Bill Clinton for shrinking the military even though PolitiFact and our colleagues at and the Washington Post have repeatedly said it is a distortion by he and Romney, who made the same claim. In fact, the defense cuts under the "peace dividend" had bipartisan support. So once again, we rate this claim Half True.

* We found Giuliani was on more solid ground with his claim that President Reagan backed amnesty for illegal immigrants. We gave that claim a True.

* Clinton had her numbers right when she said 7,000 kids in New Hampshire have benefited from the children's health insurance program. We previously determined that her boasts about the plan inflated her role, but she qualified them this time by indicating she "helped to create" the program. So we rated the statement True.

* Clinton was also right that Obama's New Hampshire chairman is a lobbyist. We gave that a True.

* Bill Richardson was correct when he said he created a reserve for home heating oil when he was energy secretary. We gave his claim a True .

* Clinton offered a misleading account of Obama's vote on the Patriot Act. We gave that claim a Half True.

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Two parties, one night