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Bill Adair
By Bill Adair September 27, 2008

SUMMARY: McCain and Obama spar at Ole Miss in their first debate. We check their facts and find a few blunders.

The debate at the University of Mississippi was supposed to focus on foreign policy, but with the nation teetering on the brink of catastrophic financial collapse, much of the talk was about Wall Street — and Main Street. Indeed, both Barack Obama and John McCain spoke of Main Street and said it should be the focus of any federal rescue effort.

The facts came fast and furious over the 90 minutes. We've checked the ones below, which include a few we've checked before, and we'll be checking more over the next few days.

  • Obama exaggerated the impact of his tax plan when he said that "95 percent of you will get a tax cut." We rated that Half True .
  • We found Obama was on base with his claim that McCain wants to "give oil companies another $4-billion" in tax breaks. Obama is cherry-picking on McCain's plan, which would cut taxes for all companies, not just oil companies. But Obama's statement was specific to oil companies, so we rate it  True .
  • McCain was pretty much on target with his claim that Obama has sought "$932-million of earmark pork-barrel spending, nearly $1-million dollars for every day that he’s been in the United States Senate." We docked him slightly for not specifying "working days" and gave him a Mostly True .
  • McCain was less accurate with his claim that Obama has voted to raise taxes on people earning as little as $42,000 per year. That's based on a budget vote, not an actual tax bill. We gave that one a Barely True .
  • Obama made it sound like Henry Kissinger supported Obama's plan for presidential meetings with foes such as Iran. But we found Kissinger was referring to "secretary of state level" talks. So we rated Obama Half True .
  • McCain loves that line about the federal money being used to study bear DNA. We again found it was Mostly True .
  • Is Obama the most liberal senator? That's what McCain claimed once again. We found that was Barely True .
  • We found McCain was incorrect when he said that House Republicans "weren't part of the negotiations" on the federal bailout package. That one earned a Barely True .
  • McCain injected an unlikely topic into the debate -- the height of North Koreans. We found his claim was True .
  • But McCain was wrong with his recollection that Gen. Dwight Eisenhower prepared a letter resignation prior to the D-Day invasion. We rated that one False.
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