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Fact-checking the Iowa Republican debate

The Republican candidates debated in Ames, Iowa, Thursday night. The Republican candidates debated in Ames, Iowa, Thursday night.

The Republican candidates debated in Ames, Iowa, Thursday night.

Bill Adair
By Bill Adair August 12, 2011
Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson August 12, 2011
By David G. Taylor August 12, 2011

Last updated: Friday, Aug., 12, 2011, 6 p.m.

Republicans debated Thursday night in Ames, Iowa, and we turned our Truth-O-Meter on to rate the various claims. Here's what we found:

Mitt Romney complained about the growth of government. "Back in the days of John F. Kennedy, the federal government took up, along with the state and local governments, 27 percent of the economy. Today, government consumes 37 percent of the economy. We're inches away from no longer having a free economy," he said. We rated the claim on the government share of the economy Mostly True. He made the same "inches away" claim in his announcement speech. We rated that Pants on Fire.

Tim Pawlenty attacked Rep. Michele Bachmann's record of accomplishments in Congress. "Look, she has done wonderful things in her life, absolutely wonderful things, but it is an undisputable fact that in congress her record of accomplishment and results is nonexistent," he said. We fact-checked a very similar claim when Pawlenty said her record was "offering failed amendments." We rated that Mostly True.

Bachmann replied by saying that Pawlenty had supported cap and trade when he was Minnesota governor. Indeed, we found that was true when we put his cap and trade position to the Flip-O-Meter. She also accused him of saying that "the era of small government is over." We rated that Mostly True.

We also checked Bachmann's claim about Standard & Poor's downgrade of the federal governments credit rating. She said that when Standard & Poor's "dropped our credit rating, what they said is, we don't have an ability to repay our debt. ... I was proved right in my position" that the debt ceiling should not have been raised. We rated that False.

Newt Gingrich likened his campaign's problems to Ronald Reagan's. PolitiFact Georgia checked that a few weeks ago and rated it Mostly False.

Pawlenty attacked Romney saying that "ObamaCare" was patterned after "RomneyCare." We rated his statement True. Earlier this year, we published a quiz to see if you can tell the difference between the two health plans.

Gingrich was asked about his position on military action against Libya. He claimed that was a "gotcha" question. We explored whether he flip-flopped and rated it Full Flop.

Bachmann said raising the debt ceiling gave Obama a "blank check." PolitiFact Virginia checked that when Eric Cantor said it about a debt ceiling plan from Harry Reid and found it False.

Ron Paul, who has raised warning flags about U.S. debt for decades, declared in response to a question about how to increase growth that "the country's bankrupt." We rated that False.

Jon Huntsman said that as governor of Utah, "we created a flat tax in the state of Utah." We found the tax he enacted was flatter but not quite flat. We rated it Mostly True.

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Fact-checking the Iowa Republican debate