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Checking the president, and the presidential campaign
President Barack Obama campaigned in Madison on Nov. 5, 2012, the day before the 2012 presidential election. (Rick Wood photo) President Barack Obama campaigned in Madison on Nov. 5, 2012, the day before the 2012 presidential election. (Rick Wood photo)

President Barack Obama campaigned in Madison on Nov. 5, 2012, the day before the 2012 presidential election. (Rick Wood photo)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher March 3, 2016

Barack Obama makes his 17th visit to Wisconsin as president two days after Super Tuesday, the conglomeration of primaries and caucuses that appeared to solidify Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as the most likely candidates to succeed him in the White House.

Obama’s March 3, 2016 trip to Milwaukee is to celebrate the city's win in the Healthy Communities Challenge. The challenge was a contest among 20 cities to enroll people in health plans sold on the marketplace established by Obama's signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act.

Of course, politics will be looming.

So, here are seven recent fact checks involving Obama and the 2016 presidential race.

Obama: "There is not a single candidate in the Republican primary that thinks we should do anything about climate change."

PolitiFact National’s rating: Mostly True.

None of the remaining Republican presidential candidates -- as of Feb. 16, 2016, when Obama made the statement -- had laid out a specific plan to address climate change. All of them call for scaling back Obama’s environmental regulations, to boot. Some have called for private-sector development of renewable energy sources.

For some Republican voters, this stance might be a plus. But it doesn’t change the veracity of Obama’s statement.

Jeb Bush: "Barack Obama will somehow manage to add more than $8 trillion to the national debt, which is more debt than the 43 presidents who held office before him compiled together."

PolitiFact National’s rating: Mostly True.

The former Florida governor made his statement in early February 2016, two weeks before ending his campaign for the GOP nomination.

On the numbers, Bush was right, as long as you measure the nation’s publicly held debt, the most commonly cited statistic, and as long as you project forward to the end of Obama’s tenure.

But Bush left out some important context when he focused the blame solely on Obama, and when he ignored that the percentage increase in the debt under his brother, George W. Bush, was similar.

Ron Johnson: Barack Obama's administration has admitted that money from its Iran nuclear deal "would go directly to terrorism."

PolitiFact Wisconsin’s rating: Half True.

Wisconsin’s Republican senator, who is being challenged for re-election by former Democratic senator Russ Feingold, made his statement in a January 2016 campaign email.

A key element of the deal is that all of the European Union and most American sanctions against Iran were lifted. Critics say that effectively amounts to a $150 billion check to Iran -- a reference to the amount of Iran’s assets frozen in foreign banks.

We found that Obama administration officials had said they expect some portion of money from the deal, which is aimed at preventing Iran from getting a nuclear bomb, will eventually end up with groups that are labeled as terrorists. But the claim was lacking in the idea it would go to terrorist groups directly.

Ted Cruz: "Barack Obama, right now, No. 1, over seven years has dramatically degraded our military."  

PolitiFact National’s rating: Mostly False.

The Texas U.S. senator, who is trailing Trump in the race for the GOP nomination, made his claim during a Fox News presidential debate in January 2016.

It was inaccurate for Cruz to solely fault Obama for budget cuts to the military that were a result of sequestration. Both Democrats and Republicans shared the blame for the budget negotiations that fell apart.

Obama: "We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined."

PolitiFact National’s rating: Mostly True.

Obama’s statement came during his State of the Union address in January 2016.

It was accurate by one measure, but another measure says the United States spends more than the next seven countries combined.

Sean Duffy: President Barack Obama’s homeland security budget had "$16 million to fight climate change" but "didn't have a line item to fight violent extremism."  

PolitiFact Wisconsin’s rating: Mostly False.

The northern Wisconsin GOP congressman made his statement during a December 2015 interview.

There is no line item in the Department of Homeland Security budget for fighting violent extremism. But that ignores the fact that millions of dollars are allocated, inside and outside the department, to counter violent extremists.

Cruz: President Barack Obama "will not utter the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ and as matter of policy, nobody in the administration will say the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’"

Cruz made that declaration during a news conference in Virginia in November 2015.

PolitiFact Virginia’s rating: True.

Our colleagues found no evidence that Obama or White House officials had uttered the words in public. The administration prefers non-religious ways to describe the Islamic State -- such as a "terrorist group," "violent extremism" and "twisted ideology."


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Checking the president, and the presidential campaign