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By Adriel Bettelheim January 6, 2008
By Ryan Kelly January 6, 2008

Amnesty, amnesty, amnesty, amnesty!

During a testy exchange in the Jan. 5, 2008, debate, John McCain accused Mitt Romney of mischaracterizing his stand on immigration by calling it "amnesty" for illegal immigrants.

Romney sternly replied, "I don't describe your plan as amnesty in my ad. I don't call it amnesty."

This denial earns Romney a Pants on Fire ruling because two ads he released in recent days use that exact language. The only thing possibly saving the former Massachusetts governor is that the ads feature other people using the controversial word, not Romney himself.

In a Romney ad called "Remember" launched on Jan. 3, a group of New Hampshire residents praise McCain's military experience and record of public service, then tick off grievances with McCain's positions on taxes and immigration. One, identified as Collett Hill, says of McCain, "He wrote the amnesty bill that America rejected."

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A second Romney spot called "Twists" released Jan. 4 opens with an eight-year-old clip of McCain accusing George W. Bush of twisting the truth during the 2000 presidential campaign. An announcer then enumerates reasons McCain was wrong then, and why he's not as conservative as Romney. Among the reasons cited, "Higher taxes, amnesty for illegals."

If the message in ads isn't clear enough, press releases for the ads that are posted on Romney's Web site are chock-full of references to amnesty. The release for "Remember" uses the word 17 times, while the one for "Twists" drops the loaded word 10 times.

Clearly, Romney has two ads where McCain's plan is described as amnesty. And even though his isn't the voice making the charges, he is responsible for the message. So, Romney, they're your ads, and they do "call it amnesty," so Pants on Fire it is.

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