Taking off the gloves in Orlando

SUMMARY: At a Fox/Republican Party of Florida debate in Orlando, the GOP candidates offered some exaggerations on crime and defense. And Mike Huckabee was Pants-On-Fire wrong that the majority of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were clergymen.

After several debates in which the candidates seemed to agree more than disagree, the gloves came off at the Republican debate in Orlando on Oct. 21, 2007.

Prompted by provocative questions from the Fox TV panelists, the candidates emphasized their differences with each other. About the only thing they agreed upon was their dislike of Sen. Hillary Clinton, who was mentioned 26 times.

The candidates recycled a few claims we already had checked and offered plenty of new ones:

* Sen. John McCain criticized Clinton for supporting a $1-million federal grant to a museum for the Woodstock music festival. We found McCain was right that Clinton played lead for the federal money. We rated his claim True.

* Mitt Romney repeated his claim that the military shrank under President Clinton. That's misleading because the defense shrinkage began under the first President Bush and had bipartisan support. So we are reissuing our Half True.

* Rudy Giuliani continued to trumpet his record on crime. We find, as we did when we first examined his record with this story that he has some numbers right and earns a True but is exaggerating other accomplishments because the trend began before he took office.

* Tom Tancredo stretched the truth with his claim that he had received high ratings from conservative groups. We give him a Mostly True.

* Perhaps the biggest mistake of the night came from Mike Huckabee, who said that "most" of the 56 Founding Fathers were clergymen. We found only one who was. That mistake was so far off the mark that Huckabee earned a Pants On Fire.



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