After the term "Romnesia" was coined by those in the Obama camp after the second presidential debate, many wondered how much Republican candidate Mitt Romney's facts would fare against President Obama's at the third and final debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fl.
His sluggish nature from the first debate a distant memory, Obama was as sharp during this foreign policy debate as he was during the debate in New York, if not more so.
Governor Romney was also a lot milder than in the first debate, taking on a more agreeable persona for the night.
the issue of fact-checking was brought up once more as there seemed to be
incongruent facts spouted about the war
in Afghanistan, military spending, the automobile industry and education.
This exchange may sum up why fact-checking for the American people is so important.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: You're wrong. You're wrong, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I - no, I am not wrong.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: You're wrong.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I am not wrong. And -
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: People can look it up. You're right.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: People will look it up.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Good.
And, so we will. Here are some facts that we have checked from last night's debate:
Topic: Military spending
Obama: "We spend more on our military than the next 10 countries combined."
As the Washington Post clarifies, it is REALLY difficult to get (a) reliable and (b) comparable figures:
If war spending is included, then the U.S. military budget is larger than those of the next 12 countries combined, the official said. If only base budget outlay is counted, the U.S. military budget is larger than those of the next eight countries. So the White House decided to split the difference, which is why the president said the U.S. budget was larger than the budgets of "roughly" the next 10 countries combined. China, France, UK, Russia, Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Italy, India
[source: Washington Post]
Topic: Middle East Apology Tour
Romney: "The president began what I have called an apology tour, of going to various nations in the Middle East and criticizing America...reason I call it an apology tour is because you went to the Middle East and you flew to Egypt and to Saudi Arabia and to Turkey and Iraq. And by the way, you skipped Israel, our closest friend in the region, but you went to the other nations...in those nations, and on Arabic TV, you said that America had been dismissive and derisive. You said that on occasion America had dictated to other nations."
When President Obama began his term, he made a number of speeches in the Middle East and elsewhere -- all designed to forge better ties with Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America. Obama did indeed mention past U.S. flaws in those speeches. But, Obama never made an apology for the actions of the United States in those addresses.
The tour intended to repair ties, build friendship and initiate collaboration.
In April 2009, during an address in Strasbourg, France, Obama did state some of the words Romney referenced in the debate. He said, "there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive."
Topic: Trade with China
Obama: "We doubled exports to China since I took office."
NOT QUITE - an increase of 49% from 2008 to 2011 ($69.733 billion versus $103.94 billion in 2011) and we are on track for an increase to approximately $105 billion in 2012.
When Obama claimed this achievement, he conveniently neglected to say that our trade deficit with China has also increased under his presidency (from $268 billion in 2008 to $295 billion in 2011 - an increase of about 10%).
[source: U.S. Census]
Topic: How many ships does the U.S. Navy want?
Romney stated that the Department of Defense has asked for 313 ships and President Obama only approved the building of 282.
The Navy is conducting a force structure assessment, to be completed later this year, that could lead to a refinement of a 310-316-ship plan.
Because of the retirement and decommissioning of some ships and the building process of new ones, the Navy's size is constantly varying.
The Navy reached even lower levels during the Bush years, hitting a bottom of 279 in FY 2007.
President Obama has never said that the Navy's size should be at 282 ships.
[Source: Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress, 8/9/2012 CRS]
Topic: Fewer Horses and Bayonets
Obama: "I think Governor Romney maybe hasn't spent enough time looking at how our military works. You mention the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets. We have these things called aircraft carriers and planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. It's not a game of battleship where we're counting ships, it's 'What are our capabilities?'"
Washington Post wrote that the military "almost certainly"
uses fewer bayonets than it did in 1916; however, "U.S. Marines still train on
bayonets in boot camp... but the Army discontinued bayonet training at its basic
training facilities in 2010."
[Source: The Washington Post]
Topic: Automobile Industry
claimed the record would back him up when he accused Romney of opposing any
federal "help" or "assistance" for troubled automakers like GM and Chrysler.
In fact, Romney had specifically written that "The federal government should provide guarantees for post-bankruptcy financing and assure car buyers that their warranties are not at risk."
[Source: The NY Times]
Topic: Massachusetts Education Record
boasted that Massachusetts' fourth and eighth graders tested first in the
nation in reading and math after he became governor.
Romney: While I was governor, I was proud that our fourth graders came out number one of all 50 states in English and then also in math, and our eighth graders number one in English and also in math - first time one state had been number one in all four measures. How did we do that? Well, Republicans and Democrats came together on a bipartisan basis to put in place education that focused on having great teachers in the classroom. And that was -
Obama: Ten years earlier -
Romney: That was - that was what allowed us to become the number one state in the nation.
Even before Romney took office in 2003, scores were already high in Massachusetts compared with other states. (And they've remained there since Romney left office in 2007.) Obama said it was an effort "10 years before you took office," and both The Boston Globe the Christian Science Monitor said a 1993 education law "is largely credited" for the high scores.
[Source: Massachusetts Department of Education]
The one thing that the candidates did seem to agree upon during the debate was the exit date for the war in Afghanistan. Both candidates promised that U.S. troops would be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014.