Republican Debate: GOP Presidential Candidates Fact-Checked

The Huffington Post

Michele Bachmann cast her opinion as a settled fact when she told the Republican presidential debate Thursday that a key element of President Barack Obama’s health care law is unconstitutional. And in his haste to criticize his fellow Minnesotan, rival Tim Pawlenty appeared to forget about questions he’d raised – obliquely but unmistakably – about Bachmann’s fitness for office.

The first big GOP debate of the primary season brought viewers a flurry of claims and counterclaims, not all built on solid ground.

A look at some of those claims and how they compare with the facts:

BACHMANN: Spoke of “the unconstitutional individual mandate” several times, a reference to a requirement for people to carry health insurance, a central element of the 2010 federal health care law.

THE FACTS: Nothing is unconstitutional until courts declare it to be so. The constitutionality of the individual mandate has been challenged in lawsuits in a number of states, and federal judges have found in favor and against. The Supreme Court will probably have the final word. But for now, the individual mandate is ahead in the count. And the first ruling by a federal appeals court on the issue, by the 6th U.S. Court of Appeals in June, upheld the individual mandate.


PAWLENTY: “To correct you, I have not questioned congresswoman Bachmann’s headaches.”

THE FACTS: Pawlenty was hardly dismissive when news came out about Bachmann’s history of severe headaches, even if he did not go after her directly on the matter. “All of the candidates, I think, are going to have to be able to demonstrate they can do all of the job all of the time,” the former governor said when first asked about the migraines suffered by the congresswoman. “There’s no real time off in that job.”

There was no mistaking that Pawlenty was leaving open the question of whether Bachmann’s health history made her fit to serve as president. But he later tried to clarify his remark, saying he was not challenging her on that front and the flap was merely a “side show.” Bachmann says her symptoms are controlled with prescription medication and have not gotten in the way of her campaign or impaired her service in Congress.


RICK SANTORUM: “The problem is that we have spending that has exploded. The government’s averaged 18 percent of GDP as the percentage of the overall economy. … And we’re now at almost 25 percent. Revenues are down about 2 or 3 percent. So if you look at where the problem is, the problem is in spending, not taxes.”

THE FACTS: The former Pennsylvania senator might have been mixing statistics on federal spending with federal revenue. The White House budget office has estimated that federal spending this year will equal about 25 percent of the country’s $15 trillion economy – the highest proportion since World War II. But federal spending has averaged nearly 22 percent since 1970. In fact, federal spending has not been as low as 18 percent since 1966. Since the 1970s, federal revenues have averaged nearly 19 percent of the U.S. economy. This year’s revenues are expected to equal just over 14 percent of the economy, the lowest level since 1950.


BACHMANN to PAWLENTY: “You said the era of small government was over. That sounds an awful lot like Barack Obama if you ask me.”

THE FACTS: Pawlenty did not declare the era of small government over. (Neither has Obama.) Bachmann’s jab was drawn from a Minnesota newspaper interview in which Pawlenty referred to a New York Times column on the subject, as part of his argument that “there are certain circumstances where you’ve got to have government put up the guardrails or bust up entrenched interests before they become too powerful.” At the time, Pawlenty’s office pushed for and received a clarification from the newspaper that he was relaying another writer’s thoughts.


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Live-Blogging The GOP Primary Debate

I’m going with Think Progress’ live blogging of the GOP Primary Debate which is being shown live on CNN.  The main reason is that they’re fact checking many of the statements being made by the participants…

Think Progress

9:59: Romney praises the rest of the field: “Anyone on this stage would be a better president than President Obama.”

9:58: Ron Paul can’t say whether there’s another person on stage that he would bring into his administration, needs to quiz them more about their views on the Fed Reserve.

9:46: Michele Bachmann criticizes President Obama for “leading from behind” in Libya. What would she say about Nelson Mandela who has also advocated for “leading from behind“?

9:44: Ron Paul doesn’t agree. “I wouldn’t wait for the generals. I’m the Commander-in-Chief. I’d bring them home as soon as possible!” Adds, “We can save hundreds of billions of dollars” by withdrawing from Afghanistan.

9:43: Romney says we should bring our troops home when we can hand the country off to the “Taliban military.” Then corrects himself, “Afghan military.”

9:40: Pawlenty finally shows some of the decisiveness that everyone has been waiting for. Unfortunately, it comes in response to the question “Coke or Pepsi?”

9:32: Herman Cain comes out for repealing birthright citizenship in direct violation of the 14th Amendment. When asked whether he thinks the children of illegal immigrants who are born in America should be citizens, he said, “I don’t think so.”

9:31: Pawlenty claims that birthright citizenship was created by “liberal justices.” But the first Supreme Court case recognizing birthright citizenship was in 1898. Pawlenty also suggested he would appoint justices who would roll back this more than 100 year old decision.

9:28: Ron Paul references the “border between Iraq and Afghanistan” which does not exist.

9:25: Bachmann dodges question about whether she thinks there should be abortion exceptions such as rape, incest, or for the mother’s health in anti-abortion legislation. She says she stands for life and that the exceptions only make up a tiny fraction of cases.

9:24: Rick Santorum says, “I’ve taken the bullets” on the abortion issue. Probably not the best turn of phrase.

9:23: Pawlenty did not say if he would reinstate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but he has previously said that he would bring back the policy and would even go after the funding needed to lift the ban on open service.

9:22: Cain wouldn’t have overturned Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, but he’ll leave it in place if he inherits it. Romney thinks it should have stayed in place until “conflict was over.”

9:21: Cain agrees that it’s a state decision. Pawlenty says he supports a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

9:21: Bachmann reiterates her opposition to gay marriage, but says “it isn’t the role of a President to go into a state and interfere with state law.” She says that, as president, she would not travel to New Hampshire to campaign for a repeal of gay marriage. Pledging that she will not interfere with host state’s marriage law, Bachmann’s response is met with overwhelming applause.

9:16: Romney auditions for sportscaster role, announces Boston Bruins are winning 4-0.

9:11: Mitt Romney notes that “of course, we’re not going to have Sharia law applied in U.S courts. That’s never going to happen. We have a constitution. We follow the law.”

9:11: Responding to Herman Cain explaining his Sharia law comments, Mitt Romney, whom some view skeptically because he is Mormon, says we need to focus instead on religious tolerance and turns it back to the Constitution instead.

9:10: Cain stakes bold stand he would not have any Muslims who want to kill him in his administration.

9:08: Cain gets asked about he’d appoint a Muslims, a question first asked by ThinkProgress in late March. He says the question was about feeling “comfortable” with a Muslim in his cabinet. Here is the transcript, where he is clearly asked by TP’s Scott Keyes’ about appointing Muslim Americans:

KEYES: You came under a bit of controversy this week for some of the comments made about Muslims in general. Would you be comfortable appointing a Muslim, either in your cabinet or as a federal judge?

CAIN: No, I will not.

9:02: 9:00: Cain says he supports Social Security privatization. He says we can’t slow down on entitlement reform because soon “It’s going to be our grandkids in that wheelchair they’re throwing off the bridge.”

8:58: Paul Ryan’s plan is nothing like Medicare Part D.

8:58: Newt Gingrich explains that his description of the Ryan plan as “right-wing social engineering” was only in response to a very narrow question. Some good, some bad in it, he says.

8:58: Ron Paul says Americans need to be weaned off of Social Security and specifically says the elderly and children have become “so dependent on the government.”

8:55: Medicare is fully solvent until 2024. After 2024, the hospital fund will still be able to meet “90 percent” of its commitments.

8:53: Ron Paul claims Medicare isn’t currently solvent. Pawlenty also asserts it’s not solvent.

8:49: Asked about the funding of FEMA in cases of emergencies areas like the recent disaster in Joplin, MO, Romney says we should focus on moving more responsibility to the states and privatizing FEMA disaster relief.

8:47: Cain sticks up for government regulation: “Federal government should be doing food safety, yes.” House Republicans are currently trying to defund a major food safety bill passed last December.

8:46: Newt bashes government’s role in space flight, wants to privatize it and “get to a real space program that works.” All those flights to the moon apparently didn’t work. NASA is an example of how bureaucracy can’t work, Gingrich says, but what about all of the innovations NASA’s research led to?

8:41: After claiming credit for the successful auto industry bailout, Romney now says “the bailout program was not a success because [it] wasted a lot of money.”

8:41: Romney won’t admit that he was wrong when he wrote in 2008 that, if the American automakers were rescued by the government, you can “kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.”

8:36: Asked to choose between Johnny Cash and Elvis, Bachmann chooses “both.”

8:31: John King asks the hard-hitting question: “Leno or Conan?” Santorum responds, “Probably Leno…I don’t watch either.”

8:31: Gingrich calls for defunding the National Labor Relations Board due to the NLRB’s attempt to stop Boeing from union-busting. Cain says the NLRB’s move is “killing the free market system.”

8:31: Pawlenty kisses up to hate radio, declares most of his family of “Reagan Democrats” listens to Rush Limbaugh.

8:30: Bachmann attacks the EPA and says it should be renamed the “job killing organization of America.”

8:27: A secret from Tim Pawlenty’s dark past — he was in a union.

8:26: Like Cain did earlier, Ron Paul endorses a tax holiday that would be a multi-billion dollar giveaway to multinational corporations.

8:25: John King wants to know how to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States. Here’s a graph showing how those jobs have declined in the United States.

8:24: Santorum touts Paul Ryan’s plan to change the food stamp program, which the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found would “throw millions of low-income families off the rolls, cut benefits by thousands of dollars a year, or some combination of the two.”

8:23: Bachmann makes her 2nd big announcement of the evening: “I want to announce tonight that President Obama is a one-term president!”

8:20: Romney promised to issue an executive order paving the way for Obamacare waivers to all 50 states. But the executive branch and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) don’t have the authority to grant blanket waivers — those powers are reserved for Congress.

8:19: Is Newt Gingrich now running to get a Republican majority in the Senate instead of running for president? He says they need to look beyond just the presidency instead of focusing on issues like health care.

8:17: John King is trying to out Pawlenty for using the term “Obamneycare.” Pawlenty sheepishly refuses to defend the term. Instead, he blames President Obama.

8:14: Bachmann claimed that the Congressional Budget Office said the Affordable Care Act will kill 800,000 jobs. That’s not what the CBO said.

8:12: Mitt Romney appeared to tepidly endorse Pawlenty’s laughably unrealistic economic plan, saying “The ideas Tim described are in the right wheelhouse.”

8:11: Bachmann announced, “I filed today my paperwork” and will “very soon be making my formal announcement.” Isn’t that a formal announcement?

8:08: Pawlenty sure hammers on the 5 percent economic growth a lot for not having reached that when he was governor.

8:07: Rick Santorum says Obama has put a stop sign on drilling. Not true. Oil production is the highest in a decade.

8:06: Cain endorses a tax holiday that a slew of multinational corporations have been pushing for. It would cost $78 billion over ten years.

8:03: It’s a GOP debate…on CNN. So what is Fox doing tonight? Airing an interview with Karl Rove.

8:01: Sen. Rick Santorum starts by citing his “substantial executive experience.” Santorum was never a governor.


Loyalty oaths, Google tests, Google problems, creeping Sharia, Obamneycare…we can’t wait to hear what comes out of the mouths of GOP presidential contenders next. Tonight, ThinkProgress will be live-blogging the debate right here.


As GOP 2012 Field Firms Up, So Does Discontent Over The GOP 2012 Field

As usual, HuffPo’s Jason Linkins nails it…

The Huffington Post

So the word is out! The GOP field for the 2012 nomination is set. And the enthusiasm is pretty much not palpable. But why is that? By my reckoning, the current field includes:

  • The Guy Who Invented ObamaCare (Mitt Romney)
  • The Guy Who Imploded 48 Hours After Announcing (Newt Gingrich)
  • The Guy Who Is The “Secret Progressive” (Jon Huntsman)
  • The Pizza Guy (Herman Cain; if you’re not satisfied with your pizza, be sure to check out Cain’s right of return policy)
  • The Guy With The “Google Problem” (Rick Santorum)
  • America’s Most Beloved Libertarian (Ron Paul)
  • America’s Most Beloved Libertarian On Weed (Gary Johnson)
  • Maybe, America’s Top Internet Troll (Sarah Palin)
  • Probably, America’s Top Michele Bachmann (Michele Bachmann)
  • Two Dudes Who The GOP Have Made Into Apostates For Being Anti-Lobbyist and Pro-LGBT Rights, Respectively (Buddy Roemer, Fred Karger)
  • And Finally, Ol’ What’s His Name, The Guy Who’s Not Mitch Daniels (Tim Pawlenty)

Hey, that includes three people (Romney, Gingrich, and Huntsman) who have, in the past, supported the individual health insurance mandate that’s now a taboo topic in conservative circles.

And so, the National Review‘s Rich Lowry is wondering, “Is This It?

How’s this for an impressive Republican lineup?A likable former governor and TV personality; a two-term governor with an unmatched fiscal record; another former governor with the best education-reform credentials in the country; a rising star in the House; and a photogenic senator from the heartland.

They are Mike Huckabee, Mitch Daniels, Jeb Bush, Mike Pence, and John Thune. The Republicans sitting out the 2012 nomination battle would themselves make a formidable field. Indeed, more formidable than the actual entrants. The hottest place to be in Republican politics right now is sitting on the sidelines.

Continue reading…

Tim Pawlenty

Tim Pawlenty Recycles Birther Joke At Arizona Tea Party Summit

This is why Pawlenty’s quest for the GOP presidential nomination will never happen.  He’s merely a fringe idiot!

Huffington Post

Former Minnesota Governor and potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty appeared at a Tea Party summit in Arizona Saturday and repeated, word for word, a birther joke that he used just a few weeks ago.

“Now, I’m not one who questions the existence of the president’s birth certificate,” he said, according to the New York Times. “But when you listen to his policies, don’t you at least wonder what planet he’s from?”

During this year’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington D.C. earlier this month, Pawlenty rolled out the joke for the first time, drawing some laughs from the crowd.

Despite the comedic faux-pas, Pawlenty’s material wasn’t entirely stale in Arizona. In an effort to channel folk hero and aspiring national politician Jimmy McMillan of New York’s “The Rent Is Too Damn High Party,” Pawlenty pushed his smaller government message, telling the crowd, “The government’s too damn big.”