TRUTH TEST: Binders, borders among questionable debate claims



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Posted on October 17, 2012 at 9:51 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 17 at 10:00 PM

AUSTIN -- President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney grappled over everything from jobs to the time clock during Monday night's debate at New York's Hofstra University.

"We're keeping track, I promise you," reassured moderator and CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley early on.

According to CNN's official debate timer, the president spoke for 44:04 compared to 40:50 for Romney, a difference of 3:15 in the president's favor over the course of the 90 minute-plus debate.

Regarding women hired during his tenure as governor of Massachusetts, Romney claimed, "I went to a number of women's groups and said, 'Can you help us find folks?' And they brought us whole binders full of women."

Aside from the "binders full of women" phrase inspiring immediate political parody, the claim is also misleading. The Massachusetts Government Appointments Project (MassGAP) released a statement Wednesday clarifying Romney's comments, explaining the group successfully secured pledges both from Mitt Romney and 2002 gubernatorial opponent Shannon O'Brien to hire more women if elected. The release states that in fact MassGAP approached Romney, though Romney did appoint several women based upon their recommendations.

On immigration, President Obama claimed that Romney, "Called the Arizona law a model for the nation. Part of the Arizona law said that law enforcement officers could stop folks because they suspected maybe they look like they might be undocumented workers."

That statement is also misleading. During a GOP primary debate in February, Romney did say, "I think you see a model here in Arizona," but Romney's statement referred not to the "show me your papers" portion as suggested by the president, but to the law's provision regarding the use of e-verify.

"This e-verify system allows employers in Arizona to know who's here legally and who's not here legally," Romney explained immediately afterward. "And as a result of e-verify being put in place, the number of people in Arizona that are here illegally has dropped by some 14 percent, where the national average has only gone down seven percent."

On Libya, the president claimed that the day following the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, "I stood in the Rose Garden, and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened, that this was an act of terror."

Mitt Romney immediately took issue with the claim, arguing, "It took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror." The president suggested to Romney "get the transcript," followed by Crowley telling Romney, "He did in fact, sir."

According to the transcript of the September 12 speech, the president said, "No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation." Even with the indirect attribution, conflicting statements from administration officials on the motivation for the attack circulated for more than a week as facts continued to emerge.

On taxes, the president claimed that during a recent interview on CBS' 60 Minutes, Romney justified himself paying a lower rate than a bus a driver. "He was asked, 'Is it fair for somebody like you making 20 million dollars a year to pay a lower tax rate than a nurse or bus driver, somebody making $50,000 a year?' He said, 'Yes I think that's fair. Not only that, he said, 'I think that's what grows the economy.'"

In the interview that aired September 23, Romney explained his reasoning for paying less taxes in capital gains in terms of double taxation, "It is a low rate and one of the reasons that the capital gains tax rate is lower is because capital has already been taxed once at the corporate level, as high as 35 percent."

Asked again whether he thought the proposal was fair, Romney answered, "Yeah I think it's the right way to encourage economic growth."

The two will debate once more on Monday, October 22 in Boca Raton, Florida. The topic is set to focus on foreign policy.

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