Fact Check: 3rd presidential debate

October 16, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
How did each presidential candidate do with the facts in their third and final debate?

Spin and hype have been part of every presidential debate so far. Our goal is to sort out the facts from the fiction.

Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain came down hard on Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama's ties to the liberal group ACORN.

"Who is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy," McCain said.

Fact Check: There is no evidence to support McCain's suggestion of voter fraud. It is true ACORN's voter registration drives have resulted in thousands of phony or duplicate registrations. However, a Republican prosecutor looking into the charges of voter fraud found the blame rested with eight dollar an hour workers who filled in voter registration forms themselves, instead of doing the work that ACORN paid them to do, and that there was no intent to permit illegal voting.

"The only involvement I've had with ACORN was I represented them alongside the U.S. Justice Department in making Illinois implement a motor voter law," Obama said.

Fact Check: That is not true. Obama's campaign contracted with ACORN to get out the vote and during the primaries paid ACORN $800,000 for that effort.

"It's a matter of fact that Sen. Obama has spent more money on negative ads than any political campaign in history and I can prove it," McCain said.

Fact Check: That is true, but only because Obama has spent more on political ads in general.

"A hundred percent, John, of your ads, a hundred percent of them have been negative," Obama said.

Fact Check: It is true that for one week recently 100 percent of McCain's ads were negative. But it is false to suggest that all of McCain's ads over the entire campaign have been negative over the entire campaign.

"Free trade with Colombia is something that's a no-brainer, but maybe you ought to travel down there and visit them and maybe you could understand it a lot better," McCain said.

McCain accused Obama of not understanding trade with Colombia, but then he also said "the goods and products that we send to Colombia, which is our largest agricultural importer of our products."

Fact Check: That is wrong. Colombia is not the largest. It is not close. Canada is the largest importer of agricultural goods, followed by Mexico, Japan, China and South Korea. Colombia is 12th on the list. Colombia is the largest importer of U.S. agricultural products in South America.

"First of all, in terms of standing up to the leaders of my party, the first major bill that I voted on in the Senate was in support of tort reform which wasn't very popular with trial lawyers, a major constituency in the Democratic Party," Obama said.

Fact Check: The bill Obama is talking about was supported by 18 Democratic senators and opposed by 26. Congressional Quarterly rates Obama as voting with his party 97 percent of the time since he became a U.S. senator.

As is often the case, our partners at FactCheck.org have done much of the heavy lifting here. You can read their Fact Check of the debate here.

The ABC political team has also fact-checked the debate. There is some overlap, but we have included a couple of their findings in The Back Story.

And if you missed the debate or want to see it again, click here.


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