President Obama: “He 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 looked like they might be undocumented workers and check their papers.”
Analysis: Romney did use the word “model” when discussing the Arizona immigration law during a Republican primary debate in that state in February. But the president took Romney’s words out of context. As Romney said in his rebuttal, he was speaking specifically about the E-Verify employment screening system, not the entire law.
“You know, I think you see a model here in Arizona,” Romney said in February. “They passed a law here that says that people who come here and try and find work, that the employer is required to look them up on E-Verify. This E-Verify system allows employers in Arizona to know who’s here legally and who’s not here legally. 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 7 percent.”
Mitt Romney: “Production on government land of oil is down 14 percent.”
Analysis: It is true that in 2011, oil production on federal land was down 13.8 percent, compared with the previous year. But overall, oil production on federal land under Obama is up from 566 million barrels in 2008 to 626 million barrels in 2011, a 10.6 percent increase.
The increase includes both offshore and onshore drilling. Offshore drilling went from 462 million barrels during the final year of the Bush administration to 514 million last year. Onshore drilling rose from 105 million barrels to 112 million.
President Obama: “As far as currency manipulation, the [Chinese] currency has actually gone up 11 percent since I’ve been president because we have pushed them hard.”
Analysis: The Chinese yuan has gained about 8 percent against the dollar since June 2010, when China ended a two-year policy of pegging its currency to the United States’.
Adjusting for inflation, the gain is more than 10 percent because consumer prices have risen faster in China than in the United States, so Obama’s 11 percent claim is in the ballpark.
Mitt Romney: “It was a terrorist attack, and it took a long time for that to be told to the American people.”
Analysis: The claim that President Obama did not level with the American people about the nature of the attack was one of the most lively exchanges in the hall.
Obama quickly shot back that the following day he called the armed assault on the American consulate inBenghazi that killed US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others an “act of terror.”
“It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you’re saying? Romney responded. “I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.”
“Get the transcript,” the president said.
During remarks at the White House on the day after the consulate attack, Obama said “no acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.”
President Obama: “I think Governor Romney was for an assault weapons ban before he was against it. And he said that the reason he changed his mind was, in part, because he was seeking the endorsement of the National Rifle Association. So that’s on the record.”
Analysis: As governor of Massachusetts, Romney signed a state law banning assault weapons and during his Senate run in 1994, Romney endorsed a federal assault weapons ban.
The federal ban expired in 2004, and Romney now says he does not believe the country needs new gun laws, including a ban on assault weapons.
But his apparent change in position is less stark when placed in context. Massachusetts’ leading gun rights group, the Gun Owners Action League, has called the state ban Romney signed a “victory for gun owners.”
The ban Romney signed merely extended an existing state ban on assault weapons. Because the state ban borrowed language from the federal version, which was nearing expiration, Massachusetts lawmakers feared the state law would be invalidated, so they passed a new one and Romney signed it.Callum Borchers can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.