BOSTON — Presidential nominating conventions have been held every four years since 1832. These conventions serve a number of purposes, with the primary goals for each party being to nominate and confirm a candidate for president and vice president, to adopt a comprehensive party platform and to unify the party ahead of the national election.
Beyond these more practical and historically relevant objectives, nominating conventions have evolved to serve as political pep rallies of sorts – star-studded events where veteran and novice politicos alike can share the spotlight, and the soapbox, for a few nights in an effort to boost the party’s morale in the pivotal lead up to the presidential election.
However, in the midst of all the political rabble-rousing, it can be easy for the truth to get lost. Here are three top factual inaccuracies of the Republican and Democratic national conventions so far:
1) The tour that never was: Mitt Romney claimed that Barack Obama began his presidency with an 'apology tour'
As author of the book, "No Apology: The Case for American Greatness," it should come as no surprise that Mitt Romney is not a fan of concession. However, a thorough review of Obama’s foreign travels and speaking engagements conducted by The Washington Post showed no evidence to support such disparaging claims.
2) Paul Ryan said that President Obama broke his promise to keep a Wisconsin GM plant from closing
US Representative and Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan of Wisconsin charged President Obama with breaking his promise to keep a struggling General Motors plant open in his home state. GlobalPost asks, did Obama make such a promise as a candidate and break it after becoming president? As it turns out, there is no hard evidence supporting Ryan’s claim, and sadly the Janesville, Wis. GM plant actually closed in 2008 — before Obama even took office.
3) Rick Santorum distorted welfare policy, claimed that Barack Obama waived working requirement
Rick Santorum, who dropped out of the GOP presidential race earlier this year, accused President Obama of turning the American Dream into an American nightmare. Santorum said, “This summer [Obama] showed us once again he believes in government handouts and dependency by waiving the work requirement for welfare.” This charge is false. The Obama administration still requires work as a condition for receiving welfare. According to FactCheck.org, the administration announced it would allow states under certain circumstances to obtain a waiver from the federal work requirements, but only if the state sets up a welfare-to-work “demonstration project,” not to exceed five years, that provides a “more efficient or effective means to promote employment.”
1) Bill Clinton said Barack Obama cut taxes for 95 percent of people through stimulus
According to PolitiFact.com, Clinton’s glowing review of President Obama’s tax record was slightly off the mark, and here’s why: President Obama’s Recovery Act included tax cuts for many Americans, including a broad cut known as "Making Work Pay," a policy which was intended to offset payroll taxes, which are automatically taken out of most workers’ paychecks and are not refundable. Not everyone works, however — seniors, the unemployed, stay-at-home parents, etc. — and when you account for those people, the percentage of Americans who would have received a tax cut under Obama's plan drops to approximately 75 percent. And while 75 percent may still represent a large cut, it is far cry from 95 percent.
2) Did Mitt Romney's Massachusetts rank 47th in job creation?
On the first night of the DNC, Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts delivered a fiery speech in which he, among other things, accused Mitt Romney of driving the Massachusetts workforce into the ground. Specifically, he said of his predecessor, "By the time [Romney] left office, Massachusetts was 47th in the nation in job creation." PolitiFact.com tells us that while the figures which Patrick cited in his speech are technically correct, governors simply cannot have that much of an impact on job growth or decline — and as a governor, Deval Patrick should know better.
3) Kathleen Sebelius repeated claim that Romney-Ryan Medicare 'voucher' plan would cost seniors $6,400
One of the main themes which has defined the DNC has been the push to reclaim “Obamacare.” Appropriately, the secretary of health and human services, Kathleen Sebelius, was chosen to celebrate Obama's healthcare reform as a "badge of honor." Unfortunately, Sebelius highlighted some problematic figures in her convention speech, including saying that, "Republicans would give seniors a voucher that limits what's covered, costing seniors as much as $6,400 more a year." While Sebelius was correct in saying that the Romney-Ryan healthcare plan would involve voucher-based healthcare, she is guilty of using an old number from an outdated Republican plan in citing the $6,400 bump in health care costs for seniors. In fact, there is not enough specific information available about the Romney-Ryan plan to know how much money seniors might need to spend on health services in the future. Bottom line, Sebelius combined the two claims for a less-than-true statement.