[lg policy] US: FACT CHECK: Debate over 'ghetto language' ad
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Sat Jan 28 15:51:42 UTC 2012
FACT CHECK: Debate over 'ghetto language' ad
By The Associated Press
Mitt Romney accuses Newt Gingrich of calling Spanish a "ghetto
language." Close, but not quite. Gingrich denies doing so and said he
merely promoted the use of English, "period." That's even more of a
stretch. The last Republican presidential debate before the GOP
Florida primary Thursday brought viewers a blitz of charges and
countercharges over immigration, the financial lives of the candidates
and more. Here are how some of the claims compare with the facts:
Scott Audette / Reuters
Republican presidential candidates former Senator Rick Santorum,
former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former Massachusetts
Governor Mitt Romney and Representative Ron Paul stand on stage before
the Republican presidential candidates debate in Jacksonville, Florida
January 26, 2012.
GINGRICH: "It's taken totally out of context.... I did not say it
about Spanish. I said in general about all languages. We are better
for children to learn English in general, period."
THE FACTS: At issue is Romney's Spanish-language radio ad running in
Florida that says Gingrich branded Spanish a ghetto language in a 2007
speech. In the contentious remarks in question, much more came after
In his speech to the National Federation of Republican Women, Gingrich
advocated making English the official language, a position he still
holds, and added: "We should replace bilingual education with
immersion in English so people learn the common language of the
country and they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of
living in a ghetto."
He did not explicitly call Spanish a ghetto language. But at the time,
the remark was widely taken to mean Spanish, overwhelmingly the main
foreign language spoken in the United States and the primary language
of many immigrants.
Gingrich recognized as much when, in response to a Hispanic backlash
against his remark, he made an online video days after the speech in
which he more or less apologized for his choice of words and for
producing "a bad feeling within the Latino community."
ROMNEY on the same topic: "I doubt that's my ad, but we'll take a look
and find out."
THE FACTS: It's his ad.
RICK SANTORUM: "You had a president of the United States that held
(up) a Colombian free trade agreement. Colombia, who's out there on
the front lines working with us against the narco-terrorists, standing
up to Chavez in South America — and what did we do? ... The president
of the United States sided with organized labor and the environmental
groups and held Colombia hanging out to dry for three years."
THE FACTS: When President Barack Obama took office, he actually tried
to revive a free-trade deal with Colombia that had been negotiated by
his Republican predecessor but left to languish without congressional
approval, just as he tried to make similar progress with South Korean
and Panamanian free-trade pacts. He bucked considerable opposition
from organized labor and fellow Democrats in doing so.
Obama did hold off on submitting the three deals to Congress as his
administration tried to negotiate more palatable terms to Democrats.
He finally submitted them in 2011 and Congress approved them in the
fall — with substantial GOP support and a fair amount of Democratic
ROMNEY: "Obamacare takes over health care for the American people."
THE FACTS: Obama's health care overhaul does increase the role of the
federal government in the health care system, but even after it is
fully implemented in 2019, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office
says 56 percent of Americans under age 65 will be covered by employer
plans, about the same share as today. That's hardly a takeover.
ROMNEY: Fannie and Freddie are "offering mortgages again to people who
can't possibly repay them. We're creating another housing bubble,
which will hurt the American people."
THE FACTS: If there is another housing bubble forming, most
homebuilders, mortgage lenders and real estate agents would like to
find it. Instead, the housing market remains depressed, with sales low
and home prices falling.
Fannie and Freddie don't sell or offer any mortgages. Their function
has always been to support the housing market by purchasing mortgages
from banks, packaging them into bonds and guaranteeing the bonds
against default. This proved costly when the housing bubble burst: The
two entities were formally taken over by the government in 2008 and
have since cost taxpayers $150 billion.
The two mortgage giants are still functioning under government
receivership, and now own or guarantee nearly all new mortgages,
because banks are reluctant to make loans without the agencies'
support. But banks have significantly toughened their credit standards
since the housing bubble and are requiring higher credit scores and
bigger down payments. That is causing an increasing number of home
sales contracts to fall through as would-be buyers are unable to get
SANTORUM: Criticized the Obama administration for its "abysmal
treatment" of allies in Latin America, and said Obama has a
"consistent policy of siding with the leftists, siding with the
Marxists, siding with those who don't support democracy."
THE FACTS: Obama has not sided with the leading leftists, such as
those ruling Cuba and Venezuela, and instead has roundly criticized
It's true that Latin America has been on the back burner for much of
Obama's tenure, as he concentrated on other parts of the world,
including the Middle East. But Obama visited three countries in Latin
America last year, and the Panamanian and Colombian trade agreements
were part of the biggest round of trade liberalization since the North
American Free Trade Agreement and other pacts of that era.
ROMNEY: "My investments are not made by me. My investments for the
last 10 years have been in a blind trust, managed by a trustee."
THE FACTS: Not all of his investments have been in a blind trust.
Romney's personal financial disclosure forms show he owned between
$250,001 and $500,000 in the Federated Government Obligation Fund,
which contained mutual-fund notes of politically sensitive Freddie Mac
and Fannie Mae. An addendum to Romney' disclosure forms says that
certain assets — including the federated fund — were outside the scope
of his blind trust.
The investment was not on Romney's 2007 financial form, making it a
relatively new one — just as the housing and financial crises were
hitting Americans full force.
RON PAUL: Obama "promises to end the wars, but the wars expand."
THE FACTS: By the most obvious measures, the wars are shrinking. Last
month, the U.S. pulled its last troops out of Iraq, fulfilling a
pledge by Obama to end the war there.
Obama did escalate America's fight in Afghanistan, announcing in
December 2009 that he was sending an additional 33,000 troops.
The U.S. and its NATO partners in late 2010 agreed to end the combat
mission in Afghanistan by the end of 2014. As part of that plan, Obama
fulfilled his promise to bring 10,000 troops home from Afghanistan by
the end of last year, and is moving ahead with plans to pull an
additional 23,000 out by this fall. There are now about 90,000 U.S.
troops in Afghanistan.
GINGRICH: "We're in a continuous state of war where Obama undermines
ROMNEY: "This president went before the United Nations and castigated
Israel for building settlements. He said nothing about thousands of
rockets being rained in on Israel from the Gaza Strip."
THE FACTS: Obama has spoken at length about the plight of the Israelis
and has talked about an Israeli girl near Gaza who fears for her life
because of the rocket attacks launched by Hamas. In a June 2009 speech
in Cairo, Obama said both Israel and Palestine have a right to exist,
but the U.S. does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli
settlements. That's not only the view of his administration; it's
long-held U.S. policy. Despite that, the administration sided with
Israel by vetoing a U.N. resolution that would have condemned its
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