Presidential Debate Scorecard: Who Told The Truth, Who Didn't

presidential debates 2012

When you pit two graduates of Harvard Law School against each other in a debate, it should come as little shock when the end result is a night dominated by stats. And that's what the first 2012 presidential debate between Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney was -- high on policy.

Even the harshest critics of mainstream American politics, such as Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian, couldn't help but agree. The night was "actually a reasonably substantive and good debate," he tweeted.

But in spite of the blizzard of facts and figures shared by President Obama and Gov. Romney, it turns out that not everything they said was entirely accurate. And even though jobs is the No. 1 issue for the American people, the candidates spent much of their time squabbling over the deficit, taxes and the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare."

But for those times when jobs were addressed, AOL Jobs has fact-checked the candidates' claims:

More: Top 10 Jobs Of The 21st Century

Claim No. 1: "Over the last 30 months, we've seen 5 million jobs in the private sector created," President Obama said.

Fact: You may be familiar with this one as it was trotted out during the Democratic National Convention. And it's based on truth -- according to numbers compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But you might say, 30 months only brings us back back to January 2010. And didn't the president take office in January 2009?

Indeed he did, and in his first year in office, the country lost some 5 million jobs. The unemployment rate was surging, reaching as high as 10.6 percent in Ohio. So while things have gotten better since then (the unemployment rate in Ohio is now 7.6 percent), the cumulative job creation in the private sector during Obama's first term is in fact a more humble 125,000.

Bottom Line: When this line was shared during the convention by keynote speaker Julian Castro, among others, AOL Jobs noted the "stat is completely accurate, but could only be described as disingenuous." This arbitrary time period results in a much more positive story for the Obama campaign than what has really happened since the president took office. But it is true that jobs creation has turned around after his first year in office.

Claim No. 2: "They're suffering in this country. And we talk about evidence. Look at the evidence of the last four years. It's absolutely extraordinary. We've got 23 million people out of work or stopped looking for work in this country," Gov. Romney said.

Fact: This is the one you heard about at the Republican National Convention, thanks to Clint Eastwood. Much to his credit, Romney was careful to not use the term "unemployed," as the actor did to describe that group. Instead, the Republican presidential nominee referred to them as "out of work."

But ever since Eastwood came up with that stat for the number of unemployed in America, it's been widely shared, even though it alters the meaning of the word unemployed as it's usually used, as it includes 8.2 million part-time, underemployed workers who wish they had full employment. That might not fully qualify as "out of work," as the former Massachusetts governor said.

Bottom Line: The stat accurately reflects a group of Americans whose employment is insufficient. But, as AOL Jobs noted at the Republican convention, the 23 million includes a statistical sum for "underemployed Americans," which the Bureau of Labor Statistics shies away from doing because of the "difficulty of developing an objective set of criteria."

Moreover, the cumulative total of unemployed, discouraged workers -- or other marginally attached and underemployed who wish they had better employment -- hasn't in fact changed all that much since Obama took office; in January 2009 the number stood at 22.1 million.

Claim No. 3: "If I'm president I will create -- help create 12 million new jobs in this country with rising incomes," Gov. Romney said.

Fact: That promise by Romney may not be a very high hurdle -- it's the exact figure that's been used by economic forecasters for how many jobs they already expect the economy will add over the next four years. And this has nothing to do with who is in the White House, provided that the next occupant of the Oval Office will "reasonably gracefully address the fiscal cliff, increase the Treasury debt ceiling without major incident, and achieve something close to fiscal sustainability," Moody's Analytics chief economist Mark Zandy told The New York Times. The 12 million number has also been forecast by Macroeconomics Advisers.

Bottom Line: There's no actual fact to check here, as it's a prediction by Romney. But it does seem convenient that he's picked a number that's also been chosen by economists as the number of jobs that might naturally result from a stable economy.

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October 14 2012 at 9:36 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

What's that saying? "Here we go again"! I think Romney did fantastic. You libs that potray Obama as THE SUPREME BEING are SO upset that you're President didn't win and I can tell you why! He thought it was beneath him to be there in the first place and also thought he would win because HE IS THE PRESIDENT. What an ego! I'm glad he got his clock cleaned and it will happen again. Romney is more that ready for him. NEVER EVER underestimate your opponent and NEVER sit on your lead! GO get um MITT!

October 07 2012 at 2:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Google the "communist goals of 1963". Determine yourself who worked this damage to America!

October 07 2012 at 8:27 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Romney's Solyndra attack was baseless...shows how clueless he was about the deal...he didn't even know that Solyndra investment was selected and started under Bush...the deal was in the works when Obama assumed office...the loss was not $70 was $500 million which was offset by other was part of a super high risk fund where losses were anticipated to be $2.5 billion so we could get a kick start in alternative started in 2005. Under Bush!

Businesses that got government clean energy loans failed at a rate of about 1.4 percent at the end of 2011

October 05 2012 at 3:29 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

How many ambassadors did Romney murder last month? Answer: None. The same is not so for Obama!
Who has never stopped lying about it.>>

I don't think Obama murdered anybody. Remember when Reagan "murdered" 350 marines stationed in the barracks in Lebanon? No, can't remember? Well, of course Reagan did not murder them. They were killed the same way, by an insurgency that was not anticipated. Do you ever anticipate everything? Reagan sure didn't and got those marines killed. But then we don't remember that do we.

October 05 2012 at 3:03 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to chris1011's comment

Thanks, Chris. Also, the same could be said that Bush did not murder thousands of americans in 2001. This Libya thinking by folks on this board is just crazy!

October 23 2012 at 10:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

tjdwill., A majority in the senate is not needed to block legislation. Even if you have a majority, you will not be certain that you can govern effectively. You need a supermajority in the senate. Legislators in the past have compromised in order to move ahead and get stuff done. The present Tea Party inspired Republicans have not done this.

More than 200 times the Republican MINORITY in the senate have filibustered. A record amount unheard of in simpler times.

Why they did this is well kown - they wished to destroy the president and took the country along with them. What have they accomplished besides keeping unemployment at a historic high? Nothing, nada! But it has opened the eyes of Americans as to the nature of the present Republican makeup. It is NOT the party of your father. Eisenhower would be appalled at what Repubs have become.

October 05 2012 at 1:35 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Dad use to say ones no better than the other. How true is that.

October 04 2012 at 11:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

******* hilarious...neither one are telling the truth. WAKE UP.

October 04 2012 at 6:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

******* hilarious...neither one are telling the truth. WAKE UP.

October 04 2012 at 6:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

******* hilarious...neither one are telling the truth. WAKE UP.

October 04 2012 at 6:17 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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