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GOP DEBATE: St. Petersburg, Part 2

By Times Wires
Published November 30, 2007


He uncovered a wasteful mess

The statement

"I saved the taxpayers $2-billion on a bogus Air Force Boeing tanker deal where people went to jail."

John McCain, Wednesday night

The ruling

Indeed, McCain was front and center in a well-publicized effort that killed an Air Force plan to lease 100 Boeing 767s and use them for refueling tankers. The plan resulted in prison terms for Mike Sears, a top Boeing official, and Darleen Druyun, the Air Force's No. 2 weapons buyer. It is well-documented in media and government reports that McCain was quick to identify the $23.5-billion deal as a bad one for taxpayers. He found it in December 2001, tucked into the 2002 defense budget. Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Boeing had convinced the Air Force it could start replacing its aging fleet of refueling tankers more quickly by leasing the aircraft rather than purchasing them. Air Force officials estimated the extra cost at $150-million. McCain's public outrage found that the Air Force vastly underestimated the cost. In 2003, the Congressional Budget Office put the difference at $1.3-billion to $2-billion, which is where McCain gets his number.

Tuition bill wasn't that strict

The statement

Supported in-state tuition in Arkansas for illegal immigrants "if you'd sat in our schools from the time you're 5 or 6 years old and you had become an A-plus student."

Mike Huckabee, Wednesday night

The ruling

Critics still question Huckabee's support of a measure that would have granted in-state tuition to children of illegal immigrants. Huckabee described the law as applying only to students "if you'd sat in our schools from the time you're 5 or 6 years old and you had become an A-plus student, you'd completed the core curriculum, you were an exceptional student, and you also had to be drug and alcohol-free - and the other provision, you had to be applying for citizenship." Did the bill outline that? No. The bill said students had to have spent three years in Arkansas high schools and graduated, and they had to sign an affidavit saying they intended to pursue citizenship. Then they would be eligible for in-state tuition and a popular state scholarship program, the Academic Challenge Scholarship. Huckabee confuses the proposed law with rules for the scholarship, which does have requirements, though nothing as stringent as those in his statement. For more rulings on the candidates' statements, go to

A military victory for Paul

The statement

"I get the most money from active-duty officers and military personnel."

Ron Paul, Wednesday night

The ruling

Ron Paul, the only Republican candidate for president who opposes the war, is on the money here. The Center for Responsive Politics reports that since January, he has received at least $53,670 from U.S. military personnel. The Houston Chronicle, after an extensive analysis of Federal Elections Commission reports, puts the figure at $63,440 for the same period. The disparity in the figures is caused by the complicated nature of campaign contributions. Massie Ritsch, a spokesman for CRP, speculates that the difference between their numbers and those of the Chronicle are because the newspaper had access to small contributions and was more familiar with the military connections of people. Regardless, Paul is right that he's on top. Both sources say Democratic candidate Barack Obama comes in second, with CRP reporting he has received $45,200 from military folks and the Chronicle reporting $53,968. John McCain comes in third.

[Last modified November 30, 2007, 01:46:19]

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