Posted 6 months ago on Oct. 24, 2012, 12:33 p.m. EST by ericweiss
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One of Romney’s most repeated attack lines is that Obama began his presidency "with an apology tour."
In his 2010 book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, Romney wrote that Obama was "signaling to foreign countries and foreign leaders that their dislike for America is something he understands and that is, at least in part, understandable. There are anti-American fires burning all across the globe; President Obama’s words are like kindling to them."
PolitiFact examined seven separate speeches Romney mentioned as apologies. We found that while Obama used diplomatic language to acknowledge that America hasn’t always been perfect, Obama also was quick to point out other countries’ shortcomings and misperceptions. He would conclude by suggesting the countries work together and move forward.
Lauren Bloom, a business consultant and author of the book The Art of the Apology, noted that Obama’s comments can’t be considered apologies because he didn’t use the words "sorry" or "regret." His on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand comments are more in line with traditional diplomatic language, not formal apologies, she said.
"Gov. Romney is trying to appeal to the inner John Wayne of his readers, and that has a certain emotional appeal," Bloom said. "For the rest of us, a level assessment of less-than-perfect human behavior is perfectly reasonable."
PolitiFact rated Romney’s oft-repeated charge as Pants on Fire.
Romney was on firmer ground when he used less heated rhetoric to critique Obama. Speaking at the Republican National Convention, Romney criticized Obama for failing to slow Iran’s push for nuclear weapons. Romney said that in Obama’s first TV interview as president, Obama said we should talk to Iran. "We’re still talking, and Iran’s centrifuges are still spinning," Romney said.
Romney is correct that Obama’s first TV interview from the White House was with Al Arabiya, a Middle East television network considered a moderate alternative to Al Jazeera. Obama criticized Iran for threatening Israel and pursuing nuclear weapons, but he also said that it was "important for us to be willing to talk to Iran, to express very clearly where our differences are, but where there are potential avenues for progress. … As I said during my inauguration speech, if countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us."
PolitiFact rated Romney’s statement True.
The Romney team has also criticized the Obama administration for watering down economic sanctions against Iran, delaying them and trying to stop Congress "from putting the tough sanctions in place," according to Paul Ryan, Romney’s running mate.
There’s an element of truth there, but it ignores critical facts about the Obama administration and sanctions against Iran. The administration pushed for flexibility from Congress as it organized an international coalition to counter Iran. That included compromises with Russia and China to earn backing from the U.N. Security Council. The ultimate aim was to increase pressure on Iran, said Michael Levi of the Council on Foreign Relations, an independent, nonpartisan think tank. "It’s really hard to argue that this administration hasn’t brought strong pressure to bear on Iran," he said. PolitiFact rated Ryan’s statement Mostly False.
On Israel, Ryan misstated the facts about a recent dust-up when Obama failed to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York during meetings at the United Nations. Obama was in New York City "the same day Bibi Netanyahu is and he, instead of meeting with him, goes on a daily talk show," Ryan said during the vice presidential debate. Actually, the two leaders were not there on the same day: Obama was there Monday and Tuesday, and Netanyahu was there later in the week, on Thursday and Friday. Obama taped an interview with The View on Monday.
PolitiFact rated the statement False.
Ryan defended Romney’s positions by noting that the Republican team agrees that the war in Afghanistan must wind down as well, saying in an interview that he and Romney have "always said that we agree with the 2014 deadline" for leaving Afghanistan. Romney has expressed support for that date, but he’s also said troop withdrawal should be conditional on the situation on the ground.
PolitiFact rated Ryan’s statement Mostly True.
The Obama campaign has touted one of the president’s signature accomplishments, ordering the killing of Osama bin Laden. In a web ad, former President Bill Clinton praised Obama’s actions, then the ad contrasted Obama’s actions with Romney’s comments on the terrorist. In 2007, the ad claimed, Romney said, "It’s not worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person."
But the ad leaves out half the story: Romney said he wanted to pursue all of al-Qaida, not just its leaders. The 2007 report noted specifically that Romney advocated for a broad strategy to defeat "the Islamic jihad movement."
PolitiFact rated the Obama campaign’s claims about Romney’s comments as Half True.
Finally, the Democratic National Committee has defended Obama against charges that he hasn’t been sufficiently supportive of Israel. "Under President Obama, U.S. security funding for Israel is at an all-time high," said a Web ad from the Democrats. Actually, the ad oversells the credit Obama can take for security funding, which is near all-time highs.
PolitiFact rated the claim Half True.
All those ads about China
While the candidates have sparred on governing philosophies, the Middle East and international terrorism, their campaign ads have repeatedly looked toward China. On this topic, the campaign’s factual claims tend to reflect anxieties of American workers about the economy.
Priorities USA Action, a pro-Obama super PAC, charged in an ad that "thousands (in China) owe their jobs to Mitt Romney’s companies." As evidence, the group noted that Romney’s private equity group, Bain Capital, invested in Chinese companies. But the group didn’t try to document the specific number of employees.
We rated the claim Half True.
Meanwhile, a Romney ad accused Obama of not fighting China for violating trade rules. "Seven times Obama could have stopped China’s cheating. Seven times, he refused," the ad said.
The Obama administration did pass up opportunities to label China a currency manipulator, but that designation in the past hasn’t stopped the kind of "cheating" the ad mentioned. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has filed seven trade cases with the World Trade Organization — with more coming — and engaged in diplomatic talks.
PolitiFact rated the ad’s claim Half True.
Another Obama ad says that Chinese tire imports threatened 1,000 American jobs, so Obama "stood up to China and protected American workers. Mitt Romney attacked Obama’s decision." Obama did impose trade sanctions against China on tires, and Romney criticized him for putting up trade barriers.
PolitiFact rated the ad’s claim Mostly True.
Finally, Romney and other conservative outside spending groups have said in ads over and over again that money from the economic stimulus of 2009 went to pay for "windmills from China." In reality, many American firms connected to the wind industry expanded during the years of the stimulus. Only a small fraction of the money spent on wind energy went to China, for example, for component parts to build wind turbines in the United States.
PolitiFact rated this statement Mostly False.