The four remaining candidates debated once again, this time in Tampa, Florida — where facts took a beating.
Mitt Romney falsely claimed the Navy is smaller now than at any time since the start of World War I. (It had fewer ships as recently as four years ago.) And Newt Gingrich again claimed credit for balancing federal budgets that were voted on after he left the House.
The event was sponsored in part by NBC News, which broadcast it. We noted these incorrect or misleading claims:
Romney claimed that “our Navy is now smaller than any time since 1917.” That’s not true — at least as measured by the number of active-duty ships. There are more Navy ships now than during the last four years of George W. Bush’s presidency.
According to the Defense Department’s Naval History and Heritage Command, there were 342 total active ships as of April 6, 1917, when the U.S. entered World War I. And there were 285 total active ships as of Sept. 30, 2011, the most recent month for which figures are available. So it’s true that the Navy has fewer ships now than it did then — but not fewer than at “any time” since then.
There were fewer active ships at the end of fiscal years 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, as follows:
Gingrich wrongly claimed “that, when I was speaker, we had four consecutive balanced budgets.” Only two of the four occurred while Gingrich was speaker.
Gingrich: “Well, first of all, the case I make is that, when I was speaker, we had four consecutive balanced budgets, the only time in your lifetime, Brian, that we’ve had four consecutive balanced budgets. Most people think that’s good.”
This boast is something that we have refuted numerous times. He has claimed to have “helped” balance the federal budget for four consecutive years. This time, he went beyond that in claiming that all four occurred under his watch as speaker of the House.
The federal government had
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