Page last updated at 05:37 GMT, Thursday, 16 October 2008 06:37 UK
McCain and Obama in tense final debate

The final presidential debate between John McCain and Barack Obama covered a lot of ground.

The BBC News website assessed some of the claims made by the candidates to find who was telling the truth and who was bending it.


Claim: Barack Obama said: "100%, John, of your ads - 100% of them have been negative.

Fact: The non-partisan Wisconsin Advertising Project says that "during the week of September 28-October 4, nearly 100% of the McCain campaign's advertisements were negative. During the same period, 34% of the Obama campaign's ads were negative.

But the same organisation estimated that 73% of the ads Mr McCain aired since the start of the campaign have been negative while 61% of Mr Obama's ads have been negative.

Verdict: Mr Obama was wrong to claim that Mr McCain's ads were 100% negative. Mr McCain has been more negative than Mr Obama, but his ads were only 100% negative during the week of 28 September - 4 October.


Claim: John McCain said that if plumber Joe Wurzelbacher does not "adopt the healthcare plan that Senator Obama mandates, he's going to fine you".

Fact: Mr Obama's healthcare proposals would place a requirement on large companies that they contribute to a national health fund if they fail to make "a meaningful contribution" to their employees' health care costs.

But the Democratic candidate's plan explicitly exempts small businesses form the requirement.

Verdict: Joe the Plumber will be fine, not fined - Mr McCain's claim was false.


Claim: Mr Obama, when asked which policy positions he had taken which had been unpopular with his own party, said: "I support charter schools and pay for performance for teachers. Doesn't make me popular with the teachers union. I support clean coal technology. Doesn't make me popular with environmentalists. So I've got a history of reaching across the aisle."

Fact: The Washington Post's Fact Checker notes that "early in this campaign, Obama spoke out in favour of merit pay for teachers and hinted that he was not absolutely against further exploring private and parochial school vouchers, but as the campaign has progressed, has put much less of an emphasis on reform ideas that rankle the teacher unions, and has instead talked about raising teacher pay across the board, increasing education funding generally and reforming the No Child Left Behind law so that it puts less focus on standardised tests."

On clean coal, the Post further reports that Mr Obama "upset many environmentalists in 2005 when he came out for huge subsidies for technology to liquefy coal for transportation fuel", but that he "backed off the idea quite quickly in the face of this opposition [and] returned to advocating for further research on 'clean coal'" putting him "very much on the same page with most Democrats and even some environmentalists.

Verdict: Mr Obama overstated the extent to which he has taken unpopular positions within his own party.


Claim: John McCain said that Mr Obama had "launched [his] political campaign in Mr Ayers' living room".

Fact: Mr Obama did attend a coffee meeting at Bill Ayers's home shortly after declaring his intention to run for the Illinois State Senate in September 1995.

But, according to Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Ayers event was only one of a number of informal gatherings in the Chicago neighbourhood where Mr Obama lived. The actual launch of Mr Obama's State Senate run was at the Hyde Park Ramada Inn on September 19, 1995.

Verdict: Bill Ayers undoubtedly hosted an informal event for Mr Obama during the early stages of his political career, but any claim that the Ayers's event was in some way pivotal for Mr Obama's political career is an exaggeration.

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