Page last updated at 05:55 GMT, Saturday, 27 September 2008 06:55 UK
US rivals spar in first TV debate

Barack Obama and John McCain made a lot of claims about one another during the first US presidential debate.

The BBC News website took a look to see whether or not they were telling the whole truth.


Claim: Barack Obama said: "Senator McCain mentioned Henry Kissinger, who's one of his advisers, who, along with five recent secretaries of state, just said that we should meet with Iran - guess what - without precondition." Mr McCain countered by saying: "Dr Kissinger did not say that he would approve of face-to-face meetings between the president of the United States and the president - and Ahmadinejad."

Fact: CBS News spoke to Henry Kissinger on 25 September and asked him to clarify his position on US talks with Iran. He told them he "supports talks, if not with Ahmadinejad, then with high level Iranian officials... without preconditions".

And Dr Kissinger, shortly after the debate, issued a statement saying: "Senator McCain is right. I would not recommend the next president of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the presidential level. My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Senator John McCain. We do not agree on everything, but we do agree that any negotiations with Iran must be geared to reality."

Verdict: Mr Obama was correct to note that Dr Kissinger favours talks with Iran, but, since he was making his remarks in response to a question about his policy of meeting the leader of Iran, he could have made it clearer that the former secretary of state did not favour talks at the presidential level.


Claim: John McCain said Mr Obama "has voted in the United States Senate to increase taxes on people who make as low as $42,000 a year", to which Mr Obama replied: "That's not true".

Fact: To back up their claim, the McCain team has pointed to two votes Mr Obama made on budget resolutions, one in March 2008 and another in June 2008.

But budget resolutions are not legally binding - they merely set targets for the committees that write the actual legislation on taxes and spending.

Mr Obama did vote in favour of a resolution calling for the repeal of George W Bush's tax-cuts, which if enacted would have raised taxes on everyone, including those earning $42,000 or more.

But he has made it clear that, as president, he would only increase taxes on couples making $250,000 per year, or single people earning $200,000.

Verdict: John McCain's claim is technically accurate, but not a fair reflection of Mr Obama's actual policy on taxation.


Claim: Mr Obama said that "oil companies would get an additional $4bn in tax breaks" under John McCain's tax plan.

Fact: John McCain does support a cut in the maximum rate of corporate taxes from 35% to 25%.

A study from the Center for American Progress Action Fund estimated that such a cut would save the five largest oil companies some $3.8bn.

But Mr McCain's corporate tax cut would apply to all companies - not just oil firms.

Verdict: Mr Obama was correct to say that Mr McCain would give $4bn in tax breaks to oil companies, but it was misleading for him to suggest that only oil companies would get the tax break.


Claim: John McCain said that Barack Obama "has the most liberal voting record in the United States Senate".

Fact: The non-partisan political magazine, the National Journal, conducts an annual study into the voting records of US senators.

In January 2008, the magazine published its 2007 rankings, concluding that Mr Obama had been "the most liberal senator in 2007".

This ranking was based on analysis of 99 key votes, 33 of which Mr Obama had missed.

And Mr Obama had not been rated "most liberal" in 2006 or 2005 (he ranked 10th in 2006 and 16th in 2005).

Verdict: Mr McCain has some basis for describing Mr Obama as the "most liberal" senator - but only in 2007. And even that ranking is based on a much smaller sample of votes than many of his fellow senators were rated on.

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