Mitt Romney's Campaign Forced To Clarify His Claims After First Presidential Debate

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during his debate with US President Barack Obama at Magness Arena at the
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during his debate with US President Barack Obama at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages)

Much of the attention following the first presidential debate in Denver, Colo., Wednesday night has been focused on Mitt Romney's bid to recast himself as the centrist who governed Massachusetts. But the Republican presidential candidate also made two particularly lofty claims from the podium, claims his campaign clarified to reporters immediately after, effectively conceding that Romney inserted misinformation into the debate.

While discussing health care reform, Romney repeated his oft-used phrase that he would repeal and replace Obamacare, but then insisted that his own plan would grant coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, a claim he has made throughout his campaign.

"I do have a plan that deals with people with pre-existing conditions. That's part of my health care plan," Romney said.

But following the debate, top Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom contradicted that claim when pressed on the issue by Talking Points Memo reporter Evan-McMorris-Santoro.

“With respect to pre-existing conditions, what Governor Romney has said is for those with continuous coverage, he would continue to make sure that they receive their coverage,” said Eric Fehrnstrom, referring to existing laws which require insurance companies to sell coverage to people who already have insurance, or within 90 days of losing their employer coverage.

Pressed by TPM’s Evan McMorris-Santoro, Fehrnstrom said those who currently lack coverage because they have pre-existing conditions would need their states to implement their own laws — like Romney’s own Massachusetts health care law — that ban insurance company from discriminating against sick people.

“We’d like to see states do what Massachusetts did,” Fehrnstrom said. “In Massachusetts we have a ban on pre-existing conditions.”

Prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage or charging higher rates on the basis of a pre-existing medical condition is one of the most popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Romney’s health care plan in Massachusetts, which served as the blueprint for the president’s health care law, includes a similar prohibition.

Another false claim from Romney came in during his attack on the president’s green energy program -- when he stated that “half” of the firms that received stimulus funds had gone out of business.

“These businesses, many of them have gone out of business,” Romney said. “I think about half of them -- of the ones that have been invested in have gone out of business."

Fact-checkers and media outlets quickly seized on the statement, pointing out that “only three of 26 recipients of 1705 loan guarantees have filed for bankruptcy, with losses estimated at just over $600 million.”

Time magazine’s Michael Grunwald said the Romney campaign confirmed to him that Romney’s assertion was inaccurate, tweeting:

“ICYMI: Romney camp told me (after my tweet-rants) Mitt didn't mean to say half the #stimulus-funded green firms failed. Probably <1% so far.”

Going after Obama’s green energy program has been a constant theme of Romney’s campaign, never missing an opportunity to cite the case of Solyndra, the California-based solar technology company that filed for bankruptcy despite a loan guarantee of more than a half-billion dollars from the Obama administration. But the roots of that loan actually originated in the Bush administration. And, as governor of Massachusetts, Romney also granted loans to companies in emerging technology fields that, like Solyndra, went on to fail.



Presidential Debate