As the New Hampshire Primary inches closer and another round of Republican debates have come to an end, the news media has invariably published a barrage of ”Fact Check” articles that seek to discern fact from fiction when it comes to the claims of the Republican candidates. One glaringly false claim that has been left out by most mainstream media fact checkers in their post-debate “fact checks” has been the fringe-propagated assertion that President Obama is a “socialist” who seeks to instate “socialism” in the United States. Here’s a sampling of what the GOP candidates said in the last two New Hampshire debates:
Mitt Romney (ABC Debate):
We have a president who has an entirely different view. He wants us to turn into a European-style welfare state and have government take from some to give to others. That will kill the ability of America to provide for a prosperous future, to secure our freedom, and to give us the — the rights which have been in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. I believe in an America that’s based upon opportunity and freedom, not President Obama’s social welfare state.
Newt Gingrich (ABC Debate):
Well, look, I think that’s a good message and I agree with him [Romney]. A — a little bit harsh on President Obama, who, I’m sure in his desperate efforts to create a radical European socialist model, is sincere.
Rick Perry (NBC Debate):
I make a very proud statement and of fact that–we have a president that’s a socialist. I don’t think our founding fathers wanted America to be a socialist country. So I disagree with that– premise that– somehow or another that– President Obama reflects our founding fathers. He doesn’t. He talks about having a more powerful, more centralized, more consuming and costly federal government.
Rick Santorum (NBC Debate):
Well, I– I– I think I’m just answering your question. Maybe– maybe we’re not communicating well. But I just talked about– that– medical– health savings account is an anti-socialistic idea to try to build a bottom-up, consumer-based economy– in health care.
So far, we’ve seen none of these candidates provide any actual evidence beyond shallow rhetoric that substantiates that Obama is actually a “socialist” or that his policies will lead to a “European-style” socialist welfare state. Worse, while we’ve heard these Republican candidates continually make “socialist” claims, we have seen little movement by the press to scrutinize them.
Moderator David Gregory, to his credit, did ask Rick Santorum whether his support for the the Prescription Drug Benefit program, a social program, was equivalent to himself being a “socialist.” But beyond this, there has been a noticeable gap in the news media asking the GOP candidates to back up their claims.
UPDATE (10:15pm): While I have reservations about PolitiFact’s sometimes iffy decisions, I noticed this evening that they gave a “Pants on Fire” rating to Rick Perry’s claim from last night’s debate that Obama is a “Socialist.” Their conclusion:
There are plenty of ways to have a meaningful, substantive conversation about the differences of the Republicans and Democrats in tax policy, economics and the role of government. But it’s simply preposterous for Perry — and Gingrich — to refer to Obama’s policies as socialism or to say he is a socialist. Obama’s policies may have expanded government, but they don’t justify this ridiculous hyperbole. We’re reaching for the matches — Pants on Fire!
Unfortunately, besides briefly mentioning Gingrich, they seem to be taking a blind eye to the fact that Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney have made the exact same claims.