By Calvin Woodward, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Michele Bachmann cast her opinion as a settled fact when she told the Republican presidential debate Thursday that a key element of President Barack Obama's health care law is unconstitutional. And Mitt Romney danced around an attempt to learn why he stayed largely mum on the epic debt limit standoff between Obama and Congress.
The first big GOP debate of the primary season brought viewers a flurry of claims and counterclaims, not all built on solid ground. Here's a look at some of those claims and how they compare with the facts:
BACHMANN: Spoke of "the unconstitutional individual mandate" several times, a reference to a requirement for people to carry health insurance, a central element of the 2010 federal health care law.
THE FACTS: Nothing is unconstitutional until courts declare it to be so. The constitutionality of the individual mandate has been challenged in lawsuits in a number of states, and federal judges have found in favor and against. The Supreme Court will probably have the final word. But for now, the individual mandate is ahead in the count. And the first ruling by a federal appeals court on the issue, by the 6th U.S. Court of Appeals in June, upheld the individual mandate.
TIM PAWLENTY: "To correct you, I have not questioned Congresswoman Bachmann's headaches."
THE FACTS: Pawlenty was hardly dismissive when news came out about Bachmann's history of severe headaches, even if he did not go after her directly on the matter. "All of the candidates, I think, are going to have to be able to demonstrate they can do all of the job all of the time," the former governor said when first asked about the migraines suffered by the congresswoman. "There's no real time off in that job."
There was no mistaking that Pawlenty was leaving open the question of whether Bachmann's health history made her fit to serve as president. But he later tried to clarify his remark, saying he was not challenging her on that front and the flap was merely a "sideshow." Bachmann says her symptoms are controlled with prescription medication and have not gotten in the way of her campaign or impaired her service in Congress.