Former President Bill Clinton received wide acclaim for the rousing speech he delivered last night at the Democratic National Convention on behalf of President Obama, which was met with several rounds of standing applause. But fact-checkers working behind the scenes were less enamored with his oration.
According to FactCheck.org, a non-partisan website that works to correct misleading political claims, the speech was "a fact-checker's nightmare." By "nightmare," the website was referring to the dense factual claims that were crammed into Clinton's 45-minute-long speech.
"Lots of effort required to run down his many statistics and factual claims, producing little for us to write about," declared the site.
Clinton began his speech by lifting the blame for the economy from Obama's shoulders, stating, "I want to nominate a man whose own life has known its fair share of adversity and uncertainty. I want to nominate a man who ran for president to change the course of an already weak economy, and then just six weeks before his election, saw it suffer the biggest collapse since the Great Depression."
Clinton then went on to make what The New York Times called "a point-by-point rebuttal of the arguments made during the Republican National Convention last week," calling the Republican Party's version of events an "alternative universe."
But according to FactCheck.org, Clinton's statistical references were mostly on point, to the extent that they could find. "Republicans will find plenty of Clinton's scorching opinions objectionable," admitted FactCheck, "but with few exceptions, we found his stats checked out."
According to FactCheck, the biggest flaws they found with Clinton's speech were not factual errors, but primarily, exaggerations and minor "missteps." The website took issue with Clinton for overstating the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, for example, the main provisions of which they say "have yet to take effect."
"Clinton said that 'for the last two years, health care costs have been under 4 percent in both years for the first time in 50 years.' That's true, as reported by the journal Health Affairs in January of this year. But Clinton went too far when he added: '...Are we better off because President Obama fought for health care reform? You bet,' reported FactCheck. "Actually, the major provisions of the 2010 law ... haven't yet taken effect."
The website also claimed that Clinton exaggerated the extent to which Medicare would be defunded if Mitt Romney were elected, and amplified the percentage of Americans whose taxes were cut under Obama's 2009 stimulus bill.
PolitiFact, a website run by the Tampa Bay Times that also fact-checks claims made by politicians, concurred that Mr. Clinton's speech checked out, saying, "Partisans are free to interpret these findings as they wish, but on the numbers, Clinton's right. We rate his claim True."