Nelson Mandela: A life in pictures
Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie in this undated file picture.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Voters didn’t always get the straight goods when President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney made their case for foreign policy and national security leadership Monday night before their last super-sized audience of the campaign. A few of their detours into domestic issues were problematic too.
A look at some of their statements and how they compare with the facts:
ROMNEY on Syria: “What I’m afraid of is we’ve watched over the past year or so, first the president saying, ‘Well, we’ll let the U.N. deal with it.’ And Assad — excuse me, Kofi Annan — came in and said we’re going to try to have a cease-fire. That didn’t work. Then it went to the Russians and said, ‘Let’s see if you can do something.’ We should be playing the leadership role there.”
OBAMA: “We are playing the leadership role.”
THE FACTS: Under Obama, the United States has taken a lead in trying to organize Syria’s splintered opposition, even if the U.S. isn’t interested in military intervention or providing direct arms support to the rebels. The administration has organized dozens of meetings in Turkey and the Middle East aimed at rallying Syria’s political groups and rebel formations to agree on a common vision for a democratic future after Syrian President Bashar Assad is defeated. And Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton brought dozens of nations together as part of the Friends of Syria group to combine aid efforts to Syria’s opposition and help it win the support of as many as Syrians as possible. The U.S. also is involved in vetting recipients of military aid from America’s Arab allies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Romney is partly right in pointing out Obama’s failure to win U.N. support for international action in Syria. But the Friends of Syria group has helped bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid and other forms of assistance to Syrian civilians and the political opposition.
In trying to describe the strategic importance of seeing Assad defeated, Romney stumbled in saying Syria was Iran’s “route to the sea.” Iran has a large southern coastline with access to the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. It has no land border with Syria.
ROMNEY: Said that when he was Massachusetts governor, high-school students who graduated in the top quarter “got a four-year, tuition-free ride at any Massachusetts public institution of higher learning.”
OBAMA: “That happened before you came into office.”
ROMNEY: “That was actually mine, actually, Mr. President. You got that fact wrong.”
THE FACTS: Romney was right. The John and Abigail Adams scholarship program began in 2004 when he was governor.
ROMNEY: “In the 2000 debates, there was no mention of terrorism.”
THE FACTS: There was passing mention of terrorism in the 2000 debates. In the Oct. 17, 2000, debate between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush, Gore talked about his work in Congress to “deal with the problems of terrorism and these new weapons of mass destruction.” And in the vice presidential debate, Democrat Joe Lieberman defended the Clinton administration’s record of preparing the armed forces to “meet the threats of the new generation of tomorrow, of weapons of mass destruction, of ballistic missiles, terrorism, cyber warfare.” Romney’s larger point, that the U.S. did not anticipate anything on the scale of terrorist threat that existed, is supported by the light attention paid to the subject in the debates.
OBAMA: “What I would not have had done was left 10,000 troops in Iraq that would tie us down. And that certainly would not help us in the Middle East.”
THE FACTS: Obama was suggesting that he had never favored keeping U.S. troops in Iraq beyond the December 2011 withdrawal deadline that the Bush administration had negotiated with the Iraqi government. Actually, the Obama administration tried for many months to win Iraqi agreement to keeping several thousand American troops there beyond 2011 to continue training and advising the Iraqi armed forces. The talks broke down over a disagreement on legal immunity for U.S. troops.
Associated Press writers Bradley Klapper and Robert Burns contributed to this report.
Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie in this undated file picture.
Mandela is accompanied by his former wife Winnie, moments after his release from prison February 11, 1990 after serving 27 years in jail. (Reuters)
In this February, 1990 photo, shortly after his release from 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela, gives the black power salute to the 120,000 supporters packing Soccer City stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg. (AP Photo)
Nelson Mandela showed his passport in February 19, 1990, shortly after his release from prison. The South African government authorized an application for himself and his wife Winnie - (Juda Ngwenya / Reuters)
In this July 27, 1991 photo, Cuban President Fidel Castro, and Nelson Mandela gesture during the celebration of the "Day of the Revolution" in Matanzas, Cuba. (AP Photo)
In this July 4, 1993 photo, President Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela listen during Fourth of July ceremonies in Philadelphia during which Clinton presented the Philadelphia Liberty Medal to the African National Congress president and South African President F.W. de Klerk. (AP Photo/Greg Gibson)
President of the African National Congress Nelson Mandela acknowledges cheers from the crowd as he prepares to unveil the ANC's official election platform in 1994. (AP Photo/David Brauchli)
African National Congress (ANC) leader Nelson Mandela greeted residents of Mmabatho in March 1994, during a visit after the nominal homeland came under South African control following the ousting of the former President Lucas Mangope. (Reuters/Howard Burditt)
South African President Nelson Mandela smiles with actor Sidney Poitier at a press conference in Cape Town in 1996. Poitier played Mandela in the film "One Man, One Vote" (AP Photo / Sasa Kralj)
South African President Nelson Mandela waves to crowds as he sits next to Queen Elizabeth II in a an open carriage on the way to Buckingham Palace.(AP/Louisa Buller)
Chairman of the Constitutional Assembly Cyril Ramaphosa, left, holds up a copy of the country's constitution which was signed by President Nelson Mandela, in December 1996. (AP Photo / Adil Bradlow / POOL)
Nelson Mandela at a news conference in Johannesburg in February 2000. (AP Photo / Denis Farrell)
South African rugby captain Francois Pienaar, right, received the Rugby World Cup trophy from President Nelson Mandela also wearing a South African rugby shirt, after South Africa defeated New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup , in 1995. (AP Photo / Ross Setford)