GOP presidential debate fact check


By Shira Schoenberg, Globe Correspondent This is one of a series of Globe fact checks on statements by the Republican presidential candidates, based on the Dec. 10 ABC News/Yahoo News debate co-sponsored by WOI-TV, The Des Moines Register and Drake University.Newt Gingrich caused a stir by telling The Jewish Channel, “Remember, there was no Palestine as a state - it was part of the Ottoman Empire. I think we have an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs and historically part of the Arab community and they had the chance to go many places.” Last night, he defended the statement: “Is what I said factually correct? Yes. Is it historically true? Yes.” The Ottoman Empire controlled the region for centuries. The British took control in 1918, after World War I. The boundaries of Palestine became fixed in the early 1920s, when the British separated “Transjordan,” east of the Jordan River, and “Palestine,” west of the Jordan River. Palestine was ruled by a British mandate. Both Jews and Arabs living there were called Palestinians. The United Nations decided in 1947 to partition Palestine into separate states for the Jews and the Arabs, but the Arabs rejected the proposal so “Palestine” as an Arab state never came into being. The Jews declared the existence of Israel in 1948 and defended the new state in a war with its Arab neighbors.Historically, Gingrich is technically correct. And there has been debate in the Arab world over whether Palestinian nationalism is part of pan-Arab nationalism. But Gingrich ignores a history of Palestinian Arab nationalism and a population of Arabs who left Palestine when it became Israel and who call themselves the Palestinian people. The statement ignores the political reality that the US and Israel have been working with Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza toward a negotiated settlement that could establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel.Gingrich’s spokesman said he supports a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, which would include a Palestinian state.Rick Perry attacked Mitt Romney for allegedly supporting a national individual mandate for health insurance. Perry said, “I read your first book and it said in there that your mandate in Massachusetts should be the model for the country.” Romney offered a $10,000 bet that it did not. “I say as close as I can quote, I say, ‘In my view, each state should be able to fashion their own program for the specific needs of their distinct citizens.’ And then I go on to talk about the states being the laboratories of democracy. … I have not said, in that book, first edition or the latest edition, anything about our plan being a national model imposed on the nation.”This one goes to Romney. In his 2010 book “No Apology,” Romney wrote that the Massachusetts plan delivers affordable, portable health insurance. He wrote, “We can accomplish the same thing for everyone in the country, and it can be done without letting government take over health care.” In a 2011 version, Romney deleted the phrase “We can accomplish the same thing for everyone in the country.” But the earlier line appears to be referencing the goal of affordable health insurance – not his specific plan. Romney also clearly writes that he believes every state should have the opportunity to create its own model for health care reform.Michele Bachmann attacked Gingrich for his support of a health insurance mandate. Bachmann said, “When you look at Newt Gingrich, for 20 years, he’s been advocating for the individual mandate in health care. That’s longer than Barack Obama.”Gingrich responded, “I fought against ObamaCare at every step of the way. I did it with -- the Center for Health Transformation was actively opposed, we actively campaigned against it.”Bachmann is correct that Gingrich supported an individual mandate. On NBC’s “Meet the Press” in 1993, Gingrich compared health insurance to auto insurance and said “I am for ... individuals having health insurance and being required to have health insurance.” Gingrich saw the mandate as an alternative to a more expansive health care plan proposed by Hillary Clinton in the 1990s. (The idea of an individual mandate originated with the conservative Heritage Foundation.) Last May, on “Meet the Press,” Gingrich said, “I’ve said consistently we ought to have some requirement that you either have health insurance or you post a bond...or in some way you indicate you’re going to be held accountable.” Gingrich made a similar statement in his 2008 book, “Real Change.”But Gingrich has also criticized Obama’s health care overhaul as an attempt to create a new federal health insurance system. He clarified several days after the May interview that he opposes Obama’s federal health insurance mandate, calling it wrong and unconstitutional. Shira Schoenberg can be reached at . Follow her on Twitter @shiraschoenberg.