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Lies, damn lies and GOP debates

  Twenty Republican presidential debates later, the head-scratching claims kept coming. Did Mitt Romney really cut taxes as Massachusetts governor, as he asserted yet again? Or did he raise them by hundreds of millions of dollars, as former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum alleged? And how could Newt Gingrich have given the nation four balanced budgets when he was only in Congress for two of them? There was something old, something new in the misstatements of the candidates Wednesday in what was possibly the last GOP debate. A look at some of the claims and how they compare with the facts:
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With debate over, Romney & Santroum return to campaign trail

A bitter and often personal debate behind them, Republicans Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney are shoring up their campaigns in different ways ahead of a series of crucial presidential primaries. Romney is paying the most attention to Michigan, his birthplace and the site of an unexpectedly tight race with Santorum, by attending a tea party rally Thursday night in an effort to get more conservative support. He has campaigned confidently in Arizona, so much so that he has not aired any television ads in the state. Santorum, meanwhile, is focusing for the moment on raising money for his cash-strapped operation.
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Obama: Close tax loopholes for businesses with overseas operations

President Barack Obama wants to cut the corporate tax rate by seven percentage points but the move doesn’t mean companies would pay less taxes. His plan also eliminates many loopholes and subsidies that corporations currently use to pay far less taxes and could result in a higher — not lower — final payments to Uncle Sam. The White House is targeting companies that move jobs and operations overseas while providing relief for companies who keep jobs at home. While both political parties support — in principle — revamping tax laws, Obama’s proposal will undoubtedly face opposition from Republican who tend
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Romney closes gap in new poll of Michigan voters

A barrage of television ads and closer scrutiny of a surging Rick Santorum have closed the gap in Michigan as a new poll shows Mitt Romney closing what once was a 15-point deficit to four percentage points. Still, with a week to go before a crucial primary that could make or break Romney’s once seemingly inevitable march to the GOP nomination the former Massachusetts governor has a long way to go to salvage his campaign momentum. The latest Public Policy Poll show Romney closing in on Santorum but the poll count is light on evangelicals who show strong support for
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Unions plan to spend big to re-elect Obama

Unions say they are gearing up to spend more than $400 million to help re-elect President Barack Obama and lift Democrats this election year in a fight for labor’s survival. Under siege in state legislatures around the country – and fearing the consequences of a Republican in the White House – union leaders say they have little choice as they try to beat back GOP efforts to curb collective bargaining rights or limit their ability to collect dues. “People are digging deeper,” said Larry Scanlon, political director of the country’s largest public workers union, the American Federation of State, County
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Poll: All GOP contenders lose to Obama

A surging Rick Santorum is running even with Mitt Romney atop the Republican presidential field, but neither candidate is faring well against President Barack Obama eight months before Americans vote, a new survey shows. Obama tops 50 percent support when matched against each of the four GOP candidates and holds a significant lead over each of them, according to the Associated Press-GfK poll. Republicans, meanwhile, are divided on whether they’d rather see Romney or Santorum capture the nomination, with Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul lagging behind. It’s a troubling sign for the better-funded Romney as the GOP race heads toward
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Obama’s scaled-down American dream

This time around, President Barack Obama’s message can sound decidedly down-to-earth. Four years after winning the White House, Obama is dealing with a different economic and political reality as he seeks re-election. He’s focused less on a lofty vision for overcoming divisions and remaking Washington, and more on the most basic building blocks of middle-class economic security: a job, a house, a college education for the kids, health care, money for retirement. What Obama describes as the American Dream can seem a spare, fundamental aspiration, tailored for a campaign that looks to be fought over who is best equipped to
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Lies, damn lies and the auto bailout squirm

Michigan has become squirm central for Republican presidential candidates who are trying to explain their opposition to the auto bailout before the big primary in the home of automakers. Their tale is terribly tangled, and President Barack Obama isn’t telling it straight either. Obama, in taking credit, and Republicans, in assigning blame, have ignored one driving force behind the love-it-or-hate-it bailout: George W. Bush in the waning days of his presidency. Moreover, GOP rivals Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum would have people believe the United Auto Workers union runs General Motors and the government “gave” it away, neither true. The
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Super pacs: The new power base for the GOP

An unmistakable dynamic is playing out in the money game among Republican presidential candidates: New “super” political action committees are growing more powerful than the campaigns they support. For two of the GOP front-runners, their supportive super PACs raised more money and have more cash left in the bank than the candidates’ own campaigns. Helping their efforts are major financial gifts from wealthy business executives, whose contributions can be essential to the groups’ continued operations. Mitt Romney-leaning Restore Our Future and Newt Gingrich-supportive Winning Our Future raised a combined $17 million last month and spent nearly $24 million during that
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Santorum finds campaign gold in social issues

Philosophical differences between the top two Republican presidential candidates are becoming starker as Rick Santorum drives harder on religious and social issues that Mitt Romney rarely discusses in detail. In recent days, Santorum has questioned the usefulness of public schools, criticized prenatal testing and said President Barack Obama’s theology is not “based on the Bible.” On Monday, he likened Obama to politicians who spread fear about new oil-extraction technologies “so they can control your lives.” The remarks contrast sharply with Romney’s even-tempered emphasis on jobs, the economy and his resume as a can-do corporate executive. The differences give Republican voters
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