On Lou Dobbs Tonight, Michael Goodwin and Lou Dobbs falsely claimed that Sen. Joe Biden was wrong when he said during the vice-presidential debate that Sen. John McCain "voted against funding the troops" in a 2007 bill making supplemental appropriations for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, McCain voted against a supplemental appropriations bill on March 29, 2007, saying at the time that he was opposing it, in part, because it "would establish a timeline" for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
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During the October 3 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, New York Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin and host Lou Dobbs falsely claimed that Sen. Joe Biden was wrong when he said during the October 2 vice-presidential debate that Sen. John McCain "voted against funding the troops" in a 2007 bill making supplemental appropriations for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Goodwin claimed that "McCain never voted to defund the Army" and cited as evidence McCain's May 2007 vote on a version of the appropriations bill that did not have a timeline for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Dobbs later falsely claimed of Biden's statement: "The point is, he lied. There was no attempt at interpreting that statement. He basically, fundamentally, straightforwardly lied." In fact, Biden's statement was correct: McCain voted against a previous version of the measure on March 29, 2007, saying at the time that he was opposing it, in part, because it "would establish a timeline" for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
Additionally, on the October 3 edition of NBC's Nightly News, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell claimed "Biden incorrectly said McCain voted the same way Obama did on funding the troops in Iraq. McCain didn't vote." But Mitchell did not note that McCain did, in fact, vote against a troop-funding bill.
Biden said during the debate:
Number two, with regard to Barack Obama not quote funding the troops, John McCain voted the exact same way. John McCain voted against funding the troops because of an amendment he voted against had a timeline in it to draw down American troops. And John said I'm not going to fund the troops if in fact there's a time line. Barack Obama and I agree fully and completely on one thing. You've got to have a timeline to draw down the troops and shift responsibility to the Iraqis.
As Media Matters for America has documented, on March 29, 2007, McCain voted against H.R. 1591, an emergency spending bill that would have funded the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and would have provided more than $1 billion in additional funds to the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Senate passed H.R. 1591 by a margin of 51-47, and the two houses formed a conference to reconcile the difference between the bills. Once the House agreed to the version revised by the conference, the Senate also passed that version on April 26, 2007, by a vote of 51-46, but McCain did not vote on that version of the bill. Sen. Barack Obama voted for the bill on both occasions. President Bush vetoed the bill, citing its provision for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
In a March 29, 2007, statement about the appropriations bill, McCain said:
Additionally, this bill would establish a timeline for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, regardless of the conditions there. Such a mandate would have grave consequences for the future of Iraq, the stability of the Middle East and the security of Americans at home and abroad. For these reasons, I do not support this bill.
After Bush vetoed the bill, another version of the appropriations bill -- H.R. 2206 -- passed the Senate by a vote of 80-14. Obama voted against the measure, while McCain voted for it. Unlike the March 2007 version McCain voted against and the April 2007 conference report McCain did not vote on, the May 2007 version did not have a withdrawal timetable and was signed by President Bush.
As Media Matters documented, CBSNews.com, MSNBC.com, and FactCheck.org all falsely claimed that Biden's statement that McCain "voted against funding the troops" in a 2007 appropriations bill was wrong. In an October 3 update to its article, FactCheck.org removed its section on Biden and troop funding and issued a correction, noting that "Biden was ... correct. McCain did vote against the troop-funding bill in question, H.R. 1591, on March 29, 2007, when it originally cleared the Senate."
From the October 3 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight:
DOBBS: We're back with our panel -- Ed Rollins, Michael Goodwin, Robert Zimmerman. Let me just turn to just a few of the little lies. Biden twice claimed that McCain voted, voted, with Barack Obama, whether the issue was the budget bill or whether it was the troop funding. It was just absolutely --
GOODWIN: Lou, let me take that one if I could, on Iraq.
GOODWIN: Because I thought that was outrageous what Biden said. He clearly distorted -- Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were one of two -- 14 senators in May of '07 who voted to defund both wars because -- they wouldn't agree to it, because Bush wouldn't agree to a timetable. Only 14 senators voted for that bill. The two trying to court the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. John McCain never voted to defund the Army.
ZIMMERMAN: There was much more to it, Michael, than that. It was about holding the administration accountable for performance and also holding the Iraqi -- and it was about holding the Iraqi government accountable.
DOBBS: The point is, he lied. There was no attempt at interpreting that statement. He basically, fundamentally, straightforwardly lied. But he was in good company because Governor [Sarah] Palin was doing the same thing. She said that Obama voted in favor of higher taxes on families making as little as 42,000 a year. In point of fact, it was on singles making that amount. It would have been 90,000 the other way. Palin said millions of small businesses will see tax increases under Obama's tax proposals. At most, as FactCheck.org says, it would only have been several hundred thousand.
So why aren't we seeing the national media hold these candidates, whether it's Obama and McCain or Palin and Biden -- we talk about how cute they were, how well they did this, how -- you know, it's all nonsense if they're lying. And we're getting it from all four candidates.
ZIMMERMAN: Look, the reality is --
DOBBS: I'm looking.
ZIMMERMAN: OK, in this debate --
DOBBS: That was a very Obama-like thing you just did -- "look."
ZIMMERMAN: Because the point is there were -- I would not call them lies. I think they were misstatements of the record.
DOBBS: OK, fair enough.
ZIMMERMAN: I mean -- but the point is this. More importantly --
DOBBS: I surrender "lie."
From the October 3 edition of NBC's Nightly News with Brian Williams:
MITCHELL: There were other issues, like Palin's claim that troop strength in Iraq is down to pre-surge levels. It is not. And Biden incorrectly said McCain voted the same way Obama did on funding the troops in Iraq. McCain didn't vote.
But there were no fatal errors, shifting the attention back to the presidential candidates, and they will debate next Tuesday. Andrea Mitchell, NBC News, Washington.