Claim: Obama said of the national debt, “If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.”
Ad(s): One-Term Proposition
Sponsor(s): Americans For Prosperity
Air Dates: August 8 – August 23
Total Estimated Spending On This Claim: $5,813,443
Markets: Albuquerque, Cedar Rapids, Charlotte, Charlottesville, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Colorado Springs, Columbusm (OH), Davenport, Dayton, Denver, Des Moines, Duluth, Erie, Fargo, Ft. Myers, Grand Junction, Green Bay, Greensboro, Greenville (NC), Greenville (SC), Harrisburg, Jacksonville, Johnstown, La Crosse, Las Vegas, Mankato, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Norfolk, Omaha, Orlando, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, Reno, Richmond, Roanoke, Rochester (MN), Sioux City, Tampa, Toledo, Wausau, West Palm Beach, Wilkes Barre, Wilmington, Youngstown
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Politifact Summary: The ad notes, “In 2009, Barack Obama said,” then cuts to Obama: “I’m pledging to cut the deficit by half by the end of my first term in office.” The words “Feb. 2009, Debt: $10 trillion” flash onscreen. […] Obama is then heard saying, “I will be held accountable” before appearing in a video and continuing, “If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.” […] Did Obama say he would be held accountable for not halving the deficit in three years? When we went to the tape, we found Americans for Prosperity was pulling together two different interviews, and on two different topics. […]
First off, it should be no secret Obama did, in fact, promise to cut the deficit in half during his first term. […] With the presence of the debt clock, Americans For Prosperity is confusing the deficit with the national debt, which is the aggregated total of the nation’s public debt, not its annual budget deficits. […]
The selective editing gets worse in the second half of the ad. Obama’s admission that the voters will likely break out the torches and pitchforks if he doesn’t follow through in three years is from a 2009 interview with Matt Lauer on NBC’s Today show. It’s from Feb. 2, however, almost three weeks before his pledge to cut the deficit. And the president is speaking about the Troubled Asset Relief Program, not halving the deficit. […]
Clearly this commercial is edited to remove references to the Bush administration and muddy the context of the president’s comments. Obama irrefutably made the promise in 2009 to slash the deficit in half by the time his first term expired, and that doesn’t look at all possible.
But Americans For Prosperity overreaches, splicing together footage from two unrelated interviews to distort the message it wants to convey. Obama wasn’t talking about the deficit or the debt when he said, “If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.” […] We rate this claim False.