Fact Checking Clint Eastwood's Republican National Convention Speech

2:20 PM, Aug 31, 2012   |    comments
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(CBS News) As actor Clint Eastwood ad-libbed through his 10-minute speech at the Republican National Convention Thursday night, he -- intentionally or not -- took some liberties with the truth. Here's a look at some of the misleading or inaccurate statements Eastwood made as he pretended to berate President Obama on stage.

Romney wants to bring home troops from Afghanistan tomorrow

What Eastwood said (pretending to address Mr. Obama):

You thought the war in Afghanistan was OK. You know, I mean -- you thought that was something worth doing. We didn't check with the Russians to see how did it -- they did there for 10 years. But we did it, and it is something to be thought about, and I think that, when we get to maybe -- I think you've mentioned something about having a target date for bringing everybody home. You gave that target date, and I think Mr. Romney asked the only sensible question, you know, he says, "Why are you giving the date out now? Why don't you just bring them home tomorrow morning?"

President Obama has defended the Afghanistan war as "fundamental to the defense of our people," but he didn't start the war, as Eastwood may have been suggesting -- the conflict started in 2001.

At the end of 2011, the Obama administration pulled 100,000 troops out of Afghanistan, and the U.S. is now committed to keeping combat troops there through 2014 -- and leaving troops on the ground after that to assist Afghan forces. Under Mr. Obama, 23,000 more troops are slated to come home from Afghanistan in September, but Marine Gen. John Allen has said he won't make his recommendation on the pace of further reductions until the end of the year.

Romney has, as Eastwood suggested, called Mr. Obama naive for agreeing with NATO to end its combat role in Afghanistan by 2014, and he said in July that he opposes the plans to withdraw 23,000 more troops this year.

Still, Romney is far from saying about the troops, "Why don't you just bring them home tomorrow morning?" Romney's campaign website says, "Withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan under a Romney administration will be based on conditions on the ground as assessed by our military commanders."

Eastwood says he doesn't support lawyers running for president

What he said:

See, I never thought it was a good idea for attorneys to the president, anyway. I think attorneys are so busy -- you know, they're always taught to argue everything, and always weigh everything -- weigh both sides. They are always devil's advocating this and bifurcating this and bifurcating that. You know all that stuff. But, I think it is maybe time -- what do you think -- for maybe a businessman. How about that?

It's true that Mitt Romney is a businessman -- he founded the private equity firm Bain Capital.

It's also true that President Obama is a Harvard-trained lawyer -- he graduated magna cum laude in 1991. But Mitt Romney is also a Harvard-trained lawyer -- he attended both the law school and the business school from 1971 to 1975 and graduated from both with honors.

Eastwood suggests President Obama is flying Air Force One by choice

What he said:

I think if you just step aside and Mr. Romney can kind of take over. You can maybe still use a plane. Though maybe a smaller one. Not that big gas guzzler you are going around to colleges and talking about student loans and stuff like that. You are an -- an ecological man. Why would you want to drive that around?

The name Air Force One applies to any plane carrying the president. There are two Boeing 747-200B series aircraft that are highly customized for security reasons.

According to the White House, the onboard electronics are hardened to protect against an electromagnetic pulse, and the planes are equipped with advanced secure communications equipment, allowing them to function as a mobile command center in the event of an attack.

The Romney campaign, meanwhile, is currently traveling on an MD-80 aircraft, which seats between 130 and 172 passengers.

There are 23 million unemployed Americans

What he said:

I haven't cried that hard since I found out that there is 23 million unemployed people in this country. Now that is something to cry for because that is a disgrace, a national disgrace, and we haven't done enough, obviously -- this administration hasn't done enough to cure that.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 12.8 million unemployed Americans as of July.

However, if you add up the number of Americans looking for more work, one gets to Eastwood's figure. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were 8.2 million Americans in July who were working part-time "because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job."

Additionally, there were 2.5 million people who were "marginally attached to the labor force." The Bureau explains, "These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey."

This adds up to more than 23 million, a figure the Romney campaign has highlighted.

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