Fact-checkers tackle Mitt Romney's RNC speech; fact-checker-checkers caution readers

Published: Friday, Aug. 31 2012 4:54 p.m. MDT

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney addresses delegates after speaking at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012.

Associated Press

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Following his Thursday night Republican National Convention speech, Mitt Romney earned "false" ratings from fact-checkers for a line in the remarks when he said President Barack Obama began his presidency with an apology tour.

However, a look at the fact-checker explanations suggests that the ratings are based on the fact-checker's definition of what constitutes an "apology," while those accusing the president of apologizing are also assigning their own definition to the word. Pundits and members of the media have previously cautioned readers about fact-checking organizations that assign "true" or "false" ratings to opinions, while the latest round of rankings have sparked additional warnings.

Claims that the president had embarked on an "apology tour" emerged after Obama traveled overseas in early 2009. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Karl Rove cited instances that could be considered apologies in his eyes. These included:

Strasbourg, France, April 2009: "In America, there's a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive."

Obama went on to say, "But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once causal but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what's bad. On both sides of the Atlantic, these attitudes have become all too common. They are not wise. They do not represent the truth."

Prague, Czech Republic, April 2009: "And as nuclear power — as a nuclear power, as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to (create a world without nuclear weapons). We cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it, we can start it."

News conference, London, April 2009: "I just think in a world that is as complex as it is, that it is very important for us to be able to forge partnerships as opposed to simply dictating solutions. Just a — just to try to crystallize the example, there's been a lot of comparison here about Bretton Woods. 'Oh, well, last time you saw the entire international architecture being remade.' Well, if there's just Roosevelt and Churchill sitting in a room with a brandy, that's a — that's an easier negotiation. But that's not the world we live in, and it shouldn't be the world that we live in."

Op-ed in Spanish, English and Portuguese, April 2009: "Too often, the United States has not pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbors. We have been too easily distracted by other priorities, and have failed to see that our own progress is tied directly to progress throughout the Americas."

After a speech at the 5th Summit of the Americas in April 2009, President Obama responded to an anti-American speech by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega by saying, "I'm grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old."

Prague, April, 2009: "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism."

The Heritage Foundation labeled additional statements as apologies, including:

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