The 2012 election is full of ads and speeches in which politicians use the words of their opponents against them. The opponents often counter that their words were taken out of context, that they did not really say what they were accused of saying.
Below are six of the most common examples of these accusations, followed by the quote in context. Readers can decide whether the quote is accurate, or taken out of context. Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
Claim: President Barack Obama believes that business owners do not deserve credit for the success of their business.
Quote: "If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." (Barack Obama, stump speech in Roanoke, Virginia, July 13, 2012)
Quote in Context: "There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn't -- look, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.
"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
"The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don't do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.
"So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That's how we funded the G.I. Bill. That's how we created the middle class. That's how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That's how we invented the Internet. That's how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that's the reason I'm running for President -- because I still believe in that idea. You're not on your own, we're in this together."
Claim: Obama believes in wealth distribution.
Quote: "I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution because I actually believe in redistribution." (Then Ill. State Senator Barack Obama, remarks at Loyola University, Chicago, Oct. 19, 1998)
Quote in Context: "I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody's got a shot. How do we pool resources at the same time as we decentralize delivery systems in ways that both foster competition, can work in the marketplace, and can foster innovation at the local level and can be tailored to particular communities."
Claim: Mitt Romney does not care about the 47 percent of American households that pay no income taxes, who he believes do not take personal responsibility for their own lives.
Quote: "Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. ... my job is not to worry about those people -- I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives." (Mitt Romney, remarks at a private fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla., May 17, 2012)
Quote in Context: "There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. And I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49, 48 -- he starts off with a huge number.
"These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn't connect. And he'll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean that's what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people -- I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the five to 10 percent in the center that are independents that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not, what it looks like. I mean, when you ask those people…we do all these polls -- I find it amazing -- we poll all these people, see where you stand on the polls, but 45 percent of the people will go with a Republican, and 48 or 4…" [recording stops].
Claim: Mitt Romney does not care about the very poor.
Quote: "I'm not concerned about the very poor." (Mitt Romney interview with Soledad O'Brien on CNN, Feb. 1, 2012)
Quote in context:
Romney: "This is a time people are worried. They're frightened. They want someone who they have confidence in. And I believe I will be able to instill that confidence in the American people. And, by the way, I'm in this race because I care about Americans. I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I'll fix it.
"I'm not concerned about the very rich, they're doing just fine. I'm concerned about the very heart of the America, the 90, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling and I'll continue to take that message across the nation."
O'Brien: "All right. So I know I said last question, but I've got to ask you. You just said 'I'm not concerned about the very poor because they have a safety net.' And I think there are lots of very poor Americans who are struggling who would say that sounds odd. Can you explain that?
Romney: "Well, you had to finish the sentence, Soledad. I said I'm not concerned about the very poor that have the safety net, but if it has holes in it, I will repair them."
O'Brien: "Got it. OK."
Romney: "The -- the challenge right now -- we will hear from the Democrat Party the plight of the poor, and -- and there's no question, it's not good being poor and we have a safety net to help those that are very poor.
"But my campaign is focused on middle income Americans. My campaign -- you can choose where to focus. You can focus on the rich. That's not my focus. You can focus on the very poor. That's not my focus.
"My focus is on middle income Americans, retirees living on Social Security, people who cannot find work, folks who have kids that are getting ready to go to college. That -- these are the people who've been most badly hurt during the Obama years.
"We have a very ample safety net, and we can talk about whether it needs to be strengthened or whether there are holes in it. But we have food stamps, we have Medicaid, we have housing vouchers, we have programs to help the poor. But the middle income Americans, they're the folks that are really struggling right now, and they need someone that can help get this economy going for them."
Claim: Republicans will not work with Obama because they want him to fail. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said his number one goal is to make Obama a one term president.
Quote: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." (Mitch McConnell, interview with National Journal, Oct. 23, 2010)
Quote in Context:
McConnell: "We need to be honest with the public. This election is about them, not us. And we need to treat this election as the first step in retaking the government. We need to say to everyone on Election Day, 'Those of you who helped make this a good day, you need to go out and help us finish the job.'"
NJ: "What's the job?"
McConnell: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."
NJ: "Does that mean endless, or at least frequent, confrontation with the president?"
McConnell: "If President Obama does a Clintonian back flip, if he's willing to meet us halfway on some of the biggest issues, it's not inappropriate for us to do business with him."
NJ: "What are the big issues?"
McConnell: "It is possible the president's advisers will tell him he has to do something to get right with the public on his levels of spending and [on] lowering the national debt. If he were to heed that advice, he would, I imagine, find more support among our conference than he would among some in the Senate in his own party. I don't want the president to fail; I want him to change. So, we'll see. The next move is going to be up to him."
Claim: Before passage of the Affordable Care Act, then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the bill must be passed before the American public can see what is in the bill.
Quote: "But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it." (Nancy Pelosi, remarks at the 2010 Legislative Conference for National Association of Counties, March 9, 2010)
Quote in Context: "The final health care legislation that will soon be passed by Congress will deliver successful reform at the local level. It will offer paid for investments that will improve health care services and coverage for millions more Americans. It will make significant investments in innovation, prevention, wellness and offer robust support for public health infrastructure. It will dramatically expand investments into community health centers. That means a dramatic expansion in the number of patients community health centers can see and ultimately healthier communities. Our bill will significantly reduce uncompensated care for hospitals.
"You've heard about the controversies within the bill, the process about the bill, one or the other. But I don't know if you have heard that it is legislation for the future, not just about health care for America, but about a healthier America, where preventive care is not something that you have to pay a deductible for or out of pocket. Prevention, prevention, prevention -- it's about diet, not diabetes. It's going to be very, very exciting. But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy."