Fact-checkers rate Clinton and Sanders on Charleston debate

The Democratic presidential candidates met in Charleston on Sunday for their fourth debate, the first Democratic showdown of 2016.

With the polls tightening, all eyes were on front-runner and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who both went on the attack.

Even after the candidates were packing their bags, the scribes at the non-partisan fact-checking site Politifact were still trying to parse political truth from fiction.

Abbreviated versions of our fact checks are below.

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Full versions can be found at www.politifact.com/georgia/.

Hillary Clinton:

Says Bernie Sanders “voted for what we call the ‘Charleston Loophole.’”

Sanders votes were actually against federally mandated waiting periods, not for a provision that sets a time limit on a background check.

In 2015, Dylan Roof was able to buy a gun after the waiting period had lapsed — the result of a clerical error when the FBI sought records from the wrong local law enforcement agency about Roof. Roof is accused of killing nine African-Americans in a Charleston church in June.

Whether more time would have made a difference remains unknown.

But Roof was able to purchase the gun after a three-day waiting period expired.

Sanders’ votes don’t line up precisely as Clinton presented them. Sanders was against waiting periods for background checks. Roof was able to purchase a gun after waiting out a three-day time limit on background checks.

We rated Clinton's claim Mostly True.

Hillary Clinton:

“We now have driven (health care) costs down to the lowest they’ve been in 50 years.”

PolitiFact has touched on this issue before.

During a 2012 president debate, President Barack Obama said that because of Obamacare, “over the last two years, health care premiums have gone up — it’s true — but they’ve gone up slower than any time in the last 50 years.”

We found that Obama’s point about premiums was wrong, and gave him a False.

Clinton said during the debate, “We now have driven costs down to the lowest they’ve been in 50 years.”

We found that Clinton was incorrect. The actual per-person cost of health care has increased steadily over the last half-century, according to a 2013 White House report.

When we contacted the Clinton campaign, spokesman Nick Merrill said what Clinton was actually talking about was the rate at which health care costs have been going up.

“Health care price inflation is at its lowest rate in 50 years,” he said in an email, adding that it is “currently running at just 1 percent on a year-over-year basis, the lowest level since January 1962.”

Although the rate of growth has been at historic lows, the actual per-person cost of health care has increased steadily over the last half century.

Only the rate of decline has slowed, a very different measure.

We rated Clinton's claim as False.

Bernie Sanders:

“I helped write” the Affordable Care Act.

Sanders deserves credit for one provision of it — worth a not-insignificant $11 billion. But overall, he was hardly an inside architect of the bill.

Until his effort was blocked by a GOP procedural move, Sanders supported a more aggressive single-payer system, and multiple news articles quoted him as being undecided about supporting the main Democratic bill until late in the process.

Sanders’ statement contains an element of truth, but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression.

We rated his statement Mostly False.

Hillary Clinton:

Says Bernie Sanders “has reversed his position on immunity” for gun manufacturers and sellers.

Sanders voted for the 2005 measure that provided broad liability exclusions for gun makers and sellers.

After months of Sanders and his staff defending the vote, Sanders’ position started to evolve in October. Sanders’ position three months ago — that he would “take another look” at the liability question — is consistent with his Jan. 16 news release saying he supported a proposal to rescind the immunity provisions. But to look back only to October doesn’t tell the full story, ignoring not only the 2003 and 2005 votes but also several instances in which Sanders or his staff defended those votes in interviews between June 2015 and early January 2016.

We rated Clinton's statement True.