Obama's Campaign Promises: 91 Kept So Far The Pulitzer Prize-winning Web site PolitiFact tracked Obama's promises on the campaign trail. Now, as the president's one-year anniversary in office approaches, PolitiFact takes stock of how President Obama is doing on making good on his promises.
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Obama's Campaign Promises: 91 Kept So Far

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Obama's Campaign Promises: 91 Kept So Far

Obama's Campaign Promises: 91 Kept So Far

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We're nearing the first anniversary of President Obama's inauguration, so we're going to follow up on a few of his campaign promises - which ones he's kept and which he's broken.

We're joined here by Bill Adair, who has followed this for a year. He works for the St. Petersburg Times and their PolitiFact Web site, and is in charge of something called the Obameter - which is what, Bill?

Mr. BILL ADAIR (St. Petersburg Times, PolitiFact): The Obameter is something we launched right before Obama took office to track his campaign promises. So, we went through campaign documents and speeches and debate transcripts to see what promises he's made, and discovered - to our surprise - he made more than 500 individual promises.

So, we put them all in our database and for the past year, we've been doing something I think pretty extraordinary in journalism...

INSKEEP: Checking facts.

Mr. ADAIR: ...following each of them.

INSKEEP: Checking promises, OK.

Mr. ADAIR: And so we have rated them all as either promise kept, promise broken, compromise, in the works, or stalled.

INSKEEP: Well, let's talk about a few, specific promises. We'll start with Promise Number 126 on your list: Begin removing combat brigades from Iraq.

Mr. ADAIR: We've got that one actually rated, in the works. There was a similar promise that he said on his first day in office; he would bring in military leaders and direct them to end the war in Iraq. And that one is a promise kept. So, he's really made considerable progress. It's a little unclear whether he'll quite hit his deadlines, but he'll be close on our Obameter.

INSKEEP: Let's take one that's turned out to be a little more challenging, Number 177. He promised to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center. How's he doing?

Mr. ADAIR: He's not going to meet his deadline. After he was elected, he set a deadline that he would have it closed by, actually, this week - by January 21st. That's been a difficult one - political opposition in Congress, difficulty finding places for the detainees. Still, there's been some progress and so we've got that one rated, in the works.

INSKEEP: Here is another promise on that list. He called for tougher rules against revolving door for lobbyists and former officials.

Mr. ADAIR: We rated that one a promise broken. The same...

INSKEEP: This is a problem of people going in and out of government, and you can't really tell what side they're on after a while.

Mr. ADAIR: And this gets to a key theme during his campaign, which was that lobbyists were not going to run the Obama administration. But what happened, I think, he saw that - like many have - that in Washington, the lobbyists are the people who know how the place works. And so he appointed lobbyists to some key positions and basically created loopholes in the policy for them. So, that's been a difficult area for the Obama administration, that sort of transparency, open government.

He made a similar promise that he would televise the health-care negotiations on C-SPAN as a way of distinguishing himself from Hillary Clinton, who of course, had not done that when she headed the health-care task force in 1993. But then he got in office and discovered you can't cut deals on C-SPAN, and so we have that one also rated a promise broken.

INSKEEP: How overall would you rate his promises on health care so far?

Mr. ADAIR: Right now, we have them rated, in the works. But if the bill stays on track and passes, I think many of them will very quickly go to a promise kept. Others, we'll have to wait and see how things go once the law is enacted and the programs are established.

INSKEEP: So, out of those more than 500 promises, how many has the president managed to keep in the first year in office?

Mr. ADAIR: Well, if you look at the total count, he's actually done well - 91 promises kept and 33 that we've rated as a compromise. On 87 promises we have rated, stalled; and 14 we've rated, promise broken. For instance, some of the promises for the gay and lesbian community - repealing the don't ask don't tell policy, supporting the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act - those are stalled in our Obameter because the administration seems to have made a calculation not to pursue those in the first year.

INSKEEP: Bill Adair of the St. Petersburg Times and PolitiFact, thanks very much.

Mr. ADAIR: Thanks, Steve.

INSKEEP: By the way, the president delivers his State of the Union speech next week, January 27th. And as that event nears, you'll hear coverage on this public radio station and at NPR.org.

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