A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

The Gingrich Counterattack in Florida

Now comes the counterattack.
After weeks of taking it on the chin in Florida without throwing a punch, the Gingrich side has  finally begun to fight back with TV attack ads of its own.
Among the new ads is one from a pro-Gingrich super PAC that takes the personal attacks to a new level, suggesting Romney was associated personally with “illegal activity” in a massive Medicare fraud in the 1990s. The fact is Romney was never accused of wrongdoing in that case.

More Florida Fouls

Newt Gingrich falsely claimed he never favored a federal mandate requiring individuals to have health insurance.
Romney repeated a false accusation that President Obama failed to denounce Hamas rocket attacks in a speech to the United Nations. And Santorum insisted that Muslim terrorists are seeking missile bases in Cuba — a wild claim based most likely on mistranslations of an Italian newspaper report.
These were among the factual fouls that we noted as four GOP presidential candidates met for yet another debate.

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Jan 17-23

This week, readers sent us comments about emergency contraception pills, and causation and correlation.
In the FactCheck Mailbag, we feature some of the email we receive. Readers can send comments to editor@factcheck.org. Letters may be edited for length.

Florida Ad War: Mitt Pounds Newt

The air wars in a pivotal Florida Republican primary race have so far been a decidedly one-sided affair, with Mitt Romney and a pro-Romney super PAC saturating the airwaves for weeks with a slew of attack ads aimed chiefly at Newt Gingrich. …

Gingrich Spanish Radio Ad Pulled

Before we got a chance to write about it, Newt Gingrich yanked a Spanish-language radio ad off the airwaves in Florida. The reason: No, it wasn’t a stellar fact-checking by journalists. Rather, it was Republican Sen. Marco Rubio’s complaint that the ad’s criticism of Mitt Romney was “inaccurate, inflammatory, and doesn’t belong in this campaign.”
Gingrich’s ad had called Romney “the most anti-immigrant candidate,” a claim to which Rubio strenuously objected. He told the Miami Herald: “The truth is that neither of these two men is anti-immigrant.

Liberal Union Joins Attack on Romney in Florida

Newt Gingrich is getting help from a surprising ally: the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. The liberal-leaning labor group is running a TV ad in Florida slamming Mitt Romney for profiting personally from a company later convicted of Medicare fraud while he was a director. The ad began airing just before a new poll showed Gingrich in a dead heat with Romney to win the Jan. 31 Republican primary.
The ad, called “Greed,”

Refereeing the Republican Response

We concentrated our fact-checking efforts on the main attraction last night — the president’s State of the Union address — but we also found factual fouls in the Republican response from Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.
Daniels took a swipe at President Obama for dictating which light bulbs Americans should use — but it was President George W. Bush who signed the legislation in question into law. And he used a misleading statistic in talking about the country’s unemployment situation.

The State of Obama’s Facts

Summary
The president’s State of the Union address got the facts right — mostly.

Obama said “the Taliban’s momentum has been broken” in Afghanistan. But targeted assassinations continue, and at least one independent foreign policy expert says the enemy may just be waiting until the U.S. leaves.
The president said a get-tough tariff on tire imports from China has saved more than 1,000 U.S. jobs. But tire industry officials say Chinese imports have simply been replaced by imports from other countries.

Disgrace, Influence Peddling and Other Debate Charges

Newt Gingrich complained that in one early burst at the first Florida debate, Mitt Romney said “at least four things that are false” about him. Now Gingrich has specified which claims he was talking about, and we’ve checked the evidence he promised he would — and did — post on his website.
We conclude that two were not false; one was (mostly); and one is a matter of interpretation. In all cases, the claims are in need of further explanation and context.