A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Factual Flubs in Florida

The four remaining candidates debated once again, this time in Tampa, Florida — where facts took a beating.
Mitt Romney falsely claimed the Navy is smaller now than at any time since the start of World War I. (It had fewer ships as recently as four years ago.) And Newt Gingrich again claimed credit for balancing federal budgets that were voted on after he left the House.
The event was sponsored in part by NBC News,

Did Gingrich ‘Slash’ Federal Spending?

Winning Our Future’s new TV ad falsely claims Newt Gingrich “slashed” spending in his four years as House speaker. Federal spending went up 18 percent from 1995 to 2000, the time frame mentioned in the ad.
In addition, the ad credits Gingrich for “record-breaking surpluses.” There were surpluses for four straight years — from fiscal years 1998 through 2001 — but Gingrich already had left Congress in January 1999. The largest of those surpluses came in fiscal year 2000,

Misleading Claims in Obama’s First 2012 Spot

President Obama’s first 2012 campaign ad misleads on ethics, “clean-energy” jobs and U.S. dependence on oil imports. The spot uses outdated quotes from groups that said his record on ethics is “unprecedented” and that he “kept a promise to toughen ethics rules.” One of those same …

South Carolina Smackdown

Facts were sometimes used as blunt instruments as the four remaining GOP presidential candidates hammered away at each other in the last debate before Saturday’s South Carolina primary. Santorum and Romney tangled …

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Jan. 10-16

This week, readers sent us comments about a previous letter in the FactCheck Mailbag and a comical ad from Jon Stewart’s “super PAC.”
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.

Gingrich’s Plan: Nearly Zero Tax for Romney

Newt Gingrich joked that he ought to rename his proposed 15 percent flat tax the “Mitt Romney Flat Tax,” so “all Americans would pay the rate Mitt Romney paid.” Actually, not all Americans. Under Gingrich’s tax plan, Romney would likely pay closer to zero percent.
Although he has not released his tax records, Romney this week revealed an approximation of his effective tax rate:
Romney, Jan. 17: What’s the effective rate I’ve been paying? It’s probably closer to the 15 percent rate than anything.

Newt’s Faulty Food-Stamp Claim

Newt Gingrich claims that “more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history.” He’s wrong. More were added under Bush than under Obama, according to the most recent figures.
The former speaker made that claim Jan. 16 in a Republican debate in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and his campaign organization quickly inserted the snippet in a new 30-second TV ad that began running Jan. 18 in South Carolina.
Gingrich would have been correct to say the number now on food aid is historically high.

Turks Object to Perry’s Baseless ‘Terrorist’ Claim

Rick Perry created an international controversy when he claimed, with no basis in fact, that Turkey “is being ruled by what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists.” That may be his opinion, but the fact is that the Republic of Turkey is a U.S. ally and a secular democracy ruled by elected leaders. It is not on the State Department’s list of “state-sponsors of terrorism,” and its leaders have not been implicated in any acts of terrorism.

Santorum Wrong on Marriage

Rick Santorum claimed that the Obama administration told an abstinence education group that it could “no longer promote marriage” to at-risk youth “as a way of avoiding poverty.” That’s not true, according to the group Santorum mentioned.
At the Republican presidential debate on Jan. 16, Santorum said that Best Friends — an organization that promotes “character education” for girls in schools and promotes abstinence from premarital sex, as well as drugs and alcohol — had been told by the Obama administration that the group could no longer “promote marriage”

And Then There Were Five …

In a spirited debate, Republican candidates variously strained the facts on President Obama’s record on trade, tangled with each other over a misleading ad about allowing felons to vote, and erred on the history of the federal income tax.
Otherwise, the five remaining GOP presidential candidates pretty much stuck to the facts as they debated Jan. 16 at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The event was sponsored by Fox News and the Wall Street Journal.