A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Fact-Mauling in Mesa

The four remaining GOP presidential candidates met in Mesa, Ariz., for another debate, and mauled a few facts. Rick Santorum claimed earmarks were done in an “open” process during his time in Congress. Mitt Romney said dispensing morning-after pills to rape victims was “entirely voluntary” for Catholic hospitals in Massachusetts. Newt Gingrich kept on claiming he balanced federal budgets that Congress approved after he resigned.
The debate was carried live by CNN on Feb. 22, and this time the candidates were seated.

Slaloming Through Olympic Facts

With Rick Santorum attacking Mitt Romney for “hypocrisy” regarding his requests for Olympic earmarks, competing claims about taxpayer support for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics are flying from all sides. But when it comes to presenting the facts, none of them stick the landing.

A Romney spokeswoman downplayed Romney’s efforts as “seeking money for post-9/11 security at the Olympics.” But there was a lot more to it than that. The Salt Lake City Organizing Committee under Romney requested —

Santorum’s Bogus Euthanasia Claims

Rick Santorum grossly mischaracterized euthanasia practices in the Netherlands during an appearance at a faith conference. He overstated the rate of euthanasia and falsely claimed that the elderly are being killed against their will and wear “do not euthanize me” bracelets:

Santorum claimed legal euthanasia is responsible for “10 percent of all deaths for the Netherlands.” Government statistics show euthanasia is climbing, but represented only 2.3 percent in 2010, according to the most recent data.
Santorum added that half of the people euthanized were killed “involuntarily.” A representative of the Royal Dutch Medical Association said “there are no forced cases of euthanasia.”

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Feb. 14-20

This week, readers sent us comments about Spin Detectors, Rick Santorum’s fiscal conservatism, the economics of green energy investments, and “inflammatory” arguments in FactCheck.org articles.
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.

GOP’s ‘Job-Killing’ Whopper, Again

The exaggerated Republican claim that the new health care law “kills jobs” was high on our list of the “Whoppers of 2011.” But the facts haven’t stopped Republicans and their allies from making the “job-killing” claim a major theme of their campaign 2012 TV ads: Five ads by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce …

Santorum Exaggerates Dropout Rate

Rick Santorum incorrectly claimed that “one of three children drop out of school” in the United States. The 2009 dropout rate was 8.1 percent — slightly higher than it was in 2008, but down significantly from the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and even early 2000s, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
It’s true that a higher percentage of students in the U.S. fail to graduate on time — about 23 percent in the 2009-10 school year.

Romney’s ‘Fiscal Conservative’ Whopper

Mitt Romney says, “If you want a fiscal conservative, you can’t vote for Rick Santorum, because he’s not.” Really? Three fiscally conservative groups rate Santorum’s lifetime voting record as better than most other Republican lawmakers, and one of them considers him a “Taxpayer Hero.”
Romney is on paper-thin ice with his new line of attack against his surging rival.

Santorum is a “hero” to the anti-pork Citizens Against Government Waste — which gives him a lifetime voting record better than three-fourths of the senators with whom he served in his final year in Congress.

Did Obama ‘Approve’ Bridge Work for Chinese Firms?

Q: Is President Obama responsible for Chinese companies building U.S. bridges with stimulus money, as reported by ABC News?
A: No. A viral email distorts an ABC News report. California officials hired a Chinese contractor and rejected federal money to avoid federal “Buy American” laws.

Establishing Facts

New radio ads boosting Newt Gingrich urge conservatives to reject the GOP “establishment” that nominated Bob Dole and John McCain. But in 1996, Gingrich announced that he had voted for Dole over Steve Forbes and Pat Buchanan in Georgia’s Republican primary. And in 2008, he made statements supportive of McCain’s candidacy while Mike Huckabee was still vying for the Republican nomination.
The five ads from pro-Gingrich super PAC Winning Our Future (which you can listen to here) are running in three states —