Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Fact-checking Florida's gubernatorial debate

Democrat Alex Sink and Republican Rick Scott square off Oct. 8, 2010, on Univision.
Democrat Alex Sink and Republican Rick Scott square off Oct. 8, 2010, on Univision.

Friday night, the end of a long, hard work week, and what better way to kick back than a rollicking Florida gubernatorial debate between Republican candidate Rick Scott and Democrat Alex Sink?

If you didn't stay up to watch it at 11 p.m. on Oct. 8, 2010, on the Spanish-language network Univision, you can read the transcript here. Lucky for you, PolitiFact Florida has already examined a number of claims made by the candidates and we've got a wrapup.

Let's start with a game of "Guess The Speaker." Ready? Who said this?

I have a seven-step plan for 700,000 jobs.

• We have got to get the state back to work and I have a detailed plan, seven steps to 700,000 jobs.

• You know, people win elections based on having the right ideas, the right plans, like my seven-step plan for 700,000 jobs.

• I've got a seven-step plan, 700,000 jobs.

• It's seven steps to 700,000 jobs.

• Seven steps to 700,000 jobs, you know, when you have a job that you (can) afford health insurance hopefully.

• I have a detailed plan, seven steps to 700,000 jobs
.

That was Scott, of course. And did you count how many times he said it? Yep, seven times. Just coincidence? You be the judge.

Only one problem: When we count the jobs created by his plan, it's 660,000 jobs. Words matter to us – numbers, too – and we gave him a Mostly True, figuring it was close enough.

Let's do Round 2 of "Guess the Speaker."

Well, the reason that you were able to walk out of the company with $300 million and live the American dream is because you were cheating…

• My opponent has a questionable business background.


Right, that's Sink, going after Scott's record at Columbia/HCA. Scott started what was Columbia in 1987 and resigned as CEO in 1997. That was right about the time Columbia/HCA agreed to plead guilty to at least 14 corporate felonies, including three counts of conspiracy to defraud the United States. We've got a Truth-O-Meter item rated True here that covers the issue. For more, here's another True that addresses Scott's resignation from the firm.

We've got background on some other topics, too:

• Of course, immigration came up with this debate pitched to a Hispanic audience. We gave Scott a Half True for his comment about immigrant workers on this one, and another Half True for his interpretation of the Arizona immigration law, which he has promised to bring to Florida.

• Scott said of Sink, "She's not supported by law enforcement." The Police Benevolent Association did cut an ad for Sink criticizing Scott's prison plan, but we rated it Barely True.

• Scott also took the chance to go after Sink's claim to be the state's fiscal watchdog in her role as chief financial officer. He and the Republican Party of Florida have produced a number of ads critical of her role on the State Board of Administration that oversees the Florida pension system. We rated those Barely True,  Barely True and Half True.

• Sink, meanwhile, touted her opposition to Senate Bill 6, saying she stood up for local control of schools. We rated that one Mostly True when her ad came out.

• In addition to SB 6, we've had other Truth-O-Meters on education. We gave a True to Sink's description of Florida's below-average graduation rate, and a Mostly True to her point on how much we spend on children who repeat Pre-K through grade 3.

There's more to come. The candidates will debate at least two more times before the Nov. 2 election.