Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Fact-checking Florida at CPAC

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio spoke at CPAC on March 14, 2013. (Getty Images)
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio spoke at CPAC on March 14, 2013. (Getty Images)

Its full title is the Conservative Political Action Conference, but politics junkies just call it CPAC. The annual gathering attracts elected officials, activists and the rank-and-file from around the country for panel discussions, general schmoozing and fiery speeches.

Florida was well-represented at this year's conference. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio spoke on Thursday and came in second place in the group's straw poll for president, closely following the winner, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush spoke Friday night, urging his fellow Republicans to be more welcoming and aim for broad appeal.

On Saturday, Will Weatherford, the speaker of the Florida House, was featured on a panel of younger conservatives.

Former Florida congressmen Allen West of Palm Beach and Connie Mack of Cape Coral also spoke on Thursday. West lost his seat to Democrat Patrick Murphy in November but remains popular with the grassroots right for his hard-charging rhetoric. Mack challenged U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and lost.

Here are the fact-checks we've finished so far; we'll update the story as needed. For more CPAC coverage, read PolitiFact's national overview.


Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio, widely considered one of the Republican Party’s rising stars and a potential presidential candidate, addressed the crowd on Thursday, touching on the need for better preparing students for the workforce and fending off a Chinese government that wants to be the world's foremost superpower. We fact-checked two of the claims in his speech.

The first: "There are 3 million jobs available in America that are not filled because too many of our people don’t have the skills for those jobs."

Rubio is basically right about the number of available jobs in the country, but there's no data to prove his contention that the 3 million jobs in question are all open because of a mismatch in job skills. In fact, we found a heap of evidence to contradict it. We rated this claim Half True.

The second: "The Chinese government provides their people no access to the Internet."

Rubio overstated the Internet problem in China. Chinese Internet users outnumber the rest of the world by a long shot, so there is clearly access. However, the government blocks access to popular Western websites and often prevents users from reading information it does not want getting out. We rated his claim Mostly False on balance.