During a debate with the candidates for Florida governor on Oct. 25, 2010, Republican Rick Scott and Democrat Alex Sink argued over newspaper endorsements.
Sink said that she received the endorsements of 16 Florida newspapers: "Every single newspaper that has endorsed has endorsed my candidacy, because they know that I have the character and the integrity, and they also know that I have the business plan, that I'm a fiscal conservative to carry our state forward in a matter that all Floridians can be proud of."
Later in the debate, Scott jeered back: "You talked about your endorsements by the newspapers. Absolutely, most of them endorsed Barack Obama. You're an Obama liberal. That's exactly why they're endorsing you."
Without buying into Scott's claim that Alex Sink = Obama liberal, we still wanted to fact-check whether most of the newspapers that endorsed Sink endorsed Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign. Florida is usually considered a swing state, so we wondered if the endorsements lined up as Scott claimed.
We looked up endorsements from 16 newspapers Sink mentioned. We also looked up two others: The Daytona Beach News-Journal no longer endorses candidates for office, saying that the paper instead preferred "to emphasize the independence of our news operation and its credibility in covering elections." The Lakeland Ledger endorsed Sink two days after the Oct. 25 debate, so we're not including it in our analysis. However, it also endorsed Obama in 2008.
Our next task was to determine which of the 16 newspapers that endorsed Sink at the time of the debate also endorsed Obama. We determined that nine of 16 newspapers endorsed both Sink and Obama, including the St. Petersburg Times, the Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel and the Palm Beach Post.
We found that three newspapers endorsed Sink this year and Republican John McCain for president in 2008: The Tampa Tribune, the Bradenton Herald, and the Spanish-language Miami-based Diario Las Americas.
The remaining four newspapers endorsed Sink, but declined to endorse a candidate for president in 2008. Those papers were the Citrus County Chronicle, the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, the Fort Myers News-Press and the Tallahassee Democrat. (The Tallahassee Democrat has a policy of endorsing only local candidates.)
One newspaper specifically mentioned Scott's charge that Sink is an "Obama liberal." The South Florida Sun Sentinel wrote, "Scott likes to tar Sink as an Obama liberal. The truth is Sink's economic platform is pro-business, and she hasn't been campaigning with the president. She doesn't have to. She's smart and accomplished enough to run on her own record."
Here, we're steering clear of Scott's charge, but fact-checking his claim that "most" of the newspapers that endorsed Sink also endorsed Obama. We found that nine of 16 endorsed Obama. That's 56 percent. That's a bit shy of "most" -- it's a bare majority. Still, we find that enough newspapers endorsed both Sink and Obama that we rate his claim Mostly True.