Friday, December 19th, 2014

Fact-checking pre-Super Tuesday campaign appearances

Mitt Romney served up pancakes and talking points at a campaign stop at Brookwood High School in Snellville Sunday March 4
Mitt Romney served up pancakes and talking points at a campaign stop at Brookwood High School in Snellville Sunday March 4

GOP presidential candidates stormed Georgia and the airwaves Sunday, buffeting voters with one more powerful gust of rhetoric during the final weekend before Super Tuesday

Although the appearances were new, the talking points were largely the same. We’ve checked a few of them before.

Here’s a look at statements from the three leading candidates: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum.  

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Mitt Romney: Romney served up pancakes and attacks on President Barack Obama at Brookwood High School in Snellville Sunday. Before a crowd of more than 1,500 people, he blasted the president on energy policy, saying that "he’s cut back in half the leases being offered on federal lands. He’s cut back to one third the number of permits being issued to drillers for oil and gas."

We haven’t checked this exact claim, but we did rate an accusation by former presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann that the Obama administration has only issued one new drilling permit. That claim rated a Pants on Fire.  

We’ve also looked at Obama’s record on a promise about making sure oil and gas companies drill on the leases they already have.

Romney also argued that the U.S.’s military power is waining, saying "we have fewer ships today in our navy than any time since 1917. We have fewer and older aircraft in our fleet than any time since 1947."

We checked a similar claim in January. The U.S. does have the smallest number of ships since 1916, but using the number of ships and airplanes to calculate military strength is an outdated practice that one expert said "doesn't pass 'the giggle test.' "

Newt Gingrich: Gingrich spent his time Sunday on the political talk show circuit. On "Meet the Press," he said Obama "voted for infanticide as a state senator."

Santorum made a similar claim before. We rated it Pants on Fire. Obama opposed "born alive" legislation in Illinois and gave several reasons for his position. But at no time did he make the argument that infants who survived botched abortions should be killed.

Rick Santorum: Santorum appeared on "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace," where anchor Chris Wallace confronted him with a statistic similar to one that PolitiFact National had checked before: "99 percent of the women in this country, between the ages of 15 and 44 who had sexual activity -- and this includes Catholic women, they say that 99 percent of them at some point in their lives have used artificial birth control," Wallace said.

We looked into the claim that "Most women, including 98 percent of Catholic women, have used contraception." It earned a Mostly True.