Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

More fact-checking from the Crist-Rubio debate

Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio square off on FOX News Sunday in a U.S. Senate primary debate.
Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio square off on FOX News Sunday in a U.S. Senate primary debate.

We continue to fact-check items from the debate between Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and former House Speaker Marco Rubio, who are competing for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate representing Florida.

The contest has become something of a political brawl within the Republican Party. Crist argues that he's a pragmatic leader who follows conservative principles but puts public good before ideology. Rubio, on the other hand, makes the case that firm, principled opposition to the Obama agenda is what the current moment requires.

We've already published a detailed report on Crist's and Rubio's various claims about cutting taxes. We found they both distorted their records in their efforts to look like the biggest tax cutter.

Here, we're looking at some of their other statements from the debate.

• Crist charged that Marco Rubio controlled funds that "out of the $600,000 that were raised, only $4,000 went to candidates to try to improve their chances to be elected to office." We rated that Half True. Rubio did raise about $600,000, but at least half of those funds were restricted so that direct contributions to candidates were forbidden. Read our full report for the details on the campaign finance issues.

• Crist touted a Florida program as a good conservative answer to the problem of the uninsured. "The average cost for health insurance in Florida went from about $600 a month for an individual to about $150 a month," Crist said. But we found little evidence to support those numbers -- so little evidence, that we rated his statement False.

• Rubio attacked Crist for supporting the economic stimulus, an important proposal of President Barack Obama. "Since that famous day in February where the governor campaigned with Barack Obama on behalf of the stimulus program, 211,000 Floridians have lost their jobs," Rubio said. We checked the numbers on the unemployed, and found Rubio was correct. We rated his statement True.

• Rubio said Social Security needed to be reformed, including increasing the retirement age for younger workers. "Just this week we received the news that for the first time Social Security is now paying out more in benefits than it's taking in," Rubio said. "That was something that was supposed to happen in 2016." We found Rubio was right again, so we rated his statement True.

• Rubio said that Crist "worked with Acorn" to give felons voting rights. We looked into the charge about the community organizing group, and found that while they worked with Crist on foreclosures, they never worked with him on felon voting rights. We rated the statement False.

• In discussing Republican icon Ronald Reagan's legacy, Crist reminded Rubio that  Reagan was once a Democrat. We turned to the history books and were surprised to find a few funny anecdotes to illustrate the point. We rated Crist's statement True.