Monday, October 20th, 2014

Rick Santorum’s inaccurate streak on the Truth-O-Meter

Rick Santorum speaks in Wisconsin, where he lost to Mitt Romney
Rick Santorum speaks in Wisconsin, where he lost to Mitt Romney

The day after the April 3, 2012, primaries in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia, many political commentators were calling Rick Santorum’s bid for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination finished, though Santorum vowed to press on.

Since the beginning of the year the former Pennsylvania senator has faced a steep challenge in his effort to overcome frontrunner Mitt Romney. At the same time, we've noticed another trend -- more and more of his statements checked by PolitiFact have ended up in inaccurate territory.

The most recent was Santorum’s claim in a Wisconsin stump speech that "I think it's seven or eight of the California system of universities don't even teach an American history course. It's not even available to be taught." Far from "not available," American history courses are offered at all but one of 33 state universities in California -- a medical school. We rated the claim False. (Stephen Colbert had fun with this one.)

We've been checking Santorum's statements since he hit the campaign trail in Iowa over a year ago -- 44 in all. See his report card here.

The first statement that we checked was a statement quoted in a Washington Post column that "any child born prematurely, according to the president, in his own words, can be killed." That earned Santorum a Pants on Fire.

Out of 23 Santorum statements earning our lowest ratings -- Mostly False, False and Pants on Fire -- 17 have occurred since the beginning of the year, nearly three-quarters.

In contrast, of 10 statements earning our highest ratings -- True and Mostly True -- only half have occurred since the beginning of the year.

Last month, Colbert took aim at Santorum’s "truthiness" by launching a Twitter hashtag campaign, #InMyHeart, a defense his campaign gave for one of his inaccurate statements.

Even so, Santorum is nowhere near the territory Michele Bachmann claimed as a candidate for president. Before she dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination, the representative from Minnesota had this record: Of the 53 statements PolitiFact checked, 38 were rated Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire.