Saturday, November 1st, 2014

PolitiFact's guide to the brags and boasts of the presidential primary

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks at the Christ Central Community Center in Winnsboro, S.C., on Jan., 18, 2012.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks at the Christ Central Community Center in Winnsboro, S.C., on Jan., 18, 2012.

With the South Carolina Republican primary just two days away, plenty of attention has been paid to the attacks the candidates are making against each other. We’ve logged many fact checks on the inter-campaign aggression. But the candidates also have lots to say about themselves and their own records. Here we present a sampling of the campaign’s best boasts.

By Newt Gingrich

Says he was always an opponent of cap and trade. Cap and trade legislation, a market-based approach to fighting pollution, is anathema among conservatives these days. Gingrich says he "never favored" it. Except, well, he did. False.

Says he balanced the budget. During his time as speaker of the House, Gingrich said, he "balanced the budget for four straight years, paid off $405 billion in debt." Truth-O-Meter says: wrong on both counts. False.

Says Freddie Mac hired him for to give 'strategic advice,' not to lobby. "I never lobbied under any circumstance" for the government housing lender, Gingrich claimed. We found that he wasn’t registered as a lobbyist, but he did provide advice and consulting. Half True.


By Mitt Romney

Says Massachusetts health care law is popular with residents. His Republican rivals love to heckle him over the state health care program he signed into law. Romney’s defense: "the people in Massachusetts like it by about a 3-1 margin." Multiple surveys back him up. True.

Says he helped save the Olympics. A campaign video asserts that Romney’s work with the Olympics is a prime example of his effectiveness as a leader. We found that his 1999 stint in Salt Lake in the wake of a scandal helped restore the image of the games and shore up sponsors’ confidence. Mostly True.

Says Massachusetts has drastically reduced number of uninsured kids. Romney claimed in an October debate that in his state, Massachusetts, less than one percent of children lack health insurance. In Texas, by contrast, he said one million kids are uninsured. We checked, and his numbers were largely accurate. Mostly True.

By Ron Paul

Says he has the most support from military members. Paul favors a complete troop pullout from Iraq and Afghanistan, and he cited strong campaign contributions from military members as evidence they agree. We’re not sure about that reasoning, but Paul was right when claimed that military members have sent him more campaign contributions than they’ve sent Obama and more than twice what they’ve sent other Republican candidates. True.

Says he never voted to restrict gun ownership. This one’s going back a ways, but Iowa voters interested in Second Amendment issues may want to take note. A statement on Paul’s campaign website in 2007 said he "has never voted for a federal restriction on gun ownership." Our ruling: True.

By Rick Perry

Says he’s responsible for 1 million new jobs in Texas. Perry has said in debates and TV ads that Texas created a million new jobs while the rest of the country lost 2 million. We found he’s taking more credit than he’s due. Half True.

Says he beefed up border security. At a campaign stop in October, Perry claimed he has sent "over $400 million to the border of Mexico in the form of Texas Ranger recon teams." But we discovered that’s a bloated figure. Mostly False.

Says he cut billions from state budget. In TV ads, Perry boasts that he slashed an eye-popping $15 billion from the Texas state budget. But we discovered that much of the ballyhooed reduction reflects the loss of one-time federal stimulus aid -- a Half True for the governor.

By Rick Santorum

Says he has fought for a balanced budget. He says he called for the resignation of a Republican who cast the deciding vote against a Balanced Budget Amendment in Congress. True.

Says he ‘reformed welfare.’ In a campaign video touting his conservative record, the words "reformed welfare" pop up. Santorum took an active role as a member of Congress in getting welfare reform passed in 1996. But he didn’t act alone. Half True.

Says welfare reform reduced black child poverty . Santorum trumped the successes of welfare reform in a New Hampshire town hall meeting, saying it brought poverty among African-American kids down to historic levels. We found that the booming economy had a lot to do with it too. Half True.