Super Tuesday guide: Finding truth in the attacks
As 10 states prepare to vote on Super Tuesday, here’s PolitiFact’s guide to the multimillion-dollar ad blitz.
With the field down to four Republican contenders, campaigns and super PACs are attacking their opponents with hot-button allegations about supporting Planned Parenthood, Obamacare and even Nancy Pelosi that are designed to strike fear in the hearts of Republican voters.
There's been some piling on. We've seen several examples where two (or more) candidates have made the same attack.
The one candidate who hasn't been attacked much: Ron Paul. He's has been busy attacking others — but we didn’t find ads attacking him. (If you see one, send it our way!)
Here are the facts.
Freddie Mac: Gingrich was never a registered lobbyist for Freddie Mac, but his consulting group was hired in 2006 by the government-sponsored enterprise to provide "strategic advice." Gingrich Group’s main point of contact? A Freddie Mac lobbyist.
Nancy Pelosi: Gingrich did film an ad in 2008 with Nancy Pelosi and Al Gore for Gore’s nonprofit calling for action on global warming. But a claim that he teamed up with Pelosi to support China’s one-child policy earned a Pants on Fire. Actually, the bill he co-sponsored expressly prohibited spending for involuntary sterilization, abortion or coercing any person to accept family planning.
Individual health care mandate: Gingrich repeatedly supported a requirement that people get health insurance, "exactly like automobile insurance." But now that it’s the law under President Barack Obama, he’s opposed.
Ethics: In 1997, a House ethics committee reprimanded Gingrich and assessed him a sum of $300,000 after an investigation of a course he taught at Kennesaw State College. The committee found it was a "coordinated effort" to "help in achieving a partisan, political goal," which ran afoul of its tax-exempt status.
Bain Capital and Medicare overbilling? Romney, head of the investment firm Bain Capital when it purchased medical testing company Damon Corp. in 1989, joined the board when it went public in 1991. Damon overbilled Medicare from 1988 to 1993, according to prosecutors, but it’s not clear what Romney knew.
NRA: In 1994, Romney supported a Massachusetts bill banning 19 types of assault weapons, saying, "I don’t line up with the NRA." He’s now an NRA member and emphasizes support for gun rights.
Abortion: The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in 1981 that publicly subsidized health plans had to include the cost of abortions. So when Romney, who became governor in 2003, signed into law government-required health care, it included abortion coverage whether he wanted it to or not. (An effort to overrule the court with a constitutional amendment failed.)
Romneycare and Obamacare: A former Romney adviser, Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Jonathan Gruber, provided advice to the White House and said the national Affordable Care Act was based on what Romney accomplished in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts budget: Romney didn't leave the state in debt. As he left office, there was a projected budget shortfall. The incoming governor submitted a balanced budget within a few months.
Cap and trade: Romney declined to sign a cap and trade policy into law in Massachusetts, and he’s repeatedly said in recent years that he’s opposed to it. He did propose an air pollution plan for the state’s power plants that set emissions caps but allowed companies pay their way out by buying offsets from environmental programs.
Saved girl: Romney supporters have boasted about his effort to find a missing girl. In 1996, Romney sent his 50 Bain Capital employees to New York to search for a co-worker’s missing 14-year-old daughter. They convinced more than 200 other people to help search the streets for two days. TV attention prompted a 911 caller to report the girl in suburban New Jersey.
Planned Parenthood: Santorum, who opposes abortion, voted for omnibus multi-billion-dollar appropriations bills that included Title X funding, which funnels family planning dollars to health care providers including Planned Parenthood. He didn’t vote separately for the funding.
Right-to-work: Santorum has changed position on a national right-to-work law, but recently has said several times that he would support (and if he became president, sign) such a law.
Bridge to Nowhere: The Alaskan bridge project became an object of national ridicule and a symbol of federal pork-barrel spending. Santorum voted for a giant spending bill that included money for the Bridge to Nowhere — funding for the bridge project was less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the spending in the transportation bill — and then later voted to maintain federal funding for the project.
Arlen Specter: Santorum endorsed his Pennsylvania colleague in 1995 and 2004 over more conservative primary challengers. In the first case, he was repaying Specter’s support for his own Senate candidacy. In the second, he was helping Republicans keep their Senate majority by supporting the candidate the party felt would be more competitive in a general election.