Rick Santorum on the Truth-O-Meter

Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., speaks at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Oklahoma City May 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., speaks at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Oklahoma City May 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., is joining the ever-growing field of 2016 Republican presidential contenders. Here’s a look back at his Truth-O-Meter record.

Santorum, who ran for the Republican nomination in 2012, set an announcement date of May 27, 2015. He served as a senator from 1995 to 2007 and as a member of the House of Representatives before that. He is an attorney.

We have fact-checked Santorum 55 times over roughly four years. His record includes six Trues, seven Mostly Trues, 13 Half Trues, 11 Mostly Falses, 13 Falses and five Pants on Fires.

Here are some highlights:

Earlier this year, Santorum said Republicans need to do a better job reaching out to the working class, noting that 70 percent of Americans "don't have a college degree." We found several measures that are close to the number Santorum cited, so we rated that claim True.

Our earliest Santorum fact-check was about an issue he has been passionate about: abortion. On the campaign trail in 2011, he criticized President Barack Obama’s position on the issue, saying, "Any child born prematurely, according to the president, in his own words, can be killed." Obama supports abortion rights and had opposed "born-alive" legislation in Illinois for several reasons. But at no time did he make the argument that infants who survived botched abortions should be killed, nor did he say that any child born prematurely can be killed. For putting words in Obama’s mouth, we rated Santorum’s claim Pants on Fire.

Santorum made another abortion-related claim in 2011, saying, "A third of all the young people in America are not in America today because of abortion, because one in three pregnancies end in abortion." We found Santorum overstated the frequency of abortions -- it was actually less than one in four. And the effect on population would be even lower if women who had abortions had children later in life. We rated that statement False.

Santorum is also a critic of welfare benefits, noting in 2012 that "a little less than 50 percent of the people in this country depend on some form of federal payment, some form of government benefit." He got the number right -- it was 48.5 percent in 2010, though  the usefulness of these numbers is weakened because they count everyone in a household as benefiting from a particular federal payment even if that payment is made in the name of only one person. Allowing for that, we rated the claim Mostly True.

He also said that this culture of dependency is a departure from earlier times. "When my grandfather came to this country back in 1925, there were no government benefits," he said. But millions of Americans in 1925 would have either qualified for benefits directly, such as payments to veterans, or have been protected by workers' compensation laws that provided benefits to those who became disabled by their jobs. We rated that claim False.

In criticizing the Obama administration’s immigration policy, Santorum said the 2014 influx of Central American children crossing the border stemmed from Obama saying, "If you come, you’re going to be able to stay because we’re not going to enforce the law." We found an open letter from the Homeland Security secretary that acknowledged the fact that Central Americans could draw hope from Obama’s policies. However, Obama's deferred action policy applies only to people who had lived in the United States continuously since June 15, 2007, and the administration has sent millions of people back to their home countries. We rated the claim Mostly False.

Finally, Santorum said Obama’s energy policies have forced "many parts of the country to experience rolling blackouts." However, when he made the statement in 2012, there were no widespread rolling (that is, intentionally coordinated) electricity blackouts. In fact, there were just as many blackouts caused by squirrels in 2011 as there were planned blackouts. We rated that claim Pants on Fire.