Thursday, October 23rd, 2014
Half-True
Santorum
Says Mitt Romney said "we are going to have to live with high gas prices, it's a good thing because it will reduce consumption, we don't want to produce any more gasoline."

Rick Santorum on Sunday, March 25th, 2012 in a campaign appearance in Wisconsin

Santorum accuses Romney of favoring high gas prices in Massachusetts

Rick Santorum spoke to supporters in Racine.

How is Mitt Romney similar to Barack Obama? He likes high gas prices, according to rival Rick Santorum.

Campaigning in Wisconsin ahead of the state primary, Santorum spoke to a crowd in Racine on March 25, 2012. In this video clip, he skewers Romney’s past statements on gasoline prices and what to do about them.

"Who said, when he was governor of Massachusetts, we are going to have to live with high gas prices, it's a good thing because it will reduce consumption, we don't want to produce any more gasoline? That would be Mitt Romney," Santorum said.

We decided to check whether that’s a fair paraphrase of Romney’s words.

Romney’s words then

Santorum’s campaign spokesman, Hogan Gidley, pointed us to a post on the conservative blog Poor Richard’s News from March 22, 2012. The blog post, as well as others in the Washington Post and the New Republic, unearthed a story from 2006 when Romney was governor of Massachusetts.

Gas prices had risen that spring, and Romney and Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey were asked at a press conference about possible remedies. The two disagreed over suspending the state’s 23 ½ cent per gallon gas tax -- Healey favored it, while Romney said a tax break would only encourage more consumption.

"I don’t think that now is the time, and I’m not sure there will be the right time, for us to encourage the use of more gasoline," Romney said, according to the Patriot Ledger in Quincy, Mass.

Romney said he preferred to press for more fuel-efficient vehicles rather than reduce prices, the story said, and quoted Romney, "I’m very much in favor of people recognizing that these high gasoline prices are probably here to stay."

An Associated Press story from the same press conference provided a longer quote from Romney:

"I am very much in favor of people recognizing that these high gasoline prices are probably here to stay and that the appropriate action for us to take is to find ways to find fuel conservation," the AP wrote.

Santorum’s words now

Santorum attributed three different ideas to Romney:

* Americans are going to have to live with high gas prices.

* That's a good thing because it will reduce consumption.

* America shouldn’t produce any more gasoline.

The first is an accurate paraphrase. Romney said high prices are "probably here to stay."

In the second one, Santorum is misstating what Romney said. Romney's statement wasn't a value judgment that high prices were beneficial. It was a practical argument in favor of finding ways to deal with high prices.

In the third idea he attributed to Romney, that America shouldn't produce any more gasoline, Santorum veered off the path completely. Nowhere in the Patriot Ledger or Associated Press coverage does Romney (or anyone else) mention gasoline production or drilling.

Our ruling

Santorum said: "Who said, when he was governor of Massachusetts, we are going to have to live with high gas prices, it's a good thing because it will reduce consumption, we don't want to produce any more gasoline? That would be Mitt Romney."

In 2006, during another fuel price spike, Romney said he believed high prices were "here to stay," and he struck a practical tone, suggesting that should lead to greater conservation and efficiency. He said there may never be a right time to push for more gas use. Those are points fairly summed up in Santorum’s remarks. But Romney didn't make a value judgment that high gas prices a "good thing."

And he completely misrepresented Romney’s position when he said the former Massachusetts governor opposed increasing production. In the situation in 2006, Romney simply didn’t address that topic.

On balance, we rate Santorum’s claim Half True.