Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

A primary primer: A look inside the Paul file

In this Associated Press photo, GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul campaigns in Nevada. He'll be in Wisconsin this week.
In this Associated Press photo, GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul campaigns in Nevada. He'll be in Wisconsin this week.

Ron Paul faces an election test on April 3 when Wisconsin goes to the polls in a key Republican presidential primary.

But PolitiFact has been testing Paul, the Texas congressman, for years.

Here’s how Paul has fared on the Truth-O-Meter as of March 26, 2012: seven statements rated True; eight Mostly True; eight were found Half True; four Mostly False; six False; and three rated a Pants on Fire.

This week, we’ve been doing round ups of ratings on each of the four GOP presidential contenders. Paul is planning a March 29 visit to the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

Here’s a look at 10 of Paul’s most recent claims, evaluated by PolitiFact National and PolitiFact Texas:

On his rivals

-- A Ron Paul ad called GOP rival Rick Santorum a "counterfeit conservative" who "funded Planned Parenthood." That was branded Half True. Santorum supported massive appropriations bills that included Title X funding to health care providers such as Planned Parenthood, but did not vote separately on Title X.

-- Also deemed Half True was Paul’s ad claim that Santorum "opposes right to work" policies, which prohibit compelling workers to join a labor union.
Santorum has flip-flopped over the years, but has said as president he would sign a national right-to-work law.

-- PolitiFact declared Mostly True the Paul claim that he "did the very best" in an Iowa poll testing GOP candidates against President Barack Obama. Paul did have the largest lead in that February 2012 poll, but Santorum ran such a close second that experts said the difference was marginal.

Tax and spending issues

-- Paul earned a Half True for saying that when Republicans held Congress and the presidency, they "doubled the size of the (U.S.) Department of Education." It’s been a mixed bag.

-- At a South Carolina debate on Jan. 16, 2012, Paul said the U.S. federal income tax rate was 0 percent until 1913. That was found Half True because it ignored a brief, Civil War-era flirtation with the tax.

Others

-- In an Arizona debate on Feb. 22, 2012, Paul said "today, gasoline hit $6 a gallon in Florida." That rated a Pants on Fire. Only two airport gas stations in a tourist area were even close out of about 7,100. The statewide average was $3.70 at the time

-- Paul drew a False for saying that newsletters published under his name from the mid-1970s through the mid-1990s contained only eight or 10 sentences of "bad stuff." PolitiFact determined that many more fit the description of being inflammatory toward various groups. While in the House and while working as a physician, Paul or entities affiliated with him published newsletters known as Ron Paul’s Freedom Report, Ron Paul Political Report and The Ron Paul Survival Report, though Paul has said he didn’t pay close attention to the content at times.

-- In a speech after the Iowa caucuses, Paul claimed that a new national poll showed "the majority of the American people believe we should have a gold standard" for U.S. currency. But only three state polls likely Republican primary voters in three states found that. That drew a False rating.

-- Paul drew a Mostly False for saying that "The Fed created $15 trillion in the bailout process" and $5 trillion went overseas. Paul misstated the work of a government agency, overlooked a key fact and made an unprovable assertion about the flow of money overseas.

-- Finally, Paul got a Mostly False for his claim that the Department of Defense changed its definitions of al-Qaeda and the Taliban making it so almost anybody can be loosely associated with the groups. Said PolitiFact Texas: "the U.S. government has laid claim to such authority for about a decade. So even if the cited provisions pass into law, they would not change how the government prosecutes detainees."