Sunday, September 21st, 2014

A primary primer: A look inside the Romney file

In this Associated Press photo, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is shown campaigning in Louisiana. The Wisconsin primary is April 3, 2012.
In this Associated Press photo, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is shown campaigning in Louisiana. The Wisconsin primary is April 3, 2012.

Front-runner Mitt Romney has been put to PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter test more than any of his three rivals for the Republican presidential nomination.

PolitiFact Wisconsin hasn’t rated any of Romney’s statements. But our colleagues at PolitiFact National and at state sites such as PolitiFact Georgia have rated 121 of his statements as of March 26, 2012.

Romney’s ratings break down this way:

Twenty-three statements were rated True; 18 Mostly True; 32 Half True; 17 Mostly False; 18 False; and 13 Pants on Fire!.

With just days before Wisconsin’s primary election on April 3, 2012, here’s a look at Romney’s 10 most recent statements. (We looked at Rick Santorum on Tuesday and Ron Paul on Wednesday.  We’ll look at Newt Gingrich on Friday.)

As might be expected for the front runner in the polls and in the delegate count, Romney has turned much of his attention toward the general election and President Barack Obama, even as he battles his three fellow GOP contenders for the Republican nomination.

Seven of Romney’s 10 most recent statements were about Obama:

-- Using an attack most often made against GOP House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Ryan’s budget plan, Romney said Obama is "ending Medicare as we know it." PolitiFact National found that under Obama’s plans, Medicare would still be a large, single-payer, federally run health care program for seniors and that Romney’s claim "takes some shreds of truth and combines them with worst-case-scenario speculations, then deploys overheated language." The rating was Pants on Fire!

-- Romney said Obama "didn’t even mention the deficit or debt" in his 2012 State of the Union address. PolitiFact National counted six such mentions and gave that claim a Pants on Fire!

-- In a national debate, Romney said Obama "gave" General Motors and Chrysler to the United Auto Workers union. That claim earned a False. Our colleagues concluded: "Obama was in charge of a bailout deal that resulted in the union’s health care trust owning stock in the companies. But the trust was owed money to pay for health care under the terms of labor contracts the car companies signed. And the union "gave" plenty too -- in the form of wages, vacation and job security." What’s more, the union itself does not own any GM or Chrysler stock.

-- In another national debate, Romney said Obama "could have gotten crippling sanctions against Iran" but did not. Our colleagues, however, found that a combination of international and U.S. efforts, including sanctions signed by Obama, are now in place that some consider crippling to Iran’s economy. The claim was rated Mostly False.

-- During a speech in Las Vegas, Romney said Obama had told people to stop coming to Vegas for conventions and meetings. The claim was ruled Mostly False, in that the closest the president came to urging a business boycott of Sin City was saying heads of corporations shouldn’t use taxpayer money for Vegas jaunts and that parents shouldn’t spend their money on Vegas trips when they need to be saving for kids’ college.

-- Romney’s claim that Obama is "shrinking our military" was given a Half True, given that congressional Republicans played a role, as Obama did. PolitiFact National found that the statement is correct, partly due to a winding down of overseas wars and partly due to congressionally enacted budget limits. But a majority of House and Senate Republicans voted for the Budget Control Act, which put limits on discretionary spending; and after a bipartisan "super-committee" failed to stop other cuts from being made across the board, cuts to defense were essentially inevitable.

-- Romney said Obama told the country that if Congress approved his stimulus bill, unemployment would be held under 8 percent. That claim earned a Mostly False, in that Obama was making a projection, not a promise.

On other topics:

-- Romney said Iran released American hostages in 1981 on the day Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president because as a Republican candidate, Reagan professed a philosophy of "peace through strength." Without evidence to back the claim, and with seven historians saying Reagan’s philosophy had little if any role, Romney earned a Pants on Fire!

-- Romney said Santorum twice supported Arlen Specter, the former senator from Pennsylvania, "over conservative candidates." That claim earned a True, as Santorum did back Specter over more conservative candidates in two GOP primaries: for president, during Specter’s brief run for the 1996 nomination; and for Senate in 2004. (Specter was a Republican senator for 29 years before becoming a Democrat in 2009.)

-- As the Super Tuesday primaries approached, Romney said  "25 or 24 million" people are "out of work or stopped looking for work." PolitiFact Georgia gave him a Half True for that claim. Our colleagues said only 15.6 million people matched the description Romney gave and that the remaining one-third "may or may not be angling for more hours or a full-time slot at their current employer. They could have stopped looking for full-time work altogether. We don’t know."