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Fifty fact checks of Rick Perry for president

Rick Perry pauses as he suspends his campaign in South Carolina Jan. 19, 2012 (Associated Press photo, David Goldman.) Rick Perry pauses as he suspends his campaign in South Carolina Jan. 19, 2012 (Associated Press photo, David Goldman.)

Rick Perry pauses as he suspends his campaign in South Carolina Jan. 19, 2012 (Associated Press photo, David Goldman.)

By Meghan Ashford-Grooms January 20, 2012
By W. Gardner Selby January 20, 2012

Whether talking up his record or pounding issues, Texas Gov. Rick Perry frequently moved the needle on the PolitiFact Texas Truth-O-Meter as he sought the Republican nomination for president.

All told, we checked about 50 statements made by or about Perry in connection with the bid he suspended in South Carolina Jan. 19, 2012.

For starters, the Perry-O-Meter promise checker marked as Broken his 2010 vow not to run for president.

Some highlights:

--Perry hewed to a claim in his 2010 book, "Fed Up!," that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. We rate that False; the government program, overseen by Congress, is not a criminal enterprise.

--Perry told a youngster that in Texas, "we teach both creationism and evolution" in public schools. False. Some teachers surely address creationism, but it’s not state law or policy to intermix instruction on creationism and evolution.

--Perry said scientists are "questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change. … (It is) more and more being put into question." False: There is consensus among the nation’s major scientific organizations in support of human-caused warming. Skeptics seem to make up a small minority.

--Regarding his record as governor, Perry repeatedly stressed Texas job gains compared to job losses nationally. His figures had a basis, but such claims usually shook out as Half True. No governor merits sole credit, or blame, for a state’s economy.

--Defending a 2001 measure enabling some Texas undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at colleges and universities, Perry said only four of the state’s 181 legislators voted against the move. We identified five legislators who voted "no." Perry’s larger point held. We rated this claim True.

--Assailing Mitt Romney, Perry said the health insurance overhaul that Romney signed into law as governor of Massachusetts was a model for the federal approach ushered into place by President Barack Obama. That’s True.

--Perry called Obama a socialist. There’s no evidence for this hyperbolic claim, which we rated Pants on Fire. Perry separately charged Obama with calling Americans "soft," which rates Half True: Obama said the country had gotten soft before he was president. Perry also said Obama thinks Americans are lazy. That’s Mostly False; Obama suggested laziness in soliciting foreign investment in the United States.

--Perry said in a TV ad that "kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school." False, we found, though public school officials are barred from advancing a religion or making children pray or celebrate solely the Christian aspects of Christmas. The Supreme Court has not said students can’t pray. Texas even has laws protecting that right.

As Perry stumped, we confirmed a notable Perry shift and made one of our own.

In late December, Perry said his position on abortion had been transformed. On the Flip-O-Meter, we concluded that because Perry no longer believed in permitting abortions in cases of rape and incest but still supported allowing them when a woman’s life is in danger, he’d made a Half Flip.

Our swerve occurred after we looked into a long-repeated claim that as a Democratic legislator, Perry was the Texas co-chair of Democrat Al Gore’s 1988 presidential campaign. No such evidence, we concluded. Perry endorsed Gore then. The co-chair label was affixed a decade later by a Democratic opponent, John Sharp, who told us he never could prove it.
Claims about Perry and Texas by other candidates or pundits also drew our attention.


--White House spokesman Jay Carney said Perry had "wanted to secede from the union." False. Perry said in 2009 that he believed Texas could leave the United States, not quite that it should happen.

--MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow said Perry’s proposed federal flat-tax plan promised the rich huge tax cuts while everyone else would get big tax hikes. Mostly False. Wealthy Americans might enjoy sizable cuts, but no one would be forced to pay more. Taxpayers could choose to continue under the existing income tax system.

--U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas said Perry once wrote a letter supporting "Hillarycare," the health care plan drafted when Bill Clinton was president. Mostly False. Perry’s letter mainly asked the First Lady toconsider the needs of rural Americans.

--Romney said Perry once wrote an opinion column saying he was open to amnesty for immigrants illegally here. Half True. In 2001, Perry wrote to The Dallas Morning News saying he was open to a particular amnesty proposal, but he’s aired no similar view since.

--Paul said "our taxes" had doubled in Texas on Perry’s watch. We did not find any indication this happened. The most that Texas taxes might have increased while Perry was governor is 44 percent, or 17 percent when inflation is weighed. Paul did not provide backup information showing his personal taxes doubled. Pants on Fire.

Find details on these ratings, including back-up documents, online at [email protected] .

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Fifty fact checks of Rick Perry for president