Fact-checking the Fox News-Google GOP Debate

Rick Perry and Mitt Romney spar during the Fox News/Google Republican presidential debate Thursday in Orlando.
Rick Perry and Mitt Romney spar during the Fox News/Google Republican presidential debate Thursday in Orlando.

After several debates that were so similar they sometimes felt like reruns, Thursday night's debate in Orlando brought some new twists, the appearance of former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and questions from YouTube.

The event, sponsored by Fox News and Google, was part of Presidency 5, a straw poll of Florida Republican activists.

To be sure, there was some familiar turf.

When he was asked about boosting the economy in Texas, Gov. Rick Perry mentioned the state's efforts at tort reform. We've previously checked his claim that tort reform attracted 21,000 more doctors to Texas. We rated that False.

Mitt Romney again attacked Perry about his comments on Social Security and Romney proved once again he must have a well-worn copy of Perry's book Fed up! Romney said that in the book, Perry said Social Security was unconstitutional. We checked that against the text and rated it Mostly True. He also said that Perry wrote that Social Security was a failure. We rated that True.

Romney also criticized the expansion of the federal government. We've previously examined his claim that the government had grown from 27 to 37 percent of the economy and rated it Mostly True.

Romney also complained about President Barack Obama's foreign policy, saying that Obama "went around the world and apologized for America." That's become a common theme for Romney. We've examined Obama's remarks when he traveled around the world and found little to support that claim. We rated that Pants on Fire.

And, at a reporter's inquiry, Romney revisited his disagreement with a Texas law enabling some illegal immigrants to pay in-state college tuition--a topic PolitiFact Texas just finished exploring.

Johnson was asked about U.S.-Cuba policy. His reply somehow turned to into an answer about a balanced budget.

"I think the biggest threat to our national security is the fact that we're bankrupt, so I am promising to submit a balanced budget to Congress in the year 2013, and included in that is a 43 percent reduction in military spending."


PolitiFact has examined that claim several times. When Ron Paul said it at a debate in Iowa, we rated it False.

We'll be updating this story as we post more fact-checks.