Saturday, April 21, 2018
Politics

PolitiFact: Attack lines in Florida's GOP presidential primary

Florida's prominent spot in the primary calendar means voters have been socked with political messaging in the nine days the Republican candidates for president have been in the state.

The campaigns have aired their own ads, as you would expect, but there have also been a barrage of ads from super PACs, the political action committees that allow corporations, unions and wealthy individuals to funnel millions into the political process.

Meanwhile, televised debates have given candidates high-profile venues to level their best attack lines in person. Florida witnessed two debates last week, one in Tampa and one in Jacksonville; each had plenty of zingers.

Here, then, are fact-checks of some of the prominent attack lines of the Florida primary.

Super PAC attacks

Restore Our Future, a super PAC that supports former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, attacked former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich for having "more baggage than the airlines." Gingrich "co-sponsored a bill with Nancy Pelosi that would have given $60 million a year to a U.N. program supporting China's brutal one-child policy," the ad said.

We found the ad distorted a 1989 bill that addressed global warming. That bill specifically said that it opposed forced sterilizations or coercive birth control measures. Gingrich and Pelosi were co-sponsors, but so were 142 other House members. We rated the ad's flimsy but inflammatory charge Pants on Fire.

Meanwhile, the pro-Gingrich super PAC Winning Our Future attacked Romney for having the same health care plan as President Barack Obama. "Romneycare sent costs spiraling out of control" in Massachusetts, the ad said, "hiking premiums, squeezing household budgets." We found that Romney's health plan resulted in new spending to cover the uninsured, but health costs for households didn't go up any more than they did in the rest of the country. We rated the ad's charge False.

The public workers' union AFSCME attacked Romney for having connections to Medicare fraud. "While Romney was a director of the Damon Corp., the company was defrauding Medicare of millions," the ad said. Back in the early 1990s, Romney was a director for a company that overbilled Medicare. It's not clear that Romney knew about the overbilling until after the federal authorities put a stop to it. We rated the ad's claim Mostly True.

The pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future attacked Rick Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, for voting "to let convicted felons vote." Santorum did support a measure to let felons vote, but only after they had served their sentences and successfully completed probation. The ad showed a prisoner in an orange jumpsuit wearing an "I voted" sticker, so we rated its claim Half True.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul has not been airing TV advertisements in Florida and has not been campaigning here.

Tampa debate

Gingrich had strong debate performances in South Carolina but was attacked again and again during the Florida debates.

Romney said Gingrich worked for Freddie Mac, the mortgage giant that backs home loans, peddling influence after his time as speaker. Gingrich's contract was with "the lobbyists at Freddie Mac," Romney said. We looked at the contract the Gingrich campaign released and concluded Romney's characterization was accurate. We rated his statement True.

Santorum, meanwhile, said Gingrich supported requirements that people have health insurance, a feature of both the national and the Massachusetts health care laws. "Speaker Gingrich for 20 years supported a federal individual mandate" for health insurance, Santorum said. We looked into the record and found that Gingrich did support the mandate for much of that time, so we rated Santorum's statement Mostly True.

Talk 'of the ghetto'

Some of the harshest attacks of the contest have come in Spanish-language ads.

Gingrich aired an ad that called Romney "anti-immigrant," which prompted Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Miami, to publicly criticize the ad. (Rubio has not endorsed anyone.) Gingrich then pulled the ad. Our research showed Gingrich favors letting immigrants with long-term ties to the United States stay in the country, while Romney does not.

Romney, meanwhile, aired an ad that said Gingrich called Spanish "the language of the ghetto."

Gingrich said in 2007 that a language other than English is the "language of living in a ghetto." He didn't specifically say Spanish, but most people assumed that's what he meant. Gingrich recorded a Web video in Spanish a few days later saying he could have worded his comments better. We rated Romney's attack Mostly True.

Read the full fact-checks of all of these items at PolitiFact.com.

Comments
Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

WEST PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump said Saturday that he doesn’t expect Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer and fixer, to "flip" as the government investigates Cohen’s business dealings. Trump, in a series of tweets fired from Florida o...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Vive la France: Trump hosts glitzy White House state dinner

WASHINGTON — Now it’s President Donald Trump’s turn to pull off the ultimate charm offensive. Wined and dined on multiple state visits during his tour of Asia last year, Trump is paying it forward and celebrating nearly 250 years of U.S.-French relat...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

The writer of the letter sounds hysterical. Perhaps a little desperate. And maybe that’s just who Marion Hammer is these days.Most of the world knows her as the take-no-prisoners maven of the National Rifle Association who directs Florida politicians...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

WASHINGTON — Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, is "very upset and disappointed" by comments made by his former boss James Comey that contradict his account of a disclosure to the news media, McCabe’s lawyer said Friday. "Andy has at all ...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

The one thing you can say for sure about electing a mayor in Tampa is you can’t really say anything for sure.Historical proof: A couple of elections ago, Harvard-educated hometown-boy-gone-to-Washington Frank Sanchez was going to be our next mayor, h...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Today across America, high school students are expected to walk out of class in their latest show of solidarity against gun violence and elected officials unwilling to do much about it. It marks a grim anniversary — 19 years since Columbine bra...
Published: 04/20/18
Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

TAMPA — For months, Tampa political aficionados have speculated: Will she or won’t she?Does Jane Castor, the city’s first woman police chief and presumed heavyweight mayoral candidate, really want the job? Asked and answered. Castor filed paperwork T...
Published: 04/19/18
Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

TAMPA — President Donald Trump has tweeted "trade wars are good, and easy to win."Don’t believe it, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce told Tampa business and political leaders on Wednesday."We share more with you than with anybody els...
Published: 04/19/18
Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

BROOKSVILLE — Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Don Barbee this week submitted his resignation — effective Jan. 7 — to run for an open circuit judge seat.Barbee, who is in the middle of his second term, said he made the move "with a tremendo...
Published: 04/17/18
Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Democrats hold an advantage ahead of the midterm elections, but a Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that edge has narrowed since January, a signal to party leaders and strategists that they could be premature in anticipating a huge wave of victorie...
Published: 04/16/18