Factchecking GOP Primary Ads in Florida

TAMPA (2012-01-22) -

With Newt Gingrich’s win in South Carolina, Florida’s GOP primary becomes just that much more important. So voters can expect a barrage of negative ads, many funded by Super PACs, to flood the airwaves.

In fact, some of those ads are already running in Florida’s 10 major media markets. PolitiFact Florida is checking them as fast as it can, and finding many to be, let’s say, less than true at best.

You can click here to listen to PolitiFact Florida’s Angie Holan fact-check ads and other statements by GOP candidates with WUSF.

A Super PAC supporting Romney called “Restore Our Future” is running an ad saying 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."

That received PolitiFact’s worst rating: “Pants on Fire.”

First of all, Gingrich was just one of more than 100 co-sponsors.

And, according to PolitiFact’s website: “The bill did propose money for the United Nations Population Fund, but it stated specifically that its funding could not be used for ‘involuntary sterilization or abortion or to coerce any person to accept family planning.’”

Meanwhile, one of the reasons Mitt Romney is said to have lost support in South Carolina is his refusal to release his tax records until April. (He has recently changed his mind and agreed to release them earlier than April.)

There’s no legal requirement for candidates to release their tax records, but it has become expected that they will do so.

In a recent debate, Romney said he was following the tradition of other candidates by not releasing his tax records until April.

"You know, I looked at what has been done in campaigns in the past with Sen. McCain and President George W. Bush and others. They have tended to release tax records in April or tax season," he said.

PolitiFact rated Romney’s claim as Half True.

Yes, candidates often wait until April to release that year’s tax records. But Romney has not released previous years as well.

Politifact says, “He could just as easily follow in the footsteps of Obama, Bill Clinton, Dukakis, Dole and his own father and release a batch of earlier federal tax returns now. Meanwhile, he implies that only party nominees release their tax records — when recent history shows primary candidates opening their files to inspection.”

Finally, another ad put out by the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future implies that Rick Santorum wants to let prisoners vote.

“Santorum voted to raise the debt limit five times, increasing spending and debt by $3 trillion,” the ad says. “He even voted to let convicted felons vote.”

PolitiFact rated the claim Half True.

Yes, Santorum voted to allow felons who have completed their sentences to be able to have their voting rights restored.

But the ad is misleading, PolitiFact says, because it shows “ a jump-suited prisoner wearing an ‘I voted’ button, (which) could give people the impression that Santorum supported allowing people in prison to vote, which he does not.”

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