Mitt Romney in 2007 FactCheck

On Abortion: FactCheck: TV ad ignores recency of conversion to pro-life

Romney’s Iowa TV ad says portrays both Romney and Huckabee as “two good family men” who are “both pro-life.” The ad presents a too-sharp focus when it implies that Romney and Huckabee have identical records on abortion.

It’s true that both Huckabee and Romney oppose abortion--now. But Huckabee was pro-life while he was governor. Romney, not so much. Don’t take our word for it. Here’s Romney at a September debate in Iowa: “I never said I was pro-choice, but my position was effectively pro-choice. I’ve said that time and time again. I’ve changed my position.“

We don’t begrudge Romney the right to change his mind, and he’s been open about the fact that his position has changed. But many Iowa voters may still be unaware of that, and this ad implies that there’s no difference between these two candidates on abortion. That’s a stretch.

Source: FactCheck's AdWatch of 2007 campaign ad, “The Record” Dec 13, 2007

On Immigration: AdWatch: Huckabee ok’ed tuition & scholarships for illegals

[TV ad airing throughout Iowa]:

ANNOUNCER: Two former governors. Two good family men. Both pro-life. Both support a constitutional amendment protecting traditional marriage. The difference?

Mitt Romney stood up, and vetoed in-state tuition for illegal aliens. Opposed driver’s licenses for illegals.

Mike Huckabee? Supported in-state tuition benefits for illegal immigrants. Huckabee even supported taxpayer-funded scholarships for illegal aliens.

On immigration, the choice matters.

Source: FactCheck's AdWatch of 2007 campaign ad, “The Record” Dec 13, 2007

On Immigration: FactCheck: Took hard-line on illegals, but only late in term

Romney’s Iowa TV ad portrays Romney’s immigration stance as hard-line compared with Huckabee’s. It’s true that a plan Huckabee supported would have granted in-state tuition rates and eligibility for scholarships to any student who had attended an Arkansa public high school for at least three years, regardless of immigration status. It’s also true that Romney vetoed a similar bill in 2004. But Romney’s illegal immigrant bashing is of fairly recent vintage.

In 2004, the Boston Globe reported that Romney was reluctant to veto the tuition proposal--and not at all the certain, sure-footed decision maker portrayed in the ad. At the time, Romney said, “I hate the idea of in any way making it more difficult for kids, even those who are illegal aliens, to afford college in our state.”

Romney wasn’t a hardliner on immigration until late in his tenure as governor. None of the specifics presented here are false, but the ad presents a black-and-white contrast that doesn’t exist in reality.

Source: FactCheck's AdWatch of 2007 campaign ad, “The Record” Dec 13, 2007

On Education: FactCheck: US scores at 50% internationally, not 10%-25%

Romney exaggerated the extent to which the US lags behind other industrial nations in education. He said, “Our kids score in the bottom 10% or 25% in exams around the world among major industrial nations.” That’s not so. Actually, the US ranked closer to the 50th percentile than the bottom quarter, according to the most recent rankings by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), an internationally standardized study administered to15-year-old schoolchildren in 57 countries.

Students in several nations were tested in 2006. In science, the US ranked 29th out of 57 (49th %ile). And in math, the US ranked 35th out of 57 (39th %ile). In 2003 US students again landed near the middle, scoring 15th out of 29 (48th %ile).

A Romney campaign aide said the candidate was referring to a much earlier study in which the US finished 19th out of 21 nations in math and 16th out of 21 nations in science. But that study, the Third International Math & Science Study (TIMSS) is from 1998

Source: FactCheck on 2007 Des Moines Register Republican debate Dec 12, 2007

On Education: FactCheck: MA 1st in test scores, but was 1st before Romney

Governors Huckabee & Romney both claimed to have the most impressive record on education. Romney claimed, “The kids in our state scored number one in all four measures on the national exams, and they did that because of Republican principles.”

It’s tru that Massachusetts school children scored first in the nation in the most recent NAEP tests, scoring a clean sweep among both 4th-graders and 8th-graders in math & reading. But MA also had ranked at or near the top before Romney took office, so he’s straining the facts to attribute the success entirely to “Republican principles” and his leadership.

Arkansas consistently scored below the national average before Huckabee came along, and on most tests it still does. But on all four NAEP tests, AR’s scores moved closer to the average during Huckabee’s time in office. Coming from below average to not-so-much-below average is significant. Whether that constitutes the “most impressive” record among GOP candidates, we’ll leave others to judge.

Source: FactCheck on 2007 Des Moines Register Republican debate Dec 12, 2007

On Families & Children: FactCheck: Teenage birth rate declined from 1991 to 2005

Romney also said federal programs to combat teen pregnancy are “obviously not working real well.” Actually, the teenage birth rate declined consistently from 1991 to 2005, dropping 45% for 15-17-year-olds, and 26% for 18-19-year-old. It’s true that the most recent report shows the birth rates for these age groups increased in 2006, but the change was small: a 3% increase for 15-17-year-olds and a 4% increase for 18-19-year-olds. There was a 14% decrease for 10-14-year-olds.
Source: FactCheck on 2007 Des Moines Register Republican debate Dec 12, 2007

On Health Care: FactCheck: MA employers have no mandates, but “requirements”

Romney made some questionable statements about the Massachusetts universal health care plan he signed into law, saying he opposed employer mandates: “When I said government mandate, I meant employer mandate.”

Massachusetts may not call its rules for employers a “mandate,” but the state health care plan includes several “obligations” or “requirements,” as the state dubs them, for employers, along with fees for noncompliance. The requirements for employers are much narrower than those for individuals, who indeed, according to the state, face a “mandate” to get health insurance.

But is a “requirement” a “mandate”? You be the judge: Employers with more than 10 full-time employees must pay at least 33% of employee premium costs or have a group health plan. Those that fail to do so must pay a fee of $295 per full-time employee per year.

Individuals in the state must have health insurance. If not, they’ll lose their personal exemption on state income taxes in 2007--a penalty of $219.

Source: FactCheck on 2007 Republican primary debate on Univision Dec 9, 2007

On Health Care: FactCheck: No, MA healthcare plan is not paid for, yet

As for the cost of the Massachusetts universal health care program, Romney said, “It cost us no more money to help people buy insurance policies that they could afford than it was costing us before, handing out free care.” Romney can’t yet make the claim that it has been completely paid for with the state’s “free care” money--funds used to pay for emergency health care for the uninsured.

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation estimated that the state would need an extra $200 million each year for 2007 to 2009 to finance the health care plan, because more people enrolled in subsidized care than anticipated. That shortfall, however, is a projection, and a Boston Globe article on the budget gap said some money could be shifted from the free care fund, if there is money in that fund to do so. Additional dollars came from a Medicaid waiver granted by the federal government, which is set to expire in 2009. The Massachusetts government is negotiating with federal officials to renew that waiver.

Source: FactCheck on 2007 Republican primary debate on Univision Dec 9, 2007

On Immigration: FactCheck: Illegals employed at his home, but by contractor

Giuliani & Romney both stretched the facts when Giuliani accused Romney of employing illegal aliens at his home. Giuliani said, “At his own home illegal immigrants were being employed. So I would say he had sanctuary mansion, not just sanctuary city.” When asked if he did have illegal immigrants working at his mansion, Romney replied, “No, I did not.”

The fact is, as reported by the Boston Globe in 2006, several illegals worked at Romney’s home in Belmont MA, off and on over a period of eight years, sometimes working 11-hour days. They were, however, employed by a contractor, and not directly by Romney. So, Giuliani was technically correct to say that “illegal immigrants were being employed,” since he used the passive voice and didn’t specify who did the employing. Romney could also argue that he was technically correct to say “I did not” have illegals working, since he didn’t employ them directly.

Source: FactCheck on 2007 GOP YouTube debate Nov 28, 2007

On Immigration: AdWatch: No driver’s license & in-state tuition for illegals

[Romney’s TV ad airing Nov. 1 in Iowa and New Hampshire]:

ROMNEY: We all know Hillary Clinton and the Democrats have it wrong on illegal immigration. Our party should not make that mistake.

As Governor, I authorized the State Police to enforce immigration laws. I opposed driver’s licenses & in-state tuition for illegal aliens.

As president, I’ll oppose amnesty, cut funding for sanctuary cities and secure our borders.

Legal immigration is great, but illegal immigration--that’s got to stop

Source: FactCheck's AdWatch of 2007 campaign ad, “Immigration” Nov 9, 2007

On Immigration: FactCheck: MA state cops never enforced immigration laws

Romney claims in his TV ad that he put state troopers on the trail of illegals in his state. But he didn’t do so until he had less than a month left in his term. He was already considering running for president, and the new governor-elect was expected to rescind the arrangement.

Romney began talking about giving troopers the power to make arrests on immigration charges earlier in 2006, but he didn’t sign an agreement with the federal government--a necessary condition for that authority to be granted-- until Dec. 13, 2006. Romney was scheduled to leave office Jan. 4, 2007. Democrat Deval Patrick, who had won the race to succeed Romney, had already said the program was a “bad idea” because troopers were busy enough as it was.

Sure enough, Patrick rescinded the agreement within his first week in office so troopers could “focus on enforcing MA laws.” The policy never had a chance to take effect, because those troopers chosen to carry it out hadn’t yet begun a required 6-week training course

Source: FactCheck's AdWatch of 2007 campaign ad, “Immigration” Nov 9, 2007

On Immigration: FactCheck: Took no action against 4 Mass. sanctuary cities

Romney promises in his TV ad, “As President, I’ll oppose amnesty, cut funding for sanctuary cities and secure our borders.” Romney might well get tough on sanctuary cities in the future, but he didn’t when he was governor.

During his tenure, at least f Orleans didn’t officially deem themselves “sanctuaries,” but Somerville affirmed its “long-standing policies in support of all immigrants,” while Orleans forbade city officials from turning in illegal immigrants without probable cause.

We asked Romney’s campaign if he had acted against these cities, but they didn’t provide us with any examples. As far as we were able to determine in our own research, Romney made no attempts to penalize, censure, or cut funding to them.

Source: FactCheck's AdWatch of 2007 campaign ad, “Immigration” Nov 9, 2007

On Health Care: FactCheck: HillaryCare closer to RomneyCare than “all gov’t”

Romney attacked Hillary Clinton’s health care proposal. But the plan he enacted in Massachusetts is quite similar to Clinton’s. Romney said, “Hillary says the federal government’s going to tell you what kind of insurance, & it’s all government insurance. And I say no, let the states create their own plans, and instead of government insurance, have private, market-based insurance.” Actually, the plan Romney brags about in Massachusetts shares a number of key characteristics with Clinton’s:Furthermore, Romney’s claim that Clinton espouses “all government insurance” is false. Under her proposals, people could keep their current insuranc. It is true that Clinton’s plan would require much more government involvement than Romney’s nationwide proposal.
Source: FactCheck on 2007 GOP primary debate in Orlando Oct 21, 2007

On Health Care: FactCheck: MA plan works, but Romney not proposing it for US

Romney now says he wouldn’t propose a Massachusetts-style plan for the nation, so the track record of the Massachusetts plan is a poor indicator of what Romney’s current proposals might accomplish nationally. And while his claim that his state plan lowered premiums is correct according to the Commonwealth Connector, a state agency created to implement the plan, the group says that resulted from a legally required merging of small group and non-group markets, which is something states would be allowed to do--but not required--under Romney’s current proposal.

It’s also unclear how many of the previously uninsured have gained coverage under the Massachusetts plan. While the program has successfully enrolled 200,000 people, some of those may have switched from less desirable policies. A more apples-to-apples measure found that 395,000 people didn’t have insurance in the state in 2006, then a 10% decrease in the uninsured through July 2007.

Source: FactCheck on 2007 GOP primary debate in Orlando Oct 21, 2007

On Homeland Security: FactCheck: Bush cut military budget as much as Bill Clinton

Romney falsely blamed Bill Clinton for the entire post-Cold War reduction in US military forces. Romney said, “During the Clinton years, we reduced the scale of our military dramatically, took 500,000 troops out, cut back our Navy by 80 ships, knocked our Air Force down 25%.”

Romney has tried this bit before. In fact, we’ve called him on it once already: that in inflation-adjusted dollars, defense spending dropped nearly 15% between Reagan’s last budget and the final budget of George H.W. Bush four years later--compared with just under 13% between Bush’s last budget and Clinton’s, a span of eight years. Bush’s defense secretary, a guy named Dick Cheney, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in 1992 that “overall, since I’ve been secretary, we will have taken the five-year defense program down by well over $300 billion. That’s the peace dividend. And now we’re adding to that another $50 billion.”

Source: FactCheck on 2007 GOP primary debate in Orlando Oct 21, 2007

On Government Reform: FactCheck: 844 line item vetoes; but over 700 overridden

Romney said, “Mayor Giuliani took the line item veto that the president had all the way to the Supreme Court and took it away from the president. I’m in favor of the line-item veto. I exercised it 844 times.”

Giuliani did challenge President Bill Clinton on the line-item veto after he used it to cut a provision that could have helped NYC’s bottom line. It was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1998. Romney is also correct to say that he exercised his state-level line-item veto power 844 times. But Romney doesn’t note that more than 700 of those vetoes were overridden by the overwhelmingly Democratic-controlled Legislature.

Source: FactCheck on 2007 Republican debate in Dearborn MI Oct 9, 2007

On Budget & Economy: FactCheck: Closed MA budget gap of $1.2B, not $3B

Romney again claimed that he didn’t raise taxes when governor of Massachusetts and that he faced a $3 billion budget shortfall. We have twice pointed out that Romney in fact increased fees by around $500 million during his four years as governor. Romney’s cuts in local aid also led indirectly to local tax increases (mainly in the form of property tax increases). Similarly, Romney’s claim to have closed a $3 billion budget gap is exaggerated. In fact, the gap was closer to $1.2 billion.
Source: FactCheck on 2007 GOP debate at UNH Sep 5, 2007

On Immigration: FactCheck: NYC never declared itself a “sanctuary city”

Romney continued his criticism of Rudy Giuliani for presiding over a “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants. As we have noted before, New York City has never declared itself to be a “sanctuary city,” as some cities have. Romney refers to an executive order Giuliani renewed that prohibited city employees from giving the names of suspected illegal immigrants to federal authorities, unless doing so was required by law or the immigrant was possibly involved in criminal activity.
Source: FactCheck on 2007 GOP debate at UNH Sep 5, 2007

On Jobs: FactCheck: Yes,US added 50M jobs since ‘78; but EU added 36M

Romney erred when he claimed US job growth had been nearly 17 times faster than that of Europe. Romney said, “We are the largest economy in the world. During the time Europe added 3 million jobs, we’ve added about 50 million jobs in this country.”

That miraculous sounding statistic is way off. It has taken since the end of 1978 for total employment in the US to grow by 50 million jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But total employment for the 15 core members of the European Union (those who joined before 2004) grew by well over 33 million between 1978 and 2005.

Romney was misquoting an outdated and highly dubious figure, which was used by an author who no longer stands behind it. Romney cited a 2005 article in The American Enterprise magazine, which said, “Since the 1970s America has created some 57 million new jobs, compared to just 4 million in Europe (with most of those in government).” The article’s author told he wouldn’t use the figure today.

Source: FactCheck on 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate Aug 5, 2007

On Budget & Economy: AdWatch: Cap discretionary spending at inflation minus 1%

[Romney’s TV ad has run mostly in Iowa and New Hampshire, since April 4]:

ROMNEY: If I’m elected president, I’m going to cap non-defense discretionary spending at inflation minus 1%. That would save $300 billion in 10 years. And if Congress sends me a budget that exceeds that cap, I will veto that budget. And I know how to veto. I like vetoes. I’ve vetoed hundreds of spending appropriations as governor. And frankly, I can’t wait to get my hands on Washington!

Source: FactCheck's AdWatch of 2007 campaign ad, “I Like Vetoes” Jun 28, 2007

On Government Reform: FactCheck: Romney had 700 line-item vetoes, President cannot

Romney’s TV ad claims, “ I’ve vetoed hundreds of spending appropriations as governor.” However, veto overrides, it turns out, greatly outnumber the sustained vetoes.

The overrides total 707 of the more than 800 line-item vetoes that Romney issued. So while Romney did indeed veto “hundreds of spending appropriations,” as he says in the ad, he had little to show for them.

In the ad, Romney concludes, “Frankly, I can’t wait to get my hands on Washington!” If elected, however, he will find that his old job gave him more tools than the presidency. In Massachusetts, the governor can eliminate or reduce on specific line-item provisions in the budget. The so-called line-item veto allows a governor to turn down a single, particular spending measure rather than having to veto an entire bill. This is the power Romney used in his hundreds of budgetary vetoes. The president, however, does not have this authority.

Source: FactCheck's AdWatch of 2007 campaign ad, “I Like Vetoes” Jun 28, 2007

On Principles & Values: AdWatch: Stood up for conservatism in most liberal state

[Romney TV ad that began running in June]:

ANNOUNCER: In the most liberal state in the country one Republican stood up and cut spending instead of raising taxes; he enforced immigration laws, stood up for traditional marriage and the sanctity of human life.

ROMNEY: This isn’t the time for us to shrink from conservative principles. It’s a time for us to stand in strength. Strong military, strong economy, strong families.

ANNOUNCER: In the toughest place, Mitt Romney’s done the toughest things

Source: FactCheck's AdWatch of 2007 campaign ad, “Tested, Proven” Jun 28, 2007

On Principles & Values: FactCheck: VT would disagree that MA is most liberal state

In his new TV ad, Romney calls Massachusetts “the most liberal state” in the US, and “the toughest place” for a Republican governor. That may be his judgment, but surely there are a few other nominees for the “most liberal” award.

True, Massachusetts has Democratic Sens. Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, and in 2004 it became the first state in the nation to legalize gay marriage. In the 1972 presidential election, it was the only state (plus DC) won by Democratic nominee George McGovern.

But consider Vermont, the home of Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described “independent democratic socialist,” and of Howard Dean, former governor. Social activist ice cream czars Ben & Jerry also are based there.

Then there’s Rhode Island, which cast a greater share of its votes--61%--for Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore in 2000 than any other state. And some might well grant the distinction to New Jersey, which has a higher personal income tax than Massachusetts, as well as two Democratic senators.

Source: FactCheck's AdWatch of 2007 campaign ad, “Tested, Proven” Jun 28, 2007

On Health Care: FactCheck: Romney plan virtually identical to Obama plan

Romney tried to distance his state’s universal health insurance plan from the proposals of the Democratic presidential candidates. Romney said, “Every Democrat up there’s talking about a form of socialized medicine, government takeover, massive tax increase. I’m the guy who actually tackled this issue. We get all of our citizens insured. We get people that were uninsured with private health insurance. We have to stand up and say the market works. Personal responsibility works.”

There are two problems with Romney’s characterization: One, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich is the only Democratic candidate to propose a single-payer, wholly government-funded health care plan. And two, Romney’s Massachusetts universal insurance system bears a striking resemblance to the health care proposals of the Democratic front-runners. For example, the Obama and Romney plans are virtually identical. But in our view, the term “government takeover” could only be applied to Rep. Kucinich’s proposal.

Source: FactCheck on 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

On War & Peace: FactCheck: Saddam didn’t refuse UN inspectors prior to war

Romney tried to pin the blame for the Iraq war on Saddam Hussein’s refusal to allow weapons inspections.
ROMNEY: If Saddam Hussein had opened up his country to IAEA inspectors, and they’d come in and they’d found that there were no WMDs, had Saddam Hussein, therefore, not violated UN resolutions, we wouldn’t be in the conflict we’re in. But he didn’t do those things.
Romney is not alone in playing loose with the facts about weapons inspections. On at least 3 occasions in 2003, Pres. Bush has made the same claim. However, that the UN’s IAEA was not permitted to make inspections might come as a bit of a surprise to Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the IAEA, who reported on March 17, 2003, that “late last night I was advised by the US government to pull out our inspectors from Baghdad.” Inspectors had been in Iraq since November 2002. They remained until the UN Secretary-General ordered their evacuation on March 17, just three days before US and British troops invaded Iraq.
Source: FactCheck on 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

On Tax Reform: FactCheck: Did not raise MA taxes, but DID raise MA fees

Mitt Romney said he “did not raise taxes” when he was governor of Massachusetts. Technically, that is true, but it’s also misleading. Romney did not raise anything called a tax during his tenure as governor, but he did increase state revenues by raising various types of fees. In 2003, Romney doubled fees for court filings (which include marriage licensing fees), professional registrations and firearm licenses. Romney also quintupled the per gallon delivery fee for gasoline (money that is supposed to be for cleaning up any leaks from underground fuel tanks). All told, the fees raised more than $400 million in their first year. Romney also “closed loopholes” in the corporate tax structure, a move that generated another $150 million in increased revenue. In addition, Romney cut local aid, a program whereby the state supplied revenue to cities and counties. In 2004, Romney cut nearly 5 percent, or about $230 million, from the local aid budget.
Source: FactCheck on 2007 Republican Debate in South Carolina May 15, 2007

On Health Care: FactCheck: MA plan not yet in place so analysis premature

Romney called his state health care experiment “a fabulous program” accomplished without any “government takeover”. Romney’s praise, however, is a bit premature--and while the plan is not government-administered health insurance, it includes mandates for individuals & employers, minimum coverage requirements, subsidized insurance & government-enforced fines for noncompliance.

Overall, it’s too soon to tell how successful the Massachusetts plan will be. The requirements for health coverage do not go int effect until July. By April, nearly 70,000 people had signed up for subsidized health plans. That number is half of those eligible. But the total estimate of uninsured Massachusetts residents is 372,000. The state has a long way to go.

And it has hit some snags in implementing the law. The initial bids from insurance companies were much more expensive than what Romney had touted, because over 200,000 insured residents would need to buy additional coverage to meet the original state requirements.

Source: FactCheck on 2007 GOP primary debate, at Reagan library May 3, 2007

The above quotations are from analysis of 2007 primary debates.
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Page last updated: Apr 19, 2014