The Fact Checker: Two Pinocchios

Rick Santorum: His record on winning the political center (Fact Checker biography)

(Evan Vucci, AP)

“I'm the only one in this race that has a track record of winning elections in tough states. I had a million more registered Democrats than Republicans, and in two statewide elections, running against very strong candidates, I was able to win the state of Pennsylvania, something a Republican hasn't done for president since 1988. And so if you look at everybody else in the field, no one has ever run as a conservative and been able to attract independents and Democrats to win.”

— Former Sen. Rick Santorum, during an interview with NBC News, Dec. 29, 2011


“Iowa is a tough state. Pennsylvania is tougher as far as Republicans to win. And here I am, and I went out and not just once, but twice won a heavily Democratic congressional district, not once but twice went out and won a state with a million more Democrats than Republicans.”

— Santorum, during campaign stop in Marshalltown, Iowa, Dec. 30, 2011

Santorum insists he can defeat Barack Obama in the general election, despite the fact that he polls poorly against the president in comparison with other GOP candidates. He’s banking on the notion that blue-collar voters — in particular conservative Democrats — will rally behind him in every swing state from Pennsylvania to Iowa, with the exception of Illinois, which is the president’s home state and a Democratic stronghold.

 The GOP candidate, who nearly won the Iowa caucuses, touts his record of winning elections in Pennsylvania as proof that he’ll fare well from the nation’s Rust Belt to its Breadbasket. He claims his conservative values and his plan to eliminate the corporate tax on manufacturers — an attempt to bring jobs back from overseas — will appeal to middle-class voters across the spectrum, making him the most electable candidate in the Republican field. 

 We examined Santorum’s electoral record to find out whether he’s done as well as he claims in attracting Pennsylvania’s Democrats and independents.


Santorum has won four elections in a Democrat-leaning state, mainly by courting values voters and the working class. He won his first bid for election in 1990, edging out seven-term Democratic incumbent Doug Walgren for a seat in the U.S. House with 51 percent of the vote compared to his opponent’s 49 percent.     

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Newt Gingrich’s changing stance on health-care mandates (Fact Checker biography)

(Rainier Ehrhardt, AP)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This column will be the first in a series of five columns this week examining how factual former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has been in describing his past achievements. Reporter Josh Hicks has spent weeks examining Gingrich’s statements and deciding which ones best represent how Gingrich talks about his past. Hicks has previously examined biographical statements by Mitt Romney and Rick Perry.

— Glenn Kessler


“If you explore the mandate, it ultimately ends up with unconstitutional powers. It allows the government to define virtually everything. And if you can do it for health care, you can do it for everything in your life, and, therefore, we should not have a mandate.”

— Remarks by Newt Gingrich during GOP debate in Manchester, N.H., June 13, 2011

“I am completely opposed to the Obamacare mandate on individuals. I fought it for two and half years at the Center for Health Transformation. You can see all the things we did to stop it at I am for the repeal of Obamacare and I am against any effort to impose a federal mandate on anyone because it is fundamentally wrong and I believe unconstitutional.”

— Recorded statement by Newt Gingrich, from the GOP candidate’s Web site.

Gingrich has voiced resounding opposition to the “Obamacare” insurance mandate during his 2012 campaign, describing the policy as unconstitutional. He says he fought hard against it with the Center for Health Transformation, a health-care industry think tank he helped establish.

Fellow GOP front-runner Mitt Romney challenged this point, insisting that Gingrich inspired the insurance mandate he implemented as part of a health-care reform bill in Massachusetts. We took a look at the former House speaker’s past to find out whether the conservative icon known for innovative and often shape-shifting ideas might have experienced a change of heart.

The Facts

Gingrich and Romney engaged in a brief but heated spat during the Oct. 18 GOP debate after the former speaker criticized Massachusetts’s health-care reform program as a big-government, high-cost solution for covering the uninsured. Here’s how the exchange unfolded:

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