TRUTH TEST HEADQUARTERS, Florida - With all the noise out there this political season, it's sometimes tough to tell which voices to listen to. But 10 News' Truth Test aims to separate fact from fiction so you, the voter, can make a more educated decision on Election Day.
Click here to see Rick Scott's "Whatever it Takes" ad
One recent ad in the Florida gubernatorial race - paid for by the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) and approved by Republican nominee Rick Scott - tries to link Democratic nominee Alex Sink to President Obama. We break down each claim in the 30-second spot and issue a grade.
Claim 1: "Official orders from Washington"
The announcer in the commercial says, "Attention Florida voters. Here are your official orders from Washington." Pardoning the tongue-in-cheek nature of the claim, the quote from the president was used in correct context. On Aug. 18, he told the Democratic Party of Florida, "I need you to raise money, I need you to walk and knock on doors. Whatever it takes to make sure that Alex Sink is the next Governor of Florida."
Claim 2: "Sink supported Obama's government takeover of health care"
Yes, Sink supported this year's federal health care legislation, but "takeover" is more of a political buzzword than it is a reality. The legislation was a makeover, not a takeover. While on the campaign trail, some newspapers have also cited Scott as exaggerating - or jumping to conclusions - on some of the bill's effects.
Claim 3: "Sink supported Obama's trillion-dollar stimulus bill"
Yes, Sink supported the first stimulus package. She told the St. Petersburg Times, "The administration has put in place a lot of stimulus programs, and in fact Florida's benefited from billions and billions of dollars of stimulus money that has helped protect jobs in the state of Florida."
But the most commonly-used numbers on the legislation's debt - from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office - indicate the bill will cost $816 billion. And that's over 10 years.
Scott's campaign cites the additional $347 billion in debt service on the bill over the decade, bringing its total cost to $1.16 trillion.
We should also point out Scott's running mate, Jennifer Carroll also supported the stimulus package.
Claim 4: "The (stimulus) gave us big debts and no jobs"
Scott's campaign and the GOP cite "job losses." And yes, the national unemployment rate has climbed from 7.7 percent to 9.6 percent since the stimulus bill was passed. However, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) indicated in Feb. 2010 that the stimulus was responsible for halting the free-falling job-loss numbers.
Reuters reports the CBO "counts stimulus jobs as positions funded by the money, even if the person worked at the company beforehand. Several private-sector economic-analysis firms say the stimulus has saved or created more than 1 million jobs."
According to Bureau of Labor statistics, there were 110,961,000 private-sector jobs in January 2009. The downward trend continued until Dec. 2009 when there were just 107,107,000 jobs. But private sector jobs have climbed every month since then, rebounding to 107,870,000 in preliminary Aug. 2010 numbers.
Claim 5: "Liberal Alex Sink"
The announcer indicates the president will do "whatever it takes" to make sure "liberal Alex Sink is the next Governor of Florida." While Democrat Sink falls in-line with her party more often than not, several major Florida newspapers have labeled her a "moderate."
A St. Petersburg Times editorial called her a "a thoughtful and moderate public servant whose instincts on policy are usually in step with most Floridians." A Sun-Sentinel editorial called her "a vocal advocate for fiscal responsibility." And the Palm Beach Post wrote, "Sink's fiscal conservatism -- she's made a big show of saving money on office supplies such as paper clips in her agency - is part of her appeal to moderates."
Rarely is someone 100% "liberal," "moderate," or "conservative," so this claim is too complex to issue a definitive grade.
Claim 1 - A
Claim 2 - C
Claim 3 - B
Claim 4 - F
Claim 5 - Opinion
FINAL JUDGEMENT: C
The RPOF's ad trying to link Sink to some of President Obama's possibly-unpopular decisions doesn't tell the whole story. The Truth Test finds that the ad unfortunately uses shrewd wordplay and several exaggerations to try and win votes.
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