Mitt was more truthful than Santorum and Gingrich!

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The standard take on politicians is that they lie. As the old joke goes, “How can you tell when a politician is lying? His lips are moving!”

I started this post a couple of days ago with that lede after seeing Gingrich and Santorum supporters repeating the Mitt is a liar!” accusations on Twitter. Then yesterday I camr across this piece on ABC News, which provides some insights into what New Gingrich thought of the campaign he had run, which I found quite interesting. Unfortunately, when asked whether Newt still believes Mitt Romney is a liar, he responded::

I still believe the Romney campaign said things that weren’t true. I also believe that compared to Barack Obama, I would trust Mitt Romney 100 times over.

Our friend Nancy French at Evangelicals for Mitt pointed out that Katrina Trinko, writing at The Corner on National Review Online had reported the same occurrence. After reporting the same quote provided above from ABC News, Trinko went a bit further, pointing out how Blitzer had continued to press Gingrich on the issue of whether or not he thinks Mitt is a liar, a point left out of the ABC News report:

BLITZER: Forget about the Romney campaign. Is Mitt Romney — is Mitt Romney a liar?

GINGRICH: The governor said things at times that weren’t true.

BLITZER: So the answer is yes.

GINGRICH: I also believe that compared to Barack Obama I would trust Mitt Romney 100 times over.

The omission from one report to the other is interesting and reflects the meme attached to Mitt during the campaign that continues to affect how he is viewed today. Anyone who supports his candidacy and has followed the Republican Primaries has heard (more times than they want to remember!) how the Super PAC that supported Mitt supposedly “carpet bombed” various states with “lies” about his opponents. Those of us who know Mitt have been quick to point out that his supporters in the Super PAC were merely standing up to the lies being spread about him by pointing out problems with the truth that the others seemed to be having.

The assertions among Gingrich supporters on Twitter, combined with these two reports on the fact that Newt is repeating the same line from the campaign, make what I set out to report all the more pertinent.

Thinking it would be interesting to find some objective way to assess the relative truthfulness of the top three major candidates in the Republican race, I turned to PolitiFact of the Tampa Bay Times for their pages on Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum and compiled the following table:

Data from PolitiFact Fact Check (3 May 2012)

One clear observation is the extent to which Mitt’s statements were subjected to fact checks more than the other two combined says something in and of itself. One can easily conclude that without the “Mitt is a liar!” meme being bounced around non-stop, the folks at the Pulitzer Prize winning PolitiFact would not be checking so many of his statements.

While one can easily see from that table that Mitt’s numbers reflect a higher level of truthfulness, a couple of graphics illustrate what is going on with those numbers. I have included below a bar chart that is based on the complete data from table above:

PolitiFact Comparisons (All Data)

Gingrich’s “Pants on Fire” rating is almost laughable, considering the circumstances. Most interesting however, was a chart that omitted the “Half True” category and combine the two extremes into the simpler “True” or “False” categories:

PolitiFact Data Plot (Top two and bottom three categories)

While the data suggests that they found that Mitt’s numbers were slightly underwater when the two categories, the results for his two opponents were notably worse! Indeed, given that Gingrich was found to be true less than 20% of the time and false almost 60% of the time makes one wonder how he can feel justified in calling Mitt a liar!

As a final note, we need to keep in mind that this sort of comparison assumes that PolitiFact was fair in their determinations. While considering the oft-documented bias against Republicans in general and Mitt in particular, there is no obvious reason to assume the same level of fairness was not applied to all three candidates. Also, it is clear from the table above that the incredibly high number of checks they did on Mitt indicates that he was subjected to a lot more scrutiny than the others.

This entry was posted in Election 2012, Mitt, the Person by Mike. Bookmark the permalink.

About Mike

Michael Bush first met Mitt in 1966 when they reported for a one-week training session in Salt Lake City before heading to France on the 4th of July to serve as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 2 1/2 years. They also served at the same time in Bordeaux for several months in 1968, where they worked together quite often. Mike is on the faculty of Brigham Young University and grew up in Alabama. He graduated from Brigham Young University in Political Science. He also has an MBA from the University of Missouri and a PhD from The Ohio State University in Foreign Language Education with an emphasis in Computer Science. He is a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel who spent most of his career at the US Air Force Academy teaching French and doing research in the area of computer-assisted language learning. He and his wife Annie have four children and 18 grandchildren. It goes without saying that the things written on this site reflect his views and opinions and are in no way intended to reflect those of Brigham Young University or its sponsor, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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