TRUTH TEST HEADQUARTERS, Florida - In one of the nastiest races the state has seen this year, Democrat Alex Sink has counterpunched her Republican opponent, Rick Scott, for a series of negative ads that have been running since their primary victories.
10 News' Truth Test aims to sort through the spin to separate fact from fiction. And this week, we break down the claims made in Florida Democratic Party (FDP) ad - approved by Sink - and we issue corresponding grades.
WATCH: FDP and Alex Sink's "Jobs" ad
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Claim 1: "Florida newspapers say Rick Scott's campaign 'doesn't address Florida's needs.' "
Sink's ad cites a recent editorial from the St. Petersburg Times that said:
"Rick Scott must be running for president of the United States instead of governor of Florida. The Republican's opponent seems to be President Barack Obama, not Democrat Alex Sink. Among his top issues are the federal stimulus money, national health care reform and immigration. Floridians should see through Scott's cynical, if predictable, attempt to nationalize the governor's race, and he should tell voters what he would do in Tallahassee rather than what he opposes in Washington."
In the month leading up to the primary and the five weeks since, Scott has taken a beating from other editorial boards and columnists too, including those from the Orlando Sentinel, Tampa Tribune, and Bradenton Herald.
So regardless whether you agree with the newspapers, Sink's claim is both accurate and in the proper context.
Claim 2: "(Florida newspapers say) 'Scott shows little grasp of state issues.' "
This excerpt comes from the same St. Petersburg Times editorial that said:
"Rick Scott shows little grasp of state issues such as education, growth management and tax policy. And he no longer can run against fellow Republicans and special interests who control Tallahassee."
Once again, Sink is telling the truth that newspapers reported it.
Claim 3: "(Florida newspapers say) 'Sink's platform has much more heft than Scott's.' "
Sure enough, these words appear in the Florida Times-Union out of Jacksonville. However, it may be a little misleading to imply the paper stands behind the statement when it was actually a columnist opining (Ron Littlepage column, page B7 on Sept. 12, 2010).
Other papers have been critical of Scott's platforms as well, but the ad doesn't mention it. We have to take the grade down one notch for implying a columnist speaks for an entire paper.
Claim 4: "(Florida newspapers say) Sink would 'concentrate on helping small businesses by improving access to capital.' "
This statement is also from the Ron Littlepage column in the Florida Times-Union, where the columnist is critical of Scott. But again, one columnist doesn't necessarily speak for an entire newspaper.
Claim 5: "(Florida newspapers say Sink would) encourage start-up businesses by deferring corporate income taxes' "
This quote is from the Ron Littlepage column as well, but this claim was also backed by an Associated Press story that appeared in newspapers across the state.
Claim 6: "(Florida newspapers say) Alex Sink's plan "would provide...tax credits tied to creating jobs.' "
The on-screen graphic cites Littlepage's column again, but this claim is also backed by stories in several other newspapers across the state.
Claim 7: "Because stronger small businesses mean a stronger Florida"
This may seem like a no-brainer, but as widely-accepted as fact as the statement is, it is still an opinion statement.
Claim 1 - A
Claim 2 - A
Claim 3 - B
Claim 4 - B
Claim 5 - A
Claim 6 - A
Claim 7 - Opinion
FINAL JUDGMENT: B
The Scott camp was given an opportunity to refute any of the claims in the FDP/Sink "Jobs" ad, but didn't address any specifically. Instead, it issued a statement criticizing Sink's jobs record and touted Scott's.
When it comes to this ad, our fact-check finds that the Florida Democratic Party and Alex Sink give an honest impression of recent newspaper reports, unlike Scott, who has been criticized by a half-dozen major media outlets in Florida recently for running deceptive ads (including one of our own Truth Tests). We find that the FDP/Sink ad passes the Truth Test.
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Noah Pransky, 10 News