Fact-checking Rick Perry and Mitt Romney claims from GOP debate

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramSeptember 8, 2011 

An examination of the truthfulness of claims made during Wednesday night's Republican presidential debate:

Texas jobs, part 1

Claim: Perry said, "We've created 1 million jobs in the state of Texas the same time America lost 2.5 million."

True or false? Mostly true. Perry became governor in December 2000. Between then and July 2011, Texas gained just over 1 million jobs, and the rest of the country lost 2.45 million jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Texas jobs, part 2

Claim: Mitt Romney said, "George Bush and his predecessor created jobs at a faster rate than [Perry] did." "That's not correct," Perry insisted. "Yes, that is correct," Romney said.

True of false? Romney was right. Employment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the number of jobs in Texas grew nearly 3 percent annually while Ann Richards was governor and about 5 percent per year under Bush. Over Perry's 11 years as governor, job growth has averaged less than 2 percent per year.

Massachusetts jobs

Claim: Perry said, "Michael Dukakis created jobs three times faster than you did, Mitt."

True or false? Mostly true. Dukakis was governor from 1975-79 and 1983-91. Dukakis, a Democrat, saw employment grow by 500,000 jobs during his two divided terms, a rate of more than 41,000 jobs a year.

Romney, governor of Massachusetts from 2003-07, saw employment rise from 3.23 million to 3.29 million, growth of about 60,000 jobs, or 15,000 a year. That's not quite three times faster than Romney's job-creation record.

HPV vaccine

Claim: Ron Paul said Perry signed an executive order that amounted to "forcing 12-year-old girls to take an inoculation to prevent this sexually transmitted disease."

True or false? True. Perry signed an executive order in 2007 requiring the Texas Health and Human Services Commission adopt rules mandating that all girls entering sixth grade receive a vaccination against certain types of HPV, a sexually transmitted virus. The Legislature ultimately overturned Perry's order. As Perry mentioned in the debate, his executive order "allowed for an opt-out."

The opt-out process involved using a form that parents were already able to use to enroll their children in school if they lacked other immunizations required by the states. As PolitiFact Texas reported in 2010, however, some private schools in Texas do not accept those forms, meaning that for some Texas girls, the executive order could have effectively served as a mandate.

Graduation rates

Claim: Defending his record on education, Perry said "graduation rates now are up to 84 percent" in Texas.

True or false? True. The Texas Education Agency reported in May that the on-time graduation rate for the Class of 2010 was 84.3 percent, an increase of 3.7 percentage points over the previous year. However, critics could find less flattering numbers. Other states and various national groups measure graduation rates differently. Historically, some of those national metrics have reported a lower rate for Texas.

Star-Telegram researcher Cathy Belcher contributed to this report, which includes material from The Associated Press.

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