At Sunday morning's GOP presidential debate (not to be confused with Saturday night's GOP presidential debate!), front-runner Mitt Romney began his opening answer on his record in Massachusetts by noting proudly that he had created more jobs as governor than President Obama has created as president. It's a line he uses regularly on the campaign trail, and couples nicely with his (unsubstantiated) claim to have created 100,000 jobs while at Bain Capital in the 1990s.

But it's not really accurate. Per, Massachusetts created a net total of 45,800 private sector jobs during Romney's four years as governor. Romney's not really making a fair comparison—Obama still has another year left in his first term and the trend lines are pointing in the right direction—but he's also blaming Obama for jobs losses that occurred before any of his economic proposals had been enacted. During Obama's first few months in office, the economy continued to hemorrhage jobs, due to a recession that had begun during the Bush administration. Since the end of the recession in June of 2009, the economy has added 1.4 private-sector million jobs. It's not a great record, there have been some ups and downs, but as former candidate Herman Cain might say, that's an apple! We're talking about oranges here.

Mitt Romney. Doing it live.

During Saturday's Republican debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, GOP front-runner Mitt Romney took his standard swipe at the Obama administration's foreign policy. Romney went after the president for, among other things, pursuing a murky strategy in Libya (really?) and for making "one error after another" on key foreign policy issues, particularly the Iranian regime's nuclear capabilities.

"We have a nation, which is intent on becoming nuclear," Romney said. "Iran has pursued their ambition without having crippling sanctions against them... And he's failed to put together a plan to show Iran that we have the capacity to remove them militarily from their plans to have nuclear weaponry. Look, this is a failed presidency."

Here's the snag with Romney's critique: There are strict sanctions currently imposed on the regime in Tehran—and on Barack Obama's watch, they've gotten harsher than they've been in decades. The Iranian economy is already showing signs that the new economic sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran are tanking the country's currency. And that's just the tip of a possibly very ugly iceberg. My colleagues Adam Weinstein and Hamed Aleaziz have a solid run-down of the tense situation in the Persian Gulf:

Over New Year's weekend [President Obama] signed a defense-spending bill with an amendment that effectively freezes international deals with Iran's Central Bank. If successful, it would halt much of Iran's oil sales and further destabilize its currency. It would also hurt European trade and likely cause global oil prices to soar...The White House had strongly opposed the legislation despite bipartisan support for it in Congress, but Obama went on to sign the bill anyway. Why? Apart from the fact that defense spending isn't really optional, the politics of the situation didn't seem to favor the White House. As Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), one of the amendment's sponsors, put it, "[A]s you enter a presidential contest, there's no upside to being soft on Iran."

Think any of this is tough enough for Romney? Considering that he has been saying for years that the United States should aggressively pursue indicting Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for violating the Genocide Convention, I wouldn't bet a dime on it.

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

During Saturday's GOP Primary debate, Rep. Ron Paul accused Rick Santorum of being a "big government person" who exploited his beltway connections with lobbyists to get wealthy after losing his Senate seat in 2006. Santorum insisted that he only took a series of high paying "consulting" jobs because he believed in the causes. 

"I'm known in this race and I was known in Washington, DC, as a cause guy. I am a cause guy. I care deeply about this country and about the causes that make me —that I think are at the core of this country," Santorum said. "And when I left the United States Senate, I got involved in causes that I believe in." 

Santorum was one of the less wealthy members of the Senate during his tenure, though as the main gatekeeper for the "K-Street Project," the attempt to place Republicans in influential positions in DC lobbying firms, Santorum developed plenty of key connections with lobbying firms and trade associations. After leaving Congress those connections proved financially beneficial. Financial disclosure forms filed last year indicate that Santorum went from making around $200,000 a year to more than a million dollars in 2010.

As part of the board of directors of Universal Health Services, Santorum made $395,000 in 2010 from a company that was sued by the Justice Department over Medicaid fraud for allegedly billing the government for psychiatric services to children it never provided. As a "consultant" for Consol Energy, Santorum was paid $142,500 in 2010. Santorum has had a long and beneficial relationship with Consol, who also donated $73,800 to his campaigns over the years. Santorum also made $65,000 from American Continental Group, a high-powered lobbying firm that largely gives money to Republicans. While Santorum might not have been a lobbyist in the strictest legal definition of the term, these groups generally hire old Washington hands like the former Pennsylvania senator because they help open doors in Washington.

Whether Santorum really cares deeply about the issues he was paid to work on is anyone's guess. But he certainly got paid well for it. 

When moderator George Stephanopolous asked Mitt Romney about his views on contraception at Saturday's debate, the GOP front-runner acted as if he'd just been asked about chupacabras or spaceships—ignoring his own stated positions on the state efforts to limit access to (and ban outright) some forms of contraception.

Stephanopolous' question was simple: "Governor Romney, do you believe that states have the right to ban contraception? Or is that trumped by a constitutional right to privacy?" Here was Mitt's answer:

George, this is an unusual topic that you're raising. States have a right to ban contraception? I can't imagine a state banning contraception. I can't imagine the circumstances where a state would want to do so., and if I were a governor of a state or...or a—or a legislature of a state—I would totally and completely oppose any effort to ban contraception. So you're asking—given the fact that there's no state that wants to do so, and I don't know of any candidate that wants to do so, you're asking could it constitutionally be done? We can ask our constitutionalist here.

At this point, Romney turned to Rep. Ron Paul, a self-described "constitutionalist," and the crowd laughed. But it was a serious question, given that in 2007 Romney supported a federal personhood amendment that would have defined life as beginning at fertilization, and in 2011, he did his best to avoid saying definitively whether he opposed Mississippi's "personhood amendment," which would have made all forms of hormonal contraception illegal. (My colleague Kate Sheppard has explained the issue quite clearly.) In other words, state and federal lawmakers are very much trying to ban contraception.

After some crosstalk, Romney started up his answer again, and was insistent. "George, I—I don't know whether a state has a right to ban contraception. No state wants to. I mean, the idea of you putting forward things that states might want to do that no—no state wants to do and asking me whether they could do it or not is kind of a silly thing, I think." When Santorum again pressed him, Romney was incredulous, "Has the Supreme Court—has the Supreme Court decided that states do not have the right to provide contraception?"

No—they decided the opposite in Griswold v. Connecticut, ruling that the right to privacy prohibited states from banning contraception. But it's a sore point with conservatives, like Rick Santorum, who believe the right to privacy is a load of a baloney. And in light of the nationwide Personhood movement, it's hardly a dead issue.

At Saturday's GOP presidential debate, Mitt Romney, questioned about his record at Bain Capital, doubled-down on the claim that the firm created 100,000 net jobs. "In the business I had, we invested in over 100 different businesses and net-net, taking out the ones where we lost jobs and those that we added, those businesses have now added over 100,000 jobs," he told George Stephanopolous. It's an impressive figure, but one that turns out to have little basis in reality. considered the evidence on Thursday:

When we asked the Romney camp for support, spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom sent us a list of jobs added at three companies in which Bain had invested, saying that these three examples alone created over 100,000 jobs: Staples, which had 89,000 employees as of Dec. 31, 2010; The Sports Authority, which had 15,000 employees as of July 2011; and Domino’s, which has added 7,900 jobs since 1999.

That’s hardly a rigorous analysis of jobs gained and lost at companies Bain backed. And does Romney deserve credit for all of those jobs? Bain was but one of several investors in The Sports Authority, which was launched with the monetary help of William Blair Venture Partners, Phillips-Smith and Marquette Venture Partners. Not to mention the work of founding executives at the company, such as CEO Jack A. Smith.

Plus, Kmart owned the company for about five years starting in 1990. Does Kmart get credit for whatever job growth occurred then? In 2006, the private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners acquired Sports Authority. Does Bain, and Romney, still get credit for jobs created after the company is bought or sold years later?

And so on. The bottom line is that the 100,000 figure was not actually calculated; it was just a composite of a couple of data points, and there's no evidence that it's actually a "net" figure, according to Romney's own campaign. When challenged on the accuracy of his figures by Stephanopolous, Romney told the audience they should just trust him: "I'm a good enough numbers guy to make sure I got both sides of that."

Ron Paul.

During Saturday's ABC News debate, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) was questioned about the many newsletters published in the 1970s and 1980s under his name that contained racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, and conspiratorial claims. One of those newsletters, published in December 1990, singled out civil rights champion Martin Luther King Jr. for a barrage of nasty rhetoric. That newsletter called King "a world-class adulterer" and went on to say the legendary civil rights leader "seduced underage girls and boys" and "replaced the evil of forced segregation with the evil of forced integration."

Amazingly, Paul responded to the question about his racist newsletters by...praising King. Here's what he said:

More importantly, you ought to ask me what my relationship is for racial relationships. And one of my heroes is Martin Luther King because he practiced the libertarian principle of peaceful resistance and peaceful civil disobedience, as did Rosa Parks did.

Paul's newsletters contained plenty more incendiary, controversial rhetoric, including instructions for gunning down an "urban youth." ("An ex-cop I know advises that if you have to use a gun on a youth, you should leave the scene immediately, disposing of the wiped off gun as soon as possible.") They also said AIDS could be spread intentionally by "a malicious gay" and suggested renaming New York City "Welfaria," "Zooville," or "Rapetown."

At the debate, Paul vehemently denied writing the newsletters. "Well, it's been explained many times, and everything's written 20 years ago, approximately, that I did not write," Paul said. "So concentrating on something that was written 20 years ago that I didn't write, you know, is diverting the attention from most of the important issues." But this denial clashes with his own past remarks. In 1996, in an interview with the Dallas Morning News, Paul took ownership of the newsletters. Instead, he blamed critics for skewing the information that appeared in those newsletters. "It's typical political demagoguery," he said at the time.

What's more, in other interviews in 1996 Paul failed to distance himself from the newsletters, defending them repeatedly. Here's a rundown from ThinkProgress:

—In 1996, Ron Paul’s campaign defended his statements about the rationality of fearing black men. (“[W]e are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, it is hardly irrational.”) The Houston Chronicle reports, “A campaign spokesman for Paul said statements about the fear of black males mirror pronouncements by black leaders such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson.” [Houston Chronicle, 5/23/96]

—Paul said that his comments on blacks contained in the newsletters should be viewed in the context of “current events and statistical reports of the time.” [Houston Chronicle, 5/23/96]

Paul defended statements from an August 12, 1992 newsletter calling the late Rep. Barbara Jordan (D-TX) a "moron" and a "fraud." Paul also said Jordon was “her race and sex protect her from criticism.” In response, Paul said “such opinions represented our clear philosophical difference.” [Roll Call, 7/29/96]

"Also in 1992, Paul wrote, 'Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5 percent of blacks have sensible political opinions.’ Sullivan said Paul does not consider people who disagree with him to be sensible. And most blacks, [Paul spokesman Michael] Sullivan said, do not share Paul’s views.” [Austin American Statesman, 5/23/96]

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum attracted a mob of supporters, reporters, and Occupy protesters at a small general store and deli in the small town of Amherst this afternoon. Later, after shooting a segment on Mike Huckabee's Fox News show, Santorum took a question on whether he supported a constitutional amendment aimed at rolling back the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision that tore down limits on corporate political spending and paved the way for super-PACs, the independent groups that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of cash.

"I think it's horrible," Santorum said. "I think it would be against the right to petition your government." Asked whether corporations should have the kind of influence they do now, Santorum replied, "Everybody should have an opportunity, who are affected by government, to participate in the activities of the government. No one should be disenfranchised."

Santorum is far from the only Republican to dismiss the idea of a constitutional amendment targeting Citizens United. On Friday, at a firearms factory in Newport, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich similarly dissed a Citizens United, in response to a question from a factory worker. Instead, Gingrich said, the nation's campaign finance laws should be changed so that outside groups—like the pro-Romney super-PAC Restore Our Future that hammered Gingrich in Iowa—are marginalized and more funds go to a candidate's actual campaign.

As for Mitt Romney, the front-runner here in New Hampshire, he's criticized super-PACs on several occasions. But, in reality, there's no doubt where he stands. As he said last August at the Iowa State Fair, "Corporations are people, my friend."

2012 Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum....keepin' it real.

Pointing out that Rick Santorum doesn't look too kindly on reproductive rights is a lot like saying Lindsay Lohan needs to get fitted with an ankle monitor from time to time. But just how fixated was he on anti-abortion causes during his years in the Senate? Using the Capitol Words app, the Sunlight Foundation produced this handy chart:

According to our analysis, between January 1, 1996 and January 3, 2007 (his last day as a member of the Senate), the then-junior senator from Pennsylvania spoke following words more than anybody else in the Senate: abortion, partial-birth, fetus, fetal, womb. He also uttered the following phrases more than anyone else: "base of the skull," and "life of the mother."

And as you soak in those stats, enjoy this clip of a more youthful Santorum debating the issue on the floor of the Senate:

Now, let's be generous and go ahead and assume that he spent 135 days a year at work during his 12-year tenure in the upper chamber. Sticking with the "abortion" utterances (1014), that gives the senator an average of name-dropping abortion about once every two working days, far outpacing the anti-abortion buzzword-ery of his fellow Senate Republicans.

When Newt Gingrich launched into his speech Friday night at Salem High School, it seemed as if his pledge to remain above the fray of negative ads and campaigning was about to fly out the window. He'd barely taken the stage when he threw a jab at his campaign trail nemesis, Mitt Romney, who earlier in the week Gingrich had called a "liar" for denying knowledge of a barrage of super-PAC attack ads that the former House speaker blames for undercutting his support in Iowa. 

"How many of you have noticed that the state line seems to have a really significant, almost mythic, impact on behavior?" he asked, referring to Massachusetts, where Romney had served as governor, to hoots from the audience. "On one side more taxes and bigger government, on the other side lower taxes and less bureaucracy… There really are very different psychological mindsets." He arrived at the point: "The only reason I raise that is that I think there's a remarkable difference between a Reagan conservative and a Massachusetts moderate."

Was Newt—as some in the media had predicted—about to explode in a supernova of anti-Romney vitriol? It seemed this could be the moment.

The issue of what constitutes "rape" got a lot of attention last year after Republicans in Congress tried to redefine the term as it applies to federal laws in order to limit exceptions to the ban on federal funding for abortions to those for which the pregnancy was the result of "forcible rape." (Because those friendly, non-aggressive rapes are so common.)

But as a number of women's groups pointed out, even as the sneaky Republican redefinition attempt was defeated, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was still using the phrase "forcible" in its own (very outdated) definition of the crime. That was a problem, they argued, because the definition excluded date or partner rape, as well as cases where a woman was drugged. On Friday, the Feminist Majority Foundation and other advocates for changing the FBI code won, as the agency officially changed the definition. Here's what it now says constitutes rape:

The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.

Ms. magazine, which was also very involved in the campaign to update the definition, has more:

In the FBI's official statement, CJIS Assistant Director David Cuthbertson says that the update ensures that “the number of victims of this heinous crime will be more accurately reflected in national crime statistics."
"This is a major policy change and will dramatically impact the way rape is tracked and reported nationwide," says Katherine Spillar, executive editor of Ms. "With a modern, broader definition, FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics will finally show the true breadth of this violence that affects so many women's lives."