Mr. Gingrich, when asked about his proposal to replace the Environmental Protection Agency with a “solutions agency,’’ cited an example of what he considers bureaucratic overreach by current regulators: controlling dust from farms in states like Iowa and Arizona.
The E.P.A.’s supposed effort to regulate “farm dust’’ has become something of an urban legend. Mr. Gingrich often says while campaigning that he learned of it from Senator Charles E. Grassley, an Iowa Republican.
The E.P.A. itself has denied that it ever considered regulating farm dust.
The agency has long had authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate “coarse particles,’’ soot or dust that emerges mostly from smokestacks, automobiles and demolition sites and has been shown to contribute to heart disease and other health problems.
Although “farm dust” falls under the definition of coarse particles, the E.P.A. administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, testified in March before the House Agriculture Committee that her agency did not plan to regulate dust on farms.
She said in a letter to the House in October that she would not change current standards for regulating particles. Nonetheless, Republicans in the House proposed the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act in November. In testimony, the E.P.A.’s chief air quality officer reaffirmed the agency’s decision not to change existing standards, adding, “I am hopeful that this announcement ends the myth that the agency has plans to tighten regulation of ‘farm dust.’ ’’
– Trip Gabriel
Santorum’s Response to Gay Rights
Richard Perry/The New York TimesRick Santorum and Mitt Romney clarified comments they had made about gay rights.
Mr. Santorum delivered an anodyne response to a question on gay rights during the debate — an issue that has prompted him in the past to make some of his most provocative and controversial remarks.
Asked what would happen if his son told him he was gay, Mr. Santorum said, “I would love him as much as I did the second before he said it.”
But Mr. Santorum has been asked that question before, and he gave a very different answer then. In <a href=”http://www.gq.com/news-politics/politics/200308/rick-santorum-gq-august-2003″>a 2003 interview with GQ</a>, he was asked what he would tell a son who admitted to having an attraction to men. He essentially said his son should remain celibate.
“I would try to point out to them what is the right thing to do. And we have many temptations to do things we shouldn’t do,” he told the magazine. “It doesn’t mean you have to submit.”
Mr. Santorum added that all parents should help steer their children in a direction “that would lead them to a better and happier life.”
Then, when pressed on whether he would still love his son, he replied, “It’s all you can do.”
The GQ interview came after Mr. Santorum likened homosexuality to a host of illegal and devious acts.
He told The Associated Press in 2003, “If the Supreme Court says you have the right to consensual gay sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery, you have the right to anything.”
– Jeremy W. Peters
Romney on Job Creation in Massachusetts
Cheryl Senter for The New York TimesMr. Romney said he created more jobs in Massachusetts than President Obama has in the entire country.
Earlier in the debate, Mr. Romney said he had created more jobs in Massachusetts than President Obama had in the entire country. Since he did not provide figures, the basis for his claim is unclear. But in 2011, nearly two million jobs were added nationwide. During Mr. Romney’s term as governor from 2003 to 2007, employment grew by about 60,000 jobs, or 15,000 a year on average, according to The Associated Press, which issued a fact-checking report when Mr. Romney boasted of his job-creation record during a debate in September.
– Jackie Calmes
Huntsman on Oil
Responding to a question about cuts in a program that helps low-income families pay for heating oil, Mr. Huntsman said many people were in need and the program should be supported until the nation moved to more diversified sources of energy and reduced imports of oil.
He went on to say that federal government policy “always favors one product — and that’s oil.” The “one-product monopoly,” he said, should be broken up. Mr. Huntsman did not have an opportunity to fully explain what he meant, but it appeared that he was referring to government tax policies that have supported the oil industry for nearly 100 years through various subsidies and incentives, which today reach about $3.5 billion a year. President Obama has called for ending these tax breaks, but he has been opposed by the oil industry and by most Republicans in Congress.
Mr. Huntsman made no reference to federal tax breaks and other subsidies for other forms of energy, including coal, nuclear, solar, wind and ethanol, all of which have received billions of dollars in tax incentives over the past several decades. So while the oil industry has enjoyed favored treatment for years, so have most other forms of energy.
– John M. Broder
Romney on Repealing Health Care Law
Richard Perry/The New York TimesMitt Romney asserted that repealing President Obama’s health care law would save the country money.
Mitt Romney repeated a claim he has made in past debates — repealing the Obama health care law would save money — that has been refuted by nonpartisan fact checkers and analyses like those of the Congressional Budget Office.
He said repealing the law would save $95 billion a year. The Congressional Budget Office has projected that the health care law would reduce deficits by $210 billion in the first decade from fiscal year 2012 through 2021 given taxes, fees and health cost reductions mandated by the law. Similarly, the office reported that legislation passed last year by the House Republican majority to repeal the law would increase deficits by the same amount.
While the budget office has declined to put an exact figure on projected savings of the health care law beyond the first decade, given the uncertainty of such long-range projections, it concluded that the savings would be in the range of half a percentage point of the nation’s gross domestic product, a substantial amount. The Obama administration has projected that the savings in the second decade will exceed $1 trillion.
In November, the nonpartisan fact-checking group Politifact said of Mr. Romney’s claim: “We rate his statement false.”
– Jackie Calmes
Ron Paul on Spending Overseas
When Mr. Paul talks about ending overseas spending, he is referring to defense spending primarily, because that’s where the vast bulk of overseas spending comes from. It is certainly not what it sounds like — foreign aid – since that is only 1 percent of federal spending.
– Helene Cooper
Romney Running for President While Governor
Mr. Gingrich assailed Mr. Romney as a career politician who never stopped running for office — not even when he was governor of Massachusetts.
“You’ve been out of state for something like 200 days preparing to run for president,” said Mr. Gingrich, referring to Mr. Romney’s last year as Massachusetts governor, in 2006. “You didn’t have the interlude of citizenship while you thought about what to do. You were running for president while you were governor. You were going all over the country.”
Whatever Mr. Romney’s state of mind at the time, the numbers are accurate: In 2006, Mr. Romney spent 212 days traveling outside Massachusetts, according to news reports, in what was widely regarded as the opening stage of his first campaign for president, which began the following year. He also spent his final year in office serving as chairman of the Republican Governors Association and spread millions of dollars to other Republican candidates through a political action committee, collecting chits for his expected run.
Mr. Romney’s decision not to seek a second term as governor — unusual for a politician of his age at the time — was also seen as a signal of his intent to run for higher office.
Mr. Romney had previously run for United States Senate, in a 1994 race against Edward M. Kennedy. Mr. Romney lost.