TRUTH TEST: Ads from both sides misrepresent Sal Pace

7:09 PM, Oct 10, 2012   |    comments
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The seat is occupied by Republican Scott Tipton. A pair of ads aim to give voters an image of his Democratic challenger Sal Pace. Both ads are guilty of stretching the facts.

Throughout the 2012 political season, 9NEWS will hold those who run political ads on our networks accountable for what they say. Check out previous Truth Tests here.


This ad centers around a retired steelworker in Pueblo. He drives around pointing out a bridge he says was built using Chinese steel instead of U.S. steel.

The steelmaker makes the only claim that can be tested in the ad.

CLAIM: Because of Sal Pace, the law was changed so Colorado projects were built with American steel.

VERDICT: Misleading.

This claim is misleading because it makes Pace's record on protectionism sound much more impressive than it truly is.

In 2009, as a State Representative, Pace tried but failed to pass one bill and then another to get the state buy more domestic steel for its projects.

Pace would have done so through an incentive in the form of a bidder preference on state contracts.

After both bills failed, Pace worked with Democratic Governor Bill Ritter, who signed an executive order aimed at a similar goal.

However, Ritter's order was pretty watered-down compared to Pace's bills.

The executive order was confined to federally funded projects under ARRA, or the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Gov. Ritter's order merely created guidelines to ensure that so-called "buy American" requirements (which already existed within the language of ARRA) were followed by Colorado agencies receiving ARRA funds.

It's pretty far from a drastic change to state law, as the ad would have you believe.

Pace's sentiment is clearly towards encouraging the use of U.S. steel in state projects, but this ad overstates his record.


The Tipton ad aims to paint Pace in a different light by making a series of claims about his stance on healthcare.

CLAIM: Sal Pace supports the new healthcare law.

VERDICT: Mixed (voiceover is misleading, text on screen is true).

To make the blanket statement that Sal Pace supports the healthcare law signed by President Obama misleads viewers about Pace's position.

The ad lifts a quote on screen from a Durango Herald article, which states "Pace supports much of the bill."

The ad does not provide viewers the rest of that sentence: "but not its key provision - the mandate that everyone have health insurance."

The individual mandate is widely regarded as the most controversial portion of the healthcare law.

It's worth noting that the Herald article also points out sections of the healthcare law that Tipton supports, while comparing the similarity between the two candidates on the issue.

But the ad goes on to portray Pace as extreme.

CLAIM: Sal Pace supports cutting over $700 billion from Medicare

VERDICT: Misleading.

This section of the ad is particularly alarming because the text on screen might lead some viewers to conclude that Pace voted in favor of the healthcare law. He did not and could not because he has never been a member of Congress.

However, the implication that Pace supported a law that cut $700 billion from Medicare is also misleading. We have previously reported that using the $700 billion figure this way is a pretty flimsy argument to make.

CLAIM: Pace supports a single-payer government healthcare system, a wholesale Washington takeover of healthcare, forcing everyone on to a government plan.

VERDICT: Misleading.

The strongest evidence to support this claim is that in 2009, Pace co-sponsored a bill to study the idea of government-run healthcare for Colorado.

The bill, which never passed, would have set up an authority to study the issue. Actually implementing government-run healthcare in Colorado would have required more action by the General Assembly.

The most this tells is that Pace's legislative record shows he's open to the concept of single-payer healthcare, which may still be a legitimate concern to many voters.

It's worth bearing in mind that the issue arose in a state bill.

Pace has not promoted a national government health system as this ad would have you believe. He details some of his thinking on the current national healthcare law here.

The bottom line:

Tipton's ad has to stretch the record pretty far to tie Pace to controversial national policy.

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