07 Feb

Live fact-checking the Republican New Hampshire presidential debate


Live fact-checking the Republican New Hampshire presidential debate

By Lauren Carroll, Joshua Gillin, Linda Qiu, Amy Sherman

There was some confusion as the Republican presidential candidates took the stage Saturday at the final GOP debate before the New Hampshire primary.
The Republicans met face-to-face for the final time ahead of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.

Frontrunner Donald Trump, who sat out the last debate, began the night by refuting doubts that he has the temperament to be president.

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“The War in Iraq — I was the one that said, ‘Don’t go, don’t do it, you’re going to destabilize the Middle East,’ ” Trump said. “So I’m not one with a trigger.”

We only found one example of Trump commenting on the Iraq War before the invasion, and he seemed apprehensive but not vehemently opposed to the operation. He only started publicly denouncing the war after it started.

Trump makes it sound like he stood on a railroad to try to stop the Iraq War train in its tracks. In reality, by the time he got around to forcefully criticizing the war, that train had already left the station.

We rated his statement Mostly False.

Cruz blames CNN for Carson rumors

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was asked to answer criticisms that his campaign wrongly suggested in the moments before the Iowa caucuses that Ben Carson would suspend his campaign. It wasn’t true, and Carson supporters were furious.

Cruz said the real culprit was CNN.

“Let me tell you the facts that occurred for those who are interested in knowing,” Cruz said. “On Monday night, about 6:30 p.m. CNN reported that Ben was not going from Iowa to New Hampshire or South Carolina. Rather he was ‘taking a break from campaigning.’ They reported that on television. CNN’s political anchors Jake Tapper and Dana Bash and Wolf Blitzer said it was ‘highly unusual’ and ‘highly significant.’ My political team saw CNN’s report, breaking news, and forwarded that news to our volunteers.”

According to CNN, what Cruz said “is categorically false.”

We agree that Cruz’s description is highly misleading. We rated his claim False.

Cruz’s campaign took a nugget of information from CNN and took it too far. CNN reported that Carson was “to take a break after Iowa,” while simultaneously noting that Carson would ultimately continue campaigning.

The Cruz campaign sent messages on its app anyway, saying that Carson would “stop” his campaign. A key surrogate said that Carson was doing “the equivalent of suspending.” That’s more than simply “forwarding” news.

Rubio says Americans are against path to legal status

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio defended his decision to abandon his 2013 immigration bill.

“We can’t get that legislation passed,” he said. “The American people will not support doing anything about people that are in this country illegally until the law is enforced first, and you prove it to them.”

We found one poll suggesting that people would like to see border enforcement first. But we found many polls that show that the majority of Americans support some type of legal status for illegal immigrants, with some extending that to citizenship.

We rated Rubio’s claim Mostly False.

Trump wrong on tax claim

Trump blamed high taxes for stunting job growth in the United States.

When ABC moderators pressed the real estate mogul for specifics about how he would boost the economy, Trump said he wanted to cut taxes for the middle class and businesses.

“Right now we’re the highest taxed country in the world,” Trump said.

That’s False.

Tax experts have told us that there are usually two ways to compare different countries: Tax revenue as a percentage of gross domestic product, and tax revenue per capita. We checked both through the Organization for Economic Cooperation, a group of 34 industrialized nations we could consider economic peers.

In OECD data from 2014, the most recent year available, the United States was far from the most highly taxed among this group.

Taxation accounted for 26 percent of GDP, which ranks America 27th out of 30 countries (the OECD average was more than 34 percent).The top five highest-taxed countries as a percentage of GDP were Denmark, France, Belgium, Finland and Italy, all topping 43 percent. Korea, Chile and Mexico were the only nations ranked lower than the United States.

As for tax revenue per capita, we move up a bit.

America is 17th out of 29 countries by this measure on the OECD list, with taxes totaling $14,994 per person. The top five were Luxembourg, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland, which ranged from a high of almost $50,000 to to more than $23,000. Twelve nations were lower than the United States. The bottom two, Turkey and Chile, had tax revenues per capita of less than $3,000.

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