PolitiFact fact checks Feb. 6 GOP debate

Posted at 3:33 AM, Feb 07, 2016
Fact checks in this article:
  • Ted Cruz: CNN first said Ben Carson was 'taking a break from campaigning.' We rate this claim as False.
  • Donald Trump, on the Iraq War: "I was the one that said, ‘Don’t go, don’t do it, you’re going to destabilize the Middle East.’ " We rate this claim as Mostly False.
  • Marco Rubio: "The American people will not support doing anything about people that are in this country illegally until the law is enforced first."  We rate this claim as Mostly False.
  • Donald Trump: "Right now we’re the highest taxed country in the world." We rate this claim as False.
FACT CHECK 1 - Ted Cruz: CNN first said Ben Carson was 'taking a break from campaigning'
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign wrongly suggestedin the moments before the Iowa caucuses that Ben Carson would suspend his campaign. It wasn’t true, and Carson supporters were furious.
Cruz has apologized. But he said at the Feb. 6, 2016, Republican debate that 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.
Here’s how it all unfolded on caucus night.
Between 6:41 p.m. and 6:43 p.m. central time, CNN’s senior political reporter Chris Moody sent a series of tweets.
Two minutes later, CNN’s Dana Bash and Jake Tapper report Carson’s travel plans during a live broadcast of the caucuses. Bash and Tapper both say that this is "very unusual" and anchor Wolf Blitzer adds that it is "very significant news." But CNN does not say Carson is suspending his campaign. Here’s a transcript:
Tapper: "CNN has learned some news about the man who, at least according to polls, is in fourth place here in Iowa. Now, Dana, a week from tomorrow, we’re all going to be doing this again for the New Hampshire primary. So almost every single candidate is going to be going directly from here to New Hampshire to campaign — except for the man in fourth place, who a few months ago was in first place here, Dr. Ben Carson. What have we learned?"
Bash: "That’s right. We should say that our Chris Moody is breaking this news, that Ben Carson is going to go back to Florida to his home, regardless of how he does tonight here in Iowa. He’s going to go there for several days. And then afterwards, he’s not going to go to South Carolina. He’s not going to go to New Hampshire. He’s going to come to Washington, D.C., and he’s going to do that because the National Prayer Breakfast is on Thursday. And people who have been following Ben Carson’s career know that that’s really where he got himself on the political map, attending that prayer breakfast, and really giving it to President Obama at the time. And he became kind of a hero among conservatives, among evangelicals especially."
Tapper: "But it’s very unusual..."
Bash: "Very unusual."
Tapper: " be announcing that you’re going to go home to rest for a few days, not going on to the next site. Plus, he’s already announced that he’s going to be coming out and speaking at 9:15 local and 10:15 Eastern, no matter whether or not we know the results, because he wants to get home and get ahead of the storm."
Bash: "Look, if you want to be president of the United States, you don’t go home to Florida. I mean, that’s bottom line. That’s the end of the story. If you want to signal to your supporters that you want it, that you’re hungry for it, that you want them to get out and and campaign, you’ve got to be out there doing it too. And he’s not doing it. It’s very unusual."
Tapper: "Very unusual news that CNN has just learned. CNN’s Chris Moody breaking the story. Wolf, back to you in Washington."
Blitzer: "Very significant news indeed, guys, thanks very much."
During the discussion, CNN's lower-third graphic does say "CAMPAIGN: CARSON TO TAKE A BREAK AFTER IOWA."
At 6:53 p.m., Carson spokesman Jason Osborne tweets.
Three minutes later, according to Breitbart, the Cruz campaign sends an email telling supporters, "The press is reporting that Dr. Ben Carson is taking time off from the campaign trail after Iowa and making a big announcement."
Here’s an image of the email via the Huffington Post:
Things get worse at approximately 7 p.m., when the caucuses opened. Cruz supporters using the campaign’s mobile app received a messageinforming them that Carson "will stop campaigning after Iowa."
At 7:07 p.m., Cruz surrogate  and Iowa Rep. Steve King retweets Moody and adds to it.
 An hour later, King sends another Tweet to the same effect.
For what it’s worth, Cruz acknowledged earlier in the week that CNN’s reporting that night was accurate.
"CNN got it correct. Miracles happen. But that is part of the democratic process to let Iowa causers know, here is the news that is breaking. And it is relevant," Cruz said Feb. 3.  
Our ruling
Cruz said that it was CNN, not his campaign, that first reported that Carson "taking a break from campaigning," and his campaign forwarded that news to his supporters.
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.
We rate Cruz’s claim False.
Data curated by InsideGov
FACT CHECK 2 - Donald Trump, on the Iraq War: "I was the one that said, ‘Don’t go, don’t do it, you’re going to destabilize the Middle East.’ "
Donald Trump says he has the temperament to be president, and his position against the Iraq War proves it.
"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,’ " the Republican front runner said at the Feb. 6, 2016, New Hampshire GOP debate.
Several media outlets have cast doubt on Trump’s claim that he spoke out against the Iraq War, pointing out that he didn’t appear to take any public position on the war until after the March 2003 invasion. Because Trump keeps making this kind of claim, we decided to put it on PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter.
We searched newspaper articles and television transcripts from 2002 and 2003, during the debate leading up to the Iraq War. We didn’t find any examples of Trump unequivocally denouncing the war until a year after the war began.
Trump’s comments
We only found one instance where Trump discussed the war before it started. On Jan. 28, 2003, just under three months before the invasion, Fox News’ Neil Cavuto asked Trump whether President George W. Bush should be more focused on Iraq or the economy.
Speaking of Iraq, Trump said, "Well, he has either got to do something or not do something, perhaps, because perhaps shouldn't be doing it yet and perhaps we should be waiting for the United Nations, you know. He's under a lot of pressure. I think he's doing a very good job. But, of course, if you look at the polls, a lot of people are getting a little tired. I think the Iraqi situation is a problem. And I think the economy is a much bigger problem as far as the president is concerned."
Trump seems to be skeptical of the mission in Iraq here, and he said the economy should be a higher priority. But he did not say anything that resembles his claim: that Bush should not proceed because a war would  "destabilize the Middle East."
The United States invaded Iraq on March 19, 2003.
A week later, Trump gave differing takes. At an Academy Awards after party, Trump said that "the war’s a mess," according to the Washington Post. He told Fox News that because of the war, "The market’s going to go up like a rocket."
Trump’s harshest criticism came more than a year into the war, in an August 2004 article in Esquire:
"Look at the war in Iraq and the mess that we're in. I would never have handled it that way. Does anybody really believe that Iraq is going to be a wonderful democracy where people are going to run down to the voting box and gently put in their ballot and the winner is happily going to step up to lead the country? C'mon. Two minutes after we leave, there's going to be a revolution, and the meanest, toughest, smartest, most vicious guy will take over. And he'll have weapons of mass destruction, which Saddam didn't have.
"What was the purpose of this whole thing? Hundreds and hundreds of young people killed. And what about the people coming back with no arms and legs? Not to mention the other side. All those Iraqi kids who've been blown to pieces. And it turns out that all of the reasons for the war were blatantly wrong. All this for nothing!"
He told CNN’s Larry King in November 2004, "I do not believe that we made the right decision going into Iraq, but, you know, hopefully, we'll be getting out."
Clearly Trump opposed the Iraq War in its early years. There’s no evidence, though, that he advocated against the war in the first place.
Our ruling
Regarding the Iraq War, "I was the one that said, ‘Don’t go, don’t do it, you’re going to destabilize the Middle East.’ "
Maybe Trump felt this way privately, but he made no publicly reported comments in the lead up to the Iraq War that reflect this sentiment. We could only find 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 rate his statement Mostly False.


Data curated by InsideGov

FACT CHECK 3 - Marco Rubio: "The American people will not support doing anything about people that are in this country illegally until the law is enforced first."  

Marco Rubio was grilled about his 2013 immigration bill during the ABC debate in New Hampshire, specifically about why he abandoned his own legislation.
Debate moderator David Muir asked Rubio, "Gov. (Chris) Christie has said of you, as soon as you felt the heat, you turned tail and run. Gov. (Jeb) Bush has said, ‘I don't think we need people cutting and running anymore.’ Did you fight for your own legislation, senator, or did you run from it?"
Rubio replied: "We can’t get that legislation passed. 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."
Is that how the majority of Americans feel about changing immigration laws? Based on our previous fact-checks, we suspected public polling contradicted that position. We could not reach a Rubio spokesperson on debate night.
Polls about path to legal status
Rubio was a cosponsor of a bill that included a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. It included significant hurdles, including fines and a waiting period. The bill passed the Senate in 2013 but stalled in the House after leadership refused to bring it up for a vote. Since then, Rubio has called for a piecemeal approach that emphasizes border security first.
Recent polls have asked people if they support a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants. That would allow them to work and pay taxes, but they would not be able to vote, for example, which would require citizenship.
A May 2015 poll found broad public support for path to legal status, according to a report from the Pew Research Center.
The poll found that 72 percent of Americans said that undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States should be allowed to stay in the country legally, if certain requirements are met. The poll found that 42 percent said they should be able to apply for citizenship while 26 percent said they should only be able to apply for permanent residency.
Pew’s survey found that 56 percent of Republicans favored a path to legal status.
However, George Hawley, a political scientist at the University of Alabama, previously told PunditFact that the Pew survey also shows a complicated set of attitudes.
"A majority of Republicans also felt that giving people who came to the United States illegally a way to gain legal status is like rewarding them for doing something wrong," Hawley said. "Further, 42 percent of Republicans felt legal immigration should be decreased, compared to 21 percent who think it should be increased. Also, far more Republicans view immigrants as a burden, 63 percent, than view them as an asset for the country, 27 percent."
Other 2015 polls also showed broad support for giving illegal immigrants a path to legal status.
A Pew survey done in September 2015 found that "majorities across all demographic and partisan groups favor providing legal status to undocumented immigrants. Republicans (66 percent) continue to be less likely than independents (74 percent) or Democrats (80 percent) to support a path to legal status for those in the U.S. illegally."
A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll conducted in July found a majority of adults showed support for some sort of legal status. The poll found that 47 percent of all adults supported a pathway to citizenship while 17 percent supported the right to a legal status, adding up to a total of 64 percent.
The majority of Republicans too supported some sort of legal status. Among Republicans, the poll found 36 percent support a pathway that eventually allows citizenship while 17 percent favored legal status, for a total of 53 percent.
Gallup found in July 2015 that 65 percent favored a path to citizenship in a poll conducted in July 2015. But this poll included larger samples of blacks and Hispanics -- Hispanics are more likely than other groups to favor a path to citizenship.
Gallup found big differences between the two major parties. At 80 percent, Democrats overwhelmingly favored a path to citizenship while that dropped to 50 percent for Republicans.
So currently, majorities support allowing people here illegally to change their status in some way that allows them to stay.
Polls conducted at the time the bill was being debated also showed public support, though.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll in May 2013 -- a month before the Senate passed the bill -- asked, "Would you support or oppose a program giving undocumented immigrants now living in the United States the right to live here legally if they pay a fine and meet other requirements?" About 58 percent chose "support."
When a path to legal status was specifically connected with border security, support hit 50 percent. But 44 percent said they should not be linked.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll in April 2013 asked, "Do you think a law allowing people to apply for citizenship should take effect only after border control has been improved, or should take effect without being linked to border control efforts?" Fifty percent chose "after being improved," while 44 percent said "without being linked" while the remainder were unsure.
One expert told us it’s not so much that the general public opposes immigration legislation, but that House members in competitive districts fear losing primary races.
"Some polls ask about other immigration policies, like building a wall, using e-verify, etc. which are generally favored, but polls have shown for a while now that there is broad support for some pathway to legalization or citizenship," said Stephen A. Nuño, a professor of politics and international affairs at Northern Arizona University. "The problem is that high concentrations of Republicans in those Republican House members’ districts are feared and are closely watched by potential challengers. There is the other thing that many Republican leaders simply don't want a pathway to legalization regardless of what the country wants."
Our ruling
Rubio said, "The American people will not support doing anything about people that are in this country illegally until the law is enforced first."
Multiple polls have showed that the majority of Americans support some type of status to allow illegal immigrants to remain in the United States -- and some extend that to citizenship. We found one poll that suggested people would like to see border enforcement first, but there are many polls that show straightforward support for legal status.


We rate this claim Mostly False.
Data curated by InsideGov
FACT CHECK 4 - Donald Trump: "Right now we’re the highest taxed country in the world."
Donald Trump blamed high taxes for stunting job growth in the United States during a GOP primary debate in New Hampshire.
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 on Feb. 6, 2016.
Trump’s campaign didn’t respond to us, but his claim could be accurate if he had been more specific. We’ve previously rated a statement that the United States has the highest corporate tax rate Mostly True, because the statutory corporate tax rate ranks as the world's highest. We should note, however, that deductions and exclusions usually lower the effective rate, placing the United States lower than other countries’ comparable levels.
But Trump did not specifically say the corporate rate at the debate, so we wanted to know how high U.S. taxes stacked up to the rest of the world.
Tax tables
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.
Industrialized economies are the best yardstick, but U.S. taxation as a percentage of GDP ranks 12th from the bottom if you compare it with a larger roster of 115 countries.
The World Bank’s data for 2012 — the last year for which it has complete figures — showed that the nations with lower percentages than the United States were two OECD members (Japan and Spain), a couple of oil-rich countries (Oman and Kuwait) and few impoverished states (like Afghanistan and the Central African Republic).
Point being, Trump is on the wrong side of the ledger with this claim.
Our ruling
Trump said, "Right now we’re the highest taxed country in the world."
We used a couple of different measurements suggested by experts to determine that no matter how you slice it, the United States is far from the most taxed nation in the world, whether it’s an advanced industrialized economy or not.
We rate his statement False.