6 Utterly False Facts GOP Debate Candidates Have Claimed Are True In The Last Month Alone
The second Republican presidential debate, this one hosted by CNN, is scheduled to go down on Wednesday night. It'll be taking place at the Ronald Reagan presidential library, with a familiar sight in the background — his old Air Force One, which sits visible behind the debate stage, with the words "President Of The United States" splashed across it. It reminds everyone precisely what's at stake, and for the candidates, trying to fulfill that unlikeliest of political dreams sometimes leads some questionable places: here are six entirely false facts GOP debate candidates have said over the last month.
Make no mistake, there's a wide range of issues that the modern-day GOP is pretty loathe to confront forwardly and honestly, from climate change, to immigration, to reproductive health. And with the Republican presidential field still bloated as all hell — it currently sits at 16, following the end of former Texas Governor Rick Perry's campaign — everyone's looking for a chance to one-up someone else. And when there's a race on to grab attention, headlines and adoration, it can all make for fertile ground for a few falsehoods. Here are six such examples, on a variety of high-profile topics from throughout the campaign.
1. Planned Parenthood
A number of Republican candidates for President have been rhetorically warring against Planned Parenthood since the last debate, calling for its defunding on the strength of a series of undercover videos released by the so-called Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion organization headed up by David Daleidan. The chief angle of the videos is to gross people out with the graphic, unvarnished details of fetal tissue donation, while heavily implying (if not outright stating) that they're illegally profiting from such donations.
In reality, investigations of Planned Parenthood providers across four states already have failed to find any illegal activity.
2. Climate Change
You've surely heard the old refrain before: "Don't ask me, I'm not a scientist!" It's been depressingly common within the Republican Party in recent years, but retired neurosurgeon (and currently the first runner-up in the polls) Ben Carson wasn't so shy in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle — he flat-out claimed the following.
There is no overwhelming science that the things that are going on are man-caused and not naturally caused. Gimme a break.
In reality, there's a robust scientific consensus that climate change is influenced by human activity, and Carson's argument earned him a note from California Governor Jerry Brown, complete with a thumb drive full of evidence.
3. Kim Davis
This one doesn't really require that much explanation. After her days-long stint in a Kentucky jail for contempt of court, because she refused to perform the oath-bound duties of her elected office as a Rowan County clerk, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee turned out to celebrate one Kim Davis.
Davis, citing her Christian opposition to same-sex marriage, had been jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to the people of her county. Huckabee has since claimed that Davis was "showing more courage and humility than just about any federal office holder in Washington." This is distinctly untrue. He also rather hilariously claimed that he'd go to jail in her place, so if she ends up back in a cell, remember to ask: "Where's Mike?"
In a typically bombastic, fact-free campaign rally in Dallas, Texas this week, Donald Trump let this little gem slip: "We are a dumping ground for the rest of the world." It might be helpful to Trump if he could get his dehumanizing language a llittle paired down — are we talking about criminals and rapists here, or just human garbage? Suffice to say, Trump's disqualifying numbers among Latino voters are well-earned.
And even ignoring the gross callousness and racism of relating immigrants to the contents of a dump, Trump's fearmongering on immigration isn't even rooted in a statistically significant reality — illegal immigration has been close to net zero for years now, with concrete data confirming as much from 2010 through 2013.
5. Hillary Clinton's Emails
Guess what? Earlier this week, the Department of Justice issued a brief detailing that Clinton was entirely within her legal rights to delete emails she concluded to be of a personal nature, and stated that she's under no obligation to turn over more — as well as the courts not having the power to demand as such. This might come as news to Donald Trump, however, who last month called the email fracas "a criminal problem" for the former Secretary of State.
6. The Economy
Are wild, unrealistically optimistic predictions really falsehoods? In the context of a presidential campaign, they sure ought to be. And by that standard, ostensible establishment darling and current third-place candidate Jeb Bush told a real whopper last month — he insisted that under his administration, the country would see a rate of at least 4 percent G.D.P. growth, partially by way of his embrace of a flat tax. Reputable economists panned the claim, which if true would make Bush the first president in nearly 50 years to preside over such an economy — that kind of growth hasn't been seen since 1966, according to The New York Times.