Thursday’s debate was an embarrassment for the Republican Party. If anything, the winners last night were Democrats everywhere. The candidates looked like amateurs. They seemed petty and childish, and certainly not ready for prime time. Ted Cruz needed to come out strong and seem reasonable to combat Donald Trump’s attacks. Trump contrasted with his previous debates by toning down his wild drama queen schtick, and looked a little more like a politician and less like a reality show star. Why people like Ben Carson and Chris Christie are still on the stage is beyond me, but there they were.
Here are some quick takedowns and fact checks of some of the most egregious lines of nonsense GOP candidates came up with last night:
1. Chris Christie: “It’s absolutely disgraceful that Secretary Kerry and others said in their response to what’s going on in Iran that this was a good thing — it showed how the relationship was getting better.”
Kerry actually said: “We can all imagine how a similar situation might have played out three or four years ago.” There’s a difference.
2. Jeb Bush: “Think about it — with grandiose language, the president talks about red lines and nothing to follow it up, talks about ISIS being the JV team, they form a caliphate the size of Indiana with 35,000 to 40,000 battle-tested terrorists. He’s missing the whole point, that America’s leadership in the world is required for peace and stability.”
Nope. Here’s the full statement, which is nowhere near what Bush claims it is:
“‘I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.’
“So the president was not singling out ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, another name for the group], he was talking about the very different threat that is posed by a range of extremists around the globe. Many of them do not have designs on attacking the West or attacking the United States, and that is what puts them in stark contrast to the goals and capability of the previously existing al-Qaeda core network that was led by Osama bin Laden.”
3. Bush on Hillary Clinton: And you know what? Here’s the problem. If she gets elected, she’s under investigation with the FBI right now. If she gets elected, her first 100 days, instead of setting an agenda, she might be going back and forth between the White House and the courthouse. We need to stop that.”
That’s actually not true. According to what the FBI told the press: “Law enforcement officials have said that Mrs. Clinton, who is seeking the 2016 Democratic nomination for president, is not a target of the investigation.” Bush is making it sound like Clinton is a target and she isn’t. She’s the subject of an investigation — and there’s a difference.
4. Marco Rubio: “On the issue of Barack Obama, Barack Obama does not believe that America is a great global power.”
Liar, liar, pants on fire! Tuesday night, President Obama said that the U.S. has “the strongest, most durable economy in the world.” That sounds like he thinks that America is a great global power, to me.
5. Ted Cruz’s sketchy Goldman Sachs $1 million loan he didn’t disclose: “We took a loan against our assets to invest it in that campaign to defend ourselves against those attacks — and the entire New York Times attack is that I disclosed that loan on one filing with the United States Senate, that was a public filing. But it was not on a second filing with FDIC and yes, I made a paperwork error disclosing it on one piece of paper instead of the other. But if that’s the best the New York Times has got, they better go back to the well.”
That’s a flat-out lie. The “omission” was on an FEC filing when he was running for office. The second filing was an ethics disclosure that came after Cruz was elected to office. The FEC is divided on a lot of things, but on this issue, it is not. People have gone to jail for “mistakes” on paper.
Can we also talk about the cop-out of blaming the “liberal media” instead of accepting responsibility? That’s not very presidential. Your “omission” in paperwork was your fault, not the New York Times’. Grow up.
Cruz also said that he was opposed by a millionaire candidate with lobbyists in his pocket, but Cruz was a corporate lawyer who reaped the benefits of every major business lobby in the country. Must be nice to be able to take out a million-dollar loan. Pretty sure most Americans couldn’t qualify for that.
6. Ted Cruz’s citizenship issue.
Ted Cruz was born in Canada, and not because his parents were in the military and stationed overseas on a military base (which is considered “American soil”) — like John McCain’s parents were. Constitutional scholars are generally split on this. In the end, Cruz will probably be considered an “American” but the senator was also considered a “naturalized Canadian” until he shed his Canadian citizenship in 2014. So even he once thought of himself as a Canadian.
Cruz tried to argue that if being born to a non-citizen was an issue, even Donald Trump wouldn’t be eligible. “Yes I would,” Trump said — and he’s right. Trump was born on American soil, just like every other candidate on the stage. The reason that this is an issue for Cruz is because he was not born on American soil or on a military base in another country.
7. Cruz on jobs: “Median wages have stagnated, and the Obama-Clinton economy has left behind the working men and women of this country.”
False. We have added more private-sector jobs in the last 12 weeks than in the last Republican administration. Period. I also get what he’s trying to do by tying Clinton to Obama — but she was the Secretary of State. Trying to say these were her economic policies is like saying the Secretary of Agriculture is influencing our military strategy or our education policy. That’s not how government works.
8. Christie: “The best way to do that is to start talking to our allies again and having them be able to count on our word.”
When did we stop talking to our allies?
9. Bush: “The idea that somehow we’re better off today than the day that Barack Obama was inaugurated president of the United States is totally an alternative universe. The simple fact is that the world has been torn asunder.”
Jeb is living in a dream world if he honestly believes we were better off when his brother was president in 2008 than where we are today. What world has been “torn asunder?” Is Bush talking about the economy? Because the economy has never been better as it continues to rebound after his brother’s administration. Is he talking about security? Because, while we’ve got some trouble going on, there hasn’t been a 9/11 under Obama’s administration the way that there was under the Bush administration, and the terrorists involved in the planning of it are all now dead.
10. Rebuild our military?
Bush, Rubio and Christie all said that they would rebuild our military. “We’re gutting our military,” Bush said. That’s flat-out untrue according to the CATO Institute, which lists the budget numbers for defense spending that have gone up and up. The thing is, we should be spending less on our military. As President Obama said on Tuesday, we spend as much as the next eight industrialized countries combined on our military. We have the biggest and most powerful military in the world. It doesn’t need to be rebuilt — it needs to be streamlined.
11. Ben Carson: “There’s no question that ISIS is a very serious problem, and I don’t believe that this administration recognizes how serious it is.”
Obama Tuesday night’s SOTU:
“Priority number one is protecting the American people and going after terrorist networks. Both al Qaeda and now ISIL pose a direct threat to our people, because in today’s world, even a handful of terrorists who place no value on human life, including their own, can do a lot of damage.”
The idea that ISIS is beating the United States and that we are not taking it seriously is absurd. As the moderator said, we have had 16 straight weeks of bombing. As a result, 30 percent of ISIS territory has shrunk in Iraq and Syria. Either they’re lying about what the United States is doing or they aren’t informed enough. Either option isn’t presidential.
12. Bush on Clinton: “Think about it. She wants to continue down the path of Iran, Benghazi, the Russian reset, Dodd-Frank, all the things that have — that have gone wrong in this country, she would be a national security mess.”
Dodd-Frank is a national security threat? Does Bush know what Dodd-Frank is?
13. Trump: “When I look at the migration, I looked at the line, I said it actually on your show recently, where are the women? It looked like very few women. Very few children. Strong, powerful men, young and people are looking at that and they’re saying what’s going on?”
No. The State Department confirms that only two of the Syrian refugees that have come to the United States are military.
14. Bush: “The president’s first impulse is do this by executive order, power he doesn’t have.”
First, executive orders are powers bestowed upon the executive branch in Article II, Section 1, Clause 1 of the Constitution of the United States. Second, 67 percent of Americans and 51 percent of Republicans actually agree with the president’s executive orders on guns. Third, I’m not sure Bush has a leg to stand on here. His brother issued more executive orders than Obama has.
15. Trump: “Our healthcare is a horror show. Obamacare, we’re going to repeal it and replace it.”
It’s such a “horror show” here’s what happened:
16. Trump: “It’s not the gun that pulls the trigger, it’s people who pull the trigger”
Because there’s a trigger to pull. If there’s no trigger to pull, there’s no person pulling it — because it doesn’t exist.
17. Rubio: “And that’s how you get a foreign policy where we cut deals with our enemies like Iran and we betray our allies like Israel and we gut our military and we go around the world like he has done on 10 separate occasions and apologized for America.”
Don’t look now, but is that George W. Bush apologizing to China to get them to free an air crew? Well, what do you know?
18. Cruz: “So the way you do it is you pass a tax plan like the tax plan I’ve introduced: a simple flat tax, 10 percent for individuals, and a 16 percent business flat tax, you abolish the IRS.”
Just so you know, under Cruz’s tax plan the top 1 percent end up with one hell of a sweet deal. The rest of us, not so much.
19. Maria Bartiromo, the moderator: “One of the biggest fiscal challenges is our entitlement programs, particularly Social Security and Medicare.”
No, it isn’t. Entitlements are not an immediate threat or an imminent danger or the largest financial challenge in our country right now. Not by a long stretch. Medicare is solvent until 2030 and Social Security is solvent until 2033.
BONUS:Carson and his threat of electromagnetic pulses (EMP). True story, the NRA once told people that they needed to be armed because this is an actual fear. Like somehow your hand guns can combat electromagnetic pulses.
It’s unclear whether these folks are flat-out lying or if they’re willingly trying to mislead Americans. This was a substantive policy debate and the people who had the mental capacity to follow along tonight likely already know who they are voting for and can tell you why with specifics. The only thing that seemed to come out of Thursday’s debate is more of this petty arguing among themselves and the attempt to roast Hillary Clinton. What a waste of time and energy.