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Fact Checking the GOP Presidential Debate

The candidates threw around plenty of facts and statistics. So were they telling the truth? We took a look at some of their statements.
Donald Trump, second from right, speaks as Jeb Bush, left, Marco Rubio, second from left, and Ben Carson look on during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Mark J. Terrill / AP

Ten Republican presidential candidates took to the stage Wednesday night in Boulder, Colorado,for a debate hosted by CNBC. The candidates threw around plenty of facts and statistics. So were they telling the truth? We took a look at some of their statements:

“And Mexico is going to pay for the wall …” – Donald Trump

Trump has constantly promised this during his campaign. In his immigration plan, he details how he plans on getting it done — by threatening to increase various taxes and tariffs on the country until they agree to foot the bill.

In an interview with Bloomberg in August, a spokesman for Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said that this claim illustrates Donald Trump’s ignorance of foreign policy. "Of course it's false," Eduardo Sanchez said. "It reflects an enormous ignorance for what Mexico represents, and also the irresponsibility of the candidate who's saying it."

If Mexico doesn’t pick up the tab, a border wall would cost about $2.4 billion to build, not including the $6.5 billion it would cost to maintain it over 20 years, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

“… Marco, when you signed up for this, this is a six-year term and you should be showing up to work. … You can campaign, or just resign and let someone else take the job. There are a lot of people living paycheck-to-paycheck in Florida as well. They’re looking for a senator that will fight for them each and every day.” – Jeb Bush

According to data from, Marco Rubio has missed quite a few Senate votes in the last year. Since late October 2014, Rubio has been absent 26 percent of the Senate’s votes, leading the pack of current and former senators running for president. Since he took office, Rubio has missed 12 percent of Senate votes, which is not a good record compared to the lifetime voting records of today’s U.S. senators.

An NBC News analysis found that, since Rubio announced his 2016 run on April 13, he has missed about 47 percent of the votes in the Senate.

“… in 2004, John Kerry ran for president, missing close to 60 to 70 percent of his votes.” – Rubio

Rubio brought up John Kerry’s Senate voting record in response to a question about his own poor record. Rubio has recently come under fire for missing Senate votes, with a prominent Florida newspaper calling on Rubio to resign.

The Washington Post’s Paul Kane noted in August 2007 that Kerry missed 72 percent of votes in the Senate during his 2004 campaign. Of course, Kerry was the Democratic nominee for president, while Rubio is still waging a GOP primary battle. The raw numbers are available here, via

“I never filed for bankruptcy.” – Donald Trump

Trump’s statement is technically true. He has never personally filed for bankruptcy. However, four of his businesses have done so:

Trump Taj Mahal – 1991

Trump Plaza Hotel – 1992

Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts – 2004

Trump Entertainment Resorts – 2009

The Washington Post has more information on those bankruptcies here.

“My record was one of cutting taxes each and every year. You don’t have to guess about it, I actually have a record: $19 billion of tax cuts …” – Bush

Bush has made this claim in the past, and PolitiFact rated it “Half True.” He took these numbers from his Right to Rise PAC, which looked at cumulative revenue changes between 1999 and 2007 ($19.3 billion, adjusting for inflation). The problem with this claim is that it’s really not as simple as boiling it down to a single number like he did.

PolitiFact wonders how much some of these tax cuts affected the average Floridian, but since they think the numbers are at least somewhat fair, they rated it “Half True.”

“… under Barack Obama, 3.7 million women have entered in poverty.” – Ted Cruz

“Three million women have fallen into poverty under this administration.” – Carly Fiorina

In 2008, 15 million U.S. women were in poverty, compared with 18.4 million women today, according to Census data. However, men’s poverty is proportional.

The numbers are correct, but the point was misstated.

Fiorina has flubbed talking about women’s poverty in the past. In 2014, PolitiFact checked her claim that women made up 70% of the world’s poverty, a claim that they ruled “False.”

“I went into Ohio where we had an $8 billion hole and now we have a $2 billion surplus.” – John Kasich

According to Ohio’s Office of Budget and Management, Ohio’s surplus surpassed $2 billion.

Should Kasich get the credit for this? That’s a little up the air. According to Politifact, “… it’s important to remember that he took office at the very beginning of the national economic recovery, and as the national economy has improved, so has Ohio’s.”