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Fact-Checking the Seventh Republican 2016 Debate

NBC News' partner Politifact took a look at how the candidates stacked up against their “Truth-O-Meter” scale.
Image: Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, John Kasich
Republican presidential candidates, from left, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich stand for a group photo before a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. Charlie Neibergall / AP

Seven Republican presidential candidates duked it out on issues ranging from immigration to ethanol mandates during Thursday night’s primetime debate on Fox News. But there was one notably absent voice: Donald Trump. But that did not mean the GOP frontrunner was expempt from fact-checkers.

NBC News' partner Politifact took a look at how the candidates stacked up against their “Truth-O-Meter” scale.

Claim One: Sen. Ted Cruz has never insulted Donald Trump

Kicking off the debate, Sen. Cruz said that he never “insulted Donald personally.”

PolitiFact points out that defining a comment as an “’insult’ is somewhat in the eye of the beholder.” But the recent shots fired between both candidates on the campaign trail makes Cruz’s statement rank as “Mostly False.”

Claim Two: Sen. Marco Rubio has not flipped on amnesty

Once again, Sen. Rubio was confronted about whether he flip-flopped on immigration after an unearthed clip showed him declaring his opposition to “blanket amnesty” in 2008.

Megyn Kelly asked Rubio, “Within two years of getting elected, you were co-sponsoring legislation to create a path to citizenship, in your words, amnesty. Haven't you already proven that you cannot be trusted on this issue?"

Rubio responded by saying that he never supported blanket amnesty as a coauthor of the “Gang of Eight” bill. PolitiFact rates that statement as true since the legislation had “significant hurdles including fines and a waiting period.”

But did Rubio flip flop? Somewhat.

Claim Three: Obamacare is the "biggest job killer"

Sen. Cruz did not go off script when criticizing Obamacare, arguing that the president's signature health care law remains "the biggest job killer in this country."

PolitiFact finds, "By every measure, millions more people are working and millions fewer are stuck unwillingly in part-time work since the time the Affordable Care Act became law."

Cruz's claim gets the highest falsehood rating, "Pants on Fire."

Claim Four: Gov. Chris Christie blames neighbors for knowing about San Bernardino

San Bernardino stands as a real example of domestic terrorism, a troubling thought for Gov. Chris Christie, who blamed the attackers’ neighbors for not reporting suspicious activity to police.

"These folks had weapons, they knew that they were talking about trying to take our country and attack it," Christie said. "That's not profiling, that's law enforcement."

PolitiFact rates the comment as flat out false. They found that there is “no mention that a neighbor of the shooters themselves was suspicious, much less that a neighbor thought an attack was being planned.”

Claim Five: President Barack Obama “degraded” the U.S. military

Sen. Cruz blamed the administration’s weak terrorism strategy on the president’s decision to slash military spending.

“Barack Obama, right now, No.1, over seven years has dramatically degraded our military,” he said.

PolitiFact points out that while there is a small element of truth to Cruz’s statement, Democrats and Republicans are to blame for the failed budget negotiations that could have increased spending.

Since Congress is the only branch who can allocate a budget, PolitiFact rates the comment “Mostly False.”

Claim Six: Donald Trump “never once asked” for Megyn Kelly’s removal

Prior to Trump’s debate protest event for veterans, the billionaire told CNN that he “never once asked” Fox News to remove Megyn Kelly as a moderator. Instead, he blamed a scathing Fox News press release as the final straw.

PolitiFact found three iterations of Trump saying that Kelly “should not be allowed” at the debate. His statement received a “False” rating.