August 07, 2015

Fact-checking Marco Rubio, Donald Trump and others at the first GOP debate

Seventeen candidate, five moderators, two debates, one Donald Trump. All of it kept the fact-checkers busy Thursday.

Let’s start with Trump.

Early in the debate, Fox News moderator Chris Wallace pressed Trump on some of his past statements about undocumented immigration -- the signature issue of Trump’s campaign.

Wallace asked Trump, "What evidence do you have, specific evidence, that the Mexican government is sending criminals across the border?"

Trump never directly answered the question, though he did cite conversations with "border patrol people" who told him that it was true.

"Our leaders are stupid, our politicians are stupid, and the Mexican government is much smarter, much sharper, much more cunning, and they send the bad ones over because they don't want to pay for them, they don't want to take care of them," Trump said. "Why should they, when the stupid leaders of the United States will do it for them? And that’s what’s happening, whether you like it or not."

The "they send the bad ones over" line rates Pants on Fire.

We also fact-checked claims by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio about the number of illegal immigrants, Hillary Clinton's experience and whether Trump supported former Gov. Charlie Crist (yep, he did.)

Keep reading PolitiFact's story about fact-checking the debate here.

David Rivera pops into Cleveland to watch Marco Rubio debate


CLEVELAND -- Marco Rubio and David Rivera don't serve in Congress together anymore. They don't own a Tallahassee house together anymore. But the ties still go deep between the two Miami Republicans who spent years side-by-side in the Florida House of Representatives.

So when Senator Rubio took part in his first presidential debate Thursday -- a momentous event for any politician -- Rivera was there, in the audience at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

Word spread quickly among the Floridians who had flown to Ohio to support either Rubio or Jeb Bush: There'd been a Rivera sighting!

Rivera, a former congressman, has so far managed to escape criminal indictment in a federal campaign-finance case in Miami. Though he's never been accused of wrongdoing in court -- early investigations into his finances in state court and by the IRS went nowhere -- a Florida panel has recommended his former statehouse colleagues fine him $58,000 over ethics violations. 

Despite the baggage he represents for Rubio -- the liberal group American Bridge blasted an email before the debate about the "Roomiez 4 Life" -- Rivera once was a close Rubio friend. Rubio's wife, Jeanette, showed up at the polls to campaign for Rivera the day he lost his congressional seat in 2012.

Rubio's campaign staff seemed less than thrilled about Rivera's appearance, so it's unclear who knew he was going to attend. Politico reported Rivera was spotted with another ex-state representative with a checkered political history, Ralph Arza.

Marco Rubio says he doesn't support abortion-ban exception for rape, incest -- but he signed on to bill that did

via @learyreports

Marco Rubio had a winning night in Cleveland, providing perhaps the best offensive on Hillary Clinton.

But on abortion, he misrepresented his support for an exception for rape or incest.

Here is his exchange with Megyn Kelly.

KELLY: Senator Rubio, you favor a rape and incest exception to abortion bans. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York just said yesterday those exceptions are preposterous. He said they discriminate against an entire class of human beings. If you believe that life begins at conception, as you say you do, how do you justify ending a life just because it begins violently, through no fault of the baby?  

RUBIO: Well, Megyn, first of all, I'm not sure that that's a correct assessment of my record. I would go on to add that I believe all--

KELLY: You don't favor a rape and incest exception?

RUBIO: I have never said that. And I have never advocated that. What I have advocated is that we pass law in this country that says all human life at every stage of its development is worthy of protection.

So what's up? Rubio has effectively taken both sides.

In 2013, Rubio signed on to a bill that carved out exceptions.

But in a Fox interview earlier this year, Rubio split the issue, saying if he were president and the only bill that could pass included exceptions, he would sign it. He added, however, that he personally believes "all human life is worthy of protection."

Rubio's campaign has not yet responded to a request for comment.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

August 06, 2015

Cleveland eagerly awaits presidential debate


CLEVELAND -- If you’ve gone about your summer in peace — lucky you! — oblivious to the breathless drama of having 17 candidates running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, including a celebrity showman and the made-for-TV antics that come with him, now may be a good time to start tuning in.

Find Fox News on your cable. Tune in at 9 p.m. The first presidential debate of the 2016 election cycle has the GOP abuzz because it might offer something rare in modern politics: unpredictable moments.

The two candidates from Miami, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush, say they’re ready.

“I like to answer questions,” Rubio told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, one of the debate moderators, in an interview Wednesday. “I think people deserve it. I mean, we’re choosing the president of the United States here. This is not a county commission race.”

“I’m a big boy,” Bush told NBC News last week. “I’ll be showing up with my big-boy pants on.”

Debate host city Cleveland has been filling up with Republican Party staffers, politicians and their entourages for days, the anticipation building as the live, prime-time debate draws near. There’s even a warm-up act: a 5 p.m. forum for the seven candidates that didn’t fit on the main stage with the top 10. (Its relegated participants have dubbed it the “happy-hour debate.” Critics have derided it as the “kiddie table.”)

Continue reading "Cleveland eagerly awaits presidential debate" »

Marco Rubio's campaign plans online 'war room' for debate

via @learyreports

Marco Rubio's campaign manager, Terry Sulllivan, sent this memo this morning to supporters in advance of tonight's debate.

At 9pm EDT tonight, Marco will join nine other candidates for his first presidential debate. As one of our strongest supporters, I’m asking you to join us in our online debate war-room.

I have no doubt that Marco’s going to do great – but it’s our job to help amplify his message. That’s why our campaign set up an online debate war-room that will offer real-time fact checking, video highlights and commentary during the debate. Check it

Marco’s strategy tonight is to stay positive, and talk about his vision for a New American Century. He will offer ideas to create more good-paying 21st Century jobs and help people get the education and skills they need for those jobs. He’ll talk about the need for American leadership around the world, and the need for a strong national defense.

With millions of people watching, Marco will share his family’s American journey: Only in America can the son of a bartender and a maid stand on the same presidential debate stage as those born into wealth and power.

Please tell your friends and family to tune in to FOX News at 9pm EDT tonight and follow along at


--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

August 05, 2015

Sports fan Marco Rubio campaigns in Cleveland, name-dropping LeBron James

Continue reading "Sports fan Marco Rubio campaigns in Cleveland, name-dropping LeBron James" »

August 03, 2015

No real news -- and no Donald Trump -- in GOP presidential speed-dating event


For two hours Monday night, there was no Donald Trump.

Instead, there were 14 of the 17 Republicans running for president, introducing themselves to New Hampshire voters and relishing the fact that their leading rival was nowhere in sight.

They had little new to say. But the forum, televised by C-SPAN, gave the candidates a chance to try out their debate lines, and maybe rid themselves of some jitters, before debating on Fox News later this week.

Jeb Bush's most memorable moment: When the moderator questioned his goal of 4 percent economic growth, noting that critics have called it unrealistic. The former Florida governor took a jab at a New York Times economics columnist.

"The fact that Paul Krugman disagrees with me warms my heart," he said.

Marco Rubio's most memorable moment: When he said he might support legalizing medical marijuana across the country if the federal agency that regulates prescription drugs tested pot's efficacy.

"That's something I'm willing to explore," he said.

The night in general, though, was mostly devoid of excitement. The candidate who received most laughter from the crowd -- at least, as it came across on TV -- was Lindsey Graham, who's so low in the polls he won't qualify for the first primary debate.

Continue reading "No real news -- and no Donald Trump -- in GOP presidential speed-dating event" »

Bill Nelson, Marco Rubio split votes on Planned Parenthood

via @learyreports

Sen. Marco Rubio stuck around Washington today to cast a vote to defund Planned Parenthood, a measure that failed to get 60 votes to advance.

Rubio was scheduled to be in Manchester, N.H., for a candidate forum but did not want to miss the vote, which follows the release of covert videos about Planned Parenthood. Rubio will participate in the forum via video, as will Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.

Sen. Bill Nelson joined Democrats in opposing the effort to strip funding for Planned Parenthood.

Writing for today, Rubio blasted Planned Parenthood as a "morally bankrupt organization.

"Americans of conscience might disagree on the legality of abortion," Rubio wrote. "It is a contentious issue that elicits deep passions. But as a country, we should at least be able to find common ground on acknowledging and respecting the humanity and basic dignity of both the mother and the unborn child. It is clear from the videos that Planned Parenthood long ago stopped acknowledging either. At Planned Parenthood, women are treated as paying clients, not patients. Unborn children are treated as cells and tissues, not human beings. The organs and limbs of babies are treated as commodities, for sale to the highest bidder on an open market. And taxpayers are forced to fund this."

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

McClatchy poll: Republican voters like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio. A lot don't like Donald Trump.

via @LightmanDavid

WASHINGTON -- Republicans like Jeb Bush. And a lot really don’t like Donald Trump.

In fact, more than half find Trump a distraction from the primary process, not a serious candidate.

With the first Republican presidential debate coming up Thursday, a new McClatchy-Marist poll finds that a majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents personally like Bush, saying they view him favorably rather than unfavorably. Large numbers also like Marco Rubio and Mike Huckabee, far more than dislike them.

But nearly half dislike Trump, suggesting that the billionaire businessman who leads national Republican polls will have a hard time reaching those personally hostile voters and growing his constituency, while a host of others have room to surge.

The debate in Cleveland, the first of a monthly series, will feature the 10 Republicans, plus ties, atop an average of national polls. As many as seven other candidates will not qualify and instead can participate in a late afternoon forum.

More here.