GOP presidential contenders struck a more civil tone in their University of Miami debate than they did in Detroit, discussing foreign policy and trade positions while limiting the name-calling to Common Core.
Here are the statements we fact-checked during the March 10 debate, hosted by CNN, Salem Media Group and the Washington Times.
Common Core still not a D.C. takeover
When CNN moderator Jake Tapper asked Donald Trump about what he specifically didn’t like about the education standards, the billionaire repeated an oft-used criticism.
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“Education through Washington, D.C., I don’t want that,” Trump said. But is that an accurate description of the Common Core State Standards?
The education benchmarks for English and math were unveiled in 2010 after state school officials, nonprofits, teachers, parents and experts settled on broad education goals.
Despite repeated criticisms of a supposed federal mandate for schools, Washington was not a player in that game. The only thing involving the federal government is that President Barack Obama has given states with education standards a leg up when applying for grant money.
We rated Trump’s statement False.
Friends to Israel
While the candidates have portrayed themselves as big fans of Israel, Ted Cruz suggested Trump is not the ally he claims to be.
“On Israel, Donald has said he wants to be neutral between Israel and the Palestinians,” Cruz said. “As president, I will not be neutral.”
Trump did say that during an MSNBC town hall in February. He’s repeatedly said that in order to be an effective negotiator he believes he must approach the two sides with neutrality.
But Cruz is omitting Trump’s comments and actions that have shown support for Israel, including that he endorsed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“I am a big fan of Israel,” Trump said in the video endorsement. “And frankly a strong prime minister is a strong Israel.”
We rate Cruz’s statement Half True.
TPP vs. TPA
When moderator Jake Tapper said Cruz had changed his position on the contentious Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, the Texas senator was quick to correct him.
“There are two different agreements,” Cruz said. “There’s TPA (Trade Promotion Authority) and TPP. I opposed TPP, and have always opposed TPP, which is what you asked about.”
The record shows that Cruz took no position on the TPP treaty itself until the full text became public. Then he said he opposed it.
However, when Cruz first supported granting the president the key authority to finalize the TPP, he spoke positively about the concept of the trade deal. He described how it could bring millions of customers to American business owners in the Wall Street Journal.
When the treaty moved from being a concept to actual text, Cruz opposed it. His statement glosses over his initial backing of the idea of the trade treaty.
We rate this claim Mostly True.
Financing foreign aid
Shoring up Social Security was a major topic at one point, with candidates discussing how they would address shortfalls that will affect the future of the program.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio scoffed at Trump’s suggestion that cutting foreign aid would help plug the budget gap. The amount the United States spends on aid pales in comparison to the overhaul Social Security spending needs.
“I'm against any sort of wasting of money on foreign aid, but it’s less than 1 percent of our federal budget,” Rubio said.
Several reports put the amount of foreign aid in the ballpark of what Rubio said at the GOP debate — and it has been consistently in the single digits or less.
We rate this claim True.
ABCs of GDP
Trump cited slow economic growth as proof that America is in the doldrums, citing anemic gross domestic product numbers as proof.
“GDP was zero essentially for the last two quarters,” he said.
We’re going to go ahead and assume he meant GDP growth, since gross domestic product was more than $18 trillion in the last quarter of 2015.
Economic growth in the last two quarters of 2015 was modest: 1 percent and 2 percent. But that’s not zero, or “essentially” zero, as Trump said.
We rate Trump’s claim False.
PolitiFact staff writers Joshua Gillin and Linda Qiu contributed to this article.
Politifact Florida is a partnership between The Tampa Bay Times and the Miami Herald to check out truth in politics.