Ten Republican presidential candidates launched rhetorical bombs at each other Thursday night, as well as at President Barack Obama and Democratic White House hopeful Hillary Clinton during the first nationally-televised GOP debate.
Sometimes they misfired with misstatements and exaggerations.
From the economy to the Middle East, to their potential Democratic challenger, the Republican contenders sometimes played it loose with the facts. Here’s a look at some of what was said:
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush asserted that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria was “done for” while his brother, former President George W. Bush, was still president.
ISIS' forerunner, al Qaida in Iraq, was badly mauled – but never defeated – by the U.S.-led coalition and the Awakening Movement, the force of Sunni tribal fighters that turned against AQI under the sponsorship of the U.S. military.
AQI went underground and continued to wage bombings, attacks and assassinations, and re-emerged as ISIS, exploiting a Sunni tribal backlash against the repressive policies of the Shiite-dominated regime of former Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki.
ISIS also established safe havens in neighboring civil war-torn Syria that it used as staging areas for the June 2014 offensive in which it seized the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and stormed to the doorstep of Baghdad.
HILLARY CLINTON’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS SECRETARY OF STATE:
In attacking potential rival Hillary Clinton, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said that every area she worked on during her four years as secretary of State has gotten worse.
It's true that Clinton suffered her share of embarrassments, missteps and outright policy failures, first and foremost in the Middle East, and that some analysts haven't been able to identify an enduring diplomatic approach that would add her to the list of the all-time greatest secretaries of State.
But she still has been credited with several diplomatic feats: working tirelessly to bring attention to the rights of women and girls worldwide, orchestrating a historic warming of relations with Myanmar as part of a bolstered American presence in the Asia-Pacific region to counterbalance Chinese influence, supporting the raid that brought Osama bin Laden to justice, and building the coalition to oust Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie rightly noted that candidates were spending time talking about cutting government spending when almost three-quarters of federal spending is on autopilot. That’s because Social Security and Medicare, so-called entitlement programs, are under strain from the ongoing retirement of Baby Boomers, some 76 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964.
Christie touted his fix to Social Security, but it represents more than a fix. It means a philosophical shift in the program.
Social Security collects payroll taxes from active workers to pay for retirees, and everyone is taxed a fixed percentage on their income up to a certain threshold. Christie said he’d limit Social Security benefits to those with retirement income below $200,000. That’s on the grounds that they don’t need it.
But in making the shift, Christie’s plan, which also raises the retirement age by two years, makes Social Security more like a welfare program rather than one that treats everyone the same.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee touted his FAIR Tax plan, a tax on consumption, as an alternative to the longstanding “progressive” income tax system that has different rates for differing levels of income. He noted that “crooks” and “pimps” and others who don’t pay income taxes would be taxed.
What Huckabee didn’t say is that those so-called freeloaders already pay sales taxes, which are consumption taxes, and that the proportional burden of a consumption tax falls disproportionately on the poor and middle class. That’s because the wealthy spend more than those who have lower income, but their spending as a percentage of their total income is much smaller.
A federal consumption tax represents an about-face from the system of income tax the nation adopted in 1913. It would some ways return the nation to the kind of consumption taxes last in place in the early 1800’s.
RAND PAUL ON HIS POLL NUMBERS:
In his closing statement, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky repeated a line that he is leading Hillary Clinton in five states that President Barack Obama won: Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.
Paul is wrong, according to FactCheck.org. The fact-checking project of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center said polls show that Paul has a slight advantage in those five states, but his numbers fall within the margin of error in each of the surveys.
Anita Kumar and Jonathan Landay contributed.