Politicians always lie, but Donald Trump isn’t your everyday politician. He’s mastered the art of deceit. At Thursday night’s CNN Republican debate, Trump stretched the truth on everything from economics to foreign policy without missing a beat.
This time, however, we saw a “softer” tone Trump, what some would call a low-energy debater. While the man on stage on Thursday shunned classic Trumpian bombast, he still managed to mutter mendacity.
Here are the top 5 lies Donald Trump told in last night’s debate:
1. "If you look back to Iowa, Ted did change his view and his stance on ethanol quite a bit."
Trump suggested that Republican rival Sen. Ted Cruz shifted his position on ethanol subsidies to garner more votes in Iowa. First of all, that doesn’t even make sense, given the conventional wisdom that most Iowans supported ethanol subsidies. If anything, Cruz’s opposition to the subsidies was a major political risk, one that could have turned off many Iowans dependent on the ethanol industry for labor.
Second, Cruz has always been consistent about his opposition against agricultural subsidies. The New York Times’ Megan Twohey explains:
In 2013, Mr. Cruz, who generally opposes subsidies for industry, supported an immediate end to the government mandate that biofuels like ethanol be mixed into gasoline. In 2014, he said he would support an end to the mandate after several years, but not immediately.
However, since 2014, Mr. Cruz has consistently supported a phaseout of the mandate.
2. “The other thing is, I beat Hillary in many of the polls taken and each week I get better and I haven't even started on her yet.”
Trump has repeated this claim time and time again. But the fact is most polls show him losing against Hillary in a one-to-one match up. CBS News aggregates the latest polls:
An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Wednesday found Clinton leading Trump by 13 points, 51 percent to 38 percent. In an ABC/Washington Post poll also out Wednesday, he trailed her by 9 points, 50 percent to 41 percent. And a CNN/ORC poll released in early March found Clinton's lead over Trump to be 8 points, 52 percent to 44 percent.
3. “GDP was essentially zero percent in the last few quarters. … Our jobs are gone, our businesses are being taken out of the country.”
Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan is premised on the idea that the American Dream is dead, that the United States is in the midst of an economic apocalypse. While economic growth under the Obama administration has been relatively slow since the 2008 recession, GDP is certainly far from zero.
Here’s the AP Fact Check:
In the past three quarters, the GDP, the broadest measure of the economy’s output, grew at an annual rate of 1 percent, 2 percent and a robust 3.9 percent. The quarter before that it grew just 0.6 percent, but economists considered that a fluke, caused partly by harsh winter weather. For all of 2015, the economy expanded 2.4 percent. That’s not a case of “essentially” no growth.
4. “When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it, then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength."
Trump didn’t state these remarks at the debate, but at an earlier time. Rather, moderator Jake Tapper questioned the Republican frontrunner about the moral calculus of these comments that appear to be praising Chinese suppression. Trump brushed off the accusation and suggested that strength isn’t always a good thing, it’s just a fact.
While Trump’s comments don’t technically constitute a “lie,” his characterization of the Tiananmen Square massacre is incredibly callous and obtuse. Gov. John Kasich indirectly called Trump out on his apparent apologetics, reframing the Chinese government’s actions in 1988 as morally abhorrent, not some heroic act of “strength.” Here’s what Kasich said:
I think that the Chinese government butchered those kids. And when that guy stood in front -- that young man stood in front of that tank, we ought to build a statue of him over here when he faced down the Chinese government.
5. “I think whoever gets to the top position, as opposed to solving that artificial number [1,237]
that was by somebody, which is a very random number, I think that whoever gets the most delegates should win.”
No, that number isn’t “ very random.” It’s actually a simple majority of all delegates in play 2,472 during the Republican primary process.