- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 24, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) - In a Sept. 17 story fact-checking a Republican presidential candidates’ debate, The Associated Press reported erroneously that doctors must pay a $200 fee to register with New Jersey’s medical marijuana program. Patients and caregivers must pay the fee, but not doctors.

A corrected version of the story is below:

AP FACT CHECK: Some off-base foreign policy claims in debate

AP FACT CHECK: A contradiction on China is among questionable claims in GOP debate

EDITOR’S NOTE - An occasional look at political claims that take shortcuts with the facts or don’t tell the full story


Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - The latest Republican presidential debate laid bare inconsistencies and misrepresentations about foreign policy as well as off-base claims about matters at home:

-Donald Trump pledged that as president, he would get along better with Chinese leaders and others, a promise at odds with his earlier call for economic disengagement with China.

-Jeb Bush suggested that U.S. relations with other countries are worse everywhere under President Barack Obama. Relations have improved with Western Europe, a key allied bloc, since his brother George W. Bush was president, and Obama has forged closer ties with some countries in southeast Asia as well as with Cuba.

-Scott Walker complained that U.S. troops opposing Islamic State militants are constrained by “political restrictions” in Washington that he would lift. But decisions on the deployment of U.S. troops, including their numbers and what they do, are ultimately the responsibility of the president, who takes into account a range of factors not limited to the advice he receives from his military commanders. It is a bedrock principle of the U.S. system of government that the armed forces are under civilian control.

With 11 candidates crowding the stage and competing for talk time in Wednesday’s debate, rhetorical shortcuts and oversimplifications were inevitable. Even so, their turns on the stage were sufficient to show that their positions on some issues are far from fully formed.

A look at some of the claims Wednesday night and how they compare with the facts.


TRUMP: “I would get along with a lot of the world leaders that this country is not getting along with. We don’t get along with China. … I will get along with others, and we will have a much more stable, stable world.”

THE FACTS: Following a sharp decline in the U.S. stock market last month on the heels of instability in China’s stock market, GOP candidates were quick to call for less economic linkage between the two countries. None went further than Trump.

On Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor,” he said U.S. ties to China are “trouble for our country,” adding: “Not only now have they taken our jobs, they’ve taken our base, they’ve taken our manufacturing, but now they are pulling us down with them, and I said, “We can’t do this, we can’t allow this to happen.’ We have to do a big uncoupling pretty soon before it’s too late.”

Any “uncoupling” would threaten a nearly $600 billion annual trade in goods and services, the largest trade relationship in the world. China is the third-largest export market for U.S. goods. General Motors has sold more cars in China than in the U.S. every year since 2010, and China is Apple’s second-largest market for its iPhones, iPads and computers.


BUSH: “I believe that we need to restore America’s presence and leadership in the world. Name a country where our relationship is better today than it was the - the day that Barack Obama got elected president.”

THE FACTS: U.S. relations with Western European countries are better under Obama than George W. Bush, whose record on key European priorities like climate change, disarmament and multilateral diplomacy was often criticized by the continent’s leaders.

Whereas Bush’s attempt to build an Iraq war coalition divided Europe, Obama was able to count on near universal support among European partners for the military intervention in Libya, the anti-ISIL effort and the recent nuclear agreement with Iran.

Obama also has significantly eased tensions with Cuba and Myanmar, and deepened ties with other southeast Asian countries fearful of China’s increasingly dominant position in Asia. Some relationships have soured under Obama, such as those with Israel, Arab states in the Middle East and some Eastern European governments.


WALKER: “What I said the other day was that we need to lift the political restrictions that are already in play. Barack Obama’s administration has put political restrictions on the military personnel already in Iraq. … What I’m saying is lift the political restrictions. When you do that, you empower our military personnel already there to work with the Kurd and the Sunni allies, to reclaim the territory taken by ISIS.”

THE FACTS: Obama has limited U.S. troops in Iraq to training, advising and assisting Iraqi forces, including helping them plan military operations and coordinate U.S. and coalition airstrikes in support of Iraqi ground operations against IS. So the Americans are already working with the Iraqi Kurds as well as the Shiite-dominated security forces and Sunni tribal fighters. But they are not engaged directly in combat or embedded with Iraqi forces to advise them in combat, as many critics have urged.

The top U.S. military officer, Gen. Martin Dempsey, has supported Obama’s limited approach, although he has not ruled out recommending at some point that U.S. troops become more active.


TRUMP: “I’m in favor of vaccines, do them over a longer period of time, same amount, but just in little sections and I think you’re going to see a big impact on autism.”

THE FACTS: Medical researchers have debunked claims that vaccines given to children can lead to autism and developmental disorders. The Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, says vaccines are not free from adverse effects, “but most are very rare or very mild.” A study that drew a connection between autism and vaccines was debunked and retracted in 2010.

For all of that, Trump asserted that a child of one of his employees “went to have the vaccine and came back and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic.”

With those remarks, Trump waded into subject matter that had scalded a few others on the stage.

In February, Paul said he’d heard of “many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines.” But he quickly backed down under criticism from pediatric experts and others, and endorsed vaccines. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, too, clarified that he supported the measles vaccine after appearing to question it.


BUSH: “The one guy that had some special interests that I know of that tried to get me to change my views on something - that was generous and gave me money - was Donald Trump. He wanted casino gambling in Florida.”

TRUMP: “I didn’t. … Totally false….”

BUSH: “I’m not going to be bought by anybody.”

TRUMP: “I promise if I wanted it, I would have gotten it.”

THE FACTS: Trump’s hopes of expanding casino operations in Florida in the mid-1990s were well-known at the time. Trump employed a prominent lobbyist to represent his gambling interests in Florida. And news reports from that time show he hosted a fundraiser to help Bush’s campaign for governor and donated $50,000 to the Florida Republican Party during that campaign.

Bush did not bend in his opposition to casino gambling. It is not clear whether Trump approached Bush directly on the casino matter, but his interest in the enterprise is a matter of record.


TEXAS SEN. TED CRUZ: “On these videos, Planned Parenthood also essentially confesses to multiple felonies. It is a felony with 10 years’ jail term to sell the body parts of unborn children for profit. That’s what these videos show Planned Parenthood doing.”

THE FACTS: The Center for Medical Progress released five videos showing furtively recorded conversations with Planned Parenthood officials, recorded by people posing as representatives of a fictitious private company that buys fetal tissue for researchers. In the videos, Planned Parenthood officials discuss how they obtain tissue from aborted fetuses for research, how they decide how much to charge and how it’s possible to alter the procedure to enhance the chances of recovering the organs being sought.

But the officials also repeatedly say they are only allowed by law to recover costs, not to make a profit. The videos don’t unambiguously show otherwise.


CHRIS CHRISTIE: “In New Jersey, we have medical marijuana laws, which I’ve supported and implemented.”

THE FACTS: Christie has gone slow in implementing New Jersey’s medical marijuana law, which was signed before he took office, and has argued it is little more than “a front for legalization.”

Medical marijuana in New Jersey is tightly restricted and state lawmakers said Christie’s administration has placed “arbitrary and unnecessary” restrictions on the program. Patients and caregivers, for instance, must register with the state and pay a $200 fee apiece. Only patients suffering from one of six conditions, including terminal cancer, multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy, may apply.


Associated Press writers Robert Burns, Bradley Klapper and Jill Colvin contributed to this report.

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