NewsNation aired the fourth GOP debate of the 2024 election cycle from Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Wednesday night, featuring four candidates. Not every candidate uttered facts that are easily checked, but the following is a list of 13 claims that caught our attention. As is our practice, we do not award Pinocchios when we do a roundup of facts in debates. These claims are examined in the order in which they were uttered.

“I never said government should go and require anyone’s name [who uses social media] …. I said we were going to get the millions of bots off.”

— former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley

This is misleading. Haley, facing significant blowback, backtracked on this issue after first suggesting that social media companies would be required to authenticate people’s identity before allowing them to comment on their platforms. She clarified that anonymous accounts would still be allowed for American citizens. But that was different from what she originally said.

“We’re going to say that they have to make sure every person on social media is verified … everybody gets a verifiable sign so that we know exactly who they are,” Haley said in a telephone town hall with Iowa caucuses-goers on Nov. 11. “What that will do is it will eliminate every Russian bot, Iranian bot and Chinese bot that’s spreading all of this misinformation, because … it is the cheapest form of warfare for them.”

She said similar comments in other venues, such as:

  • The first thing I’m going to do is go to those social media companies. This is a national security threat. They need to verify every single person on their outlet. And I want it by name.”
  • When I get into office, the first thing we have to do, social media accounts. it’s a national security threat. Every person on social media should be verified by their name. When you do that, all of a sudden people have to stand by what they say. Then you’re going to get some civility when people know their name is next to what they say. And they know their pastor and their family member’s going to see it.”
  • Every person on social media needs to be verified. We need to know exactly who they are and they need to show their own name. Why It’s a national security threat.”

“Joe Biden will say they support Israel, and then they do nothing but try to kneecap them every step of the way.”

— Florida governor Ron DeSantis

The Biden administration has expressed some concern over the extent of civilian casualties in Gaza, but it’s hardly correct that Biden has “kneecapped” Israel. Biden has given Israel fulsome support in ways that have alarmed some officials in his government.

“Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea.”

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy repeatedly challenged Haley to name “three provinces in Eastern Ukraine that they [she and Biden] want to send our troops to actually fight for.” Neither have said they want to send troops — Ramaswamy also falsely asserted “these people want to send your sons and daughters to go die in Ukraine, they’ve been arguing for it for a year” — but Haley eventually mentioned these names. She missed with Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014, though to be fair Ramaswamy asked her to name three provinces, not “the three provinces” of eastern Ukraine. The third province in eastern Ukraine is Kharkiv — which Ukraine liberated in a stunning counteroffensive in 2022.

“I’m going to have fees on remittances from [Mexican] foreign workers. When they send the money back to foreign countries, we’re going to tax it and we’re going to build the wall with that.”

Trump had floated this idea when he ran for president in 2016 but experts said it was impractical and it was never implemented.

“What I said is all of the seven or eight million illegals that have come under Biden’s watch [through the southern border] absolutely have to go back.”

This is an inflated estimate, about double the actual number. Customs and Border Protection agents have recorded about 7.5 million encounters between February 2021, after Biden took office, through September of this year. But that does not mean all those people entered the country illegally. Some people are “encountered” numerous times as they try to enter the country — and others (about 3 million of the total) were expelled, mostly because of covid-related rules that have since been ended.

These numbers, however, do not include “gotaways” — which occur when cameras or sensors detect migrants crossing the border, but no one is found, or no agents are available to respond. There were 389,155 in fiscal year 2021 (which includes part of Donald Trump’s term) and more than 600,000 in fiscal year 2022, the Inspector General of Homeland Security said in May. Another 530,000 crossed the border from October to May, Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said.

All told, that adds up to nearly 4 million undocumented immigrants.

“I banned China from buying land in the state of Florida.”

DeSantis signed a bill restricting Chinese land purchases, but there were exemptions for residential property. A foreign person can buy a residential property if it is less than 2 acres, if the property is more than 5 miles from a military installation and the buyer has an active visa to lawfully reside in the country.

“As much as everybody wants to talk about how Donald Trump had a good economy, $9 trillion in debt, he did just in four years and we are all paying the price of that.”

According to the Treasury Department, the nation’s total public debt, including intragovernmental holdings, climbed from about $20 trillion to $27.8 trillion under Trump, a gain of $7.9 trillion.

Of course, it is arbitrary and somewhat silly to tag presidents with the debt increase, as much of the gain is because of events, such as the pandemic, and policies made long before they took office. More than half of the debt under Trump came in the last 10 months of his term because of the pandemic. Meanwhile, the biggest drivers of the debt are spending on Social Security and Medicare, established decades ago. That spending happens automatically, not subject to annual appropriations made by Congress.

“So what I’ve said is in my administration, by the end of year one, we will have a 75 percent reduction in the number of federal bureaucrats, we will shut down government agencies that should not exist, we will rescind any regulation that fails the test …. These are big changes that the next president can deliver without asking Congress for permission or for forgiveness.”

A president cannot eliminate government agencies without an act of Congress and a president cannot easily rescind regulations without court challenges. The idea that 75 percent of the federal workforce could be eliminated in one year is preposterous.

“Nikki Haley said the other day there should be no limits on legal immigration and that corporate CEO’s should set the policy on that.”

“That’s not true, quit lying!”

Haley did not quite say there could be no limits, but she did not specify a limit based on merit — and she suggested corporate officials could play a role.

Here’s what she said at a town hall in New Hampshire in November: “When it comes to legal immigration, it’s a broken system. It shouldn’t take someone ten years to become a citizen. But what we need to do is reform it. So, for too long, Republican and Democrat presidents dealt with immigration based on a quota. We’ll take X number this year, we’ll take X number next year, the debate is on the number. It’s the wrong way to look at it. We need to do it based on merit. We need to go to our industries and say what do you need that you don’t have? So think agriculture, think tourism, think tech, we want the talent that’s going to make us better. Then you bring people in that can fill those needs.”

“This is something that other countries in Europe, like Sweden, once they started doing it [gender treatments for children], they saw it did incalculable damage. They have shut it down.”

This is overstated. Sweden in 2022 pulled back from hormone treatments for minors but did not completely ban it. The Swedish government’s National Board of Health and Welfare said this “should be provided within a research context” and offered “only in exceptional cases,” while adding that the “risks of puberty suppressing treatment … and gender-affirming hormonal treatment currently outweigh the possible benefits.”

“I did a bill in Florida to stop the gender mutilation of minors. It’s child abuse, and it’s wrong. She opposes that bill. She thinks it’s fine and the law shouldn’t get involved with it.”

DeSantis is referring to this exchange that Haley had with a CBS News reporter in a June interview.

  • CBS: “Another question is, what care should be on the table when a 12-year-old child in this country assigned female at birth says, ‘actually I feel more comfortable living as a boy.’ What should the law allow the response to be?”
  • HALEY: “I think the law should stay out of it and I think parents should handle it. This is a job for the parents to handle. And then if that child becomes 18, if they want to make more of a permanent change, they can do that. But I think up until then, we see with our teenage kids, they go through a lot during puberty, go through a lot of confusion, they go through a lot of anxiety, they go through a lot of pressures. We should support them the whole way through, but we don’t need to go and enforce something in schools, and we do not need schools sitting there hiding from the parents what gender pronoun they are using. We don’t need to have those conversations in schools. Those are conversations that should be had at home.”

Haley made similar comments in a June CNN town hall. “I want everybody to live the way they want to live,” she said.

The Haley campaign has emphasized that she told CBS: “When that child becomes 18 if they want to make more of a permanent change, they can do that.”

The campaign also points to a comment in an ABC News clip from May: “You shouldn’t allow a child to have a gender-changing procedure till the age of 18 when they are an adult and they can make that decision. But we shouldn’t have taxpayer dollars ever going to that.”

It’s unclear what question elicited that answer, and Bill Burr, anchor for WTAT of Charleston, said he did not recall the exact wording. “We don’t have transcripts. And it’s almost impossible to save raw clips because of the amount of storage they occupy in our system,” he told The Fact Checker.

“We now know that 50 percent of adults 18 to 25 think that Hamas was warranted at what they did with Israel.”

Haley is referring to a Harvard-Harris poll found that among 18-to-24-year-olds, 48 percent said they sided with Hamas, a militant group that has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.

But the poll results stem from a small subsample of 199 people, out of a survey of 2,116 registered voters on Oct. 18. Other parts of the survey seemed to contradict this result — by 2-1 margins, respondents in this group said Hamas’ Oct. 7 action “was a terrorist attack” and that the attacks “were genocidal in nature.” Moreover, other surveys of young Americans also do not show the same level of support.

“Why am I the only person on this stage at least who can say that Jan. 6 now does look like it was an inside job?”

There is no evidence to support any claim of government involvement in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. The far-right fringe has spread conspiracy theories that people such as Trump supporter Ray Epps were working with the FBI, but such claims have quickly fallen apart under scrutiny.

We have documented that former president Trump inspired the attack, that he actively sought to overturn the election and that he took inadequate steps to calm the attackers.

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