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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

FactChecking Huckabee, Fiorina and Carson

The Republican presidential field has three new contenders. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson all announced their intention to seek the Republic nomination.

We present here some of the past claims from each candidate that we have reviewed on our site.

Mike Huckabee

Huckabee plans to announce his candidacy in a speech on May 5 in Hope, Arkansas. The former governor, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination in 2008, is the only one of the three candidates who has run for national office before. As such, our file on him is the most substantial.

  • In a Feb. 9 appearance on Fox News, Huckabee said President Obama went back a thousand years to “somehow blame Christians for the burning of a Jordanian pilot, for the cutting off of the heads of children who are Christians.” Obama did not “blame Christians” for either atrocity. Obama’s National Prayer Breakfast speech denounced terrorist acts by the Islamic State and spoke of humanity’s struggle to reconcile the good and evil that has been done in the name of religion, including Christianity. Obama said this perversion of religion is “not unique to … one religion.”
  • In January, Huckabee dismissed the potential impact of climate change, joking that it threatens to give Americans “a sunburn.” But his joke was both a drastic understatement of global warming’s potential impacts and simply wrong. Sunburn is related to increased sun exposure, rather than to warming temperatures. Huckabee’s comment also ignored the well-documented threats posed by climate change.
  • In 2010, Huckabee denied ever supporting a mandatory cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions, but there is ample evidence that he supported mandatory cap-and-trade bills that were before Congress in 2007 and 2008.
  • During his 2008 presidential bid, Huckabee ran a TV ad that claimed he “brought Arkansas’ crime rate down,” and that he “cut taxes over 90 times as governor.” In fact, the violent crime rate was higher at the end of his tenure than it was the year he took office. And the tax cuts he claims credit for were minor compared with the large increases he approved. The total net tax increase under Huckabee was an estimated $505.1 million.

Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson

Fiorina and Carson officially declared their candidacies on May 4.

Both are new to the presidential stage, so our files on the two are relatively thin. Though Carson has never before run for office, Fiorina was the 2010 Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in California, losing to incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.

  • During her 2010 Senate campaign, Fiorina exaggerated by claiming that President Obama “defunded” border protection. Obama asked for a little more than $9.8 billion in discretionary spending for customs and border protection in his proposed budget for the 2011 fiscal year — down about 3 percent from the roughly $10.1 billion he requested for customs and border protection for the 2010 fiscal year.
  • In a 2010 campaign ad, Fiorina attacked her Democratic opponent for claiming climate change is an important national security issue. “Terrorism kills,” Fiorina says. “And Barbara Boxer’s worried about the weather.” As we wrote then, and have written several times since then, climate change poses well-documented national security threats.
  • In March, Carson claimed that being gay is “absolutely” a choice, and as proof he said “a lot of people” go into prison and change their sexual orientation while incarcerated. There is no evidence to support these claims. Carson apologized for his remarks, but in doing so made another error by claiming that “we do know, however, that we are always born male and female.” That’s not entirely accurate. Disorders of sex development, also known as intersex disorders, occur in about one in 4,500 births and have raised questions about the male-female gender dichotomy.

Our full files for Huckabee, Fiorina, and Carson are all available. As the presidential field continues to grow larger, we will keep monitoring statements made by these and all other potential 2016 candidates.

— Alexander Nacht, with Eugene Kiely