Fact-checking Jeb Bush vs. Donald Trump

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Donald Trump announced for their candidacy in June. (Associated Press and Getty Images photos)
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Donald Trump announced for their candidacy in June. (Associated Press and Getty Images photos)

As Donald Trump soared in the polls earlier this year, much of the Republican presidential field was reluctant to bash him for fear of backlash from the brash billionaire or his supporters.

But in August, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush started to ramp up attacks on Trump, now the GOP frontrunner.

As we head toward the second Republican debate on Sept. 16, here’s a look at our fact-checks of attack lines used by Bush and Trump against each other.

Bush attacks Trump

Bush said during an Aug. 19 New Hampshire town hall that Trump "was a Democrat longer in the last decade than he was a Republican." The Bush campaign said he was referring to 2000 to 2010, when Trump was a Democrat for about nine years. But when we reviewed Trump’s voter registration in the 10 years leading up to the present, from 2005 to 2015, we found that he has been a Republican for more than five years. He was a registered Democrat for not quite four years in that time frame. We rated Bush’s claim Half True.

"Trump proposed enacting the largest tax increase in American history," Bush said in an Aug. 21 fundraising email. Yes, in 1999, Trump proposed a historically large one-time tax increase. Trump said the tax would have raised $5.7 trillion and wiped out the national debt. It would have applied only to the wealthiest Americans. We rated this claim True.

Bush’s campaign also launched a web page whichcandidateareyou? which was a stab at Trump’s positions without directly naming him. For example, Bush said "would you rather support a candidate who said they were ‘very pro-choice’ or was a strongly pro-life governor and defunded Planned Parenthood?" In 1999, Trump said he was "very pro-choice" although by 2011 he said he was pro-life.

In 2001, Bush used his veto power to end funding for Planned Parenthood affiliates although it was for services other than abortion.

Trump attacks Bush

Some of the attacks in this race have drawn attention but haven’t led to claims we can rate on our Truth-O-Meter, such as Trump calling Bush a "low-energy candidate."

More specifically, Trump said at a July 11 political rally in Phoenix that Florida had five sanctuary cities while Jeb Bush was governor. There’s no legal definition of a sanctuary city, and therefore no official classification but it generally refers to places where local law enforcement officers aren’t required to alert federal authorities to residents who may be in the country illegally. A federal report from 2006, when Bush was governor, didn’t name any Florida cities. We found one list on the Internet that claimed five Florida locations as current sanctuary cities, but the supporting evidence was virtually nonexistent. City officials told us they weren’t sure why their cities were on the list. We rated Trump’s statement False.