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Follow along with PolitiFact as we fact-check the first 2024 Republican primary debate live. Follow along with PolitiFact as we fact-check the first 2024 Republican primary debate live.

Follow along with PolitiFact as we fact-check the first 2024 Republican primary debate live.

Ellen Hine
By Ellen Hine August 23, 2023

Republican presidential candidates will take the debate stage Aug. 23 and make their case to voters why they should win the White House in 2024. 

PolitiFact will be live fact-checking candidates’ claims about their records and their attacks on Democrats, President Joe Biden and one another. 

Read our full fact-checking: What Republican candidates got right, wrong in first debate on Fox News >>

Follow live fact-checking: 

Aug 23, 10:40 PM EDT

Fact-checking DeSantis on critical race theory

Gov. Ron DeSantis said he "eliminated critical race theory" in Florida’s K-12 schools. This is Mostly False. 

Florida rejected prospective materials that it said related to CRT, but questions remain about its rationale and broad definition. Educators, school officials and several school districts confirmed that CRT has never been part of the state’s K-12 curriculum.

Aug 23, 10:05 PM EDT

Fact-checking Scott’s claim that DOJ called parents 'domestic terrorists'

Sen. Tim Scott said, "We keep seeing not only the weaponization of the Department of Justice against political opponents, but also against parents who show up at school board meetings. They’re called, under this DOJ, they’re called domestic terrorists." This is False.

In 2021, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memo directing the FBI to address violent threats against school board members. The memo never called concerned parents "domestic terrorists," and maintained that "spirited debate" surrounding school policy is protected by the U.S. Constitution. A lawsuit against Garland also found that parents’ rights had not been violated.

Aug 23, 9:56 PM EDT

Fact-checking Pence on public support for a 15-week abortion ban

During the abortion back-and-forth, Pence claimed that 70 percent of Americans support a 15-week abortion ban. He’s cherry picking the results from one poll.

A 2022 survey from the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and The Harris Poll asked respondents, "Do you think your state should allow abortion…?"

Twenty-three percent said up to 15 weeks, 12 percent said up to six weeks and 37 percent said only in cases of rape and incest. That’s 72 percent all together. But answers in surveys vary greatly depending on how the question is asked.

A 2022 Economist/YouGov poll asked specifically about a 15-week ban — 39 percent supported it, 46 percent opposed it. A 2023 PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll asked respondents whether abortion should be allowed up until 24 weeks — 44 percent said yes.

Aug 23, 9:53 PM EDT

Are younger Americans less patriotic, as Vivek Ramaswamy said?

Recent polling shows there is a declining number of adults who describe themselves as "very proud" to be American. Though it’s a pattern for all age groups, not just young people. Still, young Americans surveyed express some degree of national pride.

Vivek Ramaswamy has previously said that young Americans are no longer proud to be American. We rated that Half True.

RELATED: Here's where GOP presidential candidates stood on federal abortion ban as of July >>

Aug 23, 9:27 PM EDT

Fact-checking DeSantis’ claim: "We kept our state free and open"

DeSantis revels in his record of snubbing public health recommendations to curb the spread of COVID-19. But he largely omits the closures of schools and businesses that happened under his watch.

Seven states did not issue stay-at-home orders to their residents, but not Florida.

On April 1, 2020, DeSantis issued an executive order directing all Florida residents to "limit their movements and personal interactions outside of their home." The order expired April 30, 2020, and Florida began a phased reopening in May.

Though he carved out an exception for religious services and some recreational activities, DeSantis didn't exempt in-person classroom instruction. DeSantis' Department of Education issued a March 13 recommendation that Florida schools close their facilities for an extended spring break before lengthening the closure through the end of the school year in early June.

Schools reopened in person in August 2020.
-Aaron Sharockman, PolitiFact


Here’s what to know about watching the debate: 

When is the first GOP primary debate taking place?

The first debate among 2024 Republican presidential candidates will take place at 9 p.m. ET Aug. 23 in Milwaukee.

Where can I watch the debate?

The debate will air on Fox News and be moderated by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum. According to a Fox News press release, coverage of the debate will also be available across other platforms, including Fox Business News, Fox Nation, Fox News Digital and Fox News Audio. 

The Republican National Committee has also partnered with Rumble to livestream the debate.

Which candidates will be at the debate?

Eight candidates have qualified for the first debate: North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former Vice President Mike Pence, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. 

One noticeable White House contender won’t be on the debate stage. Former President Donald Trump said Sunday on Truth Social that he wouldn’t be attending. NBC News reported Trump has already prerecorded an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson that could be released during the debate, though neither the Trump campaign nor Carlson had released details Aug. 22. 

How can I follow PolitiFact’s fact-checking of the debate?

PolitiFact will fact-check the debate live on our website and across our social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram, Threads, TikTok and X (formerly known as Twitter). 

We’re also partnering with ABC News to provide fact-checking for its live blog of the debate.

If you want a roundup of the most notable claims from the debate straight to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter. 

How has PolitiFact rated the current GOP presidential field on our Truth-O-Meter? 

We’ve been fact-checking presidential politics since 2007 using our Truth-O-Meter, which helps us rate claims based on their relative accuracy. Here’s how PolitiFact has rated statements made by the Republican presidential candidates who are expected to participate in the first debate. 

RELATED: The Principles of the Truth-O-Meter: PolitiFact’s methodology for independent fact-checking

Ron DeSantis has been rated 52 times since 2013.

Mike Pence has been rated 74 times since 2009.

Chris Christie has been rated 104 times since 2011.

Nikki Haley has been rated 17 times since 2012. 

Tim Scott has been rated nine times since 2012. 

We’ve rated Vivek Ramaswamy twice, both times in 2023. Doug Burgum and Asa Hutchinson have never had claims rated on our Truth-O-Meter.

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More by Ellen Hine

Live fact-checking the first Republican presidential primary debate