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PolitiFact’s team of reporters and editors will be watching the fourth Republican presidential primary debate to fact-check candidates' claims. (AP) PolitiFact’s team of reporters and editors will be watching the fourth Republican presidential primary debate to fact-check candidates' claims. (AP)

PolitiFact’s team of reporters and editors will be watching the fourth Republican presidential primary debate to fact-check candidates' claims. (AP)

Ellen Hine
By Ellen Hine December 5, 2023

Read our full wrap-up of fact-checks from the fourth Republican debate

Eight candidates participated in the first Republican presidential primary debate back in August. Three months later, that group has winnowed to four. 

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy will face off at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, in the fourth Republican primary debate in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. 

It’s the second debate in less than a week for DeSantis, who took on California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, in a matchup on Fox News held in Alpharetta, Georgia.

Republican front-runner and former President Donald Trump will again skip the debate, CNN reported.

PolitiFact will fact-check the debate live on our website and across our social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram, Threads, TikTok and X (formerly Twitter). We’ll also be working with our partner ABC News to provide fact-checking of candidates on the ABC debate live blog.

If you prefer a roundup of the most notable claims from the debate, subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get our fact-checking sent straight to your inbox. 

Hear something we should check? Suggest a fact-check of a candidates’ claim by emailing [email protected]

Live fact-checks from the fourth Republican debate

Haley on sentiment toward Hamas by young people

As she called for a ban on TikTok, Haley said, "We now know that 50% of adults 18 to 25 think that Hamas was warranted in what they did with Israel. That’s a problem."

When PolitiFact checked the polls in early November, we found a Harvard-Harris survey that found 48% of American 18-to-24 year olds said they sided with Hamas after the Oct. 7 attack on Israel. However, it was based on a subsample of 199 people with a large margin of error.

The responses to other questions were also inconsistent with that view. Respondents in that subgroup said, by 2-1 margins, that Hamas’ Oct. 7 action "was a terrorist attack"; that the attacks "were genocidal in nature"; that Israel has "a responsibility" to retaliate "against Hamas terrorists"; and that Hamas "is a terror group that rules Gaza with force and fear and is not supported by them."

Three other polls found lower rates of support for Hamas, we reported.

-Katie Sanders, PolitiFact

Updated 9:56 p.m.

Ramaswamy’s false, outdated claim on transgenderism as "mental health disorder"

PolitiFact rated Ramaswamy’s claim False after he introduced it at the second primary debate.

In the past, the medical community used to view the experience of being transgender as a "disorder," but they no longer agree on that categorization. In the last decade, diagnostic manuals published by the World Health Organization and American Psychiatric Association contained updated language to clarify that being transgender is not a mental illness. Experts told us that persistent gender dysphoria can cause other mental health issues, but it is not itself a mental health disorder.

-Katie Sanders, PolitiFact

Updated 9:31 p.m.

Banking experts knock the idea of "central bank digital currency" that can monitor purchases

Banking experts told PolitiFact that DeSantis’ claim about Biden pushing a "central bank digital currency" was dubious. Even if the system were technically feasible, current U.S. laws would not permit the kinds of monetary surveillance and control that DeSantis described, they told PolitiFact in April.

The Federal Reserve is studying the possibility of creating a digital currency. But DeSantis’ remarks overstate the likelihood that such a system is possible, much less likely, to emerge in the United States — for a variety of technical, legal and political reasons, experts told us. 

-Katie Sanders, PolitiFact

Updated 9:30 p.m.

Nikki Haley opposed a transgender bathroom bill as governor

While she was South Carolina’s governor in 2016,  Haley said she didn’t believe a bathroom bill introduced in the state Senate was "necessary." The bill, which stalled in committee and never made it to the governor’s desk, would have required people to use the gendered bathroom that aligned with the sex listed on their birth certificate. It would have only applied to public and school restrooms. 

Updated 9:24 p.m.

Adding context to DeSantis’ attack on Haley over gender-affirming care for minors

DeSantis said Haley opposed Florida’s ban on gender-affirming care, saying she thought "it’s fine and the law shouldn’t get involved with it." She doesn’t think it’s "fine." In a June interview on "CBS Mornings," Haley said "the law should stay out of it" but it should be up to parents until the child is 18. In the interview, Haley said children should "make more of a permanent change" after they turn 18.

During the debate, Haley likened her position on gender-affirming care for minors to age requirements for getting a tattoo: "I said that if you have to be 18 to get a tattoo, you should have to be 18 to have anything done to change your gender." We’ve heard that comparison before. For what it’s worth, two-third of U.S. states allow minors to get tattoos if their parents consent. And medical experts have told us gender-affirming care is in many cases considered medically necessary, while tattoos are cosmetic.

— Katie Sanders, PolitiFact

Updated 9:23 p.m.

Tracking DeSantis' promises as Florida governor

DeSantis said, "100% of the things I promised as governor, I delivered on those promises." 

We tracked 15 of the Florida governor’s promises, and found two broken promises.

Updated 9:17 p.m.

Could Ramaswamy lay off 75% of federal workers as president?

Ramaswamy said that "by the end of year one, we will have a 75% reduction in the number of federal bureaucrats. We will shut down government agencies that should not exist."

Experts are skeptical he could do it without Congress’ consent. 

Updated 9:10 p.m.

DeSantis and Haley spar on China

DeSantis and Haley repeated familiar attacks on China. DeSantis quipped that Haley wrote a "love letter" to recruit Chinese business to South Carolina when she was governor. Fox News reported that Haley wrote to Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai in 2014 during her governorship, writing, "We consider your country a friend and are grateful for your contributions on the economic front." She recruited multiple Chinese companies to the state, including a fiberglass company with connections to the Chinese Communist Party.

Haley shot back that DeSantis accepted campaign support from a "Chinese" refrigerant company. McClatchy reported DeSantis held a 2022 rally at iGas USA, a Tampa-based refrigerant company, which has "backing from China." Its CEO wrote DeSantis a check in August for more than $11,000, McClatchy reported.

As Haley continued, DeSantis brought up how fact-checkers have not found "one instance of me recruiting a Chinese business" to Florida. That’s consistent with what PolitiFact has reported.

— Katie Sanders, PolitiFact

Updated 9:05 p.m.

What to know about a central bank digital currency 

Social media has been rife with claims that the U.S. is instituting a central bank digital currency to replace paper currency and better control U.S. citizens. The claims are overblown. 

A central bank digital currency is a digital form of central bank money that is widely available to the general public, according to the Federal Reserve. Most Americans already hold money in mostly digital form through bank accounts, apps and online transactions. A central bank digital currency would be a liability of the Federal Reserve, not a commercial bank, the Federal Reserve said.

Although central bank digital currency is being studied, there have been no formal proposals for such a system in the U.S., and it would take congressional action to install one.

Updated 9:02 p.m.

Haley on DeSantis and China

In November, Nikki Haley said Ron DeSantis "did something six months ago" akin to Nikki Haley recruiting Chinese companies to South Carolina. That’s False.

PolitiFact did not find any government reports or news stories that show Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recruited Chinese companies to the state in the last six months.

Experts said that state governments typically have little to no involvement in whether a company expands, as those permits are obtained locally.

Updated 8:53 p.m.

Haley on gender-affirming care

Nikki Haley said "I said that if you have to be 18 to get a tattoo, you should have to be 18 to have anything done to change your gender."

Two-thirds of U.S. states allow minors to get tattoos if their parents consent.

Medical experts say the comparison isn’t sound: Tattoos are mostly cosmetic, while gender-affirming care is based on scientific research and in many cases is considered medically necessary. 

Updated 8:34 p.m.

Where can I watch the fourth Republican debate?

The debate will be simulcast at 8 p.m. ET on NewsNation and The CW, and will stream on NewsNation’s website and Rumble

The moderators for the debate are SiriusXM podcast host Megyn Kelly, NewsNation anchor Elizabeth Vargas and Washington Free Beacon Editor-in-Chief Eliana Johnson.

How has PolitiFact rated the GOP candidates participating in the fourth debate? 

Here’s how PolitiFact has rated statements made by the Republican presidential candidates using our Truth-O-Meter, which helps us rate claims based on their relative accuracy. 

Chris Christie has been rated 107 times since 2011.

Ron DeSantis has been rated 54 times since 2013.

Nikki Haley has been rated 22 times since 2012. 

Vivek Ramaswamy has been rated nine times since 2023. 

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