Fact Check: Fiorina's HP Record; Trump's Bankruptcies; Vaccines And Autism : It's All Politics Republican presidential candidates debated a number of issues last night in California. Some of their claims didn't quite hold up under scrutiny.

Fact Check: Fiorina's HP Record; Trump's Bankruptcies; Vaccines And Autism

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/441032753/441063299" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's check some of the facts from last night's Republican presidential debate.

(SOUNDBITE OF UNIDENTIFIED SONG)

RONALD REAGAN: Your Honor, friends in the press who place a high premium on accuracy, let me say - there you go again, go again. I can't help it. There you go again.

INSKEEP: Here we go again, the voice of Ronald Reagan is suitable after last night's debate in the Reagan Presidential Library. And the music is a sign of our new feature, Break It Down, in which we check the candidates' facts, which NPR's Scott Horsley is with us to do. Hi, Scott.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Steve.

INSKEEP: So Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, both businesspeople, each suggesting the other is a lousy businessperson - Trump, in this tape, questions Fiorina's record leading Hewlett-Packard years ago.

(SOUNDBITE OF CNN REPUBLICAN DEBATE)

DONALD TRUMP: Today, on the front page of The Wall Street Journal, they fired another 25,000 or 30,000 people, saying we still haven't recovered from the catastrophe. When Carly says the revenues went up, that's because she bought Compaq, it was a terrible deal, and it really led to the destruction of the company. So I only say this - she can't run any of my companies.

INSKEEP: Ow. Did he accurately describe Carly Fiorina's business record?

HORSLEY: Well, that track record was certainly controversial. Hewlett-Packard cut some 30,000 jobs while she was CEO for about a five-year period a decade ago. And when Fiorina herself was fired in 2005, she got a severance package worth more than $20 million. That merger with Compaq that she engineered did put her at odds with some people at HP, including the son of the founder, Walter Hewlett. In her defense, though, Fiorina notes this was a very tough time for the whole tech industry. The tech bubble had just burst. And as she noted during the debate, she has now won the endorsement of one of the former HP board members, who says they were wrong to fire her.

INSKEEP: OK, so a little more context there. Now, there's Fiorina's take on Trump's business record.

(SOUNDBITE OF CNN REPUBLICAN DEBATE)

CARLY FIORINA: Politicians have run up mountains of debt using other people's money. That is, in fact, precisely the way you ran your casinos. You ran up mountains of debt, as well as losses, using other people's money. And you were forced to file for bankruptcy - not once...

TRUMP: I never filed for bankruptcy.

FIORINA: ...Not twice, four times.

INSKEEP: Scott?

HORSLEY: Well, you can hear Trump saying in the background, I never filed for bankruptcy. He is right when he says he never filed for personal bankruptcy. But Fiorina's also correct when she says Trump corporations turned to bankruptcy court on four different times to reorganize their debts. Trump has defended that as perfectly legal under the law and, of course, it is. Most of those bankruptcies were tied to Trump casinos in Atlantic City. The debts were restructured. Trump's ownership stake was whittled down. And like Fiorina, he says, look, context matters here. Just about every casino operator in Atlantic City has struggled, and those bankruptcies represent a small fraction of the many business deals he's done.

INSKEEP: Scott Horsley, did I hear correctly that Trump also offered some medical advice regarding vaccines?

HORSLEY: (Laughter) That's right. He pointed to a long-discredited theory that links vaccines with autism. He was quickly set straight on that by his fellow candidate, Ben Carson, who's a pediatric neurosurgeon.

(SOUNDBITE OF CNN REPUBLICAN DEBATE)

BEN CARSON: We have extremely well-documented proof that there's no autism associated with vaccinations.

HORSLEY: Now, Trump says all he's really advocating is that vaccines be spaced out over a longer period of time, although the American Academy of Pediatrics says there's no evidence that's necessary.

INSKEEP: OK, we've got time for one more here. Jeb Bush said last night that Donald Trump tried to use his influence to get casinos in Florida. Trump said, no I didn't. If I'd wanted that, I would've gotten it. So who was right?

HORSLEY: Well, Trump certainly worked with the Seminole Tribe of Florida to operate a casino on Indian land in the state in the late 1990s, around the same time he was raising money for then-gubernatorial candidate Jeb Bush and the Florida GOP. But according to Bloomberg, Trump did pull the plug on that effort once Bush became governor and made his opposition clear.

INSKEEP: OK, so there's some truth to it, but it's a complicated story. That's what you're saying?

HORSLEY: (Laughter). Often the case.

INSKEEP: OK, and we're going to hear much more of that - NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley. He's with us this morning as we kick off a new regular feature - checking the candidates' facts. There's going to be so much to talk about in this campaign. The regular feature is called Break It Down.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.