As we head into Wednesday night's second Republican presidential debate, you almost need a running checklist to keep track of what's happened in the month since the first debate was held. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry has dropped out, Florida candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are generally polling in the single digits, and Donald Trump is leading in the polls, with Dr. Ben Carson firmly in second place.
With Trump on top, it was inevitable that attacks would be lobbed from the trailing candidates towards the real estate mogul. One such attack came from former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who, in a New Hampshire town-hall meeting noted that Trump wasn't really a life-long Republican. Bush said this:
"Trump was a Democrat longer in the last decade than he was a Republican."
Our partners at Politifact Florida looked into Jeb's claim to see if it was accurate. PolitiFact reporter Joshua Gillin says that's Bush's statement rates HALF TRUE on the Truth-O-Meter. Gillin says that it all boils down to how you interpret the claim.
"The problem with the statement is 'the last decade' and how you interpret that," said Gillin. "If you take that to mean the last full decade, then you're talking about 2000 through 2010, and what we found is that Trump had switched his registrations in New York several times between Republican, Democrat, indepentent, etc... and yes, it's true that between 2000 and 2010, Trump was a Democrat for a longer period of time than he was a Republican... nine years, in fact."
Gillin also talked about the alternate way to look at Bush's claim. "If you interpret 'the last decade' to mean the last ten years, then you're talking about the years between 2005 and 2015," said Gillin. "During those years, Trump was firmly a Republican for the majority of that time... a little over five years as a Republican and less than four years as a Democrat."
Gillin notes that there's no official definition of "last decade," so it all becomes a matter of personal interpretation. Because of that, there are two distinct ways of interpreting Jeb Bush's claim, which leads to a HALF TRUE rating from PolitiFact's Truth-O-Meter.
SOURCES: Trump a Democrat longer than a Republican?
- PolitiFact ruling
- YouTube, "Jeb Bush: Trump Doesn't Have a Conservative Record, He's Been a Dem for Majority of Past Decade," Aug. 19, 2015
- NBC News, "Jeb Bush: Trump Has No 'Proven Conservative Record'," Aug. 19, 2015
- CNN, "Trump officially joins Reform Party," Oct. 25, 1999
- New York, "Donald Trump vs. Donald Trump: The Difference a Decade Makes," Feb. 16, 2011
- Politico, "Trump changes registration to 'independent'," Dec. 23, 2011
- CBS News, "Donald Trump switches party affiliation to independent," Dec. 23, 2011
- New York Daily News, "President Trump? The Donald swapped party affiliations for potential presidential bid in 2009: doc," Feb. 15, 2011
- NPR, "5 Things You Should Know About Donald Trump," June 16, 2015
- PolitiFact, "Donald Trump's campaign contributions to Democrats and Republicans," July 9, 2015
- The Hill, "Exclusive: Trump threatens third-party run," July 23, 2015
- CNN, "Trump in '04: 'I probably identify more as Democrat'," July 22, 2015
- The Hill, "Trump: 'I identify with some things as a Democrat'," July 24, 2015
- CNN, "Post-debate, Trump pulls clear of competition," Aug. 18, 2015
- CBS News, "Face the Nation transcript August 23, 2015: Trump, Christie & Cruz," Aug. 23, 2015
- New York State Board of Elections, Trump voting history, accessed Aug. 20, 2015
- New York City Board of Elections, Trump voter registration 1987, accessed Aug. 21, 2015
- New York City Board of Elections, Trump voter registration 1999, accessed Aug. 21, 2015
- New York City Board of Elections, Trump voter registration 2001, accessed Aug. 21, 2015
- New York City Board of Elections, Trump voter registration 2009, accessed Aug. 21, 2015
- New York City Board of Elections, Trump voter registration 2011, accessed Aug. 21, 2015
- New York City Board of Elections, Trump voter registration 2012, accessed Aug. 21, 2015
- Interview with Allie Brandenburger, Bush spokeswoman, Aug. 20, 2015