Fact check: The first Democratic primary debate

/ CBS News

CBSN

Day one of the first Democratic presidential debate, held in Miami on Wednesday, featured ten candidates fighting on primetime television to prove their bona fides to Democratic voters in a series of 60-second increments. They talked about immigration, health care and the economy, among other topics. Here are some of the things they said that CBS News fact checked or added some context to.

Was Castro's criticism of O'Rourke on immigration law correct?

Julián Castro took Beto O'Rourke to task for not knowing his immigration law — a harsh accusation, since immigration is central to O'Rourke's presidential candidacy.

Castro to O'Rourke: "You said recently that the reason you didn't want to repeal Section 1325 was because you were concerned about human trafficking and drug trafficking. But let me tell you what: Section 18, title 18 of the U.S. code, title 21 and title 22, already cover human trafficking. I think that you should do your homework on this issue. If you did your homework on this issue, you would know that we should repeal this section."

Fact check on Castro's assertions about Section 1325 and Section 18: True

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Section 1325 of the Immigration and Nationality Act adds a criminal penalty, a fine or prison sentence, for an unauthorized entry into the United States. Repealing it would "decriminalize" crossing the border, reducing any penalty to a civil offense.

Castro has called for the repeal of Section 1325. Asked earlier this month if he disagreed with Castro's call, O'Rourke said: "I do not think that it should be repealed." In defense of his position, the former Texas congressman told CNN he wanted to preserve "the legal mechanism" to detain drug smugglers or human traffickers.

Though Castro stumbled through the citation, the former Obama housing chief accurately pointed out that there are other laws specifically penalizing human trafficking (title 18) and drug smuggling (titles 21 and 22).

–Alex Tin

Is Booker taking contributions from pharmaceutical executives?

In response to a question about whether pharmaceutical companies should be held criminally liable for the opioid crisis, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said they should be, and it's "one of the reasons why — well before I was running for president — I said I would not take contributions from corporate PACs or pharma executives, because they are part of this problem."

It bears noting that Booker used to be a big beneficiary of the pharmaceutical industry's largesse before he announced in 2017 that he would "put a pause on even receiving contributions from pharma companies." New Jersey is home to several pharmaceutical companies, and the industry was generous in funding Booker's campaign activities prior to his decision to stop taking its money.

Becton, Dickinson & Co, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi PACs all donated to Booker in 2016, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign donations. Merck & Co and Pfizer also gave to Booker in 2014. The website notes that Booker took in $161,000 in pharmaceutical PAC money that year.

Is Washington the first state to offer a public option health care plan?

Jay Inslee claims he's the first governor to implement a public option health insurance plan.

Inslee: "I'm the only candidate who has passed a public option. And I respect everybody's goals and plans here but we do have one candidate that's actually advanced the ball. And we've got to have access for everyone, I've done it as a public option."

Fact check: True, although it won't go into effect until 2021

"Medicare for All" quickly became an issue in the first Democratic debate, as candidates differed on how much the government should intervene in health care. The single-payer approach was popularized by Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren voiced her support for the proposal Wednesday night. Maryland Rep. John Delaney countered that if hospitals used the Medicare reimbursement rate, they would be forced to close.

But Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, on stage Wednesday night, leads the first state in the nation to have a public option insurance plan. Inslee signed a law last month to put in place a public option plan that would compete with, rather than replace, private companies.

Inslee has called his state's plan a "template" for other states to follow. Other states have considered public option-type plans, but Washington is, as Inslee claims, the first to pass one into law.

But Inslee's claims about the full effects of the law won't be proven true or false before the presidential election, as the plans won't be available until 2021. Proponents of the law saw the public option plans will drive down the costs of health care, but it's too soon to say whether that will be the case.

–Kathryn Watson

Cory Booker says seven people were shot in his neighborhood

Cory Booker, in an exchange about curbing gun violence, stated that seven people were shot in his neighborhood last week.

Booker: "I think I am the only one — I hope I am the only one — on this panel here that had seven people shot in their neighborhood just last week."

Fact check: True

Local television news stations including WCBS reported that one person was killed and six others were injured in two shootings that took place in Newark, where Booker lives, last Tuesday, June 18.

The shootings were reported five minutes apart at around 4 p.m. in the afternoon.

–Jack Turman

Who was on the debate stage tonight?

Cory Booker, Bill de Blasio, Julián Castro, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O'Rourke, Tim Ryan and Elizabeth Warren will be on stage Wednesday night.

On Thursday, Joe Biden, Michael Bennet, Pete Buttigieg, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, John Hickenlooper, Bernie Sanders, Eric Swalwell, Marianne Williamson and Andrew Yang will debate.

First published on June 27, 2019 / 1:11 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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