Political News

Fact check: Trump campaign deceptively snips video of Biden quoting the Pope

Posted October 27, 2020 8:01 p.m. EDT

— The Trump campaign's "war room" Twitter account has been serially dishonest, repeatedly taking quotes from former Vice President Joe Biden and other Democrats out of context.

The account did it again on Tuesday.

In a Tuesday speech in Georgia, Biden, a churchgoing Catholic, quoted from an encyclical published by Pope Francis in early October. In that text, the Pope criticized "aggressive nationalism" and anti-immigrant populism, called for a "better kind of politics" that emphasizes love and urged politicians to ask themselves certain questions he suggested would guide them toward serving the public interest rather than their own selfish motives.

The Trump campaign account created a seven-second clip that showed Biden saying only this: "Why am I doing this? Why? What is my real aim?" It tweeted the shortened clip, with a caption that consisted solely of the truncated quote, to its 960,000 followers -- creating the impression that Biden had been questioning his own candidacy.

Facts First: The Trump campaign's tweet was highly deceptive. Biden was directly quoting Pope Francis when he posed these questions -- and then the former vice president immediately answered the questions.

Here's what Biden said: "In a recent encyclical, Pope Francis warns us against this phony populism that appeals to 'the basest and most selfish' instincts. He goes on to say: 'Politics is something more noble than posturing, marketing, and media spin. These sow nothing but division, conflict and a bleak cynicism.' He said for those who seek to lead, we do well to ask ourselves, 'Why am I doing this? Why? What is my real aim?' Pope Francis asked the questions that anyone who seeks to lead this great nation should be able to answer. And my answer is this: I run to unite this nation, and to heal this nation. I've said that from the beginning. It's badly necessary."

The Trump campaign's deception might have been especially noteworthy because it was deception about a quote on the subject of making politics more noble. And it was also noteworthy because it was deception related to the Pope. Trump has accused Biden of being against God and religion.

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