Fact check: Trump continues dishonesty bombardment at Pennsylvania rally
Posted October 14, 2020 9:12 a.m. EDT
CNN — President Donald Trump has returned to the campaign trail with all of his usual campaign dishonesty.
Trump made numerous false or misleading claims at his Tuesday rally in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, his second falsehood-filled rally since he was hospitalized with the coronavirus.
We're still going through the transcript, but here's a quick roundup.
As he did at his Monday rally in Sanford, Florida, Trump baselessly claimed that Biden supports policy positions that the former vice president does not actually hold.
Trump lied, for example, that Biden's plan would "destroy protections for pre-existing conditions." Trump is the one trying to eliminate Obamacare, including the protections the law created for people with pre-existing conditions. Biden, conversely, is running on a pledge to preserve and strengthen Obamacare, including those protections for pre-existing conditions.
Trump also warned that Biden will "outlaw" private health insurance plans. But Biden has vocally rejected proposals to eliminate private insurance, instead proposing a "public option" that would allow people to voluntarily opt into a government insurance plan.
Biden was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania. But Trump said: "They say he was born in Scranton, but he left, he left. He abandoned you."
Trump's allegation is misleading to the point of absurdity. Biden didn't make his own decision to leave Pennsylvania. His family moved from Pennsylvania to Delaware, where his father had found a job, when he was 10 years old.
Trump offered another dishonestly rosy assessment of the state of the coronavirus pandemic.
He claimed that we are "rounding the turn on the pandemic," not explaining what that means. And he said, "My plan: we're gonna crush the virus very quickly. It's happening already. It's happening."
It's not happening. The number of confirmed US new cases and hospitalizations is surging; there were 52,406 new cases on Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University data. At the time Trump spoke, 33 states were seeing increases in cases this week over last week.
Trump falsely claimed that "we added nearly 600,000 manufacturing jobs."
This would have been an exaggeration even if you stopped the clock in February. (At that point, before the pandemic-related crash in March, 483,000 manufacturing jobs had been added during the Trump presidency.) But now the claim is flat wrong. As of September, 164,000 manufacturing jobs had been lost since Trump took office.
Trump also falsely claimed that President Barack Obama had declared that "you'll never produce manufacturing jobs." That's not what Obama said. At a 2016 town hall event, Obama did say that some manufacturing jobs were gone from the US for good -- but he also boasted about how many new ones were being created in the US.
Trump made a series of false claims about NATO.
He claimed that he was responsible for securing an extra "$130 billion a year" in military spending by other countries. Actually, NATO says the increase is $130 billion total between 2016 and the end of 2020, not $130 billion per year. (NATO does give Trump credit for the increase, but it's worth noting that spending has been rising since 2015, before Trump took office.)
Trump said that before him, NATO members "weren't paying their bills" and "were delinquent." That's not how NATO works. While the alliance has a target of each member spending 2% of GDP on defense, failing to hit that target doesn't create bills or debts.
And Trump claimed that "Obama used to send them pillows." This appeared to be Trump's usual reference to Obama's military aid to Ukraine, not about contributions to NATO itself -- but it's inaccurate regardless. Obama did decline to send Ukraine lethal aid, but he sent armored Humvees, counter-mortar radar, night vision equipment, drones, and other military supplies.
The border wall
For the second consecutive night, Trump claimed that Mexico is paying for his border wall.
"And Mexico is paying for the wall, by the way. You know that. I've been saying it. They hate to hear that. But they're paying," he said.
This is simply false. The US government has paid for the wall -- in part with billions of dollars Trump has controversially seized from other programs. The White House declined to comment on Tuesday when we asked for an explanation of how Mexico is supposedly paying.
Trump vaguely said at the Tuesday rally, as he did at Monday's, that Mexico will effectively cover the cost of the wall because of a "charge" he will impose on cars crossing the border. (He called it a "border tax" on Monday.) But he has not released any details of any such proposal, and, again, the White House declined to explain on Tuesday.
Minnesota and the National Guard
Trump celebrated how the National Guard quelled violent protests in Minnesota after the killing of George Floyd. He lamented, though, that it took "10 days" for the state to call his administration.
Minnesota's Democratic governor, Tim Walz, activated the National Guard himself -- and he did so two days, not 10 days, after the first protest violence. You can read a full timeline here.
The presidential debate and the phrase "law and order"
Trump told a story about how Biden supposedly refused to utter the words "law and order" at their first presidential debate. (Part of the story: "Remember I said, 'So tell me, say the words law and order, say it, Joe, say it.' He couldn't do it, he wouldn't do it, he wouldn't do it.") Trump then acknowledged that Biden did say the words "law and order," but he suggested that this doesn't count because Biden added extra words at the end.
This is ridiculous. Biden said at the debate that "everybody's in favor of law and order." He then added, "Law and order with justice, where people get treated fairly."
Trump is free to argue that Biden adding "with justice" renders the words "law and order" meaningless. But it's just false to suggest that Biden refused say the words "law and order" at all.
CNN and its cameras
Returning to one of his favorite rally lies, Trump called CNN "fake," then said he saw the light on CNN's camera go off -- insinuating that CNN had stopped recording because of his jab.
Trump's claim was, as usual, pure fiction. CNN does not turn its cameras off when he insults CNN. And CNN photojournalists at his rallies do not even use a light that would show Trump whether or not they are recording or broadcasting live.
Trump repeated another of his favorite rally lies, declaring that "we passed VA Choice." Obama signed the Choice bill into law in 2014; it was an initiative of two senators Trump has frequently criticized, Bernie Sanders and the late John McCain. What Trump signed was the VA MISSION Act of 2018, which expanded and modified the Choice program.
Trump has made this claim more than 160 times.