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Fact Check: Warped claims in political hothouse

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    President Barack Obama waves to the delegates before speaking during the third day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

WASHINGTON >> It’s hot out there, politically speaking, with Hillary Clinton’s convention going full steam and Donald Trump refusing to stay quiet while Democrats put on their big show. Reality is sometimes getting warped in the process.

A look at some claims Wednesday and how they compare with the facts, on a day packed with a lengthy news conference by Trump and evening convention speeches by high-powered Democrats, capped by President Barack Obama:

OBAMA: “After a century of trying, we declared that health care in America is not a privilege for a few, but a right for everybody.”

THE FACTS: Obama’s health care overhaul does guarantee that people with pre-existing medical conditions can no longer be denied health insurance, but it also made coverage an obligation for everybody. People must have coverage or face fines from the IRS. That mandate remains highly unpopular.

The law provides subsidies to help low- to middle-income people purchase a private plan. But even so, some find their premiums too high. And nearly 29 million remain uninsured, according to government estimates. Health care as a “right for everybody” may better describe Bernie Sanders’ idea of a government-run system for all. That system also entails obligations: the higher taxes that would be collected to pay for it.

———

VIRGINIA SEN. TIM KAINE, Clinton’s running mate: “You can go to HillaryClinton.com right now and find out exactly how she’ll make the biggest investment in new jobs in generations.”

THE FACTS: It’s the biggest in generations only if you don’t count Obama’s $814 billion 2009 stimulus, a curious omission for a Democrat.

Clinton promises to spend $275 billion over five years on roads, bridges and other infrastructure. Obama’s stimulus was more of a hodge-podge and included tax cuts as well as aid to state and local governments. But all of it was intended to boost the economy and hiring.

———

TRUMP: “I never met Putin, I don’t know who Putin is. … I’ve never spoken to him.” — Miami news conference, during a discussion of whether Russia had hacked into emails of the Democratic National Committee.

THE FACTS: Not so long ago, Trump bragged about how well he knew Russian President Vladimir Putin. Now he says he doesn’t know him at all. That appears to be closer to the truth.

In November, when he was trying to burnish his foreign-policy credentials during a GOP primary debate, he said of Putin, “I got to know him very well because we were both on ‘60 Minutes,’ we were stablemates, and we did very well that night. “

That claim was debunked at the time because Trump’s only connection to the Russian leader was that they both appeared on the same show. He was interviewed in New York, Putin in Moscow and they weren’t even in the same segment on the program.

———

OBAMA: “By so many measures, our country is stronger and more prosperous than it was when we started.”

THE FACTS: That progress doesn’t include much of an increase in household income, the yardstick people generally consider their most important measure of prosperity. The typical household now earns $57,206 a year, according to Sentier Research. That’s 2 percent higher than in June 2009, when the recession ended and six months into Obama’s term. (All figures are adjusted for inflation). But it has barely budged since it was $57,147 in December 2007, when the recession began.

———

KAINE: “I want to tell you why I trust Hillary Clinton. First, she’s consistent.”

THE FACTS: Not always — not on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, for example. She promoted the deal as the “gold standard” of trade agreements when she was secretary of state, then turned against it as a candidate who was facing a stiff contest from a primary rival who fiercely and consistently opposed the deal, Bernie Sanders.

Clinton hasn’t been consistent in her explanations of why she had her own email server as secretary of state, changing her story as investigations revealed more about her email practices. That issue has contributed to public distrust of Clinton, a problem Kaine was trying to address in broaching the subject of trust in his remarks.

———

TRUMP: “I never had a second thought in my life.”

THE FACTS: He may want to have a second thought about that thought.

In April, Trump told The New York Times that he should not have retweeted an unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz, wife of GOP primary rival Ted Cruz. “Yeah, it was a mistake,” he said. “If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t have sent it.”

Then in May, he had a third thought.

He told Fox News that “I’m not walking it back” after all, and Mrs. Cruz was fair game because she was so involved in the campaign.

Then in the same interview, he had a fourth thought that was much like the second one: “I wish I didn’t do it.”

———

KAINE: “She’ll make it possible to graduate from college debt-free.”

THE FACTS: Hillary Clinton’s plans would certainly reduce costs, but many students would probably still have to borrow. She has proposed that families who earn less than $125,000 a year will be able to go to in-state colleges and universities tuition-free. Yet many students would still have to pay for room and board, which can make up at least half the cost of attending college.

———

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN, on Trump: “I know he’s trying to be tough but he’s going to go out and carpet bomb. You want to make friends and influence people in the Middle East? So you’re going to go carpet bomb innocent people and bad people at the same time, and that’s going to help us fight against ISIS?” — on MSNBC.

TRUMP: “I never said I wanted to carpet bomb. That was Ted Cruz.”

THE FACTS: Trump is right. It was his former Republican rival who said repeatedly he would carpet bomb Islamic State targets.

Carpet bombing, by its nature, risks killing large numbers of innocent civilians because it is indiscriminate.

Trump has indeed talked tough about IS, vowing to “bomb the hell” out of the group, level the oil facilities it controls and “blow up every single inch, there would be nothing left.” He didn’t say what there would be nothing left of: an IS encampment, for example, or a city? But he did not call for carpet bombing; Biden put Cruz’s words in Trump’s mouth.

———

LEON PANETTA, former CIA director: “Hillary Clinton is the only candidate who has laid out a comprehensive plan to defeat and destroy ISIS and keep America safe.” — Democratic convention speech.

THE FACTS: Clinton has been touting her plan for months. It’s hardly comprehensive.

The three-part strategy, as described in November, involves crushing IS “on its home turf” in the Middle East, disrupting terrorist infrastructure on the ground and online, and protecting America and its allies.

All are elements already included in Obama’s anti-IS strategy. And none addresses the biggest gaps in the U.S.-led response to the Islamic State over the last two years, such as the lack of effective local troops to defeat IS in Syria.

At what point should U.S. ground troops step in? What levels of civilian deaths are acceptable? How exactly does she propose to end Iraq’s age-old Shiite-Sunni divisions?

She hasn’t said. She’s expounded further, but mostly to reject suggestions by Trump and other Republicans.

———

TRUMP: “I am a person that believes in enhanced interrogation, yes. And by the way, it works.”

THE FACTS: While some intelligence officials still maintain the torture of terrorist suspects thwarted plots, none has pointed to a specific instance. The Senate intelligence committee’s report in late 2014 concluded that no actionable intelligence was gained from the detainees who were put in ice baths, threatened with death, kept in cages, waterboarded and subjected to sleep deprivation, booming music and other forms of psychological torture.

———

TRUMP: “Hundreds of people walked out of the Democrat convention last night. I didn’t even hear about it. Nobody showed it. “

THE FACTS: If he didn’t hear about it, how does he know about it?

The walkout by disenchanted supporters of Bernie Sanders was widely reported at the time.

Did hundreds walk out in protest? That’s conceivable but impossible to know with precision because this happened at the same time as people were leaving for dinner.

———

KAINE: “Don’t take it from me. Take it from … John McCain’s chief economic adviser in the ‘08 race, who estimates Trump’s promises would cause America to lose 3.5 million jobs.”

THE FACTS: That’s a reference to Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, who did advise McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, though in only a minor role. His analysis concluded that Trump’s tax cuts and trade policies would plunge the U.S. into recession and eliminate 3.5 million jobs. But Zandi has supported other presidential campaigns: In this election cycle, he donated to Clinton.

———

KAINE: Contractors Trump hired to build his casino in Atlantic City “did the work, hung the drywall, poured the concrete. But a year after opening, Trump filed for bankruptcy. He walked away with millions. They got pennies on the dollar.” And people in Florida paid deposits on condos, “but the condos were never built. He just pocketed their money and walked away.”

THE FACTS: Trump did stiff contractors on the casino. In Florida, he licensed his brand to a condo developer and appeared in marketing materials, attracting buyers. He was paid licensing fees, but condo buyers lost their deposits when the actual developer canceled the project.

———

TRUMP: “I have nothing to do with Russia, yes… I built an unbelievable company but if you look there you’ll see there’s nothing in Russia.”

THE FACTS: Trump staged the Miss Universe competition in Russia, traveled there for it and boasted that it drew “almost all the oligarchs.”

There’s no evidence, though, that he has financial ties to Russia. He has neither developed properties nor licensed his name to buildings there, though he’s tried.

He has sold property to Russians, such as a $100 million Palm Beach, Florida, home in 2008.

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  • If you can’t believe Old Uncle Joe who can you believe?……VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN, on Trump: “I know he’s trying to be tough but he’s going to go out and carpet bomb. You want to make friends and influence people in the Middle East? So you’re going to go carpet bomb innocent people and bad people at the same time, and that’s going to help us fight against ISIS?” — on MSNBC.

    TRUMP: “I never said I wanted to carpet bomb. That was Ted Cruz.”

    THE FACTS: Trump is right. It was his former Republican rival who said repeatedly he would carpet bomb Islamic State targets.

    • Yep, you can fool some of the people some of the time but you can’t fool all the people all the time.
      I can’t believe what I just read in this rag. I guess I got to get up tomorrow morning to see I was dreaming,

      • They tried to create a diversion by accusing Trump of Treason. Hardly, Trump is for Reason. Trump is for Truth. Trump is for Trust. Trump is for USA.

  • Democrats are the most dangerous force facing our nation. Far more than ISIS, the Dems have uprooted the fabric of our society. They believe in the lie ‘black lives matter’ and bring their leaders to speak at their convention. None of the parents of the 3,000 dead blacks from the inner city of Chicago got their voices heard, because these extreme leftists want to pander to a certain crowd. They are pathetic, and extremely dangerous.

        • Hanna, you are entirely correct. There is a most basic voting proposition In this election, unless Trump can steal Pennsylvania, he will lose this election. Furthermore, this lead is certain to grow with a post convention bump.

          On the night she is set to accept the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania’s most populous city, Hillary Clinton holds a 9-point lead over Donald Trump in the latest Suffolk University survey, in no small part thanks to a strong performance in the Philadelphia metro area.

          In a head-to-head matchup with the Republican nominee, Clinton earned 50 percent to Trump’s 41 percent, with 8 percent undecided, said the survey, released Thursday. The 9-point margin is the same shown by an NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll conducted earlier in July, which had Clinton at 45 percent and Trump at 36 percent.

          Although the Democratic nominee has won every presidential election in Pennsylvania dating back to Bill Clinton in 1992, Trump has campaigned heavily in the state, putting it on the map as a top target. On Wednesday, both Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, stumped in Vice President Joe Biden’s hometown of Scranton.

        • Breitbart News is honored to present free of charge the Director’s Cut of Clinton Cash — the new documentary taking the internet by storm, based on Peter Schweizer’s bestselling book (now available in paperback) and graphic novel of the same name.
          Due to the overwhelming success of last weekend’s premiere of Clinton Cash, the film has been the #1 trending topic on Facebook for three days in a row. Its success in dominating social media during the Democratic National Convention is thanks in part to the signal boost given by progressive supporters of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

          Already concerned citizens have circulated copies of the film on various media platforms. While most filmmakers would find the pirating of their material troubling, the Clinton Cash filmmakers have a message to the world: “Pirate away!”

          Unlike Bill and Hillary Clinton, we believe some things are more important than cold cash. This film was not made to make money. It was made to alert the public to the appalling — and dangerous — corruption of the Clintons.

          In order to reach the widest possible audience, Breitbart will host the film here on our site from now until November to be viewed for free by anyone at any time.

          http://www.breitbart.com/2016-presidential-race/2016/07/27/exclusive-directors-cut-clinton-cash-now-playing/

  • I hope both sides realize their respective candidates have many issues, to the point where neither deserves the presidency. Clinton, like all politicians, promises a lot. But having been deeply involved in the same broken system that has frustrated America, many doubt she’ll deliver, and, based on her past actions, question her integrity. Trump, on the other hand, simply represents a change from politics as usual, but brings an excessive amount of baggage with him. Sure, it’s great to believe he’s someone that will do what he says he’ll do, but only if those things are consistent and make sense. Faced with this unfortunate choice, most have chosen to vote against one candidate rather than for him or her, which, despite whomever wins, will guarantee at least four more years of bitter divisiveness. The only real opportunity we have to break this pattern is to elect a candidate from the “middle”. Someone not insanely beholden to either themselves or a political machine, able to speak for us all rather than only half, and give Washington a much needed breathing spell. This cycle we’ve been offered a chance to do just that by electing Gary Johnson, who can begin the turnaround so desperately needed, and give all voters a level of confidence that they’ve voted for the best choice, not merely against the worst one.

  • This is unbelievable. The Associated Press, which consistently has been pro-Clinton and pro-Democrats, has actually debunked much of what Democrats have said. Will wonders ever cease?

  • Why did I just receive anplead from the Trump campaign explicitly asking R voters not to watch the D convention tonight?? Maybe, because people are on the fence? Or that they are trailing badly in Pennsylvania (almost 10%, and that’s not even factoring in a post convention bump) or that Ds have a decidely greater viewership, with about 15% more folks watching the D convention???? Hmmmn…

  • Maccoby recognizes that Freud’s three types overlap in many of us and that all of us have a degree of narcissism. Self-esteem helps us survive and meet our basic needs in life. Maccoby goes on to argue that in turbulent, uncertain times, societies actually need narcissistic leaders. They tend to be strong people like Trump with large vision, lots of charisma, oratorical magnetism and a powerful drive to get results. They are less concerned with dangers in the future than with transforming it.

    He calls these “productive narcissists” and includes among their ranks Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt, as well as recent corporate leaders like Jack Welch, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. (He doesn’t name but presumably would include Eleanor Roosevelt, Indira Gandhi and Golda Meir.)

    But there are traps for “productive narcissists” — and here’s where the Trump saga gets interesting. As narcissistic leaders experience one success after another, they face a danger of believing more and more in their own infallibility and less in the judgment of others.

    Maccoby writes, “Consider how an executive at Oracle describes his narcissistic CEO Larry Ellison: ‘The difference between God and Larry is that God does not believe he is Larry.’”

    Freud argues, and Maccoby agrees, that narcissistic leaders can become increasingly isolated and distrustful of others. They develop thin skin and lash out when questioned. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, for all his brilliance, publicly humiliated his subordinates. In more extreme cases, they become relentless and ruthless; their response to critics turns into apparent vengeance. Sound familiar?

    Experience shows, says Maccoby, that productive narcissists can best avoid these traps by adopting a series of measures. One is to have a sidekick who can keep them anchored. Another is to seek therapeutic help. Above all, one has to learn self-understanding and find methods of self-restraint.

    Sadly, those who know Trump well have witnessed how productive a narcissistic leader he can be. In his divorce from Trump this past weekend, political strategist Roger Stone spoke glowingly of him in a way that made the point. That was the Donald Trump a class of mine at the Harvard Kennedy School also experienced when we visited him in New York City: He was charismatic, had a large vision and won over followers. I was grateful to him.

    But the Donald Trump we’ve seen on the political stage has fallen deeply into the narcissist’s trap — he has become someone who indeed seems self-isolated, distrustful and deeply angry. He may hold followers for now, but he apparently can’t see how many others are appalled. Stone, who was his chief strategist, tried to get him back on track. Rejecting that advice and letting Stone get away only underscores how differently he sees reality from most others.

    A candidate who stays up well past 3 a.m. writing vengeful tweets about Megyn Kelly is not the man the country will want answering the red phone at that hour.

    Who wrote this, some flaming liberal D? Nope, a man that is entirely respected within R circles, and served as a senior advisor to three R presidents (Nixon, Ford, and Reagan) –David Gergen.

    • CLAIM: Rep. Elijah Cummings incorrectly stated during his 2016 DNC speech that Democrats gave black people the right to vote.

      MOSTLY FALSE
      WHAT’S TRUE: The 15th Amendment was predominantly supported by Republicans in 1869, and rejected by Democrats.

      WHAT’S FALSE: Rep. Elijah Cummings explicitly claimed otherwise in his 2016 DNC Speech.

      • Is Cummings running? I’d be more concerned with the documented lies Hillary has told, as well as those emerging from Trump’s mouth.

        Earlier I posted a comment, which remains under “moderation”, which simply pleas for reasonable voters to recognize the implications of electing either of these candidates, primarily the inevitable continuation of bitter divisiveness either’s presidency would guarantee. And since we have the ideal antidote, namely Johnson, a candidate ethically acceptable to all of us, I encourage everyone to take a close look at both his record and his position.

  • Great article. I’m sure that the fact checks won’t matter to those who have already made up their minds who they believe. But the fact is, both sides have been deceptive. It’s through all these smoke and mirrors that we voters will have to sift through. But it is our responsibility to discern what’s true and what’s false. I suspect that this has been going on since the beginning but with the mass dissemination of true and false claims in this digital age we have a tougher job today.

  • I’ve attemped to post 4 comments today, all of which remain under “moderation”. I believe my commenting record stands for itself, as one not given to insulting diatribes, yet my support for Gary Johnson seems to be a sore point with whomever or whatever decides what comments are flagged. Sad and pathetic.

  • PHILADELPHIA — Melania Trump’s cribbing last week of Michelle Obama’s lines was not the first time she claimed something that was not hers.

    For months now, reporters have noted that Ms. Trump, who grew up in the small Slovenian town of Sevnica, did not obtain an undergraduate degree in architecture from the University of Ljubljana, as her professional website claimed she did. Instead, she left after her first year to pursue a modeling career in Milan.

    As recently as a week ago, Ms. Trump’s website stated that she had obtained a degree before going on to become a philanthropist and skin care entrepreneur.

    On Wednesday, The Huffington Post noticed that the site had been entirely scrubbed of its content. People clicking on its address are now redirected to the Trump Organization’s website.

    Hahhaah, maybe she can attend community college and finally complete that degree as I have advised some of the posters here…..

    • Can you possibly come up with something that lying crooked HiLIARy has done. You may begin with the Clinton Foundation. How about a little info on Chelsea’s criminal father in law?

      • How about, Ivanka Trumps own felon, father-in-law, Charles Kushner, a former real estate developer, political fundraiser and philanthropist. In 2005, he was convicted in federal court for making illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion and witness tampering, by who???? Chris Christie–oh what fun!!!

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