Much seemed familiar Saturday as President Donald Trump held his first campaign rally as president: the hats, the chants and even some of Trump’s misstatements and exaggerations.
Trump compared himself to Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, presidents who “fought with the media and called them out.”
“We are here today to speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” he said. But he then offered several misleading claims.
— Trump warned that refugees coming into the United States are not screened.
“We’ve allowed thousands and thousands of people into our country. There was no way to vet those people. There was no documentation. There was no nothing.”
Refugees are vetted, and it takes two years.
Trump repeatedly made this inaccurate claim during the 2016 campaign. The country’s vetting system for refugees, which begins at the United Nations, is extensive.
Applicants undergo several rounds of background and biometric checks — fingerprints and retina scans, for example — by multiple federal immigration and intelligence agencies. The system is not foolproof, and intelligence officials have raised concerns about gaps in data collection on people coming from conflict zones like Syria.
— Trump claimed that Americans are optimistic about the future.
“Look at what’s happening in every poll when it comes to optimism in our country.”
Some polls show optimism, others don’t.
In the immediate aftermath of Trump’s election, the majority of voters expressed optimism about the next four years in several respected polls. But the results have varied in more recent months: 53 percent said they were optimistic in a Quinnipiac University poll, while 54 percent said they were pessimistic or uncertain in an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.
According to Gallup’s weekly economic optimism poll, Americans are slightly less confident in the economy in February than they were in January. In other Gallup polls, Trump’s approval rating and Americans’ view of the country’s standing in the world are the lowest in decades.
— Trump extolled an increase in jobs.
“Jobs are already starting to pour back in. They’re coming back in like you haven’t seen in a long time.”
Data shows modest gains so far.
The economy added 227,000 jobs in January 2017, a healthy but less than record increase, more likely attributable to the ending days of the Obama administration than the incoming president. And the unemployment rate “was little changed,” remaining at 4.8 percent for January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That’s 0.1 percent higher than it was the previous month.
— Trump alluded to high crime in Chicago and the country at large.
“Look at what’s happening in Chicago — hundreds of shootings, hundreds of deaths. I’ll tell you what’s happening in Chicago, and many other places.”
Crime is high in Chicago but has generally declined.
Trump warned of soaring levels of crime during the 2016 election, ignoring data. Chicago did experience a surge in homicides last year, with more than 750 people killed. The country’s third-largest city, along with three other urban areas, contributed to a jump in the national homicide rate in 2016. But, overall, both violent crime and property crime have fallen since the early 1990s.