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US Election 2020: Donald Trump’s Convention Speech Fact-Checked

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President Donald Trump delivers his speech for the Republican presidential nomination

President Donald Trump delivers his speech for the Republican presidential nomination

 

President Trump has delivered the closing speech of the Republican convention and said the forthcoming election would be “the most important” in US history.

Accepting his party’s nomination to run for a second term, he listed his own achievements and criticised his Democratic opponent Joe Biden.

Mr Trump spoke for over an hour and made a series of claims. We’ve fact-checked some of them.

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Claim 1: “If you give power to Joe Biden, the radical left will defund police departments all across America”

President Trump attacked his Democratic rival over law and order, against the backdrop of the recent unrest in US cities.

Since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May, there have been calls to “defund the police”.

Donald Trump and other Republicans have claimed that Joe Biden supports this but Mr Biden has said repeatedly that he does not.

In June, he told CBS News: “I don’t support defunding the police”.

Protests in America

Mr Biden repeated this view in an opinion piece for USA Today, calling for reform of the police.

I do not support defunding police. The better answer is to give police departments the resources they need to implement meaningful reforms, and to condition other federal dollars on completing those reforms,” he wrote.

He’s also said he would provide “an additional $300 million to reinvigorate community policing”.

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Claim 2: “We have already built 300 miles of border wall”

Since January 2017, when Mr Trump assumed the presidency, 275 miles of wall along the border with Mexico has been completed, according to the latest US Customs and Border Protection report.

However, most of that was to replace existing structures.

Trump Wall

A total of 245 miles of wall has been built in place of old barriers.

But only 30 miles of new wall has actually been built.

Most of this (25 miles) is what’s called “secondary wall”, which is constructed to reinforce the primary border barrier.

The border with Mexico is about 2,000 miles long.

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Claim 3: “Over the past three months, we have gained over 9 million jobs, a new record”

Here, President Trump claimed the US economy was recovering “much faster” than other western nations from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s true that – since April 2020 – there have been nine million people added to the US payroll, according to the US Bureau for Labor Statistics.

But what Mr Trump didn’t mention was that this rise followed a much bigger loss of 22 million people from the payroll in March, when measures to tackle the pandemic were introduced.

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Claim 4: “The United States has among the lowest case fatality rates of any major country in the world”

President Trump didn’t mention that the US has the world’s highest overall number of Covid-19 deaths, nearly 180,000.

Instead, he highlighted the case fatality rate – the ratio of deaths to confirmed cases. Of those who tested positive for coronavirus, how many have died?

It’s true the US rate is relatively low on this measure compared with most major European countries, including the UK.

Paramedic at back of US ambulance

It’s not the lowest in the world – Norway, Japan, and South Korea are all lower, for example.

But different countries are testing to find coronavirus cases in different ways, so direct comparisons are difficult.

A low case fatality rate could mean that widespread testing identifies lots of mild cases who were unlikely to die in the first place.

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Claim 5: “He [Joe Biden] has pledged a $4 trillion tax hike on almost all American families”

Trump is correct that the Biden plan would lead to $4 trillion in revenues (over a decade), according to analysis by the Tax Policy Centre.

However, this claim is misleading as the taxes would target the wealthiest Americans – not “almost all American families”.

The Tax Policy Centre found that 93% of the tax increases would be paid by taxpayers in the top fifth of households.

High earners would see “substantially larger tax increases than households in other income groups, both in dollar amounts and as a share of their incomes.”

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Claim 6: “We obliterated 100% of the ISIS caliphate”

It’s true the Islamic State group’s territory – a “caliphate” it declared in 2014 across parts of Iraq and Syria – came to an end during Mr Trump’s period in office.

The US-led alliance overcame the group in its last stronghold in Syria, March 2019.

Iraqi soldiers hold an Islamic State banner upside down in front of the ruins of the al-Nuri mosque in Mosul (June 2017)Iraqi government forces recaptured the city of Mosul in July 2017

But “despite the demise of its physical caliphate, IS remains a battle-hardened and well-disciplined force whose “enduring defeat is not assured.”

On 12 August, a top US military official laid out what was needed to score an enduring defeat against IS, noting the group still posed a threat.

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Claim 7: “We will always, and very strongly, protect patients with pre-existing conditions, and that is a pledge from the entire Republican Party”

This refers to a requirement that health insurance companies can’t charge people more if they have pre-existing conditions.

It became law with President Obama’s signature domestic policy – the Affordable Care Act, known as “Obamacare”.

Donald Trump and the Republican party want to repeal Obamacare and replace it, but have failed to do so despite pushing for it in Congress.

In June, the administration asked the US Supreme Court to permanently end Obamacare – which includes those provisions for people with pre-existing conditions.

Constituents speak-out and rally supporting the Affordable Care Act, organized by MoveOn.org outside Senator Pat Toomey"s office on December 20, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES

If successful, it’s not clear what the Trump administration would replace it with. President Trump has signalled that he may make insurers cover people with pre-existing conditions, but there’s no detail yet.

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Claim 8: “Our Nato partners, as an example, were far behind in their defence payments. But at my strong urging, they agreed to pay $130bn more a year”

The current defence spending target for Nato members is 2% of gross domestic product (GDP), to be reached by 2024.

The US spent roughly 3.4% of its GDP on defence in 2019, according to Nato estimates, while the average in European Nato countries and Canada was 1.55%.

Mr Trump has argued that members are not spending enough on defence to support the alliance and that the burden is on the US.

The figure that the president mentioned – $130 billion – is the amount that has been added since 2016, not per year.

“Since 2016, Canada and European allies have added $130 billion more to the defense budgets, and this number will increase to 400 billion US dollars by 2024,” said Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in December 2019.

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