Facts are under assault in 2020.
We can't fight back misinformation about the election and COVID-19 without you. Support trusted, factual information with a tax deductible contribution to PolitiFact
I would like to contribute
Another week, another convention.
Republicans will gather next week to officially re-nominate President Donald Trump, who will face Democratic nominee Joe Biden, in his quest for a second term. The Republican National Convention comes on the heels of the Democrats’ event, anchored in Milwaukee, which was largely virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Republicans, too, will hold a mostly virtual event based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C., from Aug. 24 to 27. More than 300 delegates will gather at a Charlotte convention center to nominate Trump.
The president is expected to deliver his acceptance speech at the White House despite concerns over using government property for campaign activities.
As we did ahead of the Democratic National Convention, we rounded up recent claims from Trump and other Republicans on COVID-19, the economy and more. Here’s how PolitiFact and PolitiFact Wisconsin rated them.
Claim: "Our (COVID-19) numbers are better than almost all countries."
Trump likes to claim the United States is faring better than other countries amid the pandemic. This statement, which came during the president’s Aug. 17 stop in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, is off base.
The White House pointed PolitiFact to Oxford University’s Our World in Data project, which shows the United States’ percentage of confirmed cases that led to death is about half of Europe’s. But Oxford says that metric isn’t a good measure of the disease’s risk.
By other measures, though, the United States has among the highest death and positive test rates in the world. The percentage of tests that come back positive is also higher than most European countries, as well as Canada and Australia.
Claim: Absentee voting is different from mail-in voting and has more protections against fraud.
PolitiFact dug into the issue of mail-in voting after Trump made various iterations of this claim throughout the summer. The president continues to cast doubt on the security of voting by mail, while touting the benefits of voting absentee.
But the two are fundamentally the same. All mailed ballots require verification before they’re counted, and absentee voters who are out of town go through the same process as others who vote by mail.
States such as California automatically send ballots to registered voters, as opposed to people requesting them, but that doesn’t change how the ballots are counted — or the level of scrutiny they undergo.
Claim: "Murders this year have spiked 27% in Philadelphia."
Trump announced plans in July to send federal agents to cities to combat a surge in violent crime. And the president’s claim about crime rates in Philadelphia was right.
At the time of Trump’s statement, there had been 232 homicides in Philadelphia — an increase of 50, or 27%, from the same time last year. Six people were shot in one day in July. Other violent crimes such as robbery and rape have declined slightly, but that’s not what Trump was referring to.
Claim: "Joe Biden wants to end school choice."
School choice refers to a range of policies, but many Republicans associate it with the use of vouchers to help cover tuition at private schools. By that metric, Trump had a point: Biden opposes the use of public money for private schools. He’s also against for-profit and low-performing charter schools.
But overall, this claim from Trump goes too far. Biden is in favor of good charter schools and allowing students to have their pick of public schools, which falls under the umbrella of school choice.
Rating: Mostly False.
Claim: The Trump administration "added over 209,000 jobs, including 16,000 new manufacturing jobs, to Pennsylvania over the last three years."
Economic growth remains a favorite talking point of Trump’s campaign, even amid devastating job losses during the coronavirus pandemic. And in a July 29 email, Vice President Mike Pence tried to ignore the turmoil of the past six months.
Jobs in Pennsylvania increased by 2% from the month of Trump’s inauguration to February 2020. But more recent data in June pointed to a net loss of 600,000 jobs since Trump took office. Manufacturing jobs in Pennsylvania are also down almost 4% overall, in part due to a loss of 20,000 jobs since the virus took hold.
Claim: "And I heard that just yesterday, Joe Biden said that well-armed police in his words ‘become the enemy’ and he said that he would ‘absolutely cut funding for law enforcement.’"
Pence’s claim about Biden distorts the truth.
Biden did use the word "enemy" during a July 8 interview, but he specifically said police become the enemy when they descend on neighborhoods with military equipment like an invasion. Pence’s statement doesn’t capture that context.
And though Biden said he supports shifting some police funding to social services, he’s against defunding the police entirely. He also proposed a $300 million community policing initiative and wants to use federal funding to incentivize police reform.
Rating: Mostly False.
Claim: Says Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden backs a fracking ban that would cost 100,000 Wisconsin jobs.
This claim came from the Wisconsin arm of Trump Victory, a group led by the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee. It touches on the common, yet controversial practice of drilling to access gas and oil in rock formations.
Wisconsin doesn’t have any of that oil or gas, but it does produce sand needed for the fracking process — meaning it also produces jobs at the sand mines.
Biden only wants to ban new fracking on federal land and waters. And a 2017 study found the entire oil and gas industry was responsible for 98,200 jobs in Wisconsin, so the number of jobs tied to fracking would be smaller. Thus, Trump Victory overstated the impact of a fracking ban Biden doesn’t even support.
Claim: "Marquette University threatened to rescind student’s admission over pro-Trump TikTok video."
The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., latched onto a controversy involving an incoming freshman at Marquette University who posted a video on TikTok claiming she was targeted for her support of Trump. But the university’s involvement had nothing to do with Samantha Pfefferle’s political views — people instead complained about her social media posts deemed racist and transphobic.
It’s also not clear if Marquette threatened to rescind her admission, as Trump Jr. claimed, because it involves a private conversation between Pfefferle and university officials. The university denied the allegation, but Pfefferle felt her admission status was in jeopardy after the meeting. Still, she never tied her concerns to the video or described the university’s actions as a threat.
Rating: Mostly False.
USA TODAY, St. Louis couple, Covington Catholic student to speak at Republican National Convention, Aug. 18, 2020.
The Charlotte Observer, RNC FAQ: All you need to know about the GOP convention. And what about that helicopter?, Aug. 17, 2020.