Fact-checking Donald Trump's campaign rally in Wildwood, New Jersey
President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at the Wildwoods Convention Center Oceanfront on Jan. 28, 2020, in Wildwood, N.J. (AP) President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at the Wildwoods Convention Center Oceanfront on Jan. 28, 2020, in Wildwood, N.J. (AP)

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at the Wildwoods Convention Center Oceanfront on Jan. 28, 2020, in Wildwood, N.J. (AP)

Jon Greenberg
By Jon Greenberg January 28, 2020
Katie Sanders
By Katie Sanders January 28, 2020

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include our deeper analysis of Trump's claim about wages for the bottom and top 10%. 

Hours after his attorneys closed their case for him to remain in office, President Donald Trump jetted up to New Jersey to be with his fans, largely avoiding the impeachment trial to describe many reasons for his re-election.

"America is winning again, and America is thriving again like never before," Trump said Jan. 28 in Wildwood.

At the same time, they are disgusted with Washington, Trump said. "Which is worse, the impeachment hoax or the witch hunts from Russia?" 

As he made his case to thousands of people, many of whom waited the entire day to see him, Trump repeated several familiar claims on the economy, health care and the border wall that needed a fact-check.

"We are protecting people with pre-existing conditions, and we always will, the Republican Party, pre-existing conditions. We saved it."

Pants on Fire! Trump has repeatedly misrepresented his administration’s efforts to repeal the Obama-era health care law, which guarantees coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions. Neither Trump nor congressional Republicans who want the courts to strike down the Affordable Care Act have offered a replacement that might maintain its core protections. 

"We are lowering drug prices."

When Trump said in May 2019 that "drug prices are coming down," we rated that Mostly False. The White House pointed to the Consumer Price Index for drugs, and using one particular time period, there was a small decline.

But that index leaves out the actual prices people pay, and it only covers retail drugs, about three-fourths of all prescriptions.

Beyond those limitations, the latest numbers for that index show drug prices rising by about 3.9% in December 2019.

Other ways to measure drug prices show that thousands of drugs have seen prices go up, while only about 100 have seen prices fall.

"For 48 years they've been trying to get Veterans Choice ... One day I say to my people: I have the greatest idea. I am so smart ... We're going to send them down the road to private doctors and we're going to pay the bill and they're going to get fixed."

This ignores that the Veterans Choice program started in 2014. Trump has claimed credit since passage of the Veterans Mission Act in 2018, but the first version of the program was approved four years earlier. 

After a scandal of long waits for veterans and the efforts of administrators at some facilities to cover that up, Congress and the Obama administration passed the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014.

For veterans who couldn’t be given appointments quickly enough, or who lived more than 40 miles from a Veterans Health Administration hospital, the government would pay for private care. 

While the initial program was riddled with problems –– including paying huge overhead fees to the firms managing it –– it did exactly what Trump described as his own idea. The 2018 Mission Act consolidated several related VA programs and anchored the use of private doctors within the VA system, but the concept was already in place when Trump took office.

"And today, I had the best polls that I've ever had since being elected, the best we've ever had."

Trump’s polling remains stable amid the impeachment trial. A Real Clear Politics average of recent polling shows Trump at a 45.3% approval rating. He last hit that level on Sept. 24, 2019, the day House Democrats launched the impeachment inquiry. Put into context, Trump’s Real Clear Politics average approval has remained between 37% and 45.3% since he was inaugurated.

"Earnings for the bottom 10% are rising faster than earnings for the top 10%."

That’s Half True. The people at the bottom end of the wage scale make a lot less than those at the top, but the gains Trump cited are real.

Earnings for the bottom 10% seem to be rising faster, but not by much, and there are different ways to crunch the data. 

Trump uses a weekly earnings measure that is favorable to his point but misses a lot of income at the high end. This produces an artificially low estimate for the top 10%. Read our detailed analysis in this fact-check.

"The money is won. And we are now building that beautiful wall. This powerful border wall is going up at record speed, and we just reached over 100 miles of wall. And next year we’ll be over 400 miles. And shortly thereafter it will be complete."

Trump is referring to a court victory allowing him to use $3.6 billion for military construction projects toward the wall instead. (Congress was not giving Trump the money he wanted for the wall, so he declared a national emergency in order to tap the military funds.) Most of the border wall projects replace or bolster existing fencing. As for 400 more miles coming next year, it’s not immediately clear what he’s referring to. He said the same thing in May about 2020. In short, the wall still has a long way to go before it matches Trump’s vision from 2016.

"But Mexico is in fact, you will soon find out, paying for the wall, okay? … The wall is ultimately and very nicely being paid for by Mexico."

There’s no evidence of this. We asked the Trump team for more details and haven’t heard back. Trump previously claimed that Mexico would pay for the wall through the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which he will soon sign. There is no provision for the wall in the free trade agreement.

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Fact-checking Donald Trump's campaign rally in Wildwood, New Jersey