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Editor’s note: PolitiFact’s Stump Speech Analyzer looks at the content and accuracy of candidate stump speeches. Following our summary of the speech’s main themes, we present fact-checks of specific talking points. Read our previous stump speech analyzers for Joe Biden and the Democratic primary field.
The stump speech: Trump’s 1-hour, 40-minute speech in Tulsa, Oklahoma, June 20, 2020
In his first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, President Donald Trump attacked his opponent Joe Biden, excoriated protestors and stoked racial tensions on a variety of issues.
Summing up his complaints, Trump said, "In Joe Biden's America, rioters, looters and criminal aliens have more rights than law-abiding citizens."
Trump spent over six minutes explaining why he walked unsteadily down a ramp at the graduation of West Point cadets in June. He said the "fake news" suggested he was ill, but he was wearing shoes that slipped easily, and the speech actually showed his stamina.
Trump also derided calls to "defund the police" that he said would leave Americans vulnerable to crime, and he repeatedly mentioned MS-13, a criminal gang with ties to Central America.
"I've used the word on occasion, hombre, a very tough hombre is breaking into the window of a young woman whose husband is away … you call 911, and they say, I'm sorry, this number’s no longer working."
Trump attacked U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, calling her a "hate-filled, America-bashing socialist" who would "make the government of our country just like the country from where she came, Somalia — no government, no safety, no police, no nothing, just anarchy. And now she's telling us how to run our country."
Trump also suggested he intends to revive his feud with the NFL after commissioner Roger Goodell said in a formal statement that the NFL supports the Black Lives Matter movement. Trump has attacked players who kneeled during the national anthem to draw attention to police brutality.
"I like Roger Goodell," Trump said. "But I didn't like what he said a week ago. I said, where did that come from in the middle of the summer? … We will never kneel to our national anthem or our great American flag."
On the coronavirus, Trump said it should be called "the Chinese virus" and referred to it as "kung flu." He also complained he didn’t get enough credit for travel restrictions he enacted and said that testing that revealed minor COVID-19 cases was making him look bad.
Biggest applause line: After criticizing at length calls to defund the police: "You are so lucky I’m president, that’s all I can tell you."
Re-election vision: Trump said "sleepy" Joe Biden is a confused "puppet of the left," and the economy will come roaring back if Trump is re-elected.
Music: "God Bless the USA," by Lee Greenwood to open; "You Can’t Always Get What You Want," by the Rolling Stones to close
Before the speech: Public officials had warned that the gathering could spread COVID-19; a court challenge to delay the rally ultimately failed. The original date of the rally was scheduled for June 19, or Juneteenth, a day marking the end of slavery in America; it was moved one day later. Tulsa marked the 99th anniversary this month of one of the worst massacres of black residents by a white mob in America.
Anything else: The campaign had hyped 1 million people registering an RSVP for the rally, but the 19,000-seat BOK Center had many empty seats. Camera shots of the crowd showed only small portion of the crowd wearing masks.
"Testing (for COVID-19) is a double-edged sword… when you do testing to that extent you're gonna find more people you're gonna find more cases."
Trump miscasts rising case numbers as simply the result of more testing, but that’s not what’s happening.
The country is testing more now than it did at the start of the outbreak — per capita, the U.S. is in the top 20% of countries when it comes to cumulative tests run. But this beefed up testing is still likely undercounting.
And diagnostic testing isn’t the only data that reflect the pandemic’s reach. The number of deaths continues to rise, and hospitalizations are higher than they would be in the virus’s absence.
Democrats "want to defund and dissolve our police departments."
Some activists do want to defund and dissolve police, but this description distorts most Democratic proposals. With a few exceptions, elected officials and activists who speak of defunding the police mean something more targeted. They want to focus police departments on criminal activity, and peel off the need for them to respond to domestic disputes, homeless people and the mentally ill.
Kailee Scales, managing director for Black Lives Matter Network Action Fund and Black Lives Matter Global Network Inc., said June 8 that the group was calling for a "divestment in police in order to support more teachers, mental health and restorative services, community resilience departments, social workers, and government resource liaisons."
"We've spent over $2 trillion to completely rebuild the unmatched strength and power of the United States military."
This exaggerates the actual spending. Trump’s ballpark number is reasonably accurate in terms of defense budgets over the past four years. But weapon systems take a long time to build. To put this into perspective, the Pentagon spent roughly $419 billion on procurement through the first three fiscal years of Trump’s presidency. And while that’s just for material goods, that’s a far cry from $2 trillion.
The bulk of the $2 trillion would have been spent anyway, regardless of who was president.
"Most of that money was going to be spent under Obama," said Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution. "Trump’s net increases have been about $100 billion each year, or $400 billion total compared with earlier expectations."
"They've wanted to do (Veterans Choice) for almost 50 years. We got it done."
This started before Trump was elected. Broadly, Veterans Choice allows veterans to see a doctor and get care outside the VA system. It was first approved in 2014 and took effect in 2015. It is fair to say that under Trump, the program was expanded and given more permanent funding, but it existed before he took office.
"We passed the largest tax cuts in the history of our country."
Wrong. In inflation-adjusted dollars, the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act is the fourth-largest since 1940. And as a percentage of GDP, it ranks seventh. The Treasury Department has published a list of the biggest tax bills between 1940 and 2012, measured not only by contemporary dollars but also by inflation-adjusted dollars and as a percentage of gross domestic product (a measure of the size of the overall economy).
The largest, providing $321 billion per year in tax cuts, was the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. The 2017 tax cut provided $150 billion in tax relief.
See links for sources.
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Says Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted, “It’s ‘odd’ that the ANTIFA insurgency happened just as COVID-19 loses steam It’s ‘odd’ that COVID-19 happened the moment impeachment failed. It’s ‘odd’ that impeachment happened the moment Russian hoax failed. The Russian hoax happened because Hillary lost? Notice the pattern?”