Previewing Donald Trump's 'Today' show town hall
Donald Trump will bring his off-the-cuff campaign rhetoric to a national audience Monday when he takes questions from New Hampshire voters in a Today show town hall meeting.
Today host Matt Lauer will interview Trump in a live one-on-one before moderating the town hall.
Trump has largely led in Republican presidential primary polls since he entered the race in June, and the billionaire businessman has been keeping the fact-checkers busy.
The claims we have examined from Trump’s speeches, social media and TV appearances have overwhelmingly fallen in the negative territory on the Truth-O-Meter.
As of Oct. 22, 2015, PolitiFact has fact-checked Trump 56 times. Forty-two, or 75 percent, of Trump’s claims have rated Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire.
Trump hasn’t softened his immigration rhetoric
If you expected Trump to stop talking about undocumented immigrants after wide condemnation of comments he made in his announcement speech, you called it wrong. Trump has continued to talk about illegal immigration, often, well, wrongly.
After visiting the Texas-Mexico border in July, he cast doubt on a widely reported number for the undocumented population, 11 million.
"I am now hearing it's 30 million, it could be 34 million, which is a much bigger problem," he said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
His claim rates Pants on Fire. The latest count from the Department of Homeland Security puts the number at 11.4 million people as of January 2012. Other groups that research illegal immigration estimate its between 11 and 12 million. Trump provided no proof that the number is really three times as high as respected estimates.
Trump didn’t drop his negative characterization of Mexican immigrants, either, saying in July:
"The Mexican government forces many bad people into our country because they're smart," he told interviewer Katy Tur. "They're smarter than our leaders, and their negotiators are far better than what we have, to a degree that you wouldn’t believe. They're forcing people into our country. … And they are drug dealers and they are criminals of all kinds. We are taking Mexico’s problems."
That claim rates Pants on Fire, no matter how many times he says it. For decades, the combination of economic and family factors accounts for most of the migration from Mexico to the United States. That hasn’t changed, and experts on all sides of the issue objected to Trump’s suggestion that the Mexican government is forcing people over the border.
He talks about business a lot but not always accurately
Trump has pledged to steer the country back on the financial rails, citing the fortune he’s made in real estate development, books and his TV shows as proof that he knows his way around the negotiating table.
In spouting off brash claims about the decline of American manufacturing and exports, he has sacrificed accuracy for sound bites.
He called out Japan as ground zero for the downfall of American automobile exports, saying in his June 16 announcement speech, "They send their cars over by the millions, and what do we do? When was the last time you saw a Chevrolet in Tokyo? It doesn't exist, folks. They beat us all the time."
The claim rates Mostly False. It’s not literally true, as Chevrolet does sell cars in Japan (597 in 2014). However, Trump has a point that the sales are extremely small compared to the dominance of Japanese-made vehicles in Japan.
Japanese automakers — Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Suzuki, Mazda, Daihatsu, Subaru, Mitsubishi — accounted for 92 percent of the 5.45 million vehicles sold in Japan in 2014, according to financial research group IHS Automotive.
Trump made a similar lamentation of American TV production on Fox News Sunday when he said, "I don’t think anybody makes television sets in the United States anymore."
This time, his claim was Half True. He has a point that the United States makes very few TVs compared to its dominance in the 1950s and 1960s. However, he went too far in suggesting we don’t make any since at least two American-owned companies still make TVs in the United States.
His attempts to rewrite history
Trump has had more bad blood with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush than any other candidate, picking on him for leading Florida "to its almost total collapse" (Mostly False) and for his "low energy" (we didn’t fact-check that).
Trump’s latest controversial dig at Bush came at the expense of his famous older brother, former President George W. Bush, over the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
"His brother could have made some mistakes with respect to the actual hit because they did know it was coming and George Tenet, the head of the CIA, told them it was coming," Trump said on CNN’s New Day. "So they did have advanced notice and they didn’t really work on it."
That claim rates False. There’s no support that Bush and top White House officials had, as Trump said, "advanced notice" of an attack on New York City or any other place in America.
While the potential for a domestic attack was discussed in early August 2001, it was mentioned in broad terms and not talked about again. The CIA warnings emphasized possible targets overseas, reports following the attacks have shown.
He was almost entirely right a few times
Trump is in a small group of candidates who have not yet notched True ratings (though his record is more remarkable because we have fact-checked him more often). But there were times he was close.
Five, actually, and two of them came before he was a presidential candidate.
Two of his recent Mostly True statements come from his attacks against former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina’s business record. One time, he garbled the particulars but wasn’t drastically far off in highlighting how a Yale business professor has frequently criticized Fiorina as one of the worst HP executives ever.
In the second GOP presidential debate, he called out Fiorina for talking up the fact that revenues went up under her reign, saying "that's because she bought Compaq. It was a terrible deal."
There’s no question that the HP-Compaq merger was universally condemned at the time, and the growth in revenue was in fact due to the volume of the combined company. But some analysts have changed their mind on the deal in recent years, saying the merger looks look like a better business decision than it seemed.
He earned another Mostly True for calling out Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s attendance, saying it’s the "worst voting record there is today."
He’s accurate if we look at the number of votes missed this year out of the five current senators running for president. Rubio has missed about a third of all votes. If we look at career truancy records, Rubio is a close second to Ted Cruz among the current field.