Personal and emotional stories dominated the third night of the Republican National Convention as the party sought to woo women voters and stress its law-enforcement credentials.
Many of the testimonials Wednesday came from President Donald Trump’s closest advisers and key supporters.
The stories were compelling but also sometimes misleading.
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Here’s what they and other speakers got right and what they got wrong.
Does Trump ‘stand’ with Americans on preexisting conditions?
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told a compelling and deeply personal story about her decision to undergo a preventative double mastectomy after testing positive for the BRCA2 gene that increased her risk for cancer.
The story was moving, and it portrayed Trump as a compassionate boss who checked in with McEnany at perhaps the most traumatic time in her life.
“I was blown away,” McEnany said, recalling a phone call she received from the president. “Here was the leader of the free world, caring about my circumstance.”
But McEnany veered into a far more disputed territory when she claimed the president’s actions indicated he “stands by Americans with preexisting conditions.”
Trump largely ran in 2016 on rolling back the 2016 health care law that ensured Americans with preexisting conditions could purchase health coverage. The Trump administration, meanwhile, has declined to defend a lawsuit brought by Republican states that would unwind those protections.
Trump has repeatedly said he will unveil a new health care law to take care of people with preexisting conditions, but so far has not done so.
– John Fritze
RNC night two: What Pam Bondi’s attacks on Hunter Biden got right — and wrong
RNC claims Biden is ‘anti-law enforcement.’ He’s not.
It’s a claim Trump and his allies have been increasingly pushing this campaign: Democrat Joe Biden, they assert, has embraced a “far left” agenda on policing.
“Joe Biden has turned his candidacy over to the far-left, anti-law enforcement radicals,” said Michael McHale with the National Association of Police Organizations, which has supported Trump’s candidacy.
In his speech, Vice President Mike Pence made a similar claim: “When asked if he would support cutting funding for law enforcement, Joe Biden said, ‘Yes, absolutely.'”
But the facts don’t match those claims.
‘Justice must and will be done’: Biden speaks out on police shooting of Jacob Blake
While it’s true that some on the left have called for defunding police departments, Biden has repeatedly distanced himself from that position.
“As his criminal justice proposal made clear months ago, Vice President Biden does not believe that police should be defunded,” campaign spokesman Andrew Bates told USA TODAY in June.
Pressed on the point in an interview with Fox News last month, Trump pointed to a “unity” platform released by Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. That platform calls for banning choke holds and ending racial profiling, but does not recommend defunding police departments.
‘Sir, he does not’: Fox’s Chris Wallace fact-checks Trump’s claim that Biden supports defunding the police
Biden has also called for a $300 million increase in police funding to address concerns about racial profiling.
– John Fritze
Was the economy struggling in 2017?
Pence said one of those administration’s accomplishments was jumpstarting “an economy struggling to break out of the slowest recovery since the Great Depression.”
The recovery from the Great Recession was the slowest since the Great Depression but that’s mostly because of structural, long-term changes, including slower population growth, an aging population and sluggish productivity growth.
But the economy’s performance under Obama and Trump have been strikingly similar.
During the first three years of the Trump administration, which excludes the COVID-19-induced recession, economic growth averaged 2.5% annually. That performance was boosted, particularly in 2018, by sweeping tax cuts and spending increases that widened the deficit.
During the last three years of the Obama administration, average economic growth was just marginally lower at 2.4%.
And 6.8 million jobs were created during the first 37 months under Trump, before the pandemic began, or an average 183,000 jobs a month. During the final 37 months under Obama, 8.3 million jobs were created, or an average of 224,000 a month.
In fairness, payroll growth traditionally slows as the jobless rate falls and businesses struggle to find fewer available workers. During Trump’s term, unemployment dropped from 4.7% to 3.5%, a 50-year low, before the crisis triggered the steepest-ever recession.
Obama, by contrast, took office during the Great Recession of 2007-09 and helped dig the nation out of it through sweeping stimulus and bailout measures. Unemployment was 7.8% when he took office, climbed to 10% and then tumbled to 4.7%. So Obama had more room to spur economic gains. Trump inherited a solid economy from Obama and kept it going until the coronavirus crisis.
– Paul Davidson
A ‘ban on animal agriculture’?
During her RNC speech, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said, “If given power, (Biden-Harris) would essentially ban animal agriculture and eliminate gas-powered cars.”
The Biden campaign disputed the claim.
“Once again in a response to Republicans starting with ‘can’t believe I have to say this’ but no, Biden/Harris will not ban farm animals,” Biden’s Iowa state director, Lauren Dillon, wrote on Twitter.
Biden’s policy positions listed on his campaign website make no mention of restricting animal agriculture other than an unspecified reference to “decarbonizing the food and agriculture sector” under his list of climate positions.
The claim about banning gas-powered cars also has little grounding in the policy positions listed on Biden’s website. Although Biden calls for the further electrification of American vehicles in his clean energy plan, he also calls for investments in the American automobile industry and a program to encourage Americans to swap older, less fuel-efficient cars for newer, greener ones.
– Nicholas Wu
Susan Page: Even as president, Trump takes a familiar stance: The political outsider
Did James Madison sign the Declaration of Independence?
Madison Cawthorn, a 25-year-old congressional candidate, appeared to mix up some dates in American history during his RNC speech.
“James Madison was 25 when he signed the Declaration of Independence,” said Cawthorn, who pulled off a surprise win in the race for Mark Meadows’ North Carolina seat in June and is favored to win the general election.
Madison, however, did not sign the Declaration of Independence.
Cawthorn said in a tweet posted early Thursday morning he had ad-libbed the line and “meant to say James Madison was 25 when the Declaration was signed.”
His remarks as prepared, though, included the line about Madison signing the declaration.
Remarks sent out by his campaign after the speech changed the line to: “Thomas Jefferson was 33 when he wrote the Declaration of Independence.”
– Nicholas Wu
Did the Obama-Biden administration give Iran ‘a planeload of cash?’
Richard Grenell, Trump’s former ambassador to Germany and acting director of national intelligence, cast Trump’s “America first” foreign policy as an unequivocal success. And he leveled several accusations at the Obama-Biden administration, including this:
“A return to the Biden way of thinking means America gives the radical terrorist regime in Tehran a planeload of cash in the middle of the night.”
Grenell was referring to a step the Obama administration took after the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement went into effect. (Under that deal, Iran agreed to restrict its nuclear program in exchange for relief from crippling global sanctions.)
On Jan. 17, 2016, the Obama administration announced it had settled a long-standing dispute with Iran over assets frozen by the U.S. in 1979 amid growing hostilities between Washington and Tehran. Prior to that, Iran had paid the U.S. for military equipment but never received it because of the rupture in diplomatic relations.
Under the 2016 settlement, the U.S. returned the money – about $400 million, plus $1.3 billion in accrued interest, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. The $400 million was paid in cash and flown to Tehran on a cargo plane, according to the Associated Press.
The remaining $1.3 billion was “remitted to Iran in foreign hard currency from the central banks of the Netherlands and of Switzerland,” in order not to violate U.S. regulations barring direct U.S. dollar transfers to Iranian banks, the CRS states.
– Deirdre Shesgreen
Trump and authoritarian regimes
Grenell argued that Trump has a strong record of supporting human rights and pro-democracy protesters.
“We also must be clear that when those who seek freedom take tremendous personal risks in places like Hong Kong, Tehran, or Minsk, there is no doubt who President Trump’s administration supports,” Grenell said. “We will always stand with the people who fight for their God-given freedoms.”
In fact, the Trump administration has a checkered record on this issue. He has heaped praise on brutal dictators such as North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and touted his warm relationship with China’s Xi Jinping. And when protesters in Hong Kong began demonstrating against China’s efforts to restrict the territory’s freedoms, Trump urged silence, according to his former national security adviser John Bolton.
In a June 2018 phone call with Xi, Trump told the Chinese leader he saw the matter as a domestic Chinese issue and had told his advisers not to discuss Hong Kong “in any way, shape or form,” Bolton wrote in a book published earlier this year.
Amid growing tensions with China and intense domestic pressure, the president has since signed bipartisan legislation punishing China for its crackdown on Hong Kong.
More recently, Trump has not been a forceful voice in support of protesters in Minsk, who have staged massive demonstrations against Belarus’ authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko, after what experts say was a rigged election in his favor.
The president called it a “terrible situation” and his press secretary called on Lukashenko’s government “to respect the right to peaceably assemble and to refrain from use of force.”
– Deirdre Shesgreen
Did Obama Defense chief slam Biden’s foreign policy record?
Pence, in attacking Biden’s record on terrorism, made reference to a criticism leveled against the former vice president by a former Obama Defense secretary.
“It’s no wonder that the secretary of Defense under the Obama-Biden administration once said that Joe Biden has been, and I quote, ‘Wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades,” Pence said.
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who served under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, in his 2014 book “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” praised Biden as “a man of integrity” but also took a shot at his record.
“I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades,” Gates wrote.
– Sean Rossman
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact checking night 3 of the RNC: Speakers offer compelling but sometimes misleading stories