President Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis cut short the week's political arguing, but the debate and other events produced plenty of opportunities for campaign missteps. Here's a review.
TRUMP: “We guaranteed preexisting conditions.”
THE FACTS: That’s not true. Protections for people with preexisting conditions are not guaranteed by Trump’s recent executive order, even though the president has said that’s “affirmed, signed, and done, so we can put that to rest.”
If the Supreme Court overturns Obamacare as unconstitutional, Congress and the president would have to enact legislation to replace the health law’s guarantee that people with medical problems can’t be denied coverage or charged more on account of a health condition.
Various Republican proposals debated in 2017 as replacements for Obamacare would have weakened the law's standard. For example, one idea would have required people to maintain continuous coverage in order to avoid a surcharge on their premiums for an individual policy.
Trump’s order states that his administration is committed to ensuring affordable care to people with preexisting illness — but it does not bring that protection into effect. The order carried the general disclaimer that it is “not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural.” In other words, it is symbolic.
BIDEN: “His own former spokesperson said, you know, riots and chaos and violence help his cause. That’s what this is about.”
TRUMP: “I don’t know who said that.”
BIDEN: “I do.”
BIDEN: “Kellyanne Conway”
TRUMP: “I don’t think she said that.”
FACT CHECK: She said that.
“The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who’s best on public safety and law and order,” the Trump adviser told “Fox and Friends” on Aug. 27.
TRUMP: “Portland — the sheriff just came out today and he said, ‘I support President Trump.’”
THE FACTS: No he didn’t. Sheriff Mike Reese of Multnomah County, Oregon, where Portland is located, said “I have never supported Donald Trump and will never support him.” Portland has been a flashpoint in the debate over racial injustice protests.
BIDEN: “There was a peaceful protest in front of the White House. What did he do? He came out of his bunker, had the military use tear gas on them."
THE FACTS: Not exactly. It was law enforcement, not the military, that used chemical irritants to force peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square outside the White House on June 1.
And there is no evidence Trump was inside a bunker at the time. It was days earlier when Secret Service agents rushed Trump to a White House bunker as hundreds of protesters gathered outside the executive mansion, some throwing rocks and tugging at police barricades.
TRUMP: “A solicited ballot, OK, solicited, is OK. You’re soliciting. You’re asking. They send it back. You send it back. I did that. If you have an unsolicited, they’re sending millions of ballots all over the country. There’s fraud.”
THE FACTS: He’s vastly overstating the potential for fraud in “unsolicited” ballot states.
There is no such thing as an “unsolicited” ballot. Five states routinely send ballots to all registered voters so they can choose to vote through the mail or in person. Four other states and the District of Columbia will be adopting that system in November, as will almost every county in Montana. Election officials note that, by registering to vote, people are effectively requesting a ballot, so it makes no sense to call the materials sent to them “unsolicited.”
More broadly speaking, voter fraud has proved exceedingly rare. The Brennan Center for Justice in 2017 ranked the risk of ballot fraud at 0.00004% to 0.0009%, based on studies of past elections.
In the five states that regularly send ballots to all voters, there have been no major cases of fraud or difficulty counting the votes.
Trump frequently blasts “unsolicited” ballots as flawed and fraudulent while insisting that “solicited” mail ballots in certain states such as Florida, a must-win state for him, are fine and safe.
But “unsolicited” ballots are cast in the same way as “absentee” or “solicited” mail ballots, with the same level of scrutiny such as signature verification in many states.
Of the nine states automatically sending out ballots to registered voters, only Nevada is a battleground. The main states being contested — Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — only send mail ballots to voters who request them, which Trump has deemed “OK.”
TRUMP: “Well, we’re going to deliver it right away. We have the military all set up. Logistically, they’re all set up. We have our military that delivers soldiers and they can do 200,000 a day. They’re going to be delivering ... it’s all set up.”
THE FACTS: This is not true.
The Pentagon says in a statement that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is responsible for executing the plan to distribute vaccines to the public when the time comes. The Defense Department is helping in the planning but, with perhaps some exceptions in remote areas, is not going to be delivering, as Trump claimed.
“Our best military assessment is that there is sufficient U.S. commercial transportation capacity to fully support vaccine distribution,” the department’s statement says. “There should be no need for a large commitment of DOD units or personnel to support the nationwide distribution of vaccines. Any DOD required support would be by exception.”
BIDEN on Trump: “He has, in fact, worked on this in a way that he’s going to be the first president of the United States to leave office having fewer jobs in his administration than when he became president. Fewer jobs than when he became president. First one in American history.”
THE FACTS: No, if Trump loses reelection and employment trends stay on track in the next few months, he would be the first since Depression-era Herbert Hoover to have lost jobs during his presidency. Franklin Roosevelt defeated Hoover in 1932.
TRUMP, comparing his record on fixing the Department of Veterans Affairs to when Biden was vice president: “A fixing of the VA, which was a mess under him, 308,000 people died because they didn’t have proper health care. He was a mess.”
THE FACTS: Trump’s claim of 308,000 deaths of veterans while they were seeking VA care under Biden’s watch is unsupported.
The IG report examined claims of delayed care after the 2014 VA scandal in which several VA hospitals were found to have covered up extended waiting times for veterans seeking appointments.
The audit found that over 300,000 veterans with pending applications for VA health care were likely deceased, but it made clear that “data limitations” prevented investigators from determining how many now-deceased veterans applied for health care benefits or when. The applications go back nearly two decades, and officials said numerous applicants actually died before the start of the Obama administration in 2009 — not when Biden was vice president.
For instance, a veteran who died in 1988 was listed as awaiting approval to enroll in VA health care until January 2015. One non-veteran who received emergency care at a VA hospital in 2000 was listed as awaiting approval to enroll in VA health care for over a decade, even though the patient was never eligible to enroll. And yet another veteran who appeared to have died waiting for care was shown applying for VA enrollment in 2009, and failing to receive any help. However, the patient died in 1993.
Associated Press writers Robert Burns, Matthew Daly, Michelle R. Smith, Josh Boak, Colleen Long, Ellen Knickmeyer, Mark Sherman, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Bill Barrow, David Klepper, Amanda Seitz, Michael Balsamo and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.
The Associated Press has been fact-checking politicians since 1996, when Bill Clinton was president. These are not opinion pieces but instead are straight-news items that adhere to AP's Statement of News Values. The AP encourages readers to reach out with comments, fact-checking suggestions and corrections at FactCheck@ap.org. Learn more about the team and how this content is produced at apnews.com.