August 27, 2020

In accepting the Republican Party nomination on Aug. 27, Vice President Mike Pence accurately recounted the history of Baltimore’s Fort McHenry, and how a failed British bombardment in 1814 helped inspire Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Pence’s attacks on Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, on the other hand, were sometimes misleading, incomplete or wrong.

Vice President Mike Pence

Vice President Mike Pence speaks on the third day of the Republican National Convention at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

“Joe Biden wants to end school choice.”

This is Mostly False. (Trump made the same claim in July.)

Biden wants to end voucher programs that use public money to pay for private school tuition. He also opposes for-profit and low-performing charter schools. But he supports high-performing charter schools and allowing students to pick among public schools. Those also qualify as school choice options.

“When asked whether he’d support cutting funding to law enforcement, (Biden) replied, ‘Yes, absolutely.’”

Pence took Biden’s remarks from an interview with liberal activist Ady Barkan out of context. Biden is opposed to defunding the police.

Barkan said deadly police encounters with citizens could be reduced if some police funding were redirected to social services, mental health counseling and affordable housing. “Are you open to that kind of reform?” Barkan asked.

Biden replied: “Yes. I proposed that kind of reform.”

Biden did not speak about reducing police funding. He talked about police using military equipment in their communities. Barkan then interjected, asking about the military equipment: “But do we agree that we can redirect some of the funding?”

Biden replied: “Yes. Absolutely.”

Biden has proposed more federal funding for community policing and has said he is open to shifting some police funding to services such as mental health counseling.

“Before the first case of the coronavirus spread within the United States, the president took unprecedented action and suspended all travel from China.”

Pence’s timeline is wrong, and Trump didn’t ban “all” travel from China; there were exemptions.

Here’s the correct timeline:

  • Jan. 21: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first U.S. case of the new coronavirus, a patient in Washington state who had traveled from Wuhan, China.
  • Jan. 30: The CDC confirmed the first instance of person-to-person spread of the new coronavirus in the United States. It involved a couple in Illinois, one spouse who had traveled to Wuhan and one who had not traveled.
  • Jan. 31: The Trump administration announced a ban on travelers from China, exempting several categories of people, including U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. It went into effect Feb. 2. Trump’s proclamation acknowledged that the virus “has spread between two people in the United States, representing the first instance of person-to-person transmission of the virus within the United States.”

According to the New York Times, about 40,000 people traveled from China to the United States in the two months after Trump announced travel restrictions, and 60 percent of people on direct flights from China were not U.S. citizens.

“As we speak we’re developing a growing number of treatments, including convalescent plasma, that are saving lives all across the country.”

This requires context. Days before Pence’s speech, the Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of convalescent plasma for the treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. This treatment involves isolating COVID-19 antibodies from the plasma of people who have recently recovered from the virus and injecting the antibodies into patients in the early stages of the illness.

Although the Trump administration has said this treatment shows some encouraging early findings, the data they shared was based on a Mayo Clinic preliminary analysis that has not been peer reviewed. Clinicians and researchers have urged caution, maintaining that more research is necessary before a survival benefit is proven. They also question the timing of the authorization — which came on the eve of the Republican convention.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem

Trump “shrunk government.” 

The scale of federal spending has grown on Trump’s watch, and not only because of autopilot spending programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. As a percentage of gross domestic product, federal spending has gone up on Trump’s watch as well. In 2017, Trump’s first year in office, federal spending accounted for 20.6% of GDP. In 2019, it reached 21%.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which takes a hawkish view on federal spending, estimated that Trump had signed laws requiring $4.7 trillion in new debt, roughly half from tax cuts and half from spending increases.

Madison Cawthorn, North Carolina congressional candidate

“James Madison was just 25 years old when he signed the Declaration of Independence.”

Madison didn’t sign the Declaration of Independence.

Burgess Owens, Utah congressional candidate

“Mobs torched our cities while popular members of Congress promote the same socialism my father fought against in World War II.”

The United States didn’t fight socialists in World War II. The U.S. fought fascists (Germany and Italy) and an empire (Japan). The U.S. fought on the same side as communists (the Soviet Union).

Kayleigh McEnany, press secretary

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tapes her speech for the third day the Republican National Convention from the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

“I can tell you that this president stands by Americans with preexisting conditions.”

McEnany was sharing her personal story of having a preventive mastectomy to minimize her risk for breast cancer, which was prevalent in her family. Trump called to see how she felt after her surgery and, she said, has since continued to be a source of support.

However, the support he provided her has not translated into supporting legal protections for people who have preexisting conditions from being excluded from health plans or charged higher rates. In fact, we rated a claim by Trump in which he said he was the person who saved pre-existing conditions as Pants on Fire. He got a False rating for saying he would protect those with pre-existing conditions.

The Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010, put in place these protections. Trump has supported overturning the ACA. In 2017, Trump supported congressional efforts to repeal the ACA. The Trump administration is now backing the efforts to overturn the ACA via a court case. He has also expanded short-term health plans that don’t have to comply with the ACA.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.

“Nancy Pelosi says that China would prefer Joe Biden.”

Pelosi was relaying the words of the intelligence community. Intelligence officials have shared few public details, but their core finding was that Russia aimed to undercut Biden, while China and Iran didn’t want Trump to win.

“What they said is, China would prefer Joe Biden,” Pelosi said Aug. 9. “Whether they do — that’s their conclusion, that they would prefer Joe Biden.”

Lara Trump, daughter-in-law of President Donald Trump

Lara Trump tapes her speech for the third day of the Republican National Convention from the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

“Abraham Lincoln once famously said, ‘America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves’.” 

Lincoln didn’t say that. “It is not accurate, in that Lincoln never spoke or wrote it. But it is not totally fabricated either,” Christian McWhirter, a Lincoln historian at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, told PolitiFact.

On Jan. 27, 1838, Lincoln spoke before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Ill., about “the perpetuation of our political institutions.”

During that address, Lincoln said: “At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

Richard Grinell, former acting director of national intelligence

“The Obama-Biden administration secretly launched a surveillance operation on the Trump campaign.”

This is wrong because it ignores the firewall between the FBI and the White House. The FBI did investigate four people with some degree of ties to the Trump 2016 campaign. But there’s no evidence that former President Barack Obama initiated that work.

The FBI operation, called Crossfire Hurricane, targeted four men within the Trump campaign orbit, including campaign manager Paul Manafort and national security adviser Michael Flynn.

That FBI investigation itself has been the subject of investigations by the Justice Department and Congress. Not one concluded that the FBI lacked good reason to launch the investigation. Not one found that Obama initiated or meddled in the FBI’s work.

Jon Greenberg, Louis Jacobson, Samantha Putterman, Amy Sherman, Paul Specht, Miriam Valverde and Kaiser Health News reporter Victoria Knight contributed to this report.

This article was originally published by PolitiFact, which is owned by the Poynter Institute, and is republished here with permission. See more of their fact-checks here.

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