Presidential debate: Trump and Biden’s claims fact-checked

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AFP

President Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden faced each other in the first of three televised debates ahead of the November US election.

During a heated 90-minute argument, candidates argued over everything from the economic climate to how to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Reality Check canceled some of their claims.

Trump: “We have built the largest economy in history”

Bottom line: That’s not true – there have been times in US history when the economy was stronger.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, President Trump claimed to have achieved historic economic growth.

It’s true that the economy was doing fine before the pandemic – a trend that started during the Obama administration – but there were times when it was much stronger.

The economy under Trump in six charts

Biden: “We have 4% of the world population, [but] 20% of deaths “

Verdict: That’s about right. However, if you look at per capita coronavirus deaths, there are a number of countries worse than the United States.

Mr Biden criticized President Trump’s management of the coronavirus response.

According to the numbers, his claim is roughly correct. The US population is around 328 million, which is just over 4% of the 7.7 billion world population.

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Reuters

According to the latest data from John Hopkins University, 205,942 coronavirus deaths have been recorded in the United States. The total number of deaths registered worldwide is 1,004,808.

According to this metric, the US accounts for about 20% of deaths from Covid-19 worldwide, although the way countries record their numbers varies significantly.

Countries with the highest per capita Covid-19 deaths

Per 100,000 people

You can find more information about President Trump’s coronavirus claims here.

  • Who comes out on top in the polls – Trump or Biden?

Trump: The postal vote increase is creating “a fraud like you’ve never seen before”.

Verdict: Studies have found no evidence of widespread fraud, although there have been isolated cases.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, a large proportion of US voters are expected to vote by post in this year’s election.

The President has repeatedly warned that this will lead to widespread fraud.

There have been isolated cases of fraud, including recent examples in North Carolina and New Jersey.

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Reuters

In September, the US Department of Justice issued a statement on an incident in Pennsylvania in which “nine military votes were rejected” and seven of them were “cast in favor of presidential candidate Donald Trump.”

Despite such incidents, numerous studies have found no evidence of serious, widespread fraud.

According to a 2017 study by the Brennan Center for Justice, the overall election fraud rate in the United States is between 0.00004% and 0.0009%.

Biden: “100 million people [in the US] have pre-existing conditions “

Verdict: There is no definitive answer to that.

Candidates argued over how many people in the United States already have illnesses, which may deter some Americans from being covered by private health insurers.

Mr Biden said there were 100 million people with pre-existing conditions, but President Trump said that number was “completely wrong”.

How many? There is no definitive answer.

According to the US government’s Department of Health and Human Services, between 50 and 129 million non-elderly Americans have pre-existing health conditions.

Other organizations have different estimates. The Center for American Progress estimates it’s higher at 135 million people under 65.

Trump: “We are weeks away from a vaccine”

Verdict: There is a “very, very small chance” that an approved vaccine will be ready by the end of October, said the chief scientific advisor to the US vaccination program.

Moncef Slaoui made this cautious assessment in early September.

In the meantime, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease expert, predicted the U.S. will know by November or December this year if there is a safe and effective sting.

He told a Senate committee hearing earlier this month that there could be enough doses for every American by April.

Biden: “Manufacturing went down a hole” before the coronavirus

Conclusion: This is not true according to the numbers.

The Democratic candidate Joe Biden suggested that the manufacturing “got into a hole” before Covid-19.

The pandemic had an impact on this sector. The U.S. had 237,000 fewer manufacturing jobs in August than when Trump took office in 2017.

Prior to the outbreak, President Trump had created nearly half a million manufacturing jobs in his first three years in office.

Trump: Biden once called African Americans “super predators”

Verdict: That’s not true. He used the word “predators” but did not use it to refer to African Americans.

In 1993, during a speech before a vote on the main crime law in Congress, Mr Biden warned of “predators on our streets”.

There was no specific mention of African Americans, but the Crime Act was later criticized for increasing mass incarceration, which disproportionately affected African American men.

The term “super-predator” was used by Hillary Clinton in 1996 in support of the controversial law.

Ms. Clinton said, “We have to hire these people. They are often linked to big drug cartels, they are no longer just gangs of children. They are often the kind of children who are referred to as super-predators – no conscience, no empathy. “

Biden: “Trump hasn’t cut drug prices for anyone”

Bottom line: The average monthly cost of prescription drugs fell slightly through August 2019, although then it rose again.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures the cost of household items in the United States, the average monthly cost of prescription drugs decreased 0.3% through August 2019.

This was the first drop in prices since 1973 over a period of 12 months. While average drug prices rose 1.5% the following year, the average increases under President Trump were lower than those under President Obama.

The CPI is not necessarily the most reliable way to measure drug prices because it mainly includes widely used drugs that are usually cheaper. It is less likely to include newer or less-prescribed drugs that are more expensive and have higher price increases.

Trump: hunter [Biden] was kicked out of the military. He was … dishonorably discharged … for using cocaine “.

Verdict: Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s second son, was discharged from the Navy after failing a drug test but was not dishonorably discharged.

President Trump told Hunter during an exchange about Beau, Joe Biden’s eldest son, who served in the U.S. military and died of cancer in 2015.

Mr Trump said, “I don’t know Beau. I know Hunter. Hunter was kicked out of the military … dishonorable discharge … for cocaine use.”

Mr. Biden replied that it was not true that his son was dishonorably discharged.

Hunter Biden was discharged from the U.S. Navy in 2014, and media reports said a Navy drug test revealed the presence of cocaine.

However, he was not dishonorably discharged, which is the highest sentence the military can inflict.

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