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Updated 3:02 AM  |  October 5, 2016
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What did Donald Trump actually say about ISIS and nukes?

In one of the more spirited portions of the debate, Tim Kaine listed a series of controversial statements that he said Donald Trump made about the national security issues. But did he describe Trump’s comments accurately?

First, Kaine raised questions about Trump’s evolving statements about how he’ll handle the Islamic State threat.

“Donald Trump doesn’t have a plan. He said ‘I have a secret plan,’ and then he said, ‘I know more than all the generals about ISIL,’ and then he said ‘I’m going to call the generals to help me figure out a plan,’ and finally he said, ‘I’m going to fire all the generals.’ He doesn’t have a plan.”

That largely tracks with what has occurred. As The Fix’s Aaron Blake has previously laid out, Trump has evolved on how he’ll handle the Islamic State numerous times, including claiming to know more about the group than the military’s senior officers and stating that he would convene them his first day in office to formulate a new plan to handle it.

At NBC’s Commander-in-Chief’s Forum early last month, he added that “they’d probably be different generals, to be honest with you,” a remark that many observers interpreted to mean he would fire those he did not agree with. That would be unprecedented, as Politico laid out in a story afterward.

Kaine used that as a pivot point to describe ideas he attributed to Trump and said were dangerous, including “Cozying up to dictators” like Russian President Vladimir Putin, walking away from longtime military alliances, and believing more nations have nuclear weapons would make the world safer.

“He said Saudi Arabia should get them, Japan should get them, [South] Korea should get them,” Kaine said, adding that when Trump was questioned about it, he cracked “Go ahead, folks. Enjoy yourselves.”

“I’d love to hear Governor Pence tell me what’s so enjoyable or comical about nuclear war,” Kaine said.

“Did you work on that one a long time, because that had a lot of really creative lines in it,” Pence responded.

Pence denied later in the debate that Trump said Saudi Arabia, Japan and South Korea should obtain nuclear weapons. But that’s an issue on which Trump has previously flip-flopped. In March, Trump’s remarks about nuclear weapons prompted bewilderment in the Far East, in particular.

Kaine’s toughest role as governor

When Tim Kaine ran for governor of Virginia, he was open about his personal opposition to the death penalty. As a young lawyer, he had defended death row inmates pro bono.

But he pledged to uphold the death penalty as the law of the land. He ran an ad in 2005 explaining his position on the death penalty that helped him beat Republican rival Jerry Kilgore for the governorship.

In his four years as governor, from 2006 to 2010, Kaine allowed 11 executions without stepping in to stop them.

Critics cite this as an example of how Kaine is willing to act against his own beliefs to meet political goals. Supporters say he is true to his own beliefs but bound by the law and the greater will of the people.

Pence goes far, far beyond Trump on Syria

Gov. Mike Pence appears to have gone far, far beyond anything Donald Trump has ever said about what Trump has called his “secret” plan for Syria.

Asked how a Trump-Pence administration would stop the civil war carnage in Aleppo, Pence said that he, at least, “truly believe(s) that what America ought to do right now is immediately establish safe zones, so that families and children can work out of those areas,” and “work with our partners…[to] make that happen. Provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength.” If Russia “continues to be involved” in airstrikes along with the Syrian government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, he said, “the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike the military forces of the Assad regime” and “prevent this crisis in Aleppo.”

Trump has said very little about Syria’s civil war–and advocated none of the measures Pence outlined. Instead, he has concentrated on the separate fight against the Islamic State in Syria, saying he would “knock the hell out of” the militants, and advocated cooperation with Russia.

Unlike Trump, Pence took a hard line against Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he called a “small and bullying leader” who is “dictating terms” to the United States

In his response, Kaine used the opportunity to point out that Putin has been praised “again and again” by Trump as a “better leader” than President Obama, and that it is “clear that [Trump] has business dealings” with corrupt oligarchs connected to Putin.

“If you don’t know the difference between dictatorship and leadership,” Kaine said, “you’ve got to go back to a fifth grade civics class.” When Pence said the way the United States would take on Russia and other adversaries was through rebuilding America’s military, Kaine pounced, saying “No he won’t.” Trump, he said, “has avoided paying taxes” to pay for the military.

What Kaine didn’t do is spell out Clinton’s plan for stopping the civil bloodshed in Syria. Although she hasn’t mentioned them recently, in the past the former secretary of state has called for many of the same things Pence now says he (although he carefully spoke in the first person) advocates: a no-fly zone, possible use of the American military to stop Syrian government bombing, working with allies.

Pence suggests implicit bias can’t be involved when a black officer shoots a black man

When the debate shifted to the topic of policing and law enforcement, Tim Kaine and Mike Pence briefly found an area of agreement. Both men were asked about comments made by David Brown, the former Dallas police chief, who over the summer said that “we’re asking cops to do too much in this country.” (Brown, who made his comments after five officers were killed there, retired from his position earlier today.)

Kaine and Pence both said they supported community policing as a way to fight crime and build bonds between residents and those charged with protecting them. But they quickly diverged, with Pence seizing upon comments Hillary Clinton made during the first presidential debate regarding bias.

During that first debate, Clinton said she believes “implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just police,” adding that “when it comes to policing … it can have literally fatal consequences.”

Trump did not respond during that debate, but two days later at a fundraiser he assailed Clinton for accusing “the entire country — including all of law enforcement — of implicit bias, essentially suggesting that everyone, including our police, are basically racist and prejudiced.”

Pence seemed to pick up this thread, and he criticized Clinton for what he described as “seizing on these moments of tragedy” to insult law enforcement officers.

He also went a step further, questioning whether implicit bias could have factored into a recent fatal police shooting in Charlotte that prompted intense, sometimes violent protests. In that case, Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed by a black Charlotte police officer. Pence seemed to question whether there could have been any implicit bias involved given that both men were black.

“Enough of this seeking every opportunity to demean law enforcement broadly by making the accusation of implicit bias whenever tragedy happens,” Pence said.

He added: “When an African American police officer is involved in a police … shooting involving an African American, why would Hillary Clinton accuse that African American police officer of implicit bias?”

Numerous studies have found examples of implicit biases across a range of different professions, and such biases have been found in people regardless of their race. Over the summer, the Justice Department said it would train its law enforcement agents and prosecutors to address implicit bias during training, and President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing called for making this part of training at all levels in law enforcement.

After Pence made his comments questioning whether bias factored into the Charlotte shooting, the moderator brought up the case of Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who over the summer discussed times he was pulled over by police, and Pence and Kaine continued to debate broader criminal justice reform. Pence said that the country has to “do a better job recognizing and correcting errors in the system” that do reflect bias, and again called for more support for law enforcement.

Fact check: Pence’s description of the AP report on Clinton Foundation donors

“More than half of the private meetings when she [Clinton] was secretary of state were given to major donors of the Clinton Foundation.”

–Mike Pence

THE FACT CHECKER | Pence misconstrued the Associated Press report here, similar to the way Donald Trump did earlier in the campaign.

The AP analyzed State Department records and looked specifically at Clinton’s meetings on the phone or in person with 154 people who were not federal employees or foreign government representatives. This narrowed down the denominator to a small subcategory of people Clinton met with as secretary of state, since the majority of her diplomatic work would involve representatives of foreign governments.

The AP found that 85 of those 154 people, or “more than half” of 154, had donated to the Clinton Foundation or “pledged commitments to its international programs.” The 85 donors collectively contributed as much as $156 million, the AP reported. There were representatives from at least 16 foreign governments, who donated as much as $170 million to the charity, but those representatives were not included in the 154 number, the AP reported.

The AP focused on 85 out of 154 people who met with Clinton but were not foreign government representatives or federal employees. It is based on partial records released by the State Department so far and does not reflect the full scope of people with whom Clinton met as secretary of state.

Real-time fact-checking and analysis of the vice-presidential debate
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