As President Trump barnstorms the country, going from rally to rally to bolster votes for Republican candidates, his rhetoric has turned increasingly darker.
We’ve documented before that at least 70 percent of the factual claims he makes at his rallies are false or misleading. Many of those claims — biggest tax cut ever passed, the border wall is being built — still are “greatest hits” lines at his rallies. He continues to frequently portray himself as a super-action hero, slashing regulations, creating jobs, even saving money on embassy construction.
But as the election — and Halloween — approaches, he has tossed in a witches’ brew of attacks on Democrats that are over-the-top even by his standards. The language changes from rally to rally, but the themes are the same. One can almost imagine him thinking, “I’ll toss in a little Venezuelan socialism here, a bit of MS-13 there” — as he mixes his latest batch of invective.
We’ve been busy getting our database of Trump’s claims ready for an update at the end of the month, but his rhetoric about the opposition party is simply astonishing. So we thought it would be helpful to provide a guide to some of the most outrageously false claims the president has made on the campaign trail this month, generally with no evidence offered.
Democrats love undocumented immigrants
“They [Democrats] want to give them cars, they want to give them driver’s licenses. I said last night, we did a great — we did a great, great rally in Arizona last night, and I said — I said last night, what kind of car will they supply them? Will it be a Rolls-Royce?”
— Oct. 20 rally, Elko. Nev.
There are 12 states — including Nevada, where Trump was speaking and which has a Republican governor — that allow undocumented immigrants to receive driver’s licenses. (Another such state is Utah, which is solidly Republican; the rest, including California and Maryland, tend to be Democratic.)
But it’s simply a fantasy to claim that Democrats want to give illegal immigrants cars, let alone luxury ones. The day before, in Mesa, Ariz., Trump had speculated that Democrats might want to give illegal immigrants cars. A day later, he asserted it as an accepted fact. (Note: after this fact check appeared, Trump in a speech on Oct. 24 claimed he had only been joking.)
“Democrats want to give illegal immigrants the right to vote. I’ll tell you, we’ll go down fighting for that one. Can you imagine? People — you know, the vote was always so sacred.”
— Oct. 20 rally, Elko, Nev.
Trump seemingly ignores the fact that it is illegal for undocumented immigrants to vote in federal elections. The U.S. code is pretty clear on that: “It shall be unlawful for any alien to vote in any election held solely or in part for the purpose of electing a candidate for the office of President, Vice President, Presidential elector, Member of the Senate, Member of the House of Representatives, Delegate from the District of Columbia, or Resident Commissioner.”
There is an exception in the law for nonfederal elections, and some municipalities (such as San Francisco and College Park, Md.) allow noncitizens to vote for school board or other local elective posts. But no Democratic Party leaders have called for the federal law to be overturned to allow noncitizen voting in federal elections, often the main focus of Trump’s rallies.
“They [Democrats] wanted that caravan, and there are those that say that caravan didn’t just happen. . . . A lot of money has been passing to people to come up and try and get to the border by Election Day, because they think that’s a negative for us.”
— Oct. 18 rally, Missoula, Mont.
Trump has raised alarms about a group of thousands of refugees and migrants making their way from Central America into Mexico, darkly warning that “unknown Middle Easterners” were among them (no evidence) and that Democrats (such as the billionaire George Soros) were financing the effort. As we have previously documented, there is no evidence that that is the case. Vice President Pence, interviewed at The Washington Post, cited the Honduran president in claiming that Venezuela was financing the migrants. There is no evidence that that is the case, either. The Daily Beast reported that the caravan started because a pro-government news channel erroneously reported that a former politician would pay for food and transportation. Trump later acknowledged that he had “no proof” of Middle Easterners being among those migrants but said there “very well could be.”
Democrats will hurt you
“They want to turn America, these Democrats — and that’s what they want — into a giant sanctuary for criminal aliens and the MS-13 killers.”
— Oct. 9 rally, Council Bluffs, Iowa
“Democrats want to abolish America’s borders and allow drugs and gangs to pour into our country unabated.”
— Oct. 10 rally, Erie, Pa.
“Democrats want to raise your taxes, impose socialism on our country, turn us into a Venezuela . . . turn us into another Venezuela, take away your health care, destroy your Second Amendment, and Democrats want to throw your borders wide open to deadly drugs and ruthless gangs. Come on in, everybody.”
— Oct. 19 rally, Mesa, Ariz.
“And by the way, your 401(k)s? Boom, they will go down like a sinking something. What sinks rapidly? Give me — a rock. They will go down like a rock. Democrats want to massively raise your taxes, impose socialism on our country. We’ll be another Venezuela. They want to take away your health care, destroy your Second Amendment, and I think the people in Nevada are not big on having your Second Amendment taken away.”
— Oct. 20 rally, Elko, Nev.
Presidents will often knock the opposition party — Harry Truman famously attacked the “Do-nothing Congress” and called Republicans “reactionaries” — but Trump goes after the Democrats with a machete.
The president says Democrats will turn the entire country into a “sanctuary” for MS-13 gang members (no), that they want to abolish borders (no) and want no controls on illicit drugs and gangs (no). He frequently brings up Venezuela, an increasingly failed state after years of dictatorship and economic mismanagement, as an example of what Democrats would to do to the United States. He says Democrats want to take away health care, when they have been fighting to preserve the Affordable Care Act, which Trump wanted to repeal. Many Democrats do want to raise taxes on the wealthy — not middle-income Americans — and do favor relatively modest gun-control proposals (which probably have little chance of passage). Such subtleties are lost in Trump’s rallies.
Democrats hate America
“[Democrats] don’t want to spend any money on the military. You know, the beautiful thing about military — number one, you need it.”
— Oct. 1 rally, Johnson City, Tenn.
Who knew Democrats wanted to completely defund the military? Most lawmakers are strong supporters of a robust defense, though some Democrats might prefer not to shortchange social spending because of higher military spending. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2019 was overwhelmingly supported by Democrats in the House (131 to 59) and the Senate (38 to 7), and the final conference report received even more Democratic votes in both chambers.
“As we speak, the Democrat Party is openly encouraging millions of illegal aliens to break our laws, violate our borders and overwhelm our nation. That’s what’s happening. The Democrats have launched an assault on the sovereignty of our country, the security of our nation, and the safety of every single American.”
— Oct. 22 rally, Houston
Hmm, Democrats have encouraged illegal immigrants to “overwhelm our nation” and launched an assault on “the safety of every single American”? That kind of scorching rhetoric might not be easily forgotten after the election.
“I don’t think we like sanctuary cities up here. By the way, a lot of people in California don’t want them, either. They’re rioting now. They want to get out of their sanctuary cities. You know, there’s a big turn being made, folks. A lot of these sanctuary cities you’ve been hearing about in California and other places, but California, they want to get out, they’re demanding they be released from sanctuary cities.”
— Oct. 20 rally, Elko, Nev.
There’s no official definition for “sanctuary” in immigration policy or law. In general, it refers to rules restricting state and local governments from alerting federal authorities about people who may be in the country illegally. Major cities such as San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Baltimore and Boston are sanctuary cities. In any case, there are no riots over sanctuary cities, in California or anywhere else.
“I’ll soon sign into the law the largest legislative effort in history to address the opioid crisis where just this year we got $6 billion from Congress — thanks to [Sen.] Rob Portman [R-Ohio] and a lot of others — thank you, Rob — but Rob and so many others helped. Very little Democrat support.”
— Oct. 12 rally, Lebanon, Ohio
When the other party is the enemy, it must be hard to realize that it sometimes plays a constructive role. Trump told a rally that the opiate bill passed with “very little Democrat support.” In reality, the vote was overwhelmingly bipartisan: 98 to 1 (with one Republican voting against it) in the Senate and 393 to 8 in the House.
“We’re going to be putting in a 10 percent tax cut for middle-income families. It’s going to be put in next week, 10 percent tax cut. Kevin Brady is working on it. We’ve been working on it for a few months, a 10 percent brand-new — and that is in addition to the big tax cuts that you’ve already gotten. But this one is for middle income. This is — no business. Business is now good. They’re coming back. The jobs are coming back. The plants and factories are coming back like never before. They’re all coming back. This is for middle-income people, all middle-income people, a big tax, 10 percent. We’ll be putting it in next week.”
— Oct. 22 rally, Houston
Taking lawmakers and the White House by surprise, Trump claimed that a bill to provide a 10 percent tax cut for “middle-income families” was drafted and ready for a vote “next week.” One problem: Congress is out of session. Another problem: The House and the Senate have not passed a budget resolution for the fiscal year that would accommodate a tax cut. Another problem: There was no such bill. Brady put out a statement saying he would “continue” to work on such a bill “in the coming weeks.” Trump’s promise of a new tax cut for middle-income people was a tacit admission that the GOP tax bill had lost the messaging war.
“Republicans will always protect Americans with preexisting conditions. We protect you. Preexisting conditions. Right? The Democrat plan to destroy American health care includes free health care and education to illegal aliens paid for by you, thank you very much, the American taxpayer.”
— Oct. 22 rally, Houston
In the midterms, Democrats have launched attack after attack on GOP lawmakers who had supported Trump’s ill-fated effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. That’s because the House version contained language that the Congressional Budget Office said could lead to unraveling insurance markets and soaring health-care premiums for people with existing health conditions in states that took advantage of the bill’s waivers.
Moreover, the Trump administration has sided with plaintiffs who had argued that the ACA’s provisions on preexisting conditions were now unconstitutional because Congress, in the tax bill, eliminated the penalty for not buying insurance, known as the individual mandate. In effect, the president supports an effort to nullify the provisions that make it possible for millions of people to purchase affordable insurance. Yet he stands before audiences and claims exactly the opposite.
The Pinocchio Test
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