The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Three Trump ads in Spanish, many distortions

Un comercial de campaña de Trump repite tres aseveraciones engañosas sobre Joe Biden. / The Trump campaign repeats three deceptive claims about Joe Biden. (Video: The Washington Post)
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With Florida an intense battleground in the presidential election, President Trump’s campaign has been running ads in Spanish-speaking television markets and uploading them to YouTube (“Donald J. Trump En Español”). In many cases, the ads simply repeat false or misleading claims first uttered in English about his Democratic opponent, former vice president Joe Biden.

We previously fact-checked Trump’s “Goya” campaign ad. Now we’re taking a crack at three more Spanish-language ads.

Capacidad mental

“Mental capacity”

Spanish: “Ahora a los 77 años y en su tercera candidatura presidencial, Biden claramente está debilitado. … Joe Biden no tiene la fuerza, la energía, ni la capacidad mental para liderar este país.”

English: “Now 77 years old and on his third presidential campaign, Biden clearly is weakened. … Joe Biden doesn’t have the strength, energy or mental capacity to lead this country.”

To support this claim, Trump’s ad shows a truncated clip of Biden stumbling over his words and then a separate clip of Biden saying, “Sometimes I wake up and I think it’s 1920.”

Immediately afterward, the narrator says Biden lacks the “strength, energy or mental capacity” to serve as president.

Biden was not alive in 1920 (he was born in 1942, four years before Trump) and was not confused about what year it is.

Biden’s full remarks make clear that Biden was speaking about a lost sense of community: “As I said in your church, Rev., sometimes I wake up and I think it’s 1920 and not 2020. The way — I really mean it — the way in which we talk to one another today. The way in which the debasing of politics has occurred. The way in which this president, Trump, has so demeaned people.”



Spanish: “Joe Biden se arrodilla, y sus empleados pagan fianzas. Y Biden no enfrenta a los izquierdistas radicales que quieren eliminar a la policía.”

English: “Joe Biden kneels, and his employees pay bail [for violent protesters]. And Biden doesn’t stand up to the radical leftists who want to eliminate the police.”

At least 13 Biden staff members posted on Twitter on May 26 and 27 that they had contributed to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, an organization that fronts cash bail for defendants. (There are more than 2,000 people who are part of Biden’s campaign staff.) A Biden campaign official noted that the staff members who donated did so on their own initiative and that it wasn’t organized by the campaign.

According to an accounting by the American Bail Coalition, verified by The Fact Checker with a review of Hennepin County jail records, all but three of the 170 people arrested during the protests between May 26 and June 2 were released from jail within a week. Of the 167 released, only 10 had to put up a monetary bond to be released; in most cases, the amounts were nominal, such as $78 or $100. In fact, 92 percent of those arrested had to pay no bail — and 29 percent of those arrested did not face charges.

One defendant, Jaleel Stallings, was charged with attempted murder after allegedly shooting at police during protests May 30, county records show. MFF paid $75,000 in cash to get Stallings out of jail, according to MFF interim director Greg Lewin. He said Stallings was among a dozen people MFF helped with direct bail actions after the protests. MFF also paid $750 toward a bond for Chylen Evans, who was charged with looting a liquor store, clothing store and mobile store.

As for the other claim in this ad, as Fox News reported as far back as June 8, Biden opposes the concept of eliminating police departments. We have previously given the Trump campaign Four Pinocchios for asserting the opposite in its television ads.

“No, I don‘t support defunding the police,” Biden said in a CBS News interview. “I support conditioning federal aid to police based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness and, in fact, are able to demonstrate they can protect the community and everybody in the community.”

Biden, in fact, has come under scrutiny from the left for his position and for proposing to spend an additional $300 million a year on the community policing program started in the Clinton administration. (That would effectively double the budget for the program.)



This ad begins with Biden saying, “I’m going to go down as one of the most progressive presidents in American history.”

Then it cuts to Hugo Chávez, Fidel Castro, leftist politician Gustavo Petro of Colombia and Nicolás Maduro quickly saying the word “progressive” in Spanish.

Then Biden is shown embracing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a self-described democratic socialist, after a presidential primary debate. Keep in mind: Biden prevailed in the Democratic primary by running as a moderate alternative to Sanders’s far-reaching liberal platform.

The narrator says, “When they call themselves progressive, it means …” And then a clip of Castro thundering for a “socialist revolution” rolls.

In the United States, “progressive” is simply a shorthand for left-wing politicians and groups that support concepts such as criminal justice reform (which Trump also supports), single-payer health care or proposals to reach net-zero carbon emissions.

It’s a different universe from the socialist policies implemented by Castro, Chávez and Maduro. (Colombia is not a socialist country.) The Trump campaign often conflates liberal politics, the kind seen in the United States and many Western democracies, with Cuban- and Venezuelan-style socialism, but when we asked what specific Biden proposals mirror Cuba or Venezuela, we received no response.

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