After backing out of debate, Trump took his lies to NBC town hall
President Donald Trump points at voters after the NBC News Town Hall, at Perez Art Museum Miami, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. | Evan Vucci / AP

The following is excerpted from a longer article by The Associated Press.

WASHINGTON (AP)—President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden faced inquisitive voters on separate stages in different cities in a substitute for the debate Trump refused to participate in. Here’s how some of Trump’s rhetoric Thursday night compared with the facts in the prime-time events and a day of campaigning:

ECONOMY

TRUMP: “We had the greatest economy in the history of our country.”

THE FACTS: The numbers show it wasn’t the greatest in U.S. history. Did the U.S. have the most jobs on record before the coronavirus pandemic? Sure, because the population had grown. The 3.5% unemployment rate before the recession was at a half-century low, but the percentage of people working or searching for jobs was still below a 2000 peak.

So Trump is wrong.

ELECTION FRAUD

TRUMP: “When I see thousands of ballots dumped in a garbage can and they happen to have my name on it? I’m not happy about it.”

THE FACTS: Nobody has seen that. Contrary to Trump’s repeated, baseless attacks on voting security, voting and election fraud is rare. No cases involving thousands of ballots dumped in the trash have been reported in this election.

Trump has cited a case of military ballots marked for him being thrown in the trash in Pennsylvania as evidence of a possible plot to steal the election. But he leaves out the details: County election officials say that the seven ballots, along with two unopened ones, were accidentally tossed in an elections office in a Republican-controlled county by a contract worker and that authorities were swiftly called.

The Brennan Center for Justice in 2017 ranked the risk of ballot fraud at 0.00004% to 0.0009%, based on studies of past elections.

In the five states that regularly send ballots to all voters, there have been no major cases of fraud or difficulty counting the votes.

CORONAVIRUS AND MASKS

TRUMP: “Just the other day they came out with a statement that 85% of the people that wear masks catch it so … that’s what I heard and that’s what I saw.”

TRUMP, during an earlier Fox Business interview, speaking about one of his rallies: “What I do is outside is a big thing. And if you look at those, people, they really are wearing masks. I’ll tell you, I looked last night in Iowa—there were many, many people wearing masks. But then you see CDC comes out with a statement that 85% of the people wearing masks catch it.”

TRUMP, looking out over his crowd: “Look at all the masks. You know, they keep saying, ‘nobody wears a mask, wear the mask.’ Although then they come out with things today. Did you see CDC? That 85% of the people wearing a mask catch it, OK?”—remarks at the rally during the day in Greenville, North Carolina.

THE FACTS: He’s botching the study’s findings, repeatedly. The study cited, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, did not find that 85% of mask wearers catch COVID-19. If that were the case, the majority of Americans would already be infected.

It found something quite different: that 85% of the small group of COVID-19 patients surveyed—about 150 on this question—reported they had worn a mask often or always around the time they would have become infected.

The group’s exposure to potentially infected people in the community varied. Most reported shopping or being in a home with multiple people. But they were twice as likely to have eaten at a restaurant, where masks are set aside for the meal, than were uninfected people in a control group.

Most studies have shown that wearing masks reduces the transmission of the virus by blocking respiratory droplets. Several studies have also shown that masks could offer some protection for the people who wear them.

The findings were in a CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published last month.

CORONAVIRUS AND THE CAMPAIGNS

TRUMP, reacting to the news that people associated with the Biden campaign on a recent flight with Harris tested positive for COVID-19: “We extend our best wishes, which is more than they did to me, but that’s OK.”—Greenville rally.

THE FACTS: That’s false.

Hours after Trump’s early morning announcement on Oct. 2 that he had tested positive, both Biden and Harris sent their wishes for a quick recovery via Twitter.

“Jill and I send our thoughts to President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for a swift recovery,” Biden wrote. “We will continue to pray for the health and safety of the president and his family.”

Harris tweeted a similar message “wishing President Trump and the First Lady a full and speedy recovery. We’re keeping them and the entire Trump family in our thoughts.”

The Biden campaign at the time also announced it would stop running negative ads, with the candidate tweeting that “this cannot be a partisan moment” after the news that Trump was going to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for treatment of his coronavirus infection. Biden’s camp resumed the advertising after Trump was released from Walter Reed.

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Associated Press writers Amanda Seitz, Josh Boak, David Klepper, Darlene Superville, and Kevin Freking contributed to this report.


CONTRIBUTOR

Calvin Woodward
Calvin Woodward

AP Washington, D.C., journalist.

Hope Yen
Hope Yen

National reporter at Associated Press, based in Washington D.C.

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