Lies and damn lies: What to believe on the campaign trail

HCN sorts truth from fiction on the campaign trail.

 

This past election cycle has been characterized by wild claims, with the national media roundly criticized by both sides for its inability to fact-check statements. Here we look at some of these claims and the realities they obscure. 

THE CLAIM
Colorado Republican Rep. Scott Tipton’s campaign has said that his challenger, former state Sen. Gail Schwartz, “led the charge in the war on coal at Colorado’s Capitol,” releasing ads pinning the closing of coal mines squarely on her. Schwartz has been a leader in renewable energy legislation, but there are more significant causes behind coal’s decline, including market shifts, bad management and federal regulations.

IN FACT
Though Schwartz has had an impact on Colorado’s energy policy, it is not accurate that she “led the charge” on the closing of coal mines.


THE CLAIM
In the Republican nominee’s long-awaited immigration speech in Arizona on Aug. 31, Donald Trump claimed that the federal government has “no idea” how many unauthorized immigrants live in the United States. “It’s always 11 million. Our government has no idea. It could be 3 million. It could be 30 million. They have no idea what the number is.”

IN FACT
The Department of Homeland Security puts the number at 11 million based on census data, a number supported by multiple nongovernmental research centers that has varied little in the last few years. 


THE CLAIM
During the Democratic National Convention, California Gov. Jerry Brown called Trump’s vice presidential running mate, Mike Pence, “a man who denies that there’s such a thing as evolution.”

IN FACT
Pence told MSNBC in 2009: “I embrace the view that God created the heavens and the earth and the seas and all that’s in them.” Though he has not stated outright that he believes in evolution, he has not explicitly denied its existence, either.


THE CLAIM
A press release from former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto’s campaign in her Senate race, against Nevada Rep. Joe Heck, said that it is “next to impossible” to find a difference between Heck and Trump on immigration.

IN FACT
This is decidedly untrue. Heck has not publicly supported building a solid border wall, has said he opposes mass deportation and that he is open to immigrants having opportunities to gain citizenship once in the U.S. — each point a fundamental divergence from Trump.  

Photo by Gage Skidmore