Facebook Twitter Tumblr Close Skip to main content
A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Clinton Misrepresents Trump Quote

Hillary Clinton has turned a Democratic talking point into a TV ad that misrepresents a quote from Donald Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention.

“Donald Trump says he alone can fix the problems we face,” the Democratic presidential nominee says to the camera. Actually, Trump said that, as an outsider, only he can fix a “rigged” political system. Then Trump went on to say he would work with others as president on issues such as crime, terrorism and the economy.

The 30-second ad, called “Only Way,” was posted online Sept. 8 and will air on broadcast and cable TV in Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to Clinton’s campaign. In the ad, Clinton says that “it takes Democrats and Republicans working together” to fix the country’s problems.


In its press release about the ad, the Clinton campaign cited Trump saying “I, alone, can fix it” during his acceptance speech at the GOP convention in July.

But here’s what Trump said, in the proper context.

Trump, July 21: I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people that cannot defend themselves. Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it. I have seen firsthand how the system is rigged against our citizens, just like it was rigged against Bernie Sanders. He never had a chance.

Almost immediately after that, Trump said that “we are going to fix the system so it works fairly and justly for each and every American,” causing others to “join our movement.”

Trump then talked about working with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, his vice presidential running mate, to “bring the same economic success to America that Mike brought to Indiana.”

Trump also said “I will work with and appoint the best and brightest prosecutors and law enforcement officials to get the job properly done,” as he explained how to “restore law and order to our country.”

Plus, Trump said, “we must work with all of our allies who share our goal of destroying ISIS and stamping out Islamic terrorism and doing it now, doing it quickly.”

So while it’s true that Trump said “I, alone, can fix it,” it wasn’t in the context that Clinton suggests. There are examples from Trump’s speech of him saying what “we” and not “I alone” will do.

Russia’s Nuclear Arms

In the ad, Clinton also repeats an exaggerated claim about “cutting Russia’s nuclear arms” through a treaty signed when she was secretary of state.

As we’ve written before, Clinton is overstating the impact of the 2011 New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) agreement, which limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads, or nuclear weapons, that are on long-range (or strategic) launchers.

Russia was already below the treaty’s limit on deployed strategic nuclear warheads when the treaty took effect, and Russia had increased them from 1,537 in February 2011 to 1,735 in March 2016. Plus, the agreement does not require the U.S. or Russia to destroy nuclear warheads or reduce their nuclear stockpiles, according to experts we interviewed.

“The treaty itself does not require destruction of a single nuclear warhead. Nor does it have any direct impact on how many nuclear warheads Russia and the United States may have in their total stockpiles,” Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, told us in an email.