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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Groundhog Friday

Yes, there were repeated debunked claims yet again in the presidential campaign this week. We summarize our fact-checking of these familiar talking points in our “Groundhog Friday” feature. Follow the links to our original stories for more on each claim.

Groundhog2Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on GOP nominee Donald Trump’s comments on wages, Sept. 21 op-ed in the New York Times: “Donald J. Trump has a different approach. … He has actually said that wages are too high.”

Clinton repeats a claim we heard during the first and second days of the Democratic National Convention, and from other Democrats since then. Trump has not said that overall wages are too high. At a Nov. 10, 2015, GOP debate, Trump was asked about raising the federal minimum wage to $15, and he said he was opposed to that.

“[T]axes too high, wages too high, we’re not going to be able to compete against the world. I hate to say it, but we have to leave it the way it is,” he said. When he was asked about that “wages too high” comment two days later, he told Fox News: “And they said should we increase the minimum wage? And I’m saying that if we’re going to compete with other countries, we can’t do that because the wages would be too high. … The question was about the minimum wage. I’m not talking about wages being too high, I’m talking about minimum wage.”

“Democratic Convention Day 1,” July 26




Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence on Clinton’s gun proposals, Sept. 18 interview on ABC’s “This Week”: “I mean the point that [Trump] was making is that Hillary Clinton has had private security now in her life for the last 30 years, but she would deny the right of law abiding citizens to have a firearm in their homes to protect their own families.”

Trump and his supporters have repeatedly misrepresented Clinton’s position on guns throughout the campaign. She has not proposed abolishing the Second Amendment, nor has she called for a ban on all guns, as Pence implies here. Instead, Clinton’s gun violence prevention proposal calls for expanded background checks and a ban on semi-automatic “assault weapons.”

Clinton said in April, “We aren’t interested in taking away guns of lawful, responsible gun owners,” and she has spoken about the “constitutional rights of responsible gun owners.” Her critics point to past comments that have been distorted. The NRA, which put out a TV ad in August, pointed to Clinton’s statement that “the Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment.” Her campaign confirmed she was referring to the Supreme Court’s 2008 Heller decision that found Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban was unconstitutional. Clinton “believes Heller was wrongly decided in that cities and states should have the power to craft common sense laws to keep their residents safe,” spokesman Josh Schwerin told us.

“Trump Distorts Clinton’s Gun Stance,” May 10




Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine on Trump’s tax returns, Sept. 20 rally in Exeter, New Hampshire: “This [releasing tax returns] is what every president has done going back, even President Nixon released his tax returns. I mean, if you can’t come up to the standard of President Nixon, the ethical standard, you’ve got a problem.”

As we explained earlier this month, and in a previous edition of Groundhog Friday, comparing Nixon to other presidential candidates isn’t accurate. Nixon did not release his tax returns while he was a presidential candidate. His returns between 1969 and 1972 were eventually released, but only toward the end of his presidency in 1973 amid speculation about tax improprieties. During the 1968 Republican presidential primary, Nixon would only allow a reporter for Look magazine to inspect photocopies of three years worth of his tax returns.

“Kaine Muffs Trump-Nixon Comparison,” Sept. 2




Priorities USA Action quoting Trump, Sept. 7 in a TV ad: “I love war, in a certain way … including with nukes, yes, including with nukes.”

As it did in a previous TV ad, the pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC shows Trump in November 2015 saying, “I love war, in a certain way.” Then, as video of a nuclear explosion is shown on screen, a clip plays of Trump from April 2016 saying, “including with nukes, yes, including with nukes.” The fact that those two statements were made at separate events, several months apart, may not be clear to those who see or hear the ad.

Trump has previously said that he wouldn’t rule out using nuclear weapons as president. But when he said “including with nukes” in that April interview, he was talking about Japan possibly needing nuclear weapons to defend itself against North Korea. Trump wasn’t talking about the U.S. using nuclear weapons, and he wasn’t saying that he “loves” nuclear war.

“Ad Suggests Trump Loves Nuclear War,” June 21