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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Video: The First Debate


In this video, we review six claims we fact-checked in the first presidential debate on Sept. 29 between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

  • Trump rattled off supposed instances of election “fraud,” misleadingly citing ballots “found … in creeks” and a case where a thousand voters were mistakenly sent two ballots. Neither is evidence of “fraud.” In the latter example, election officials in Fairfax County, Virginia, believe up to 1,000 people who requested mail-in ballots may have gotten two by mistake, but they won’t be able to vote twice.
  • Trump falsely claimed that Biden supports the Medicare for All plan proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders. He never did. Trump wrongly claimed that the two Democrats agreed to it in the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force Recommendations report.
  • Biden got it wrong when he claimed there was “15% less violence” during his time in office than today. The number of all violent crimes per 100,000 people declined 15.7% during the Obama-Biden years, but the violent crime rate dropped under Trump.
  • Biden wrongly claimed that the United States has “a higher deficit with China now than we did before” in talking about trade. That was the case two years ago, but not now
  • In lengthy comments about California’s wildfires, Trump was wrong to suggest the fires only occur because of poor management and to suggest that human-sourced greenhouse gases are only a small component of warming. 
  • Trump said that he has “given big incentives for electric cars.” He’s actually tried to eliminate two programs to encourage their manufacture and sale.

For more on these claims and others from the debate, see our Sept. 30 story “FactChecking the First Trump-Biden Debate.”