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US presidential debate: A quick fact-check on round 2 of Trump versus Clinton

The second US presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton took place at the Washington University in St.Louis, Missouri.

us presidential election Updated: Oct 10, 2016 13:45 IST
Presidential nominees Democrat Hillary Clinton (L) and Republican Donald Trump during the town hall debate at Washington University on October 9, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.
Presidential nominees Democrat Hillary Clinton (L) and Republican Donald Trump during the town hall debate at Washington University on October 9, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri. (AFP)

Much was stated during the second US presidential debate between Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton on October 9. While moderators Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz pressed both candidates, especially Trump, to answer the questions raised, several claims were either exaggerated or misrepresented, or simply inaccurate.

A look at how the facts stack up against what both candidates said during the townhall debate.

Read | ‘Nasty, combative’: Clinton, Trump further rake up personal, political enmity

On policies

What was said: “Clinton wants to go back to single-payer healthcare,” Trump said of his contender.

Fact: It’s Vermont senator Bernie Sanders — not Clinton — who supports a Canada-style government-run health care system. Hillary Clinton’s proposal is to expand the government program that includes tax credits and reducing drug costs. She also wants to insure at least three medical appointments per year. While contesting against fellow Sanders in the primaries, Clinton countered a tax hike to pay for the government Medicare-for-all scheme as it would be too expensive for middle classes.

What was said: When the issue of tax reforms came up, Clinton claimed Trump’s policy would end up “raising taxes on middle-class families”. Trump stated that Clinton’s policy would raise everybody’s taxes “massively”.

Fact: Nearly all of Hillary Clinton’s proposed tax increases would affect the wealthiest 5% of Americans, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. Trump is proposing massive tax cuts for both individuals and businesses. Yet it’s not clear that all Americans would benefit.

What was said: “There is a thing called clean coal. Coal will last for 1,000 years in this country,” Trump claimed.

Fact: The coal industry has been in a decline, in part due to the natural gas industry. However, “clean coal” does really exist, especially considering the high carbon emissions that burning coal gives out.

What was said: Much like in the past, Trump repeatedly targeted ‘Obamacare’, President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, saying the whole thing was fraud and that it didn’t work.

Fact: Trumps has exaggerated the cost of the Act. For instance, the cost of the coverage expansion in Obama’s health care law is nowhere near what the government spends on Medicare and Medicaid, according to Associated Press. The government will spend $110 billion this year on ‘Obamacare’ coverage. By comparison, Medicare will cost an estimated $590 billion, and the federal share of Medicaid will amount to $370 billion.

What was said: Trump said the US had given $150 billion to Iran, a terrorist state.

Fact: The US is not giving any of its money to Iran as part of an international nuclear arms deal meant to prevent the construction of weapons, according to the Guardian. The deal systematically unfreezes Iranian assets. However, sanctions related to the nation’s nuclear program led to it being frozen again. Sanctions related to human rights, terrorism and other issues also remain in place.

What was said: Trump claimed the United States had a trade deficit of $800 billion.

Fact: The US trade deficit in 2015 was $500 billion, a good $300 billion short of Trump’s often repeated claim.

What was said: Clinton said, “We are now, for the first time ever, energy independent.”

Fact: Clinton inaccurately overstates the case. For the first time in decades the United States gets more energy domestically than it imports, but it is not yet energy independent as the country continues to rely on oil imports, from the Mideast and elsewhere. Estimates vary as to when the US might achieve energy independence.

What was said: While stating he is well-informed about the Islamic State (IS), Trump claimed the Islamic militant group had spread to over 32 countries.

Fact: IS does not operate in 32 countries. It is largely based in Syria and Iraq. It has affiliates in several other countries, significantly in Egypt, Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen and Nigeria. The group however uses social media propaganda to recruit from as many as possible.

What was said: “I don’t like Assad at all. But Assad is killing ISIS. Russia is killing ISIS,” claimed Trump.

Fact: Not true. Syria’s President Bashar Assad considers the Islamic State group to be among numerous “terrorist” groups that threaten his government, but his military is not fighting them. It is focused on combating Syrian opposition groups, some of which are supported by the United States.

On controversies

What was said: While Trump dismissed the tape as “locker-room” banter, he said he had never actually groped or kissed women without their consent. “No, I did not,” he said.

Fact: Several women have alleged Trump made unwanted sexual advances. In the 1990s, Jill Harth accused Trump of groping her, even filing a lawsuit. The Republican nominee was, however, not convicted. Trump’s first wife, Ivana Trump, also accused him of rape in a deposition in the early 1990s, but later said she didn’t mean it literally, but rather that she felt violated.

What was said: Referring the Khan family controversy, the Republican said that Capt Humayun Khan would still be alive if he, Trump, was president for he would not have had American soldiers in Iraq.

Fact: This has been in the news for a while now -- Trumps saying he did not support the Iraq war when in fact he did at the time. In recent times though, he has insisted otherwise.

What was said: During a discussion over the behaviour of presidential candidates, Trump was called out for tweeting about a sex tape. His response: “It wasn’t ‘check out a sex tape’.”

Fact: Yes it was. Trump tweeted “check out sex tape and past” of former 1996 Miss Universe Alicia Machado, a woman whom Clinton discussed in the first presidential debate as an example of Trump’s derogatory comments about women. Machado criticized Trump for body-shaming her by calling her “Miss Piggy” and threatening to take away her crown for gaining weight.

What was said: “After a yearlong investigation, there is no evidence that anyone hacked the server I was using, and there is no evidence that anyone can point to, at all ... that any classified material ended up in the wrong hands,” said Clinton.

Fact: Maybe, maybe not. While there’s indeed no direct, explicit evidence that classified information was leaked or that her server was breached, it was nevertheless connected to the internet in ways that made it more vulnerable to hackers — and the public may never know who saw them. FBI Director James Comey has said: “We assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.”

Read | Trump vs Clinton: Top quotes from the second US presidential debate

What was said: Trump claimed that Clinton was seen laughing at a girl who was raped when, as a young public defender, she was assigned to represent the accused rapist: “She’s seen on two separate occasions, laughing at the girl... Kathy Shelton, that young woman, is here with us tonight.”

Fact: As far as records show, Clinton isn’t seen laughing at the victim during the case that took place in 1975. In an interview a decade later, Clinton expressed horror at the crime, but was recorded on tape laughing about procedural details of the case.

What was said: Trump accused Clinton of starting the Obama birther controversy, much before he got embroiled in it; Trump had questioned the legitimacy of Barack Obama’s presidency by indicating that Obama might not be American-born.

Fact: The controversy was put to bed recently with Trump himself accepting that Obama was American. However, the birther issue was raised when the Republican presidential nominee brought up the question. So far, there have been no reports to support his claim that Clinton had asked for Obama’s origins to be looked into back in 2008.

What was said: Clinton said Trump never apologised for mocking a reporter, for his comments about the Khans, a gold star family of an American soldier killed on duty, and to President Obama for the birther controversy.

Fact: After months of pushing the birther issue, Trump unequivocally endorsed Obama’s citizenship, but never apologised. Trump also never went back on his comments regarding the Khan family, but issued a statement that hailed their son Capt Humayun Khan as an American hero. As for his perceived mocking of Serge Kovaleski, a disabled journalist, Trump had said he was unware of Kovaleski’s congenital condition.

Also read | Who will win the US presidential election?

For more on the US presidential elections, click here.