Editor’s note: PolitiFact is analyzing the presidential candidates’ stump speeches. Following our summary of the speech’s main themes, we present fact-checks of specific talking points. Read other stump speech analyzers for Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
The stump speech: Trump’s 62-minute speech in Wildwood, N.J., Jan. 28, 2019
Even while under impeachment, President Donald Trump used a recent campaign rally to take a victory lap, celebrating a strong economy and the triumph of conservative social and political values.
“We’re achieving historic victories for New Jersey families,” Trump said. “You see it every single day. The New Jersey unemployment rate has reached the lowest of all time. More people are working today in the state of New Jersey than ever before.”
And as goes New Jersey, Trump said, so goes the rest of the country, with record low unemployment across the board, for African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans. His low-tax, anti-regulation policies, he said, revived American manufacturing and churned out jobs for everyone.
Trump trumpeted GOP zero-tolerance positions on immigration and gun control as standing in sharp contrast to what the other party offers.
“Democrats stand for crime, corruption and chaos. Republicans stand for law, order and justice,” he said.
Trump made a firm claim to standing on the side of blue-collar workers and the middle class. He promised in the coming months to unveil a middle-class tax cut, and he warned that all the gains of his presidency hung on a Republican victory next November. His win in 2016, he said, was “the greatest election in the history of our country, and now we have to do it again to keep it going.”
Trump ended with a classic appeal to core conservative values.
“We believe that faith and family, not government bureaucracy, are the true American ways, and we believe that children should be taught to love our country, honor our history and to always respect our great American flag.”
Biggest applause line: “We have fully rebuilt the United States military.” 22 seconds with a “USA” chant.
Music: “You can’t always get what you want,” by the Rolling Stones backed up by the London Bach Choir.
Anything else: He said the word “great” or “greatest” 43 times.
Fact-checking Trump’s statements
“We are protecting people with pre-existing conditions, and we always will, the Republican Party, pre-existing conditions. We saved it.”
Pants on Fire! Trump has repeatedly misrepresented his administration’s efforts to repeal the Obama-era health care law, which guarantees coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions. Neither Trump nor congressional Republicans who want the courts to strike down the Affordable Care Act have offered a replacement that might maintain its core protections.
“We are lowering drug prices.”
When Trump said in May 2019 that “drug prices are coming down,” we rated that Mostly False. The White House pointed to the Consumer Price Index for drugs, and using one particular time period, there was a small decline.
But that index leaves out the actual prices people pay, and it only covers retail drugs, about three-fourths of all prescriptions.
Beyond those limitations, the latest numbers for that index show drug prices rising by about 3.9% in December 2019.
Other ways to measure drug prices show that thousands of drugs have seen prices go up, while only about 100 have seen prices fall.
“For 48 years they’ve been trying to get Veterans Choice … One day I say to my people: I have the greatest idea. I am so smart … We’re going to send them down the road to private doctors and we’re going to pay the bill and they’re going to get fixed.”
This ignores that the Veterans Choice program started in 2014. Trump has claimed credit since passage of the Veterans Mission Act in 2018, but the first version of the program was approved four years earlier.
After a scandal of long waits for veterans and the efforts of administrators at some facilities to cover that up, Congress and the Obama administration passed the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014.
For veterans who couldn’t be given appointments quickly enough, or who lived more than 40 miles from a Veterans Health Administration hospital, the government would pay for private care.
While the initial program was riddled with problems –– including paying huge overhead fees to the firms managing it –– it did exactly what Trump described as his own idea. The 2018 Mission Act consolidated several related VA programs and anchored the use of private doctors within the VA system, but the concept was already in place when Trump took office.
“And today, I had the best polls that I’ve ever had since being elected, the best we’ve ever had.”
Trump’s polling remains stable amid the impeachment trial. A Real Clear Politics average of recent polling shows Trump at a 45.3% approval rating. He last hit that level on Sept. 24, 2019, the day House Democrats launched the impeachment inquiry. Put into context, Trump’s Real Clear Politics average approval has remained between 37% and 45.3% since he was inaugurated.
“The money is won. And we are now building that beautiful wall. This powerful border wall is going up at record speed, and we just reached over 100 miles of wall. And next year we’ll be over 400 miles. And shortly thereafter it will be complete.”
Trump is referring to a court victory allowing him to use $3.6 billion for military construction projects toward the wall instead. (Congress was not giving Trump the money he wanted for the wall, so he declared a national emergency in order to tap the military funds.) Most of the border wall projects replace or bolster existing fencing. As for 400 more miles coming next year, it’s not immediately clear what he’s referring to. He said the same thing in May about 2020. In short, the wall still has a long way to go before it matches Trump’s vision from 2016.
“But Mexico is in fact, you will soon find out, paying for the wall, okay? … The wall is ultimately and very nicely being paid for by Mexico.”
There’s no evidence of this. We asked the Trump team for more details and haven’t heard back. Trump previously claimed that Mexico would pay for the wall through the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which he signed Jan. 29. We rated that False because there is no provision for the wall in the free trade agreement.
“Our Second Amendment is under siege in Virginia. They want to take their guns away.”
Lawmakers have not advanced an assault weapon ban, but there is a “red flag” measure that could take guns from the mentally unstable. With Democrats controlling the Virginia legislature and the governor’s office, gun control measures are advancing quickly. They include universal background checks, a limit on buying handguns to one per month and a “red flag” bill to allow law enforcement to temporarily take weapons from someone judged to be a threat to themselves or others.
“We are stopping surprise medical billing.”
This effort is stalled in Congress. The Trump campaign pointed to a May 9 statement of principles from Trump that included “Patients should not receive surprise bills from out-of-network providers they did not choose,” and other steps to bar unexpected costs. But the campaign also noted that legislation has stalled. Dec. 9, the White House issued a statement that said, “we are hopeful Congress will focus on this important issue and act this year.