Fact-Checking The Vice-Presidential Debate: Who Exaggerated, Who Told The Truth, Who Lied

The one and only vice-presidential debate between Governor Mike Pence and Senator Tim Kaine occurred on October 4, 2016, giving both candidates for vice president the opportunity to showcase their stuff and defend their running mate’s positions. There’s no doubting that during any debate, there will be some exaggerations made on both sides of the table. These are some of the comments that generated the biggest response on social media and the fact checks. See which statements were true, which were exaggerations, and which were outright fibs.

Tim Kaine at the Vice Presidential Debate
Senator Tim Kaine answers a question during the vice-presidential debate [Image by David Goldman/AP Images]

First up, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, Senator Tim Kaine.

“The Bush tax cuts were a cause of the Great Recession.”

Fib. Fact-checking shows this is a big fib. The recession of 2008 was caused by the housing bubble collapse. It would be a stretch to try to pin that on the Bush tax cuts. The tax cuts did cause a large increase in federal debt at the beginning of the 21st century, however.

“She [Hillary Clinton] worked a tough negotiation with nations around the world to eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program without firing a shot.”

Exaggeration/Fib. The plan that was put into place did not eliminate the program. What it did was limit the amount of nuclear material that Iran can have as well as limit the number of centrifuges it is allowed (both are necessary to develop nuclear weapons). The deal also expires in 15 years, which means that unless a new plan is put into place, Iran is free to resume then.

“Trump has called the U.S. military a “disaster.”

Exaggeration. During the sixth GOP primary debate on January 14, 2016, Donald Trump responded to a question about him being an angry voice.

Trump said in response, “…I will gladly accept the mantle of anger. Our military is a disaster. Our healthcare is a horror show.”

Fact-checking shows that Trump has since eased off of the strong language, and instead states that the military is depleted. He said recently, “Now we [the United States] never win. We don’t win on trade. We don’t win with our military. Our military is so depleted. Our military has fighter jets that are in use, flown by great, great American people that are so old and they can’t get parts for the fighter jets.”

“Trump spent $20,000 of Trump Foundation money on a painting of himself.”

True. According to a September 10, 2016, article written by David Fahrenthold in the Washington Post, Trump did indeed spend money from his foundation on a six-foot tall painting of himself.

“A Federal court ruled against your [Gov. Pence’s] ban on Syrian refugees.”

True. Governor Pence tried to bar Syrian refugee resettlement groups from accepting federal money to assist in relocating Syrians to Indiana. The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit blocked the order, ruling that there was no evidence that terrorists would use refugee disguises to enter the country.

Mike Pence at the first vice presidential debate
Indiana Governor Mike Pence answers a question during the vice-presidential debate. [Image by David Goldman/AP Images]

Here are some comments that deserve fact-checking from the Republican vice-presidential candidate, Governor Mike Pence:

“Less than 10 cents of every dollar from the Clinton Foundation actually goes to charity.”

Fib. According to PolitiFact, this is a talking point from the Trump campaign that is often repeated. Unfortunately for Trump and company, repeating it doesn’t make it any less false. Per tax returns released by the Foundation, about 80 percent of their annual expenses were spent on charitable programs.

“We have the smallest navy since 1917.”

Exaggeration. It is true that the 273 ships currently active in the United States Navy is the lowest since 1916. What’s more important, however, is the type of Navy that is currently deployed versus that of 1916. The United States has 11 aircraft carriers, 14 ballistic nuclear submarines, and four cruise missile submarines in active duty, which makes it by far the premiere naval force in the world. In comparison, China and Russia each only field one aircraft carrier.

“Hillary Clinton would continue the policies of open borders, amnesty, and ‘catch and release.'”

Exaggeration/Fib. Hillary Clinton supported a comprehensive border security bill that included an increase of $46 billion to border security as well as expanding the Border Patrol to over 38,000 agents. Additionally, her proposed immigration legislation does not support amnesty. It specifies a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants provided they meet the program’s requirements. On the “catch and release” program, that was ended during the Bush years in 2006.

“The Clinton Foundation accepted foreign donations while Hillary Clinton was secretary of State.”

True. According to documents released by the Clinton Foundation, they received $122 million in foreign donations in 2009, Clinton’s first year as secretary of State.

“Donald Trump has promised not to change the government’s Medicare program for seniors.”

True. One of the primary points of contention during the Republican primaries was Trump’s continued promise to leave government Medicare alone. Donald Trump has continued to say this, both on the campaign trail and during interviews.

[Featured Image by David Goldman/AP Images]