MINNEAPOLIS — President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were in Minneapolis for a campaign rally Thursday.
KARE 11 had a team of journalists offering coverage, context, analysis and fact-checking of the president’s speech.
Our contributors were: KARE 11 investigative team Steve Eckert, A.J. Lagoe and Brandon Stahl; KARE 11 reporter Chris Hrapsky; and contributing expert Kathryn Pearson, an American politics professor at the University of Minnesota.
Chris Hrapsky, KARE 11: Vice President Mike Pence claimed that illegal border crossings are down 60 percent.
Apprehensions on the Southwest border of the U.S. in fiscal 2016 totaled 553,378. Apprehensions in fiscal 2018 totaled 521,090. So far in 11 months of fiscal 2019 there have been 926,769 apprehensions at the border, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Kathryn Pearson, University of Minnesota: President Trump is serious about competing in Minnesota in the 2020 presidential elections. There wasn’t much presidential campaign activity from either party in Minnesota in 2016. A Republican presidential candidate has not won Minnesota since 1972, and in 2008, Barack Obama won Minnesota by 10%. Democrats still have an edge, but the gap between the parties has narrowed considerably; in 2016, Hillary Clinton won by only 1.5% of the vote. The 2020 presidential election will likely be very competitive nationally; the country is narrowly divided along partisan lines and historically, incumbent presidents win reelection more often than not. President Trump has made it clear that he is taking Minnesota seriously, and he has a head start as Democrats are in the early stages of their nominating contest. While Republicans have a head start in in presidential politics in 2020, though, Democrats will likely respond in kind once they have selected a nominee.
Hrapsky: President Trump claims The Washington Post had a headline on the day he was inaugurated that read “The campaign to impeach President Trump has begun.”
He is accurate. The Post did have that exact headline published on Jan. 20, 2017.
Brandon Stahl, KARE 11: Trump said the polling on him is phony “most of the time.”
On Wednesday, a Fox News poll found a “new high of 51 percent want Trump impeached.” Fox News polls are conducted under the joint direction of Democratic and Republican polling firms.
Hrapsky: President Trump said the Ukrainian president said today “there was no blackmail” on the phone call with Trump.
That is accurate. On Thursday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said there was no blackmail involved during the phone call with President Trump, which he is currently under impeachment inquiry.
A.J. Lagoe, KARE 11: President Trump said “the whistleblower knew nothing about the call.”
Politifact compared the whistleblower’s complaint with the summary the White House released of the President’s phone call and concluded the whistleblower’s description of the call “got just about everything right.” They gave the President’s claim a “Pants on Fire!” rating.
Pearson: Not surprisingly, the President brought up impeachment early in his speech. While this crowd is very supportive of President Trump, the electorate is more evenly divided, and polls show Independents are increasing their support for the impeachment inquiry. A key question for vulnerable Democratic members of Congress is whether the president is correct that impeachment will lead to a backlash against Democrats. In the 1998 midterm elections, following Republican-led impeachment of President Bill Clinton in the House of Representatives, Republicans lost five congressional seats, defying the historical trend in which the President’s party loses seats in midterm elections. (2002 is the only other recent exception to that trend, Republicans gained seats). The circumstances are quite different, so it’s unclear if this historical example means much, but unless Republican elected officials turn against President Trump, public opinion will continue to be divided along partisan lines.
Stahl: Trump said “the do-nothing Democrats … believe it should not be a crime to cross our border illegally.”
The Washington Post found that several Democratic presidential candidates were in favor of repealing “criminal penalties for people apprehended while crossing the border,” while others were opposed to that.
Lagoe: President Trump is discussing his Ukraine accusations about Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
NBC News has investigated the President’s Joe Biden-Ukraine accusations and has found no supporting evidence for them.
Stahl: Trump claims that Hunter Biden received $1.5 billion from China. The non-partisan FactCheck.org says the Trump campaign has provided no evidence to support the claim – and an attorney for Biden’s son has denied it.
Stahl: Trump says of the Hunter Biden allegations, “It’s not unsubstantiated you crooked son of a guns. It’s 100 percent true.”
The FactCheck.org story says “Hunter Biden was involved with the cross-border equity consortium in question, but the $1.5 billion was what the fund hoped to raise in 2014 for investments. It is not the value of the management company in which Hunter Biden now holds a minority share.”
Stahl: Trump spoke about Mueller’s 18 angry Democrats.
Trump is referring to the prosecutors on Robert Mueller’s team, a claim he’s made in the past. Although a Washington Post review found that 13 of the 17 members of Mueller’s team had previously registered as Democrats, while four had no affiliation that could be found.
Pearson: The president has generally not talked about his policy proposals or accomplishments, he is mainly focused on attacking on his political opponents and the “dirty political establishment” and talking about himself. He doesn’t need to win over his most loyal supporters who are cheering him on in person, but it’s a missed opportunity to reach the television audience or generate new headlines.
Hrapsky: The president claims Minnesota U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar has made “violent anti-Semitic screeds”
Rep. Omar first received backlash for a 2012 tweet in reference to an Israeli military attack in Gaza. The tweet read “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”
Pearson: Representative Ilhan Omar won with 78% of the vote in Minnesota’s 5th District when she was elected in 2018. She had represented a portion of the district in the state legislature in 2017-2018. The only significant political threat she could face in 2020 is a Democratic primary challenger, and it’s not likely to happen - if anything, the president’s attacks, and the crowd’s hostile chants, help her stave off a strong primary challenger in her bid for reelection. On the other hand, Representative Omar is not necessarily popular in swing districts in Minnesota and across the country, which is why Republican party ads airing in swing districts across the country group vulnerable Democratic incumbents with Representative Omar and Speaker Pelosi.
Hrapsky: More on the president’s claims about Omar’s “violent anti-Semitic screeds”
Rep. Omar received widespread bipartisan criticism this year when she tweeted “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby,” (Feb. 10, 2019, since deleted). The tweet was in reference to certain members of Congress and their support for Israel. The House of Representatives voted on a resolution to condemn anti-Semitism after Rep. Omar asked this question in a Washington D.C. forum: "I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” The question was criticized as pushing an anti-Semitic trope of “dual-loyalty” between the U.S. and Israel. Omar issued apologies for both comments saying she was unaware of the “painful history of anti-Semitic tropes.”
Hrapsky: President Trump spoke about claims that Rep. Omar married her brother.
Numerous media outlets have examined this claim, and none have shown any credible, verifiable proof that Omar married her brother.
Stahl: Trump earlier in the speech said “We’re going to win this state, by so much, that people are going to be shocked.”
A recent poll here in Minnesota suggests he has some work to do. A September Star Tribune poll found that his disapproval rating in the state was 56 percent, with an approval rating of 39 percent.
Lagoe: President Trump invites Minneapolis Police Lt. Bob Kroll up on the stage referencing his dispute with Mayor Jacob Frey.
A new policy says off-duty Minneapolis police officers cannot wear their uniforms while they're endorsing a political party, candidate or campaign. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said the policy was in the works long before President Trump's planned visit this week. The city’s police union has instead printed - and sold out of - “Cops for Trump” T-shirts. Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, has accused Mayor Frey of being politically motivated, because officers have appeared as backdrops in events held in the past by Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. But KARE 11 political reporter John Croman points out that those events weren't political campaign rallies.
Pearson: Senator Tina Smith won the special U.S. Senate election with 53% of the vote in 2018, a good year for Democrats nationally and in Minnesota. Even as 2020 will likely be more competitive between the two parties in Minnesota, Smith will run for reelection in 2020 with the advantages of incumbency – greater name recognition, a more extensive voting record, a record of policy accomplishments, and more experience on the campaign trail. Former GOP Representative Jason Lewis is running to replace Smith in 2020, and President Trump touted Lewis’ campaign tonight. Lewis was elected in 2016 for one term in Minnesota’s 2nd District, and he was defeated by Angie Craig in 2018 by 5.6%. In Congress and in both his 2016 and 2018 campaigns, Lewis closely aligned himself with Trump – both in substance and style - even as then-3rd District Republican Congressman Erik Paulsen distanced himself from President Trump. (Distancing himself didn’t do much good, though - Paulsen was replaced by Democrat Dean Phillips in 2018.) While Lewis has two years of House experience to campaign on, he lacks experience running for, and serving in, statewide office, furthering Smith’s advantage going into 2020.
Stahl: Trump criticized sanctuary cities. Minneapolis is considered a sanctuary city, based on an ordinance that forbids law enforcement from inquiring about an individual’s immigration status. However, one study found no links between sanctuary policies and crime, while another study shows that immigration is “consistently linked” to decreases in violent crime.
Lagoe: President Trump said the “wall is going up rapidly”
Non-partisan Politifact says, so far, about 60 miles of dilapidated barriers have been replaced with new fencing. But as of the end of August, no additional miles had been built during the Trump administration.
Stahl: Trump defended his decision to remove American troops from Syria. He has received sharp criticism from some Republicans, including Lindsey Graham. Graham said during an interview on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends," “This impulsive decision by the president has undone all the gains we've made, thrown the region into further chaos. Iran is licking their chops. And if I'm an ISIS fighter I've got a second lease on life. So to those who think ISIS has been defeated you will soon see."
Lagoe: President Trump said “we got Choice for the vets”
The Veteran’s Choice program was created in 2014 in a bill signed by President Obama.
Lagoe: President Trump said “the Iron Range is back in business”
The New York Times reported last year that “Mines began reopening in the final months of Barack Obama’s presidency, when he cracked down on steel dumping, and that growth has continued under Mr. Trump.”
Lagoe: President Trump is discussing job creation.
This week the Trump campaign claimed he’s created more than 54,000 jobs in Minnesota.
MN Dept of Employment and Economic Development told KARE 11 state data shows 39,700 jobs added between Jan ’17 and Aug ’19.
Pearson: Partisan polarization did not start with President Trump; the two major parties have become increasingly divided on the issues and increasingly competitive (and combative) over the past three decades. However, the extent to which partisan competition and partisan attacks have become the staple of American politics has become even more extreme. Listening to President Trump attack specific Democrats and the Democratic Party – and listening to his Democratic counterparts attack Republicans in other instances – it’s easy to understand why “negative partisanship” (whereby people dislike the other party more than they actually like their own party) characterizes our politics today.
Stahl: President Trump said he will help move “millions more Americans from … poverty to prosperity.”
For data on poverty, I went to Minnesota Compass, which tracks trends in areas such as education, economy, workforce, health and housing.
The most recent data on poverty levels in Minnesota show that about 9.6 percent of Minnesotans lived below the poverty level in 2018 – about the same as it was in 2017. But there were slight increases from 2017 to 2018 among certain demographics:
- The share of Minnesotans age 65 and older living in poverty was up 0.6 percentage points to 7.6 percent.
- The share of Minnesotans between the ages of 65 and 74 living in poverty was up 0.9 percentage points to 6.7 percent.
- The proportion of Minnesotans age 25 or older who have a bachelor’s degree or higher living in poverty was up 0.3 percentage points to 3.3 percent.
- The share of adults in Minnesota age 65 or older with at least one disability living in poverty was up 1.8 percentage points to 11.8 percent.