Whew! Fact-checking President Trump’s Mankato speech

By: - August 18, 2020 6:58 am

President Donald Trump in Mankato. Photo by Will Jacott/Minnesota Reformer.

MANKATO — President Donald Trump took his stump speech to Minnesota Monday and tried to steal some of the spotlight from the Democratic National Convention, turning to his favorite technique: The belittling zinger. 

He went after his tried and true favorite targets: U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and, of course, “Sleepy Joe” Biden, who he called a puppet with “no clue.”

Long lines of supporters in cars — many with Trump flags and signs — showed up for the event, which was only made public Friday, though many were turned away and forced to watch the action from about a half mile away. A Trump volunteer said 500 tickets were dispersed. 

Supporters waited and watched from nearby fields — sitting through the nearly hour-long speech and then standing on cars to take photos as Air Force One flew away. 

Trump made a pit stop in Minneapolis but did not make an appearance, taking his message to the more rural and Republican 1st Congressional District. After the strongest showing in 2016 by a Republican presidential candidate in Minnesota since Ronald Reagan, Trump is eyeing the state like he once coveted New York real estate. 

“I hear we’re doing very well. If we win Minnesota it is over” he said to cheers. He’s probably right about that. 

His speech was full of assertions. We fact-checked a baker’s dozen and a couple more: 

  • Biden would double or triple your taxes. Biden’s $4 trillion tax increase would primarily be borne by the biggest earners and corporations and would not double for anyone, according to factcheck.org.
  • “If Biden wins, the Iron Range will be shut down forever.” It didn’t “shut down” when Biden was vice president. Trump said his trade policies aided miners on the Iron Range, but the Range is suffering through another downturn, and overall manufacturing jobs have decreased since he took office, according to the International Association of Machinists.
  • “We built the greatest economy in the history of the world but now we have to do it again.” Trump said this repeatedly, and the Washington Post finally did a deep dive on it and gave him three “Pinocchios” for it.
  • Minnesota had the best year ever last year. That’s hard to gauge. Best year in terms of…? MinnPost attempted to answer this question last year, and found it wasn’t the best in some key economic indicators. 
  • “They wanna try to rig the election with all these mail-in ballots,” Trump said, while again saying absentee voting is OK. Absentee voting and mail-in voting are similarly verified, according to factcheck.org.  
  • Trump is tired of all the negative coverage on Fox and said the famously pro-Trump network puts more Democrats on the air than Republicans nowadays. Fact-check: Turn on Fox and judge for yourself.
  • “If we don’t win they’re gonna go down the tubes — along with every other media outlet — they’ll all be bust.” Big media has survived the worst pandemic since 1918, and they’ll probably survive a Biden presidency, no matter how dull. 
  • “You’ll end up with one very boring socialist country that’ll go to hell.” Biden is not a socialist.
  • “They’re terminating the Police Department (in Minneapolis). They are actually doing it.” The Minneapolis City Council has vowed to defund the police department, and remake it into a different type of public safety agency, but they have not vowed to terminate it and have been rebuffed in their efforts so far.
  • “Biden wants to lock all Americans in their basement for months on end.” That’s not Biden’s COVID-19 plan. 
  • Countries like New Zealand that had locked down and thought they beat the coronavirus are now having a “big surge,” and “We don’t want that.” New Zealand did lock down big time and has had clusters emerge, with some 78 cases. The United States had about 1,500 new confirmed cases per hour on Monday alone.  
  • “He will kill the stock market… he’d abolish immigration enforcement, abolish bail, abolish the suburbs, abolish effective policing, abolish American energy, abolish the American way of life. Otherwise he’d do quite a good job I think.” After 47 years of public life, everything points toward Biden being far more boring than all that.  
  • “I was man of the year 11 years ago in Michigan.” = False.
  • Trump claims he’s built 300 miles of border wall, but nearly all of it has replaced old fencing
  • “You wouldn’t have a city if we didn’t demand that action take place,” Trump said of the National Guard during the Minneapolis upheaval following the police killing of George Floyd. Tardy or not, Gov. Tim Walz called out the National Guard, not Trump.

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Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter has covered local and state government in four states over the past three decades, with stints at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Post, city hall reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest News in the western Minneapolis suburbs. Before joining the staff of the Reformer in 2021 she was a contributor to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. She and her husband have a daughter, son, and very grand child. In her spare time, she likes to play tennis, jog, garden and attempt to check out all the best restaurants in the metro area.