Donald Trump skipped the latest Republican debate Thursday night after a dispute with Fox News in favor of his own event – a fundraiser for veterans a few miles away in front of hundreds of people in Des Moines.
Just four days before the Iowa caucuses, Trump spoke about several issues, including veterans, the Iran nuclear deal and immigration.
Even before he took the stage, he made questionable statements about the event.
Two other Republican candidates who did not make the main debate stage, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, made brief appearances. Trump tweeted that they had asked him about attending. “Wow, two candidates called last night and said they want to go to my event tonight at Drake University.”
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NPR reported that Santorum said Trump had invited him to attend. Huckabee, who spoke briefly at the fundraiser, thanked Trump for inviting him to attend.
Here’s are some questionable statements Trump made during the rally:
Treatment of veterans
Trump said “illegal immigrants are being treated better than our vets.”
That’s mostly false.
The two issues are not really comparable, but deportations of immigrants who are in the United States illegally reached a record high during President Barack Obama’s presidency.
Each year of the Obama administration has seen more deportations than any preceding president, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement data. In 2014, the Department of Homeland Security deported 414,481 people.
While the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs continues to face a host of problems, including a backlog of outstanding claims for benefits, it has made some advances under the Obama administration.
Veteran homelessness has been reduced by approximately a third, and in November, Virginia became the first state to end veteran homelessness statewide. The budget for veteran homelessness has increased from $400 million in 2009 to $1.5 billion in 2014.
The Iran deal
Trump called the nuclear deal with Iran the “worst deal I have ever seen negotiated under any circumstances” and complained that the Tehran government would “get $150 billion.”
That’s mostly false.
Six world powers, including the United States, reached a historic agreement with Iran that will prevent Tehran from producing a nuclear weapon.
While Iran is still allowed to pursue a nuclear energy and research program, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, is responsible for arranging for and carrying out inspections aimed at determining any “possible military dimensions” to Iran’s past nuclear program.
Iran does gain significantly under the nuclear deal, but the $150 billion figure is the “dollar value of Iran’s foreign assets that the U.S can unfreeze” as part of the pact, according to Politifact.com.
The U.S. trade deficit
Trump said the U.S. trade deficit with China was $500 billion a year.
That’s mostly false.
The U.S. had a $337 billion trade deficit with China in 2015, a slight decline from $343 billion in 2014 and an increase from $318 billion in 2012, according to the U.S. census.
Census figures going back to 1985 have never showed a trade deficit as high as $500 billion.
Trump is a critic of a trade deal that the U.S. has negotiated with 12 Pacific Rim countries. However, that deal does not include China.
The cameras love him
Trump said the cameras will not move off of him.
That’s true, but there’s more to it.
It’s not the first time that the Republican front-runner has argued that TV cameras at his events stay focused on him because they are resisting showing the large enthusiastic crowds he draws.
The cameras are focused on him because it’s their job.
The pool operator for the networks, including FOX News, ABC News, NBC News and CBS News, is required to maintain a tight focus on the speaker so as not to miss anything that person says or does.
The plane truth
Trump cited Iran’s order for 114 aircraft from France-based Airbus instead of U.S.-based Boeing as part of what he describes as a failed Iran nuclear deal.
Trump is correct that Iran ordered the planes from Airbus, although the actual number was 118. However, Airbus has a presence in the U.S. and employs U.S. workers. According to its website, Airbus employs 1,100 employees in America, including those in a new factory in Mobile, Ala., that builds the company’s popular A320.
Iran will receive 45 A320s as part of its order, though it isn’t yet clear where they’ll be built. And Iran may yet decide to order planes from Boeing.
Vera Bergengruen, Kevin G. Hall, Jess Nocera and Curtis Tate contributed to this report.