The two parties have now had their conventions, and Americans who watched both the Republicans in Cleveland and the Democrats in Philadelphia saw radically different views of the country. The Republicans painted a picture of a nation beset by losses, pounded by violence at home, threatened by immigrants and terrorists and abused by feckless leaders.
For the Democrats, it was infinitely sunnier in Philadelphia.
Even as they talked about the pains of ordinary people, they spotlighted gains made over the past eight years and spoke with boundless optimism of Americans’ capacity to pull together and solve problems.
In the course of a dozen days, we checked scores of claims. A handful or two capture the competing visions that shaped the nominating conventions.
First, the Republicans.
Donald Trump told the party faithful that he would be the law and order candidate and his policies would “liberate our citizens from the crime and terrorism and lawlessness that threatens their communities.”
Trump said, “Decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed by this Administration’s rollback of criminal enforcement. Homicides last year increased by 17 percent in America’s 50 largest cities. That’s the largest increase in 25 years.”
Trump’s numbers are right, but misleading. Homicides didn’t go up in all 50 cities. They were up in some and down in others. Most of the increase came from sharp rises in four cities, Chicago, Houston, Baltimore and Washington.
Seasoned criminologists told us that the numbers can change from year to year, but since 1993, the trend has headed down. The also said the number of murders was unusually low in 2014, making a rise this year more dramatic.
Our verdict? Half True.
Dueling tax plans
Trump said his tax proposals are the exact opposite of what Clinton has in mind.
“While Hillary Clinton plans a massive tax increase, I have proposed the largest tax reduction of any candidate who has run for president this year, Democrat or Republican,” he said.
Clinton has proposed an increase in taxes, but experts said it will likely only significantly affect the rich, not the middle class. Whether the increase is “massive” is up for debate.
An analysis by the Tax Policy Center found his plan would decrease government revenue more than any other candidate running in 2016. (But also add trillions to the deficit.)
On balance, we rated this claim Mostly True.
Former presidential candidate and current New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie played the role of prosecutor to convict Hillary Clinton of lying about her use of a private email server as secretary of state.
“She said all-work related emails were sent back to the State Department,” Christie said. “The FBI director said that’s not true.”
A Clinton campaign fact sheet does state all work-related emails were provided to the State Department. The FBI investigation, however, came to a different conclusion.
“Several thousand work-related emails that were not in the group of 30,000 that were returned by Secretary Clinton to State in 2014,” FBI director James Comey said.
He did add, however, there was no evidence Clinton intentionally concealed the emails because she might have deleted them “like many email users.”
Christie got the facts right, so we rated his claim True.
Trump’s running mate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence went after Clinton for her perceived callous response to the Benghazi attacks.
Pence charged that “it was Hillary Clinton who left Americans in harm’s way in Benghazi and after four Americans fell said, ‘What difference at this point does it make?’”
This significantly distorted what actually happened.
Clinton made the comment during a hearing months after the attack. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, pressed Clinton on why State Department officials in Washington didn’t call their counterparts in Libya immediately to determine the cause of the attack.
Clinton told Johnson her priority was figuring out how to rescue Americans, not pressing them for information. When Johnson continued to press her for a more straightforward answer, Clinton gave an exasperated answer.
“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?” she said.
We rated Pence’s statement Mostly False.
The Muslim rumor strikes again
Actor Antonio Sabato Jr. questioned Obama’s religion, saying the president is “absolutely” a Muslim.
“We had a Muslim president for seven and half years,” he said in an interview with ABC News after his speech.
We’ve debunked this claim any number of times, but it keeps coming back.
Obama’s Christian roots go back far, including his formal declaration of his faith when he worked as a community organizer in Chicago.
We rated this Pants on Fire!
When it was the Democrats’ turn, they recast the Republicans’ claims in a new light.
President Barack Obama tackled Trump’s homicide statistic head on.
Obama said that for Trump, “it doesn’t matter to him that illegal immigration and the crime rate are as low as they’ve been in decades because he’s not offering any real solutions to those issues.”
It’s difficult to know the precise number of illegal immigrants, but in 2015, the number of people apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol dropped to 337,117. In 2000, the number was 1.6 million.
On crime, FBI data show a steady decline in violent offenses and property crime since 1993. Preliminary data for 2015 might show an uptick in some categories, but there is no question that the numbers are better than they were a decade ago.
We rated Obama’s claim Mostly True.
Hillary Clinton touted how much things got better under Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
“Our economy is so much stronger than when they took office. Nearly 15 million new private-sector jobs,” Clinton said.
Here’s the issue with that statement.
Yes, the country gained nearly 15 million jobs from the absolute low point of the recession, but that was in February 2010, about year into Obama’s first term.
If you count from “when they took office,” as Clinton said, the gain is about 10 million.
We rated her claim Half True.
Clinton also talked about how the Middle East became at least a bit safer with the deal that rolled back Iran’s nuclear program.
“I’m proud that we put a lid on Iran’s nuclear program without firing a single shot,” she told the crowd in Philadelphia.
It’s true enough that no shots were fired. The question is, did the agreement “put a lid on” the nuclear program.
According to a number of experts, the general answer is yes. Critics worry about the deal, but Iran gave up 97 percent of its enriched uranium and a lot of the equipment needed to enrich more.
With inspections, it’s now much harder for Iran to violate the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and experts say, so long as it sticks to the rules, it won’t be able to build a nuclear weapon.
We rated this claim Mostly True.
Nevada Sen. Harry Reid used this perennial club to beat up on the Republican ticket.
“Donald Trump and Mike Pence want to gamble with your retirement benefits in the stock market,” Reid said.
The problem is, Trump has said he has no plans to change Social Security.
Back in 2000, he did say it should be privatized, but Trump has changed his tune.
Pence did support a 2005 plan that would have given workers the option to put a portion of their social security withholdings into the stock market, and he has said he is open to raising the retirement age.
It’s not clear if those two elements add up to gambling with retirement benefits. In any event, Trump is at the top of the ticket, not Pence.
We rated this claim Mostly False.
Clinton’s running mate Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine took aim at Trump’s tax proposals.
Independent analysts, Kaine said, “found Trump’s tax plan, given to the wealthy and big corporations, would rack up $30 trillion in debt.”
It’s true that the top 1 percent would see an estimated 17 percent tax cut, while taxes on the middle class would go down about 5 percent.
What’s less clear is whether the national debt would go up by $30 trillion. That figure comes from a reliable group, the Tax Policy Center, but the center based that on a 20-year timeframe, which is twice as long as forecasters normally use.
For the more typical 10-year period, the estimate is about $11 trillion. Another group’s estimate was about $9 trillion.
Kaine cherry-picked the very highest figure.
We rated this Half True.
Politifact Florida is a partnership between The Tampa Bay Times and the Miami Herald to check out truth in politics.