Fact-Checking the 2016 Republican National Convention’s Third Night
Does Donald Trump really pay his bills on time? Is ‘Death to America Day’ really a thing? PolitiFact weighs in.
Three former 2016 presidential candidates headlined night three of the Republican National Convention, dedicated to "Making America First Again."
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who exchanged barbs with Trump during the Republican primary, stressed the importance of protecting Americans’ constitutional rights and dispensing with counterproductive political correctness.
"Hillary Clinton believes that government should make virtually every choice in your life. But something powerful is happening," he said. "Voters are overwhelmingly rejecting big government."
Cruz was booed, however, for not actually endorsing Trump during his speech.
The crowd also listened to a former astronaut, three Floridians and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, one of the first 2016 GOP candidates to quit the race.
Here’s the rundown of fact-checks from the night:
Bills, bills, bills
Clinton has made a point to attack Trump for defaulting on payments to contractors, many of which are to small businesses. Taking the stage, Las Vegas casino magnate Phil Ruffin came to Trump’s defense.
"He always pays his bills promptly," he said. "You won't hear that. Promptly, no discounts."
This conflicts with a USA Today investigation, which found at least 60 lawsuits involving allegedly unpaid bills. Trump has acknowledged he often renegotiates contracts or won’t pay if he is dissatisfied with services rendered.
Ruffin’s prepared remarks, when discussing his relationship with Trump, emphasized the statement was supposed to refer to his own personal dealings.
"Through it all, Donald always paid his bills promptly, with no discounts," the prepared remarks stated.
That’s not what he said live, however, before millions of TV viewers. We rated Ruffin’s claim False.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, himself a former businessman, said America is desperate for new leadership because its economic situation is in disarray.
"Today America is in a terrible world, record-high debt," he said. "Our economy is not growing. Our jobs are going overseas. We’ve allowed our military to decay and we project weakness on the international stage."
For this fact-check, we looked at whether he’s right that the U.S. economy isn’t growing. One way to measure this is looking at gross domestic product, which, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, has grown by between 1.5 and 2.5 percent every year since 2012.
In addition to the growing GDP, experts also disputed Scott’s claim, pointing to other positive economic signs such as growing private sector jobs and a declining unemployment rate.
The economy might not be growing as fast as Scott would like, but it is growing. We rated his claim False.
'Death to America Day,' revisited
Cruz berated the Democratic Party over the Iran nuclear deal backed by the Obama administration, pointing to Iran’s hostility toward the United States as evidence it’s a bad idea.
"Theirs is the party that thinks ISIS is a ‘JV team,’ that responds to the death of Americans at Benghazi by asking, ‘What difference does it make?,’" Cruz said. "That thinks it's possible to make a deal with Iran, which celebrates as holidays ‘Death to America Day’ and ‘Death to Israel Day.’ "
(We previously fact-checked a claim about Clinton’s "what difference does it make?" comment here.)
Cruz made a similar statement about "Death to America Day" in 2015. For proof, a spokesperson pointed to a 1987 report from the Associated Press, which said Tehran Radio had dubbed Nov. 4, the day of the Iranian student takeover of the U.S. embassy, as ''Death to America Day.''
A 2013 New York Times story also said "hard-liners" in Iran planned to mark the day as a "Grand Day of Death to America." From reading other news stories, it seems that, at least in Tehran, Nov. 4 is marked every year. However, experts said Nov. 4 was neither a national holiday nor officially called "Death to America Day."
Gary Sick, a scholar at Columbia University’s Middle East Institute, told us that "Death to America" is an Iranian revolutionary slogan shouted or chanted "at most events related to the revolution." He was unaware that it was the formal name of the day or event, adding, "This slogan is shouted every Friday at the weekly prayer services held across Iran."