FACT CHECK: 4 Claims From The Fourth Democratic Debate

Trevor Schakohl, Elias Atienza | Contributor

CNN and The New York Times jointly held the fourth Democratic presidential debate Tuesday night in Ohio where 12 candidates covered topics ranging from reproductive rights to jobs.

Here are four checks on their claims.

Claim 1: “The people of Hong Kong rise up for democracy and don’t get a peep of support from the president,” said South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Thousands of Hong Kong residents are currently engaged in demonstrations against the Chinese government. They began as protests against now-withdrawn extradition legislation but has since evolved into a broader movement for the region’s autonomy.

Trump, some noted, has largely offered muted responses to the protests that have been ongoing in Hong Kong since June. In August, for example, he told reporters, “That’s between Hong Kong and that’s between China, because Hong Kong is a part of China. They’ll have to deal with that themselves. They don’t need advice.”

At other times, however, the president seems to have made more assertive comments, including during his Sept. 24 address at the United Nations. Vox called his words the “most forceful comments yet in defense of Hong Kong.”

“The world fully expects that the Chinese government will honor its binding treaty made with the British and registered with the United Nations in which China commits to protect Hong Kong’s freedom, legal system, and democratic ways of life,” said Trump. “How China chooses to handle this situation will say a great deal about its role in the world in the future. We are all counting on President Xi as a great leader.”

Claim 2: “Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania actually in the latest jobs data have lost jobs, not gained them,” said former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro.

All three states saw an increase in the number of jobs in August, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Pennsylvania had the highest gain in jobs, with approximately 16,500 non-farm jobs added from July to August. During the same time period, Michigan gained 6,100, and Ohio gained 3,700.

The number of unemployed people, though, has gone up by approximately 2,600 in Ohio and 4,400 in Pennsylvania, according to the same data sets. It went down by 1,700 in Michigan.

Castro’s campaign told PolitiFact that he was comparing figures from March with ones from July, as the August numbers are preliminary and will be revised before being made official. BLS data show the number of jobs does decrease during that time period. However, he failed to mention that he was not using a consecutive month-to-month measure when he made the statement about job trends during the debate.

Claim 3: “Three out of four Americans believe in the rule of Roe v. Wade,” said Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

This wasn’t the first time the statistic was mentioned on the debate stage last night. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar also said that “over 75 percent” of people want Roe v. Wade to remain “on the books.”

This figure may come from a June NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll that found that 77 percent of Americans want to uphold Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal in the U.S. Within that, 26 percent said that they would like to see it upheld but with more restrictions; 21 percent want the ruling to be expanded to allow abortion under any circumstances; and 14 percent reported that they wanted some of the restrictions currently under Roe v. Wade reduced.

13 percent of total respondents said it should be overturned, according to the same June poll.

Other polls show support for Roe v. Wade slightly lower, in the 60 to 70 percent range. A Gallup poll from June found that 60 percent of Americans do not want the Supreme Court to overturn their ruling, for instance. A more recent poll from Pew Research Center put support for the ruling at 70 percent in August.

Claim 4: “The leading cause of death of young black men in America is gun violence, more than the top other six reasons total,” said California Sen. Kamala Harris. 

Young black men make up a disproportionately large number of those killed by gun violence in the U.S., according to Amnesty International. From 2014 to 2015, homicide was the leading cause of death for young black men from ages 15 to 24, killing 5,132 – of which 4,817 homicides, or roughly 94 percent, were the result of gun violence, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC).

As Sen. Kamala Harris suggests, gun violence alone has killed more black men in this age bracket than the next six top causes of death combined, according to data from the CDC. Unintentional injury, suicide, heart disease, malignant tumors, chronic lower respiratory disease and HIV combined killed a total of 4,049 in the same period.

In 2016, homicide was once again the leading cause of death for black men in the age brackets of 1 to 19 and 20 to 44, but a detailed breakdown related to firearms does not appear to be available, according to CDC data.

Brad Sylvester contributed to this report.

Trevor Schakohl, Elias Atienza