Trump’s 2020 Campaign Kickoff Speech Unsurprisingly Filled With Lies

Not surprisingly, the President's opening speech of the 2020 campaign was filed with lies.

The fact checkers at The Washington Post took upon themselves the job of fact-checking the President’s speech in Florida on Tuesday night that was meant to serve as the opening of his 2020 re-election campaign. As you can imagine, there were a number of misstatements, misrepresentations, and outright lies:

Here we are again, four years later, fact-checking a campaign kickoff speech by Donald Trump.

The fact-checkable claims were different this time around, but history repeated itself nonetheless. Trump’s campaign kickoff speech in Orlando was littered with the same false or misleading claims he has so often repeated as president.

Phony numbers on trade. Unfounded claims about immigrants. False statements about special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation. Fishy economic statistics and wild exaggerations about his presidential accomplishments.

Our task was easier this time because, by now, we’ve assembled a database of more than 10,000 false or misleading claims from Trump. The president often deploys the same lines, over and over, in interviews, tweets and campaign rallies.

As you can imagine, there were a number of such lies throughout the speech, which the article posted above goes into detail about. Here are some of the more notable ones:

“Just before the election, the FBI told President Obama about possible Russian interference, and he did nothing because he thought that Hillary Clinton, Crooked Hillary, was going to win. … He did nothing.”

During the 2016 election campaign, the Obama administration raised alarms over possible interference by Moscow. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at the time “raised doubts about the underlying intelligence and made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics,” The Washington Post reported.

Just weeks before the election, the Obama administration announced that Russia was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee. On Dec. 29, 2016, Obama imposed sanctions, including the expulsion of about three dozen Russian diplomats and intelligence officials and the closure of diplomatic compounds.

“We’ve ended the last administration’s cruel and heartless war on American energy. What they were doing to our energy should never be forgotten. The United States is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world.”

The notion that a revolution in energy began under the Trump administration is dubious at best. The United States has led the world in natural gas production since 2009. Crude oil production has been increasing rapidly since 2010, reaching record levels in August 2018, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data.

In September 2018, the United States passed both Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the largest global crude oil producer. It is expected to hold that position, according to predictions from the International Energy Agency.

“We are building the wall. We’re going to have 400 miles of wall built by the end of next year. … I changed the design. It’s stronger, bigger, better and cheaper.”

This is a subtle but rare acknowledgment from Trump that he has stopped chasing plans to build a solid concrete wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. He tried, he had prototypes built, he went to the border to look at them, but Congress refused to appropriate funds for the wall’s construction. Now, Trump says a mix of barriers, bollard fencing and replacement fencing is “the wall.”

“We couldn’t get the wall approved by the Democrats, even though they voted for it four years ago and six years ago and didn’t get built, but they voted for it. All of a sudden, Trump is president. ‘We don’t want a wall.’ “

Many Democrats voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which was signed by President George W. Bush and authorized building a fence along nearly 700 miles of the border. But the fence they voted for is not as substantial as the wall Trump is proposing. Trump himself has called the 2006 fence a “nothing wall.”

It’s worth noting that Democrats have offered support for $1.67 billion in security enhancements. That doesn’t include funding for Trump’s wall, but it includes 65 miles of pedestrian fencing along the southeastern Texas border with Mexico, similar to what already exists.


“We have never taken in 10 cents from China. We would lose $500 billion a year with China.”

Tariffs have been collected on Chinese goods since the early days of the republic. President George Washington signed the Tariff Act of 1789, when trade between China and the United States already was established. Tariffs on China have generated at least $8 billion every year since 2009. But it’s not China that pays the tariffs; it’s American importers who generally pass on the costs to Americans in the form of higher prices.

The U.S. trade deficit in goods and services with China was about $378 billion in 2018. Trump often cites only the goods deficit, which was $375 billion in 2017 and $419 billion in 2018, according to the Census Bureau. In any case, countries do not make or lose money on trade deficits. Trade balances simply reflect what consumers in one country chose to buy from another country.

“If you take a look at the African American community, how much progress they have made: the lowest unemployment numbers in the history of our country.”

This is a Three Pinocchio claim. Trump was president in May 2018, when the African American unemployment rate reached 5.9 percent. That was the lowest on record since 1972, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics began calculating this rate with its current methodology.

But history did not begin in 1972, so it’s a stretch to call these monthly figures the lowest ever seen in the United States. A slightly different data set shows black unemployment was lower in 1969, and another report shows it was lower in the 1950s.

Moreover, the president keeps touting his record on black unemployment even though the pattern of declines began under Obama and even as the black jobless rate has begun to climb in recent months.

“We passed the largest package of tax cuts and reforms in American history — the largest.”

This is a Bottomless Pinocchio claim, our worst rating. Trump’s tax cut amounted to nearly 0.9 percent of gross domestic product, meaning it was far smaller than President Ronald Reagan’s tax cut in 1981, which was 2.89 percent of GDP. Trump’s tax cut is the eighth-largest on record — smaller, even, than two tax cuts passed under Obama.


“In the eight years before I took office, on average we lost 2,000 manufacturing jobs a month. Since my inauguration, we’ve added 16,000 manufacturing jobs a month. That didn’t happen by accident.”

As often happens with data, the picture can change drastically depending on where you set the baseline. In this case, Trump’s baseline is January 2009, smack-dab in the middle of the longest U.S. recession since World War II.

A close look at the numbers shows that most of the manufacturing job losses in the period Trump’s talking about happened during the first year of Obama’s administration, coinciding with the Great Recession that ended in June 2009. The bleeding did not extend throughout Obama’s eight years in office.

In fact, the manufacturing sector began a slow but steady recovery in April 2010, during Obama’s second year in office. That steady rate of growth has continued and accelerated under Trump.

Well, you get the idea.

Given the President’s proclivity to lie, which has been on full display since he took office and, of course, during the time he was campaigning for the Presidency, the fact that he lied so easily during this one particular speech hardly comes as a surprise. In fact, it seems as if it is impossible for Trump to speak extemporaneously without wandering off into lies, misrepresentations, and untruths. Additionally, the kind of red meat that Trump’s rabid supporters demand necessarily requires the telling of lies in order for a speaker to stay in line with the distorted way that these supporters view the world around them. Trump no doubt is aware of this, but the truth of the matter is that, most likely unlike many of the Republican politicians who have sold the souls to Trump Nation, the President actually seems to believe that what he’s saying is true. The best indication of that are the reports from inside the White House describing the difficulties that aides and advisers have in trying to tell the President that something he has said or believe simply isn’t true. In many ways, then, Trump is the living embodiment of George Costanza’s famous line that “It’s not a lie if you believe it.

As I noted, Trump’s supporters obviously don’t care about this and many Americans have just become so used to the lies this President tells that its hard to say that more lies are going to have much of an impact on them. The entirety of the Trump’s Presidency has been an assault on logic and the idea of objective truth. Guess who’s winning.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed for too young in July 2021.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    SSDD. Oh and water is still wet, snow is still cold, and the Republican Party still couldn’t care less, as long as he tells the right lies.

  2. DrDaveT says:

    I hope that at least some of the Democratic candidates have a plan for how to win an election in a country where 47% of the people are disinformed and half of those don’t care what’s true anyway. Short of getting Tom Hanks to run, I’m not sure the Dems have any suitable weapons for this fight.

  3. SenyorDave says:

    @DrDaveT: Might not work, but I say use a lot of ads emphasizing Trump’s own statements. The grab her by the pussy tape, the tapes of him calling women pigs. Also make sure that people remember Trump University (one of the parties deposed had materials that specifically talked about targeting seniors and veterans because they had cash and were vulnerable). And the admission that he would use foreign ‘dirt” in a campaign – that was gold! I think Trump has to be made as toxic as possible. This should all be tailored to independents, no point in wasting money trying to get Republican votes.

    Make this election in large part about character.

  4. Guarneri says:

    “As you can imagine, there were a number of misstatements, misrepresentations, and outright lies….”

    WaPo and Doug discover politics. (Oh, wait, they already knew about political claims. YouTube videos, anyone? Heh, I get it; they’re just engaged in outright lies!) Meanwhile, in other news, Joe Biden has decided it’s finally time for him to cure cancer. The stars have aligned I guess.

    No word yet on a blogpost about the veracity of his claim, or why he’s cruelly withheld his magic secret from dying cancer victims. I’m sure its just around the corner………..