Kaine, Pence debate: CNN's Reality Check Team vets the claims

Updated 11:18 AM ET, Wed October 5, 2016

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(CNN)Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence met Tuesday for the first and only vice presidential debate, and CNN's Reality Check Team spent the evening analyzing their claims.

The team of reporters, researchers and editors across CNN listened throughout the debate and selected key statements from both candidates, rating them true; mostly true; true, but misleading; false; or it's complicated.

ISIS

Reality Check: Pence claims ISIS has overrun Iraq
By Sonam Vashi, CNN
Pence argued that "Iraq has been overrun by ISIS."
Really?
In June, a top State department official said that ISIS had lost 47% of the territory it had previously controlled in Iraq, and its ranks had been nearly halved from the members it had in 2014.
"Whereas it once promised lavish pay for recruits, and free services in its 'caliphate,' it is now slashing pay, cannot provide services, and is facing internal resistance," Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk said in congressional testimony.
In the first half of this year, the IHS Conflict Monitor found that ISIS's territory had shrunk by 12%.
Iraqi forces closing in on ISIS-controlled Mosul
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Iraqi forces closing in on ISIS-controlled Mosul 02:37
And Iraqi forces are about to launch a crucial offensive to retake ISIS's prize: Mosul. ISIS engulfed Iraq's second largest city in June 2014, but a long, bloody struggle for control of the city is expected to begin in the coming weeks.
While parts of Iraq have been ravaged by ISIS, Pence drastically inflates the group's control over the country. Verdict: False.
Reality Check: Clinton failed to negotiate plan to leave troops in Iraq
By Kevin Liptak, CNN White House producer
Pence accused Hillary Clinton of failing to negotiate an agreement with the Iraqi government allowing US forces to remain in the country past 2011.
"Hillary Clinton failed to renegotiate a 'Status of Forces' agreement," Pence said. "We removed all our troops from Iraq and ISIS was available to be conjured up in that vacuum and overrun vast areas of Iraq."
    When President Barack Obama entered office in 2009, he inherited a Status of Forces agreement signed in 2008 by his predecessor, President George W. Bush. That agreement stipulated American troops would leave Iraq by 2011.
    Obama ran on a pledge to end the Iraq War and vowed to reduce the number of US forces there during his first term. When the agreement neared its expiration, the Obama administration worked to secure a new plan that would have left a residual force of 5,000-10,000 troops in the country (down from more than 150,000 troops when Obama took office).
    In negotiations with then-Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the US insisted that its troops would be shielded from prosecution in Iraq. Iraqi lawmakers balked, and the two sides couldn't agree on a pact that would allow US troops to remain. Obama announced in October 2011 that he would withdraw all US troops from the country. (Since then, 5,000-6,000 US troops have returned to the country in what the administration describes as a mission to "train and assist" Iraqi forces).
    Pence's claim that Clinton failed to renegotiate a plan to leave US troops in Iraq is accurate, but he failed to provide the context that the original plan to remove all troops from the country was signed by Obama's Republican predecessor. He also didn't note that the agreement failed because of the Iraqi parliament's unwillingness to provide immunity to US troops.
    Verdict: True, but misleading.

    'Deplorables'

    Reality Check: Pence claims Clinton called Trump supporters "not American"
    Kevin Liptak, CNN White House producer
    Pence lashed out at Clinton for her description of a segment of Donald Trump's supporters.
    "She said that half of our supporters were a 'basket of deplorables,'" Pence claimed. "She said they were irredeemable. They were not American. I mean, it's extraordinary."
    Kaine on 'deplorables:' Clinton apologized
    Kaine on 'deplorables:' Clinton apologized

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    Kaine on 'deplorables:' Clinton apologized 00:55
    Pence is quoting Clinton's remarks from a fundraiser last month, when she told supporters you can "put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables" and added: "Some of those folks -- they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America."
    Pence largely quoted Clinton accurately. But his claim she called some of Trump's supporters are "not American" doesn't accurately reflect her sentiment that racism, xenophobia, and Islamaphobia don't reflect US ideals.
    Verdict: True, but misleading.

    Russia

    Reality Check: Kaine claims Trump and Pence praised Putin
    By Kate Grise, CNN
      Kaine attacked both Trump and Pence for their praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
      "You guys love Russia," Kaine said. "You both have said Vladimir Putin is a better leader than the President. These guys have praised Vladimir Putin as a great leader."
      At NBC's "Commander-in-Chief Forum" last month, Trump said Putin "has very strong control over a country," even if he does not agree with the way the country is governed.
      Pence: Putin is a stronger leader than Obama
      Pence: Putin is a stronger leader than Obama

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      Pence: Putin is a stronger leader than Obama 08:09
      "Now, it's a very different system, and I don't happen to like the system," Trump said. "Certainly, in that system, he's a been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader."
      Pence has made similar comments about Putin's leadership in Russia when backing up his running mate's comments.
      "I think it's inarguable that Vladimir Putin has been a stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country," Pence told CNN's Dana Bash in September.
      While it is certainly impossible to quantify how much, or even if, Trump or Kaine "love" Russia, we rate Kaine's claim that they have praised Putin as a strong leader as true.
      Verdict: True.
      Reality Check: Pence says Russia 'reset' led to invasion of Ukraine
      By Kevin Liptak, CNN White House producer
      Pence hit Clinton's record on Russia during Tuesday's debate.
      "Hillary Clinton's top priority when she became secretary of state was the Russian 'reset.' The Russian reset," he said. "After she reset, the Russians invaded Ukraine and took over Crimea."
      When Obama took office in 2009, he embarked upon an attempt to repair US relations around the globe, including in Russia. Clinton attempted to capture that "reset" in March 2009, when she posed with her Russian counterpart holding a button she thought read "reset" in Russian (it really read "overcharged").
      Flash forward five years to the beginning of 2014, when Russian troops intervened in Ukraine to quell a popular revolution, and have remained in the Crimea region since. Putin formally announced the annexation of Crimea on March 18, 2014.
      Pence's characterization of the flow of events is accurate -- Clinton and Obama's attempted reset came ahead of Russia's annexation of Crimea, though there were many years between the attempted reset and the invasion.
      Verdict: Mostly true.

      Clinton Foundation

      Reality Check: Pence on Clinton Foundation receiving donations from foreign governments
        By Ryan Browne, CNN
        Pence charged that the Clinton Foundation accepted donations from foreign governments while Clinton was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.
        "The Clinton Foundation accepted foreign donations from foreign governments while she was secretary of state," Pence said.
        The Clinton Foundation did indeed accept millions of dollars from seven foreign governments during Clinton's tenure as secretary of state, according to foundation officials.
        Although Clinton and the foundation agreed to measures and restrictions on such funding, Clinton Foundation officials admitted that millions of dollars found its way to the foundation.
        According to The Washington Post, documents provided by the foundation to that newspaper made it "clear that the 2008 agreement did not prohibit foreign countries with interests before the US government from giving money to the charity closely linked to the secretary of state."
        This included a $500,000 donation from the Algerian government.
        Verdict: True.
        Reality Check: Pence on Clinton Foundation's donations to charity
        By Eve Bower, CNN
        Pence said that the Clinton Foundation gives "less than 10 cents on the dollar" to "charitable causes."
        But a recent analysis by independent watchdog CharityWatch found that the Clinton Foundation actually spent 88% of its budget on its charitable programs in 2014.
        So why the large discrepancy? Pence was likely referring only to the charitable grants the Clinton Foundation has awarded to outside groups, as opposed to the charitable work conducted by the Clinton Foundation's own programs.
        According to Clinton Foundation tax forms -- in 2013, for example -- the foundation reported total revenue of almost $149 million, and awarded external grants worth a total of nearly $9 million -- or about 6 cents on the dollar.
        But most Clinton Foundation work is implemented by the foundation's own program staff, and is also considered charitable work. CharityWatch considers any foundation with more than 75% of its expenses in charitable programs to be "highly efficient." With 88%, the Clinton Foundation meets that standard.
        Because Pence's figure failed to account for the total amount of the Clinton Foundation's charitable work, we rate his claim false.
        Verdict: False.

        Social Security

          Reality Check: Kaine claims Trump called Social Security a 'Ponzi scheme'
          By Amy Gallagher, CNN
          "Donald Trump wrote a book and he said Social Security is a Ponzi scheme and privatization would be good for all of us," Kaine claimed.
          In "The America We Deserve," published in 2000, Trump wrote about Social Security.
          "The truth is undeniable. The workers of America have been forced to invest a sixth of our wages into a huge Ponzi scheme. The pyramids are made of papier-mache."
          In the book, Trump goes on to advocate for the privatization of Social Security, describing it as "letting people keep the money that is rightfully theirs" and crediting the idea to a retired laundry worker named Oseola McCarty.
          During his presidential campaign, Trump has repeatedly promised to leave Social Security untouched.
          "I'm not going to cut it, and I'm not going to raise ages," Trump said earlier this year.
          This stands in contrast to Pence's views as he has expressed them in the past. As a congressman, he backed a Republican plan that would have allowed workers to divert some funds into private accounts.
          We rate this claim as true both because it accurately reflects Trump's words in his book and because Kaine is correct in pointing out that Trump's past statements about Social Security (and Pence's) contradict the Trump campaign's present commitment to leave it untouched.
          Verdict: True.

          Economy

          Reality Check: Pence on poverty
          By Tami Luhby, CNNMoney
          Pence slammed the Obama administration's economic record, noting that poverty has increased during his tenure.
          "There are millions more people living in poverty today than the day that Barack Obama, with Hillary Clinton at his side, stepped into the Oval Office," he said.
          It's true that both the number of people and the rate of poverty increased at the start of the Obama administration, which coincided with the nation's worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
            In 2008, the year before Obama took office, there were 39.8 million people in poverty and the rate was 13.2%. Two years later, the rate peaked at 15.1% and the number of poor people jumped to 46.3 million.
            But the improving economy made a big dent in poverty in 2015. The rate fell to 13.5%, the largest decline in decades. The number of Americans in poverty fell to 43.1 million, down from 46.7 million the year earlier.
            Also, experts say it's more important to look at the poverty rate than the number of people in poverty since the American population is growing.
            Therefore, we rate Pence's comment true, but misleading. It's true that there are millions more in poverty than when Obama took office, but Pence should refer to the rate rather than the number of people in poverty. And he overlooks that fact that both the share and the population declined greatly in 2015.
            Verdict: True, but misleading.
            Reality Check: Does Trump want to eliminate the federal minimum wage?
            By Jeanne Sahadi, CNNMoney
            Kaine asserted that "(Donald Trump) and Mike Pence think we ought to eliminate the federal minimum wage."
            Trump has changed his tune on the federal minimum wage many times during this campaign.
            He did seem to support eliminating it when he suggested that states should decide on a minimum wage, not the federal government.
            At other times, he expressed support for keeping it. In the summer of 2015, he said he thought the minimum wage should stay where it is, at $7.25 an hour.
            Then this summer, he advocated for raising it to $10.
            Verdict: True, but misleading.
            Reality Check: Pence claims 'We are in the slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression'
            By Patrick Gillespie, CNNMoney
            The economy's recovery from the Great Recession that began in December 2007 is the slowest comeback since World War II.
            The US economy has only grown 2% a year since it bottomed out in June 2009. That's slower than the average annual growth of 2.7% under George W. Bush and well below the 4% growth America often reached in the 1980s and 1990s.
            Some bright spots: The current recovery has been long -- longer than most. Since World War II, the economy has typically grown for about five years and then contracted. This recovery is already seven years old.
            And as important as overall economic growth is the pace of jobs creation. By that measure, this has been only the second-slowest recovery, with 14 million jobs created, beating out the recovery during Bush's presidency.
            Verdict: True.

            Nuclear proliferation

            Reality Check: Kaine on Trump's stance on nuclear proliferation
            By Ryan Browne, CNN
            "Most dangerously, Donald Trump believes that the world will be safer if more nations have nuclear weapons. He's said Saudi Arabia should get them, Japan should get them, Korea should get them, Korea should get them. And when he was confronted with this and told, wait a minute, terrorists could get those, proliferation could lead to nuclear war, here's what Donald said, and I quote, 'Go ahead, folks, enjoy yourselves.'"
            But has Trump said this?
            Trump has sent mixed messages on the issue of nuclear proliferation.
            South Korea and Japan respond to Donald Trump
            south korea japan donald trump nuclear weapons hancocks_00002410

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            When asked if he was prepared to accept Japan and South Korea acquiring nuclear weapons, Trump told CNN's Wolf Blitzer, "I am prepared to ... if they're not going to take care of us properly, we cannot afford to be the military and the police for the world. We are, right now, the police for the entire world. We are policing the entire world."
            Trump also said in a New York Times interview, "Well, I think maybe it's not so bad to have Japan -- if Japan had that nuclear threat, I'm not sure that would be a bad thing for us."
            When talking about tensions with nuclear-armed North Korea with CNN's Anderson Cooper, he said, "Now, wouldn't you rather in a certain sense have Japan have nuclear weapons?"
            Cooper also asked Trump if he supported Saudi Arabia's pursuit of nuclear weapons. Trump initially signaled he did.
            Cooper asked, "Saudi Arabia, nuclear weapons?" to which Trump responded, "Saudi Arabia, absolutely."
            But when Cooper followed up, Trump said, "No, not nuclear weapons, but they have to protect themselves or they have to pay us."
            "It's very simple. They're going to have to defend themselves," Trump added.
            Kaine also said that Trump said, "Go ahead, folks, enjoy yourselves," in reference to nuclear war between Japan and North Korea.
            Trump did indeed tell a rally in Wisconsin, "Good luck ... Enjoy yourself, folks." While not the exact words Kaine referred to, the sentiment and words are very close.
            Trump has signaled a willingness to accept a nuclear-armed Japan, a departure from decades of American foreign policy, and has to a lesser extent expressed willingness to accept South Korea acquiring its own nuclear weapons.
            While he did tell Cooper that Saudi Arabia should have them, he immediately changed his stance.
            Verdict: Mostly true.

            Debt

            Reality Check: Kaine says debt explosion under Trump's tax plan would be much bigger than under Clinton's
            By Lex Haris and Jeanne Sahadi, CNNMoney
            Kaine said, "The debt explosion on the Trump plan is much much bigger than anything on the Clinton side."
            Trump has proposed slashing taxes, increasing government spending in some areas while cutting it in the smallest parts of the budget. He also vows not to touch Social Security. Trump asserts the economic growth his plan would generate would more than make up for any shortfall in tax collections by the government.
            Independent analysts disagree. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan think tank, estimates Trump's plan would add $5.3 trillion to the national debt in the first decade.
            In contrast, Clinton has proposed increasing government spending, but also hiking taxes on the wealthy. The result, according to the CRFB, would be a much smaller increase in the national debt -- $200 billion.
            Verdict: True.

            Trump's tweets

            Reality Check: Clinton campaign on Trump's tweets
            By Lisa Rose, CNN
            About 90 minutes before the vice presidential debate, Clinton's campaign tweeted out a stat that suggests Trump has not been supportive of Pence on Twitter. According to Clinton's campaign, the Republican presidential nominee has given Pence a tip of the hat in his Twitter feed 21 times. In comparison, according to Clinton's campaign, Trump has tweeted at Rosie O'Donnell 65 times.
            The comparison is specious because Trump has been trading barbs with O'Donnell for nearly five years on Twitter, though he hasn't tweeted about her since May. Trump only started tweeting about Pence in July, when he announced the Indiana governor was his running mate.
            The larger problem is drawing a conclusion that Trump is not supportive of Pence simply by counting mentions on Twitter and then bringing the unrelated O'Donnell feud into the mix.
            Verdict: False.

            Taxes

            Reality Check: Kaine on Trump and tax returns
            By Eve Bower, CNN
            Kaine mentioned a 2014 interview Trump gave, saying, "Donald Trump started this campaign in 2014 and he said, 'If I run for president, I will absolutely release my taxes.'"
            Pence responded, "And he will."
            Trump did indeed make make such a promise. In May 2014, during a visit to Ireland to promote his hotel and golf course, Trump sat down for an interview with Ireland's TV3. The reporter, Colette Fitzpatrick, reminded Trump that he had questioned Obama's citizenship and had said that if Obama presented his long-form birth certificate, Trump would produce his tax returns.
            Tim Kaine: Donald Trump needs to meet 'Nixon standard'
            Tim Kaine: Donald Trump needs to meet 'Nixon standard'

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            "But you didn't do it, did you?" Fitzpatrick asked.
            Trump answered, "Well, I don't know, did he do it? And I will. If I decide to run for office, I'll produce my tax returns. Absolutely."
            Obama released his long-form birth certificate in April 2011 -- more than three years before Trump's 2014 interview. But Trump still has not released his tax returns.
            Kaine accurately remembered Trump's claim, but Pence did not provide specifics on when those tax returns will be forthcoming. Trump has said that he is not able to release his returns due to an ongoing Internal Revenue Service audit. There is, however, no legal reason why someone under audit cannot make their tax records public while they are running for office.
            Verdict: True.

            Trump, Pence on Mexicans

            Reality Check: Kaine claims Trump and Pence say "All Mexicans are bad"
            By Lisa Rose, CNN
            Kaine accused Pence and Trump of denigrating Mexicans en masse.
            "These guys say all Mexicans are bad," Kaine claimed.
            While Trump has made a border wall the centerpiece of his campaign, there is no record of him saying that all Mexicans are bad. When the reality star announced he was running for president in June 2015, he did say Mexico sends criminals and troublemakers across the border. He included a qualifier, however. "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best ... They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."
            Two weeks after the announcement, Trump told CNN's Don Lemon, "I love the Mexican People. I've had a great relationship with Mexico and the Mexican people."
            More recently, when the businessman visited Mexico City in August, he said that Mexican-Americans are "just beyond reproach. Spectacular, spectacular hard-working people. I have such great respect for them and their strong values of family, faith and community."
            Kaine said both Trump and Pence have made sweeping statements about all Mexicans but a keyword search on Pence's name within close proximity to the word "Mexican" yielded no results in the Nexis.com news database. There aren't any references to Mexicans in Pence's Twitter feed.
            Verdict: False.

            Trump Foundation

            Reality Check: Trump Foundation gave money to attorney general considering case against Trump University
            By Amy Gallagher, CNN
            In response to accusations by Pence about the Clinton Foundation, Kaine attacked the Trump Foundation: "(Donald Trump's) foundation was just fined for illegally contributing foundation dollars to a political campaign of a Florida attorney general."
            Kaine then went on to insinuate that the donation may have been pay-for-play: "The person they donated to was somebody whose office was charged with investigating Trump University."
            It is true the Trump Foundation did make an illegal contribution and they have admitted as much. A senior member of Trump's organization called it "an honest mistake." It's also true that the donation was to a political group that supported Pam Bondi, who was running for re-election as Florida attorney general.
            Her office had received several claims against the Trump Institute (an organization licensing the Trump name but not owned by Trump) and at least one claim against Trump University (one of Trump's own companies).
            The donation was made after a spokesperson from Bondi's office told the Orlando Sentinel that they were considering the case. After the $25,000 donation was received, Bondi did not pursue charges against Trump University. Bondi admits soliciting the donation, but denies her office's decision was influenced by the money. However, Kaine's critique is worded well: the donation creates an appearance of impropriety.
            Although the check didn't go to Bondi's campaign per se, we nevertheless rate the claim true because Trump's foundation did, in fact, issue a check to a political organization which Bondi admits to soliciting and because the payment was made at a time when her office was considering a possible case against one of his companies.
            Verdict: True.